Writing, The Book and Entertainment Business, What is Going on Around Here?

I have been on this earth for 45 years (give or take a few months).  Perhaps it is just my approaching (ok in the) middle age but I am noticing a few things about the entertainment industry.

When I was a kid, and even into my later teenage years, you could go to a movie or pick up a book and it would just be what it was.  A book or a movie..Not a political or environmental statement on something.  There was no message, just fun.  In the case of some books just flights of fantasy (e.g. Dragonlance).  I don’t see that much anymore.  Ok maybe Harry Potter, Twilight, there are exceptions in books but movies are guilty of it fairly often.

The other thing I am noticing is that when I was a kid you could save $2 or something and go buy a book.  Enjoy that book and move on…Even if it was new.  There was a market of paperbacks, there was a $1 theatre you could go to and see movies.  They weren’t the brand new ones but it was fun all the same.

Now when I go to the book store and buy a new book I’m staring down $40 for a hard cover and $12.50 the other day for a paperback.  Buying kids books I’m forking out $10 a shot.  (Thank goodness for the used bookstores, love you guys).  I don’t mind paying through the nose for great stuff, but stuff with a message?

I tried to price my book as cheap as Amazon would allow.  $2.99 to $3.99 for Kindle and for paperbacks was the cheapest I could make them.  Shoot if you have Amazon Prime on Kindle they are free!

These things seem to be disappearing more and more.  People ask me why I write books. The idea was to put out a story that entertained people.  That’s all.  I didn’t want a political message.  I didn’t want to sway people to some ideology.  I wanted to give a low cost way you could pick up something, and forget your troubles.  Ok, maybe my subject matter of a nuclear assault, which became the topic for The Last World War was too much for that, but I wanted to pick a topic area that was so horrible that I hope it never happens.  Those weapons are well protected, and hopefully they won’t get loose.  Hopefully those who have them are smart enough to say NO NEVER! Although lately if you watch the interchange between North Korea and Donald Trump that may be a real hope, not a reality.

In another book we do use a topic of global climate change, not to say who did it. That book is to show through science fiction that working together humans can solve any problem, no matter what the problem happens to be. In that novel there is no “humans did it” or “no they didn’t” we just assumed that the climate is out to kill us, and showed that through real science it can, indeed, be tamed. Everything (from the solution side) in that novel is real science, not made up, it’s just expensive ;-).

I do hope that other people start to think in this method.  Low cost entertaining things with little to no political message (unless it is necessary for the story as it was in some ways in mine).

I didn’t want to win prizes, I just wanted to entertain.  I do hope the books do that.

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Sample Chapter from upcoming Novel: The Last World War Volume 2

If you haven’t read it I have a book called The Last World War, Volume 1 (Trial by fission). Many people have enjoyed it, and we always intended for there to be a second. This is a preview of part of that second book which is now in the final stages of preparation.

If you haven’t read it just click books at the top of the page, and you will see it there, or just click right here -> LAST WORLD WAR VOLUME 1

 

 

CHAPTER SEVEN DRAFT

 

Alex sat down at his computer to do another financial model that would show the “on paper” value of a small company to potential investors. This was the third one this week, and while it sounded like boring work to most people, to him there was a real beauty in those numbers. These number represented people’s professional lives, their hopes and dreams. If he did the numbers in certain ways, these people will prosper, or if he did them wrong, the people would die in a pile debt from which they would never recover. They had to be done just right, with no margin for error.

The people around him sat tapping on their keyboards doing similar tasks, and he assumed it would be a day like any other. As he was just getting on a roll with the numbers, out of the corner of his eye, he saw someone drop a soda can in the trash and hurry out the door. He wondered why someone was drinking soda from a can instead of bottles, but he shook his head and just assumed it was just someone who preferred the cold metal instead of the plastic. What Alex did not notice was the louder than usual popping sound the can made when it hit the bottom of the waste bin.

The news had said something about an “invasion,” and some kind of series of attacks in New England, but that was a half a country away, and he had work to do.  The news was something that he never put too much stock in anyway, since they had shown time and time again that they could not be trusted to actually report the news accurately.  The “news” companies were constantly reporting poorly researched information and then they always seemed to be retracting some part of a story, if not the whole thing, so he would just wait it out and see what was true and what wasn’t.

