Friday, 7 June 2019

How Soon Is Now? Chapter 6: Hotter Than July



Chapter 6: Hotter Than July


"Master Blaster”

Stevie Wonder

Everyone's feeling pretty
It's hotter than July
Though the world's full of problems
They couldn't touch us even if they tried
From the park, I hear rhythms
Marley's hot on the box
Tonight there will be a party
On the corner at the end of the block


I lay awake on the couch, outside I could hear the squawk of seagulls through the open windows and the soft slap of surf hitting the beach, I thought about last night and the wonderful dinner I had eaten with Maggie, I remembered how sad she looked when she told me her parents had died when she was a young woman.
Memories of sadness now came flooding back to me.
I thought of my own childhood, which was very different to Maggie's, I had been brought up in Leeds, along with my sister, my mam and dad rented a council house in the poor inner-city area of the gritty northern town.
Leeds was actually a great city, it had been a pioneer along with other northern towns in Britain during the industrial revolution back in the early 1800s.
After the second world war, Leeds had slipped from a textile giant to a city riddled with poverty, and inner-city slums brought on by lack of work, poor housing, social problems and world war two, however, in the 21st century Leeds had reinvented and rejuvenated itself becoming known in the UK as the capital of the North, it was now a metropolitan urban sprawl of more than 2 million people.
Back then, however, my father had been a hard-working hard drinking labourer, he worked in construction but had no specialist trade, he loved to drink and gamble on the horses, he had loose hands too, especially when he had been drinking which was every evening after work.
My mother had a rough time, she was often physically and mentally abused by a man who had been taught to keep a woman in her place, he often left her without money, mam would work long hours as a seamstress while he gambled and drank away the little amount he had earned. His behaviour finally turned my mother into an angry bitter woman and she died a terrible death at the relatively young age of 62 brought on by stress and chain-smoking. Our house back in the day was sparse due to the lack of funds but I can honestly say my mother kept the cleanest house on the street, she was a brilliant cook and baker, she made something from nothing, while my father made nothing from something. To be honest to my father, he probably didn't know any better, apparently, he was the 10th child of 11, his family was so poor he and his brothers and sisters didn't have shoes and he never went to school, he taught himself to read when he was in his forties, the poor guy didn't stand a chance I guess.
To confound matters I wasn't an easy child by any means, I had been wild and I thumbed my nose at authority, it had been a tough upbringing and I had learned life the hard way.

I walked outside onto the balcony and drank in the wonderful morning sea air, the heatwave would continue today, a cloudless sky hurt my eyes.
The sea was as calm as a mill pond and looked almost green.
Long slender arms wrapped themselves around my waist, Maggie nestled her face into my neck, she kissed me.
"Good morning, my darling," she said.
"Hey Maggie," I said softly.
I turned around an pulled her to me, "how did you sleep?" I asked.
"I slept wonderfully, oh, by the way, there is no electricity," she answered.
I looked at Maggie and went into the hall to check the main electrical trip switches, all were good, I checked the light switch in the hall wall nothing, there was a knock on my door.
I opened the door, it was a TNT delivery man, a small packet for me, after receiving the packet I asked the guy if he knew anything about the electric being down.
"Oh, of course, you have just woken up,"  he said.
"Yes," I said.
"The electric has been down most of the night in Holland and most of Belgium affecting about 22 million people, apparently the grid has been hacked," he said.
I thanked him for the packet and wished him a good day.
He smiled and left.
Luckily I had a gas cooker so I could boil some water to make coffee for Maggie and me.
I checked the freezer, the food was starting to defrost, the fridge was warm, to make matters worse today was forecast to be the hottest day of the year so far, Murphy's law, I thought.
We both sat on the balcony drinking coffee, I explained to Maggie about the cyber attack, we would both have to grin and bear it until the power came back on, the cell phones had no signal and the internet was down too.
"This is exactly what would happen if, or rather when, a large solar storm or a nuclear EMP (nuclear electromagnetic pulse) attack hits the earth," I told Maggie.
"I understand the solar storm danger but what is a nuclear electromagnetic pulse attack," asked Maggie?
"Good question Maggie, a nuclear electromagnetic pulse is the abrupt pulse of electromagnetic radiation resulting from a nuclear explosion 50 kilometres above the ground, I explained.
"Nuclear EMP weapons are designed to destroy susceptible electronic equipment over a wide area."
"Let us say, for example, a nuclear EMP weapon was detonated above the Eastern seaboard of the U.S. knocking out all power to a large swath of the U.S." you following?
"Yes," said Maggie.
"Well, for starters almost one hundred nuclear reactors would likely meltdown without any electricity to cool them, millions of people would be displaced from areas around the nuclear plants as the radioactive cloud spread."
"Bases would be cut off, making defence and counter-attacks impossible, civil unrest would start in a matter of hours."
"I can imagine the panic," said Maggie.
"Power and GPS would go dark, a nuclear EMP would cause instantaneous and simultaneous loss of many technologies reliant on electrical power and computer circuit boards, such as cell phones and GPS devices," I said.
" So, just like a massive solar storm," said Maggie.
"Correct, but, a solar storm would happen in peacetime, a nuclear EMP would be an attack from an aggressive nation rendering the U.S., in this case, defenceless," I said.
"Recovery would be impossible, a game over scenario," said Maggie.
"Yep," I answered.
"And last night, Israel bombed Iran's heavy water reactor production plant leaving the Ayatollah sabre rattling and promising death to America and death to Israel," said Maggie.
"And a nuclear EMP could easily be delivered by satellite," I added.
"For example, according to the U.S. military's Combined Space Operations Center, or CSpOC, last week Russia launched five objects into space, the problem is, there were supposed to be only four, the available information suggests that the Russians may have put yet another secretive "killer satellite" into orbit," I said.
"We are living in critical times," she said.
We suddenly heard cheering from the restaurant below and music from the radio. My freezer began humming.
"Powers back on honey," I said.
"WhooHoo," said Maggie.

