Gerry Gainford | Author

After the Fall

Month: August 2020

To Prologue or not Prologue, that is the question

The jury is out on this one and it does seem like I won’t be using this prologue in my novel, After The Fall. However, I am quite proud of it, so here it is in all it’s prologuey glory.

AFTER THE FALL

No one expected Armageddon to be so shit. Such a damn, damp squib. We expected hell; fire and brimstone. We expected the nukes, a flash of light and then nothing ever again. Inter Fucking Continental Ballistic Missiles all crossing paths as everyone fired them, all at once, wiping out every major city in the world, sending clouds of shit into the atmosphere to kill anything that was left in a nuclear winter.
We expected that the earth would get over it, and the cockroaches would rule, creating a benevolent cockroach society, an insect utopia of art and music, with no people to scream and hit them with a shoe.
We thought that God would reach his hand down, taking the righteous in a glorious rapture, leaving us sinners to repent under darkened skies. Maybe that’s what happened. Maybe God did take the righteous. The truth was, none of us really knew.
We knew that there were bombs. The missiles crossed paths in the upper atmosphere and crashed to earth, but only a few worked, and most of those missed. All of those huge nuclear arsenals? It turned out that they were about as reliable as my ’89 Fiesta.
Seattle was hit, dead on; destroyed. I was there to watch it happen. A six-week trip to the USA and I was there for day one of Armageddon. Just my luck. The nuke destined for Los Angeles missed completely, a hundred miles out in the desert, acres of sand were turned to glass in an instant.
Vancouver was a direct hit, but the bomb didn’t explode. All over the world, from what little we know, most of them didn’t go off. Still, clouds of dust went up into the skies, filling them with shit, darkening them, settling months later into not so much a nuclear winter, but more of a nuclear Irish summer. Cloudy and grey and raining. A miserable damp old Armageddon.
It was everything else that went wrong afterwards. That’s what killed the billions, wiping most of the population from the face of the earth. We think. The TVs stopped working right off, the radios not long after. In the years that followed, we pieced together the rumours and stories. They were hard to believe, but then so were our own tales of the disaster. Nuclear plants melted down and left the whole east coast a nightmare of glowing rocks and radiation. Stories of horrific cancers, mutant babies with thankfully short lives, a disease-ridden, rotting heap of corpses.
The tsunamis hit. Fun fact: If you detonate a nuclear bomb big enough in the middle of the ocean it can cause a big wave. That was our best guess. How could we know? We just saw the aftermath. I heard that half of Los Angeles got washed away just as everyone was congratulating themselves on escaping a nuke. Then, all that were left were a few ultra-rich in the hills who hadn’t evacuated yet. They were outnumbered by their gardeners and maids. A bloodbath of epic proportions followed. I heard descriptions of a movie exec who was shredded with a lawnmower. The story may even be true. I’ve seen worse.
Then the storms came. Another fun fact: Even a half-assed nuclear war can contribute more to climate change than four hundred years of burning coal. We got droughts, we got heat, we got rain and when the storms came, no one was ready. Winds stronger than anyone had ever seen. Gales that destroyed everything in their path. That’s a problem in America, they build so much out of wood. Nothing’s built to last. Though I think they expected it to last longer than this.
Lastly, there were the plagues. The cities were destroyed and suddenly all these people who had never done anything in their lives were fleeing, and they couldn’t find food, clean water, shelter. I say this like an expert, but back then I couldn’t do much either. I just ran. No food, no water, no shelter. Bodies everywhere. Disease spread quickly. The stores were looted in the first few hours, leaving only empty aisles. Most were destroyed though, the fires, the waves, the bombs. Gunfights over bottled water, kids dying for want of an aspirin.
All the cities destroyed, refugees spilling to the countryside, looting and fighting over the little that was left, the storms destroying anything not built to last centuries.
There was no God, not now, if this was Revelations, then we were left behind and now I was on my own.

4 years later

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Where the Crawdads Sing

I finished Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and it is excellent. It’s a lesson in writing for anyone who wants to break rules about flittering about in time and bouncing between multiple points of views, but way more importantly it’s a great book.

It follows Kya, who’s family leave her one by one, until she is growing up alone in the marsh near Barkley Cove, NC. She has to hide from the social workers, try to fish and sell her catch all the while pretending she’s not a kid living alone in a shack. The local kids make fun of her, from her one day at school and they taunt the ‘Marsh Girl’, daring each other to run up and knock on her door. She’s very alone, and the novel follows her meeting others as she grows. When she falls in love, when she gets her heart broken.

On the time flittering, the story bounces from 1952 when Kya is six, and following her growing up, to 1969 when the local quarterback is found dead and the murder investigation that follows.

Pick up this book, you won’t regret it.