Author Archives: Melanie

The Event – A Science Fiction Thriller | Episode 8

Consider now that all that has been described so far occurred within the first fifteen minutes after event inception. In that quarter hour, these scenes were repeated in every city, town, neighborhood, home and farm house affecting everyone at work, at school, at play, on the road, on the water, in the air, or under the ground.

A swath of land representing one percent of the planet’s surface had been wiped clean of every sign of human habitation save the footprint left upon the earth when all that we created had vanished.  There were exceptions, however, and those would come to light as the event continued toward the west – exceptions that gave us a fighting chance to preserve something of our culture and make a stand for survival.

Attempts were made to peer into those areas of devastation so as to better understand and prepare should the phenomenon remain on its current course.  The military was providing continuous video feeds from planes on both sides of the event: those patrolling north and south along the safe side, and those pacing the leading edge as it sped quickly toward the Atlantic.

In contrast, the civilian world was provided little in the way of new video information other than that supplied by the fleet of television helicopters flying just outside the disrupted zone, using their maximum telephoto magnification to capture scenes of the unfolding pathos.

Though some turbojet helicopters were capable of reaching an altitude of more than 7,500 meters, the news gathering variety could hover at only half that, but still giving their cameras a potential horizon of more than 200 kilometers from London, theoretically allowing them to resolve images in Cardiff on the west coast.

In practice, however, haze, dust, heat waves, and the thickness of the atmosphere at an oblique angle over that distance reduced the practical range to something less, especially in terms of details.  In addition, the rate the event interface was travelling had already put it beyond the horizon before it could be seen.

As a result, as the second quarter hour of the event began, the only images publicly available were of the destruction in its wake and were distant, muddy, and low resolution, giving the emotional impression that this was the aftermath of a localized disaster that had already happened.

This all changed for viewers still glued to their televisions when a jumpy shot covering the whole of Spain as seen from above with a hand-held camera filled their screens.  The image zoomed into a blur, then gradually came into focus revealing the event interface, seen diagonally from upper left to lower right, as it moved inexorably westward across Madrid.

Shortly after the first military video from London was arriving in the United States, a ground controller at NASA had directed the crew of the International Space Station to point their camera out the window as they approached the Iberian Peninsula and, remembering the tragedy on 9-11, had passed it on in a live feed to new agencies, without considering the panic it might generate.

Like an invisible eraser, the event passed over Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport wiping it clean, then continued through the suburbs toward the heart of the old city.  There was no dust along the interface line and no rubble behind: the buildings and infrastructure were not disintegrating, just ceasing to be.

Fortunately, the resolution was not sufficient to see people falling from newly non-existent buildings and planes in the same manner as London, but the impact was palpable as celebrated landmarks such as Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, the Royal Palace, and the Plaza de España were easily identifiable from space one moment and gone the next.

The International Space Station, like most payloads, was placed into orbit traveling from west to east to take advantage of the sling shot effect of the earth’s rotation, not unlike a playground merry-go-round, saving on fuel and thereby allowing greater weights to be lofted.

Circling the globe every ninety three minutes, it approached the interface line at approximately 28,000 kilometers per hour, bringing the two headlong together in just under five minutes at which time the signal was lost.

Just below New Zealand lies the Antipodes Island Group – so called because they are the nearest land mass to the point on the globe geographically opposite to that of London.  And it was in New Zealand proper, forty-five minutes later at the Mount John University Observatory, that one of its five telescopes, following the projected path of the ISS, was able to capture a silhouette image of astronauts’ nude bodies as they transited the moon.

When the space station went dark, it was assumed by most that NASA had cut the signal, but the public had seen enough: something horrible, inexplicable, and unprecedented was happening in Europe.  What if it didn’t stop there?

In contrast to the event’s straight line, panic spread out from London like a bomb blast in all directions at once.  Those to the west who had not yet been deprived of their televisions ran from their homes in absolute terror that was more intense with increasing proximity to what was coming.

First thoughts were to bring their families together or hunker down with friends. Some never made it to their front door.  Others made it through the broadcast before their screen and everything else vanished around them.

