Phase 1 - Warning signs. Under and within 24 hours of the catastrophe
At first people get a hint of what is about to happen. Those who have a strategy bunker up with supplies and hide or bug out to what they believe is a safer place. People who lack understanding of the situation either flee in blind panic or, most commonly, live in ignorance of what is happening around them. Within hours the emergency number 112 is drowned in calls to the limit where the system ceases to work. Emergency services and police are pushed well past their limits and can only try to limit the destruction as it spreads. The mobile net is overloaded and stops working. Then the fixed lines go down as well. Police and the civil guard mobilize to try to keep law and order on a local scale. Rumors spread like wildfire when the common sources for information like telephones, tv and internet all stop working. From the rumors even stranger stories emerge and spread as people now start speculating and second guessing what is happening around them. People still help each other and even strangers when in need.
Kenneth stretched as he stepped off the buss at Karlavägen in Stockholm. Apparently there had been a lot of fuzz during the night. Riots it seemed. The buss had been late as if it had a hard time to get past all the smashed or burnt out cars on the road. The smell of smoke from the burnt cars spread itself with the wind and stung the nostrils. In the distance he could still hear the sirens.
It was very unclear what had caused all of this. Bored youth? Football derby? Political disagreements? Nothing made sense but, at this point, neither was it especially surprising. Civil disobedience seemed like “the new black” and was there to stay. Sadly. Times were different when he grew up. Either you behaved or you got a serious beating when you got back home after having gotten yourself in trouble.
He unlocked the door to his fruit store like every weekday for the past 20 years. He got into his normal groove and turned off the alarm and put the lights on. Riot or not, people would still want to buy their fresh fruit he thought.
Phase 2 - Shock and awe. Around 48 hours after the catastrophe
Most people are in shock and cower, they can’t grasp nor handle what has happened. Their perception of reality completely shattered. Others seek escape in ignorance and try to continue with their daily routine even though it completely lacks any purpose. Most people don’t follow the instructions given by authorities and emergency personnel and still go about their own plans. At this point the electricity goes out and it all turns black. With the power gone, so is all electronic form of currency, banks and payment systems. Hard cash is the only viable currency for now. The absolute majority of all stores are completely sold out or plundered on all their goods. First goes food and then goes hardware and supplies. After that people start to grab what they think they might trade with or have value in later. The infrastructure collapses in large. Transports besides walking or bikes becomes an impossibility in or around larger cities as people try to flee. The industrial and commercial sector comes to a complete halt as it lacks electricity, fuel and transports. No fuel remains at gas stations or in reserves, at least not that is accessible to common people. People start to realize that their survival depends on themselves and that no one else will save them. The water system finally shuts down as the emergency generators either fail to work or run out of fuel. The days of clean water in the tap are over. On the radio only an emergency broadcast on repeat can be heard except some local stations trying to get information to the few who has transistor radios.
She knew it! Everyone knew it! Or well no they didn't, because most people were brain dead even before the catastrophe and as such very very stupid. But SHE had always said it - “the invasion will come!” But not as most people had thought, a small invasion of Gotland. But a BIG invasion hitting the larger cities head on!
And here she was, isolated in her apartment with food and water to last for at least two months! Batteries, crossword-puzzles and a huge stash of candles was all that was needed. The worst enemy would be the boredom. Or at least when the internet stopped working.
She sat down and browsed the usual news sources, all of them from abroad since Swedish news was about as accurate as American B-52s. They wouldn't even know a story if they stood in the middle of it.
There was nothing about military aggressions, but it was obvious anyways! How else would sporadic riots have started all over Sweden at the same time? It smelled of PSYOPS all over it.
On the forums more people had come to the same conclusion. PSYOPS had probably been flown in to agitate the local population and create civil disobedience, just so the regular armies could sweep in and seal the deal.
Now it was just a matter of riding out the storm. She lit a few candles by the cozy sofa in the living room and went to the kitchen to eat whatever would turn sour when the electricity eventually failed. With a crossword-puzzle under her arm and a piece of the cake from her birthday she steered towards the living room. But she ended up standing halfway in the hallway. Was that the smell of fire from the stairwell?
