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Just plain snarky.
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, here goes nowt. Tell me what you think- I will warn you all, I only have the first two bits written and ideas for a couple more, so it may be a long time between drinks.
Still, here 'tis for your perusal.

FLARE.

Prologue.

Positive Karma.

It can’t get any better than this, John Hamilton mused as he lazed under the shade of his beach shelter. A summer day on the beach in Australia; sun, surf, and quality time with the kids.

“Hey Dad....DAD!.....you need to see this.” The voice broke through John’s daydream .

He lifted his head and looked to where his 9 year old daughter Matilda was pointing. “What, little one?”

“Those two kids out there in the water, they’re too far into that gutter.”

John followed the pointed finger, and saw 2 dark haired children hanging onto a foam surfboard; well out from the beach. He could see they had drifted into a newly formed rip-, where the water washing up the beach was being drawn back out to sea along a series of deepening channels as the tide changed. Nearer the beach he could see a man struggling to keep his footing as he held another younger child against the strengthening current.

Adrenaline hit his system as he leapt to his feet. He looked down the beach to the patrolled area 300 metres away- the surf life savers were busy pulling people out of the water there as well; it looked like the tide change had caught a lot of people in deeper water. There were no adults nearer than that in either direction, save the man struggling in the water with the other child.

“Matilda, run down the beach and tell the life savers that there are people in trouble here. Tell them there are little kids in the rip. Take Matt with you.” He crouched next to his 7 year old son who was busy building a sand castle.

“Matt. I need you to be a good little feller for me. Can you go with your sister and do what she says?”

Matt looked up and nodded. “Good man. Now, hold hands; and DONT let go till I come back. OK?” Matilda and Matt trotted off along the beach.

Dragging his old longboard, John ran down the beach and into the water. Fastening the leash, he leapt on the board and with a few strokes was through the shore break and next to the struggling man.

“Gimme the kid mate! On the board.....that’s it.” John pulled the little boy onto the board and positioned him prone. “Hang on mate- you’ll be on the beach in a sec.” He turned to the man staring out to the other two kids on the other foam surfboard, panic in his eyes.

“I have to get my girls-“ John interrupted him.

“No way. You need to get into shallow water. I’ve got your boy. When you can stand OK, I’ll give him back and you can get him on the beach- and I’ll get the others. Comeon!”

He paddled for the beach and caught a sloppy little wave up into shallower water. Behind him he could hear the man splashing heavily though the water, freer to move now his boy was safe on John’s board.John slid off into knee deep water and handed the shivering young boy back to his father who, breathing heavily had caught up.

“My girls-“

“Yeah man; I’ll get them. Take your boy. My kids have gone to get the life savers- follow them and make sure they get noticed- it looks chaotic down there.” The man nodded, took his son and stumbled through the shallows to the beach, then turned and staggered up toward the patrolled area.

John turned to look for the girls and swore. The dropping tide had created an area of broken water well out from the beach on a sandbank- the current was pulling the foam board and its helpless cargo into the roughening water.
Pushing the board ahead of him John lurched into the surf, as he hit waist deep he jumped on to it and paddled hard straight into the rip, using the outflowing current and smoother water to accelerate toward his target. A breaking swell came between him and the children, he ducked under it; when he came up he could see one of the kids was barely hanging on.

“Bugger!” He thought, and put everything he had into his stroke, narrowing the gap. Another swell surged past, now there was only one head on the board, the other was splashing next to it. A few more strokes and he arrived at the foam board; just in time to catch a swell breaking right where they were. He slid off his board and grabbed for the girls wrist as it broke over them. Coming up came up through the whitewater he pulled the little girl up spluttering and threw her onto his board as it sprang back to him under the tension of the leg rope.

“Hang on sweetheart.” He gasped ”I’ll get your sister.” Looking around franticly, he spotted a dark shape under the surface. Reaching down, he pulled up a clump of kelp.