Those quick on the draw immediately made contact by cell phone and arranged gathering points.  For most everyone else, the cell system became so overloaded that within seconds it was impossible to make a connection, cutting communication long before the event arrived, adding to the panic already at work.

imagine the mental state of those who had now seen the effect of the event, it’s present location, and the direction from which it was coming.  Nothing had yet been published about natural items remaining, nor that new things could be created in the event zone after the interface had passed.  All anyone knew at that time was that everything of a material man made nature was soon to vanish from their world, and those they cared most about were in imminent peril.

Manchester was gone as well as Birmingham, Edinburgh, and Liverpool.  Glasgow was wiped clean, then Gibraltar and Tangier in quick succession.  There was no time to consider the loss of art and architecture nor of family albums and traditions.  All was lost in scant minutes and all that was left were suffering and fear.

Flying over Dublin and Lisbon a line of jet aircraft could be seen, a mixture of military and civilian craft that had been quick enough to get in the air before the event arrived and fast enough to stay ahead of it, looking much like a bombing raid from World War II.

Boeing’s 777 was one of the fastest commercial jets, cruising at Mach .84, and capable of maintaining Mach .89 for sustained flight.  Other planes of less speed were gradually overtaken by the interface, and as their tails dissolved they fell from the sky only to be vanished completely before the wreckage could hit the ground.  This provided a good, though tragic, indicator of the speed of the event itself, but as of yet, there was no centralized information center to which it (and hundreds of other observations) could be reported.  That would soon change in the second hour.

As the first hour closed, the event line had moved past Ireland to encroach on the coast of Iceland, and farther south, it was bearing down on the Canary Islands and about to leave the African continent to plunge into the Atlantic on its way west.

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The Event – A Science Fiction Thriller | Episode 7

Though the event was clearly progressing from east to west, the Prime Meridian, being a line of longitude, runs north and south from Greenwich all the way to both poles.

Above the UK, the Meridian crosses the North Sea, the Norwegian Sea, the Greenland Sea, and the Arctic Ocean, terminating at the north pole.  Unlike Antarctica, which is a continent, there is no land mass at the north pole.  Rather, it is covered by an extensive ice sheet some one to four meters thick in most places and up to twenty meters in depth at pressure ridges.  The size of the ice varies by season, covering all the water between Canada and Russia during the winter and, with global warming, shrinking enough to allow open navigation around the edges by September.

At the exact moment the athletic man arrived at the Observation Deck, the Russian government lost communication with two Dolphin Class and one Borey-A Class nuclear submarines traveling under the cap together at a cruise depth of two hundred meters as part of the year’s Umka (Polar Bear) artic exercise being held in the vicinity of the Franz Josef Land archipelago. 

In a previous year’s effort, the pack, as part of a contingent of more than six hundred military and civilian personnel had become the first to simultaneously break through the artic ice from below within a radius of three hundred meters and sought now to duplicate the achievement.  Communication was never reestablished.

Southward from London, zero degrees longitude stretches over the English Channel and then through France, Spain, the Mediterranean Sea, over another leg of Spain, and back into the Mediterranean Sea.

Along this span, Bordeaux in France and Valencia in Spain bore the initial brunt of the event in their respective countries, but unlike the situation in London, zero degrees longitude falls just east of those two cities, so rather than bisecting them, both metropolitan areas were completely demolished in the same manner as the English capitol within moments of inception.

In each case, therefore, there was no immediate support network directly to the east, and the entire infrastructure had been removed in an instant.  With no prior warning, more than one million urban dwellers and two million more in their extended metropolitan areas fell naked into a stone age equivalent world filled with the dead and injured and with no means of protecting, clothing, or feeding themselves, much less assisting others.

The Meridian ran more than thirty kilometers to the east of what had been the city center of Bordeaux, and without any means of communication there was no way to know that safety lay in that direction.  Panic quickly ensued, exacerbated by the dissolution of the three major psychiatric hospitals that surrounded the downtown.

Though this report strives to include only descriptions of specific scenarios witnessed first hand by those who had experienced them, from time to time it serves to diverge from that restriction to outline the larger narratives in play that day.

Therefore, in order to understand the extraordinary forces that worked against our response to the disaster, for a moment imagine yourself as one of the citizens of Bordeaux – instantly surrounded by a barren landscape, absent of all familiar landmarks, feeling in a very real sense as if you had been transported to another planet: no resources, no sense of what to do, no explanation of what had happened. 

