Conversation with My Wife on the Morning of the Day They Did It

What do you say, those last few minutes?

DEB: Jackster! You need to get out of the shower! Now!

I sometimes enjoy the feel of a long, hot shower. Yes, it wastes water, I suppose, but we can afford it and, having fewer (no) kids compared to other homes in the neighborhood, I can rationalize that we are still below the average per-household water consumption. But Deb had never yelled at me before about taking too long. Uh-oh, maybe a leak in the shower drain again, and it’s coming through the kitchen ceiling below? I turned off the water, opened the shower door, and grabbed a towel to start drying off while I got the sitrep from my wife.

ME: Is it a le—

DEB: The civil defense warnings are going off. They think Russia has launched. We need to take shelter.

Not what I was expecting. But now, with the water off, I could hear the warning sirens in the area.

ME: How—

DEB: Our phones. They keep alarming. The alerts keep updating.

ME: Hold on hold on hold on.

I get my phone off the dresser and yes, there are several alerts stacked up on the screen. As I’m trying to read and get dressed at the same time I’m also getting pop-ups from my news feeds.

DEB: The Internet’s down.

Sometimes that’s just our wifi acting up. I try to load a news story. Frozen screen. I disconnect wifi and try from our mobile carrier. I get a new alert — that says the Internet is down. Russian hackers are suspected. All the major ISPs are down hard.

ME: Disconnect your phone from wifi, T-Mobile is still up.

DEB: Got it. (reads) They say missile launches are confirmed and we’re at DEFCON-1. (reads) They nuked Berlin, Paris, and London. Just now. Already. (looks at me) Is this a hoax? Some kind of hack?

ME: (checking my military feeds) It’s a good one. I don’t think it is. They— we just launched our land-based missiles. That’s SOP to avoid getting destroyed on the ground. Bombers are probably in the air as well. C’mon, we need to get to the basement.

We head downstairs. I open the basement door and stop.

DEB: What, honey?

ME: The strikes they’re reporting aren’t surgical. They’re spasm attacks. Russia just fired everything they have. There’s… I don’t think we need to go to the basement.

DEB: Because it’s going to be— (sees my face) Oh. Because it’s NOT going to be alright.

ME: Yeah. Sorry, honey. So… back porch?

We go sit in four-season porch in the back of our house. There was a nasty winter storm the night before, but it warmed up quickly and most of the snow is already melted. This is our quiet, happy place.

The view of our backyard from our four-season porch. Still some snow patches here and there. No stream or waterfalls running, because it’s still winter and I haven’t put in the pumps yet. (photo by author)

And will be, for the rest of our lives.

DEB: Why would they nuke central Pennsylvania?

ME: Fort Indiantown Gap, the War College, the Navy depot, Harrisburg. Nothing really high-value, but with thousands of nuke warheads, why not? Oh, and TMI, to take out electric infrastructure. That’s right over the ridge, so that’s probably the one that’ll get us. The ridge should shield us from the thermal blast, but the shockwave will come right over it.

DEB: TMI got shut down… last year? Year before?

ME: The Russians are probably behind on their target updates.

We pull our chairs closer together and put our arms around each other. On the tree just outside our porch, the cardinals we call “Mister & Missus C” are enjoying the seed on the bird feeder and under it.

ME: Sorry we never made it to Alaska.

DEB: Me, too.

There’s a very bright light from the north. The sky lights up like the whole firmament is sun.

ME: We’re just outside the ten-mile circle from TMI, so it will take almost a minute for the shock wave to get to us.

Because of course I’m going to keep geeksplaining right up until the end.

ME: Love you LOTS!

DEB: Love you lots too, honey! Thank you for everything!

And what’s left to say after that?

I think I had the impression of the windows shattering in on us, for a tiny instant before everything went away, but that might have been my brain supplying images from nuclear explosion films I’ve seen.

Later there was cold, and darkness across the land, and no legged creature walked across it. (photo by author)

I’ve been numbering my Conversations with My Wife since the very first one, and letting the subtitles and the photos serve as differentiators. With the most recent changes to the Medium interface, subtitles get occasionally dropped or buried, and photo thumbnails may or may not get included depending on platform, screen size, or, I dunno, sunspot activity. So I’m going to try dropping the conversation number (“What is that, the area code or something?” somebody asked me; no no no, it’s a numeric sequence, which is obvious… assuming you’ve been reading my stuff for awhile now, but otherwise, drat, okay, good question, sorry) and putting the subtitle in the title (but not too much, because Medium also truncates at will) and we’ll see how that goes. <sigh>

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