Once upon a time, he was the coolest radio DJ at WKPX Harveyville. He always played the really good music and not the plastic pop pap that the corporate overlords wanted him to play. Until the day that he launched the apocalypse protocol, almost triggered the end of the world (well, sort of) and definitely triggered the end of his career…
Warning: There will be some rude words in this story, including the one that starts with an F, so sensitive souls should tread carefully.
Read an excerpt.
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Some background information:
- The Apocalypse Protocol is a short story of 3600 words. This story is a digital premiere and has never been previously published.
- The initiating spark for this story was hearing “Eiszeit” by Peter Maffay, a German song about a presumably nuclear apocalypse on the radio. Now “Eiszeit” (Ice Age) is a song I really dislike, because it’s very earnest in that early 1980s way, very stupid (for example, there’s a line about a lava jet spraying all the way to Saturn, which suggests that whoever wrote the song has no bloody clue how far away from Earth Saturn really is) and just plain bad. And as I heard it on the local radio, I thought, “Well, if the world was really about to end and that was the last song they’d play, the next bang you’d hear would not be a nuke but me smashing the radio against the nearest wall.” That led me to wonder what should be the last song to be played before the end of the world, which in turn led me to wonder whether radio stations have prerecorded messages to play in case there’s a nuke heading for us. And what if someone accidentally played such a message…
- Ironically, “Eiszeit” – as awful as the song is – never made it into the final story, because there is zero chance of Non-German readers having heard of the song. Instead, the last song played before the apocalypse is “My Heart Will Go On”, which is almost as bad.
- It turns out that yes, they actually did have prerecorded messages to be played in case of a nuclear war. For shortly after I finished The Apocalypse Protocol I chanced to see a documentary about Cold War era nuclear bomb shelters in Germany. And inside the “Bundesbunker”, the massive nuclear bomb shelter intended to house the West German government in case of a nuclear war, there actually was a tape with a prerecorded message to be broadcast to the population. And yes, the tape had music. However, the last song to be played before a nuclear war was not “Eiszeit” or “Dancing With Tears in My Eyes” or anything even remotely appropriate to the occasion. Instead it was “Milord” by Edith Piaf, which is just bizarre. If it had at least been “Non, je ne regrette rien”, well, that would make sense. But “Milord”? Really?
- I did not just eliminate “Eiszeit”, I also relocated the story to the US, because the story would not have worked nearly as well in the German system of public, license-fee financed radio stations. For starters, there wouldn’t have been any corporate overlords to piss off.
- There actually is a town called Harveyville in Kansas, though I was unaware of that when I wrote the story. Instead, Harveyville was intended as an imaginary everytown in the US with a typical US small town name. It was only belatedly that I realized that there actually was a town of that name. Interestingly, I had always envisioned my story to be set in the Midwest, where the real Harveyville happens to be located as well.
- The first person narrator, though we never learn his name or his gender, is definitely male, by the way.
- The cover is a stock photo by photographer Ante Vekic.
- The original cover was designed to be reminiscent of the old RKO logo from the 1930s with the RKO radio tower. However, the antenna on the photo is not an actual radio antenna but a cellphone service tower in the industrial and retail park at Delmenhorst Hasport. The orange building to the left of the tower is actually a DIY store and part of the Obi chain. The neon WKPX logo was added in Photoshop.