Authors: Tony Martineau
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Westerns, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Science Fiction, #Post-Apocalyptic, #Teen & Young Adult
An Arizona EMP Adventure
Tony and Nancy Martineau
First Edition, 2015
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States
Reproduction in whole or part, in any form, including storage in memory device system, is forbidden without written permission…except that portions may be used in broadcast or printed commentary or review when attributed fully to author and publication by name.
An EMP, or electromagnetic pulse, is an energy wave that can destroy electronic systems and components by instantaneously bombarding the earth's surface with thousands of volts of electricity. This can be a natural occurrence, e.g., a coronal mass ejection (CME), or it can be caused by the detonation of a nuclear device. A nuclear bomb's size and the altitude at which it is detonated determine how widespread its electrical grid-killing effects are.
Please take this book for what it is: a work of fiction. Even the top scientists disagree about the actual magnitude of destruction by nuclear devices detonated in the atmosphere. The military has chosen to harden its planes, radios and other vehicles to EMP, so for the purpose of this book, we will assume there is a threat.
We, the authors, consider ourselves more knowledgeable than most about survival, but still don't believe we could survive the scenario put forward in this work. We live in a desert with four million other people,
on the infrastructure for anything more than short-term water.
Special thanks to our tireless beta readers, copy editor, blocker, graphic designer and family, without whom this work would have suffered.
Please feel free to contact us with corrections and comments at:
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Cover Art by
Linda Kage Covers
Champagne Book Editing
Kelly - Day 0
The fluorescent lights flared and their ballasts popped, emitting the tiniest bit of acrid smoke at each end. Then the fixtures went dark. Static burst from equipment speakers. Explosions boomed from the parking lot. All of the electronics in the room wound down like a washing machine at the end of its spin cycle.
Nurse Kelly rushed to the window and parted the heavily-lined drapes enough to peer out. Liquid fire dripped from the transformers, igniting their poles and making small pools of flame around their bases. She pressed an open hand against her chest as if to suppress a deep gasp, held it there for a few seconds, and then lowered it casually to her side. She turned slowly back to the others in the room. They looked at her with questioning gazes. Because she remained outwardly calm, so did they.
“It must be some kind of power surge,” Kelly announced to the laboring mother, whose wisps of sweaty hair framed her face, and to the anxious, portly father standing at his wife's bedside.
A red-haired obstetrician sat at the business end of a delivery bed, nestled between a pair of metal stirrups that were supporting her patient's legs in a most immodest position. Kelly could feel the blood pumping in the arteries on either side of her neck.
, she reminded herself.
It's just a power surge. There was no bomb, no gunfire. This isn't a war zone; you're a labor and delivery nurse in a civilian hospital now.
She stood straight, tucked a hairpin neatly back into her bun and ran her hands quickly down the front of her crisp, navy blue scrub uniform. In her best ex-Navy lieutenant's voice she said, “No problem here, we're just glad it's daylight.” She peeled open the curtains a foot or so. The blinding Arizona sun made a shifting rhomboid across the linoleum floor, illuminating the hospital room and all four people in it. Everyone squinted reflexively.
Kelly walked swiftly to the head of her patient's bed, took the fetal monitor and IV pump cords from their regular power outlets and plugged them into the red emergency outlets. She stood, frozen, waiting for the hospital generators to fire up. No generators.
, she thought.
Where are the generators and why didn't these other machines go to battery backup?
The laboring mother began to vocalize. It was a long, low, guttural groan, the kind emitted by women giving birth without medication. The pain consumed her, making her oblivious to the outside world. With no time to assess the power situation further, Kelly stepped to her patient's side. She rested one hand lightly on the mother's shoulder and one on the father's.
The OB was preoccupied. She directed in a quiet but persuasive tone, “Push,” and then began to count. “One, two, three, four...” Kelly knew that nothing, not even a power outage, would quell Mother Nature's persistent urgings to expel a new life.
“I need some extra hands down here. This baby is coming out with a nuchal cord,” said the obstetrician, speaking deliberately in medicalese and in a hushed tone. Kelly's brain instantly translated the words to
a cord wrapped around the neck
. She felt the beat of her heart in her ears.