And then, in scant moments when the initial shock wore off, to realize you were surrounded by heaps and mounds of writhing, screaming people.  And even if you were uninjured or even at home, your spouse might be at work, your children at school, your mother at the care center.  You had no idea how to get to them or to check on them, no idea what was going on, and no way of finding out.

Returning to eye-witness accounts, in Valencia, the situation was even worse, though that seems beyond imagining.  Like London, Valencia was built by the Romans and had become Spain’s third largest city, three times the size of Bordeaux, and generated more than half the GDP of the country through its port at which the entire infrastructure had just vanished.  Boats, trucks, trains, planes, and cars had ceased to be in an instant and thousands of people were plunged into the water both near and very far from shore. 

The event line was more than twenty kilometers east of the coast, so not only was there little hope for those in distress, but no rescuers from the safe side could reach them.  Those few ships in the area that tried, crossed the line and sank, adding to the tragedy.  Incredibly a few strong swimmers were able to make their way to ships in the safe zone or back to shore toward the west, which did not substantially improve their situation. 

Valencia was also home to Spain’s largest prison at Picassent, and in that community to the south of the city center, inmates and guards without uniforms to identify them mingled with each other and eventually with the general population.  There were several reports of violent attacks there on uninjured survivors which may have been perpetrated by those whose mindless rage had caused them to be incarcerated in the first place.

From the Mediterranean below Valencia, the Meridian heads into Africa, across Algeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo, Ghana, Togo again, and Ghana once more before plunging into the Atlantic Ocean.

The initial incursion of the event along the Prime Meridian in Africa fell largely in sparely populated areas.  Still, tribes of nomads and many small villages in the Sahara were struck.

Perhaps one of the most fortunate was the oasis of Tabelbala in southwest Algeria.  With a population of just over 5,000, it was an agricultural community in which more than ninety percent of the homes had drinking water and electricity.

Though hit hard by the loss of their infrastructure, the readily available water and crops (more than 100,000 date palms) as well as an estimated 3,500 sheep, 10,000 goats, and 5,000 camels, left the settlement well positioned for survival and some degree of continuity in its social and economic traditions.

As we shall later see in South America, those tribes and villages considered least advanced by the developed world often fared far better than their more modern brethren.

To the south of Ghana, the line plunges into the Southern Ocean for more than ten thousand kilometers before concluding its arc at the south pole.  The only landmass the Prime Meridian touches in the southern hemisphere is Antarctica.

And it was there, at the bottom of the world, that a minor phenomenon would eventually provide the first small insight into the event process.

The United States had maintained a base at the geographic south pole since 1956, though the original base was abandoned in 1975, due to drifting snow.  It was replaced in that year by a geodesic dome that was itself replaced in 2008 resulting from a crack in the dome caused by pressure on the foundation.  Since 2008, the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station has maintained a summer population of approximately 150 with a few dozen “winter-overs” usually totaling around 40.

The geographic south pole is the common termination of all lines of longitude which meet at the point where the axis of the earth’s rotation intersects its surface.  This is not at all the same as the south magnetic pole, which has slowly meandered over the continent in a roughly east to west direction and currently resides off the coast.

There is a third south pole as well – a cute candy cane striped post with a round silver ball on top – that sits just a few yards in front of the station as a photo opportunity for visiting dignitaries who do not wish to make the trek out to the actual geographic pole some distance away.

Relative to the station, the geographic pole shifts at approximately ten meters per year, as the ice cap slowly flows over it like a glacier.  In fact, the location for the station had taken into account this drift so that it would pass directly over the pole.  At the time of the event, that latitudinal nexus has already moved through to stand some four hundred meters from the ceremonial pole and was getting father away every season.

To commemorate that spot for those intrepid enough to make the trek, a sign was erected and then moved as needed for accuracy, leaving markers of its previous positions to illustrate the path of the ice cap.

As it was a point of interest, several engineers had set up a year-round wireless web cam to broadcast the sign in sun and storm while documenting hardier polar tourists who made the effort to see it.

Being exactly at the pole, Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station was graced with six months in which the sun never sets and six months of complete darkness.  While London was celebrating the summer solstice, Antarctica was enduring its winter solstice.

