Category Archives: Nanowrimo

How We Survived – End Of The World (Nano2016, chapter 13)

One. Two. Three. Four. They sang their cadence as they marched. The snow remained deep, but the air was warmer in the days now. Or at least it chilled the bones less. They had been outside the city for three days now, marching to some towns that were supposed to lead them to the source of the bandits. When they were in the city, they had heard many stories about the growth of lawlessness around the city in the summer time. Most of the residents had abandoned the wider outskirts of the city and they had left it to the police, army, and bandits to fight over it. With the freeze of winter, the bandits had fled, hidden among the people of the city, or frozen to death in unheated buildings. Everyone talked about the problem solving itself, and the problem just going away as the snow blanketed the world and enforced a ceasefire. Frozen hands couldn’t pull triggers, and solid powder didn’t fire. Frostbitten fingers couldn’t grip knives, or throw stones. Kristina knew better.


How We Survived – Guardians of light (Nano2016, chapter 12)

It was a strange kind of science and magic that held a dome together. From the bunkers and hydro farms underneath, to the electric trams above, to the towering housing blocks, to the glittering brass plated steel and glass that bubbled them all in, each had its part to play. All was dictated by the genius of Buckminster Fuller. His ideas became the math behind survival, the design behind the domes, the beating heart of dome ecosystems. Nothing could exist as a closed system – there needed to be input from somewhere. So there was light. There were influxes of people, and grain, and water. Where there was still water, and people, anything could be created.

If you were to build a dome city from scratch, it would be significantly easier than retrofitting cities that already stood. Blasting could achieve the underground clearance needed in a new city. But if the city was already there, you had to work around its people. First was the core, the stomach of the city, deep below the other functions – the farms and water. By boring into the ground, cities could access groundwater. Some cities dropped a shaft, more than a mile deep into the earth, as simply a first step to ensuring survival. Without water, there was no future for the people. All water that came from the ground was circulated upwards, first to the farms and people, and then everywhere else. On cold days the breath of hundreds of thousands would condense on the glass of the dome, building a mist around the people, and trickling its way down. It didn’t meet soil – it met drains, that brought it through reclamation plants, distillers, and other treatment centers. If the water wasn’t kept clean, it would doom a city.


How We Survived – Defenders of the Fatherland (Nano2016, chapter 11)

A colossal crack deafened several men, and outright killed two others. Grenades were flying and bullets zipped past ears close enough to sound like lead wasps. There was an immense firefight, as bodies charged hard held lines, and fell flat on their faces. Taking any kind of fortification was practically pointless, but generals gave orders, and those orders made it to the ground, and boys and men were pushed to try and follow them. An order never looked the same on the ground as it did on the small white table covered in miniature representations of war. The commanders loved playing with their toy soldiers. And then men marched to their death.

The battle and siege had already been going on for months. Yet all the while, the hammers kept falling, and the guns kept being produced. Sometimes they were made from scrap metal, panels from old cars, even cut up broken guns. Anything to keep sending bullets forwards to keep the city theirs. Karas worked in secret all those months, to produce a very special commission. The order had come in under an anonymous name just days before the armies arrived beyond the outskirts of town. The artillery shells had already started falling by the time he had started machining.


How We Survived – The Pack (Nano2016, chapter 10)

What was there but your pack? A city was a pack, but it was more like ants. Some mass of creatures scuttling, seemingly uninvolved with each other, but all working together in some small way. They made the place run just by being there, and doing what they were going to do anyway. A town was a pack – the people knew each other better, and it was the first point where you’d start to see people banding together properly. A town moved like a colony, a group of great apes. There were leaders, and followers, the females, and the children. Big structure, but it was all just a pack. The villages were the last stop before the wilderness. Villages were more like symbiotic animals. The birds picked the ticks, and the cop moved the drunks along. The mothers brought food to the young, and the bakers made the bread. But they didn’t move like ants, and there wasn’t a strict hierarchy. But under it all, from a country to a friendship, it was all a pack.

Dylan slid down against his perch, and stretched his leg to the fire, pushing small lumps of dry wood back before they could escape. Every fire seemed to burn brighter, and throw more sparks into the air. Carlos and Frank lay across the other side of the circle, Carlos asleep with his hat over his face, and his bag under his head. Frank whittled. They listened for the faint sounds of insects drawn by the fire, the dull beats of moth wings, the sharp puff when one of them strayed too close.