“Cindy, look at me,” said Kelly to her patient. “Breathe like this.” She demonstrated, blowing small puffs of air through her pursed lips. “Don't push, keep your face relaxed. Just keep breathing. Jim, help her do that.” Kelly directed the father by taking his shoulders and pushing him gently into his wife's face. “You're both doing a great job. Just keep breathing.”
With one hand Kelly reached for the call light to summon more staff; the other reached for gloves from the holder mounted on the wall. The blue LED above the call light failed to glow. She donned her gloves and moved to the foot of the bed to help the doctor. The smell of amniotic fluid and blood assaulted her nostrils.
Dr. Williams demanded the patient's attention. “Cindy, give us a gentle push with your next contraction. Nothing crazy, just push your baby out gently.” The doctor, falling back on a nervous habit, unconsciously bit her lower lip. She kept it trapped there as she concentrated.
Cindy moaned but it came out like a growl, air and sound forced between her clenched teeth. She was pushing the baby forward but then holding back, thwarted because of the pain.
“The baby's head is almost out.” The doctor held pressure against it to keep the rest of the body from emerging precipitously and tightening the sinuous cord. Kelly quickly gloved. It would take both women, doctor and nurse, to free the child. Dr. Williams supported the fetus while Kelly tried to work her gloved finger between the mother's body and the pulsating cord. Another attempt yielded slightly better results, but it took another whole minute before Kelly could tug enough cord free to lever it over the baby's head.
“Push now, Cindy,” demanded the doctor. The mother pushed, her face scarlet, breath held. Four hands finished guiding the new life into the world, narrowly avoiding the infant's strangulation. The baby, blue and bloody, lay limp in the doctor's arms. Both caregivers instinctively began to rub the child with the blanket to encourage it to breathe.
Don't you die on me
, Kelly thought,
I've seen enough death in my first twenty-seven years to last me a lifetime
. After a long minute with no response, Kelly reached for an ambu bag, a device to inflate the baby's lungs. She fit the face mask over the baby's mouth and nose and then gave the device a few little squeezes, causing the child's chest to rise and fall.
Suddenly the baby began to breathe, filling its own lungs with cool air. It let out a hearty cry and the mother burst into tears of joy.
The whole room let out a collective sigh of relief.
Kelly's eyes glistened with tears, as they did every time a new life emerged into this world vigorous and beautiful. “It's a boy!” she sang out. “Congratulations! Wow, what lungs!”
“Take the baby,” Dr. Williams directed as she
wrapped the infant in a blanket and handed him off to Kelly.
She secured two cord clamps about three inches apart and sliced between them with a pair of scissors, freeing the child from its mother.
“Here, Daddy, I believe this is yours,” Kelly beamed, handing the infant to him.
The proud father walked from the foot of the bed to the head, delivering the child into its mother's outstretched arms.
The building shook so violently Kelly was knocked from her feet. The earth rolled and a low grumble reverberated through the reinforced concrete floor and ceiling. The glass in the windows shattered, making a sound like a hundred Mason jars being spilled from the ceiling onto the concrete floor. The heavy curtains blew inward and then flapped unrestrained as hot air filled the room. Dust sifted down from the joints of the suspended ceiling.
Kelly jumped up and threw her body over the mother and tiny infant, clinging to the hospital bed's side rail. She quickly regained her composure and tried to assess the entirety of her skin for pain or injuries. She felt no piercings or coolness that might suggest blood.
A quick appraisal of the room told her that, although visibly shaken, everyone appeared to be uninjured.
The glass from the window had not been propelled violently inward. Kelly knew from experience that the explosion must have been from the opposite side of the building.
She had had enough of whatever was going on
. For the first time since the war, she allowed herself to shift back into a soldier. She
wasn't going to recoil from an attack. Her military training kicked in. Jaw set, she looked the doctor in the eyes, then bolted for the door.
“Where are you going?” shouted the doctor.
“There are other patients that need me now. You've got these two.”
Kelly slipped through the room's door into the darkened hallway, where chaos reigned. Patients, visitors, doctors and nurses all ran for the exits. The exit sign failed to glow red over the door to the stairwell.
“What the…?” She boomed in a voice fit for a drill instructor, “Cathy, Bridget, search the floor!” Kelly directed the two nurses she could identify in the dark. “See if anyone's hurt.”