Though no tourists are allowed during the winter, the web cam engineers had equipped the sign with a low-power LED just bright enough to make it readable, but dim enough not to overpower the spectacular Aurora Australis, commonly known at the Southern Lights.  This provided a captivating view and at any given time of day several hundred internet viewers were tuned in to enjoy the show.

Immediately after the event initiated in London, comments posted on the web cam’s page claimed an unusual occurrence was visible on screen: one edge of the sign appeared to be gradually disappearing – so slowly in fact that the progression at  the edge of the disruption was barely discernable.

The communications officer on duty noticed the increased comment traffic on the web cam page and examined the image for himself.  He had no explanation for what he saw.  There was no disruption of the image of the aurora and the rest of the sign appeared as it should.  But the one edge was continuously, almost imperceptibly, vanishing.

He quickly reported this discovery to the web cam crew who, after viewing the video, set about donning their winter gear for a trek to the pole to see for themselves.  Later, their actions would come to provide one of the contributing factors to our survival.

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The Event – A science fiction thriller | Episode 6

Government and military leaders around the world were pulled from meetings or their beds, and sometimes from the beds of others.  Heads of two different states were roused in each other’s company.  Quick response teams were swiftly notified and convened in person or by video conference.

The military’s rapid dissemination of information was not matched in the civilian sector.  As one might expect, the onset of the event was so shocking that few people who witnessed it from the safe side recovered their wits quickly enough to think of capturing it with their phones before the plane of destruction had moved beyond the horizon in little over one minute.

In addition, the entire BBC complex had resided at the heart of London’s modern city center, and every studio, every editing bay, every camera were no more upon the earth, and the technicians and on-air personnel were largely incapacitated.  Further, London’s entire communication infrastructure had been dealt a nearly fatal blow, save for the few satellite uplink vans stationed on the east side that day.

Initial social media posts were largely confined at first to textual accounts and images of the aftermath, save for those few individuals who had already been capturing video before the moment of inception and continued to do so.  Still, the magnitude of the disaster was so broad that hardly any posts with visual documentation of the event itself were posted until after those on the scene had attended to their immediate needs and of those around them.

Being the most extensive metropolitan area right at the point of inception, however, the east side of London quickly became not only a communication hub and clearing house for information both outgoing and incoming, but would later be a staging point for the first frantic scientific studies of the ongoing phenomenon, obviously driven with a great sense of urgency.

But this had not happened yet when first images were posted documenting the results of the devastation seen from the Royal Observatory across all of remaining London.  A few showed the swarm of humanity climbing over itself to reach the safety of the other side immediately after the event had passed.

This flood of bodies, however, had gradually lessened to become a rush, then a flow and, by the time NODAC had gone dark, was no more than a trickle as all who were close enough to see the promise of safety and physically able to move had crossed over or were well on their way to doing so.

Rescue teams and law enforcement had been quick to respond all along the Meridian line, but within minutes it was understood through experience that no vehicles nor equipment could penetrate beyond the interface between the affected and un-affected areas.

Training and courage, however, led rescuers, men and women of the cloth, and those of compassionate hearts to band together and walk headlong into the melee to assist the injured, comfort them if they could not be moved and carry them to safety if they could, while ambulances, medical personnel, and support materials gathered at the edge of the zone.

One particularly resourceful rescuer trying to negotiate the rough ground in the affected area bound some large pliant leaves to his feet with grape vines to create crude shoes that enabled him to more efficiently help the injured and also to provide the ambulatory with foot coverings for the remainder of their escape, as feet that have spent their entire time enclosed are not well-suited for scrambling over uneven terrain.

But, when he had led some initial victims to safety, the moment he turned and crossed back into the zone his impromptu footwear vanished and he was forced to fashion another pair.  Other rescuers, trained to adapt to the realities of changing situations , quickly gathered natural supplies right at the edge of the line, which could be carried across and assembled on the other side. 

One efficient worker sat just inside the safe zone, reaching over the interface to construct sandals, unaware that the arms of her long sleeved shirt became shorter each time she reached farther in to add a new pair to the growing pile, as reported by one of her co-workers charged with replenishing supplies.

