LAA: By any stretch of the imagination the things David Morrich saw in
Washington, D.C. on October 19, 1973 far surpassed anything Judith
had witnessed in the Nazi death camps, but somehow they affected him
far less. Perhaps he was wired differently, or made of sterner stuff.
LAB: At seventeen, Dave was a good kid. Sure, he dropped out of school
just before his senior year, to the great consternation of his father,
but Dave figured the kind of work he could find after one more year of
school wouldn’t be all that much different from his situation now
LAC: Sure he was a skinny young black man with a wild afro, but nobody
living in the Seventies would look back a few decades later and say
they were proud of their hair. Dave’s father had a civil service job,
his parents were still together, and Dave loved both of them.
LAD: If he had been born ten or twenty years later, he would have been
the exception rather than the rule. That Friday he was on the job site
in a cavern dug under the city, a space intended to become an ornate
Metro station when the system opened just three years later.
LAE: Overtaken by events, it never did open. Dave didn’t have any
construction skills per se, and he lacked the upper body strength in
any event, but his job was simply to keep the area as clean as possible
while the other men worked. He did so with much youthful energy.
LAF: On October 19 the lights went out and there was something like a
long earthquake. An eerie white light reflected down one of the
connecting tunnels and hot dust filled the cavern even as the light
faded from purple to red. But the light never disappeared entirely.
LAG: The city above was on fire. Dave Morrich and his co-workers were
lucky. There are very few survivors so close to the footprint of the
Soviet fusion warhead. The yield and corresponding destruction is
many times greater than the Hiroshima or Nagasaki bombs.
LAH: In the Tidal Basin next to where the Washington Monument once
stood was now a dry crater so hot the Potomac River continually
turned to steam before it could fill the hole. Surrounding this was a
ring of destruction where the White House and the monuments used to be.
LAI: When Dave stepped out of the subway tunnel and looked to where
his home used to be he saw the view was largely unobstructed, yet
there was no way for him to locate exactly where he was. All the
landmarks were gone. In that instant he knew that he was an orphan.
LAJ: There was no point in even trying to look for his parents. They
were as gone as anyone can possibly be. So he turned and began to walk
in what he guessed was the next best direction, which was direcly
away from the pillar of steam that was ground zero.
LAK: As he walked, he passed through a ring of human bodies that were
almost recognizable, but they were charred black, and even the beer
bottles and car windows lying at their feet were melted. After that
he passed through a ring of half-standing blackened buildings.
LAM: These buildings had white “shadows” along their base that had
been people blocking the initial flash. There Dave had to pick his
way through the rubble of structures that had already been burned out
just to find a hole to make his way to the next ring.
LAN: Dave passed through a ring of people who were still alive, but
they were burned so badly they had no hope of recovery, and they were
in such a state of shock that they feel nothing, made no sound, and
would soon die. They were actually the lucky ones.
LAO: He passed through a ring of people who do make a sound, for each
of them were immersed in a sea of absolutely unendurable agony that
never stopped. They stripped themselves naked because clothes only
made the pain worse. Their arms were held at a forty-five degree angle.
LAP: If their arms touched their bodies the pain of the contact grew
too great. Dave was forced to remain in this ring until the fires of
the rings farther away burned themselves out. He hasnt been injured,
but even as he walked residual radiation did its invisible dirty work.
LAQ: With Washington DC and much of the surrounding area devastated,
America went through a profound political shift. The United States
was reduced to those states which remained loyal during the Civil War,
basically New York, New England, and the swath embracing the Midwest.
LAR: The western half of the states of Washington, Oregon, and
Northern California, including San Francisco, formed a new nation
called Pacifica. Everything else in the south, the plains, and the
mountain west was reorganized as the New Confederate States of America.
LAS: Tolson’s DECON project still had a lot of surviving infrastructure
and in the vacuum left by the FBI it became independent. DECON, in
fact, grew to occupy the role of internal security in the NCSA. J.
Edgar Hoover died in 1972 and Tolson died in the attack on DC.
LAT: But Special Agent in Charge Earl Roland, who was the technical
director of the DECON project, survived. Tolson’s obsession with the
B’nei Elohim lived on in Roland. Every day for a half-hour or more he
sat in an anteroom of the DECON headquarters in Greendome.
LAU: There he silently contemplated a glass case displaying the
dessicated white shapes of the modified brains of Gabriel and Rebekah.
The amount of science DECON had been able to obtain by studying
the brains of the once-living subjects was maddeningly limited.
LAW: Images made with the electron microscope revealed that every
molecule in every brain cell had been replaced with a kind of
articulated plastic that did not degrade like the organelles and
components of living protoplasm. Yet it remained beyond analysis.
LAW: The Hanford site where the Trinity and Nagasaki “Fat Boy” bombs
had been assembled was itself nuked in Black ’73 but it was about the
size of a full county and large portions were still in use five years
later. The “N” Reactors on the site was completely gone, of course.
LAX: Walla Walla and the tri-cities of Pasco, Kennewick, and Richland,
all downwind, were still more or less ghost towns, but contamination
levels in the southeast corner along the Columbia River approached the
slightly elevated levels of just prior to the attack.
LAY: This corner was still in use. The New Confederacy was contemplating
shutting the place down for good, but there was still a lot of useful
infrastructure: a rail network, a power grid, a number of empty
structures. Dave Morrich ended up here with two other individuals.
LAZ: A company called Pharmadigm told Dave he would be among the first
human beings to receive an experimental drug. He had little choice.
The cancer that developed after the DC strike was in his bones now.
It was agonizing, and he had no way to manage the pain.