You awake one morning this summer to a radio alarm that startles you out of bed with blaring white noise instead of music or your news show. Annoyed, you soon discover that you can’t tune in any stations at all, not even on the other radios in your home. It isn’t until you determine that there’s nothing on the television but snow and “Cannot find server” messages online that you become concerned.
You phone your job; at least the phones are working. The receptionist suspects something is amiss, but they’re as clueless as you are as to what the cause might be. As far as they know, it’s business as usual, so you plan to go in.
Outside, it’s quieter than normal. As you leave your home, a brief conversation with a neighbor indicates that this is even more widespread than the city. Again, he’s pretty clueless, but mentions that a friend of his who was about to go out of town called and said his flight had been canceled. In fact, the friend said all flights out of town had been canceled.
No one gets much done at work that day. You learn that the telephones are only operating locally; whether land lines or cell phones, no one is able to place calls outside of the local area. Several co-workers who had work-related trips scheduled also had their flights canceled with no explanation. All day long, people on the job attempt to learn something, waiting for the radio, television, or Internet to go live again, but nothing changes for the remainder of the day. Some go home, others don’t want to be alone, so they remain. You hear a few more sirens than usual, and a call to emergency responders affirm that they don’t know what’s going on either, and they’re only responding to 911 calls.
After work you congregate at a friend’s home; unbeknownst to you, similar scenes are playing out all over the city. One of your group, a ham radio enthusiast who works from home, said that neither he nor any of his local amateur radio buddies were able to raise anyone all day. His descriptions are outside of the realm of your technical knowledge. Nervously, you and your friends alternately engage in grim speculation and jokes regarding what might be transpiring.
At 6 p.m., the television, which had been on in case something was broadcast (but with the volume turned down to spare you that damnable white noise), springs to life. Within moments you’re all huddled around it. The screen displays a dark background with a U.S. Department of Homeland Security emblem in the center. Presently, an announcer comes on, audio only, stating that for reasons of national security, it had become necessary for the DHS to suspend airline travel and commandeer broadcast frequencies, as well as the Internet, but that there was no longer any danger, and more information would follow. They also mention that for reasons of public safety, the president has ordered a nationwide curfew from 7 p.m. until 6 a.m. the following morning.
Looking at your watch, you figure you’d better get home.
You don’t sleep well, and at 6 a.m. sharp, you’re in front of your television. Strangely, most of the channels are broadcasting the usual pablum. The local and national news shows however, all carry the story of the broadcast blackout and national travel suspension having been necessary as the result of a national-security threat that has supposedly passed. They give no details. While the talking heads are a little more sober than usual, they assure that no one is in danger and that President Obama will be addressing the nation that afternoon. Then, it’s simply on to the next story. …
When you boot up your computer and open your browser, the first thing you see is a page resembling the television screen from the previous night. The DHS logo is there, top center, as are three form fields below, requiring you to input your first name, last name and Social Security Number.
They already have this information, of course; the form is just … a formality.
This … is … bad, you think to yourself.
As you may have surmised by now, you’re unable to find WND – or Townhall, Realclearpolitics, Hotair, GBTV, DailyCaller, theHill, NationalReviewOnline, PJmedia, Washingtonexaminer, nor any of your favorite political blogs. Without exception, they return “404 – Page Not Found” error messages. Most of the social media sites are up, but your accounts don’t seem to be there any longer. It’s as though you were never a member.
The left-wing websites are another story. They’re up and running and, while they don’t have any useful insights per se, their lead stories reflect a perverse glee at the fact that, whatever else this phenomenon has wrought, it has resulted in an apparent suspension of operations of certain “right-wing hate sites” they’ve long reviled.
Dashing back and forth now between the television and your computer – and with the radio on in the background – you begin to put the pieces together. None of the media upon which you’ve relied can be found. One TV news network you watch is broadcasting, but the commentators are people you do not recognize, and the programming lineup has changed entirely. A religious program you’ve watched from time to time is no longer on the channel lineup.
A decidedly uneasy feeling begins to well up in your gut. No one in the press is discussing any details or repercussions from the previous day, nor anyone’s reaction to same, either foreign or domestic. Were there riots? Was anyone hurt? Were world markets affected? They’re also not talking about the presidential campaign or the upcoming election. Surely the candidates would have something to say about this.
In the distance you hear a loudspeaker, most likely on an official vehicle, because it is moving, becoming louder, although you can’t make out what’s being said just yet. There are voices as well now, of men in the street, barking in sharp, peremptory tones.
Shaking, you go to the window. …