“Bugger!” The sand in the water cleared momentarily showing an unmistakably human form deeper down. Taking a quick breath John duck dived and swam to the child, wide eyes staring unseeing in panic as bubbles streamed from her mouth. Wrapping an arm round her waist, he headed back up, where he saw the other girl slipping from the opposite side of the board as another bigger wave boiled past.

With a heave he launched the girl onto the board; then reached over and grabbed for the other as she slipped beneath the water. He grimaced as his fingers caught her hair; as gently as he could he pulled her back to where he could hook an arm under her shoulder and dragged her to him, then positioned her across the board. The girls were both coughing and gasping; had to be a good sign, he thought.

Again a surge and swoop as another wave, the largest yet; picked them up and launched them over the sandbank and into the deep channel nearer the beach, flipping them off again. Exhausted now, chest burning, John struggled up to the surface, able to only use his legs as his arms held the girls close. His board floated beside him; with the last of his ebbing strength he surfaced, pushed the girls up and on then sagged against it, too wrecked to do more than hang an arm over to keep himself afloat.

Another wave passed under them, not breaking in the deeper water of the channel. As he started catching his breath, over the noise of the girls sobbing he heard the welcome roar as the red shape of the surf clubs’ rescue inflatable rocketed toward him between the swells. Moments later it slid past him and strong arms pulled first one, then the other of the girls from the board and into the rubber duckie. A hand descended on his shoulder.

” Can you make the beach by yourself bloke? We’re chockers!* We can’t get you and your board in here!”

John looked up and saw several more people slumped in the craft- it was obvious he would have to swim, or abandon his board. Gathering himself, he pulled himself up and paddled along the current, paralleling the beach until the rip weakened enough for him to strike straight to shore with the aid of a few short choppy swells. As he hit the shallows, he saw his two children jumping up and down, just back of the water’s edge, still holding hands. Matt had obviously been crying, though he was smiling as John walked up to him. Dropping to his knees he held them close and closed his eyes; feeling sick as the sea water he had swallowed surged in his belly.

“Dad! That was AWESOME! Especially when that big wave picked you up and threw you. I saw your feet in the air!” Matilda was still jumping up and down. Definitely not helping his queasiness; he thought tiredly.

“Thanks doll. It wasn’t that much fun. Matt, you did good, thanks mate.” John tousled his son’s hair, and was rewarded with a shy smile.

“John ya clown! What did you think you were doing, man? That hero crap will get you killed!” The booming voice belonged to Steve Patterson, one of the IRB crewies and John’s good mate. John looked up into the broad sunburned grin and grimaced.

“Mate, that rip came out of nowhere; no time to get help. If I didn’t go, they were toast. Simple as that.” Steve’s grin dropped.

“Yeah. We pulled eighteen out of the water up the beach. Eighteen! One bloke went into cardiac arrest- but the defib got him going- Ambos are on the way. We didn’t even see you had a problem down here till Matilda came up and damned near dakked* me to get my attention. You need to come on up and get that arm seen to. Oh, nasty fin chop, man.”

“What....?” John looked to where Steve was pointing. Along the length of his left forearm was a deep cut, leaking pinkish watery blood. As John looked at it, the numbness was replaced with a sharp salt sting.

“Oh Sh....ahhh....Poo!” he muttered. Matilda slapped his wrist, her eyes sparkling.

“You swore! I’m gonna tell Mum”

“Thanks, ‘Tild.” John tiredly got to his feet as Steve swept Matt up and sat him on his shoulders, and followed as they went along the beach through the crowd around the surf club.

Later, as he waited his turn for the paramedics to check his wound, he chatted with the man whose kids he had saved. Steve had taken Matilda and Matt to the kiosk to shout them ice-creams, as Matt was entirely too focused on poking Johns arm just to see the funny faces he made. Chris Donnelly as it turned out, was a public service bod. National, not state. Obviously someone with a bit of pull, he had spent most of his time in the clubhouse taking calls on his mobile phone; something about EMA, till he had eventually switched it off. Turning to John, he rubbed his hands across his face.