Phase 3 - Collapse. 7 days after the catastrophe
“We are only 3 days away from anarchy”
For most people it now starts to become clear that the state or authorities can do nothing to save the situation around them. The desperation is getting out of hand as most families are now without any food or drinkable water. People move locally in the areas where they live and try to help people they know. Large cities and urban areas are affected the most. Diseases spread as the lack of water and food leads to bad hygiene and diminished resistances to infection. Hospitals have to prioritize those who are seriously wounded due to lack or resources in both personnel, medicines and electricity. Thousands upon thousands are left without any form of care. All types of motorized transports have run out of fuel and sized to work. So it's down to walking, bicycles or riding for those who have a horse. The government has completely broken down and stopped working. Authorities only function on a local scale. Society as we know it has collapsed and anarchy reigns. Plunder and murder happens in broad daylight as the shock is replaced with panic. Everyone tries to get their hands on what food or supplies they can.
She was laying with her head down in a puddle of her own blood. The girl couldn't be much older than her own sister, not more than 10 years of age. Her head was stomped and smashed beyond any form of recognition. Sara looked away and focused on the sound of turmoil close by. With her pistol drawn she moved along the small gravel road through the park.
It had started as a stressful shift since 112 wasn’t responding and RAKEL was dysfunctional down to where it was no point in using it anymore. She and her colleague had moved into the city center in order to address a mob that seemed to be attacking people at random. And that's when it all went to hell...
When they arrived a huge mob had directly attacked the car with no thought for personal preservation. Because it was a huge mob, not a small one as it was said when they were handed the task. The car windows was completely smashed and Richard had to run over a couple of people in order for them to escape with their lives. They had retreated a few blocks to the park where they lost contact with the mob. Somewhere along the way they just took off on another street, very unclear why.
When they sat there they saw two men chase a third one. They caught up to him and knocked him to the ground, just to get up and chase after someone Sara and Richard couldn't see. Probably another victim. Richard got out of the car first and started running after the assailants. The idea was for Sara to intercept them via the park.
As she moved she noticed that someone had set fire to the small grill in the far corner of the park. When she looked further she could see more rooftops on fire in that direction. Even if everything seemed to be in complete chaos she couldn't help thinking “So unnecessary!”
The turmoil continued ahead even though she couldn't see it. There was the noise of people screaming in panic, and what seemed to be rage or pain.
Suddenly she heard the sound of running footsteps to the side. The adrenalin was pumping and she turned around with her gun at point, lighting the built-in flashlight only to see Richard come running in full speed. She drew a breath of relief and lowered the weapon as she half yelled “Did you loose the…!?”
She didn't have time to finish the sentence as Richard slammed into her. Completely confused about what was happening she didn't react in time. The last thing she saw was Richard aiming with his fists to her face, face filled with blood and eyes filled with rage.
Phase 4 - Continued collapse. A couple of weeks after the catastrophe
The chance to get a hold of working electricity, water, gas, fuel, garbage disposal, communications and other basic functions of society has reached zero. Government and authorities has completely ceased to exist and lost its meaning and purpose. Bills and paper money has by now completely lost its value and is better used to fuel a fire. Gold, silver and valuables, or any form of bartering is the only working currencies. The handling of the dead is non-existent and they are left lying where they died. This in turn spreads disease and sanitary issues even further. With the thick concentration of living humans in small places and a lack of water, it's a breeding ground for all kinds of illness and it spreads fast. Fires run rampant as no fire department is there to stop it. In forests when it's dry and other times in the cities. As fire is the only means of making food and cure water, it's a common occurrence. Panic goes to fear and then turns into anger and hate. A strong disbelief versus strangers and a lack of compassion for others spread. People stay away from others and cower for themselves.
He remembered the first time he pulled the trigger. The sound, the recoil, the heat hitting his face and the smell of gunpowder. The first bullet came like a shock but it was gone in an instant as his officer yelled “Shoot Gustavsson! Shoot!!!”
Since then he had hundreds if not thousands of hours with his trusted machine-gun. But no practice what-so-ever could prepare him for this. He had killed green or brown paper figures at a firing range. Completely. Fucking. USELESS!! The only thing that seemed to be of value was trigger control and an ability to reload quickly. Not even aiming was of any use as this enemy was best fought with “fire in that general direction” as it was a target rich environment.
