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Wall V The Daniel Epstein Experience

Wall V The Daniel Epstein Experience

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Wall V The Daniel Epstein Experience

Lungime:
344 pages
5 hours
Lansat:
Jun 20, 2013
ISBN:
9781301237210
Format:
Carte

Descriere

Actuaries Daniel and Kimberly Epstein were leading what most would consider boring and sedentary lives yet were serenely happy spending their days providing clients with risk analysis. Considered the top in their profession the New York City firm of Epstein & Epstein prospered, that is until Dan began to realize the data he was processing indicated the likelihood of a global economic melt down followed by the immanent collapse of civilization

Lansat:
Jun 20, 2013
ISBN:
9781301237210
Format:
Carte

Despre autor

After years of living on his sailboat in the small laid back village of Astor Fl.Tom has, as they say, has swallowed the anchor. He now resides in the tiny hamlet of Big Bone, Kentucky beside the creek bearing the same name. With an affable orange tomcat named Tom-Tom as companion he spends his days communing with nature, writing novels, and reminiscing with old and dear friends.

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Wall V The Daniel Epstein Experience - Thomas G. Baker

Wall V

The Daniel Epstein

Experience

Thomas G. Baker

The Daniel Epstein Experience

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the authors imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or localities is entirely coincidental.

WALL V The Daniel Epstein Experience

Copyright © 2013 by Thomas G. Baker

ISBN 13: 978-1301237210

Smashwords Edition

License Notes

All rights reserved. No part of this ebook may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the author.

Table of Contents

Chapter I State of Alarm

Chapter II The Collapse

Chapter III A Taste of Battle

Chapter IV Rock and A Half Place

Chapter V Nantucket Slay Ride

Chapter VI The path Forward

Chapter VII Kim’s Ordeal

Chapter VIII Swamp to Swamp

Chapter IX Much City

Chapter X The Trip North

Characters

Dedication

This book is dedicated to those few among us who diligently pursue the quest to unlock and understand the human experience, to unearth man’s past, and chart his course into future. Too many times they are the voices in the wilderness, the canaries in the coalmine their cries drowned out by the herd of humanity as it blindly thunders along headed toward the wall, the ultimate wall.

****

Preface

Like the characters I write about, over my lifetime I have grown increasingly alarmed about the growth in world population. I see it as the greatest threat faced by humankind. By our failure to recognize and to act we may be condemning future generations to a life of abject poverty in a world unfit to live in, that is if there are future generations. I have attempted to present the reader with one possible scenario that I believe is the most likely though there are many others even less desirable.

****

Introduction

Daniel and Kimberly Epstein were actuaries and although leading what most would consider boring and sedentary lives were serenely happy spending their days providing clients with risk analysis. Considered among the best in their profession the New York City firm of Epstein & Epstein prospered, that is until Dan came to realize the data he was processing indicated a global economic melt down followed by the immanent collapse of civilization.

Alarmed by the knowledge that they were likely facing the worst catastrophe in all of human history Dan and Kim began searching for a means to ride out the coming apocalypse and in doing so embarked on a saga that would not only change their lives but the lives of those around them.

****

Chapter I State of Alarm

Looking back the Collapse had been the culmination of a malignancy whose seeds had unwittingly been sown at the dawn of the industrial revolution. They had sprouted and grown perniciously over succeeding generations and were reaching fruition. It would come to take most by surprise but not Daniel Epstein as he had predicted its arrival for over a year.

Daniel was one of those insignificant minions who spend their working careers in relative obscurity crunching numbers and compiling statistics for their masters. His colleagues may have thought it a boring and mundane profession but not Daniel for even as a kid he had been fascinated with numbers and from the first moment he’d seen his first pie chart with its vivid colors found himself hooked.

Charts, graphs, and later computer modeling came to rule young Daniel’s life as they allowed him to bring order to what he saw as an otherwise chaotic world. He took immense satisfaction in knowing that almost everything in daily life could be reduced to simple probability and plotted on a graph.

He had diligently pursued his love of numbers and successfully turned it into a good living as an actuary and the firm of Epstein & Epstein had a long list of distinguished clients. His reputation for accuracy made him feel almost prophetic like the Daniel of old as the vast majority of his predictions came to pass. His customers were only interested in those things that affected their bottom lines and used Daniel’s carefully crafted charts and tables to minimize risk and optimize profits.

