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This Day in Science Fiction History: 1 June

Fictional Entry—Monday, June 1, 2009

Photo showing the flash from the Starfish Prime orbital nuclear explosion through thick clouds over Honolulu Hawaii
One of the few photos of The Pulse (Photo US Navy 1962)

The Pulse and After: Reflections in a Dark Mirror

Roger Kielman



What is it about Mondays? Used to be we were worried about getting up late after a hard weekend. Or having that meeting first thing in the morning. They snuck up on you, ruining a perfectly good couple of days off. Mondays, am I right?


Then came Monday, June 1, 2009. A Monday no one alive at the time will forget. Like the Challenger disaster, or 9/11, or Pearl Harbor. Ask anyone around and they can tell you exactly what they were doing when The Pulse occurred.


One minute you're riding the light rail to work, trying to get mentally ready for the day ahead. Then bam! The train stops and you’re thrown forward into the next seat. Then you notice the lights are off in the train. You pull out your iPhone. I know, dating myself there, but at the time most of us in professional circles had one. They were the big new thing at the time. Not after, for obvious reasons. Pieces of junk. You’d think…


Getting off-topic. Anyway, the phone is dead. Won’t turn on. You glance outside and see all the cars are stopped. No stoplights are working. Everything electrical is dead.


Initially, we figured it was local. Then it became apparent it wasn’t. But we weren’t sure how far spread it was. Had to be pretty big. Days had gone by and we hadn’t heard anything from outside Seattle. Things were falling apart quickly. No food. No police presence. Hospitals barely functioning. Madness in the streets.


Took the military a couple of days to get enough working vehicles and hardened equipment broken out to spread the word. That’s when we found out someone had set off a nuclear explosion 80 miles above the atmosphere, centered near Omaha, Kansas. Probably between one and a half and three megatons. Small boy by most standards. But it was effective. Boy was it effective. The EMP blast hit the entire United States, Canada, and northern Mexico. If it used electricity and wasn’t hardened, it was gone. Like, no coming back gone. Power plants went down, every circuit in every computer fried, batteries discharged and wouldn’t recharge. Hell, even light bulbs on the shelves blew.


Which meant our money was blown too. By then, not many of us were carrying cash around. It was all digital, and it was all gone. Poof. Millionaire to pauper. And pauper to pauper. Everyone made equal in an instant. Or as equal as anyone has ever been. Trust me, the line between the haves and the have-nots is bigger now than it was then. A lot bigger.


Most of us figured it was the oil countries. Same terrorist groups that had hit the trade centers back in ’01. Down with the Great Satan and all that. Which meant anyone with any link to the Middle East ended up shunned, or worse, dead. Mobs are like that. Took over a year to discover it wasn’t them at all.  Ended up being a homegrown quasi-religious group who believed getting back to basics was the best way to save America. Right. ‘Cause righteous causes always turn out well. See the Crusades, the October Revolution, and the Spanish Inquisition.


Fun fact-it didn’t turn out well at all. Turned us from a superpower to less than a third-world nation overnight. Nobody came to save us. Nobody is coming either. Here we are, stuck in a land of eternal Mondays.


Dark Angel S01E01 Pilot

Television Series

20th Century Fox Television



This Day in Science Fiction History examines notable events, real and fictional, concerning fantasy and science fiction in various media.


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