87 Be­tween the Lines

Col­lat­eral Dam­age

Bonita & Estero Magazine - - DEPARTMENTS - BY DOUG GALLOGLY

W hat if your lights, tele­phone and car sud­denly didn’t work? Not just for a day or a week, but pos­si­bly for­ever? One Sec­ond Af­ter, by William R. Forstchen, is the story of a small North Car­olina town strug­gling to sur­vive in an all-too-plau­si­ble night­mare sce­nario. Orig­i­nally pub­lished in hard­cover and paper­back by Forge Books in 2009, it is now avail­able in many for­mats, in­clud­ing as an au­dio CD book, an e-book and au­dio e-book.

It’s a day like any other, and re­tired Col. John Mather­son’s big­gest worry is whether he’s cho­sen the cor­rect gift for his daugh­ter’s 12th birth­day. When he re­ceives a call from an old friend at the Pen­tagon, he senses ten­sion in his friend’s voice. Then the line goes dead. And ev­ery elec­tri­cal de­vice in the house shuts off. As the day passes, Mather­son re­al­izes he can no longer hear traf­fic on the nearby in­ter­state. Then his mother-in-law ar­rives in her clas­sic Ed­sel and tells him no other cars are work­ing. It’s not just a lo­cal power out­age—and there won’t be an easy fix.

Sud­denly, their small town is thrust into a much dif­fer­ent place and very few peo­ple have the skills needed to cope. Civ­i­lized be­hav­ior quickly takes a back seat to sur­vival as peo­ple de­scend on stores to get food and medicine. The small po­lice force can­not hope to keep up as its town tears it­self apart.

Mather­son joins with other town lead­ers by of­fer­ing to use his mil­i­tary ex­pe­ri­ence to help find a “new nor­mal” for the com­mu­nity. There is no out­side as­sis­tance, so the towns­peo­ple are left alone in a world that is back in the pre-elec­tri­cal age.

Best-sell­ing au­thor Forstchen has con­ceived a fright­en­ingly real sce­nario of small-town life af­ter an elec­tro­mag­netic pulse at­tack on the United States. Com­bin­ing re­search into the ef­fects of such a weapon with his ex­ten­sive knowl­edge of mil­i­tary his­tory, he gives read­ers an in-depth view into how so­ci­ety would be forced to change in the af­ter­math of such an oc­cur­rence. One Sec­ond Af­ter will make you ask: “Could I sur­vive?”

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