“I guess it was inevitable – the end of the world we know – the end of humanity.
Finding out early was a gift, surviving impact night was a miracle, living to tell the tale, well, that was the price I will pay, forever.
There’s no going back now.”
Award winning author*, Matt Pike, takes you on a journey to the end of the world and beyond, as told through the eyes of an Australian teenager, who records his experiences day by day in a survival diary. From the social chaos in suburban Adelaide in the lead-up, a night of total global catastrophe and the aftershocks as community and humanity crumble around him – the world changes forever. What’s left is a place where the conditions can kill you just as easily as the other survivors.
Everything our teenager relied upon for survival in the pre-disaster world falls apart – utilities, community, environment – the only things that can keep him alive are his resources and resourcefulness.
*2013 Global Ebook Awards: Gold Medal – Teen Literature Fiction for Kings of the World
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I was largely inspired great grandfather’s WWI war diary, where he shared his personal journey through a harrowing global event. He was shot, gassed, hit by shrapnel and survived a bomb exploding under the horse he was riding (yes, that actually happened) – all told in a daily matter-of-fact journal. One day he wrote of epic events, the next he complained about eating bully beef and biscuits again. It was such a riveting and personal read and I wanted to transpose that style and feel into a modern, end-of-the-world tale.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I wanted my lead to be smart – not necessarily book smart, but creative smart – MacGyver smart. Resourceful – always thinking about the situation and things he can do to survive and stay ahead of the pack. I also wanted him to be compassionate – he exists in a tough world – people will kill for food. How do you stay yourself, how do you remain human? It’s a battle he faces constantly?
Wednesday, April 10, 2014
So it’s 5am and I’m not even close to tired, even without the Red Bulls. And I’ve started a new diary. I tried writing all this in the old diary but I was still writing this post over April 27 so I pretty much screwed the whole thing up. Anyways, I’ve started it all again in this notebook Auntie Sarah gave me for my birthday. It’s perfect, because I can start the new entries whenever I want, which could come in handy… if I live through the weekend… if anyone does.
Man, I’m rambling. I’ve just read everything back and it’s crap. LMAO… sip of Red Bull… that’s better. Doesn’t even make sense to me and I wrote it for me… hence the whole diary concept. Weird, everything’s weird. I feel numb, like the last four hours have been some strange out-of-body experience. It’s like I know every move I make between now and Friday can and will make the difference between me living and dying. For some reason I know the rock’s not going to kill me… can’t explain why, I just know. It’s like I feel I’m destined to survive… and to document it. Goddam it, that’s what I’m gonna do.
Hahaha… still rambling… Snickers… Red Bull chaser (not the best combo it has to be said). Deep breath… think, think.
Before I go any further I’d better explain why I’m even writing this.
Finished the shift a bit late (that plonker newbie, Toby, held us up again). Jen was on tonight… damn! Officially the only person who can make a Drakes uniform look hot. She totally caught me pegging her out too. And she smiled. At least I think she did. It could have been her ‘what are you staring at, freak?’ look, but I’m taking it as a smile.
Anyways, when I got home the last thing I could think about was sleep, so I cranked up FIFA14… for a change 😉 Ended up playing a few games against ProGunner95 – he’s some Yank kid I’ve been playing online for years. All was cruising along pretty well. I was up four games to one (and he pulled the W out of his coight) when he broke the news that would change my life, everyone’s life.
He took a call from his bro… in the middle of the fifth game (I was up 2-0, but I digress) and that’s when all hell broke loose. He dropped out of the game – so not cool – but then he sends me an invite for a private chat a few minutes later.
He told me his brother worked at some observatory – Near Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT) program – and they’d just discovered an asteroid heading towards Earth. Yeah, Earth. And it’s a big one too. Well they weren’t entirely sure of the size because they’ve pretty much only just confirmed its trajectory, but it was epic.
Like I’ve said I’ve known ProGunner95 for years and he isn’t the sort of guy who would make up something like that, like ever. But still I didn’t believe a word of it. I mean asteroid, right? This ain’t a bad sci-fi film here, this is real life. Asteroid strikes don’t happen in the real world, they happen on screen or on dinosaurs, end of story.
I tried the ‘yeah, real funny’ approach, I tried the ‘whatever’ approach and the ‘get stuffed’ approach. But he didn’t back down, he was solid. He had either turned into the best BS artist I’d never met (except online) or he believed what he was telling me. Let’s just say he convinced me enough to believe he was convinced.
Maybe his brother was stirring him up?
