Saturday, September 08, 2007

Those Who Leave Don't Come Back

Chapter Four of the online novel ED Day is now up. Some 'light' fiction for your weekend reading.

This is a novel writing experiment, that's already proved to be both exciting, and terrifying.

ED Day is a serialised novel, where readers can comment and critique the story as it's being written. Most of the comments have been kind and encouraging, so far.

Three or four chapters will be published each week online, free to read, until the tale is told.

ED Day is the story of how a few hundred people survive and build a new society in Sydney, after an apocalyptic bird flu pandemic strikes and kills millions. Most of the people are gone, but much of the city remains undamaged. Supermarkets are full of food, but the streets are littered with corpses. The survivors are now learning that they can't leave the city. At least, not alive.

Here's an excerpt from the latest chapter :
I never really worked out whether the government was lying to us, or whether they didn’t know what was happening, or just how bad the pandemic really was.

The more people who got sick, the less people there were to keep the power stations and the rest of the infrastructure running. There were blackouts and dry taps every two or three days. You got used to it.

The prime minister and the health minister were on the news all the time, but never live on air. People reckoned they were already out of the country, and that most of what they said had been pre-recorded.

In the first week of March, a lot of senior government ministers pissed off to islands up north for “conferences”, taking their families with them.

Some of the survivors here reckon the government knew what was coming, but they didn’t want us to survive. Something to do with a worldwide depopulation program that Prince Philip and Henry Kissinger have been talking about for decades.

The government ministers, say some survivors, saved themselves and their families and friends, by hogging anti-virals and leaving the mainland, and left the rest of us here to die. Bookman seems pretty convinced that's what happened. The more he talks about that version of what happened to us, the more survivors believe it.

When we think back the chaos and confusion in February and early March, it’s easy enough to believe such things might have been true. This is the sort of stuff people end up talking about when there’s no nightly news or newspapers anymore, and no television or radio shows. It’s like we have to make up our own news.

Here’s one of the most popular theories on what happened before ED Day that some of the survivors talk about, a lot :

Those in the government that didn’t leave before March 21 (the day when nearly everyone who stayed in the city ended up dying) isolated themselves away, beneath the city.

Somewhere under the city, some of the survivors reckon, there are all these halls and bunkers and vaults, dating back from World War 2. They were expanded as nuclear bunkers during the 1950s and 1960s, and refurbished during the massive building projects that swamped Sydney in 2008.

Down there, goes the theories, there is a big network of rooms and kitchens and sleeping quarters, with air filters and warehouses full of food and water and medicine. Enough to last a year or more.

That’s where some of the state government ministers, senior public servants, and their families, are supposed to be hiding out right now.

If you go into the basements of the State Parliament on Macqaurie Street and put your ear to the wall, you can sometimes hear something that sounds like the whir of air-conditioning. Or it could just be wind blowing through ducting.

“They’re still down there,” this one guy yelled at a Town Hall meeting last week, “they’re down there right now, waiting for the all clear.”

Go Here To Read Chapter One