Everyone said to be on the lookout for anything unusual, but how weird was an aluminum soda can? It wasn’t that strange, was it?

He knew the attack in Los Angeles was real, but he still had to work. Getting paid by the hour did that kind of thing to a newlywed. If he didn’t work, he didn’t get paid, and last time there had been an attack in the United States it was over that same day. That had to be the case again, didn’t it?

Someone started coughing on the other side of the office hard enough that it caught his attention. Normally it wasn’t the kind of thing he would notice, but this was different. The coughing became harder than a person at work should. He hoped they wouldn’t get everyone sick, he didn’t have time for that. “Go home asshole,” he thought to himself, if they had something that might be contagious they should have just stayed home and not come in and risk infecting everyone. Then surprisingly, a second person, then a third started coughing a sickly wet cough.  One person, then another, and another turned the corner and started coughing so hard that they vomited, then vomited again. Someone screamed and joined in with the rest and added to the vomiting.

The amount of spewed forth bodily fluid had to be enormous. He was fifty feet away and the smell was enough to make him want to join them and bring his breakfast back to the surface.

Alex took off his headphones, stood up and looked over the cubicle walls, trying to figure out what the hell was going on. A small sound escaped his throat at the sight of people on the other side of the office who were bent over coughing and spewing forth vomit of a variety of colors based on the contents of their most recent meal. He couldn’t begin to imagine what made all of them start at once, but he realized there was no way there was anything normal about any of it. Something was wrong, and it had happened fast.

Looking around and realizing just how widespread it was he began to panic, fear was setting in, his eyes went wide and breathing was coming faster and faster with every passing second. The sounds coming from people were like nothing he had ever heard from a human, and the smell filling the room was like something out of a cesspool.

Then his eyes found Angela. She was a great friend, and had been through so much lately. While she would never be a Victoria’s Secret model, she had an aura of self-confidence and sensuality about her. Now, she was bent over coughing and suffering from what looked like a nose bleed, or was the blood coming from her eyes, it was hard to tell. Alex tried to rush over to her side of the room but, as he got closer, he got a tickle in his throat and started coughing. He couldn’t figure out why, he was healthy. Then he coughed harder and harder. His eyes were flooded with tears as if someone had turned on a faucet. Stopping his advance towards Angela he bent over, all of his muscles tensed at once. He fought back, but had somehow lost control over any part of his body.

Violently, with no way to catch himself, he hit the ground hard, face first.  Through the ocean of tears freely flowing down his face he saw Angela on the ground about twenty feet away. She had drool coming down the side of her face and blood quickly running out of her nose, ears and eyes. Then it dawned on him, that he had the same problem.

When did this happen?

How did this happen?

He could not focus on anything except Angela and her body spasming on the ground in front of him. His eyes clamped shut uncontrollably, and trying as hard as he could, there was no way he could open them. His muscles started flexing, doing some crazy things, sending his body thrashing in all directions.

Then, without warning every single muscle tensed at once and he could no longer move. No longer in control of any of his muscles, his lungs started to spasm, alternating between trying to draw breath into his now destroyed lungs and projectile vomiting massive amounts of blood. Then, his colon was next to release its contents and the flood of bloody shit flowed out of his anus emanating a smell that was like rotting flesh as it mixed with the reddish colored urine that his bladder had formed a pool on the floor.  His mind recognized that as the smell coming from the room letting him know that he wasn’t the only one in this condition, and finally understanding where that smell was coming from.

What the hell was going on?

How can everyone here go from healthy to this in such a short period of time?

It didn’t make any sense.

He lost consciousness not understanding what had happened.

 

***

 

The President stood at the head of the conference table, frustrated that he was still stuck on board Air Force One. He held his cell phone at chest level staring into space for a moment. Only some of the electronics gear was back up and running, with technicians and software people working furiously on the rest. Thankfully the cell phone networks were working again, or they would have almost no updated information about what was going on outside the airplane, which was still on the ground.

“Everyone quiet,” the President shouted.

The room fell eerily quiet, more so than the President had intended. He slowly put down his phone.

“Everyone, Given that the Prime Minister of Israel was going to surrender, and has now either done so or been killed, we have to think this through. The only way that man would have agreed to lay down arms is if his citizenry were about to be exterminated,” the President said.

“Mr. President, we have no other source, are we sure it as bad as he made it out to be? Is it possible tha the fighting was localized to just the capital” some unknown intelligence staff member asked.

