I: Nuclear Explosions Explained They are like ordinary explosions, only many times more powerful. It is academic to argue whether the conflict between NATO and the Warsaw Pact was inevitable. Such geo-political and philosophical arguments are beyond the scope of this study, which attempts to document, the effects of armageddon upon a major regional centre in the North-East of England. For the sake of clarity, however, a brief overview of the end's beginning will be supplied before the narrative focuses in on the city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and its immediate environs. In response to increasing Soviet aggression during the latter part of 1983, the United Kingdom, in line with its NATO allies, began to prepare for the possibility of imminent hostilities with the Warsaw Pact. Planning for the unthinkable had, of course, been underway since Attlee - now, however, the spectre of conflagration loomed larger every day - especially after the Berlin Crises of October and January. Indeed, the commencement of full-scale Transition-to-War contingencies was ordered as a direct response to this second, larger event. In a hundred thousand homes across the nation, children ran home beaming to tell their parents that school had been closed until further notice. Despite being too young to fully understand, these smiles faded immediately upon seeing the grim expressions playing across the faces of mummy and daddy. Some parents attempted to explain the reason for the unexpected holiday, but most did not - after all, the truth was difficult to bowlderise - classrooms would be converted into ad hoc hospitals. Into makeshift morgues. Simultaneously, all but the most seriously ill patients were ejected from hospitals across the country in order to make space for the reception of war casualties. Care homes for the elderly were also cleared - this led to at least two dozen deaths as the frailest of the frail failed to cope with the stress and strain of such disruption. It was the extreme unpopularity of these measures (combined with simmering racial and anti-authoritarian sentiments) that sparked the Brixton Riots of January 1984 - although this was far from the only civil disturbance to occur during the last days of 'peace', it achieves a grim notability as the first occasion on which a British citizen was killed by security forces as a result of the Emergency Powers Act. When one youth (who had lost his grandmother to a heart attack as she was removed from her sheltered accommodation) blinded a policewoman during the height of the rioting, he was promptly beaten to death by the SPG. This would doubtless have sparked further violence had the Government not taken full advantage of the Emergency Powers Act in order to censor any stories 'inconducive to the national interest' for the duration of the crisis. Based on the (fairly spurious) belief that these riots had been instigated and encouraged by 'enemy subversives', the security services launched Operation ANTONINE in the early morning of the 22nd of January, in which over... * The Constable didn't necessarily agree with what was going on, but he was far from appalled by it. He had never really given politics a second thought, but sitting shoulder to shoulder with his colleagues in back of a transit van he supposed that he himself was a bit of a lefty. He listened The Clash and he adored Tom Robinson (indeed, he knew 'Glad to be Gay' word for word, and in times of less extreme tension had delivered impassioned renditions to captive audiences such as this one). His hair was always too long. Nevertheless, he had convinced himself that these extremists needed to be gotten rid of - like every policeman, he had heard the lurid rumours of what was going on down South. Secretly, however, he knew that he did what he did because he wanted to live for as long as possible. Like anyone with eyes and ears and a television set, he was convinced that war was going to come, and short of moving to Switzerland, the Constable reckoned that a blue suit would guarantee him a meal ticket after the end of the world - therefore he kept his mouth shut. Subversives and Security. Cowboys and Indians. Keep your mouth shut. Choose the fucking cowboys. For a hardcore socialist, thought the Constable, this lad had a pretty big house. Still, if everyone was so equal, the gentleman in question would have been awake and down some mineshaft by now. Hell, he thought, even miles under the North Sea would be preferable to what passed for a detention centre these days. Whatever. The Constable focused his mind on the task in hand. Creeping at the head of his team behind a well-trimmed hedge, he grabbed his truncheon and steeled himself. Waiting under a buzzing yellow streetlight, he tried to project confidence with his expression as he silently confirmed his comrades were all ready. 'Cromwell.' buzzed his little blue radio 'Cromwell. Cromwell.' By now he was already through the front door and screaming at his target, as yet unseen in the unlit house. Stamping down on each floorboard in order to project as disarming a presence as possible, the Constable threw himself up the stairs and into what he simply guessed was the master bedroom. He then began vomiting, composing himself briefly enough to call for assistance before falling to his knees and retching some more. In the corner sat a little girl in her pyjamas, with a small green frog in her arms and a large red hole in her head. In the bed, the mother lay face down. The suspect (what must have been the suspect) was sat upright with a shotgun balanced precariously upon his lower jaw. A telephone lay unhooked on the sideboard - he must have been warned. Only now did the Constable notice that the television was on. What was always on. 'Choose the room with the smallest amount of outside walls. The farther you are...' Thoughts, suggestions, criticisms?