Study Guide

Alas, Babylon Chapter 6

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Chapter 6

  • This day—when nuclear bombs destroyed most of America and then some—would be known simply as "The Day" (6.1). Short and to the point.
  • Now home, Randy has been listening to the radio non-stop, but there isn't anything new—just the same Conelrad broadcast repeated over and over again.
  • Suddenly, a new broadcast breaks through the static. Randy nearly falls over.
  • The speaker is Mrs. Josephine Vanbruuker-Brown, who describes herself as "the Acting Chief Executive of the United States" (6.11). But Randy remembers Vanbruuker-Brown as the Federal Secretary of Health. That must mean…
  • Vabruuker-Brown explains that wide swathes of country have been destroyed by Soviet nukes. The war is still going on, she explains, so the U.S. has dropped its fair share of bombs too.
  • She also confirms our suspicion that everyone else in the presidential cabinet was killed during the attack, which is why she's in charge.
  • Once the broadcast is finished, Helen wonders aloud if Mark could've survived the bombing. The Hole was built to survive a nuclear attack, after all.
  • Randy suggests asking Admiral Hazzard, a retired Navy officer who had once been "on the Intelligence staff of the Joint Chiefs" (6.39). In layman's terms, that means he was a big deal.
  • While Helen goes off to grab supplies—including ammo—Randy enjoys a nice, four-hour long nap.
  • By the time Randy wakes up, Dan has arrived to check on Peyton. Her vision is already showing improvement, and Dan is confident it'll clear up in a few days.
  • Dan tells Helen and Randy about his day. It was a doozy, to say the least. Heart attacks seem to be the main culprit here, with suicides (including Edgar Quisenberry's) following close behind.
  • In a rare bit of good news, Dan believes that the radiation clouds from the nuclear strikes in Tampa and Miami should just miss Fort Repose. That's a biggie.
  • After a much-deserved meal, Helen and Randy pay a visit to Admiral Hazzard. Randy leaves Ben a small pistol for protection while they're gone.
  • Admiral Hazzard retired from the Navy when he was sixty-two, but he's since made it his obsessive hobby to follow military maneuvers through short-wave radio.
  • He welcomes Randy and Helen (especially Helen) when they arrive. He's been glued to the radio since the bombs started falling, but doesn't know a whole lot more than they do.
  • He does suspect that Omaha has been blown to smithereens, which doesn't bode well for Mark. The Russians hate the SAC most of all, he explains.
  • Without warning, the lights and radio abruptly cut out, and another explosion rocks the house. This one's the closest yet. It must be Orlando.
  • And with that, Fort Repose loses its power for good, effectively going back in time "a hundred years" (6.187).

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