The Galt was parked one hundred meters from the bridge. Golf held the bridge whilst Echo had taken ground all the way down to the bridge foundations and was setting up the charges. The radio woke to life with his commanders voice half shouting “Gustavsson! Order! When the runners reach the bridge you open fire and unleash all the hell you’ve possibly got! Push them back until Echo has armed the charges and the bridge is gone!” “Roger that!” He let his finger stroke the safety and put the plastic stock against his shoulder and chin. On the other side of the bridge he could see the first silhouettes start to show with the smoke as a backdrop and the cars headlights like dramatic lightning of a theater stage. They were not much unlike the paper targets during practice, but this was living people.
The adrenaline was pumping when he reloaded with another box of ammunition, the third in quick succession. Many silhouettes had fallen but there was always a few more to take its place. The rest of the group had left the vehicle and had formed a steady line so everyone could keep the never ending horde at bay. The bridge had turned into an inferno of tracers and blood. “Fire in the hole! Take cover!” came from somewhere. Everyone ran to take cover behind the car. A burst of light blew out from under the bridge and the shock-wave ripped his clothes as it hit him where he stood in the tower of the armored car, just like during practice at the FARB area at the base. With a deafening sound the concrete bridge withered and fell under its own weight to its grave in the river below. With it came a cloud of dust covering the other side of the river. “CEASE FIRE! Get ready to move, we have more bridges to blow up tonight!” his commanders voice rang in his ears. He was still shaking, still high on the adrenaline rush. They were just targets. They had to be. Anything else was complete madness...
Phase 5 - Doomsday. Up to a couple of months after the catastrophe
Most of all nuclear power plants have uncontrolled meltdowns and explosions. Most built in safety features don’t work since they require human interaction. Huge amounts of radioactive materials leak out into the atmosphere. Accidents and leakage happen at a large amount of all industries that handle dangerous and volatile chemicals. People who are dependent on medicines start to die due to lack of medication since it has run out or can’t be found. Ideological views of people are all but gone, people who could never hurt anyone now murder just to get a meal. Epidemics spread even further due to all dead bodies and lack of hygiene. Bewildered dogs now start to become a problem when they form packs and become aggressive. Or worse - infected.
The last pills was gone and the dispenser was empty in front of her on the kitchen table. The last firewood had burnt out and all food supplies were gone. The radio was only transmitting white noise on all channels. Not even the safety broadcast on repeat was there any more. But the lack of medicine or starvation didn’t hurt nearly as much as the loss of her children and grandchildren. Her husband she had lost many years ago, but time heals all wounds. Not in this case. Andreas and Nova, the two bright lights her daughter brought into her life. The tears was running down her cheeks. She wanted to scream, she wanted to protest in all her anger! But there was no energy left, almost no tears either. There was nothing left. Of her, her family, the life she had lived. Everything was gone. She had seen what happened to those who survived the attack. They changed. Turned into animals that tore each other into shreds for no visible reason whatsoever. She hoped and wished her grandchildren didn't end up like that. She hoped they had found peace. Her time had come as well, the heart medicine had run out with the food. She was old, weak and weathered. It was time.
She was standing at the concrete edge in the harbor and was looking out at the chemical factory on the other side of the channel. Just a month ago this place was full of life and ships were loaded here daily. But now it was silent and abandoned. A slight fog reached around the factory and down into the channel. The last beams of the sun was warm and felt nice on her skin, though she didn't even notice.
She unraveled the package on the ground. A painting of her daughter and grandchildren, and a small candle. A last gesture before she let the cold water take her. It was autumn now, and the night had brought frost to the ground.
She was ready. With shaking hands she took out the matchbox, and extracted a match. A last flash of light before the darkness.
The cold and darkness was not what claimed her. She never had time to light the candle. The match ignited the leaking gas. The harbor and all the factory grounds were consumed in an INFERNO.
Phase 6 - Recovery 100+ days after the catastrophe
Things slowly get better after the biggest wave has subsided and the larger part of the population has deceased.
After a type 3 catastrophe things will never be the same. What happens from here is up to the local survivors of the human race...