The Ruins of EarthEarth, May 2006 to the present
Good afternoon, this is DJ Ford on WRFE, Radio Free Earth, and you're listening to Flashback. We do this segment Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons, our time, for all of you that have been living in a bomb shelter or cave for the last couple of years, to bring you up to date on the events you've missed since the nukes started flying. First, the good news: no, it wasn't a nuclear war. Not much of one at least, although people living downwind of the Los Angeles crater might argue that point with me. At least three nukes were used on American soil, but they were only a symptom of the problem.
If three strategic nuclear strikes being only a small side issue sounds ominous, you're in the right mood to hear this broadcast. Before we really get started though, I'd like to tell you a little about WRFE. We are an independent, pirate radio station, broadcasting from a hidden location. Some of the creatures that have invaded the Earth have tried to shut us down four times now, but we stay on the move and are usually a couple of steps ahead of them. We're allied with the free Human Resistance, and if you need to contact us you may be able to reach us by sending a message through the Pathfinders' Guild. And now, on to Flashback.
The Twinned Circle
It all started with a "new-age" group calling themselves the Twinned Circle. They first came to public attention
in early 2006, when their leader, Warren Greene, published a manifesto that called for the return of magic to
the world. Greene and his followers argued that magic had existed in past centuries, but that humanity had rejected
it in favor of science.
- Warren Greene, CNN interview, May 21, 2006.
As you might expect, the Twinned Circle didn't get a lot of media attention. By that time, we'd all heard an awful lot of crazies, and these people weren't really saying anything that stood out above the crowd. Tabloids started picking them up for humor value, although they didn't often make the front page even there. It wasn't until their announcement of a series of public rituals to be held on May 23rd that the mainstream media noticed them at all. The CNN clip was the only interview we were able to find. The only thing that distinguishes the Twinned Circle from any other fringe cult, is that, apparently, their ritual worked.
The Twinned Circle held their rituals in major cities, mostly in America but internationally as well. New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, and New Delhi hosted rituals, as well as some natural landmarks like the Grand Canyon. Protesters and hecklers attended the rituals held in urban areas, but there was no violence or confrontation. Nobody took the Circle seriously enough to attack them or try to stop them.
After twenty-four hours of dance, chanting, speaking in
tongues, and various other activities, the members of the
Circle packed up and went home. Warren Greene made
a public statement, declaring the ritual a complete success,
which seemed to firmly cement his role in history as
a public joke. For a week, the rituals were forgotten.
It was all so unimpressive. Embarrassing, really. Some
candles, some chanting, some circle dances that looked like
they were choreographed by my 11-year-old niece. If that
weren't bad enough, my stupid tape recorder started picking
up static halfway through so I couldn't even go through
it later to see if there was anything interesting to quote. As
it was, I almost fell asleep. In the end, after what seemed
like hours, they just turned the lights back on and went
home. I wanted my headline to read, "Whackjobs Waste
May 31st: VisitationOn May 31st, almost exactly eight days after the ritual's conclusion, people began to report seeing ghosts. Dozens, then over the next few days, hundreds of people, reported visitations by friends or loved ones who had passed away. Some of these visitations were with angry, incoherent, or even insane spirits, but the others all seemed to have a common thread. Ghosts were returning to those they cared about, to warn them.
- Bill Romano, taxi driver, WRFE Interview
At first, none of these ghostly appearances made the news, and few were even reported. Nobody made the connection with the Twinned Circle or their rituals, and most people who had been visited thought that it had only happened to them. It's only in retrospect that this spiritual activity is a prelude of things to come.
Since everything fell apart, we've learned for sure that many, if not all, of these visitations were quite real. The walls between Earth and the Underworld have weakened, and it's now much easier for ghosts to appear to the living than it was before. Whether that's good or not, well, that's open for debate. Some ghosts try to be helpful, but others are just crazy, and there seem to be other things that live in the Underworld too. Few of them are pleasant.
June 2nd: InvasionThe reports we have gathered place the first sightings of actual invaders on the night of Friday, June 2nd. Looked at together, these reports also give us our first indication that the invaders are from more than one group or species. In the New York area, dozens of people reported seeing or being attacked by pale humanoids with horrible facial scars and other disfigurements. Victims of these attacks often suffered grievous wounds, mutilation, and scarring themselves. Some even survived despite wounds that should clearly have been fatal. Oddly, some people who were accosted by these creatures reported that the beings spoke to them civilly, or even seemed to want to help them, but polite dialogue apparently didn't preclude maiming.
