Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Quest: Unexpected allies

“We are getting played by Ann Arbor” Rick Salazar shared with Benicio.

“Then we better get in the game” Benicio said. “I have a plan to take Ann Arbor’s mind off of us but I need your help.”

It was rare that Benicio asked for help.

Benicio’s reach extended from Lake Michigan to the Detroit River. While he didn’t control all that area, he had eyes-and-ears on the ground and he had freelancers who were willing to do Benicio’s bidding...for a price.

Benicio’s idea was to strike from the east while Ann Arbor’s eyes were looking west.

It took several days to pull together the packages Benicio asked for.

Peppermint Candy was a radio personality who broadcast out of Capiche. She had no interest in participating in the effort.

Grampa Ed was all in. He served in the Air Force in the 1960s and had very favorable memories of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty. He was HONORED that he was asked to participate.

His voice was noticably scratchy after nearly two days of recording but it was still Grampa Ed’s distinctive voice.

It took a week for the packages to find their way east.

FM antennas are short and easy to install. 100 Watt solar panels were available to anybody with enough silver to pay for them. Benicio sent more than enough money.

Transmitters were mounted atop industrial buildings along the Detroit River from St Clair Shores-to-Toledo.

The solar panels were flat mounted to the top of the AC units where they would not be visible to casual observers. Since they were solar powered, the transmissions started in early morning and ended in late afternoon.

The transmitters had a ten mile range so the transmissions were not heard in Ann Arbor but every survivor within fifteen miles of the Detroit River or the west end of Lake Erie were pummeled daily. All told, 1000 square miles of Michigan and northern Ohio were within the transmission envelop.

And the listeners fell over themselves tuning in. There was nothing else like it being broadcast. It was a fresh breeze and bright ray of sunshine in a grim and brutal world. It was a compilation of Grampa Ed and Peppermint Patty's broadcast career.

The programming was in shuffle mode. Ads were interspersed between the programming. Ed’s most recent contribution was to announce that the transmissions were from notable Ann Arbor landmarks like sports stadiums, hospitals and museums.

Several times each day the listeners were treated with the weekly food-allotments that were issued to the residents of Ann Arbor. Listeners deduced that the allotment changed on a weekly basis.

The announcer told listeners that THIS week’s allotment was:

-Two eggs a day
-Six ounces of meat a day. (Sorry that the fried chicken fingers were not available this week but bacon was now back in stock)
-Two ounces of cheese
-A 12 ounce loaf of bread a day
-And children were allotted 32 ounces of skim milk a day
-Two servings of fruit a day

“And as a reminder, if you get a job you can buy food up-grades. The quantities listed are the foundational allotment given to every person residing within Ann Arbor city limits.”

Other ads were for companies looking for people to drive vehicles.

The biggest need for drivers was for tanker trucks. According to the ads, the bright-boys at the University Engineering School had rewired the nuclear reactor to produce gasoline and the plant was producing fuel faster than it could be trucked away. The wages that were advertised were astronomical, a whopping ounce of silver an hour with two ounces an hour if the driver worked over six hours a day.

For the thousands of people slowly starving to death, whose last meat had been a pigeon they had trapped and shared with their family, the idea of six ounces of meat was irresistable.

Given the fragility of the people’s health and the deplorable condition of the roads, it would be one or two weeks before they made it to Ann Arbor and could start claiming their entitlements. But many of the survivors from Detroit pulled up stakes and started their pilgrimage the second day of transmissions.



  1. Gonna be a lot of hungry people pissed off at being played.

  2. An interesting maneuver... swap them with refugees instead of the other way around. And since the radio doesn't reach Ann Arbor they (probably) won't know it is coming.
    The smart people who listen closely will know something is up since you can't get gasoline from a nuclear reactor, but most people won't catch that.

  3. I have read and enjoyed your fiction since I joined in during Calexit. I read the Seven Cows and everything since. I am a great fan. But I must admit that I have become confused about who is who and on which side they are on. It would be very helpful for a refresher Cast of Characters post. Thanks. Your loyal reader, Dogsledder.