- N -(classified radio transcript, USAF 7/11/90, 8:55 PM)
"Hobbes, this is Calvin, do you copy? Over <squawk>"
"Calvin, this is Hobbes. Go ahead. Over <click>"
"Hobbes, we can't raise anybody in El Paso, even though the destruction seems to have somehow bypassed it. We see lights. Repeat, we see lights. Request permission for fast, high-altitude flyover. Over"
"Calvin, permission granted. If your rad-indices are low enough afterwards, go back for a low-altitude pass. Do you copy? Over <errk>"
"Affirmative, Hobbes. Report back in seven minutes. Over. <screech>"
- O -
(conversation aboard USAF F-15E #731, 7/11/90, 9:03 PM)
"Well, Admiral, what do you think? How are the readouts?"
"Very good, Captain. The rad-index is much lower than expected, only mildly dangerous. All frequencies are still drowned out by the static we keep finding, but other than that, everything looks good for the low-level flyby."
"Hobbes, this is Calvin. Low-level return flight commencing. Over. <Awwrk>"
"Very well, Calvin. Hobbes out. <scronk>"
"Captain, let's try the upper valley first."
"Right, sir. Here we go."
(The world spins over sideways, then inverts, as the pilot throws the plane into a tight downward spiral just north of the Franklin mountains. After long seconds of being sucked down into their seats, watching the landscape spin crazily to 1 side, the plane is righted, the afterburners are kicked in, and the lone Eagle screams into the valley, trailing sonic destruction of the peaceful evening in its wake.)
- P -
(personal thoughts, 7/11/90, 9:03 PM)
As I stare moodily into my coffee, I find myself again wondering at the strange turn of events that has led to our being spared. All my relatives, dead overnight in an orgy of energy excess because a bureaucrat got a deal on the wrong flavor of instant soft drink tablets, if the paper is to be believed.
Looking at Martha, so composed across the table, I thank God we were here visiting Stacy and Elvin in El Paso, and that we had to bring the kids with us. But again I am reminded that Mom, Dad, June, Scat, and the others are gone. For Good. I barely notice the hot tears that leak from my eyes (red from lack of sleep for 3 days), to wend their way slowly down my unfeeling, unwashed face.
Martha, sweet Martha, so calm. I would never have made it through all this without you! Yet I can see gray hairs already, that were not there in your long, brilliant red, curly locks before the start of all this! Texas Independance Day, indeed. Texas Mortuarial Day, more like it.
Jennifer is sobbing in her room again. Guess I'd better go lie down with her again, try to comfort her. There, there. Daddy and Mommy are here. It's OK. RIGHT! OK? With your grandparents dead, your friends dead, your cat dead, everything we own either gone or so radioactive we'll never see it again, things aren't all right, kid! But we have each other, and we're alive, and Stacy & Elvin said we could stay here as long as we need to. Yeah, that's what I'll tell her, and then we'll pray, and...
<BOOOOMMMMMMMMM BOOOMMMMMM BOOOMMMMM SCHOOOOOOOOOOSSSHHHHH CRASH TINKLE>
Dear God! What was that? Like a direct lightning hit, almost, but half the windows shattered, and glasses falling over? Maybe it's a plane! Have they come at last to get us?
- Q -
(conversation aboard USAF F-15E #731, 7/11/90, 9:05 PM)
"Incredible, sir! Everything looks normal. How could that have happened? There's not another intact spot between Louisiana and the new Pacific coast!"
"Don't ask me. But we've got all the cameras and instruments recording. I just hope we don't have to sterilize the area due to radiation damage and mutations."
"But Admiral! We saw HUMAN activity! People running out to see us!"
"Not our job to decide, Peckinpah. Just fly this babe, and I'll get the data for PACFLEET, who'll get back to SAC and the JCS, and they'll make the decision."
"Christ! I don't..."
"Captain Peckinpah, please refrain from argument at this time. If you wish to discuss this off the record, contact me after we land. In the meantime, let's cut back to 680 knots and save some windows and hearts, and make a pass over the eastern portion of the city."
- R -
(Deep underground beneath the reactor building at UTEP, 7/11/90, 11:00 PM)
Again, for what must be the thousandth time, Dr. Reimann opens the door to the room marked, "Authorized Personnel Only", after passing through the retinal scanners, blood testers, fingerprint and voice analyzers, three sets of alert US Marines, and the auto-lasers. All the readouts are well within the safe zones.
"We may make it after all", he thinks, "if the transubstantiators hold out and the energy sink doesn't overload."
Nearly smiling, but not quite daring to, he closes the door and walks back down the hall towards his first full night's sleep in a month. Little does he know of the hero's welcome that awaits him in a few weeks, or of the massive inquisition spawning itself deep within the bowels of Congress.
- S -
(a barely-lit room, 7/11/90, 11:54 PM)
Vague sobbing sounds break through the fog, and the restful dark dissolves, swirls, and slowly brings the kitchen into focus. I can barely open my eyes or raise my head, but I must see if it is Martha that is crying, or the last vestiges of some dream.
What? This is who? Cindy from next-door? Oh. Home from school in California. Her roommate? No, you're right, I'm sure. The one newscast that got through said California was gone. Dear God. I'm sorry, Cindy. I know. We lost our whole family other than who's here. No, no, that's all right. We understand. It IS a shock. So many lives, gone, just like that. Good thing your parents were here. Say, was that your car out there? Got much gas? Really? It's almost nonexistant around here. Better lock that up at night.
Parents out for the evening? Sure, Martha, she can have our room. You stay in there with her. I'll be OK out here. Allright. 'Nite. All dissolves quickly to quiet, welcome darkness...
Last updated: 7 May 1994
Copyright 1989, 1994 Miles O'Neal, Austin, TX. All rights reserved.
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This copyright may be freely used, distributed and modified subject to the conditions noted above in the preceeding paragraph. Miles O'Neal <roadkills.r.us@XYZZY.gmail.com> [remove the "XYZZY." to make things work!] c/o RNN / 1705 Oak Forest Dr / Round Rock, TX / 78681-1514