These are short stories put up each Friday that you can read for free. By the next Friday the post will be taken down and a new one will go up. Enjoy!
Crawford Jameson frowned and looked at his grandson lying in bed, the castle nightlight on the bed stand nearly done with its fission countdown. Would three minutes be enough?
Crawford shook off his thoughts of yesterday and looked back at his grandson.
“Yes, oh, well, um…do you really want to hear that one?”
In the bed, Billy nodded. Crawford frowned again, but the kind that was half-frown half-smile. Someone wants to hear my stories, damn it!
“It started right before the 2016 elections,” Crawford began, “at a time when no one was expecting it…”
It began on a Friday in August, shortly after the conventions. The price of oil was dropping precipitously low, at least for the producers. Consumers couldn’t remember the last time they were paying $1.09 a gallon. It was the oil countries, however, that felt it the worst.
In Venezuela the president cut his salary but inflation was still pushing 150%. In Nigeria the subsidies to the oil companies were cut completely to save the national budget, but still unemployment hit 79%. In Iran the $136 a barrel price the government needed in order to keep a balanced budget was long gone. With prices of $37 a barrel, their economy crumbled and the overwhelmingly young and unemployed workers took to the streets. But Russia…Russia got it worst of all. The ruble down 70% against the dollar, there was just now way they could continue. Food prices and power bills from the triple-digit summer temperatures had more than 50% of the country out of work. They took to the streets to protest against an already unpopular president, and this time their parents nodded their encouragement. It was the Americans, however, that really got the show started.
It was August 19 when disaster struck. The latest $1.7 trillion cromnibus spending bill had been passed the previous winter, and once again it had the five largest banks of the country off the hook. Since June they’d been hammering the derivatives market, betting on a loss, and finally on that Friday in August it came.
The Dow had been just over 21,000 when news hit from the Tehran that there’d been a major breakthrough in the protest camps. It was night there, and from the soft glow of millions of mobile phone screens, the world watched the president of Iran and then the leading ayatollah ripped from the palace and beaten to death with bricks and bottles. YouTube carried it live and the effect was instantaneous. In London the Queen opened the palace to the protesters and allowed herself to be taken off to the Tower of London without incident, ending the 6-month standoff. In Hong Kong the Bank of China tower’s final 9 floors were taken and the bankers thrown from the 72nd floor. In New York the siege of the Wall Street district ended when the police commissioner saw the writing on the wall and told his men to stand down, averting the 10,000+ casualties that’d been seen in Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, and New Delhi. But the disaster the protesters had been trying to avert was carried out by the Wall Street bankers online.
At exactly 3:49 PM the five leading banks finished the off-shoring contingency plan they’d had in the works for years and suddenly the American economy was without a good three-quarters of its wealth. By 3:52 the Dow was down to 17,000 and by the closing bell eight minutes later it was at 9,000…the lowest it’d been since 2009.
The anonymous online watcher group known as Secret Sauce then unleashed their counter-off-shoring plan. At 4:09 PM the personal information on every banker and top-level employee of the five banks was released on social media. With the California networks still taken over by the Neo-Black Panthers, the message went onto the national feeds. At 4:11 PM the first video of the head of the largest of the five banks being killed was released. A truckful of unemployed young men caught sight of the license plate at an intersection in Fresno and dragged the occupants out, beating them to death right then and there. YouTube carried it live and those with advertising associated with the video were made rich overnight, although only in the now-worthless currencies the world was still using at that time.
The day continued like that, with death and destruction, until just past 8 PM when President Sinclair came on the national feeds, a gun to his head. He announced he was stepping down and that’s when Joe Curts stepped in front of the camera. He was taking the oath of office when the White House exploded. Three minutes later the Chinese dissidents led by Bo Hochi came on the air, claiming credit for the attack. Their feed was disrupted after just 30 seconds and none of them was ever seen again. One minute after that three rockets – many suspect Russian, but this has never been proven – were launched into space, aimed directly at the global communication satellites and the one backup. At 8:07 PM the world went black once again and communication was back to Dark Ages levels. And that’s when the bombs started to explode.
The castle nightlight went dark, it’s fission countdown complete.
Crawford smiled “There’ll be plenty of other nights to finish that tale.”