Maggie felt guilty of being home so she decided to go into work, leaving me alone for the day, I took the laptop onto the balcony and started work.
The main headline of the day, of course, was the Israeli attack on Iran. World leaders were desperately trying to calm the situation amid threats and counter threats.
Israel had gathered hard hitting evidence Iran was close or even had a nuclear bomb.
Iran was promising serious repercussions for Israel and the West with a new explosion of terrorism. Iranian behaviour had been getting worse recently in the Persian Gulf and was now promising to step up its harassment of U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf.
Other countries were claiming hack attacks had occurred to their grid systems, airports, hospitals and railway systems during the night leading to some governments blaming Iran for the cyber attacks in retaliation for the Israeli aggression. 
In the Black Sea, Russia, Iran's ally flexed its muscles at the world by ordering drills involving 12,500 troops, fighter jets and anti-aircraft missiles.
The U.S. backed Israel, saying "by all criteria of international law, Israel is a nation-state, with national sovereignty and is allowed to defend itself against aggressors."
According to reports, four Israeli jets went undetected by radar, including the Russian radar system located in Syria and flown unseen into Iran, bombing their target and flying home safely.
The source also allegedly told Al-Jarida that the stealth fighter jets could travel from Israel to Iran and back without refuelling
Not only had this attack enraged the Arab world but embarrassed Russia too.

Elsewhere the massive wildfire in California was now almost 100% contained, but breathing problems leading to asthma attacks were now affecting people as temperatures reached 117 deg F (47.22 deg C) in parts of the state where the fire had happened.
An email from the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) caught my eye, 4 million people had been evacuated and dozens of people dead with at least 250 missing after torrential rain triggered landslides and flash flooding in western Japan. Water levels had reached five metres (16ft) in the worst-hit areas, forcing some residents on to rooftops and balconies to attract the attention of rescue helicopters.
The global heatwave was still on everyone's lips, according to Quebec's Public Health Department, up to 570 people had died in Quebec as a result of heat-related complications since the beginning of an early July heat wave that saw temperatures climb to more than 40 C.
Meanwhile, names you would never expect to be mentioned in the same sentence as a heatwave hit the headlines as Motherwell hit the highest temperature ever recorded in Scotland at 91.8°F (33.2°C) over the weekend. The previous record was 91.2°F (32.9°C) set in August 2003 at Greycrook.
Glasgow had its hottest day on record, hitting 89.4°F (31.9°C).
In Ireland, on July 2nd Belfast also reached a record high, as it hit 85.1°F (29.5°C).
Shannon also hit its own record at 89.6°F (32°C).
In Northern Ireland, Castlederg hit 86.2°F (30.1°C) on July 2nd, its record highest.
The Daily Mail reported stifling heat had cracked roads and buckled roofs across Britain.
In Canada, Montreal smashed its previous record for the hottest temperature, as readings showed 97.9 °F (36.6°C)
Ottawa posted its most extreme combination of heat and humidity on July 1.
Meanwhile, in the US, Denver, the Colorado state capital, tied its all-time high-temperature record of 105°F (40°C) also on July 2nd