Although he was highly regarded and often praised not once did a client ask him what his thoughts were about the health of the world in general? Had they been so bold they would have been shocked for Daniel over the years had carefully compiled his own statistics from the enormous amounts of data that streamed into his office. In the evenings when the others had left for the day Daniel would sit and study the eight large monitors arranged in a semi circle on the wall facing his desk. To the casual observer they were just a series of charts, graphs, and tables but to Daniel’s trained eye displayed in front of him were the vital signs of all human endeavors on planet earth.

At first it had been a hobby but over time he began to notice trends that gave him cause for concern. In the last year it had reached the stage where he had grown truly alarmed. Although profits were up for the majority of his clients down the road he could see there loomed a ninety percent probability that a world wide catastrophic collapse was imminent. He began feverishly working to factoring in this and factoring out that but in every instance the results were too similar to be dismissed. He had been careful to keep his concerns to himself knowing his clients would likely brand him a nut case and take their business elsewhere.

He sometimes wondered if he wasn’t reading the data wrong or had become biased, maybe even lost his touch. There also existed the outside possibility that he could be flat wrong because no one not even the mighty Daniel Epstein was infallible. Finally he couldn’t keep it to himself any longer and asked wife Kimberly to help him go over it in hopes she could find a flaw.

Daniel had been rather shy in high school and college the girls he did manage to date found him totally boring. Kimberly proved the exception as although she could be considered more than just attractive guys found her too brainy and were turned off. Then one day in the library at MIT she met Daniel and they discovered a shared passion for numbers. Two otherwise boring people found in each other an excitement that allowed them to build a steamy and passionate romance. They spoke a language all their own and created an actuarial world in which to dwell where even orgasms were a calculated statistic.

Kimberly spent evenings with Daniel pouring over data incorporating in even the most obscure factors massaging them in every conceivable manner but in the end both sat silently staring at the screens in the office knowing they were looking into the abyss which would soon come to swallow humanity.

Daniel and Kimberly dealt in facts emotions only played a part in their private life and lovemaking but as they looked at the monitors on the wall they came to realize that their lives both public and private were soon to be irrevocably altered.

Dan was the first to speak, You know for the first time ever I hate my job. Makes me wish I’d gone into the plumbing business with dad.

Kim answered, Pardon the pun, but the end result would be the same you’d still wind up going down the drain.

Yeah but at least I wouldn’t know what was coming until it got here. This way I know our days are numbered. Let’s face it we’re going to wind up being toast along with the rest.

She said, "Only if we don’t do something about it. Wake up dummy we make our living knowing what’s in the works. Remember fore warned is fore armed so let’s start working on the end game. Who’s going to be in the best position to be around on the morning after?"

He said, It doesn’t look good even for the Eskimos, and the days of running off to a deserted tropical island are long gone someone’s going to be guarding every miserable coconut tree. There isn’t anyplace I can think of where we can hide out for a couple of years that’ll be safe and provide enough food to feed us.

She said, We have money so I say we spend it while we still can. We can move to Idaho build a bunker and hang out with the right wing militias this kinda thing should be right down their alley.

Daniel quipped, Only until they run out of food then they’ll start killing each other off.

She said, There’s still tribes in the Amazon that won’t even know it’s happened, Mongolia, the Steppe’s, Patagonia, What about the Australian Aborigines? The more primitive the society the more likely they are to survive. If nothing else we can move to Paraguay I read where they have more cows than people we can eat steak every night.

He said, Paraguay’s crawling with ex-Nazis besides it’s in the middle of nowhere. I’m not wading around in some jungle river wearing a penis cover to keep some damned fish from swimming up my urethra. The Arctic’s out too. I’m not freezing my ass off and bedding down with a polar bear or walrus, so forget it.

She teased, You could wear a penis cover like the Borneo tribesmen painted purple, decorated with white polka dots, and brag about being a super stud.

He said, No way, ain’t gonna happen.

She said, It would only be until the initial die off afterward there isn’t going to be a hell of a lot of people left so all we need to do is stay out from under foot for six months to a year then figure out where we want to live….

He said, How are we going to get there, its not like you’ll be able to call your friendly travel agent and book a flight?

She said, We need to have our own transportation maybe something like a motor home.

He said, Motor homes take roads and lots of gas I don’t have to crunch the numbers to know that’s not viable and besides neither one of us knows how to drive.

Kimberly said, What about a boat?

Dan said, Noah’s ark?

Not quite. She said, But close. Brother Jim’s got a friend that built a shanty boat on a barge he takes it up and down the Tenn-Tom pushes it with another boat. I’ve been on it you could carry enough food and stuff for a year or two easy.