“That was the Prime Minister himself, not some aid. Given that we had no cell access anywhere at the time, yet his call and that damn General got through, I feel safe saying that I’m sure,” the President said. His tone of voice showing his growing frustration.

“If that is true, and satellites gave us no warning, the electronic systems have been down longer than we realized. Mr. President, I believe we may have the modern-day version of the D-Day invasion taking place, only we are on the defensive side. I think they are coming at us with everything they have available, as fast as they can put it into the field. If we don’t have our networks, smart weapons, and sensor platforms this will be a war we are really not ready to fight without unconventional weapons. The numbers are just not on our side,” surmised the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

“General, we just launched two unconventional nuclear warheads and they took control of one of those. How do we know that the next time we launch one it won’t be retargeted to hit one of our cities? Maybe it will be reprogrammed to hit one of military bases around the world, and how the hell would that be helpful?” the President’s anger was coming through loud and clear.

“That is a possibility while those devices are on ICBMs. However, if we launch our attacks from bombers we can guarantee a hit thanks to the human pilots. However, we will have to turn off as much in the way of electronics as we can, just in case those aircraft are penetrated by this network attack as well. But, this may be the best pathway forward. We could also use one of those really fast point to point transport devices that research scientist just showed us, if it would work for the task. He said faster than light, and I don’t know how fast that is, but if we can deliver things without the need for missiles, that just might save our ass,” the General was a professional in every way, and clearly was not ready to talk terms with the enemy.

“Ok. Israel is gone, and that is a huge problem, but let’s figure out our status at this point. Do we have word from any other allies around the world? Is anyone else under attack?” the President asked looking at his Secretary of State, the nation’s chief diplomat.

“Without access to our computer networks, or even television news, it is really hard to tell. I’m going to have people light up the phone line and do this the old-fashioned way, but it will take some time,” the Secretary of State said.

“Get to work,” the President ordered.

“General, where is our heavy combat gear? How much do we have in transport, and how hard will it be to make sure we bring everything we can home as quickly as we can? I have a feeling we may have to become an isolationist nation for a while,” the President said.

He clearly did not like these decisions, but knowing he was painted into a corner. Becoming isolationist could result in the rest of the world falling into an even greater level of chaos. That might be very challenging to fix once things got under control domestically, but he couldn’t very well protect the world and in the process, lose the homeland. America had to be able to protect its own before it could worry about any other nation’s citizens.

“Mr. President, we have probably forty percent of our hardware being repositioned. If you recall, we took a bet, we sent almost every asset we had into the Middle East to try to bring an end to hostilities quickly, most of it is still there, or in transit. If we can find their staging area there perhaps we can launch an attack before they make a move elsewhere in the world. We can issue an order for everything in motion to come home at best possible speed, fuel conservation be damned, and develop a reasonable plan to pull out of everywhere we are that isn’t currently a war zone, but that will take time, I don’t know how long, but at least weeks to months. The other problem is that there are many places around the world that if we pull out with the threat of global armed conflict spreading everywhere is going to go way up,” the Chairman said, clearly not happy with the timeframe any more than the President.

“Fine. Someone figure out where the Vice President is, and get him here to meet that bizarre scientist. Perhaps that crazy man can save us, if we can figure out how to properly use that stuff. He showed us that thing that apparently enables faster than light travel. Perhaps that can deliver our weapons, and people where they need to be without the need for air support. I can’t believe I just said those words, and let’s hope to Christ that the thing works.

“Also, we need a better understanding of what manpower the enemy has already managed to land on our shores. Even if I would launch a nuclear strike here, which I won’t, and we still have active cyber-attacks that may make matters worse, AND our smart weapons are fucked, then maybe, just MAYBE our scientists can pull our asses out of the fire,” the President was shouting louder and louder as he finished his statement. He was also starting to ramble, which was uncharacteristic, the stress was obviously taking its toll.

“Yes, Mr. President,” said the Chairman.

More computers and video screens had been coming online during the exchange.

“Mr. President,” the Vice President’s voice said.

“Frank, I didn’t realize your link was back up. Where the hell are you, and how soon can you get to wherever I am?” asked President Press.

“Somewhere in Texas, I think. However, I’d like to make a point that both of us being in the same place at the same time is a very bad idea, Mr. President,” said Frank.