My cell phone fizzed to life, I called out, "answer," and a hologram of Maggie jumped to life above my phone.
"Hi Maggie, what's happening," I asked.
"I have just managed to get to work, it's taken me almost two hours to get to my office," she said, a little annoyed.
The journey usually took around 40 minutes to reach her office in Amsterdam.
"Wow, why, what's going on," I asked?
"Riots, Arabs and Muslims are demonstrating against Israel and the West, the Liberals are also demonstrating against Israel and a large group of Far right Nationalists are attacking the Arabs Muslims and the Liberals, setting fire to cars, trams and shops," she said.
I went inside and switched the wall monitor on, sure enough, Amsterdam was ablaze.
"Hold on there Maggie, I will come and get you," I shouted.
"No, it's ok honey, I'm safe here at the office, I'll keep you posted, it would be dangerous if you came here now," she said.
"Well ok, if you're safe, just don't leave the offices," I said.
"No way, don't worry, I'm in good hands here, I'll speak to you later." 
Maggie hung up.
I went back to the monitor, more riots were being reported in Brussels, Paris, Berlin and London.
In Tehran, thousands had taken to the streets to demonstrate against big Satan and little Satan, the U.S. and Israel.

I opened up a tin of soup for lunch, on the wall monitor an expert was excitingly explaining how Israel's attack on Iran would have implications to world peace, moving Russia, who was Iran's ally, further apart from America and Europe, the world was on the brink claimed the expert, not that we needed to be explained too, most people realised how close to conflict we were.
To make matters worse, Iran had to retaliate to save face, the Ayatolla was in enough trouble back home because of food shortages due to sanctions imposed by America and the West, mass demonstrations recently had been demanding a return to a less conservative government, if he was seen to be weak especially against Israel, Iran's sworn enemy he would surely be toppled.

I went back to my work, an email from PressTV was claiming Iraq had broken the record for Asia's highest temperature ever recorded during July.
It was a scorching 128.7 degrees F (almost 54 deg C) in the southeastern town of Basra. The previous July record in Iraq was 127.4 degrees.
And if that wasn't enough, the heat index, which factors in humidity, hit a whopping 142 degrees F, (61 deg C)
The heat continued.

I opened an email from the Unversity of Florida, pelicans and other species of aquatic birds were reportedly dying off from the coast near Amelia Island all the way south to Ponte Vedra Beach.
Researchers with the Florida Ocean and Waterway Survey, claimed ospreys, pelicans, gulls, and anhingas are a part of this horrendous die-off.
The birds appear to have become disoriented, the researchers say, and somehow find themselves far from the ocean and their habitats.
Their feathers had become dry, brittle, bleached and lack proper waterproofing.
Some can even be seen bleeding from the mouth. The majority of the sick birds are near the mouth of the St. Johns River. There was no mention by the experts of the algae bloom which was killing millions of tons of marine life this summer around the Florida coast. A University researcher had recently discovered that a species of a tiny aquatic organism prominent in harmful algal blooms sometimes called “red tide” was even deadlier than first thought, with potential consequences for entire marine food chains. His research group in the University Department of Marine Sciences had discovered that the plankton species Alexandrium tamarense contains not one but two different types of toxins, one that’s deadly to large organisms and one that’s deadly to small predators with both being extremely dangerous to humans, even deadly to prolonged exposure. It is hard to believe any marine life has survived in many areas when you consider Russia has dumped enormous amounts of radioactive waste and nuclear reactors into the Arctic Sea and America, have dumped millions of tons of munitions into the sea, along with the fact it was now fourteen years on since the accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, scientists were continuing to find increasingly large amounts of radioactive material along the West Coast of North America and with elevated levels found off the coast of Japan, show that the situation was not yet under control with the facility still leaking radiation. Add to that a very conservative estimate of around eight million metric tons of plastic waste entering our oceans from land each year, it really should come as no surprise when we read  90 per cent of large fish has disappeared. To make matters even worse scientists have confirmed the fifth-ever global bleaching of coral reefs is under way and warned it would be the biggest coral die-off in history. Since 2020, a massive underwater heatwave, driven by climate change, has caused corals to lose their brilliance and die in every ocean. By the end of 2025, 78% of the world’s reefs will have been affected. About 25% will have died forever.
Almost 60 per cent of phytoplankton that generates oxygen and carbon capture is gone, disrupting the basic system of life on earth. In just 50 years we have killed the oceans.