Dan said, I don’t know the front end from the ass end when it comes to boats. I’ve never even been on anything smaller than a cruise ship.

She said, Think it over, maybe we can talk Jim and Annette into going along. He knows everything about boats and the rivers and you like them.

They’re OK for Thanksgiving and Christmas but being cooped up on a boat with Annette for a year could be classified as cruel and unusual punishment.

Kim said, I caught you looking at her ass last Christmas didn’t seem to me like you were being punished.

I was just calculating her center of gravity it seemed to be off a bit, not like yours which is perfect.

She queried, My ass or center of gravity?

He said, Both… even have the mathematical model to prove it.

She said, Well then you’d better come up with some mathematical model to save it or you’ll be kissing it goodbye.

It was hard to believe the accuracy of our findings as the world was coasting along with only the usual man made problems. Outwardly there was nothing to indicate any kind of catastrophic event. That’s the way it always was before the earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, or volcanic eruption. Everyone went about their daily lives oblivious that events beyond their control would soon overtake them and alter or end their lives.

Well everything might look normal but underneath the veneer any of a multitude of events could trigger a landslide. I remembered Katrina and Sandy how they had brought modern cities to their knees. It wasn’t the disaster so much as the lingering aftermath and cost of replacing damaged infrastructure. Recoveries of any kind required massive infusions of capital. The proof of this was that much of New Orleans had been rebuilt while Port-au-Prince and Haiti remained in ruins.

Humans seemed to possess a penchant for building on flood plains, hillsides, and volcanoes, and all the other places that were prone to nature’s violence then acted surprised when they found themselves homeless. People who wouldn’t dream of walking out in front of a speeding truck gave little thought as to where they located their homes and even after a disaster the survivors returned and built the same ticky-tacky structures as the ones they’d lost leaving them just as vulnerable as they had been in the first place.

Catastrophic events didn’t appear to permanently change human nature. Only ethnicity, religion, and persecution endured in historical memory, and perceived injustices tended to go on forever passed down from one generation to the next. No an object in motion tended to stay in motion so it was with all of humanity it was only when we hit a wall or fell off the cliff that groupthink finally changed.

I supposed Pompeii and Herculaneum were good examples as they lay abandoned and forgotten for centuries until eventually their destruction faded from memory and people returned to build over the ruins once again putting themselves at risk. People on the West Coast of the US would continue living on top of faults until the big one finally came along then there’d be a hue and cry that they weren’t properly warned or better protected while at the same time lobbying the government for money to rebuild.

The office kept grinding out reports for our clients. The greedy bastards were as always hell bent on squeezing every last dime from anybody they could. I began loathing my job knowing the very corporations and institutions that were feeding us were also busy nailing the coffin lid shut on humanity.

I thought over what Kimberly had said, I’d run the numbers, and she was right. We needed something mobile and large enough to carry all the supplies necessary to survive for at least a year. The world was predominately covered in water so a boat was the most logical choice. It would allow us movement while avoiding the vast majority of humanity.

That evening after dinner I had Kim call Jim and urge him to come for a visit. He was always loath to come to New York and said he had a trip coming up so suggested we meet him the following week in Baton Rouge.

Jim Gougeon was the exact opposite of his younger sister Kim who like me was a pedantic. Jim was a rough and tumble native Louisianian coon ass yet as bright as they came. He’d taken NROTC and worked his way up to lieutenant. He left the navy joined the merchant marine and obtained his unlimited masters. He quit ocean going to captain on the supply ships that serviced the oilrigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Tiring of that and he switched over to the tows pushing oil barges. He’d met Annette when she came aboard as cook they married and continued to crew together. She sometimes served as mate but primarily went along on the boats Jim captained as cook. They spent almost all their time on the water and never had a permanent home on land.

Annette had a good build yet like Jim there was ruggedness about her a real outdoorsy type. I guess her being so different from Kim made me curious as to what it would be like to sleep with her. I had never slept with anyone but Kimberly and although I would never cheat on her I couldn’t help indulging in a little male fantasy and had to admit I found Annette’s center of gravity almost as perfect as Kim’s.

We flew down and met Jim and Annette on the towboat. I suppose they were wondering what their rich nerdy New York City relatives were doing flying down for a visit when there weren’t any holidays or special occasions to celebrate. We waited until after dinner and I let Kimberly take the floor.

She said, I suppose you’re wondering why we decided to fly down and pay you a visit?

Jim said, It’s a little unusual we were hoping it wasn’t bad news. Is it?