“Of course, and honestly I’m not 100% certain where we are, just that there is some technology here that you have to see, and help us figure out how to use it to clean up this mess,” said the President.

“I’m told the electronics in this plane is fine. Mr. President you need to get someplace safe and organize a response to the invasion making its way through New England, as well as a nerve agent attack that is at this very moment putting Americans into a horrifyingly painful death spiral, on top of all that we also had a massive nuclear strike. I suggest you go to Fort Bragg and I go wherever you are,” Frank said.

“Mr. Vice President, if I may?” the Surgeon General interrupted.

“I have been on the phone with some of the Emergency Rooms in the impacted areas of this nerve agent. The people infected are experiencing the following symptoms: muscle convulsions, runny nose, crying, drooling, release of bowels and bladder, even some temporary paralysis. Those that will die are doing so in about ten minutes post exposure. Everyone else will recover, and all we must do for the moment is to keep them comfortable. The hospitals in the area surrounding the nuclear strike are over run in the same way we experienced last time, and that must be our priority,” said the Medical Professional.

“Mr. President, that may have been a test of some new capability. If they use those weapons on our troops while we are in contact, they will be slaughtered as they won’t be able to offer any kind of resistance thanks to the associated symptoms. Everyone must wear protective gas masks, whenever they are about to make contact with the enemy, or set foot outside of a base until we fully understand the situation,” the Vice President said.

“General, issue that order, and Doctor, you better figure out if whatever it is that is happening is contagious or not, we don’t need a fucking pandemic on top of everything else,” said the President.

“Frank, get here and get to work, we will be at your old stomping grounds,” the President said, then walked out of the room to see the pilots.

 

<AP NEWS FLASH> Hospitals in some of the southern states are being overrun with citizens suffering from the effects of a nerve agent. Many people around the nation are nervous they are showing signs. There will be an upcoming press release showing what symptoms to be watchful of, however if symptoms being experienced are not chronic, the malady is likely not a nerve agent. Hospitals are asking that people think before jamming local emergency rooms.

Hitler had so many moles he should have not been able to start WWII

Recently I published a post about some early events in WWII that could have prevented the entire conflict. You can find them on my post titled A World War II Lesson, and Hitler’s Rise to Power Applied to Modern American Politics.” This article is all about the number of moles in his high command and how another opportunity was lost to stop the crazy man.

The situation concerns Switzerland. The Constitution governing Switzerland dictates absolute impartiality in any War around the world that is not taking place inside the Swiss border. In other words, if they haven’t been invaded, they aren’t fighting.

Because of this, and borders with Germany, France, and Italy the tiny nation quickly became a hot bed of spies starting in the late 1930s. This is the story of some of those spies.

The two German spy agencies, The Abwehr, and the Sicherheitsdienst had more spies inside the Swiss border than any other nation state. The entire German activity there was aimed at figuring out the plans of other nations, should Germany continue to re-arm.

There was another, not as well-known reason (at the time). The leadership of both these German agencies assumed, correctly, that any internal German opposition to Hitler would have activity in Switzerland. Perhaps being there would help that activity become known, and be prevented.

Around the same time the Soviet intelligence groups began activities there as well. They wanted to gain intel on German activities and capabilities. By the mid-1930s Germany was re-arming as quickly as they could. One of these Russian spies was Alexander Radolfi who was posing as a Hungarian geographer. Rado (as his friends called him) had a primary source early in his time in Switzerland starting in 1937 named Otto Punter. Otto had a network of Germans who did not like the Nazi regime and wanted to prevent them from staying in power. Otto, by profession, was a former Swiss journalist.

Right around that same point in time Alexander A. “Jim” Foote was recruited, and sent, to be a Soviet spy in Switzerland and was tasked to learn as much as possible about Germany and Hitler’s plans. When he arrived, he was to wait outside a post office in the Rue du Mont-Blanc in Geneva on October the 10th, 1938. If he were at the correct place at the correct time a woman, his contact, would approach him, which she did. His contact was the very attractive Ursula Schultz. She was a German Jew who had been running a spy network since 1936. She had been radioing information to Moscow at two week intervals her entire time running that spy ring. When she did so, the Soviet’s would radio back orders.