‘No way,’ he says, ‘my brother’s got me phoning half of north America after I stop talking to you. This is his job, there’s no way he’d do that, besides, he’s a straight-out nerd, it’s just not in his make-up.’
Now I officially start thinking this is, well, at the very least, plausible. Aside from everything else, there was something in the tone of his voice that was pretty convincing – like there was genuine panic and more than a dose of pissed-off-edness at me for not believing him. He also used a few technical expressions that seemed beyond a 16 year old from New Mexico called Deacon (no wonder he prefers ProGunner).
That was pretty much the extent of our conversation. He was off to contact all his rellies, then buy supplies – a shipload of supplies. He reckoned I should do the same.
But of course there was a parting grenade or three before he left.
Boom#1 – There were just over three days to impact. Three days!
Boom#2 – The NEAT program is supposed to pick up things like this up well in advance. Apparently it’s not unusual for asteroids to get this close to Earth before they are detected, but it is very unusual for one of this size. They’re embarrassed as hell and are still investigating theories as to why. They would normally expect at least several weeks heads-up, sometimes months. Not that it would make much difference – his bro reckons we’re pretty much screwed… there’s not enough time for any Bruce Willis Armageddon heroics.
Boom#3 – He wasn’t sure when the public would find out but it wouldn’t be long. Maybe not so much of a boom just yet… but that little nugget will explode soon enough.
If it’s true all hell’s gonna break loose.
Then that was it, ProGunner95 dropped offline and I was sitting there in the FIFA game lobby listening to the crap wannabe anthem music with my headset on, completely stunned. I reckon I sat there for 15 minutes – could’ve been five, coulda been an hour. I just let the info wash over me.
Plenty of things went through my head…
Three days? Three tiny little days. I had tickets to the Crows match on Sunday, was gonna be my first game for the year. Lucky it was only against the Saints.
The guys at the NEAT program were embarrassed? Fail! You get embarrassed when you put the wrong price tag on the soy milk at Drakes. When you miss an object on a collision course with Earth, and that’s your one and only job, that’s not embarrassing, that’s an epic screw-up. Didn’t the Japanese used to jump on their own swords in situations like this? Why did that tradition have to die out? That seemed like a perfectly nice tradition.
Still, embarrassed or not, if it’s true we’re screwed.
I thought of Mum and Dad, down in Tassie on one of their roam-the-forest fests. So annoying … worst of all they’re completely non-contactable. Not even sure if that part of Tassie is in 4G range or not, and it doesn’t matter, because the group they went with deliberately left their phones behind. Getting back to nature and all that… dumbasses. Oh no, couldn’t even just take their little devices with them and flick them on at night just to see if, I don’t know, THE WORLD IS COMING TO AN END.
So stupid. I’m tempted to leave a message on Dad’s mobile to tell him exactly that but I resist… for now.
Then it hit me. If this was true – and my gut was starting to tell me it was – then I’d probably be one of the first people in the world to find out. Pure dumb luck, but I’d take anything right now. And there’s no question I was definitely one of the first people in Australia to know. In some weird way I’d been given a gift… I’d been given a good as chance as anyone to survive.
I hit the web. I started with all the major news sites. Nothing mentioned. I check facebook, twitter – nothing. I check out the NEAT website – still nothing. Not even in their latest news section! Apparently inevitable global catastrophe is not as important as January’s open day. FFS. Still, clearly out-of-date and unimportant info in the news section makes me think it’s still more than possible this is real.
I did find out NEAT have an Australian branch at Parkes. So now I’m not the only Aussie to know. I wonder if they’ve told family and friends, and if they’re told others in turn. Each second I wait I lose my tactical advantage. If it’s true… I still have no actual evidence.
I do a quick flick around the interwebs for large asteroid strikes. There’s heaps of info on massive asteroid strikes in the past and how much of an impact they’ve had.
Bottom line: not good for Earth inhabitants.
There was also some CGI video of what damage an epic asteroid would do. Not sure where it was from, some National Geographic series, no doubt, and someone had put the vision to a Pink Floyd song. Haunting is the best way to describe the end result. Now, I’m pretty sure this thing was 10 times bigger than what’s heading our way but, basically, it incinerated everything. EV-ER-Y-THING! The Earth became a fiery ball of death. If this happened, nothing would survive.
It’s all a bit overwhelming to be honest. I mean, to think something like this might actually happen (not that big hopefully, but still)… in three days. I decide to focus on things I can control for now. I figure the number one priority is food. Most shops open anywhere from 6-9am, depending on what you’re looking for. The whole world might know by that time, so my window is now.