She said, "No and yes. As you know Dan and I are actuaries. We deal in statistical probability sorta like calculating the chances of winning the lottery. All kinds of weird off the wall stuff but mostly risk assessment for insurance companies. We calculate the probability of how many claims they’ll likely have to pay over a period of time. It involves crunching massive amounts of data. We have to be in a position to predict the likelihood of earthquakes, floods, tornados, forest fires, and hurricanes years in advance. Sometimes it comes down to being more of an art than actual science.

"We also do our own in-house risk analyses. Daniel has this obsession with calculating the health of the world in general. Sort of like looking at the future in a crystal ball, he’s been doing it ever since I’ve known him. Lately he’s found some things that disturbed him so much he asked me for a second opinion so I looked at the data and had to concur.

In short it doesn’t look good. In fact within two years at the max were likely to be facing a worldwide disaster and apocalypse. I know it sounds crazy to you but all the indicators point in that direction even in the best case it’ll be catastrophic.

Jim asked, "So you flew all the way down here just to tell us the worlds coming to an end? Thanks sis maybe I ought to start calling you Chicken Little now that you’re running around shouting the skies falling. Shouldn’t you be telling this to the people you work for. Aren’t they paying you big bucks to tell them stuff like this?"

She said, No, news like this would be disastrous for business. They don’t want to know anything except how much profit they’re going to make next quarter so they can calculate how big their bonuses will be. Besides no one will be able to do much about it as things have gotten so complicated. This thing will be like trying to stop a speeding train by standing on the tracks with a ping pong paddle.

Jim said, Well then what’s the deal you just came to tell us goodbye?

Kimberly said, Were trying to come up with some way to survive this thing. If it’s as bad as the predictions we need to start making plans now to ride it out and New York City’s not going to be the place to do. Dan and I thought that something like Mike’s Shanty boat might be ideal but neither of us knows anything about boating so we were hoping you and Annette will join us.

Jim said, "I don’t want to hurt your feelings sis but I’m not a yacht captain and don’t cotton to taking orders from people who don’t know shit from shinola when it comes to a boat. If what you say is true it isn’t going to be anything like Gilligan’s Island and you’re going to need something a hell of a lot bigger than the SS Minnow. That costs big bucks, just how much you willing to spend?"

I said, There’s better than a ninety percent probability we’re right if so, inflation it will render everybody’s currency worthless. We have over two mill in the bank to start with and several more in tied up in investments. I’m afraid the longer we wait the less money will be worth. In a year two million might not buy a loaf of bread.

I went on, It’s not our intention to hire you to work for us. You’re family and I’m asking you and Annette to join us as full partners. It’s a fair deal you know what the hell your doing and what it’s going to take to get a boat and put it in shape. You’ll be the captain Kim and I the crew… I have enough confidence in your ability to place our lives in your hands. Look at it this way, it’s like insurance if for some unlikely reason it doesn’t happen you and Annette won’t be any worse off as Kim and I are the ones shouldering all the financial risk.

Jim said, I’d like to say your nuts but you’re both in the crystal ball business and make a good living at it. Besides you and Kimmy don’t go throwing money around recklessly so I gotta take you at face value. We have this trip coming up It’ll give us three weeks to think it over when we get back we can get together and go from there.

I said, Fair enough, just keep this under your hat no sense stirring the pot it hasn’t even begun to simmer yet.

Jim said, Don’t worry if I go telling people I know the world’s coming to an end they’ll think I’ve gone Looney. You sure you’re not going to tell your Wall Street buddies?

I said, Hell no, they wouldn’t believe me either and if they did they’d try to figure out some way to milk money out of it. Far as I’m concerned I’ve helped them enough already.

Annette had sat quietly listening. She asked, What about my family, think I should warn them?

I said, It’s a little early yet, I’d hold off until we’ve got a firmer plan worked out there’s no since getting anybody upset. We should still have a year or two.

Kimberly and I spent the night in the hotel then headed back to New York. We’d come up with a plausible cover story so as not to raise suspicions. It was an easy sell as neither of us had taken a vacation in years. The fact was we never really wanted one but suddenly found ourselves longing to see as much of the world as we could while it was still functioning.

We told the rest that we wanted to take a hiatus, do some traveling, and have the honeymoon we’d never gotten around to. Everyone in the firm agreed we’d earned a vacation and urged us to start spending some of the money we’d accumulated, and do our part to boost the economy. Kimberly began liquidating financial assets and putting the proceeds into a special vacation money market account. All the while we monitored the data for any sign that the slide had begun in earnest.

