Chapter 12

Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland

Joe Gillis Rating 0 (0) (0) Launched: Jan 19, 2024
Season: 1 Episode: 12

Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland
Chapter 12
Jan 19, 2024, Season 1, Episode 12
Joe Gillis
Episode Summary

"Every chapter gets better and better. Can't wait to read more. Have no idea where this is going and loving it." - Ryan McKinney, Writer and Director, The Invited | In a world on the brink of destruction, Joe continues his journey in an edge-of-your-seat adventure as he faces the desolate aftermath of a global cataclysm head-on. | S1E2 Chapter 12: Joe attempts to contact the outside world using his ham radio, but fails, realizing the severity of the situation. | A humorous sci-fi serial fiction podcast from author Joe Gillis. Catch a new chapter of Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland Wednesdays. Join Joe's Community at Read this chapter at

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Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland
Chapter 12
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"Every chapter gets better and better. Can't wait to read more. Have no idea where this is going and loving it." - Ryan McKinney, Writer and Director, The Invited | In a world on the brink of destruction, Joe continues his journey in an edge-of-your-seat adventure as he faces the desolate aftermath of a global cataclysm head-on. | S1E2 Chapter 12: Joe attempts to contact the outside world using his ham radio, but fails, realizing the severity of the situation. | A humorous sci-fi serial fiction podcast from author Joe Gillis. Catch a new chapter of Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland Wednesdays. Join Joe's Community at Read this chapter at

Welcome Wastelanders to the Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland Audiobook Podcast! My name is Joe Gillis, and I’m the writer and narrator of this Serial Fiction Series. We’re moving into Chapter 12 this week, but there is a new chapter every Friday, so be sure to subscribe.

If you stay until the very end, you’ll get a peek behind the page with a quick tidbit about this chapter.

The story so far…

The nuclear apocalypse hit with Joe above ground and close enough to be knocked out by debris. He was able to make it inside, but his MECHA tech was no longer working and he found himself alone in his Titan One facility. Physically destroyed, it got worse with what was most likely the after effects of a concussion. He was headed to his Operations Room to try to reach the outside world on his ham radio when he passed out.

Let’s find out what happened next…

Chapter 12

It was pitch-black when I woke up. The smell of vomit hit me first, then the pain in my head. It felt like someone had rammed a large spike through it. I wasn’t sure how long I had been out; it was at least long enough for the lights to shut off. The darkness underground was extremely eerie because there was no ambient light anywhere—and I mean anywhere. It felt somewhat like I was trapped in the middle of a horror movie, and in some way, I was.

The motion of me lifting my upper body off the floor triggered the lights, revealing the source of the smell. Yep, there I was, laying in a pool of my own vomit. Friends had told me about these types of mornings, but I had never drunk alcohol or done drugs, so this was an unfamiliar experience for me. Pulling myself up to the sink, I cleaned myself off by taking a hobo shower and washing off the throw-up out of my shirt. I still could smell it, so I scrubbed harder with the soap. Once I could smell more soap than vomit, I wrung it out and put it back on. I sniffed myself, and I nearly forgot what was happening in a slight moment of clarity.

“Oh, man,” I wished my nostrils could no longer sense smell. “I—I stink… I stink baaad! Oh, man!”

I stood there for a moment, trying to catch my bearings, when I realized that the swelling of my face had gotten considerably worse.


It felt as bad as it looked.

The pounding of my pulse thudded in my head as I touched my cheek, feeling the cold sweat on my skin.

My vision was distorted, and everything seemed like it was still spinning around the room, like during times in my life when I’d had vertigo.

As much as I wanted to just head to bed and crash, I knew I needed to focus my attention on contacting someone, so I stumbled my way down the hall to the Operations Room.

Ops now resembled more of a movie style Control Center than what they had in the ’60s, complete with a wall of view screens. This room would have been full of cabinets housing most of the Remington Rand Univac Athena computer back when it was built. I really didn’t need all the cabinets to be in there since the computing power of a phone was more than they had in this whole facility back then.