“John. I can’t thank you enough for what you did.-“

“Nah man, it was the clubbies in the IRB; they got the girls to the beach.”

“Bull****, John. If you hadn’t gone out they would have been gone. I owe you my girls’ lives, and probably mine and my son’s as well. I saw them go down. Twice. Both times you pulled them up.”

John shrugged. He felt very tired, and the cut on his arm was really starting to ache when he moved it.

“I won’t give you the lecture about swimming between the flags. I reckon you learned it today.”

Chris had the grace to look embarrassed. John decided to change the subject.
“So. EMA. What’s that stand for? Federal bunch?” Chris leaned back and crossed his arms. “Yeah. EMA is from Emergency Management Australia. Disaster stuff. It’s a federal government organisation co-ordinating volunteer services and official response units both federal and state. Reports to the Attorney General.”

“Haven’t heard of you.”

“We try to keep a low profile. We learned from FEMA in the states that if you keep a low profile, you get more done.”

“Plus your stuffups don’t get noticed as much.....” John observed wryly. Chris nodded and chuckled.

“Yes. There is that. Good deeds go unrewarded; mistakes seldom escape punishment.”

“So what do you do there?” Chris considered a moment before replying.
“I head up the Disaster Resilience Program- Admin, basically. Sort of like Civil Defence.”

John interjected. “Civil defence, my Dad was in that in the 1960’s. Wasn’t it taken into the State Emergency Service?” Chris nodded.

“Sort of. SES do the tactical, hands on stuff. DRP is more strategic. We try to enhance disaster resilience, as the current catch cry goes.”

“So you identify threats and attempt to head them off.” Chris nodded again.

“Pretty much yes.”

“ Sounds pretty wild”

“It certainly has its moments.”

“ So what’s your job, John?”

“I do a bit of security work. Escorting folks, or their gear.” Chris looked at him shrewdly.

“Ex-Military?” John nodded.

“10 years Army Reserve. Grunt mostly, some mortars, all in an infantry battalion.”

“Ahhh, Timor?”

“Twice. And Bouganville, the Solomon’s once each.”
” Must have made corporal at least?”

“Section commander, yes. Acting platoon sergeant, did my Sergeants subjects, but then fractured my knee on exercise. Too damaged to stay in, so I got out. Repaired about ninety percent, but I can’t trust it fully. Had my first ruggie* by then so was about time to go anyhoo.” Steve’s return with several sugar-hyped children in tow effectively ended the conversation.

An hour later John, now sporting stitches and a dressing on his arm, struggled to load his board onto his car. Chris approached and lifted the board onto the roof rack .

“So, John. There has got to be something I can do to repay you. I owe you big time.” John racked his brain - he felt tired, sore, and just wanted to get home where he knew his wife Sarah would give him a royal bollocking for his escapades.

“ I dunno man; I know the Surf Club’s main IRB needs a new motor- if you could help with anything like that it would be grouse.”

“Yes, but what about you? You gave me back my kids. I owe you more than anything.”John thought for a moment.

“Ok, tell you what. If the balloon ever goes up; I mean like a big disaster is heading our way, give me a heads up. That OK?” Chris shot him a funny look; appeared to be about to say something, but apparently changed his mind. He smiled.

“Sure. Give me your phone number and address.” John scribbled out the information and gave it to Chris; who gave him a number in return.

“If you ever need my help; just ring this number. Tell them your name- I will put it on the list of people who get put straight through to me.” He turned and walked away.

John looked down at the number on the card. It didn’t look like a normal cell or landline number. He shrugged; .Gov, weird mob of fellers. Tie wearers, the lot of them.

