Title: A Second Past Midnight
Author Name: Rae Gee
Publication Date & Length: April 22, 2015 – 87,900 Words
It had come like a thief in the night, an invisible force that had wiped out life as they had known it, sending them from 1981 back to 1881. The cause of The Pulse had remained a mystery and become the cause of speculation of fear. In a heartbeat, stock markets had crashed, power plants had shut down, and the land became poisoned by sewage, chemicals and, in some areas, radiation. If it had microchips in it, it was dead, finished beyond all repair. The anomaly which had wiped out their life had become known as The Pulse and the events following it had become known as The Crash.
With the rifle slung over one shoulder, James made his way through the drifts of fall leaves. Miles from home, and in the depths of the Minnesota forests, he knew he was far from alone. Spread across one of the state’s many forested areas were others like himself, getting ready for open season to begin. Dressed in army surplus fatigues, and with his long brunette hair pulled through a baseball cap, he was ready. Rules drawn up by the county required hunters to wear fatigues rather than their usual orange so as not to clash with the inmate’s uniforms.
James looked at his watch. 2.40pm. Twenty minutes left. Finding a thicket of bushes, he crouched within the prickly branches and quietly prepped the gun. Peering down the scope, the brunette man aimed at a nearby tree. Perfect. Clipped to one side of the scope was a small flashlight, perfect for when the sun began to set.
All around him, the smell of fall hung in the air. Musty, and a little damp, it spoke of a long, hard winter, and evenings sat before the fire. In January of 1981, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists had moved the symbolic Doomsday Clock to 11:56pm, four minutes to the “midnight” of global catastrophe the clock represented. On October 31st, 1981, at 1:13am, the Doomsday Clock had struck midnight.
It had come like a thief in the night, an invisible force that had wiped out life as they had known it, sending them from 1981 back to 1881. The cause of The Pulse had remained a mystery and become the cause of speculation of fear. In a heartbeat stock markets had crashed, power plants had shut down, and the land became poisoned by sewage, chemicals and, in some areas, radiation. If it had microchips in it, it was dead, finished beyond all repair.
The anomaly which had wiped out their life had become known as The Pulse and the events following it had become known as The Crash,.
Within days, anarchy broke out and the cities became no-go areas. The small communities furthest from the carnage were the best places to be. Diseases long thought dead flared back to life. Money was still being used but prices were sky high. No one could afford the meager crops that were produced and for those who owned farms, like James’ family, keeping animals was dangerous. While the tiny communities protected one another, there was nothing, bar the gun in his lap, to stop a stranger from stealing their animals. They still kept a few; a couple of cows and a few chickens, but that was it. Everything else, including any wild animals, were long gone, were so badly affected that they were in danger of extinction.
It had been several months before they’d truly found out what had happened on the night of The Crash. An airdrop of flyers, created between the British and Canadians, had scattered over the state. They told of the electromagnetic pulse that had wiped out their lives, retaliation from the Russians for the boycotts imposed by the United States. The Pulse, having traveled along anything metal, had destroyed the American military, leaving them helpless and unable to return fire.
The government had recognized the lack of supplies and, in ’83, had signed the “Shoot to Kill” executive order. Twice a year, a number of convicts from prisons across the country were released into wooded areas to be hunted, with a promise of freedom if they survived the seven day open season. All were felons; with DUIs, drug dealers, and thieves.
Born and raised in the heart of England, Rae spent her formative years bouncing around the globe with her missionary family. When she wasn’t on a plane, she was often found with her head in a book. These days she racks up air miles by learning to fly.
When she’s not writing, she enjoys making documentaries, roaming the South Downs, teasing the cat and her dad (normally at the same time!), taking photos and naming her electronics. She believes that she’s trapped in the wrong era and should be roaming the streets of 19th Century London.
She also has a tattoo of a Boeing 747 and is only too happy to tell the tale behind it. Feel free to ask; she promises not to bite too hard!
Rae made her vocal début on Spawn of Psychosis’s 2013 EP Mind Over Mania. All profits from the EP go to mental health charity Mind.
She currently lives just outside of Leicester and is partly owned by Bertie the cat.