In addition to being useful for the immediate tragedy, this discovery provided an essential clue that enabled the world to prepare for the final aftermath, once the event had run its course.  And soon, all manner of potential material for fashioning makeshift shoes, clothing, bandages, splints, and stretchers (to improve on the fireman’s hold they had been using) were assembled just outside the affected area and then carried into it by other volunteers where an impromptu manufacturing center was established. 

As victims emerged from the disaster zone, they brought with them tales of both terror and heroism.  Though moving and poignant, for the purposes of this report we cannot diverge to dwell on them.

There is one story, however, that though unverified, serves as an example of British resiliency.  Buckingham palace ceased to be within the first minute of the event.  But direct news of this took several hours to reach the outside world as it came from those picking their way toward safety who were met by rescuers and then conveyed back to the front line – a round trip of nearly twenty kilometers taking several hours in poorly clad feet.

But as reported, when the venerable building vanished, and being five stories high with more than four hundred staff in attendance, many were killed by the fall to the ground or by those who fell from above them.  Fortunately, the royal family, though naked and dazed, was not seriously injured as they were in front of the building welcoming a delegation at the time.

Instantly, the remaining staff converged on scene as the royal guard, now without weapons nor their famous uniforms, gathered in a circle around the royals and stood ramrod straight and as implacable as always until preparations were made to move them to safety.

Unfortunately, nothing more was heard regarding the honorable family, though the fact that its location is just under four kilometers from the London Zoo, whose bars had also vanished, has caused some to speculate.

Connected topically to the royals, it was almost simultaneously discovered that the crown jewels that were protected in the tower of London not five kilometers away had survived relatively unscathed in their cut form, though their golden settings had vanished completely.

This provided yet another crucial clue to the operation of the event as there was growing evidence that though anything man made had vanished, the dividing line between what was manufactured and what was simply assembled or brought together was often blurry.

It was almost as if some intelligence or intelligent system had made a choice about the estate of every material item independently through some sort of conceptual classification, though the criteria by which such decisions were made and the nature of who or what was making them remained shrouded in mystery, made even more mysterious considering that all of our computers combined would have been unable to arrive at that many determinations that quickly.

Here, it should be noted that while this report focuses on the logistic specifics of the event and our response to it, these understandings are a dispassionate framework laid across the greatest tragedy in all of human history to better grasp its meaning and significance.

By magnitudes, more people died in the first hour than ever before in such a small span of time, many of them horribly and in front of those they loved.  And the number of injured within the zone included almost everyone lucky enough to have avoided outright demise – it was just a matter of degree.  Only a few remained intact and unbattered, but even for those, survivor’s guilt and the ghastly scenes they had witnessed would haunt them for the rest of their lives, not to mention the almost unbearable loss of those they held close to their hearts.

It was against this background of high emotion that more images and videos of the event and its victims began to make their way to the outside world – sporadically at first, then a rush, and finally a cacophonous deluge as every news outlet and social media platform, was pouring out information, misinformation, learned speculation, and conspiracy theories.

The usual suspects were blamed: Act of God, Terrorists, and Aliens, as well as governments, super villains, the Illuminati, mass hallucinations, or perhaps a new disease.  It did not matter that some of the suggested causes were unlikely to the point of being impossible.  When faced with an unknown threat, any explanation is better than none.

People could be seen rushing through the streets seeking supplies and wearing masks in case it was contagious and aluminum foil hats should it turn out to be broadcast.  Others kissed whatever religious symbol they carried and knelt or bowed in prayer.  Churches filled, as did bars, but most people in the developed world hurried home and hunkered down in front of their television sets seeking understanding, guidance, solace, and a sense of safety.

Episode 7 will be published here soon

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The Event – A Sci-Fi Thriller | Episode 5

The RAF maintained two principal Quick Response Alert (QRA) bases in the UK, one in Coningsby just under 200 kilometers virtually due north of London and the primary site at Lossiemouth in Scotland.  Each was charged with getting a pair of Eurofighter Typhoons airborne within five minutes of a scramble order.  Once they received the go order, these planes could accelerate from brakes-off to Mach 1.5 at 10,000 meters in just over two minutes.

The process was designed to begin at the National Air Defense Operations Centre (NADOC), RAF Air Command, High Wycombe, which continuously monitored both military and civilian radar data for anomalies against standard expectations for the Recognized Air Picture (RAP).

