“Let us prepare our minds as if we’d come near the end of life itself. Let us observe our own nature and those elements in the world around us which cause us apprehension.” – Marcus Aurelius
The eruption of Yellowstone Caldera in early May 2063 took the world by surprise. Despite advances in volcanology and monitoring, few expected the super volcano to erupt again so soon. Within days, ash and toxic gases were blasted into the atmosphere, blanketing much of the western United States. Air travel immediately grounded to a halt as planes could not safely navigate the ash clouds.
Carlo Michaels watched the events unfold in New York City with grave concern and growing excitement. A survivalist and prepper, Carlo had purchased a software programme on the Dark Web from a disgraced volcanologist who had back door access to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) servers. He’d been studying the data for years and then suddenly it predicted an eruption. He had stockpiled supplies for years, including a large stash of protective masks and oxygen tanks. Carlo was ready when the ash clouds reached the east coast after a week.
The dense ash was a severe health hazard, containing high levels of sulfur dioxide and other toxic particles. Hospitals were at breaking point, and authorities warned people to stay inside with windows closed. Carlo had prepared for this and the opportunity amidst the chaos. With his top-of-the-line gear, he could safely venture out into the empty streets while others remained hunkered down.
He was the king of New York.
Today was the day I’ve been waiting for my whole life. Finally a chance to put my years of disaster planning into action. I’ve got my 7500 series masks equipped with acid gas filters and I’m headed out into a New York City I’ve never seen before – empty. My air filters easily handled the ash floating through the air. I hit up some of the prime spots – jewelry stores, banks, wherever valuables remained unguarded. This is just the start.
A week in and New York is my playground. I’m suited up in my hazmat gear every day, roaming freely. My stash is loaded with cash, gold, jewelry – anything of value I can haul back. Constant volcanic ash is still falling, making it look like a snowy winter day. Haven’t seen a single person out braving the elements except me. My oxygen tanks are still at 85% capacity. I’ve got all the air I need out here.
My stash is really filling up now, over $100k worth of goods. But the loneliness is starting to set in. An empty New York City is unsettling. I listened to the radio today and they said the ash should start clearing in the next week as wind patterns shift. Once people start venturing out more, my scavenging days are over. For now, I’ll enjoy having the vacant streets to myself. Might hit up the Ferrari dealership tomorrow.
The ash is finally thinning out, just a light dusting now. I’m seeing a few more people cautiously emerging, though most are still hunkered down. My fortune hunts will soon be over, but I’m satisfied with my haul. Once the city is alive again, I’ll look to sell my stash and retire rich. For now, I’ve got enough supplies left for a few more ghostly days wandering through the wasteland of what was once one of the busiest cities on Earth.
My filters are starting to clog up and oxygen is running low. The air quality seems to be improving, though the grey haze still hangs over the city. For the first time, I’m nervous to go out again. The desolation I once enjoyed now unsettles me. I miss the usual sounds of New York. Time to lay low for now and wait for the all clear to breathe easy again. My scavenger days are done, but I have a feeling the eerie beauty of seeing an abandoned New York city will stay with me for a long time.
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