My favorite adventure stories have always been those that cast ordinary people into extraordinary circumstances and predicaments their previous lives could not possibly prepare them for.
Although I sometimes enjoy reading works of fiction that involve larger than life characters with highly specialized training and superior fitness, skills and abilities, you won't find any fearless heroes of that kind in The Pulse.
After experiencing first hand the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and living in the impact zone where the power grid was destroyed and stayed down for weeks, I often wondered what it would be like if that situation was much more widespread and long-lasting.
If a solar flare or EMP attack took out electrical power and shut down most forms of communication and transportation in North America, the aftermath would be far worse than that of any hurricane and there would be no sudden influx of crews from neighboring states to work around the clock to rebuild the grid.
Grocery stores would soon be stripped bare and no delivery trucks would be running to replenish their stocks.
People would become desperate in short order, especially in large urban areas where the limited supplies available would be quickly consumed.
Far lesser events have shown that such desperation quickly strips away the thin veneer of civilization that keeps complex societies in order.
Violence would become rampant, and law enforcement agencies would be overwhelmed and unable to protect the citizens of their jurisdictions.
Those who would survive such chaos would have to act on their own and act quickly to seek safe refuge.
In The Pulse
I chose to focus not on the technical aspects of the solar event or the subsequent rebuilding and reorganizing of civilization in the aftermath, but rather on the immediate concerns of two groups of characters.
Casey Drager and her roommate, Jessica, are college students at Tulane University, in New Orleans.
Casey's friend, Grant, an older graduate student who was living in the city after the devastation of Katrina, knows from experience that they have to get out and get out fast.
Casey's father, who is especially close to his only daughter after the loss of her mother in a car accident years before, is away on a short sailing vacation in the Caribbean with his brother when the pulse strikes.
Among islands a thousand miles from the U.S. mainland and suddenly cut off from all communication with his daughter, Artie is desperate to find out if she is okay. Like any father in such a predicament, Artie Drager will do everything in his power to find his daughter, but with no transportation back to North America faster than his brother's sailboat, he has no way of knowing if she will still be there when he finally reaches New Orleans.
Obstacles and dangers await both parties as they deal with their situations as best they can; and everyone involved has to quickly adapt to the new reality of a world without the safety net of technology and organized society.
Scott B. Williams is a sea kayaker, sailor, boat builder, and writer with a passion for exploring and outdoor adventures on land and sea. He has written seven non-fiction books prior to The Pulse, which is his first novel, and continues to write for magazines in addition to maintaining various blogs on boat building, sailing, and outdoor survival.