Once a potential threat was noted, a scramble order was passed on to the Control and Reporting Centers (CRCs) at RAF Scampton and RAF Boulmer who maintained direct contact with the QRA pilots and directed them to proceed to specified coordinates.

A classified number of Typhoons from Lossiemouth’s four squadrons that collectively totaled nearly fifty aircraft were also kept on ready status at all times, meaning that the pilots were on call and the planes fully fueled.  These additional Typhoons could be airborne in ten to twelve minutes with others from the three squadrons at Coningsby prepped and on standby as well.

At the onset of the event, the RAP had been nominal all morning until 12:00 when NADOC operators watched the radar images and corresponding transponder signatures vanish from their screens along a north/south line moving due west that spanned the entire length of England.

As more data disappeared from their screens, engineers initiated a pre-programmed set of rapid diagnostics while communication officers quickly confirmed that all RAF facilities were experiencing the same moving data blackout.

The situation changed severely when all communication ceased from the secondary QRA base at Coningsby, being located at 0.1701 degrees west longitude and just over 15 kilometers from the Prime Meridian, at forty six seconds past noon.  The shift commander at NADOC was informed of the evolving situation within ninety seconds of its inception, and before two minutes had transpired, a scramble order was posted.

At Lossiemouth, the initial contingent of Typhoons took to the air with standard armament.  In addition, the potential severity of the threat led the commander to issue a launch order for the secondary aircraft waiting on standby.

Taking off toward the west, the QRA couplet made a wide arc back toward the east and were confronted by a scene that was nearly incomprehensible: planes were vanishing from the sky leaving plummeting bodies behind while directly below on the ground, buildings, vehicles, and every type of infrastructure simply disappeared as if an invisible hand was moving across the land.

The lead plane had no time to avoid intercepting that wall of dissolution and was simply gone, but the pilot in the follow plane put his aircraft in a tight bank, nearly blacking out from the g-force as the event interface approached shearing off the first few inches of its underhanging armament before the jet gradually pulled away and off to the west.

The other Typhoons in the secondary squadron followed suit and were soon keeping pace ahead of the disruption, reporting back to NADOC until it also ceased communication just over twelve minutes past noon.

One of the QRA aircraft was fitted with the latest version of the Rafael Reccelite electro-optical reconnaissance pod that could broadcast live stabilized video imagery via datalink to ground stations and to ROVER (Remote Operations Video Enhanced Receiver) tactical units up to 160 kilometers distant.

RAF stations to the west picked up these images and repeated them throughout the NATO communications network, alerting stunned allies (and adversaries as well) of the existence and nature of the emergency at hand.

***

Episode 6 will be posted here soon

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Always nice to hear from a follower…

Here’s some kind thoughts from a follower about one of the videos I created in 1999…

Wow, I am blown away with the advice you give to do things out of order. I’m so glad to hear you say this because I’ve been working with and learning Dramatica for years (yes, years!) and that little piece of advice to do things out of order has been a breakthrough! Thank you so much for that! I’m much more a holistic/intuitive writer and didn’t realize that the linear order of working through the software has been constraining because I just don’t write that way (sorry Jim:)). So freeing to hear it straight from the co-creator’s mouth. What a breakthrough! I know these have been up for years but thanks for keeping them up. They are still very relevant and the nostalgia from the VHS, VCR, and CD-ROM mentions are priceless! Thank you for this. Copyright says 1999 but in 2022 it has just made my day! 🙂

The Event – A sci-fi thriller | Episode 4

Heathrow airport, the busiest two-runway airport in the world, was positioned just under thirty eight kilometers west of London at -.4543 degrees longitude.  The Air Traffic Control tower (ATC) stood 89 meters high, with the control room just below that at roughly 85 meters providing the operators a commanding 360 degree view of the surrounding countryside including a stunning panorama of the London skyline. 

Airport administrators enforced an East to West take-off and landing pattern due to the prevailing winds and, with the continuous load of traffic, employed four separate arrival holding stacks: Lambourne to the northeast of London, Biggin to the southeast, Bovingdon to the northwest, and the Ockham Stack to the southwest, essentially putting the Old City at the center of a four-leaf clover with Heathrow being the stem to the west of all four stacks.