My biggest story of the day on my website was a tragedy unfolding in Japan, the biggest weather disaster in Japan in over 100 years was unfolding.
Many frightening statistics were being released, for instance, a year's rain had fallen in a couple of days, the unprecedented torrential rainfall was now easing, the real problem now for rescuers looking for the many people missing was the heat, temperatures had climbed to around 40 deg C, (104 deg F) during the day making rescue work unbearable. Nearly 12 million people had been ordered to leave their homes, with only enough room in shelters for half that number. More than 500 people had died with dozens still missing, with another two million people without water. Aid supplies and volunteers had been arriving in affected areas, although a local official in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, said there were “not enough people or vehicles” to distribute the abundant supplies. According to JapanToday.com, communities that grappled with rising floodwaters last week now find themselves battling scorching summer temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius, foul-smelling garbage was now piling up in mud-splattered streets which were attracting rats and other rodents. The soaring temperatures had fuelled concern that residents, many still in temporary evacuation centres, may suffer heat strokes or illness as hygiene levels deteriorate. Severe weather has increasingly battered Japan in recent years, including similar floods last year that killed dozens of people, raising questions about the impact of global warming.

I stopped working on my laptop and looked out toward the ocean, it looked pristine under the clear blue sky, white surf broke over the deep blue sea, kids were playing in the shallows, running back and forth into the water, further out kite surfers and boats crisscrossed the horizon line. A black E-Mercedes pulled into the parking lot across the street, it was Maggie, she stepped out of the car looked up to the balcony and waved, I waved back. 
She burst into the apartment like a breath of fresh air.
"You will not believe the day I have had," she said, plopping onto the couch and smiling. Her beautiful face showing the enthusiasm of a child.
"It was just like world war III, angry mobs throwing Molotov cocktails, stones and fireworks at the Police, cars and trams on fire, shop windows smashed in the middle of Amsterdam, rock-throwing protesters attacking other protesters, Cooper it was mayhem," she said.
"Are you ok Maggie," I asked.
She looked at me, a huge grin on her face, " yes, we watched everything from the office windows, a safe distance away, it was so exciting, the Police used something called an Active Denial System (ADS) to disperse the crowds."
"What's that," I asked.
Maggie looked at me smiling, "basically it's a drone that microwaves people," she looked horrified.
"What," I said, shocked.
"I did a Google," Maggie said, "it's sort of a laser gun mounted on a drone, works by firing a high-powered beam of 95 GHz waves at a crowd of protesters, the ADS millimetre wave energy works on a similar principle as a microwave oven, exciting the water and fat molecules in the skin, and instantly heating them via dielectric heating, the protesters feel their skin heating up, panic and run away, incredible really," she said.
"And perfectly safe," she added.
I looked at her: "That's what they tell us, Maggie."
She sat on the couch visibly excited: "You have had the time of your life haven't you," I asked.
"It was very exciting, I think the adrenaline is still running through my veins since the Paris terrorist attack."
"Well it could have been very dangerous," I said.
"I'm safe now I'm with you," she giggled.

"What shall we do tonight I asked, what shall we eat," I said trying not to smile?
"Maggie looked at me and said, "can we stay in and order a pizza?"
"I'm tired out after my day in Amsterdam among the anarchists and revolutionaries," she smiled.