It’s time for a servo run.
I’ve just unloaded the car with my first load of supplies. It’s amazing what’s open this time of night – equal only to the variety of freaks who inhabit these venues in the hours before dawn. Particularly in the city… ewww. It’s the early hours of Wednesday morning people! WTF?
I guess the amusement at the sad-acts was offset by the need not to make eye contact and then completely undone by the ridiculous prices I was charged. I probably paid the desperate druggie premium of 50% on every long-life food item I bought. Ouch. I’m glad it’s not Armageddon every day – I don’t have deep enough pockets.
So the bottom line is about $600 down and a whole lot of canned bland in hand. I kept the receipts, but I don’t like my chances of getting a refund if this is a hoax. I’ll be sending the bill to ProGunner95, that’s for sure.
Finally loaded the supplies in the cellar. ‘Supplies’. Listen to me, five minutes into this and I’m starting to use army speak. What a try-hard. For the first time tonight I’m starting to get tired. But I can’t sleep now, the (proper) shops will be open soon, plus I want to check out the morning news.
I did another sweep of the web and didn’t find anything on the normal news sources… weird. But there were a couple of posts on news-sharing sites about ‘asteroid rumours’ – made me feel not totally insane. There was also a Facebook group. It’s called I’m gonna survive Asteroid 2014DM3 – geez – now this thing has a name. I join up to the group and post it as my status saying, ‘I heard this is legit… link’. I felt guilty not posting anything when I first found out, but since I’m still not 100% convinced now – and definitely wasn’t then – I was hardly going to make an ass of myself online. But I’m happy with this contribution; it’ll keep my friends informed. 2014DM3 is also starting to trend on Twitter. If this is a prank I’m not the only one falling for it.
I wanna hit the shops again soon but after that – assuming this thing is real – I’ll start making some calls.
I had a few minutes to kill before the 6am run and decided to check out some survival websites. It’s amazing what’s out there really. It seems there are a bunch of folk who spend way too much time thinking about situations like the one that’s about to happen. Well, maybe just the right amount of time, in reflection. Still, I got some good ideas – things I’d never have thought of myself.
Another two runs down now. I hit the Cash & Carry store for some buy-in-bulk action. I managed to buy about three times as much as I did on the service station run and it was cheaper! Still, I did kind of miss the deros.
I dumped it all in the front lounge before I went back out to the local Coles, which opened at 7am. I got there about 7.30am. I got serious this time and took Dad’s 4WD. It probably doubled my storage capacity, which meant I was able to plough three trolleys full of stuff in.
I did my best to clean Coles out of anything that was nutrious and had a shelf life of over a year. I reckon I’ve managed to bag myself enough food to last at least 12 months too. Not bad for a morning’s work and 18 months’ worth of savings 🙁
This was the first time I started to get some strange looks. Mostly from the staff, especially when I was on to my third trolley load. Funny really, because I had been observing people all morning. I was thinking how odd it was that I was on a mission to give myself a chance at survival yet everyone around me was blissfully unaware anything was wrong. Part of me felt guilty as I looked at them drudging along with their normal lives, knowing things were about to turn upside-down for them. But then what was I going to do? Say, ‘you might want to buy a bit more than that… actually it might not matter as you’ve probably only got three days to live, why not do something interesting’.
I finally got called-out by the check-out chick – not one of the cute casuals, one of the bitter old full-timers. She’d obviously seen me go through on my past two loads and was getting carpel-tunnel scanning my bounty. ‘What, is the end of the world coming or something?’ she said.
I couldn’t be bothered lying and I didn’t have time to go into the details but I said, ‘yeah actually, there’s an asteroid coming, we’ve only got three days to live’.
The expression on her face changed about seven times as she processed my comment and punched in the total to the register.
Eventually she laughed. ‘Well you won’t be needing all that food then’.
I couldn’t be bothered progressing things further as I swiped my card and entered my pin. ‘Stress makes me hungry,’ I said as I left.
I’ve been monitoring the morning shows as I unloaded the goods. Finally I caught a mention of the asteroid, it was about 8.45am. They cut back after an entertainment update (the usual meaningless tripe) and Karl said something like, ‘One out of left field here, a rumour’s been circulating the internet about an asteroid that is supposedly on a collision course with Earth. And I thought 2012 was supposed to be the end of the world,’ he laughed with little support from his co-host.