Both nurses stood, looking stunned. They glanced at each other, then stared back at her.
“We were going to help these people out,” Bridget said, motioning towards the people in view.
“No, they can fend for themselves. Get the immobile ones out.”
“How?” Cathy shouted over the confusion.
The elevators are broken.”
“Bridget, get them into wheelchairs if you can and have visitors push them. Find more people to help you. You may have to cradle some in sheets and have people carry them down the stairs. Cathy, have the nursery nurse get all of the babies out to their mothers. Do it
The nurses' eyes grew large, but they changed direction and headed back onto the ward.
Kelly ran toward the patient rooms on what she thought was the blast side—the west side. She came to the first door and placed her palm on it, checking for heat. Feeling that it was cold, she entered. A tremendous wind, coming from the broken window, blew in her face. Black smoke roiled in the sky ahead of her. The window's frame was intact, but shattered safety glass was spread across the floor. Acrid smoke burned her throat and lungs. Her eyes swept back and forth for victims, but the room was empty.
She took a deep breath and forced herself to cross the room. It wasn't only the height of her third-story perch that daunted her, but what she might see outside.
Kelly reached out a trembling hand and let it glide along the wall, walking tentatively until she got to the window's frame. She took a deep breath then strained her neck to look outside,
seeking the source of the smoke.
It was then she made out a crashed jet liner. The huge plane's tail jutted into the sky like a monument, engulfed in smoke and flame. The last third of the hospital's south wing was consumed as well. Black plumes of smoke dotted the distance between the hospital and
Sky Harbor International Airport
indicating there were more downed aircraft.
“Holy crap, how many planes?” thought Kelly out loud, startling herself with the utterance. A single tear left her eye and traveled down her perfectly made-up face. Violence had followed her home.
Kelly turned to continue her search in the all-business, autopilot mode she had been trained to engage during harrowing situations. Everyone in her unit used to say she was the coolest head in the bunch, their rock under pressure. Only Kelly knew that she became a quaking bowl of jelly when the terror was over. She suspected others did too.
There were more nurses and families in the hallway when Kelly returned to it. “A plane's crashed into the hospital, we're on fire! Search all the rooms,” Kelly shouted, motioning with her hands toward the rooms. “We have to get everyone out, fast!”
Just then, the fire doors on the south end of the hallway opened. Two male nurses each pulled a patient behind them in sheets, sled style, across the slick linoleum floor. Heavy smoke followed them through the door.
The first nurse, Jim, made eye contact with Kelly.
“Heavy fire on the end of our unit and the power's out,” he said breathlessly. “Close those doors when you get through,” he yelled at Mark, the other nurse.
“Elevators are out,” shouted Kelly. “You'll have to take them down the stairs, one at a time.”
“We've lost some patients already,” said Mark. “The explosion took out the last four rooms or so on both sides of the hall and a few of our nurses are missing.” His words were rapid and panicked.
Kelly took a deep breath and held it, then let it out slowly. “How many patients do you have left alive?”
“Ten, but realistically, four or five might survive. We'll never get 'em all out, it's ICU down there. Most won't live through the move,” Jim answered, still pulling his patient down the hall toward the stairwell.
“How many do we have on OB?” Kelly asked Bridget holding her by the forearm. She and Cathy had returned from their assigned tasks.
“We only have three post-ops, and one of those can get down the stairs by herself, so three. Oh, and one laboring,” Bridget added, “but she can still walk.”
“Have the two ambulatories go, as best they can.”
“They already have.”
“Good. Are all of the other fathers here?” Kelly asked.
“All but one,” Bridget reported.
“Cathy, you direct the fathers to evacuate their wives, give what support you can. Bridget, you and I'll take the freshest post-op. Put a big sheet under her in a wheelchair and bring her other sheet too. Meet back here. Go.”
“Okay.” Bridget and Cathy took off down the hallway.
Kelly pulled her purse from under the counter at the nurse's station and grabbed her car key on its lanyard. She put it around her neck, then slipped her wallet and cell phone into her pocket.
“I've got her,” Bridget announced
, as she emerged from a nearby room, pushing a young woman in a wheelchair
Kelly grabbed the second sheet from the patient's lap and ripped a three foot section from one end.