Heathrow handled more than 1300 flights a day.  At any given moment, each of the four stacks might have six to twelve aircraft in its holding pattern with departing flights taking to the air from the far west side of the primary runway that defined the end of the clover’s stem at a rate of one every 60 to 90 seconds.

At the onset of the event, planes at the bottom of the Lambourne and Biggin stacks, arriving from across the continent from points north and south respectively, were beginning their final descents toward Heathrow.  The view of the sprawling London metropolitan area during approach was said to be one of the most spectacular throughout the world, and passengers were glued to their windows taking it all in when the city below began to vanish along a north/south line that was cutting an east/west swath toward Heathrow.

Coming largely from military backgrounds, most pilots were quick to respond, pulling their aircraft into insanely tight turns in the attempt to head back toward the east.  Unfortunately, some planes were simply too close already to avoid crossing the Prime Meridian, and in a fraction of a second, passengers in the jets still on hold observed groups of flailing naked people falling from where they had been sitting in their commuter planes and jumbos just a moment before.

Unprepared for the sudden evasive maneuvers, two cargo carriers collided in a fireball before their momentum carried them into the affected zone leaving nothing but smoke hovering over the safe side.

Alerted by the chaotic chatter, the shift supervisor in the ATC rushed to the wrap-around windows in time to see the entire London skyline disappear as the interface moved through it, and distant planes on approach disintegrating before his eyes.

Initially stunned, his military training also kicked in and he barked orders at every controller to wave off all incoming flights – those from the east to return in the direction they had come to land at other airports, and those from the west to turn 180 degrees and keep going until the situation was resolved.  Many of these planes were low on fuel, but had little choice to comply even though time was of the essence.  Departing flights were directed to continue westward after taking off at the fullest possible throttle.

Within two minutes after event inception, the tower went silent.

***

Episode 5 will be published here soon

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The Event – A sci-fi thriller | Episode 3

London, originally built by the Romans at that famous encircling bend in the Thames, had gradually migrated over the millennia until the heart of the modern city stood some ten miles almost due west from the Meridian Building as the crow flies.

Just east of the Prime Meridian Line, the observation deck had provided an incredible panorama of the London skyline from the Millennium Dome on the right to the odd pickle shaped building oft referred to as “the gherkin” on the left.  And in the center, dead on at the end of Greenwich Park, was the grand Queen’s House that we have already established could be seen as missing from the position at Seven Points.

At the moment of inception of the event, London remained initially unscathed, according to several witnesses who had been on the observation deck.  Rather, the Vanishing (in the popular vernacular) emanated from the Prime Meridian Line just west of the Dome, “disappearing” all man made artifacts right to left as it went, covering the distance across all of London in just under one minute.

A common element among those few first-hand accounts is the inability of the interviewees to find words to describe the degree of their shock as they followed the progress of the line of dissolution sweeping toward the urban center.

One moment there were skyscrapers, multi-deck cruise ships on the Thames, and traffic rolling down the streets and highways.  The next moment there were hundreds of people falling from the sky, sightseers plunging into the river, and car-less drivers and passengers skidding across the road beds before rolling to a stop, limp and lifeless.

The onlookers, for the most part, remained frozen in stunned silence as the plane of disruption moved inexorably across the land, though those who had family and friends in the Old Smoke began to scream and weep, and many fell to the cobblestones that remained beneath their shoes.

Toward the right, in a delayed reaction, two geysers erupted from the river just above the Blackwall Tunnels when the earth, no longer supported by the vanished lining, collapsed.

That, coupled with the rising wails of those who had been on the bad side of the line or had loved ones in the old city drew the rest of those on the fortunate side back into awareness, and the chaos then unfolded as has already been described from the perspective of Subject Zero and those around him.

As horrific as it was, this eye witness experience did provide the first hard bit of data about the event: it was not something that had happened over a fixed area like the radius of a bomb blast, but something that was still happening: a process with a speed and a direction.  It was, in fact, hardly more than one minute from inception until the leading edge of disruption had completely crossed the Old Town and disappeared over the horizon.

***

Episode 4 will be posted here soon

Read the entire Event Series right now on Amazon