They may not have been taking it seriously, but I was. Before I realised what had happened I dropped the carton of spaghetti in tomato sauce cans on my foot. %*%($@*#&!!! Anyways, he went on as I hopped and swore. ‘Now, I’m sure this is a hoax but it must be said there is a groundswell of chatter across many social networking and social news sites. We have been trying to get some official word but it appears no one is commenting. Lisa.’
His co-host used her sincerest concerned tone. ‘It is unusual, isn’t it? More worryingly, the prime minister has called a last-minute press conference for 10am AEST this morning with no indication of the topic.’
Karl continued with something like, ‘It’s a similar story in the US, with the president due to speak shortly before the prime minister.’
Then Lisa finished with, ‘Now we don’t want to be seen as spreading any undue panic, but we are choosing to report these events to keep you informed. It’s important to stress at this point the press conferences and the rumour may be unrelated, but in our experience it is unusual.’
‘We’ll keep you up-to-date should the situation change in any way.’
Then they went about their regular business, but you could tell they were at least rattled. Something big was definitely up.
That was the first time my heart sank. I don’t just mean the expression (which I find a bit naff), it really felt like it sank. It was like in one instant the realisation of the scale of what was happening here hit me hard. This was very real.
I had to sit down and let the feeling wash over me for a minute. I started thinking about my mission and within seconds a wave of adrenalin seemed to equalise the craziness inside and I was ready to continue. Time to start calling people.
Well that was pretty useless. Johnno – asleep, Jamie – asleep, Macca – asleep, Hardo – asleep! Only Boof answered his phone… and he thought I was taking the piss. Until I made him turn the TV on and watch a news update – they’ve now got a countdown to the president’s press conference.
The others will get the message soon enough… what a way to wake up. Still – that’s probably hours away for them!
President’s speech – 9.40am:
I was so bloody tired when I watched this I could barely take it all in. But I’ve got the feeling this will be on high-rotation on TV over the next few days.
There were hundreds of journos at the press conference, clearly everyone knew this was serious. When the pres walked out the camera flashes went crazy. What he said was a blur for me but I got all of the basics…
• There is an asteroid heading towards Earth
• It is called 2014DM3… hmm exciting. 2014DM3? It’s got no ring to it at all. Ya kind of expect something, I dunno, epic. But 2014DM3? Really? Can’t we give it a proper name like they do with cyclones? Or like call it by the impact date… like a 9/11 kind of thing? It probably seems stupid, given I face a high chance of being pulverised into atoms, but I would’ve at least liked it to be caused by something with a cool name.
• Well, whatever you call it, it’s about 4-5km in diameter – read: freaking huge, which means it has the potential to send us the way of the dinosaurs.
• As of this moment there are 65 hours, 11 minutes ‘til touchdown! That makes it just after 2am on Saturday morning!
• A bunch of different countries (with space capabilities) are planning to intercept the rock – to either destroy it or divert its path.
Which all sounds good, but the pres was talking about things like planning times and launch windows and… well, to be honest it sounds like they’ve all been caught with their pants around their ankles. My best guess is there’s stuff-all they can do but they want to make people feel better by thinking they are doing something. There are a few teams having a crack – NASA, The European space agency, Russia, Japan and China. I certainly won’t be counting on a last minute miracle from any of them!
Like the legendary R M Williams, Matt was born in Jamestown in rural South Australia. But that’s where the remarkable similarities between these two end. While Reginald went from bushman to world renowned millionaire outback clothing designer, Matt is a complete dag who was lured by the city lights of Adelaide. Kindergarten in the big smoke was a culture shock, but it is here he first discovered his love of storytelling.
In high school that love found an outlet in a series of completely unflattering cartoons about fellow students and teachers alike. He survived long enough to further his art into a successful career in multimedia design but, like a zombified leech, the lure of the written word gnawed at him, forcing him to pen his first novel, the award-winning sci-fi comedy epic, Kings of the World. It was followed the next year by Amazon Australia dystopian sci-fi best-seller Apocalypse: Diary of a Survivor.
Matt donates part-proceeds of each book sold to find a cure for Rett Syndrome, a neurological condition the youngest of his three children, Abby, has. As a gorgeous Rett angel, Abby cannot walk, talk or use her hands in a meaningful way. So, not only is each of your book purchases a ticket to fantastically rounded, character driven, hilarious and poignant sci-fi awesomeness, it wraps you in a warm feeling that you’ve made a difference to people who deserve your help the most. Like the zombified leech it’s a no-brainer.
Have you read this book or others by this author? Tell us in the comments how you liked it!