Chapter 14

Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland

Joe Gillis Rating 0 (0) (0) Launched: Feb 02, 2024
Season: 1 Episode: 14

Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland
Chapter 14
Feb 02, 2024, Season 1, Episode 14
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 14: Joe tries to contact the International Space Station using his ham radio, hoping to get a better understanding of the situation on Earth. | 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 14
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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 14: Joe tries to contact the International Space Station using his ham radio, hoping to get a better understanding of the situation on Earth. | 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 jumping into Chapter 14 this week, but there are more chapters headed your way, so be sure to subscribe.

Also, 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 Earth was on fire from the nuclear destruction. Joe was lucky enough to survive, but he’s now alone in his Titan One facility. With his MECHA tech rendered useless, he was forced to find alternative ways of gathering information about the situation or even to find out if there were any other survivors. He came to the realization that his ham radio could be his last hope and spent hours attempting to make contact with anyone beyond his isolated world. He was striking out, then he realized that the International Space Station might be okay.

Let’s find out what happened next…

Chapter 14

Amateur radio operators used something they called E.M.E or Moon bounce, essentially using the Moon like a passive communications satellite. It was the same principle America used for Project Echo back in the ’60s.

The Echo satellites were huge Mylar balloons that were used for passive communications. They soared around the Earth at speeds of up to Mach 24 and you would bounce your radio signal off of them, sending it to the other part of the globe. That’s where the E.M.E. came in: Earth-Moon-Earth. You would transmit the signal from Earth, bounce it off the Moon some 238,900 miles away, and receive it back on Earth. So contacting something like the International Space Station that was 200 something miles away from the Earth was pretty easy, and that was something ham-radio operators had been doing with the International Space Station for years.

They contacted the ISS crew through the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station, or ARISS, as it’s called. ARISS was created as a way to inspire students to get into STEM careers and educate the general public about space exploration and technologies—and provided a back-up communication system for NASA and the ISS crew.

Well, I think we’re at that point now… which sucks, but it gave me an excuse to call a freaking astronaut! End of the world or not, that was pretty cool.

If the International Space Station was still up there, they would have the best view of what happened, and know how bad it really was. Man, it would have sucked for them since they’re scheduled to sleep from 9:30pm to 6:30am Greenwich Mean Time, and the end of the world happened at 6:48 GMT… give or take 30 minutes depending on where you lived.

They would have woken up right around the time it was all going down. How lame would it be to have your day start off that way? Then again, it was pretty horrible to be wide awake during it, too. I wondered if NASA contacted them after the missiles had launched, or if they were given a heads up and maybe launched back down to Earth. If the crew was still up there, they might have been able to sit out the harshest point and then launch back to Earth in the spacecrafts docked at the station.

Either way, maybe they were still sending down images or the video feed of Earth. The ISS has a way to transmit and receive JPEG still images through the ham radio using slow-scan television. The image is converted into audio tones, or reconstructed from the audio tones, through the computer on the ISS or on Earth. One of their radios automatically transmits images once every 3 minutes when active, and the images are usually views of Earth. Since it’s an analog image, there might be noise and interference that create image problems on the other end, like an old school television broadcast, but I’d take that over nothing any day.

If I was really lucky, I’d be able to grab the high-definition live stream of Earth using my satellite. That would definitely give me an idea of how bad things were out there on a global scale.

Huh, first things first, I think I need to contact someone.

Luckily, this was a frequency I knew by heart. I loved listening to the crew talk, and I was obsessed with collecting the SSTV images that they would beam down from the International Space Station. They were a lot like digital trading cards. They would do ‘events’ where they would beam down a series of images, and I would try to collect them all during the limited time window of the SSTV event.

Another part of the fun was trying to obtain the clearest image possible since you were receiving and decoding an analog image that could have interference in it. There would be an image or images of a crew member, or sometimes stamps or other historical images, with some sort of text and the ISS call sign. Unlike sports cards, I didn’t care which team was transmitting; I enjoyed collecting images from any of the space agencies.

Excitement always grew inside of me whenever I was about to contact the International Space Station—some sort of Pavlovian response, I guess. Today was no different. Then it all came to an abrupt stop as I just stared at the dial.

What the heck is the frequency?

There I sat, fixated on the dial, hoping that somehow it would come to me.

Nothing. Freakin’ nothing.

I closed my eyes and dropped my head into my hand, breathing deeply.

