Chapter 1 of ‘Surviving on Amity Island’, a prepping novel. Rated NSFW. Contains profanity, violence, sexual situations, and conservative politics.
Casey Stoner was tossing and turning in his bed. Some kind of bizarre dream was running through his head, in which all politicians had turned into a polite kind of zombie. Then the clock radio kicked on, with a liberal actress slash comedienne singing: “They all want to fuck me in Buffalo! So maybe I should just pack my shit and go.” Did she pack her shit and go? Why couldn’t she find a decent lay in LA? Casey never found out, as the song ended abruptly when he reached over to the sheath nailed to the side of his bed, grabbed his Ka-Bar knife, and threw it across the room. Direct hit. End of song.
As he lay staring at the ceiling, his head was throbbing due to the failure of his latest hangover cure. Then he began to remember. Politicians! They’re worse than zombies. As a longtime prepper, Casey had spent countless hours considering every possible disaster scenario and how to prepare. And then it happened. Not a zombie apocalypse. Not a natural disaster. Not a war. Just one foolish decision by the nation’s politicians. And the economy fell like a house of cards. Civil disorder overwhelmed every police department. The unprepared citizenry stripped store shelves bare. Businesses collapsed. The nation was plunged into famine.
Yes, it happened. The End Of The World As We Know It. But it happened in a way that no one imagined.
Casey slipped out of bed, threw on some sweats, and slung his AR-15 over his shoulder. Then he dragged his tired ass down the stairs, into the kitchen for some grub. Well, there it was, on the counter next to the sink. The reminder of how it all began. A box of corn flakes. Yup. That’s how the world came to an end. Over a box of motherfucking sugar-frosted cornflakes.
Some board member at a multibillion dollar multinational food corporation decided all his cereals had to be GMO free. No more GMO in your kids’ cereal. So? Who cares? They taste the same either way. But that wasn’t enough for the arrogant cereal magnate. He wanted the whole nation to go GMO-free. So he started a movement, to convince Congress to ban all GMO crops.
He and his supporters pulled out all the stops. They paid experts to shill for them. Encouraged youths to protest. Hired half the lobbyists in D.C. Donated bales of money to every dishonest politician on the Hill.
And it was close. He almost pulled it off. So, when they failed, oh, about two years ago, Casey Stoner breathed a sigh of relief. The less government interferes in anything, the better off we all are.
But then some clever Senator decided to take up the cause, and ban GMO crops the bureaucratic way: death by a thousand regulations. In theory, the new regulations would pressure farmers and seed companies to move away from GMOs, in a stepwise fashion. It would surely be a gradual transition. What could possibly go wrong? Then the non-GMO Senator slipped his new regs into a massive spending bill. Most members of Congress didn’t even know what they were voting for. As usual. And it passed.
Only problem was, no farmer and no agricultural company could meet all the regulatory conditions before the next crop cycle. It was time to plant corn and soy. But they couldn’t plant GMO corn or soy, as the regulatory hurdles would take a year or more to clear. And there wasn’t enough non-GMO seed to go around. Seed prices skyrocketed. Fields went fallow. And the GMO seed that was available sat in silos and rotted.
After pouring himself a bowl of cornflakes, Casey absent-mindedly went to the frig for some milk. Crap, that’s right, no milk. Corn and soy are used for livestock feed. No corn and soy meant that producers couldn’t feed their herds. So they culled them. For a little while, the market was flooded with cheap beef, pork, and chicken. But once gone, very little livestock remained to supply milk, meat, and poultry.
Casey’s next-door neighbor, Aura Carrington, was thrilled. Yes, her actual given name, given to her by her hippie parents, was Aura. As in, stand over there by the window so I can read your aura. She’s one of those vegan activists who thinks every meat-eater is a murderer. Big PETA fan. Not a fan of the NRA, unsurprisingly. When the meat, poultry, and dairy supply increased sharply, and everyone was stocking up and pigging out, she was absolutely freaking out! It was her worst nightmare.
Casey Stoner, of course, couldn’t resist inviting her over for a backyard barbeque with some of the other neighbors. It was happening all over the nation. Very cheap plentiful meat caused an outbreak of neighborhood barbeques. It was like a nationwide non-stop fourth of July. To his surprise, Aura showed up. But she brought an assortment of veggies from her garden to throw on the grill. He kept offering her hamburgers and hotdogs, pretending to forget she was a vegan. But she took it all in stride. She took everything in stride, including the near total collapse of society. Huh. That’s a good quality, these days.
During the barbeque festivities, Casey’s wife, Beatrice Stoner, insisted that Aura was flirting with him. But he sincerely wasn’t sure that was true. Aura is a naturally friendly person, unlike Mrs. Stoner. Maybe she just didn’t realize. She would sit beside Casey, and suddenly turn her head, causing her long strawberry blonde hair to flip across his face and cascade over his shoulder and arm. Then, when he was relating one of the many amusing anecdotes from his long and eventful life, she would let out a giggle and touch his knee with her hand. And this one time, she took his hand, and put it on her knee. Yeah, no reason to think she was flirting. Some women are just very friendly.
Well, a few more weeks passed, and the supply of non-vegan food ran very low. Prices were high, if you could even find any dairy or meat. Thefts and robberies of food became commonplace. Most everyone was forced to adopt a near-vegan diet, most of the time. Aura could not stop smiling. And the neighbors could not stop raiding her immense backyard garden. It was nearly half an acre, all planted and tended by herself alone.