When he arrived home; and after receiving a spectacular chastising from his better half for putting himself at risk, he entered the number in his cell phone; on a whim picking the Australian SEWS warning sound as the ringtone, filed Chris under his mental ‘Interesting People I Have Met’ file; then promptly forgot the conversation.

At least, until a few years later when his phone rang and he heard the warning siren tone.........


The Standard Early Warning Signal, which is John’s ringtone for “the call”, can be found here. http://www.emergency.nsw.gov.au/sews

Freaky as; puts the hair up on the back of my neck.

*Chockers. As in completely full. Chock full of nuts.

*Dakked. To be dakked is to have your pants pulled down by someone else in a surprise attack.

*Ruggie. Rug-rat. Child or baby.

Oh, and copyright me ! :)
 

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Just plain snarky.
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5,967 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Chapter 2
Karma is a Big Black Dog.

It had been a good few years for John; a small inheritance had helped give his wife and he the substantial deposit needed to get in on the ground floor of the real estate market on the north coast of New South Wales- not a case of the best house in the worst street, but not the top end of town. Work wise, his security company was expanding into escorting/transporting luxury cars and household goods for rich folk- minimal risk, but they paid well. Matilda and Matthew were growing up, 13 year old Matilda had been offered, and accepted, a place at a prestigious two week Gifted Student forum hosted in Canberra by the Attorney General. 11 year old Matt was a Nipper; a junior surf lifesaver, and enjoying it immensely.

His wife Karen was back working part time as a community nurse for the local health service now the children were older, as well as helping with the paperwork for his business. Life was good and getting better. John and Karen had finally been able to have the honeymoon they couldn’t afford when they were married.

John even had the time; and more importantly the money, for his hobbies. He had been a .22 target shooter since his teens, but hadn’t been able to justify the time or money required since the kids came along. A nice Anschutz 5 shot .22 bolt gun lurked in a corner of his rifle safe, along with a 12 gauge coach gun, and the old Mauser K98 his grandad had souvenired from Tobruk. An occasional pigging trip was also possible now with his .30/30 Winchester levergun, along with a spot of bunny busting as well. He and Karen had an arrangement- she wouldn’t complain about the occasional roo or bunny meal if he stayed quiet about the smell of her favourite home cooked crab curries. A black 2002 Discover sat in the driveway next to his battered old Kia Sportage wagon and her black Lancer.

Sitting on his back veranda, enjoying the mid morning sun while trying to tune his radio to the cricket and avoid the worst of the static which seemed higher today, John almost didn’t hear his mobile ring. The electronic tone of the Early Warning Signal blared, and it took John a moment to realise it was his phone.

“Hello John, its Chris Donnelly. How are you?” The events of that day years before leapt back into John’s mind instantly.

“Chris! Yeah; fine mate. How are the kids?

“John, we’re all four and a bit years older, thanks to you.” John laughed.

“Anyone would have done it Chris. I just had the luck of the draw.”

“No, I still owe you. Which brings me to this call. I am up here for a .......conference.... and I was wondering if you had time for a drink.” John looked at his watch.

“When; this evening?” John thought he heard a strange tone in Chris’s voice as he answered.

“Preferably this morning. I have had a gap come up in my schedule. I can have a car come and pick you up if you wish. You still at.......” He rattled off the address. A thought struck John later. How did Chris know where he lived............?

“Umm, OK. Give me twenty minutes.”

“Sure. It won’t take long John, I just have to run something past you. I’ll meet you at the Beach Hotel over in Byron. See you then.”

John closed his mobile slowly. Chris sounded like he was stressed, but trying to hide it. Talk about weird....but intriguing. 15 minutes later a plain white Falcon pulled up to the gate. As John walked down the driver, who was wearing a suit he was surprised to note, got out and opened a door.

“Er, Ta.” John got in the back, the driver got back in and they headed north.
John walked into the Beach Hotel 30 minutes later, busy now, even in the midst of a June mid week winter’s day. Chris was seated at a table overlooking the iconic Main Beach, and rose to meet him. Shaking his hand, John was struck by how much older, thinner, and in general more worn the man looked.

