Jormungandr, the Snakebot of Doom, has left the rubble of New York from where it has just finished destroying all the world's petroleum refineries and metal smelters, and has just made a right-hand turn in the New York suburb of Mount Vernon that puts it on course for Boston. As it has coiled itself into a billion-and-a-half ton hoop and is currently rolling toward Boston at around 75 kilometres per hour, Bostonians have three and a half to four hours before it arrives, and presumably begins steamrolling the city flat, much as it did to New York.

If Bostonians were to be informed by the Emergency Broadcast System within minutes of Jormungandr's setting course for their city, how many could be expected to escape from a nearly 8km-wide swath of total destruction across the most built-up part of Boston? They have three and a half to four hours before Jormungandr arrives, plus whatever time it takes to reach their location at its city-destroying speed of about 5 KPH.

Jormungandr is really only going to focus on steamrolling buildings 3-4 stories or taller that are among other such buildings, or individual buildings of 6 stories or taller unless they are a long way from other target buildings. Buildings 24 stories or above will be targeted regardless.

More importantly, how can I work out for myself how many people might be evacuated from a given area of a city, given an amount of time to conduct the evacuation?

Jormungandr is probably going to flatten a swathe about 7.5km wide from Roxbury in the south to Revere in the north, including the University of Massachusetts and Boston Logan International Airport in the east (but not the runways, and maybe not the terminal buildings either), to Harvard University in the west, that area containing most of the large buildings. It will also include a 400m wide track coming in from the south-west, and leaving to the north-west. However, Jormungandr has not announced these plans. All that is known is that it appears to want to flatten large buildings.

For my Juggernaut stories so far, look at https://medium.com/@MontyWild. Chapter 5 describes Jormungandr's attack on New York City, which would likely be much like its attack on Boston.

  • $\begingroup$ given a perfect knowledge of these Jormungandr goals, specifically as they apply to Boston, i.e everyone in charge of the evacuation knows whether that there standalone highrise is a safe 23.8 stories or a deadly 24 stories? And Jormungandr is absolutely modellable, i.e one can know with 100% certainty where the destruction is going to be, and not to be? And the helpers have that plan ready? (Otherwise the GIS-based modelling alone would not be finished before the snake arrived, let alone the evacuation.) $\endgroup$
    – bukwyrm
    Commented Jan 22, 2022 at 9:45
  • $\begingroup$ and can you preemt Jormungandr by demolishing snake bait-buildings via controlled demolishion/air strikes? $\endgroup$
    – bukwyrm
    Commented Jan 22, 2022 at 9:48
  • $\begingroup$ @bukwyrm, Jormungandr is pretty much just going to roll over the area of the city with large buildings. It isn't an instrument of precise destruction, so it's pretty much just going to eyeball tall buildings and flatten them. As for pre-demolition... that probably won't work unless you do it wholesale... it'd take a nuclear strike to a city for Jormungandr to decide that it's not worth steamrolling the place. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Jan 22, 2022 at 10:14
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    $\begingroup$ What are the evacuation procedures? Who does the coordination? Were people drilled for various emergency scenarios? It is much faster and easier to evacuate people if it is done by the people trained to evacuate a large number of people and evacuees are well-drilled. Everything should also go faster and smoother if mass transportation vehicles are used (as opposed to private transportation means). Good contingency plans and training in them are also a factor, especially for law enforcement personnel. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Commented Jan 22, 2022 at 20:52
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    $\begingroup$ And, please, do not include mass panic in whatever scenario you are going to write. The myth of mass panic during disasters was already debunked so many times. People will be scared, they may even self-report as being in panic (after the fact). However, the absolute majority of people behave very rationally during the disaster. A lot of problems, such as road congestion, are not related to panic but to poor organisation, lack of planning, and little to no civilian training. $\endgroup$
    – Otkin
    Commented Jan 22, 2022 at 20:56

3 Answers 3


Most of Them.