It’s okay, Joe. It’s not the end of the world if you can’t remember—

Oh. My. Gosh. I couldn’t help but crack a smile, knowing that if Sanjay were there, he’d tell me that was another saying I needed to drop.

Yes, it was the end of the world, so that just sounds silly now.

The good news was that I realized that I didn’t need to remember it because it was a part of the software I had open… right in front of me: ISS Voice and SSTV Downlink 145.8000 Uplink 144.490.

Freakin’ A.

I spun my dial and set my downlink, followed by my uplink. All that was left to do was point my antenna in the right direction and figure out when the ISS was in orbit over me. They’d have higher power radios on the station allowing for nearly horizon-to-horizon signal reception, which would give me about 10 minutes to communicate with them before having to wait for another go around. That left me with a pretty small window of time before having to wait another hour and a half.

Satellite tracking software allowed me to track the International Space Station; the key would be hitting them when they were over me. I selected the ISS tracking on my computer, and a screen popped up with 10-day predictions.

Even though the International Space Station orbited the planet every 90 minutes or so, the Earth was also rotating at the same time, so there were only certain points of the day where it would pass by you in whatever area of the globe you were in. That meant each time it orbited by, you were in different locations, some better than others for actually contacting them. The first time I’d be able to reach them was at 17:41 tonight, and it was currently 11:13. Since they orbited the planet every 90 minutes—ish, my second attempt wouldn’t be until 19:18. By the looks of it, I would get six attempts tonight before having to wait 15 some odd hours to have another window of contact.

Except that it wasn’t really six attempts. The tracking software ranked the chances of making contact from ‘Not Visible’ to ‘Marginal’ to ‘Good’ to ‘Excellent.’ And of those six opportunities, only two were marginal, at best, to make contact, so I really only would get a couple of chances today. Of course, that was based on the Earth’s atmosphere not being covered with nuclear radiation, raising the noise floor and affecting propagation.

“Tsk, not good,” I began gnawing on my thumbnail. “Hmmm…”

I searched the room for my favorite thinking device.

“There you are,” I said as I grabbed the tennis ball off the edge of the desk.

I lounged back in my seat and kicked my feet up on my desk before I began bouncing it off the wall.

Will the signal make it to the International Space Station, huh?

There would always be background noise present from the atmosphere with things like lightning and thunderstorms—even in outer space. That wasn’t even including the ton of man-made noises like power lines, appliances, heck, even the computer. All this made an impact on my chances of hearing someone on the other end, or how good they would hear me—it also messed with the propagation.

 Propagation was always a critical part of the distance a signal could travel. In order to send signals a long distance, I would use the ionosphere to refract the radio signals to bounce back to Earth. Except I would be using line-of-sight propagation to reach the International Space Station and didn’t want it to bounce back to Earth. That might be a problem right now.

High-altitude nuclear tests found that there was an excessive absorption of radio signals after an explosion. There had been a complete blackout of all broadcasting services in the medium-frequency for days after the testing; however they did record an abnormally high ionization density in the F layer of the atmosphere that enhanced the higher end of the HF spectrum and above over long distances. That might seem like good news, but you need to pass through the F layer to reach the International Space Station. If the signal was able to travel over longer distances, that meant it was bouncing off the F layer, which should make it more difficult to reach the space station—and that’s not even taking into account that the tests were done with one bomb at somewhere between 20,000 tons to 1,000,000 tons. I don’t even know how many nuclear bombs went off, let alone how powerful they were.

You know… If I remember correctly, the United States’ largest bomb was supposed to be a maximum yield of like 1.2 megatons, but the Russians, on the other hand, had something like 50 megaton nuclear bombs… And who knows what China or North Korea launched? If the USA and Russia each had over a thousand nuclear warheads, then there could be tens-of-thousands times more interference than with the tests.

Not… good.

That wasn’t the worst of it. Something about bouncing that dang ball off the wall was triggering thoughts about what could have happened to Maya and Sanjay, none of which was good. I clinched the ball in my hand and stared at it.

Man, Maya always hated me doing this.

I was so caught up in myself and my self-preservation that I hadn’t really thought about the fact that they might actually be dead. Heck, even if they weren’t, there was no way I was going to be able to venture outside for a really long time. The only way I might be able to figure out if they were okay was by ham radio, and I currently wasn’t getting anywhere with that.

I bounced and bounced for what felt like hours. I couldn’t come up with a single scenario where they made it through this alive.

My best friends might be dead.

Man, that thought cut deep.

No, I have to stay positive, those guys always could figure a way out of the worst case scenarios.