“Good to see you John. Really glad you could make it.!”

“Sure Chris, good to see you too.” They sat. Chris looked at the scar on John’s forearm, now a faded and puckered pink weal. “Healed up OK?

John nodded, “Yeah. Reminds me to swim between the flags myself......”

Once a couple of beers had materialised between them, Chris uttered a deep sigh, stared out over the beach for a moment, then laughed. Now smiling, he turned to John and spoke.

“John. I owe you my kid’s lives; and that’s why I am going to give you a heads up.”

“What is it, a good stock market tip?” Chris stared at John for a moment, the barked a short, very un funny laugh.

“You could say that. More of a lifestyle tip, really. You know about the Sun’s activity cycle, sunspots and such increasing and decreasing?” John nodded. “Well, we are approaching a peak of activity, nothing out of the ordinary we thought, BUT” He paused and took a sip of his beer. John could see his hand shaking a little; Uh-oh, he thought.

“OK. I’ll come from another angle. Echelon. Know what it is?” John shook his head.

“Well. It’s an intelligence gathering computer system that looks at radio, email, telephone calls etc. Run mainly by the US, but Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Britain, etc have an interest. Information is supposed to be shared equally. Over the last few years concerns have been raised that our great ally has been, um....... ‘abusing’...... the system. It was originally designed to search out terrorist and enemy military communications and sort the important from the unimportant by keyword and pattern search.”

“Critics have long held the theory that the US has been less than open with information sharing, and in fact has been using it to get commercially sensitive information which then finds its way to some of the bigger US corporations. The Australian, New Zealand, British and Canadian governments have long suspected this, and finally when an opportunity came up we used a backdoor we had into the system to have a look.”

John raised an eyebrow and sipped his beer; not game to interrupt.

“About six months ago we used a newly developed algorithm to sort of backwash the system. It allowed us to examine what the US was previously blocking our access to. And an unexpected by product; was that it allowed us access to some of the US’s own sensitive internal communications- exactly what echelon has been doing to other countries for years.”

“What we found was.....disturbing, to say the least.” Chris paused and drank again. “We found that the US had been sitting on a secret for around 5 years. One which in all probability threatens much of the Earth.”

“They have a means of monitoring solar flares with some of their “Black” satellites, ones we don’t; or rather didn’t, know about. We thought they were pointing down; but instead were looking up and out. They have discovered that this series of sunspots is not the peak of the current cycle, more a warmup. “

“It looks like the sun is about to burp; or emit a series of superflares. In 1859 one hit earth which energised telegraph lines in the US to such an extent that operators were badly shocked, and the Morse code keys melted or caught fire. The Northern Lights appeared as far south as Cuba. This series is expected to be an order of magnitude greater.”

“What does this mean?”

“Basicly, we’re probably stuffed. Worst case, the planet fries- irradiated down to kilometres deep. Oceans boiling away. Even if people were in deep shelters, the atmosphere will be gone, and they can’t come out. Ever.”

“Best case- pretty lights, radio/TV interference goes out for a while- maybe some power out the further you get from the equator toward the poles. Which would be interesting as nations on the equator would be much less affected than those north and south. ”

“CSIRO reckons somewhere in between. But they don’t have the data they need, nor the time to analyze it properly. At least they are admitting that they don’t know.”

“Faaaaark.....”

“Exactly.”

“When? When will it start?”

“Already has.” John felt his stomach drop. “Wha...?”

The other man held up his hands placatingly.

“Only the early stuff. But it will get worse. And soon.” John grabbed his beer and swallowed half. ‘This can’t be for real......Chris has to be nucking futz....’ he thought. Organizing his thoughts and swallowing a ball of panic he had not tasted in years he asked the obvious.

” So why tell me?”

