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This is in effect a continuation the "using dead bodies materials for food/construction/etc" series.

The world is suffering from the creatures of fantasy and nightmares which can appear with just a few minutes of warning anywhere, regardless of it being the middle of the street or on top of your bed while you are asleep. It can be a single one, or millions that swarm the area. The world's infrastructure has been degrading, food and supplies are harder and harder to come by. While firearms work well against these creatures, the bodies left behind attract and breed both insects and disease. It is not feasible to hold on to areas with low population as a sudden appearance of many nightmares can wipe them out.

Civilians will be seeking shelter when the alarm is sounded while militia, law enforcement and paramilitaries will move in to try and clear the spawning of nightmare creatures.

There is a problem, however. When a spawning starts all electronics in a semi-random radius are affected, causing electric lights to flicker and computers to fail for several hours. The radius can be as small as 50 meters up to several kilometers.

Before a spawning occurs an otherworldly sound of level around 75 dB (vacuum cleaner) can be heard and spooky light flashes which give an indication of where and how many might spawn, but without absolute certainty until the creatures have fully spawned. If a small group spawns in a remote area of the city, the amount of noise and light might go completely unnoticed. It takes from half a minute up to 10 minutes before the nightmares basically teleport into the area (avoiding any obstacles).

The difficulty here is sounding an alarm that can be adjusted to the threat level. For a small amount of creatures you do not want the entire city to find shelter while every part of the militia goes to the area, but for a large spawning (in the thousands) you do want such a reaction. Further complicating this is the absence of proper electronics to send coherent messages while this is going on.

The question: how would a system look like to sound an alarm with adjustable reaction from the cities' militia and civilians?

Features of the alarm system in order of importance:

  • civilians will be the main source of spotting the disturbances before a spawning and have to be the first chain for any alarm system (unless you can find one that really doesn't need them).
  • civilians are expected to leave immediately after the alarm is sounded, some way of making sure the location remains detectable after they leave is required.
  • the alarm has to be able to signal people both inside and outside
  • at minimum, have to have a 99% effectiveness in reaching people and militia nearby the disturbance.
  • the alarm needs to be able to guide militia towards the spawning, and warn civilians away.
  • the alarm has to scale with the size of the spawning area and eventually the actual amount of nightmares counted when they appear.
  • the alarm has to be easily reachable by civilians or portable. Like flare guns.
  • the alarm is allowed to use word-of-mouth in its chain, like someone outside warning people inside. However it has to use as few people as possible in jobs as watchmen that warn others.
  • people asleep will not be counted, people will sleep in small communities with a designated watcher to wake them up in case of an alarm.
  • if it wasn't clear already: I expect this alarm to be a chain rather than a single person being able to do all the work.

PS: I understand this isn't an easy question and has a lot of variables. Try to keep an open mind please.

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  • $\begingroup$ Is there magic in this world? If there is, I'd suggest wards that act like a tripwire when supernatural entitkes are near, but if there is no magic possessed by the regular people then this probably isn't much help ^^; $\endgroup$
    – INPU
    Sep 25 at 7:16
  • $\begingroup$ @DMFRG good question, there is no magic available to the humans. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Sep 25 at 7:47
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An electronic warning system.

The electronics shutting off makes for a great warning system. You have transmitters spaced througout the city sending regular signals to a variety of central hubs.

If they stop transmitting, then the central hub activates a wire based warning system, with a wire tied along the roofs to near the warning electronics and local response teams, activating some sort of warning system- a bell, a person, whatever. You could even have separate wires to activate different mechanical warning systems. Those near the disabled electronics are warned of the threat, and central locations know where a spawning was, and the size of it based on how many transmitters were disabled.

Simple messages can also be sent along the wire with little tugs, using morse code, to better communicate needs. It would be easy to design small mechanical machines to tug the wire to send a particular code, so a person on site could communicate to central systems. With time you could automate it, designing an entirely mechanical computer to read in dead zones.

Simple to make, simple to maintain, and lets you automate the warning process to work at the speed of sound of a wire.

