Category Archives: The Event

The Event | Episode 22 – Breaking Down the Doors

The next installment of my science fiction thriller in which a mysterious force sweeps around the globe erasing everything man made.

Episode 22 – Breaking Down the Doors

The world had seen enough.  Before the final images faded on the screens, financial markets across the globe crashed to their daily stop levels within minutes and closed, never to open again.  Those not yet opened never did.  For those few who had already posted orders to sell short, enormous fortunes were made that were worth nothing.

Commodity markets lasted a little longer with heavy trading driving up the prices of non-corruptible goods and food stuffs to previously unimaginable levels until, of course, it was realized that, with few exceptions, there would be no means of fulfilling contracts.

Banks quickly closed their doors as did an exploding number of retail outlets around the world, only to have those doors broken open as the panicked populace desperately sought anything that might help them survive, protect their families, or give them an edge tomorrow on their first day in a new world.

Cities everywhere were in chaos.


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The Event | Episode 21 – Countdown to Disaster

Here’s the next installment of my science fiction thriller series, The Event in which a mysterious force sweeps around the globe erasing anything made by the had of man.

Episode 21 – Countdown to Disaster

Brazil was the second largest beef producer in the world behind only the United States, and like its neighbor to the north, each country maintained nearly as many head of cattle as head of people.  With an overall population well over two hundred million and the second largest military in the Americas, also behind only the United States, Brazil was as well-equipped to save the lives of its people and provide aftermath protection as any nation on earth, which was why global attention was focused on both the preparations for the event there and the results of the aftermath.

The event line was expected to come on shore at the coastal resort of Recife, the most easterly major city in the Americas, roughly two hours and sixteen minutes after inception.  Historically the first slave port on that side of the world, modern Recife normally looked similar to Miami with its multi story hotels and white sand beaches crowded with colorful umbrellas, primarily on Recife Island, which was connected to the mainland by four bridges.

This geographic attribute led to the early evacuation of the island as survivors would have no easy way of crossing the coastal waters once the bridges had vanished.  But it also provided the solution for another problem that had originally appeared in Valencia where, after the event’s passage, no one could tell the guards from the inmates, and a number of violent attacks resulted.

Several prisons surrounded Recife, but with little time to make arrangements for holding the incarcerated, it was determined to release all minor transgressors and transport the violent offenders offshore to the island, to be at least temporarily inhibited from interacting with the general population once the bridges had gone, thereby allowing officials to focus on establishing basic controls and directing the expected mass migration to the nearest survival camps.

Unlike many countries, Brazil had no dedicated Coast Guard but tasked its navy with that mission, so for more than an hour prior, rescue helicopters had been airlifting crews from military and merchant ships and boats too far out to make it to shore in time.

For those beyond the circle of recovery, communications were established to allow the sailors to contact their loved ones, and instructions were given for seeking out any non-manufactured goods that might float, either in their ships’ stores or in their holds.

Though little hope was held for their survival, two weeks after the event’s passage, three sailors from a ship north of Recife were found alive on the beach near Cayenne, the capital of French Guiana, having fashioned a raft of harvested coconuts they lashed together with uncured hemp fibers and then been pulled by the Southern Equatorial Current along the northern coast of Brazil.

Several similar stories were reported south by Rio de Janeiro, the last near-land point after the Brazil Current splits from the Southern Equatorial Current at Recife and runs south to meet the Southern Current several hundred miles to the east of Tiera del Fuego.

For decades the Brazilian government had maintained a fleet of off-shore moored buoys and satellite-monitored free-floating drifters that reported a variety of ocean conditions in contribution to a number of international programs.  Now, they provided the exact location of the event interface as it approached the coast, giving rescuers warning to return to the relative safety of land and enabling the government to broadcast progress reports to the population, culminating in a countdown not unlike watching the Great Ball fall on New Year’s Eve.

Continuous coverage was sent by satellite uplink to master editing rooms which intercut live video from news teams on the ground with aerial imagery from the Brazilian Air Force and still pictures from space to create the greatest possible dramatic montage, culminating in the final minute before the event would reach land.  Spot ratings determined the program drew more viewers world-wide than any other in history save the UEFA Euro 2020 event seen by 5.23 billion people, and just aced out the previous second place holder, the Rio 2016 Summer Paralympics, which had pulled in more than 4 billion.  One television executive was reported as having sardonically quipped “We’ll take number one next season.”

