Living in isolation on a lonely mountain while the rest of the planet went to hell Clinton thought he had it pretty good. Sure, he longed for life the way it used to be. Dinners with colleagues, late night drinks at a cozy bar with old friends, the aroma of fresh brewed coffee in the morning at the shop right around the corner from his home. Memories of the before time remained strong, but he was as safe as he could hope to be and hadn’t missed too many meals. His ham radio equipment meant he wasn’t completely isolated.

All things considered, “things” were going pretty well, until they weren’t.

The first hint of trouble on the horizon was the voltage level on his bank of batteries. The solar panels seemed to be delivering the proper energy, but Clinton always knew the batteries could only be charged so many times before being replaced. He didn’t keep track of that number because there was nothing he could do about it. The number of charge cycles on these batteries had to be in the hundreds by this point. He still had more than enough energy available to keep things running for now, but the readings were a harbinger of trouble. The problem with losing his stored energy was a radio problem. Though he had outfitted the cabin with adequate LED lighting for reading at night time, he didn’t need the lights to survive.

He needed radio as it was his link to the outside world.

Clinton wanted to hike down the mountain, all the way to the Interstate where there was a rest area. He remembered it from a stop a few years ago and recalled it had solar panels installed on the roof, probably to support emergency lighting, and he assumed there would be batteries with that system. He hoped maybe those hadn’t been looted and if not, he planned to take whatever he needed and could carry. But he wasn’t going to make that hike today. He had been feeling under the weather for two days and this morning, pain in his stomach kept him in bed. He hoped it was food related because even something as ordinary as appendicitis would be a death sentence.

Three days later, still bedridden and now feverish, his health concerns were growing by the hour. He hadn’t eaten in a few days because there was nothing to eat unless he went outside and hunted it. He wondered if the steady diet of wild meat might have deposited parasites or some similar nasties in his system. He had no way of knowing for certain, but hunger was now overruling his symptoms as he headed to the pond to fish for something to eat. Fortunately, the fish were biting and in ninety-minutes he was back in the cabin, still in pain, frying the fish he had just caught and cleaned.

Later that morning he turned on the radio. He felt better having taken some food though the pain in his stomach continued unabated. He worked a couple of stations, one of them in Pennsylvania the other in Illinois. He was pleased to have the fraternity of radio to keep him company though he wasted no time complaining about his health problem. He was just happy for the chat.

Two days later, Clinton died alone in his cabin. His troubles had ended. But for those who survived him, it was only the beginning.