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  • $\begingroup$ So how will this scale or deal with a second incursion? Lets say 1 nightmarish creature spawns and shuts down 6 kilometers of electronics around it for a few hours. Then while that is happening a medium sized spawning happens in the area and no one notices. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Sep 21 at 4:02
  • $\begingroup$ None of the answers really deal with that sort of scale. If the warning sound is 6 kilometers across, they can't find the monster until it does a lot of damage. Any 6 kilometer wide threat is deadly. $\endgroup$
    – Nepene Nep
    Sep 23 at 6:46
  • $\begingroup$ That is why I havent accepted an answer yet. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Sep 23 at 8:05
  • $\begingroup$ It might work better if you defined and limited the size of the sound and size of the alerts, because if the warning signs are massive then you basically need everyone to be on the lookout continually. $\endgroup$
    – Nepene Nep
    Sep 23 at 19:08
  • $\begingroup$ The sound is limited to a vacuum cleaner loudness, the area it starts in can vary in size mostly based on the amount that spawn. And yes everyone does need to lookout continuously. That doesnt really matter though, what matters is "you spot a disturbance/nightmarish creatures, how do you get an effective alarm off?". I specifically did not want electronics, which is why the affected area of electronics and duration of effect is the most random component to avoid it being effective. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Sep 24 at 4:09
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  • civilians will be the main source of spotting the disturbances before a spawning and have to be the first chain for any alarm system (unless you can find one that really doesn't need them).

Civilians detecting spooky lights and noise will start screaming.

  • the alarm has to be able to signal people both inside and outside

Screaming will be loud, and heard by people inside and outside.

  • at minimum, have to have a 99% effectiveness in reaching people and militia nearby the disturbance.

Deaf persons and persons deep underground (0.5% of the population each) will not hear the screaming.

  • the alarm needs to be able to guide militia towards the spawning, and warn civilians away.

Persons hearing screaming will run away unless they are militia, who will run towards unless it is really bad monsters and then they will also run away.

  • the alarm has to scale with the size of the spawning area and eventually the actual amount of nightmares counted when they appear.

More persons screaming with higher pitched screams will correlate with larger area of noise and lights / larger number of nightmares / larger number of nightmares appearing on top of sleeping people.

  • the alarm has to be easily reachable by civilians or portable. Like flare guns.

Screaming is easily reachable and portable.

  • the alarm is allowed to use word-of-mouth in its chain, like someone outside warning people inside.

Screaming can use words of mouth. Like "HOLY F%%% MONSTERS ARE COMING!! BETH BETH WHERE'S THAT SHARP STICK!! AHHH THEY'RE HERE AND I DONT HAVE MY %%%% STICK!!"

  • people asleep will not be counted, people will sleep in small communities with a designated watcher to wake them up in case of an alarm.

Designated watcher can be designated screamer too.

  • if it wasn't clear already: I expect this alarm to be a chain rather than a single person being able to do all the work.

It will be easy for additional people to start screaming once they hear someone start. It will be a true community effort.

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Screaming for other problems may be allowed, but people who try screaming for fun will find themselves with many unhappy people on their case. $\endgroup$
    – Mary
    Sep 21 at 0:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Mary - it never occurred to me before, but now you have got me wanting to try screaming for fun. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Sep 21 at 1:07
  • $\begingroup$ I've heard rather more of it than was quite fun. I mean, you could usually tell it from terror, but I don't think people in this world would care. $\endgroup$
    – Mary
    Sep 21 at 3:45
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    $\begingroup$ @Mary Crying wolf could possibly carry the same penalties that we already have today for pulling emergency alarms for no valid reason, or abusing emergency services $\endgroup$ Sep 21 at 5:42
  • $\begingroup$ Screaming does have a limited range. It would not be sufficient for a large spawning where you want everyone in a large radius to scramble. Otherwise if you use a chain of screaming the location becomes diluted and no one knows where to go. Also if I were to go for screaming I would rather give everyone a strong whistle or similar, that equalizes the noise to look out for and lets people with less powerful lungs or vocal cords make loud noises. Whistles were good enough for battlefield use. Any solution to making the location less diluted? $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Sep 21 at 7:35
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Different size bells.

Church bells

Different bell sizes, different sounds. Different sounds, different warning levels.

Spread groups of bells around the city and assign a watcher to take care of them. The person that identifies the threat will ring a bell according to the identified threat level. Every watcher that hears this bell will ring the bell correspondent to 1 threat level below. This chain will keep going until someone rings the lowest threat level bell.

This way, if bells of bigger threat levels ring, all bells in the city should ring. If it's a lower level bell, only an area equivalent to the threat level will react.

Edit: After the initial ring, the watcher can hit the switch on a winded up mechanism that controls a small hammer. Something similar to either the older alarm clocks or the electric alarm systems:

Alarm clock description

A winded up mechanism will not work for a long time, it will depend on the spring and amount of rotations that the watcher did but it should be enough time for the population to reach and to deploy specialised forces.

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  • $\begingroup$ Its a good answer, any solution to make sure the closest watcher isnt eaten while he's sounding the alarm? $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Sep 22 at 10:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You could have a mechanical wind up hammer just like the older alarms clocks have. Check the edited answer for a little more details. $\endgroup$
    – GFA
    Sep 23 at 7:54

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