We had routed everything to be controlled at one console, by one person. Of course, I did this to a totally separate console than the original ones that would have been used by whomever was manning this place. I really wanted the Launch Control Console to seem like I could still launch the missiles that were no longer housed here. The geek in me couldn’t resist, so they were built to the specs based on what would have been here when the place was originally built, complete with a clock set to Greenwich Mean Time in military time.

Every American missile system spread across the world operated off the same time zone to allow for precise timing and coordination. That put the end of the world at 6:48 GMT, or Zulu time, which is really what the military would have used. Not as cool as 10:48 PM, but it worked. Right then, the clock said it was 10:16, so I couldn’t have been passed out for long, right?

Unless it’s a different day. What if? Oh, man, I hope not.

I had to push that thought aside for now, and focus on the problem at hand—seeing if my Operations Room, or more importantly, my Ham Shack, still worked.

The decor might have been straight out of the 1960s, but everything in the room was state of the art, filled with high-tech equipment from today. There was no way anyone’s phone was going to outperform this place now. The monitors displayed information that I might need to keep an eye on in different parts of the facility. I also had all the cameras throughout the complex routed through here, including the ones I had topside. Now I just had to hope that the Faraday cages I had built for them actually worked, and that they didn’t get damaged in the blast.

The side effect of a nuclear detonation was an EMP that would temporarily or permanently disable electronics. I was pretty sure that was what knocked out my MECHA device.

The government discovered early on that the electromagnetic pulse caused by a nuclear weapon would wipe out electronics for hundreds of miles around the blast. It didn’t matter if the devices were on or off—they just stopped working. They found that metallic shielding made out of continuous metals like steel or copper fully surrounding the object would protect it.

A Faraday cage was something that seemed like it would do the trick. It was a metal enclosure that would block electromagnetic fields by using conductive materials and was invented by Michael Faraday back in 1836. They sort of looked like you built chicken cages out of metal surrounding whatever it was that you were trying to protect. Of course, they didn’t have to look like that, and they could be built solid, too, even with fabrics. Many times they were worked into the construction of a surrounding, much like what is done with MRI rooms. The fencing style was a great way to be able to see through to whatever it enclosed, much like the front of a microwave oven, which uses a Faraday type cage to shield you from radiation.

I think the first time I saw the Faraday principle in action was watching ArcAttack at Maker Faire. Of course, I’d seen it on TV, but there was something mesmerizing about seeing a Tesla coil shooting out high voltage arcs across the sky right in front of you. ArcAttack transformed those mini-lightning looking arcs into music, so it was doubly awesome. They’d have someone out there performing in a Faraday suit, and they had a Faraday cage that protected their robot drummer, King Beat. If you were lucky enough, they might pick you to go in the other Faraday cage on stage.

It was the perfect way to keep all my cameras and any electronic equipment I had topside safe from an EMP. So I built something like a Faraday cage for my cameras, solar power, wind turbines, everything—except for the vehicles I had topside. All of them were classic cars and trucks that an EMP wouldn’t affect, so I didn’t need to worry about them. Of course, that wouldn’t matter if they were destroyed in the explosion.

Luckily I had pulled a Batman using the missile elevator in Silo #3 to bring a few of my vehicles underground after we were done bringing in materials. I didn’t expect I’d need them for something like this, I just thought it was a very cool garage.

But, would that matter without power? Luckily, it seemed like I might be okay at this point since I currently had power. The only problem was that the power could be coming from the batteries instead of from what was being generated.

I sat down at the new Main Control Center and switched on the power, which also turned on the monitors.

There were dozens of cameras scattered across my property. None of the permanently topside cameras seemed to be working. Luckily, I thought it would be cool to have cameras that were built in Faraday cages that would rise out of the ground like a sprinkler to spy on my topside.