At that meeting outside the post office, Sonia gave Foote a large amount of cash (2,000 Swiss francs), and relayed some orders that he was to travel to Munich in Southern Germany and search for useful information then return to Geneva in 3 months-time.

He did as he was ordered, and when he returned he had a load of useful intelligence. He had discovered that when Adolf Hitler, the birthplace of the Nazi party, he would often dine at a very popular restaurant called Osteria Bavaria. Foote had this idea, he wanted to plant a bomb and blow the German leader to bits.

Sonia was shocked, and decided the plan would not succeed and cause issues. Hitler always traveled with a large number of bodyguards, and she assumed that anyone attempting to carry out the plan would be discovered and that Hitler would be alerted to people working to undermine him. Sonia sent him back to Munich, and promised to send more cash.

In August of 1939 Sonia ordered him to come back to Switzerland. Rumors were running wild that Germany was preparing for an active War.

Other spy activities continued in Switzerland. Two middle aged men in civilian clothes got off a train in Lucerne Switzerland, and they immediately went to the home of Rudolf Roessler. These visitors were German Generals who, with eight other high ranking officers in the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (high command) in Berlin. These men were operating together and engaging in a conspiracy to prevent Hitler from executing plans to conquer Europe.

Roessler was in interesting individual. He had fought in World War I, but now hated violence. One thing he did have were friends who were Generals. Roessler had made the decision to do all he could to awaken Herrnvolk (German people) about the dangers of the Nazis. Roessler took a job as a reporter and wrote articles about the dangers of the Nazi’s which made him a man who was marked for potential death. He was writing these articles expressing the concerns he and his ten friends (the Generals) all held.

Roessler didn’t seem to mind that he was now an enemy of the State, even though he knew it was one of the most dangerous government organizations ever. In the summer of 1934, eighteen months after Hitler had become Chancellor of Germany and began the crackdown on his enemies. It was a dangerous time for Roesller, so he and his wife fled to Switzerland.

Two of Roessler’s friends, the visiting Generals got to the point. They wanted Roessler to know that War was going to break out in a matter of weeks. The Generals urged their friend to spread word as much as they can of the dangers associated with the Nazis and to attempt to keep their power base from expanding.

The Generals explained that the ten conspirators would get all of Hitler’s strategies in advance. These men were among those that did the planning for the German high command. One General told Roessler that the Berlin moles would send him top secret information and he could give it away, sell it, whatever he chose, so long as it was used to slow Hitler down.

Roessler could not decide which Government should get the intelligence information. He argued with himself and eventually settled on Switzerland. The Swiss found a pathway to get the information to the British.

May of 1940 there was a large amount of intelligence about Hitler launching a massive invasion of France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Every warning he sent was ignored.

The Nazi’s rolled through these regions and appeared to be ready to invade Britain. At this point, Moscow ordered Foote to become a radio operator for their man Rado, the chief Soviet Spymaster in Switzerland.

Foote installed new radios for the job, but was also now able to send information to London. Foote didn’t like Communism and was, at this point, a double agent. He apparently wanted to be on the winning side, whichever side that was.

Just before Christmas 1940 Roessler received a complete copy of Operation Barbarossa, Hitler’s planning invasion of the Soviet Union. This attack was set to kick off in the spring of 1941.

Rado learned that Swiss intel was about to arrest him. He left the country with his family in tow, he wasn’t going to spend the rest of his life in jail, or more likely in front of a firing squad.

Suddenly, Jim Foote, the double agent, as a result of this, was being overwhelmed with intelligence from Berlin and the Soviet espionage networks in Switzerland.

Moscow didn’t fully trust him; especially given the voluminous information he was sending. The leadership in the Soviet Union demanded to know his sources, which he refused to reveal.

When he wouldn’t reveal where he got the large pile of data, his transmissions were ignored. Even his invasion warning was written off as garbage.

Once the invasion took place, exactly as described, he had instant credibility. If only they had listened sooner.

Roessler continued to supply intel that permitted Stalin to stay one step ahead of the Germans. Now, if only his superiors would have listened sooner.

This is the challenge with the intelligence organizations. Which information is good and which is junk? If they had realized how solid his intel was earlier, how many lives could have been saved?

Now, you may think these things never happen in the modern world with all of the information we have at our fingertips. But, look at all the warning signs for 9/11/2001. Had we connected those dots and believed the right sources we might have prevented that attack, and how many lives could have been saved?