After we had finished the pizza we sat outside on the balcony with the usual glass of wine, Maggie had freshened up in the shower and was now in her pyjamas and her wet hair was wrapped in a towel.
We sat together watching the proceedings along the boulevard below. The restaurant and bar terraces were full of people eating and drinking, we could hear laughter, shouting and music and of course we could smell the food, it was a wonderful atmosphere.
Maggie cuddled up to me, I looked at her and smiled, she smiled back.
"Are you ready to carry on explaining your wonderful book to me Maggie, you mentioned another old prophecy from the ancient book of Enoch, the 7,000-year prophecy or something like that?" I asked.
"Oh dear, another romantic evening," she giggled.
I laughed back.
"Ok, if you insist."
"I do," I said, smiling.
"Hold on tight then," she said, smiling.
"Dear old Enoch prophesied mankind would have 7,000 years of history," Maggie began.
"However, according to the Bible, 1,000 of them years will come after Armageddon, when Jesus will rule Heaven and Earth, after which Satan will be allowed to roam Earth once more to test mankind for a short period before he is destroyed forever," explained Maggie.
"Why release Satan again," I asked perplexed?
"Well that's a whole topic on its own, which we can cover another time but basically Satan is released to bring about the last war, which will be between Gog and Magog and to test mankind one last time before God allows His people to live forever," Maggie explained excitedly.
Ok, so Enoch prophesied mankind would have a 7,000-year history, take away the 1,000 years for Christ’s Millennial Reign, which would leave us with 6,000 years of history, the other 1,000 coming on the other side of Armageddon," she said smiling.
"If we are to work out how long we have left before Armageddon we would need an exact time of creation, are you with me," Maggie asked.
"Yes, 100%," I said.
Maggie went on, "good, however, that's a problem many, scholars have attempted to find an actual date of creation and although most come up with a ballpark figure of around 50 years or less, they all can't agree on one actual year, so in my book, I have used two different scholars from different time periods to help me with Enoch's prophecy."
"My first choice is Martin Luther who was a German professor of theology, composer, priest, monk and a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation, he was born in 1483 and his estimate of the beginning of creation was 3,961 BC, Maggie explained excitedly.
"My second choice is Dean Thomas Coombs who is a Bachelor of Theology from Canada, he was born in 1962 and he landed on 3,960 BC, one year later than the great Martin Luther."
We both took a sip of wine.
Maggie carried on, "ok, let's take Martin Luther's creation date of 3,961 BC, add to that 2,025 AD which is where we are at today and we arrive at the scary number of 5,986, just 14 years short, of the 6,000 years prophesied by Enoch up to the date of Armageddon."
"Woah, now that's just a bit too close for comfort, " I said.
"It sure is but, let me remind you, Jesus Himself said, not one person knows when Jehovah's day (Armageddon) will be only God himself, I am only bringing to my reader's attention the proximity to where we are at this moment with Bible prophecy if, and its a big if, 3,961 is the true date mankind was created," explained Maggi.
"So," said Maggie, "let us assume what Enoch says is correct if so, what else did Enoch prophesied and has it come true, let's see shall we".
"Firstly The Book Of Enoch opens by stating it was written for the generation of the tribulation, which is in its self a prophecy, he knew about the last generation."
"Here are a few more," Maggie explained.
"Enoch said thousands of years ago remember, a Messiah would be born of a virgin, He would be born the Son of God, that salvation hangs on the Messiah and salvation by repentance and belief shall be in His name, Messiah shall be known as the Word and He would resurrect from the dead," said an excited Maggie.
"Impressive," I said sipping on my wine.
"Another fulfilled prophecy of Enoch in his book is that seventy generations after him sin would be atoned for, now get this, in the Bible Luke 3: 23-38 records Jesus Christ as being the seventieth generation from Enoch, he also wrote through Him we may obtain forgiveness and eternal life."
She looked at me with sparkling eyes, "need I go on," she said.
"I think you have proved Enoch is the real deal," I laughed.

The hot sun was just starting to set, it looked enormous on the horizon.
We watched the beautiful sunset from the balcony, as we often did these days, she was snuggled up tight to me and I had my arm around her shoulders, I kissed her cheek tenderly, "Maggie, I know we haven't been together very long but, would you marry me?"
I put my hand in my pocket and pulled out a little blue box and opened it.
"I looked at Maggie her mouth was open in shock, her hands on her cheeks, "yes, yes yes!"
I took out the small diamond ring and placed it on her ring finger, she held out her hand looking at the diamond, she then hugged me so hard I thought I might pass out.
I kissed her passionately.
"Maggie held my face in her hands, she looked deep into my eyes, her own eyes were a little moist and a tiny tear dropped onto her cheek, "oh thank you, Cooper, of course, I will you make me so happy."
"I love you so much, Maggie."
"Where did you buy the ring, its beautiful,"
"I bought it in a little antique jewellery store in London the other day, it's Victorian, white gold with a one-carat diamond, and a slight flaw," I answered.
"I love the flaw too," Maggie said.
She hugged me hard again.
"When shall we tie the knot," I asked?
"As soon as possible," she said.
"Good because that couch makes a lousy bed," we both giggled.
I poured us both another glass of red wine.
"Where will we live," asked Maggie, "my house is much bigger than this but I have fallen in love with this place now," she said.
"Well we have no rush, we can stay here until we decide, remember we are living in this apartment during the summer season, it might not be so nice in the winter," I said.
"Oh I think it will be just great here in the winter," she laughed, imagine, walking along the beach wrapped up warm in the middle of winter, that sounds so romantic."
"Well I don't like the cold," I replied.
"If my book takes off we can keep both properties, we could live here in the summer and in my place in the winter,"  Maggie suggested.
We continued sitting on the balcony discussing our future well into the night like two teenagers in love for the first time such was our enthusiasm.

The book is a rough draft at the moment, I don't have a publisher, I am serialising the novel on The Big Wobble, looking for constructive criticism, maybe if the book is good enough it will land on a publishers desk!