Chapter Twenty-seven

Near Harrisburg, PA

The wind chilled his face and Jake felt every wrinkle on it freeze in place, threatening to crack if he twitched a muscle. He pressed on, the ATV’s low rumble shifting to high whine every time the front wheels were catapulted in the air by the broken and shifted asphalt of Route 83.

It had taken him three days to reach the outskirts of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, traveling mostly from early evenings to late dawns.  He had resupplied gas and provisions at every opportunity; finding cans of food littered in small towns, siphoning gas from whatever cars he could find that had not burned or leaked all their fuel.

He had seen maybe a dozen people alive in total, mostly in pairs, but a group of six or so young men had tried to knock him off his transport. A flash of the gun and a stern warning shout had sent them scrambling. Frozen bodies were scattered wherever he went, blocking the roads and littering the small hamlets as he rode relentlessly southward. Traveling in the dark of night he had been forced to drive slowly to avoid the bodies whenever he crossed any town. Harrisburg was the biggest city he would drive through.

Although Harrisburg was not a city of skyscrapers, the level of destruction in the city was more jaring than that of the small towns he had passed through. The city was nothing but a pile of smoldering ashes and debris piled up twenty feet high at the sides of the road, spilling onto the asphalt like the sides of a mountain, creating a valley in the middle strewn with bricks and mortar, mud and snow.

Despite all he had seen, he was unprepared for the site before him. He had reached the Susquehanna River, but the bridge had collapsed and disappeared as if it had never forged the waterway. Where the river had run now lay an enormous chasm, empty of running water, the frozen mud pock-marked with pools of ice.

The river no longer existed.

“Fuck me twice,” He said aloud.

The banks were angled inward, sloping slowly. Jake was surprised to see there was absolutely nothing at the base of the empty river. No tires. No trash. No dead fish. As if the river had rushed away and taken all its contents with it, deciding that there was no reason for a river to run through here anymore.

He removed his gloves and blew on his hands, and looked to the roadway on the other bank.

He had a way to get across, at least.


Nuclear submarine ‘Vladimir Monomakh’
Atlantic Seacoast


“Yes, Senior Chief?” Admiral Dimitrov spun to face the Petty Officer.

“Sir, our depth sensor may be malfunctioning” Senior Chief Petty Officer Konstantin ‘Kostya’ Boklov was by nature of ruddy complexion, but his face had gone completely red.

“Explain yourself, Kostia.” The admiral approached the young officer’s screen as he spoke.

“Sir, the depth gauge indicates that we are two-hundred feet deeper than we should be. It happened from one second to the next,” Kostia explained.

“”Did you read the Official Motherland Repair Manual?”

“Excuse me, sir?”

“Try striking it, like this,” Admiral Dimitrov struck the side of the instrument panel with the palm of his open hand

The gauge slowly showed the vessel rising to its previous depth.

“Carry on, Senior Chief.”

“Thank you, sir,” Kostia responded, his face now red entirely from embarrassment.

The Admiral turned to face Kostia again, “Only a Tsunami could cause those readings. A massive one, at that - No God would be that cruel to his sheep after what we have been through - But a glitch in the superior Russian engineering? That is a probability I can accept.”


“Yes, Kostia?” His voice showed less patience with the new interruption

Kostia had pushed his chair away from the instrument panel, his finger pointing at the screen, as if inviting the Admiral to take his place.

He was barely audible as he said, “The gauge is malfunctioning again.”


Near Harrisburg, PA

Jake had made it only one-third of the way across the river before the ATV broke through a patch of ice, leaving the front axle elevated, its front wheels unable to gain purchase on the frozen ground.

By rocking the vehicle, Jake could get more weight on the front and get enough of a grip to pull forward, but only for a few seconds and at the gain of a few inches before the ATV would rock back and slide deeper into the shallow depression.

After a few tries, and no forward progress, he grew frustrated and got off to get a look under the chassis.
As he stepped off his boots cracked the cover ice and his feet sunk about an inch into the slushy ice. The cracking ice sounded like a gunshot in the empty canyon. Each step brought a new crack and a new gunshot sound, and when he knelt on the ground the report was loud enough to make him flinch.

The sound echoed from the banks and seemed to grow louder.
Jake stood up and faced downriver. He tilted his head so his good left ear could capture the incoming sound. His right ear was nearly deaf from the many years of using the rifle.

He realized he was hearing not the echo but a new sound instead, a low growl that appeared to be approaching.
He looked down at his feet. There was now over three inches of water covering his boots.

He could smell seawater.

When the ground began to tremble he wasted no time jumping on the ATV and rocking it as hard as he could.

Chapter 28

funny bunny says:
2007-09-08, 06:45
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Me says:
2007-10-27, 13:33
Este e o novo método de comentar...
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2008-01-21, 04:36
This rocks...
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