Overcoming the Monster
Anticipation Stage and 'Call'
A failed politician and dedicated morning drinker, Randy Bragg is stuck in a serious funk at the beginning of Alas, Babylon.
However, he's woken from this malaise when his older brother Mark, a high-ranking member of the Strategic Air Command, tells him that the Soviet Union is preparing a full-on nuclear onslaught of the United States. Mark sends his wife Helen and children, Peyton and Ben Franklin, down to Randy's home in Fort Repose, Florida, where they'll sit tight and wait for the coming calamity.
And boy is it a calamity. Although Fort Repose is miraculously spared destruction, most of the United States is incinerated over the course of a few hours. Randy and Helen set out surviving amidst the chaos and, even after the power grid goes out for good, they manage to build a nice little community with their neighbors, including Lib McGovern, a former bae of Randy's, and Dan Gunn, Fort Repose's resident doctor.
Then the highwaymen arrive. Several months after the war, roving bands of armed goons start patrolling the roads between surviving towns, assaulting and robbing anyone unlucky enough to pass their way.
Recently, they've been getting bolder; several residents of Fort Repose have been murdered in their homes by these fools. Just as the survivors were beginning to figure things out, they're right back at the drawing board.
This situation comes to a head when the highwaymen brutally assault Dan Gunn and leave him for dead, stealing his car, medical equipment, and glasses.
Furious at this flagrant assault on his best friend, Randy leads a group of armed survivors on an ambush mission, tricking the highwaymen into robbing them and then giving them what's what. Although one of his crew, Malachai Henry, is sadly killed in the battle, Randy and his team take the win.
The Thrilling Escape from Death, and Death of the Monster
About a year after The Day, planes start appearing over Fort Repose. Then a helicopter. And then the helicopter lands in Randy's yard. Christmas has come early, folks.
The helicopter was sent by the military to inspect and survey the contaminated areas of the country. They're shocked by Fort Repose: it's in better shape than many places spared entirely by the blast. Although they offer to evacuate our heroes to safe land, everyone decides to stay, having fought too hard to build up their new community only to walk away from it now.
We also learn that the United States won the war against the Soviet Union, though that doesn't seem to have done anyone any good.