As a P.S. to this post. I was researching this time in history for an idea I had for an Historic Thriller novel. If you are a history buff, like fiction novels, and want to know more about the WWII actions in the Pacific theatre, you may enjoy my book China Bones. It can be found on Amazon (click on the words China Bones).

Unexplained Mysteries of WW2 by William Breuer – Dress Rehearsal for Pearl Harbor?

William Breuer was a military historian with more than two dozen books to his credit. He passed away several years ago, but his work is still with us, and continues to fascinate readers.

He had a deeper knowledge base of the war than most writers, and it wasn’t just the big battles. He had details on little things that might have turned the tide on any given day than any other historian to the best of my knowledge.

He wrote a book called Unexplained Mysteries of World War 2 that contains a ton of stories about events that have not been fully explained across the intervening decades between that horrific period in history and now. One of those was about an event that occurred long before the war. It happened in China on December 12, 1937. This one, or so his theory says, could have been a test run for the attack on Pearl Harbor.

People tend to forget is that before the War the United States had troops in China. They had been there for a variety of reasons and pulled out before Pearl Harbor. Mostly we knew the position would be taken over, and the men killed or imprisoned if we left them in place.

On that fateful December day, a Lieutenant Mastake Okuyama led a squadron of Japanese Imperial Navy bombers flying up along the Yangtze River. That river is some 3,100 miles long that eventually empties into the Yellow Sea. At that point in time it was used primarily for transportation of goods and people to get out of a number of cities into the open ocean for movement to the rest of the world. At the same time the bombers were going up that river the USS Panay (a U.S. Navy gunship) was going down the river.

Normally the Panay had one job, protect US shipping on that river from pirates that tended to raid other vessels of anything valuable. On this day there was a Lieutenant Command James J Hughes serving as the Captain of the vessel which was equipped to fight pirates, not bombers. The ship was also transporting U.S. citizens out of Nanking which was under siege by the Japanese military. It had four U.S. Embassy officials, five refugees, and a number of western journalists on board. The picture of this boat going down the River was obviously one of U.S. activity given the giant US flags flapping in the wind off the bow.

Now, before we get into what happened there is something that must be revealed. In 1927, Japanese military leaders decided that armed conflict with the United States was inevitable. At that time they put together a top secret plan called the Tanaka Memorial which was their plan for military conquest of China and for that eventual war with the United States. Might that have had something to do with what comes next?

If you read our book called China Bones you can find a very dramatic telling of what happened to the Panay. The result was that it was sent to the bottom of that river.

Recall that there were reporters on the ship. They showed that the attacking aircraft came in so low that there was no way, based on the direction of their attack and the placement of the US flags that the Japanese pilots could have not known the Panay was a US ship.

As the Panay started to sink, to make matters a little more intriguing, a Japanese ship came up on the Panay and opened fire on the already doomed ship. Once the Panay was evacuated the Japanese sent several officers on board looking for equipment or top secret documents in a quick search of the bridge.

Over the next several days the survivors and wounded form that ship had to hide, and travel on foot across the Chinese countryside looking for safety. Again, this ordeal was shown in the historic fiction novel China Bones.

The day after the sinking of the Panay the Japanese military went into the city of Nanking and launch a barbaric bloodbath the likes of which had not been seen on the planet for hundreds of years. Even German military who witnessed it were shocked in their reports back to Berlin. In that attack more than 250,000 Chinese men, women, and children perished. It was an attack that came to be known as the Rape of Nanking.

To make matters worse, a number of days later, a Japanese officer was quoted in the news as saying he had orders to open fire on the Panay.

Was the attack really an accident? Was the attack planned?

Well, William Breuer offers up an alternative theory.

Perhaps this event was a test. Perhaps, just perhaps, it was a trial run for Pearl Harbor. Ok, now we know, Pearl Harbor had much larger Navy vessels, and a lot greater ability to respond but the ability of our military to fight isn’t the theory.

Perhaps the axis powers wanted a way to see what the US would do IF the US was attacked. Perhaps they wanted to be able to attack our forces and take out large amounts of equipment and the result would be public condemnation of the attack, and not a counter attack as we did not counter the attack on the Panay.

Maybe that was the idea, but history knows that we did indeed respond to Pearl Harbor and the rest, as they say, is history.