The on-screen clock clicked down from 60, superimposed over: Flocks of birds taking flight along the coast, picturesque shot of Recife seen from the historic town of Olinda just slightly further east and closer to the event line, aerial view of ships disappearing out

at sea, drone shot of the entire metropolitan area looking toward the sea and the coming event, pan shot of jets flying away from the city toward the west, families drawing closer together, city streets of people pausing their frantic last-minute preparations to look toward the east, close shot of adults holding their children close, people edging toward relief stations, last few residents leaving their homes, congregations in front of their churches singing and praying, dogs running wild, burly men tightening their grip on baseball bats, a young girl clutching her favorite stuffed animal, a crazed man throwing handfuls of R$200 banknotes in the air, hospitalized people on stretchers taking their life-ending meds while their loved ones comfort them, nurses and orderlies standing by those in casts with natural recasting materials, the Brazilian president and his cabinet looking strong but compassionate in the capital, cutaways of transfixed viewers around the world who have stopped their own preparations….

The final shot was a split screen with dozens of images from multiple camera positions.

When it came, the event took out the historic town of Olinda, just 3.5 kilometers away, in an instant. At that longitude, being just 8 degrees below the equator, the speed of the interface was roughly 1650 kilometers per hour, arriving in Recife just 7.5 seconds later, and completely crossing the entire metropolitan area to the east just 15 seconds after that.

One by one, the images on the screen went dark until all that remained were aerial shots from the Air Force documenting Recife’s final moments to viewers around the world as the line of disruption was clearly seen erasing the city leaving nothing but plants, animals, and the earth itself.

In every nation, people at all levels remained in stunned silence.  The more compassionate began to weep for those the tragedy had now afflicted, the more passionate wept for themselves.

Continued aerial coverage of the aftermath displayed disparate reactions.  Appearing at that distance as ants, crowds of people moved like flocks of birds or schools of fish.  In some areas, calm remained.  In other parts of the vanished city, they gathered around relief stations.  Here and there mass fights erupted and moved through the throngs like the red spot on Jupiter.

Strangely, there was little of the expected panic; the public had been well-informed and materials and supplies well-prepared.  Besides, where were they to run?  Very slowly a mass migration began toward the nearest of the survival camps.

Based on its consistent speed, the event line would cross all of South America in roughly three hours and pass  through all of North America three hours after that, affecting nearly one billion souls.


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The Event | Episode 1 – Subject Zero

I’ll be serializing many of my books for you, beginning with my current project, The Event – A Science Fiction Thriller.

The Event is certainly the biggest fiction project I’ve ever tackled – so far I’ve written more than 100 episodes and expect the finished story to approach 400 episodes.  This is because it is the biggest idea I’ve ever had for a fiction.

The concept is that at Greenwich, England, on the Prime Meridian line at exactly noon on the Summer Solstice, an invisible “line of dissolution” begins racing across the land at the speed of the earth’s rotation, erasing everything man-made that it passes – from buildings and roads to factories and machines to technological devices and dental fillings.

In its wake, people are falling from vanished skyscrapers and skidding down pavement-less roadbeds after their vehicles disappeared under them.

As The Event continues its westward journey around the globe, panic ensures as governments, corporations, religions, and billions of terrified people try to come to grips with the disaster and to prepare for its passing.

I hope you enjoy reading The Event as much as I’m enjoying writing it.

Here’s Episode 1:

The Event

By Melanie Anne Phillips

The First Hour

Episode 1 – Subject Zero

The morning that it happened there had been no warning, at least according to virtually all credible sources among the survivors.  Naturally, there were those who claimed, in retrospect, to have seen signs that might have provided advance notice.  But those accounts, it has been determined, are likely nothing more than instances of pareidolia, not unlike the perception of images in the shapes of clouds.

What is almost universally accepted is that it began on the summer solstice at precisely 12:00:00 GMT in Greenwich itself, on the prime meridian that ran, at the time, through the courtyard of the old Royal Observatory in London.

When the sun is at its zenith, the clock is set at noon, and many of those on holiday have stood with one foot on each side of that line of demarcation so that, in an odd twist of the original phrase, they could be photographed being in two times at the same place.

Multiple witnesses have confirmed that a tourist (his name is not known, so we shall refer to him as Subject Zero) was straddling the two-tone steel ribbon embedded in the cobblestones that denotes longitude 0’0’’0’’’, and it was at that exact moment when our star reached the apogee of its arc across the sky that it occurred.  

Just before, all was as normal as it can be at an English destination, and in the next instant, everything changed.  Subject Zero’s sister, who was standing in the previous hour, snapped a commemorative picture, then stared at the frozen image on her screen, unable to process what she saw there.

Shaking herself loose from that impossible visage, she raised her eyes to gaze on her brother who, indeed, was still astride the meridian, fully clothed on her side of the line and fully naked on the other.  It appeared as if he was wearing half a suit of clothes, severed vertically down the middle.  Those who later examined the clothing reported that it appeared as though it had been cut with a laser, so straight and fine was the edge of the separation.