“Come on, Faraday cages, don’t fail me now,” I pleaded as I flipped the switch to raise one of them out of the ground.

Muck began to cover the lens the moment it popped out of the ground. It made it more difficult to see, but what I could make out was something that looked like the world was on fire. Hopefully, I would get a better sense of everything once the sun came up in the morning.

Will my luck continue with coms? I thought as I grabbed the microphone and flipped on the communications radio, AKA my ham radio.

I didn’t know if the antenna was still standing, or even if I would find anyone on the other end. Either way, I needed to try. I scanned through the different frequencies to see if anyone else was broadcasting.


“CQ, CQ, CQ. This is KN6PFA, Kilo November Six Papa Foxtrot Alpha. Is there anyone out there?” I appealed to anybody listing on each frequency. “My name is Joe, and I’m trying to find out if anyone else survived.”

All I could hear was static on the other end. Patiently, I waited for a response each time, hoping someone else had gotten their Ham Shack up and running. There were so many things that could have gone wrong: the blast destroying their equipment or knocking down their antenna, the EMP knocking out their equipment, or even the simple fact that the whole nuclear fallout was creating a ton of interference with the radio signals. But there was also hope; after all, I had heard some of the first radio communications after Hiroshima were from amateur radio.

That made sense since the amateur radio community had been made a part of the emergency communications plan for America when disaster would strike, with multiple groups there to lend a hand like ARES, CERT, and RACES.

ARES, AKA the Amateur Radio Emergency Service was a group of ham radio volunteers that gave both their time and equipment for communications when a disaster struck. Then there was CERT, which pretty much summed itself up in the name: Community Emergency Response Teams. And if there weren’t enough acronyms being thrown around, you know the government was all in. FEMA and the FCC created a protocol called RACES, which stood for Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service, typically activated by the government during an emergency and the aftermath. If the President of the United States invoked the War Powers Act, only RACES volunteer operators would be authorized to transmit during that timeframe.

Across the United States, there had to be a ton of ham operators attempting to help reconnect our lines of communication. These people were our last line of communication during disasters, and I’m sure plenty of them were situated for crazy things happening. Heck, I know there are way more people better prepared for this than I am, and I’m still alive. I’d wager a huge chunk, if not all, of those people had a ham radio. We weren’t a small group of people. There were close to 800,000 amateur radio operators across America, and something like 3 million in the world. We all had different reasons why we did it or how we got into it. My introduction to amateur radio was because my parents wouldn’t pay the long distance bill for me to talk to my friend, Bret, when he moved away from Sacramento.

During the pre-cell phone era, it was the cheapest way to stay in contact with someone who wasn’t living in the local calling area. It was an era of either becoming a pen pal or never getting to talk to someone once they moved out-of-state. I didn’t like writing letters, so goodbye Bret. Then I discovered a third option in Cub Scouts: amateur radio.

My parents were way too cheap to buy me a ham radio, so I had to build it myself—and boy, am I glad they were so darn cheap because it changed my life. That single act led me down the path of building things, something I found that I had both a knack for and love of doing. Before I built computers, I built ham radios. It taught me so much.

 Bret was the only ‘friend’ that I communicated with on my ham; Maya and Sanjay never got into amateur radio. I mean, I had other friends I made on ham, some of which I even met in person, but most of them were much like some of my online friends—you know, people I chatted with that I never met in person. The only difference was that there was no way to have a private conversation on ham radio. Looking back at it as an adult, that probably was a really good thing considering the child predators that were out there online.

It was cool though; I could never handle being alone, and it gave me someone to talk to no matter what. We’d geek out together, and since it was pre-internet, it enabled me to ask pointers on various things I was doing with my Ham Shack.

Nothing made me prouder as a kid than my Ham Shack. No, it wasn’t a place where you ate ham at, it was my amateur radio station. Man, I wonder what the adults really thought of this kid bragging about all the crazy things I was doing. Then again, a lot of the guys I met on ham were super excited to see other people getting into their favorite hobby.