How would Aliens view us? Edgar Rice Burroughs told us a century ago

I was recently taking some time to read for pleasure. That is something that I don’t get a chance to do often because, well, work, kids, and I’m sure I can come up with a dozen more excuses, but they are just excuses.

When I was a kid there were loads of UFO stories that flew around. Now, they don’t happen as often thanks to modern technology. People understand what is flying around above them.

However, that doesn’t stop me from thinking about what any alien race who landed on (or observed) Earth would think about us tiny little humans.

So, there I was, reading a very old Edgar Rice Burroughs Novel and footnoting it thanks to some of the archaic language (I know, I’m a nerd).

Mr. Burroughs said the following: “human life has come to be considered but lightly on Mars, as is evidenced by their dangerous sports and the almost continual warfare between the various communities.”

In full context, the Martians tend to live for around 1,000 years. They were able to do so because they had wonderful medical care, and never fought wars. They viewed us as more than a little strange because we had a tendency to do these things, and as a result, kill off the strongest, smartest, and youngest members of our species. As a result, we were basically considered a lesser species.

Looking at our news lately I see much of this. We have wars, we have people saying bomb those people over there, kill these people over here. It is just something we have grown used to. Let’s not worry about it anymore, it’s only some missiles or a drone!

Yes, we should be concerned. We should consider ways to have men stop killing each other.

Chapter 1 of my Novel – The Last World War Volume 1

Some people have asked if they could read a sample chapter or two of some of my books. I will start to put some on the website.

This particular book can be purchased in Print, on Kindle, or AudioBook over on Amazon.com:

 

 

Chapter One

The Pelindaba Nuclear Research Facility, South Africa

 

Captain Frank Banner looked around the airplane as they prepared to parachute into a hot landing zone. This was his Special Operations Team, his first command, and as such, it was a team he was very proud of.

He couldn’t believe just how calm the men remained. He was their leader, yet he drew strength from them. Here they were, about to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, parachute in to a foreign country, probably get shot at, and all of that at any moment. It amazed him more and more with every mission just how calm these guys could remain in the pre-insertion moments.

He couldn’t help but notice that this plane was a little older than their usual transportation. It didn’t matter. While sitting in the back, waiting to jump, all they needed was for there to be a large empty place to wait. This one came with fold down seats along the sides of the aircraft, which was a real plus, so it served their purposes just fine. This was not a plane designed for comfort, it was designed for utility.

They were given this assignment because they were the most geographically logical choice to a totally unexpected hot spot with the necessary skills, and ability to rapidly respond. That alert had come in from Africa Command, or AFRICOM, a mere ninety minutes ago. The only thing the team had been told at the time was to get on board the plane, with full combat gear, and be ready to jump. Once in flight they would receive an additional briefing. Being good soldiers, they followed those orders to the letter.

That briefing had been very brief. The voice on the radio had said that there were at least ten armed men inside the Pelindaba nuclear research facility in South Africa.

The reactor facility, or so the person conducting the briefing had said, was like almost every other nuclear power facility on the planet. Why that was important right now Frank didn’t know, but the briefer felt compelled to throw that fact into the discussion.

Essentially, the facility had a nested series of defenses that were supposed to prevent this sort of thing from happening. It also had a number of different shielding structures that would prevent radiation leaks in case of an accident. Those radiation shields would also stop non-armor piercing rounds. That was a double edge sword for this mission. The team could protect themselves behind those structures, but currently there was an enemy already using them as a protective barrier.

Captain Banner couldn’t help but ask the briefer if they could just surround the facility and wait them out, assuming they could use some of the local friendlies. Apparently, doing so would give the bad guys time to induce a radiation leak that would kill everyone for miles. The only advantage they had was that there was obviously something inside that facility that they wanted to get away from there with still intact. Otherwise they would have already blown the place up. The latest intelligence claimed they had already gotten into the facility far enough to gain access to radiological materials, it was assumed that was their reasoning behind the hostile activity.

In other words, in order to accomplish their mission, they had to come out at some point. That was one bit of good news. That assumed they could get on the ground and in position before the invaders could make their way out with a treasure trove of nuclear or radiological bomb making materials. It would be spectacularly bad news if they couldn’t get down there soon.