In upstate New York and parts of New England, people began to simply disappear. Most of these people were travelling alone or in small groups, but some were simply snatched from their homes. The few witnesses claim to have seen creatures in some sort of armor or life support system, complete with face masks, as though they were afraid of contamination or simply could not breathe our air. A few people that were kidnapped by these creatures managed to escape or were released, and report that they were subjected to medical experiments.
Texas and the Midwest saw what seemed to be the overnight appearance of some new cult, aggressively recruiting or even kidnapping prospective new members. The cultists wore veils with odd symbols or patterns on them, but no other ethnic or traditional garb to match the veils. Members of the Pathfinders Guild who have encountered these beings since report to us that the veils are actually part of the creatures' faces.
While it had been easy for the general public to dismiss ghost stories as figments of imagination, many of these new incidents left tangible evidence behind. Hospitalized victims were much harder to ignore, and several credible witnesses came forward to speak to the media, including several police officers. News of these sightings leapt from newsgroups and blogs to the mainstream media overnight. The public began to panic, and demanded a statement from the government on what was going on.
June 3rd: Cover-upSaturday morning, the administration called a press conference at the White House. They claimed that, while investigations were underway, they had so far discovered no reliable evidence of monsters. They hinted that terrorists might be responsible for the attacks, but gave no specifics.
-White House spokesman, Malcolm Diebold.
On Saturday afternoon, the President of the United States disappeared while in transit from the White House to Air Force One. The Secret Service personnel on the spot were at a total loss to explain what had happened. One anonymous agent was overheard saying, "It was like someone flipped a light switch, and he went off."
The administration tried to cover up the disappearance at first, but it was leaked to the media only hours later, apparently by a member of the Secret Service. Several reputable news outlets released the news of the cover-up simultaneously, destroying the remaining credibility of the government's earlier press release. The administration scrambled to put a better spin on the affair, but the press war only distracted them from the real problems. Reports of attacks came in unabated over the next few days, and in many areas increased.
Now, I'm not going to get into politics here. I voted in '04, and I have my opinions about the results. Most of us do. But that's all over now. From what we've found out so far, the course of the invasion would probably have been pretty much the same regardless of who was in office. You'd have to have been completely paranoid to see the invasion coming, and even if some genius did predict it, who'd have believed him? No, the invaders did a complete job on us, and at least one group of them thought to cripple our major institutions to make things easier. So, I don't want to hear about people placing blame on one group of politicians or the other. We have much more important things to worry about now.
June 4th: CollapseBeginning early Sunday morning, America's technological infrastructure began to degrade. Brownouts were common, and grew more frequent throughout the next few days. Several major cities lost power entirely, including New York, LA, and the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Repair crews did their best to restore function, but were stretched very thin as the situation worsened. In some areas evidence of sabotage was discovered, but other power stations suffered losses of function that were completely inexplicable. Even in areas that had access to electricity, the television, phones, cellular service, and internet were heavily disrupted.
Panic in most metropolitan areas became severe, and rioting and looting destroyed the social order. The government's resources were poorly allocated due to the disruption of the President's disappearance, and their response to the rioting was ineffectual. While the attacks by invaders continued, it's likely that many more people were killed by their fellow man than by the monsters.
In the greater New York City area, casualties of the riots began to rise as walking dead, attacking the living in an attempt to eat their flesh. People attacked by these zombies, even if they survived, often sickened rapidly, died, and became zombies themselves. When the massive extent of this problem was realized, the National Guard evacuated the few healthy people they could, and established a loose cordon around the city in a vain attempt to halt the spread of the infection.
Sunday evening, the Secretary of the Treasury was killed while trying to visit his wife in the hospital. The government claimed that it was a targeted assassination. However, witnesses claimed that he had simply been eaten by something large, furry, and clawed while in lobby of Veteran's Medical Center.
June 5th: DisorientationOn Monday, it became clear that travel routes around the country were horribly snarled. Bus, train, and air travel schedules were in complete disarray. Most troubling was the disruption of trucking, as supplies needed in many areas of the country were simply not arriving. Pilots and drivers questioned about the problems, reported "changes" in their maps and instruments. Some went as far as to say that roads had begun to change their destinations, and that compass directions were no longer holding static. As a sign of the atmosphere at the time, these statements were reported in what remained of the press, taken at face value.
