By Pat Frank
The vintage apocalyptic novel that shocked the area.
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Additional resources for Alas, Babylon
If some thing important happened, people phoned. Unless-he remembered that the Air Force sent telegrams when a man was hurt, or killed. But it wouldn't be Mark, because for two years Mark had been flying a desk. Still, Mark would get in his flying time each month, if possible, for the extra pay. He took the phone from Missouri's hand and braced himself. " he said. "I have a telegram, Randy - it's really a cable-from San Juan, Puerto Rico. It's signed by Mark. " Randy let out his breath, relieved.
Physically, McCoy looked the same. It felt different. The Air Police questioning had been sharper, and more serious. That wasn't the difference. He realized something was missing; and then he had it. Where were all the people? McCoy seemed almost deserted, with less activity, and fewer men and fewer cars than a year ago. He saw no other civilians. He saw no women, not even around the clubs and the BX. The most congested area on the base was the steps and lawn in front of the alert barracks opposite wing headquarters, where standby crewmen, rigid and stiff in pressure suits, talked and smoked.
He never craved it. He just drank for pleasure and the most pleasurable of all drinks was the first one on a crisp winter morning. Besides, when you took it with coffee that made it part of breakfast, and therefore not so depraved. He guessed he had started it during the campaign, when he had been forced to load his stomach with fried mullet, hush puppies, barbecued ribs dripping fat, chitlins, roasted oysters gritty with sand, and to wash all down with warm beer and raw rotgut. After such nights, only mellow bourbon could clear his head and launch him on another day.