How We Survived – Centralia (Nano 2016, chapter 9)

It was a half moon that began its slow climb into the sky that night. It rose from the east, first peering through the long dead trunks before hitting clear sky. The stars seemed to part to make space for their majestic king. The light in the darkness spread across the ground, illuminating the sparse vegetation that struggled against its ultimate fate. Nothing that couldn’t move lived on this patch of earth for very long. The bracken and lichen began in wisps and it strived so hard to reach into the light, to overtake this place. It drank weakly of the water, and tasted all it could of the air. But this was all for nothing. Soon it would grey and feel its roots contract, shrivel, and crawl out of an earth that seemed to reject its presence.

The moon climbed on, bringing more dim illumination into the shadowy places. The eternal stone showed its cracks to the world, wearing its battle scars proudly. It had survived ice ages, and the boots of soldiers, and every end of the world so far. Madmen raved, carpetbaggers wheeled and dealed, saints whispers, tyrants screamed, and the everyday people talked of things deep, or idle. There was no more of that here. There was only one woman there to witness it.

Celia had grown up here. She barely knew of a world before the choke. Her father had told her stories, he had shown her the places where the plants were thick and lustrous. He told her about the arm thick vines that dipped their roots into the bottoms of streams and provided homes for tiny river fish that darted through the water like shooting stars. Providing brilliance in each moment. The moon crept on.


How We Survived – The Grey (Nano2016, Chapter 8)

Chester sat waiting for the morning meeting with Linus in the usual spot. He tried to stay alert but he kept drifting off to sleep only to have the bobbing of his head wake him up again. Chester didn’t do well in the mornings even with coffee that was full of aspartame and chocolate pastries filled with HFCS. The mornings under the Omaha dome were always cold so Chester had spent years sleeping later and later into the day until the dome had heated up to a tolerable level. It was hard for him to break that habit, even if he had been in New Philadelphia for a few years. The patchy sleep schedule of a detective didn’t help. At least Danny had been getting up in the morning and going to bed at night. Danny seemed very motivated these days so Chester had to get by on five hours of sleep so that he could get up before him. Danny would be going to the west side today and Chester was doing his best to be alert.

Linus dragged his feet while walking and flopped down beside Chester. He slapped Chester on the shoulder to stir him out of his bobbing head doze.

“I’m awake, I’m good, I am ready to go” yawned Chester.


How We Survived – Water (Nano 2016, Chapter 7)

A low wind blew the loose sand around the camp, sweeping it across the corrugated iron walls of Abel’s shack. His cough rattled loosely as he sat bolt upright, attempting to recall the last time he’d had a drink of clear water.

“Tank”, he rasped at the other side of the room, “Tank, get up.”

Something massive stirred in its cot, but didn’t rise. Abel threw a dented hubcap at the cot, but ended up just knocking over a can of rusty nails. He gave up on rousting Tank, wrapped himself in something that approximated clothes and stepped outside into the breeze. He stared out at what he figured would soon be the rising sun and walked away from the beaten camp to find a latrine. He snatched a small folding shovel from his bike in case he didn’t find one. You always had to bury it; you didn’t want to alert the flying insects to your presence for any reason. He pondered as he squatted that even though there wasn’t a lot of eating on them, if you got enough insects together you could get a decent handful of protein. He buried it anyway; there would be better ways to eat today.


How We Survived – Lord Willing (Nano 2016, chapter 6)

Early in the choke, we didn’t understand what was going on. Many of us were children then, catching snippets of a changing world from our parents. We would fear each coming day. Not just being afraid, as children are, but we were filled with a dread of a monster that we couldn’t even see. No one would tell us what was happening, so the spaces in our mind became filled with darkness, and twisting terror. Some of us came from Louisiana, and some of us had been there as the hurricanes raged, and filled our homes with water, each year worse than the last. Others, they lived in Kansas and saw the homes of their neighbours ripped to matchwood, each year worse than the last. The children of Los Angeles saw earthquakes, the children of Montana were buried in what seemed like a mile of snow. The Texan droughts, the crippling smog in the cities that would not abate. It’s a miracle of God that we survived to make it here at all.

Chester leaned back in his rocking chair, as the young children looked at him afraid, and the teenagers sat clasping their hands waiting for the world of the story to get better. He was never sure just how each new group would react, but he knew that history had to be preserved in more than just books. These children had never known the world outside this safe place, so they needed to know how it once was up there on the surface.