At some point during the day, the Secretary of Defense and the White House Press Secretary both disappeared. No information was ever released on what happened to them. At this point, the government gave up its pretense and admitted that the President had vanished. The Vice President was sworn in and assumed the office of President at 8pm Eastern time.
Through the course of the day, attacks by invaders worked up to a new pitch. Abductions and murders were now taking place in broad daylight, and thousands of people saw demonstrations of apparent supernatural power in plain sight. The riots began to abate as people stayed off the streets in terror. This served to give free reign to the invaders, who continued to brazenly walk the streets in major cities unimpeded.
June 6th: DevastationOn Tuesday afternoon, Los Angeles was struck by a high-yield nuclear attack that vaporized the majority of the city and spread lethal radiation over a large part of California. The attack was caught on video, and analysis shows clearly that the explosion was the result not of a suitcase bomb or other ground-level attack. A major American city had been hit with a nuclear missile.
In the chaos of the government's attempt to respond to this attack, the former Vice President was found dead in his office, killed by a single gunshot to the head. It was never established whether his death was a suicide, or some sort of attack. The Secret Servicemen on scene were taken in to be questioned.
No nuclear response to the missile attack was ever made. With the new President's death, no one could be found who was willing to take responsibility for such a drastic measure, even if it could be established who was responsible for the LA attack. Already in disarray, the government was now completely paralyzed and unable to respond to the invasion.
By the 6th, anyone who wasn't already completely in shock got there pretty quick. Most of us grew up in a period when nuclear war was the ultimate nightmare. It was hard to even accept that monsters could be real, but anyone who saw the films of LA…well, that was way too real for anyone to deal with. Hiding under a rock suddenly sounded like the best plan ever made.
June 7th: DownfallThe last reported news events before total blackout were the near-simultaneous destruction of Chicago and Atlanta, both struck with nuclear weapons seemingly identical to the one used on Los Angeles. Shortly after these attacks, the nation's rapidly worsening infrastructure gave up the ghost entirely. Power and communication failed completely, and survivors were isolated and left to survive as best they could.
We still don't know who launched the nuclear strikes, or why, but we've heard several rumors. Some people claim that the government realized that those three cities had been overrun by monsters, and nuked them as lost causes to try to slow the invasion. Others claim that the Russians did the same thing, trying to contain the spread. Finally, some people believe that one group of invaders got access to American nukes, and for whatever reason only used them three times.
AftermathAfter the 7th of June, all we have are fragments. We've tried to take a rough census over the last six months or so, and our best guess is that there are between six million and twenty million people left in America. There were nearly 300 million before the invasion. The twenty million figure includes a generous estimate of people surviving in small family groups or alone, in otherwise uninhabited areas. Don't take any of these figures as facts, by any means, they're just the best we could come up with.
Only three towns across the country still have any electricity at all, and even in those places it's down more than up. Most major cities that weren't bombed are either overrun with zombies, have burned to the ground, or both. The landscape is littered with broken cars, collapsed buildings, and unburied corpses. WRFE has made contact with five surviving communities of any real size, and all of them are under occasional attack by invaders.
Geography isn't what it once was. A straight line might not even connect two points anymore, nevermind be the shortest route. Most people can get lost even going a few city blocks, if they're not paying enough attention. Some people seem to have a better knack for finding their way around, and a bunch of those have gotten together and formed a Pathfinder's Guild. They're offering their services to anyone who wants to resist the invaders, or who is just trying to get by. If you really need to travel, I'd try to find one of the Pathfinders; they're your best bet not to stumble into a radioactive hot zone, a major zombie infestation, a tidal wave, or who knows what. If you think you have a knack for finding your own way around, you might want to look them up too. They're always looking for more help.
Geography isn't the worst of our problems either. I'm sure many of you heard the beginning of our broadcast and thought, "I was pretty sure it was Sunday?" Or Tuesday, or whatever. Well, maybe it is where you are. Maybe it's the 8th, or the 14th, or the 27th too. The date, and even the time of day, are pretty much up for grabs lately. As for authority? Well, there's someone holed up in a bunker somewhere in the midwest who claims to be President. I've got no evidence or opinion on that one way or another. What I know for sure is that we don't have anyone looking over our shoulders anymore, taking care of us or telling us what to do. If there's going to be any hope for the future, we're going to have to make it ourselves.