In response to a request to Matthew from Indiana, who wanted to know what my novel was like before ordering it, the following is an excerpt from the first chapter of the expanded (33 chapter) edition of my novel “Patriots”:
On the last day of October, the Grays found that their phone was still working, but only for local calls. When they tried making long-distance calls, they got an “All circuits are busy now” recording, at all hours of the day or night. The next day, there was message advising that “All circuits will be restored shortly.” Two days later, there was no dial tone.
By early November, there was almost continuous rioting and looting in every major city in the U.S. Due to the financial panic and rioting, the November election was “postponed” to January, but it never took place. Rioting grew so commonplace that riot locations were read off in a list—much like traffic reports—by news broadcasters. The police could not even begin to handle the
situation. The National Guard was called out in most States, but less than half of the Guardsmen reported for duty. With law and order breaking down, most of them were too busy protecting their own families to respond to the call-up. An emergency call up of the Army Reserve three days later had an even smaller response. All over America, entire inner-city areas burned to the ground, block
after block. No one and nothing could stop it. On the few occasions that the National Guard was able to respond to the riots, there were some massacres that made Kent State seem insignificant.
Many factories in proximity to the riots closed “temporarily” in concern for the safety of their workers, but never reopened. Most others carried on with their normal operation for several more days, only to be idled due to lack of transport. Shipping goods in the United States in most cases meant one thing: 18 wheel diesel trucks traveling on the interstate highway system. The trucks stopped rolling for several reasons. First was a fuel shortage. Then came the flood of refugees from the cities that jammed the highways. Then people that ran out of gas disrupted traffic. As cars ran out of gas, they blocked many critical junctions, bridges and overpasses. Some highway corridors in urban areas turned into gridlocked parking lots. Traffic came to a stop, motionless cars began to run out of gas, and the forward movement of traffic was never resumed. In some places, cars were able to back up and turn around. In most others, people were not so lucky. There, the traffic was so densely packed that drivers were forced to just get out of their cars and walk away.
Every major city in the United States was soon gripped in a continual orgy of robbery, murder, looting, rape, and arson. Older inner city areas were among the hardest hit. Unfortunately, the design of the interstate freeway system put most freeways in close proximity to inner city areas. The men who had planned the interstate highway system in the 1940s and 1950s could not be blamed. At that time,
downtown areas were still flourishing. They were the heart of industry, population, commerce, and wealth. Thus, it was only logical that the highways should be routed as close to them as possible, and preferably through them. These planners could not then have predicted that in 50 years the term “inner city” would become synonymous with poverty, squalor, welfare, drugs, disease, and rampant crime.
America’s once proud and efficient railroad system, long the victim of government ineptitude, was unable to make any appreciable difference in the transportation crisis. Most of the factories that had been built in the past 30 years had been positioned near highways, not railroad tracks. Also, like the highways, most rail lines passed through urbanized areas, placing trains at the same risk as trucks. Gangs of looters found that it did not take large obstructions to cause train derailments. Within a few hours of each derailment they stripped the trains of anything of value.
A few factories managed to stay in operation until early November. Most had already closed, however, due to failing markets, failing transportation, failing communications, or the failing dollar. In some instances, workers were paid through barter, rather than cash. They were paid with the company’s product. Chevron Oil paid its workers in gasoline. Winchester-Olin paid its workers in ammunition.
The last straw was the power grid. When the current stopped flowing, the few factories and businesses still in operation closed their doors. Virtually every industry in America was dependent on electric power. The power outages forced even the oil refineries to shut down. Up until then, the refineries had been operating around the clock trying to meet the increased demand for liquid fuels.
Ironically, even though refineries processed fuel containing billions of BTUs of energy, most of them did not have the ability to produce enough electric power to supply all of their own needs. Like so many other industries, oil refiners had made the mistaken assumption that they could always depend on the grid. They needed a stable supply of electricity from the power for their computers and operate the solenoids for their valves.
The power outages caused a few dramatic effects. At a Kaiser Aluminum plant near Spokane, Washington, the power went out during the middle of a production shift. With the plant’s electric heating elements inactive, the molten aluminum running through the hot process end of the plant began to cool. Workers scrambled to clear as much of the system as possible, but the metal hardened in many places, effectively ruining the factory. If the plant were ever to be re-opened, the hardened aluminum would have to be removed with cutting torches or jackhammers. Electricity also proved to be the undoing of prisons all over America. For a while, officials maintained order in the prisons. Then the fuel for the backup generators ran out. Prison officials had never anticipated a power outage
that would last more than two weeks. Without power, security cameras did not function, lights did not operate, and electrically operated doors jammed. As the power went out, prison riots soon followed.
Prison officials hastened to secure their institutions. Under “lock down” conditions, most inmates were confined to their cells, with only a few let out to cook and deliver meals in the cell blocks. At many prisons the guard forces could not gain control of the prison population, and there were mass escapes. At several others, guards realized that the overall situation was not going to improve, and
they took the initiative to do something about it. They walked from cell to cell, shooting convicts. Scores of other prisoners died at the hands of fellow convicts. Many more died in their cells due to other causes; mainly dehydration, starvation, and smoke inhalation.
Despite the best efforts of prison officials, 80 percent of the country’s more than 1,500,000 state and federal prisoners escaped. A small fraction of the escaped prisoners were shot on sight by civilians. Those that survived quickly shed their prison garb and found their way into the vicious wolf packs that soon roamed the countryside…