How We Survived – Your Place (Nano 2016, chapter 5)

Such beauty was rarely beheld by human eyes. Great swathes of vegetables growing bright and vibrant. Waves of grain stretched as far as the eye could see. He turned his palms downwards while walking forwards letting the husks brush against his palms. Their hard exterior gave way to the soft nutrition inside. He walked among the food that would feed the people of the world. His fruits, his vegetables, his grains… this was the food  which the world marched upon. Children born would be nourished by this, children would be raised on this, pregnant mothers would anxiously wait for this food. Hungry men, swept in the sweat of work would sit down with families and pray. They would link hands, and break the bread grown from his ground would adorn the table. All we ready to feast, but moments would be taken. Either the brief breaks before a sandwich at work, or the careful time taken by a housewife to knead, proof, and bake a loaf.

The bright and vivid hues of the peaches in summertime, or the deep browns of pecans and walnuts in the autumn. He tilled soil, he pruned trees, he planted each seed with care. No day began without a breakfast made possible by his work. The nights spent caring for plants, walking between the furrows spraying deftly at the leaves, clipping leaves, straightening petals. The world began and ended with food. And he was the world’s farmer.


How We Survived – Iron Sights (Nano 2016, Chapter 4)

Patton picked at the small pieces of ice that were beginning to form on his moustache as he stood above the ice breaking prow of the canal boat. The canal listed slightly from left to right as Lawrence moved his massive body along the length of the boat. Lawrence pushed his sleeves up slightly to keep his cigarette away from the fur around the cuffs of his coat. He leaned down to Patton offering him a very large cigarette from a gold case, which Patton gladly took. Any time spent near a flame, or even an ember was very welcome on the ice breakers. Long distance cargo boats rarely had many creature comforts.

“Do you know how impossible it’s going to be to find him?” said Lawrence aimlessly, as if speaking to no one in particular.

Patton lit the cigarette and looked up at Lawrence’s face. Lawrence stared out over the Siberian planes and exhaled slowly, his gargantuan chest rising and falling as he smoked. He was totally at home with the snow silently falling on his shoulders, while keeping a sharp eye out for arctic foxes and bears.

“It couldn’t possibly be as hard as you think” said Patton, struggling a little with the cigar sized cigarette.


How We Survived – Land Of Enchantment (Nano 2016, Chapter 3)

Nothing that was poorly defended was ever worth stealing. The stuff they wanted to stop you from taking, now that had value. They’d lock it up, put it behind bars, surround the bars in plate steel, mount guns on it, and do everything possible to keep it out of your grubby mits. Because they wanted to keep it in their greasy grasp.

The domes were locked up, in a way, but nothing was so heavily fortified in this land as the trains that criss-crossed in the open air. The first hurdle to stealing from a train was its speed. At the first sign of bandits, they’d lean on the levers, crank all their engine cars up as high as they could, and they’d start rocketing across the land. To hear a behemoth like that pass by miles away was one thing. To ride a motorcycle right next to it while the giant steel wheels skipped and sparked under the torque was something else. The engines were the size of houses, propelling miles long trains, carrying towns and cities worth of people. It was the only way to keep the cities alive – filling an iron box with lifeblood and pumping it along steel veins.

Everything a man needed, from beggar to banker, was on those trains. Luxuries like fresh coffee, pure sugar, and clean alcohol was all in steady supply. From great cotton producing domes in the south came good bandages, from the north meltwater was pumped into tankers bigger than city halls, from the east came great loads of grain and livestock. And from the west came people. Each found its place on the train, and as the domes became entrenched as the solution rather than a short term cure, the trains got bigger. When simply adding another engine car and another mile became insufficient, they added another story. They added fifty feet in width. The great steel chains were now so large that news of an attack on the middle of the train might not reach the end for an hour. Size was the second hurdle.


How We Survived; Strawberry Canyon ( Nano 2016, Chapter 2)

There are no ends on the earth. Each horizon is just a slice, keeping your mind in place, trying to prevent you from wandering too far. After the exodus started, some people decided that this was the slice for them, and that they weren’t moving. They started digging into the earth, and imprisoning themselves within sprawling domes. José was having none of it.

He’d always been a rambling man, and no dust bowl was going to stop him. Back in the old days before the war, they had seen this happen before. Crops died in the ground, crumbled to dust and left barren earth behind them. He dimly remembered a childhood friend that was sold because his mother couldn’t afford to keep all the children alive. Occasionally throughout his life he had considered looking that kid up, but with the constant fleeing at the time, it didn’t seem likely that he could have any idea where that kid went.

He slowed his motorcycle and pulled off the road for a cigarette. It hadn’t been that long since people had gotten themselves into a big panic and started running, but they had moved fast. Mostly the land looked like it always had, just maybe a little drier. But every 50 miles there was another ghost town, and most of them ripe for the picking, if you knew what you were looking for. He could get used to not paying for gas, or a bed, or cigarettes and food. The road provided.