Part of this is based on fact. In the mid 1980s, I used to listen to the short-wave radio transmissions from around the world. One such broadcast from the old USSR talked about a double train crash, involving nuclear waste. The news never got out.
“ICQ Kiev3 to ICQBristol4, over.”
“ICQBristol4 to ICQKiev3, over.”
“Hello Al, how are things at your end?”
“Hi Carl, just the same as usual, nothing much happens here sadly. I can do with some excitement,” I said with resignation.
“Yes, sometimes it is like that. Here we are still hiding from the authorities, if they find this transmitter. It could be a camp for us,” Carl, my Russian radio friend replied. “Have you heard from Joe in Texas yet?”
“No, I was thinking this call would be from him. I’m a bit worried, he hasn’t been in contact for weeks and that isn’t like him, usually he is so full of himself.”
“Al, maybe this pandemic is hitting him worse than he is letting on. You know those Americans don’t like to tell you how they feel.”
“That’s so true Carl, of all traits they have, that is the one I could never get used to,” I paused, thinking how to frame the next question. “Have you made contact with people in your area?”
“No. All radios are confiscated and smashed, the authorities are trying to contain and control the information, but there are still free thinkers here. That is what worries them. How about you, have you made contact?”
“I had some luck a few days ago. I picked up a signal from some out of the island ham. He had no idea what the heck it was all over.”
“He’s lucky then,” Carl replied. “I was I was the same. I’ve seen children with bleeding eyes and skin peeling, crying in the arms of their dead or dying parents. It’s so sad to see and know you daren’t go near them for risking contagion.”
“Our variation is just as bad, people with open wounds and sores oozing pus as they scream. The trouble here is that ours can travel in the air for up to fifty feet and lay dormant for days. We don’t know where to go or how to contain it.”
“I was listening to a broadcast the other night from a ham in France. She was desperately trying to contact somebody outside of Lyon to tell them what was happening in her area.”
There was a pause as my friend thought about his reply, you could have heard a feather fall when he said “This is far worse than anybody could have imagined, I heard a broadcast from Genoa. Some man there is trying to make contact with Dusseldorf but all he can hear is white noise.”
“You do realise that we are the only source of information, Carl. All telecoms went down within minutes and now all you get is just short wave transmissions.”
“Yes. The government here is running itself ragged trying to find us and kill these broadcasts.”
“I think all governments are doing the same, Carl. I‘ve heard nothing from Sweden, China or South Africa for days and it’s worrying that this can spread so far so quickly. It’s only a day or two since I caught that snatched conversation from your area and already most of the world has gone dead.”
All the time this chatter was going on, in the background I could hear screams and rifle fire. I remember thinking “If you need to go, just leave the radio Carl.”
Then I felt I had no choice but to say “Carl, I can hear rifles and screams for God’s sake, if you need to go, just go!”
“Thank you for you deep concern, Al. But, if I leave I have nowhere to go, if they don’t get me. The virus will and I want to stay on as long as possible tonight, you could be the last voice I hear.”
Behind his fearful tones, I could hear boots heading up the stairs.
“Al, before I go, there is something the world needs to know. Two days ago there was a train crash near here. One train was carrying Uranium 235 and the other a deadly germ virus. Separate, they are deadly, but combined...,”
Carl didn’t need to end what he was saying. U235 has a half-life of 703,800,000 years.
The next sound I heard was a boot splintering his door and then AK-47. There was no sound for minutes. The next voice I heard wasn’t Carl “We have your radio frequencies. We WILL come for you next!”