At a Glance:I am a child of the 80s, much like many of you, and I remember growing up during the periods of Reaganomics and mutually assured destruction. What, unfortunately, came along with those exciting times was the literary genre of cold-war paranoia that dealt with the end of the world. Sure, many of them were pretty well written, but even more did nothing more than reinforce people's fears that at any second some crazy Red on the other side of the pond was going to start slinging nuclear death in our direction. Oftentimes these books achieved this by featuring an "average-joe" type character who watches his world crumble around him as cities are destroyed and radiation kills those he loves. Since nuclear annihilation is out and small pox is in, I've decided to save you folks the trouble of warming up the way-back machine and feature this paranoid sub-genre as this installment of SA Story Time.
Literary Hack Sub-Genre: 80’s Cold-War Apocalypse Paranoia
Chapter One - The End of Most Things as We Know ItRaccoon City police officer John Daring spots something more than a little troubling.A bead of sweat coursed down the President's forehead like a gem sliding across a greased cookie sheet. It stopped in its eyebrow, which is good, because that's what evolution intended eyebrows to do. The fate of evolution hung in the balance though, and the president held the phone like it was a rope that kept him from plunging off a cliff.
"Mr. Prime Minister," said the President wearily, "we can yet resolve this. We can give you the exact coordinates of the runaway bomber formation. Your fighters can intercept them."
The Prime Minister of the Soviet Union said something and the President grimaced.
"Josef," he said regaining his composure, "this will be the end of us all if you go through with this."
Before the Soviet Prime Minister could reply a totally important looking general guy with lots of medals and crap like that on his chest walked into the room and leaned forward to whisper something to the President. Most people would have said it was impossible for the President to look any more strained and depressed than he did, but defying all logic related to facial expressions, the presidents face fell even more. He hung up the phone in a daze as the Soviet Prime Minister screamed at him.
"Jim," he said reaching into his pocket and removing an envelope, "here are the launch codes. Give 'em hell."
All across North America including parts of Canada where the United States has super-secret military bases, silos began to open their doors and steam begin to emerge from the hoses connected to the giant rockets. Red flashing lights could be seen in every military base, some even featured computer screens that said "RED ALERT" in giant letters. The civilian population did not become fully aware that something was wrong until the first trails of rocket exhaust could be seen in the sky from launched ICBMS.A lot of people are become death the destroyer of worlds.A local Raccoon City police officer, returning home from his job, stopped his car to watch as the glowing pillar of fire disappeared into the cloudy evening sky. It would not have worried him so much if there weren't many more to be seen in every direction. When he realized what all of these simultaneous launches implied he did what any rational person would do; he started screaming "oh fucking shit" and hauled ass back to his rural home.
John Daring had never seen anything like it, but he had read plenty about it in the Book of Revelations in the Bible. For those of you who don't know, that part of the Bible is about nuclear Armageddon and things like that. The Soviets are the anti-Christ and communism is Satanism. John rushed through the door and picked his daughter Mitzy up in his arms like a football, running straight back to the kitchen.
"Honey, get little Johnny and come with me to the basement," he shouted, running for the stairs. He tossed Mitzy into a spare bathtub they had in the basement and then ran back out to his car to get his shotgun and Geiger counter.
"Don't forget the ten gallon tub of lard," he said as his incredibly beautiful wife ran down the stairs with their nine-year old son Johnny close behind.
Meanwhile, all across the United States nuclear missiles began to crash into the cities creating massive atomic mushroom clouds that killed millions and sent huge quantities of radioactive dust into the atmosphere. From coast to coast America was transformed into a scorched wasteland. What parts of Canada and Mexico that weren't already scorched wastelands also turned into scorched wastelands. Even more meanwhile, the president circled the globe, tears and sweat mixing in his eyebrows (he was totally crying that hard) as he watched the end of the world from the window of Air Force One.
Elliot said my breakup must have been due to the sweater curse, an unexplained phenomenon where anyone who gives their significant other a hand-knit sweater gets dumped. The only way to break the curse, Elliot said, was to destroy the sweater.
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