Did I say a near-vegan diet? I meant a low-fat vegan diet. You see, 80% of the vegetable oil produced in the U.S. is from corn and soy. The failure to plant corn and soy for just one crop season severely depleted vegetable oil supplies, causing prices on all kinds of vegetable oil to rise sharply worldwide. Yes, the U.S. agricultural disaster was having a domino effect in other nations.
Casey Stoner was pissed off. At the government, at the anti-GMO crowd, even at the farmers. In his mind, the farmers should have ignored the law, planted the GMO seeds, and dealt with the consequences later. But it’s too late now. Congress quickly nullified the GMO regulations. But the corn and soy seed had gone bad and been turned into compost. There was now not enough seed of any kind to provide for the next crop. In fact, it would take years to rebuild the seed supply.
In the meantime, panic buying on food and supplies of every kind caused a collapse of the whole economy. Theft, robbery, and various violent protests and crimes have made it very difficult to ship goods, keep goods on the shelves, and keep any business in the black. The Shit has Hit The Fan, and all the corn and soy in the world won’t fix the damage. We are in it for the long haul.
After a breakfast of cornflakes, with coffee poured over them instead of milk, and couple of potatoes fried with a small amount of precious vegetable oil, Casey set about his new morning routine.
First things first. Weapons and ammo check: AR-15, military surplus 5.56 ammo, Beretta Px4, hollow point 9mm ammo. A round in each chamber. Safeties off. Ka-Bar knife in his thigh sheath.
That silencer he ordered never came. Here on Amity Island, part of the great state of Virginia, the gun laws are pretty good. Not too many hoops to jump through, in order to exercise your second amendment rights. He had applied for the ATF tax stamp just before the SHTF. But once chaos was unleashed, guns, ammo, silencers, everything related to self-defense went way up in price and way down in availability. In his pocket, Casey keeps a pair of earplugs, if he ever has time to put them on before firing. And he keeps a pair of over the ears muffs on the kitchen table. Silencers are nice, but non-essential.
Next task: perimeter check on the house and the land. Casey is careful exiting his front door. Lately, some of the more desperate locals have taken to setting up ambushes. They’ll wait half the night just outside your home, and rush you as soon as you step outside. Most people, including Casey, have had to board up the windows of their houses, especially on the first floor. That makes it harder for assailants to get in, but also harder to see them coming.
AR-15 in the low ready position. Casey steps outside and scans the area. Nothing. He locks the door and heads around to the side of the house, with great caution. As he turns the corner, he is surprised to see a dead body, with a gunshot wound to the head, laying near a window. Then he remembers.
Last night, he was up late drinking and watching some old movies on DVD. The cable and internet services are becoming increasingly unreliable. There was a noise outside. Someone was trying to pry the plywood off of one of the windows. All his first floor windows are boarded up, but with a space at the top to let in some light. Casey knew what to do next. Shouting a warning would be useless. He’s tried that a few times before. They never give up. Too much fear and desperation, too little common sense.
He had the time, so he threw on a pair of ear muffs. From the second floor, he surveyed the situation. One miscreant. A check of the other sides of the house found no one else. Now the question was AR or 9mm? Indoors, the AR is very loud. And his assailant had a knife, but no gun. Well, nine is fine, as they say. Then, as soon as the guy finished prying the board off the window, Casey opened fire. A single shot to the head. No need to waste ammunition. It was his tenth kill, give or take, since the collapse of law and order. At this point in time, the police don’t even bother showing up. If the situation is “resolved”, they don’t waste their time.
Crap. Another body to deal with. If he leaves it there long enough, though, it will just disappear. Dragged off by animals? Taken away by roving gangs of hungry locals, more likely. What they do with a dead body, Casey doesn’t want to know. Maybe they use it to attract wild animals, which they then kill for food. Or something worse.
Finishing his check of the perimeter, Casey comes around to his front door again. And there, ringing the doorbell repeatedly — even though it hasn’t worked in months — is Aura Carrington. Strawberry blonde smile. Halter top and short skirt. Like it was any ordinary day. Not a care in the world. Shit. Is she insane, or just in denial? Maybe a little of both.
Casey flips his rifle, on its two-point sling, around behind his back. “Hey, Sunshine.”
“Hey yourself, doom and gloom.”
“Is that what I’m like?”
“Big time. My place for breakfast today?”
“Lunch would be better.”
“Kay, kay. What cha doin’ today?” Aura descends the steps and skips over to Casey’s side.
“Burying a dead body. Wanna help?”
“Oh, are you kidding me? Again?”
“It was self-defense.”
“Casey, can’t you just warn them off? Fire a shot into the air.”
“That only emboldens them. They begin to think you don’t have the nerve to shoot them.”
“Call the cops, then.”
“Nope. Half the cops have fled the island. Some of the rest are as likely to rob you as help you.”
They walk together around the side of the house.
“I just don’t think I could bring myself to shoot another human being.”
“It’s kill or be killed, Aura.”
They turn the corner, and she sees the dead body.
Aura is shocked. She lets out a long string of swear words. Her mouth drops open.
Casey is a little confused. “You’ve seen dead bodies before, Aura. Just last week, when–”
“No! Not that. Look, on the horizon!”
Casey looks up, past the tree-lined hill on the northwest side of the island. There, in the distance, definitely somewhere on the mainland, was a mushroom cloud. “Oh, fuck me.”
“Is that nuclear?” Aura asks.
“Shit. There was no blinding flash of light. And there would have been a shockwave by now. So…”
“Right. Any large explosion can make a mushroom-shaped cloud.”
“How many people know that?”
“Not many. This is going to panic the shit out of a lot of people.”
“So, Casey … remember when you promised me a gun lesson?”
“Whenever you’re ready.”
“Let’s get inside and check the news first.”
[end of chapter 1]