Subject Zero himself, focusing on presenting a foolish expression for his friends back home, was momentarily unaware that anything was amiss.  It was the combination of his sister’s shocked stare and the slight breeze tickling his windward side that caused him to look down, freeze in incomprehension, then leap back away from the meridian, toward his sister.  Jostled by his movement, the clothes on his leeward side fell off, leaving him fully exposed, but also offering the first indication that, other than his pride, Subject Zero was unharmed.

Before either of them could begin to parse what had happened, their attention was jolted to shouts of alarm, mostly coming from beyond the meridian on the leading-hour side to the West.  There, the scene was an experiment in chaos.  Everyone, as far as the eye could see, was completely naked, looking frantically around in terror, and beginning to run toward the trailing hour side where everyone was still clothed (except, of course, for Subject Zero).

Those that crossed the line did not regain their clothing, and those that ran across to help the others lost theirs, as well as their purses, wallets, cameras, phones, jewelry, tattoos, dental work, and breast implants.  In short, any material object that had been fashioned by the hand of man had simply ceased to exist.  There were cries of shock from some and cries of fear from others (though strangely, no immediate expressions of pain).

Perhaps the most unfortunate of the lot was the chief gardener for the Observatory grounds who ran across the event plane to assist those in need and almost instantly dropped dead on the spot from an apparent heart attack.  It was later confirmed that his pacemaker had simply vanished from his chest as he passed into the affected area.  How this was determined will be addressed in the appendices to this report.  For now, we must consider even more momentous diversions from the norm.

Initially, of course, everyone was focused exclusively on their own well-being or that of their family and friends.  There were, however, a few independent and/or lonely souls who had come to the grounds by themselves.  With no one else there to hold their attention, they were the first to look beyond their own needs and notice that it was not only personal effects that had vanished, but the buildings, walls, cars, and roads were all missing as well.  There was little time to speculate, however, as those who had already recovered their wits were on the move en masse on both sides of the meridian.

The terrified throngs on the event side of the line rushed forward like stampeding cattle, seeking refuge among those whom they could see on the trailing side who were still in the world as it always had been.  They were almost mindlessly driven to seek protection or a reconnection with their kin who were frantically waving them on or, for those who were more forward-looking, by the concern that whatever had happened was just the beginning of something even worse.

Regardless of their motivations, they charged forward, but with the pavement missing as well as their shoes, many of them fell in front of the frenzied crowd as they stepped on sharp rocks or tripped on stones or hobbled themselves in gopher and mole holes that had lain under the road unseen.

As they fell, they were overrun by the mob behind them, and in short order the multitude was swarming over the growing human breakwater to the horror of those whose loved ones were near the bottom of the writhing heap.

Those on the normal side now saw the tsunami of humanity press forward.  The first to project the likely outcome began to back away from the line, then turned and ran toward their cars which had been parked in the overflow lot, mostly.  Attracted by the commotion around them, others made the connection as well, and soon there was a second wave also crashing over anyone who fell before them, no longer considering themselves more fortunate than the terrified souls in the oncoming crush of naked bodies behind them.

At some point the slowest of the clothed were overcome by the fastest of the naked.  Those with tendencies toward hypochondria worried that the afflicted might be contagious and tried to beat them back with cameras, purses, and all the other accessories they possessed that might be repurposed as weapons against those who had lost theirs.

Those struggling against the flow to reach those dear to their hearts were picked up by the leading edge of the wave and pressed backwards against the  Prime Meridian Building, a museum designed to be bisected by the line, and as the swirl of humanity circled ‘round it like water in a river encountering a boulder, those terrified souls eddied past the side to discover the edifice had been severed along its midpoint leaving nothing on the leading side but a footprint in the soil where it had once stood.

In an office on the second floor of the unaffected part of the building an administrator had been gazing out toward the meridian when the event occurred.  He had turned away in disbelief, shaken his head, then returned his gaze to discover that everything was still missing.

Finding his voice, he had called to his associates who joined him at the window and verified what was seeing.  Being this troubled modern age, the first assumption was that it had been some sort of terrorist attack, and so a previously choreographed plan was initiated by the designated safety officer for the building.

While one clerk ran to lock the door, another called the nearest constabulary to report the incident.  Receiving no signal and realizing the phone service may have been disrupted in the area of the damage, she entered the secondary contact number, which went to a station on the untouched side.

Naturally, the officer on the other end of the call assumed it to be a prank, sternly threatened arrest, and hung up.  Soon, however, a flood of additional calls prompted him to send a car to investigate whatever it was.  This radio traffic was monitored by a local news crew and reported to their station, which dispatched an already airborne helicopter to provide live video.

