Legal Disclaimer – the following is a thought exercise only, purposed to stimulate discussion regarding real, but as-yet undefined, risks to the stability of American communities, and what a typical American may want to prepare for in terms of stabilizing their community against a worst-case. Any similarity between this work of fiction and any existing plan or plot to disrupt the American economy and society is purely coincidental.
It is a Thursday afternoon, mid September, and you are driving home from work. Your wife calls you and asks you to stop at the supermarket for a few items. As you are getting the bread and milk, a disturbance begins at the front of the store. As you approach the check-out, you realize that the lines are way too long, and there are several people complaining. From the dialogue you realize that the Credit/Debit system is down. The store manager is trying to keep people calm, while on the phone with the company that services the card-reader system for electronic payments.
Now, a new line is forming at the ATM machine in the store, people shoving and yelling. Apparently, folks went to the ATM so they could pay for their items with cash and get home. Strangely, the ATM is giving out too much money – double, to be exact. Suddenly, everyone wants to be in that line… a fight breaks out, and the front of the store becomes mayhem. You quickly pay for the items you have, going through the express checkout, thanking God that you have cash in your wallet, and get the heck out of the store.
By the time you get home, a story is breaking on the news – the same strange events are happening all over the state. Credit/Debit systems down, and most ATMs not functioning, while others are dispensing “free” money. Later in the evening, you hear that there have been multiple shootings at ATMs in the area, as people fight over the free money coming out of them… flash mobs are reported at some of the grocery and electronics stores in the city where you work.
By morning, the news is all about hackers that have broken into the ATM network, and how the banks have had to shut the ATMs down to prevent further losses. There are images on the TV of growing lines at the banks, as people must go to a bank to get cash, in our previously ‘cashless’ society. Later in the day, you hear that there are now fights breaking out at banks as people tire of the long lines, and become fearful…because bank branches are running out of cash. That afternoon, a grocery store downtown gets flash-mobbed for the third time, only this time the activities go beyond plain theft – an all-out riot erupts because people cannot get what they want, the shelves having been emptied by the previous flash-mobs.
On the drive home from work, you hear that several banks have closed branches early because they ran out of physical money. One of the branches was vandalized by people who had been waiting when the branch ran out of cash and closed up – smashed windows, smashed ATM machine, and several injured people taken to hospitals…several people were arrested, but the police are reviewing the security videos and “expect to make more arrests in the case.” That evening the news announces that these things are happening all over the country, and that looting and rioting have begun in several major cities. When bed time comes, you decide to get your pistol out of the safe and keep it by the bed, over your wife’s objections… “just in case.”
You wake up on Saturday morning to a different world – several of your neighbors have been burglarized, and the news is full of riots, robberies, and car-jackings. The mayors of several major cities have declared a state of emergency, and are urging people to stay home and lock their doors. The world seems to have come un-hinged. Your wife is no longer objecting to your pistol being ready at hand.
One of your friends owns the hardware store downtown, and he calls around 11am to ask if you need any shotgun shells, or other ‘security supplies’ – he says that he has a few boxes of 12ga. put aside, and the rest have all been sold. He also says that people have been buying plywood, screws, nails, steel bars, and anything else they can get to protect and reinforce their homes – he warns you that he expects to sell out of many supplies today. He has talked to many people that morning, he is clearly worried. He says one customer told him that he has a brother who lives in Philadelphia who had just called him, and said that there were rioters in the streets there, and that the local news showed pictures of some of them who were carrying guns and waving islamic flags.
By Saturday evening the insanity has infected the city nearest you, about 20 miles away, and there is a constant stream of reported rioting, looting, and shootings on the TV news. Your neighbor is a police officer in town, and he comes over to talk to you briefly before heading in for a shift – he says that his department has been told that they may have to send officers to assist in the city, and asks if you can you keep an eye on his family during his shift overnight? What can you say but “of course I will”…and think to yourself, “it’s not like I was going to get any sleep anyway.” Before heading out, he hands you his police scanner, quickly shows you how to use it.
Overnight, you hear gunshots in the distance…once, then again, then several more times. Gunshots and sirens, and the squawk of the scanner as each event is assigned to a unit. As the night wears on, you think back on the conspiracy theories you have heard over the years, but always dismissed as the ramblings of people living on the edge, with too much time on their hands – restless chatter of New World Order, global banking cabals, communist infiltration, etc. As much as you still don’t buy into the ranting of the “tinfoil hat brigade”, you have to wonder if the hackers who did this actually knew what they would be causing, or whether they were just trying to steal money? Morning approaches, and you realize that the police are sounding rather frustrated – there have been over 50 break-in calls since 11pm, but no one has been arrested. It is as though the police are being sent on wild goose chases. You drift off to sleep wondering, “Dozens of businesses broken into tonight, and a number of houses too, but no arrests, except for one drunk driver. How can that be?”