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People have nearly 4 hours to escape. If they get out of bed, pick up their babies, and start walking at the relaxed pace of 3kmh they can get 12km before the Snakebot of Doom arrives.

Since the Ravine of Destruction is only 8km wide they can move out of the way in time. If they move in the right direction no one is more than 4km from the edge of the ravine, so they can get 8km from the edge.

The big trouble is a stampede of people coming one way blocking a stampede coming the other way. Perhaps this can be coordinated using public radio, which tells which suburb which way to run. It is already good at redirecting car traffic after all.

Then it is a question of (a) how long the snake takes to turn around. Since it is so big I guess this will be in the hours. Then there is (b) where do these people go next? Without the infrastructure of an entire city to provide water and shelter they will not survive long exposed to the elements.

Photo is from 2005 War of the Worlds.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Jormungandr can slither around like a snake at about 20kph and can turn quite fast too. However, it will simply roll flat a single swathe and move on to the next target rather than turning significantly to go over a target twice or more. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Jan 22, 2022 at 23:08
  • $\begingroup$ @MontyWild Then it looks like the citizens can just walk away from the Snakebot of Doom, and you have to figure out where to put them after that. Maybe back in the half the city that didn't get destroyed? It will need some repairs. $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Commented Jan 22, 2022 at 23:16

Sadly, only a 5% of the people made it out. All the major highways were blocked by people waving banners saying things like:

Don't be a sheep! Jormungandr is a lie!

Jormungandr is fake news! THEY are using fear to control you.

Patriots don't run!

Why are you afraid. Jormungandr only killed 0.000001% of the people in the world.

My faith and freedom are stronger than any snakebot!

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Well, it's turned-up in the Low Quality review queue, it did however make me smile lots. It doesn't quite meet the requirements for a frame-challenge, but it's fine satire (social realism?). $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 22, 2022 at 12:24
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    $\begingroup$ I might just put something like this in... though I wonder how long these people will continue to protest when a billion and a half tons of doom is rolling toward them. $\endgroup$
    – Monty Wild
    Commented Jan 23, 2022 at 1:00
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    $\begingroup$ @MontyWild given that large numbers of people do not evacuate voluntarily when bushfires or floods are sweeping down on them, expect a similar response, with no time for police to go door-to-door. Lots of "my home is my castle" types will consider potential looters a higher priority threat than a city-destroying monster. No, it's not rational, but in recent times there's plenty of evidence for large scale irrational responses to life-threatening events. Protesters may be less plausible, but "hold my ground" is observed all the time, unfortunately. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 23, 2022 at 1:53
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    $\begingroup$ @MontyWild - At least on 911 conspiracy theorist claims the attack was cruise missiles that projected holograms of the airliners. There's no limit to the craziness of conspiracy theorists in their efforts to deny reality. ☹️ $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 23, 2022 at 1:56

All of them.

Because the people were not waiting for the sirens signaling 3.5 hours to bigsnake arrival. Washington DC and many other world cities were hit by nuclear bombs on Jan 20 2 days prior. It is big news, this. The government of MA knows Boston could be next. And the citizens of Boston are not fools either. They do not sit around scratching themselves, or at least they do less than usual. They know they will be safer outside of the city and as soon as the news is broadcast that is where they head. The roads and rails are choked with fleeing people even before the snake makes landfall and gets to work in NYC on Jan 21.

Many residents of urban Boston do not have private vehicles and the evacuation / exodus is complicated by snow. Nevertheless with 2 days advance notice Boston is empty except for a cadre of snake worshippers when the snake shows up and rolls around. Loss of life from the approach of the snake through the suburbs is matched by loss of life in the chaos of the flight from the city.

In the panic, Atlanta ultimately loses more people than Boston and the snake does not even get down there.

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    $\begingroup$ Embrace the snake and you'll be spared! 🤪🥴 $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 23, 2022 at 1:59

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