The cabin was comfortable. It’s little stove kept away the winter chill of the mountains. Outside, what during the summer had been lush with vegetables and fruits was barren with skeletal and leafless branches seeming to be clawing toward the sky. In an earlier time it would have been a comfortable scene, but since things had gone so terribly wrong so terribly quickly, life was simply a matter of survival. The couple living in the cabin, husband and wife, were lucky to have had this property when things began to collapse. It gave them a place to be away from the city and suburbs that had turned into virtual hunting grounds of the starving. At least there was fresh water. Northern Washington state’s east side was cut with rivers and streams. Other areas of the country weren’t as lucky and had been abandoned because it was impossible to survive.
The breakdown was expected, the news being full of talking heads who declared that the collapse of the economy and the subsequent failure of the national infrastructure would create an apocalyptic situation. People sat in front of their tablets and nodded at the videocasts yet failed to act. Few knew how. They were sitting ducks to the quickly formed bands that moved from house to house looking for foodstuffs, tradable valuables and weapons. Oddly enough, the young elderly fared best. The fragile old were immediate victims as were young people. The young because they had no experience or even belief that they could be victims. It was the baby boomers who were a surprise to the bandits who found themselves summarily blown into the next world by rifle and pistol wielding sixty and seventy year olds.
The husband looked up a the sound of a chime. It was a warning from the property perimeter alert. It might be an animal, it might be a person. There was only one way to know. He took a quadcopter drone from a cabinet and prepared it quickly for flight. It was preprogrammed to fly an outward spiral from launch at the cabin, relaying its video to the man’s tablet. He launched it and returned to his chair by the stove to watch the image. His wife was loading an AK-74 semiautomatic rifle, a pair of Mossberg shotguns with drum magazines lay on the floor by her feet. “Damn.” said the husband, looking at the video. “Two guys, armed.” His wife handed him the Ak-74 and picked up a shotgun.
The husband slung the rifle over his shoulder and brought out yet another drone. He prepped it for flight, opened the front door and tossed it into the air. Unlike the first drone, this one was a fixed wing aircraft, a small electric motor mounted a pusher prop on a dorsal pod. It communicated with the video drone wirelessly to get the GPS coordinates of the threat. Once it had them, it climbed high over the position and then dove nose down on the two intruders from above. Using a small video camera mounted in its nose, it made small corrections as it plunged towards the unsuspecting men below. It struck the ground between them, exploding an ounce of Semtex plastic explosive packed with small nails, brads and buckshot. In an instant, the predatory trespassers became foodstuffs for the animals that lived in the wooded mountainside. It’s job complete, the quadcopter drone returned to its launch point and gently touched down and shut itself off. The husband retrieved it, changed its battery for a fully charged one and put the drone in its cupboard. The used battery was attached to the solar powered charger that also provided light to the little cabin.
The husband and wife unloaded their firearms, gave them a quick cleaning and put them away. They both went back to reading as they sat warmed by the fire.
It’s surprising how many stories I’ve been reading that tell tales similar to this. It’s as though there is some generally accepted belief that an apocalypse is on the way. It’s true that water companies are being purchased and congealed into large corporate holdings and fresh water is getting more and more scarce. Scientists are saying that the Colorado River is so over tapped, Las Vegas might need to be abandoned not very far into the future. As someone who lives near so many rivers and lakes it’s difficult to imagine a shortage of water, but I also know that the aquifer that has fed this area since forever has fallen so low that many of the wells no longer reach into their water. While immense, the lakes have been tainted by heavy minerals as a result of the considerable mining that defined the founding economies of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. It’s also true that we no longer have the agricultural base we once did in America, and that we’re importing more and more food. Much of our arable land has been given over to growing fuel products; corn is more valuable as a fuel than a food for instance. Our economy is tenuous, and so we could experience a crash and depression, and we seem to be staying in the war business even though we’re having not only a difficult time affording it, but a more difficult time affording to care for the casualties of it.
Perhaps there’s something to the doomsaying of the many stories that take place in a post-apocalyptic world. Of course, with antibiotic resistant bacterium and hearty viruses rising, even the concept of zombies seems uncomfortably possible. Then again, I read so much because I have a cancer we can’t seem to cure so maybe I’m not the best person to go to for a rosy image of the future.