For the conspiracy-minded among us, Plum Island, New York, may have a familiar ring to it. Deep within the tin foil hat-wearing corners of the internet, Plum Island’s Animal Disease Center is rumored to be the site of gruesome government experiments in the vein of “The Island of Dr. Moreau.” Legends of biological weapons programs and genetically modified creatures on Plum Island have only grown in recent years, thanks in large part to the discovery of a strange-looking carcass that washed up on a nearby Long Island beach in 2008. The creature was dubbed “the Montauk Monster,” and among the locals, there’s little debate as to where it came from: Plum Island.

The reality of Plum Island, however, may actually be more disturbing than the fiction, if not quite as theatrical. Earlier this month, Plum Island was the site of a DARPA-led training initiative in which cyber warfare experts and energy grid operators joined forces to prepare for an attack that experts contend could result in the deaths of 90% of the American population over the span of just a few years: a large-scale invasion of the American electrical grid.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration levied a new series of sanctions against the Russian government for their infiltration of a number of assets associated with the nation’s electrical infrastructure. While the American government claims to have located and done away with any malicious software or backdoors the Russian operatives may have left behind, it confirmed the idea that American opponents are using cyber warfare techniques to gain access the United States electrical grid.

The United States, like most highly developed nations around the world, has grown dependent on reliable electricity for more than just creature comforts. The vast majority of military bases, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies all rely on commercially sourced power within the United States for day-to-day operations and communications. Without electricity to process and refrigerate foods, the nation’s urban populations would be plunged into starvation. Medication wouldn’t reach patients; winters would freeze pipes, destroy infrastructure, and kill many. The nation’s economy would quickly degrade, as businesses closed their doors and factories went dark. A nation-wide power outage that lasted three days could cause widespread panic… but a nation-wide power outage that lasted three years could wipe the nation off the map.