We discussed whether to share our findings but decided to wait until our plans were underway before we would let the others know. I was surprised that they hadn’t come up with similar results to ours but there wasn’t a thing circulating on the grapevine. I supposed many people were staring at the pieces of the puzzle but hadn’t yet assembled them in the correct order. It was only a matter of time until someone had a eureka moment and reached the same conclusions we had. Maybe they had and like us were keeping the results to themselves.

The next three weeks whizzed by. We did things like go to the symphony, visit museums, and even toured the statue of Liberty along with all the other touristy stuff we’d never gotten around to. The change that came over us was profound and we began for once to act like normal people. The more we saw of life around us the more we thirsted to drink it in.

I remembered when Sandy came to town and how chaotic things had been. This time crisis would engulf the entire city and the country as well. Not even the smallest town in North Dakota would be exempt. I shuttered when I thought of what was coming and knew that most of the people we encountered would likely perish and along with them modern society with all its complexities.

Kimberly was right. What we needed was Noah and his ark how else could the good parts of civilization be saved. Even so would there be enough talented people left to put it back together. Were we being selfish? Maybe if we got in contact with the right people this thing could for the most part be averted? It was a long shot and who would believe us much less be in a position to change history. Kim and I discussed the pros and cons and afterward decided to send our data to Homeland Security. We’d do it anonymously like throwing a stone in a pond then stand back and watch the ripples.

We scrubbed our data so it would be easier to understand yet harder to trace electronically. We made sure to wear gloves when we handled the hard copy and envelope. I was certain there wasn’t anything that could link us or the firm and Kim even wore a disguise and black wig, when she posted it, real cloak and dagger.

There was much to do while we waited for the ripples to appear but nothing happened. Either it had been passed over or the FBI was trying to investigate the source. Jim called and said that he had come up with some ideas and they would meet us in New Orleans the coming Saturday afternoon.

We had just finished packing and were ready to go to bed when the doorbell rang. I opened it and standing in the hall were two men one wearing a Coast Guard officers uniform. He introduced himself as Captain Allan Bright and asked if they could come in and have a talk. It was eleven o’clock and I couldn’t for the life of me comprehend what the Coast Guard could possibly want with me especially at this time of night yet invited them in.

Kim came from the bedroom and they introduced themselves. Along with Captain Bright was a young man Homer Wilson. We sat in the living room and I asked, I’ve only been on one cruise in my life and the ferry ride we took to the statue of Liberty last week so what does the Coast Guard want with me. Sure you got the right guy?

Captain Bright said, I believe so.

Then he laid the envelope we had sent to Homeland Security on the table.

I looked at it dumbfounded and stuttered, You FBI, CIA, or something?

He smiled and said, Something, but were not here in any official capacity just interested in your findings and how you arrived at them.

I started to deny everything but something told me to go ahead and confess.

I said, Kim and I are actuaries we do risk analyses I derived it from all the data we collect. I just thought that I needed to share it but didn’t want to put my neck in a noose. Just imagine what our clients….How did you find us anyway?

He said, "It might be the information age but I’m not at liberty to divulge our methods only to say that finding you was a lot easier then you might think. As you can see it led us right to your door. What is of importance is the organization I represent has been doing their own research and their results concur with yours in many areas.

I said, How come the Coast Guard’s in the risk analyses business. I thought you guys hassled boaters and hunted down drug smugglers?

"We do and we’re under Homeland Security but in this instance the organization I represent is in no way connected. In fact Homeland Security didn’t even read passed the cover letter before tossing it in the wastebasket. But as they say, one mans trash is another mans treasure. We have people constantly combing through their trash looking for stuff like this. I can’t divulge to you who we are only that your findings in conjunction with ours will go far in getting the ball rolling. I’m afraid there isn’t much anyone can do about what’s coming but I guess you’ve already figured that out for yourself. The information you sent will assist in planning the recovery. What I’d also like to ask… are you planning on making any of this public?"

I said, It’s never been my intention to broadcast it and to be honest nobody is going to believe us anyway and by the time they do it’ll be too late. That’s why we passed it on so you guys could figure out what to do with it.

He said, You’ll never hear a peep about any of this but you can rest assured that you have made a valuable contribution to humanity. This information will allow us to plan and attempt to lessen the impact but still it looks like it’ll be a horrendous event. Now that you have this information what are your intentions. How will you personally act on it?

I said, Not much anyone can do. We’re thinking about buying a boat and try to ride it out.

He said, "I’ll tell you this much. When things go over the cliff everyone, that can, will be moving down south. I’m likely to be stationed at Mayport naval base

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