With daylight, your neighbor returns, but he is not happy, and neither are you when you hear the news – he and most of his squad have been assigned to assist the department in the city for a shift – he is home to grab the bag which is packed with his riot gear and other “special equipment”. He reminds you that his wife has a pistol, knows how to use it. “She also has the keys to my gun safe” he says. Both of you have to look away from the other at that moment – what it suggests about the future is just too ugly to think about, yet it can’t be avoided. He thanks you again for helping him out, and drives away.
Days later, the banks are still not open, the grocery stores are all looted and shut down, the gas stations are all empty, and your life has been reduced to shifts of community-watch duty. Armed raids by gangs are being reported everywhere, including your small town, and there are reports of huge packs of urban residents walking and driving out into the suburbs looking for food and refuge – everything on the news is about violence.
When your police officer neighbor returns (after nearly 4 days) and warns your neighborhood watch that a large mass of people is less than 2 miles up the road, looting and destroying people’s houses. He also tells you that many of the police are exhausted and walking off the job, as he did, to go home and protect their families, because there is just no managing the amount of violence which is happening. “It’s just plain crazy out there – people robbing and killing each other 24/7”, he says, “and even with 4 cops in a cruiser, we’re not safe to go in and break things up. A lot of cops have been injured, some killed. It was just time to get out…to get home before I got hurt on the street. We need to get prepared – those people are coming, and they are crazy hungry!”
That afternoon, the mob of people is spotted coming up the road towards your neighborhood, now less than 1/2 mile away. Some are on foot, but they also have some cars and pickup trucks – there must be over 200 of them. Those that don’t have guns are carrying shovels, axes, sticks… in your neighborhood, everyone has been preparing since your neighbor brought home the warning. You have sent several boys out as runners to alert folks in near-by neighborhoods that danger is coming. Every gun is in someone’s hands. Your men have also pulled axes, shovels, and other tools from their sheds to be used as fighting tools, and you have a rudimentary plan –
You have 6 veterans with combat experience, and they each have a rifle and a pistol, plenty of ammo. They will go out and engage the mob just past the edge of the neighborhood, and will attempt to keep them on the main road, to divert them past your sub-division. The rest of your men are assembling along the two entrances to the neighborhood, a few houses back from the main road – they are preparing to make a massed defense against the coming mob, if they cannot be diverted by your advanced force. You have positioned vehicles, trailers, and brush in the roads to stop the mob’s vehicles, as well as providing some additional cover for your defense force. Meanwhile, the moms are gathering the children, the sick, and the old into a small cluster of houses in the center of your subdivision. They are also pulling the food and other resources out of the most vulnerable homes. Hopefully, the combination of high resistance and little/no rewards will keep the mob moving past your neighborhood… The unspoken fact weighs heavily on your group – if there are 250 in the mob, then you are outnumbered nearly 2:1, making a head-on fight a truly horrific ordeal. A painful silence has settled over everyone as you make your final preparations.
It has been 6 days since the ATM machines went down, 4 days since the last grocery store and gas station in town closed, and now you are preparing to fight your first battle against a mob of hungry, violent looters. Another mob has already arrived downtown, and you hear on the scanner that the police and fire department are very busy. You know that help will not be coming, because you have called to tell the dispatcher what is happening, to ask for help, but all he could say was that, “there are no officers available right now. I hope your plan works…”
– – – Here, I will end the story, because what happens next cannot be told in a dignified fashion. In that clash lives are lost on all sides, and many are injured. There are no winners in this combat, only those who survived. The most profound impact is that, in less than the space of an hour, the hope of a return to normal life is destroyed for over 100 families in that neighborhood. War has touched them in their hearts, in their homes, and it has put their community to the test of fire. Those who survive have a chance to rebuild, but they have all been forever changed.
In such a scenario, the majority of Americans would either be the suburban defenders, or would be part of the mob. After such an event, our nation would be forever changed – grossly factionalized, and the gaping wound in our national consciousness cauterised by the violence. Thus wounded, we would be even more sensitive to subsequent events – a second disruption would move even faster than the first, with violence and looting coming within minutes, not hours or days. Our enemies all know this – they consider it a tool for their use against us. We must not be ignorant of the dangers we face…
WE HAVE BEEN WARNED
~Sic Semper Tyrannis!