Outside, the crowd moved on, primarily toward the parking lot and the associated public transportation connections where some had already started their cars and sped at a dangerous pace toward the exit.  Perhaps two dozen vehicles made it out before the first collision occurred, which prompted several more in succession until the path was blocked completely.

Some tenacious drivers chose to set off across the lawns and over curbs in order to connect with the open road, while others raced around in circles, looking for a way home.  Due to their state of mind, a number of those running for their own cars were struck and some even killed on the spot.  One naked man from the event side arrived at his car only to realize he no longer had his keys.

Of the score of cars that had gained the road, roughly half had their homes or accommodations on the normal side of the line and sped off toward them.  The other half, realizing they might no longer have a place to stay, called relatives to arrange refuge, soon discovering no connection to any numbers toward the west but reaching their startled relations toward the east.  A few escapees set off cross country on foot to put as much distance as they could between themselves and what had just happened.  Others simply crumpled to the ground, too shaken and dispirited to do anything further to help themselves.

Above, the news helicopter buzzed onto the scene, banking to linger on set shots of the chaos to be used in the upcoming live broadcast before flying on toward the Prime Meridian Building that early reports coming into the station identified as ground zero of the disturbance.

Turning sharply to set up a reveal shot for the switch to live, the “Eye in the Sky” flew just above tree level toward the historic monument from the east side, rising up above it at the last minute until the full expanse of the disaster could be seen stretching out toward the horizon.

The landscape looked much as it must have millennia ago: rolling hills, some wooded, and the Thames winding its way to the sea.  Across the expanse, hundreds of naked people were running or crawling or wandering aimlessly.

The news crew, though hardened by years of covering devastating situations, was stunned into silence and, without thinking, powered on right past the building, and over the meridian line.  As it passed, the helicopter and all the gear inside were simply erased as they crossed the event plane.

All that emerged on the other side were the pilot, the cameraman, and the newswoman, still in sitting position, fully nude and without any means of remaining aloft other than inertia, which quickly diminished in the face of friction from the prevailing wind.  Comprehending their plight at almost the same moment, all three frantically flailed their limbs as they described a perfect ballistic path from some two hundred feet elevation to their impact point on the ground.


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The Event – Behind the Scenes of Episode 3

The science fiction thriller book series I am writing, called The Event, requires more research than any other project I’ve ever created. For example, never having been to England, I knew nothing of what the area around Greenwich and the Prime Meridian looked like. Part of my research was to get a visual sense of what it was like to stand on the Observation Deck and look out over London.

After extensive searching I found this 360 degree photo on Google Maps that inspired the main set piece of Episode 3, The Dissolution of London.  In short, I had concepts, I researched, and that led to specific ideas to write about with those concepts.

How I Wrote Man Made | Preface

Man Made is a science fiction thriller based on the premise that in the course of a single day, everything manufactured by the hand of man vanishes from the earth as a mysterious and inexplicable “line of dissolution” moves westward around the globe starting from the Prime Meridian in Greenwich and then returning to the same point from the east twenty four hours later.

As it has evolved, the story moved beyond being a simple nail-biter to encompass social satire, political commentary, cutting-edge science, philosophical exploration, gripping human drama, sardonic humor, spiritual issues, and all in what ultimately became an action-driven travelog across the planet.

I’ve been working on this project for a couple of years now.  Originally I had planned it as a single book but as the story grew to explore how people prepared, how governments and societies reacted, and the cultural and psychological effects of such a devastating event, each successive chapter got longer until I realized it might ultimately be more than a thousand pages in length and take years to complete.

I didn’t want to wait that long to share what I think is a truly intriguing idea, so I decided to release each of the chapters as a book unto itself – basically an installment in a series with an overarching theme.

So far, I’ve published six slim volumes ranging in length from long short stories (something of an oxymoron) to novelettes.  Each one advances the events through one hour of time so that when all  twenty four planned volumes are assembled, the final book will cover one day of story time.

In format, each of the twenty four books is made up of about a dozen short scenarios that explore different aspects of the story as it progresses that hour.  From time to time I publish these sequentially as episodes in The Event Series in order to share the fun things the story covers and also to generate interest in the books.

Every episode has required extensive research into areas I previously knew little or nothing about.  And each has been a creative wrestling match between me and a story that will not follow directions and insists on going its own way (often to my joy and surprise).

Yet even after two years and hundreds of pages, it did not occur to me until just this morning that I would very much like to share what has gone into this project so far, and to document the development of all the new material the Muse continues to provide.

Being a teacher of creative writing and story structure for the past third of a century, it also strikes me that aspiring authors might find it worthwhile to see the process behind the finished work.

To this end, I offer this record of the creative path I’ve taken and continue to tread as I strive to finish the twenty four volumes that complete the narrative of this world I’ve created.