One of the things I loved as a kid was that ham had its own ‘secret’ language, that wasn’t really a secret, sort of like ordering ‘Animal Style’ or something else from In-N-Out’s not-so-secret secret menu. Everyone knew about it, but it was fun being part of the club. And I’m not talking about morse code either—something all amateur radio operators had to learn back when I got my ham license. Nope, I’m talking about the ham lingo like saying ‘73’ for ‘best regards’ or ‘CQ’ for ‘calling all stations,’ not to mention the phonetic alphabet. There’s nothing cooler than saying your call sign that way. Kilo November Six Papa Foxtrot Alpha sounded so much better than KN6PFA.

You know, it’s funny because I hated the idea of being just a number to government, yet I loved my call sign. I guess that doesn’t matter anymore, even on the ham side of things. Anyone using a ham radio had to be licensed back before the world decided to blow itself up, except that rule was never in effect during an emergency. Then anyone could use the amateur radio frequencies. At this point I’d say we were in a permanent state of emergency.

That didn’t stop me from following the protocols though. I continued to identify myself as I scanned the airwaves. For hours I called out to anyone who would listen before finally giving up, I mean, I was tired—really tired. Heck, I don’t know if I’d ever felt that wiped.

There wasn’t anything more I could do. Maybe they’d have the television or radio stations up and running by the morning. I was sure people were just scrambling to survive at this point. I decided it was the perfect point to go take another shower and then catch up on some sleep since I wouldn’t say the passing out counted.

It was nice to remove the smell of vomit. I used the showers on the first level and then headed back up to sleep in the Launch Complex Office that was next to the Operations Room. There was a bed in there, which was something I had set up because that was the way it was in the photos of the working missile complexes. I wish I could have asked someone why they used the office as sleeping quarters when there were plenty of beds on the lower level. Seemed odd at the time, but maybe it was for situations like this.

The door to the Launch Complex Office opened up directly into the Operations Room, so I left on coms, and turned on the radio and television just in case. I didn’t mind the white noise; I always liked having a fan on or something like that anyway, so this worked for me. I’m not sure I even needed the white noise because I crashed the moment my head hit the pillow—well, at least until an explosion woke me from my stupor.

That concludes Chapter 12 of Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland. Written by Joe Gillis. Read by Joe Gillis.

Wow, what the heck just happened? I don’t know about you, but I hate being startled awake? Do you think things will turn out alright for Joe? Tune in next week to find out.

Okay, I’m going to let you in on a little secret… come closer to your speaker… Here’s the thing, Joe’s call sign is really my call sign. In all seriousness, Kilo November Six Papa Foxtrot Alpha is me. I got my Technician Class and General Class for writing this serial book. I wanted to get the Amateur Extra Class, the highest amateur radio operator license, for my television series Beyond Geek. Until then, I’m happy to be have to spout off that I’m a General. You know? Now that I think of it, General actually sounds cooler, but you’re able to hit a bunch of frequencies I can’t right now if you have an Amateur Extra Class, so I guess it doesn’t matter how cool it sounds.

As for all that stuff about why and when Joe got his ham license—it’s all made up. Bret is a real friend that moved away when I was a kid, and now I wish I had gotten into ham radio so we could have continued to talk.

For people in their 20’s or younger, they won’t understand a time when it cost a fortune to talk to a friend that moved away. The cheapest thing was good old fashion snail mail. Surprisingly, I never wanted to be a pin pal since I hated writing letters to people, so most my friendships ended once someone moved to where it cost too much to call. I know. Total bummer, right?

Well, that brings us to an end of another chapter.

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Thanks for joining me on this crazy journey! Actually, scratch that… This is KN6PFA, Kilo November Six Papa Foxtrot Alpha saying 73 to all you out there. I’ll see you all on the flip side!

Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland copyright 2023, Joe Gillis, All rights reserved. This is a Jowagi Production and is distributed by Slacker Entertainment.

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