“I have been tasked with some of Australia’s response. Trying to save what we can.” Chris leaned forward. “And because you saved my kids lives, I am telling you this.”

“Far out, Chris, what the hell can I do?”

“You need to get your family, your friends, whoever; and get into shelter. Underground, and I would say away from the coast and up in elevation. By late tonight our time we should see the start of the bad stuff. We THINK, and it is a loose guess, that we will get hit with a few small flares, then get kissed by a big one, what they call a CME, or Coronal Mass Ejection, basically a huge fireball. If the big one hits us square; we’re toast. No chance. But, we think it will just touch us, or miss us.”

“The first few will create voltage in long lengths of metal, like railways, power lines, etc. Knock out power, and radio and TV will be gone for weeks- you will have noticed the interference already. By themselves that will pretty much bugger things up. That will spike for the first time late this afternoon or early evening. Big light show; Aurora Australis all the way to North Queensland. The big bastards will start during our night. Lucky for us, and because it’s our winter, we won’t get it quite as hard as much of the northern hemisphere; we hope.”

“The big one, or ones, will boost the ultraviolet dangerously high during daylight, and dump heat energy into our atmosphere. We have no real idea how this will affect our weather. The consensus of my Bright Young Things at the CSIRO is that it will melt some of the ice in Antarctica, and most of Greenland. That will screw with the global weather by itself. Not to mention sea levels.”

“I dumped a heap of info onto thumb drives, and a few important bits onto hardcopy for you to look at. My driver has it in a briefcase; he will give it to you in the car. It did NOT come from me, ha!” A short utterly humourless bark. “Goes without saying. There are a few bits and pieces of kit as well that may come in handy. DON’T lose it. Again- did not come from me.”
“But, as I said. Get your family, friends, and get into shelter. Stay there. Of course .Gov has their bolt holes, and we have spent much of the last 6 months squirreling people and equipment away as much as possible. The Yanks have had YEARS, the bastards. we expected more of our ally. The Pm is having kittens over it.....”

‘Matilda’ thought John, ‘Jesus; she’s at that Science thing. I can’t get her back in time!’

“My daughter; she’s in Canberra.......” Donnelly coughed; suddenly looking guilty.

“Sorry, John. My department is responsible for that forum- we thought to have some of the brightest young minds in Australia close to where we could hide them if things got too bad like they seem to be now. I called in a favour and made sure she got a place on that; least I could do for you. She, and they, will be in the best shelter we have near Canberra, same as the PM and other bods. I figured that if we saved anyone, it should be the young and bright. We will need them to rebuild after.....if there is an after......”

“Still, I owe you more. There was no way I could get you into a shelter- this heads up is the best I can do. I have been undergound since January working flat stick- this is the first time I have got out. Things are a bit chaotic in the run up to kick-off, so I took advantage.”

“We expect the truth to get out soon. The solar phenomena will rapidly increase, and anyone with a telescope and half a brain will be able to see and work out what is happening. It will get ugly. You need to get moving on this. I cannot stress this enough.”

“Jeezus H, Chris. This is nuts.”

“Aye, it is. But John, it’s all too bloody true. Walk outside- you know something's not right. Birds, fish, dogs, all are acting weird. People too- it’s like a full moon. Subconsciously people feel something wicked this way comes...... Now, I have to go- I have to catch a plane in 40 minutes. Go with Craig, he has a briefcase and a couple of bags in the car for you.”

Chris stood, drained his beer then shook Johns’ hand. He looked almost.....relieved, John thought.

“Mate, you saved my kids. Matilda will be as safe as they are though this; I promise you that. I wish I could have got you all in; but this is the best I could do. Remember, when we come out the other side, we will have another beer. Or ten.”

“Umm thanks; I think. Man, this is so much to take in.”

“Sorry, John, wish it could have been another way, but.......”

The driver reappeared at John’s elbow, and guided him back to the Falcon. Chris waved as he got into another identical car, already barking into a phone. As the car drove south though the Byron tourist traffic, John looked out the window at the throng; thinking over the things he had just heard; trying to process it all.

