PFD Story Title: Lethal Inception
PFD Chapter: One
Main Character: Michael, a trouble-making teen with a knack for hacking computers, on the day of the outbreak in New York City.
Hacking into his parents’ lab notes had never been much of a challenge. They used the same passwords for email, bank accounts, and thankfully, their lab notes. He scanned recent notes and found nothing of interest, so he backed up six months and scanned the notes until the acronym flashed. He scrolled up and read words that chilled his blood. “Viral… high mortality rate… airborne… death within twenty-four hours of exposure.”
Has being a part of Prep For Doom changed your outlook on disaster preparation and/or apocalyptic scenarios?
Very much so! I’m the typical Aries, so I fly by the seat of my pants ninety-nine percent of the time.
While reading the first draft of the anthology, I studied my surroundings to see just how prepared I’d be if something like this ever went down. Y’all – don’t bother coming to loot my house – there isn’t a thing here you’d need for surviving.
What do you think would be the scariest kind of apocalypse?
For me, as an American, I think a rapidly spreading pandemic like the virus in Prep for Doom would be the most frightening and helpless experience. One that we wouldn’t be prepared for at all. As I was reading the anthology, I thought of the countless numbers of dead bodies lying around decomposing in streets – compromised water supply, panicked and grief stricken survivors, mass suicides. Yeah, it freaked me out, all right.
Have you ever experienced a major disaster that made you think about end of the world scenarios?
I was in the Missouri Army National Guard (1996-2004) and spent two weeks in Honduras after Hurricane Mitch ravaged the country in 1998. It was a humanitarian mission, but our MP unit also provided security for the engineers who were rebuilding roads and bridges.
I was twenty-two years old, newly married, and I had already settled into an attitude of entitlement and “more, more, more. New clothes, new this, new that, I want, I want, I want.” We were living in an old trailer, driving decent vehicles, and had nice things, but I was dissatisfied and in a funk. And then, I went to Honduras.
We had an ungodly long bus ride from the airport to the post we’d call home for two weeks. On that bus ride, I saw firsthand the wrath and devastation of the hurricane and the depths of poverty in the area. I’ve never been more ashamed of myself as I looked through the bus windows with tears streaming down my face – little mud houses with dirt floors, no windows, and bright, smiling faces. They had nothing and were happy. I had everything and was miserable.
On that trip, I met a man who changed my life forever. I’ve long forgotten his name, but his face is burned in my memory. I operated the gate into the camp; soldiers and civilians had to sign in/out, explain their purpose for leaving/visiting, then they could meander on their way. One day, this man came in, smiling and singing in Spanish to sign in. He had a white mask on top of his head and cleaning supplies in his bag. I asked the interpreter to find out the purpose of his visit, and his response floored me. He was there to clean the porta-potties. I grimaced and apologized for his bad luck, and he waved me off saying he was happy to have a job. He was grateful for the opportunity to give back and earn money at the same time. He had the single most disgusting job I could ever imagine, and day after day, he showed up, signed in, smiled, and went to work. On my last day there, he showed up with his guitar and sang for me – a beautiful song in Spanish, his voice curling over the air and landing in my soul, a song I’ll never remember but a lesson I’ll never forget.
This doesn’t answer the question, per se, but I wonder about him and the other people I met while I was there and hope they’re doing well. And I hope I get to tell them someday how much they changed my life.
Tell us a little about your Prep For Doom character and story.
Lethal Inception is the story I wrote about a seventeen-year-old hacker kid, Michael, who was recently expelled from yet another high school for hacking into the school’s grading system and altering final grades for football players. His parents, Dr. Steven and Dr. Karen Phelan, are two scientists who worked on a vaccine for AVHF (unbeknownst to Michael). When their research files go missing, they both accuse Michael of hacking their system as a prank, but their assumptions are dead wrong.