Anna turned up the radio, concentrating on the thin signal.
Cat McCloud, the lone DJ, was a fellow with a booming voice that slipped into gravel when he was being serious. He wasn’t serious often. “You want a weather report, look out the window and there’s your goddamn weather report,” he said. “Excuse my Balinese but the FCC don’t run me no more. The Powers That Be always were killjoys, censoring us and suckin’ the good outta you like a bad night’s sleep.”
Cat reported where he’d been — all over the eastern United States. He said he’d ridden out Sutr X’s first wave in a campground in Delaware. “The lights are on in Delaware and there’s still plenty of food and gas around if you bother to look — at least there was three weeks ago. I guess what I got isn’t news ’cause it’s so old, but we all needed to slow down anyways, didn’t we? In honor of what was, let’s spin some more vinyl — that’s right, I said vinyl! Coming up, more Rush ’cause I love ’em and they play long songs so ol’ Cat can step out my door and take a tinkle without worrying about the cops spoiling the joy of peeing out my front door no more!”
“Later on you can lick your chops over some Foghat, Grand Funk Railroad and a Pink Floyd marathon. Far as I know, I got the last radio station in these former United States of Dystopia so I’ll play what I like, long as I’m kickin’ and poppin’ garlic pills and smokin’ the magical herb of happiness! Commercial-free, brothers and sisters! Back atcha after side one of Rush’s album Caress of Steel from a good year, 1975, back when we still thought the apocalypse was coming in the form of nuclear annihilation. Right on!”
Anna looked stricken. “The only radio station we’ve heard in weeks and the DJ’s the last hippie on earth. And he’s armed with a time machine.”
And there are fun pop culture references to make grim situations a little lighter:
The Spencers were joined by more cars on the highway, usually travelling in the same direction. Past the juggernaut of Montreal, they had noticed a trickle of fellow travellers in vehicles. Farther east, the trickles became streams. Traffic moved well and, wary of accidents for which no help would come, no drivers were reckless and, perhaps to conserve fuel, none sped, either. Most drivers made no eye contact so no contact could be invited nor implied.
“This is somewhat more civil than The Road Warrior led me to expect,” Anna said.
The cars and trucks were always packed full. Once they spotted a tiny car with a piano strapped to its roof. Back windows were often filled with bedding, perhaps to block anyone’s view of how many people might be travelling in the car.
They followed a farm truck with a group of young women huddled against the wind in the open back.
“Saviors or slavers?” Anna asked.
Jack shrugged. “I’m uncomfortable with that question. But it makes me think we have to somehow get hold of guns.”
“Papa Spence has a deer rifle and shotguns for pheasant season on the farm,” Theo said.
“Let’s hope we won’t need a gun before we get to Maine.” Anna watched the women in the truck, searching for some sign of a plea in their forlorn faces. Before long, the truck turned onto a dirt road and dust clouded their last look.
Anna gritted her teeth. “If this is going to turn into a misogynist Game of Thrones world, then I’ll have to personally go all Katniss and turn it into a Hunger Games planet.”
- Extended, special sneak peek: How This Plague of Days begins (thisplagueofdays.com)
- Another snippet from This Plague of Days (thisplagueofdays.com)
- From the revision well: Chapter 2 of This Plague of Days (thisplagueofdays.com)
- The Sutr Virus: What happened? (thisplagueofdays.com)
- ROB ZOMBIE: Snippet Of New Song ‘Lucifer Rising’ Available For Streaming (blabbermouth.net)
- NSFW: Quotes from today’s revisions of This Plague of Days (thisplagueofdays.com)