A high-pitched whine of feedback assaulted my ear drums, cutting my nap short.
“Dude, what the hell? I was trying to sleep.”
“Sorry,” said Bruce, “I almost got this thing working.”
Bruce was fixing an old short-wave radio he found in a storage closet. The radio had been gutted a long time ago for spare parts like wires and capacitors, but now Bruce was gutting other equipment to put those parts back in. He was hoping to use it to contact the outside world. Since all of the modern forms of communication were down he figured trying an archaic analog form of communication might be our best hope.
I sat up from the cot I was laying on. “Do you really expect to hear anything on that?”
“I expect that it’s worth a shot.”
I shook my head and leaned back into the cot. I stared up at the ceiling while thinking for a moment. “What if there is nobody out there? What if the world ended, and it’s just us left?”
“I survived,” Bruce retorted, twisting a screwdriver until it wouldn’t twist anymore.
A burst of static filled the room. A garbled voice poked through the static, but only every few words were audible.
I shot up from the cot.
Bruce began twisting the knobs on the radio, and the static started fluctuating as it changed frequencies. Finally, the voice came through the speaker, still hindered by a low hum of static beneath it, but it was understandable.
This is an emergency broadcast by the United States Government. The Earth has been hit by what is known as a “Gamma Ray Burst” or “GRB”. All satellites have been disabled; possibly destroyed. Communications are down throughout the world, and casualty numbers are uncertain at this point in time. We are urging all citizens to stay calm and remain indoors until order can be restored. Stay tuned for further updates as they come in, and may god have mercy on us all.
The message was repeating over and over.
“It’s everywhere,” I said, with a blank expression on my face.
“I wonder how many people survived,” Bruce said.
“I wonder how many people were affected like you,” I added, “the whole world could now have superpowers.”
Bruce gave me a displeased look, and decided to change the subject. “Have you ever heard of these GRBs?”
“I’m no expert, but I’ve heard colleagues of mine theorize and give lectures on them. In simple terms, they are caused by a dying star releasing a huge burst of energy and radiation as it explodes. The scariest part is that many researchers insisted if one was ever to hit the Earth, it would be the end of the world.”
“Well, at least this one didn’t end the world.”
I looked Bruce in the eyes and said, “Yet.”