“He is taking a huge risk for you, Sir.”

John looked up and saw the driver looking at him in the rear view mirror; saw himself doubly reflected in the dark sunglasses.

“What do you mean?”

“He’s broken at least four directives to get you this warning, and to safeguard your daughter. If the head shed in the Hole finds out- well, he will be in heaps of strife at the very least. I know you saved him and his kids; but the power struggles going on behind the scenes are vicious. He put himself at considerable risk for you. Just thought you should know, Sir.” A thought struck John, he leaned forward.

“And what about you? What are you in this?”

“Me? I’m just a driver. But Mr Donnelly......he looks after his people. He didn’t always do this- he was in Foreign Affairs doing God know what- I worked for him in Iraq as close protection; an IED took out my vehicle and I spent 8 months in hospital and rehab. He looked after my family while I was recovering; after I was discharged as medically unfit from the Service, he got me this job. You have to respect a man like that- especially in the Government. He has my loyalty. He even got my wife a job in the Hole, which allowed us and our kids to get into shelter. Unlike most of those bastards in .Gov, he has a conscience. If he feels he owes someone, he pays up. Hard not to like a feller like that.”

“I can see that....” The driver interrupted.

“Worst thing about Mr. Donnelly; he wants to save everyone. Not giving mass warnings is killing him- the poor bastard is courting a short circuit. For the last two days we have been dropping hints, tipping people off. He feels that it is morally unfair not to get warnings out- this way he can get some to take precautions, and save a few more. Whatever he says in his notes, you best go with.”

He flipped a thick document envelope over his shoulder. “He said to give you this.”

John opened it and extracted a thick sheaf of papers. And a wad of cash- thousands of dollars at least, all green and yellow notes. He whistled, long and low. The driver chuckled.

“It looks like a lot, but in the next few days, it probably won’t be worth anything. Make good use of it.”

There was a letter on top of the pile of documents.

“John,
This is my advice to you, taken from some of my advisors. Be prepared to stay in deep shelter for a good few days - longer if the weather starts to go crazy. Stay out of towns- they will get ugly. Look for a mine, or some other deep basement, on the south side of a hill- you need as much insulation between you and the sun as possible. And don’t stay in low ground- get away from the coast, or at least get some elevation for if we get sea level rises. You need to get supplies and gear. Lists at end. Few goodies in the gear bags. DONT flash them about- people will wonder where you got them.
Think about after- there probably won’t be help from .Gov for a long time- if ever. We don’t really know how this thing will pan out. If we get though this- Gods willing- there is a radio and freq’s, callsigns, codes, etc. You know the drill. Don’t call us, we will call you. It will be weeks or even months before coms are possible we expect.

And John, if you feel the need to go public- do so- but leave it till after 4pm. Remember, <wink>it didn’t come from me. Just make sure you get your own stuff underway first. Echelon suffered a rather nasty meltdown this morning- our allies in the unaligned Commonwealth nations in the Echelon group arranged it to cover some of our last minute preparations. But, it will get nasty fast. Think Katrina or Sandy, except worse; much worse.
Cheers,

C.”

After he was dropped off at his home with the two surprisingly heavy gear bags and a briefcase John walked immediately to his fridge, grabbed a beer, drank it in one go; then stood staring out the window for a moment.

“Shoot.” he thought. “Best get started.” John took a deep breath, and then reached for his phone.

“Babe; you need to come home right now. We have a problem.....”

Chris Donnelly stared unseeing out the window of the government Lear jet as it pushed hard south towards the Hole, going over checklists in his head. As the plane banked onto a new course, he found himself looking directly at the sun through the polarised filter, suddenly feeling ice settle in his veins.

Sunspots should not be able to be seen with the naked eye.
 

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Great Job AKM,
Looking forward to the next addition...
 
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