prepper fiction: falling off the grid, part 2

Monday, the 15th

It's at the same time beautiful and scary, when you have to go peeing during the night, and the only light you see outside are the stars and the anti-theft system LED blinking in your neighbours car.

We got up at the usual time, the kids having their accurate biological clock. Breakfast was quite normal, except for the slight butane smell in the kitchen, and the rather warm milk: we'll have to start eating all the perishable stuff, unless power returns until noon. Cleaning dishes with rainwater for first and a bit of clean water for second rinse might not be the best long term solution. The house was already rather cold, around 15 centigrades in the living room, with outside temperature around 5; I wish we had installed the fireplace we were considering last year!

I'm astonished some of the public radio stations are still continuously transmitting; to keep up morale? Seems rather a waste to me: I would save fuel (they certainly must run on generators) by transmitting just news every half hour or so, but then people might start panicking earlier... I wonder whether it would not be better to have one big AM transmitter instead of all the smaller FM ones, but unfortunately our country decommisioned our last AM station about two years ago. Satellites and internet streaming are cool, aren't they?

Public transport apparently has shut down, because drivers and maintenance people are missing, and for most people there is no sense in going to work without electricity; same for me. I accompanied my kids to the school, but as I suspected, it was closed, and so we went for some urban exploring.

We visited the neighbours sharing the car with us, and we agreed on only using it in case of emergency — whatever that is now. The tank is 2/3 full, fortunately.

The hospital nearby still had power for most systems; there was only emergency lighting at the entrance, but it was warm, and people behind the desk were working at computers. They didn't want to tell me for how long the generators still have fuel, though.

When we returned at noon, it started snowing, which was welcomed at least by the kids.

We've stopped using our toilet except for peeing, because I don't want to see all that rainwater just going down the drain. At the moment, we collect feces in plastic bags (in a bucket with an improvised toilet seat), and rinse the water toilet with the water from dishwashing.

After lunch mainly consisting of some more steaks (better eat them before dumping), the sun came out a bit, so we sent the kids outside around the house, hoping they would not be completely wet and cold afterwards. When they returned exhausted after an hour of play with neighbour kids, we just rubbed them dry with towels: they were not dirty enough to justify heating up water for soap and washcloth. We have four canisters with butane, and one is halfway used I guess; that means we have minimal heat for just about a week. We've got quite some logs of wood, but currently I can only use it for the fireplace outside; the perfect opportunity to get used to winter barbecue?

Later in the afternoon, I helped my older son with his homework. He's young enough for not requiring any electronic devices for school. Meanwhile, the little one played with his toys, and my wife went to visit some other neighbours.

We must assist the one with two small kids, and the old woman living on her own; they're all not much prepared and suffer from the missing heating. The old woman at least has a recently unused but working fireplace in her living room, so we decided it best she take the mother and kids into her quite large house, and I chop some of our wood for them. Her toilet required some serious flushing, and so I've decided to get water from the small creek nearby. I wonder what happens at the waste water treatment station without power — IF the waste water arrives there without pumps and does not just fill up the sewers — but in this case we had to get rid of the issue.

Now that is has gotten colder, we can put some of our food from the fridge outside, but the frozen stuff soon could perish. We already made an ice cream party for the kids.

I have put together a wire antenna, a simple inverted V dipole, as I can power my shortwave transceiver (trx) from the solar battery. Never was the noise floor so low: mains power failure does have some advantages! Also today I have been in contact with some radio amateurs through the FM handheld trx, but with all of the repeaters having shut down now (at least those I could reach from home), there's almost no activity on VHF and UHF. Shortwave will be different, and that's where I'll hang around this evening — stay tuned!