When we’d go to escape rooms together, those two would always figure out what we needed to do to get out of those things. I was headed down a deep, dark hole. My mind was constantly rushing with ideas and thoughts, but I really needed to get my mind off the possible loss of my friends. It was going to eat me up inside—that, and the fact that I may be the last person on Earth.

Top side, I would have watched television to clear my head. The problem was that I hadn’t gotten around to having my VHS cassettes, DVDs, or Blu-rays delivered. I was so used to streaming everything to my MECHA HUD or TV that I hadn’t even thought about having my physical media stored here yet. I hadn’t bought the place as a doomsday prepper; I just wanted a cool place to live.

I really wished I had been one of those preppers so I would have thought about having my physical copies of the movies and TV shows I own. It’s funny because I had made sure I had the best Internet money could buy, so I didn’t need to worry about things like what I wanted to watch. I hadn’t brought any books, either. I mean, why would I? I read everything using my MECHA system now, and I could search online for anything I ever needed to know. Now it was all gone, well, at least until I could make it above ground. All of our underground data centers were built to withstand natural or man-made disasters. It wasn’t all lost, just temporarily until the top side was habitable again. Of course, none of that helped me then.

Days became weeks… Time began to blend together since there was no way to gauge what day I was in beyond my computers and the clocks I had on the wall—which I may have broken, who knows how long ago, when I destroyed them in a fit of frustration. Turns out that some tasks were becoming harder and harder because I couldn’t remember how to do something I was darn sure I had done a thousand times before. I’m not going to lie; it took its toll on me—and those poor unsuspecting clocks and computers.

On top of all that, my waking life became a set of monotonous tasks: scanning for anyone, crying, searching for anything to entertain myself, more crying, trying to find anything that might help jog my memory, even more crying, wishing I couldn’t remember things as I went down the rabbit hole of loss over my friends… boy, was I not built for this.

Wait, I did have the DVD player hooked up…

And I do remember that Maya had a bad habit of leaving DVDs in the machine.

Huh, maybe, just maybe, there was something in there. I headed out, bouncing the ball off the walls and chasing it down like a little boy, as I made my way to my TV room. When I finally reached it, I dropped on the couch and tossed the ball in the seat next to me, then picked up the remote, turning on the television and then the DVD player.

Please don’t let it be Battlefield Earth or something like that.

“Insert disc, freakin’ A, man,” I yelled out as I chucked the remote across the room.

It shattered against the wall, breaking into little pieces that scattered all over the floor. Then the water gates broke, releasing a steady stream of tears before morphing into a straight up blubber fest. It was like River Phoenix Stand by Me bad… you know, complete with snot shooting out of my nose. Man, I missed them. I missed them bad.

“I can’t do this alone,” I whimpered as I slumped to the ground.

“You’re not alone, you’ve got me!” Someone announced, startling me.

“Who is that?” I asked in a panicked state while searching around the room through my tear-filled eyes.

I began wiping away the tears, trying to spot who—or whatever was in here with me—and that’s when I noticed where the sound was coming from.

“Huh? What the—”

That concludes Chapter 14 of Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland. Written by Joe Gillis and read by Joe Gillis.

We’re skipping next week, so stay turned in to find out who is talking to Joe two weeks from this release.

Okay, I gotta tell you, normally I don’t like bashing on movies, but Battlefield Earth is one of my go tos when it comes to movies that I, personally, didn’t enjoy. Here’s the thing… Everything I didn’t like about the movie; my friends said isn’t in the book or done differently in the book. After talking with a bunch of my friends, it sounds like the book is great—the film—maybe not so much. So, one day I’ll pick up the book. Until then, sorry Battlefield Earth, but you’re going to be my punching bag. Okay, I’m not going to lie, Battlefield Earth will still be my punching bag, but at least I’ll be able to say I liked the book in addition to that. I mean, that is something, right?

As for the stuff with the International Space Station… That’s right, you can talk to the astronauts while they’re in space. Pretty freakin’ cool, right? I still haven’t myself, but I totally want to one day. And yes, they really do beam down images from the International Space Station. Oh, and that is the real frequency, too. So have at… Well, you can listen in, but don’t try talking unless you get your Amateur Radio license.

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

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Join me in two weeks for a new chapter of Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland.

Thanks for joining me on this crazy journey! See you all on the flip side!

Post-Apocalyptic Joe in a Cinematic Wasteland copyright 2024, Joe Gillis, All rights reserved. This is a Jowagi Production and is distributed by Slacker Entertainment.

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