Frank couldn’t get the question Sergeant Fisher had asked during the briefing out of his head, “Why did any of this matter to the United States, or are we on this as a ‘help a friend’ mission?” This was not normally the type of question a soldier would ask, but it was not without purpose. It was intended to see if this was a serious response or just a perfunctory “go try but don’t get hurt, or blow too much stuff up.”

This one turned out to be far more important than just a political response.

Way back in 2007 four armed men had entered that same facility and made, what was thought to be at the time, a poor attempt at making off with some nuclear material which they wanted to use to build a nuclear bomb. This research facility had some experimental refining capability to make the high purity materials needed to make some very dangerous devices. It was now the consensus of the intelligence agencies in the loop of the current situation that the incident had been a test run in preparation for a real operation. It may have taken almost a decade to finish planning, but tonight could be that operation. If those materials, or worse, the plans for the refining capabilities ended up on the loose and in the hands of the wrong people, it was very much something that needed to be stopped for the sake of every nation on the planet.

The briefing had referred to the group of approximately ten armed men as “alleged terrorists.” Frank always had to chuckle at that phrase. He never cared about guilt or innocence in the court of law sense. His job was easier than that. Once bullets started to fly it was much easier to see who was a bad guy and who was an “alleged” bad guy. These particular “alleged” terrorist were already firing at the local security team, and therefore had graduated to actual terrorists in the mind of everyone on the airplane.

These allegedly bad guys were especially bad, as well as dangerous ones. They wanted to build a nuclear weapon in the worst way, and they seemed to be happy with just one. A nation that wanted hundreds of these weapons, in Frank’s opinion, wanted them as a deterrent to prevent an attack against their populace. A group that wants just one, that group has a target in mind.

They had to be dealt with before they could escape the facility, and disappear from sight.

Frank suddenly noticed just how rough the plane ride was becoming. No one on his team would ever complain. Special Operations Units dealt with all manner of harsh conditions while doing their jobs. Frank knew, as did everyone on the team, that this could be the most important mission of their careers. In one way, a real global balance of power could shift based on the results of what was happening on the ground at that very moment. If they were only allowed to get on the damn ground and get to work. So far they just kept circling. It was like a giant aerial circle jerk.

If a terrorist group, or terrorist state, it was growing more and more difficult to tell those two apart these days, obtained those types of weapons, or even the material to make them, the result would be that a large number of civilians would die. If they did not die as a direct result of the bombing, then it would be as a result of the ensuing panic. Captain Banner could not figure out a way to understand why there was any sort of hesitation in letting them go in and try to prevent that from happening. Yet the pilot just continued to circle, with no signal for them to prepare to jump.

Somewhere up the chain of command someone was vacillating.

Frank’s headset crackled to life, “Captain Banner, Warrant Officer Choi. We have been on station for thirty minutes, have you received any word on when we will go?”

“Chief, you know as much as I do,” Frank replied. The Warrant Officer was getting anxious.

“Roger that, Sir,” came the terse, yet professional reply.

Frank knew these men were all as professional as they came. For any of them to even ask the question spoke volumes of the pressure being felt by all.

He pushed the button on the intercom, “Major Wilkins, this is Captain Banner, any word from AFRICOM regarding insertion?”

“We have been told to circle and wait for orders from higher authority. We do have a SITREP. What little radio chatter we can manage to pick up from the ground is that there is an unknown sized force putting up some kind of fight larger than what we had originally been told to expect. Apparently, it is hard to tell who is who down there. Also, whoever is in there on the friendly team seems to know what we have in the area because they are asking for air support and troops. We have passed that word up the chain of command, and been told that it is all under consideration,” was the reply from the pilot.

Frank wondered for a moment exactly what “under consideration” meant but decided he would only get pissed if he knew.

“Roger that, Major.  How high up does this go?” he asked.

The airplane shook with turbulence. Frank barely noticed anymore. At that moment, his focus was elsewhere.

There were men on the ground under fire, and his team could help. The men under his command would all want to provide that help, no matter what the personal risk. It seemed like the decision makers were either incapable of taking a risk, or perhaps even worse, incapable of making a decision.

There was a stockpile of material at risk that could cause the death of untold numbers of men, women and children at some unknown spot on the globe. The fear of this type of terrorist attack had been around for years, and it was thought that there were many groups that if they came to possess one of those devices would target the United States Homeland.

He didn’t understand why there was any delay in them getting into this fight. This theft had to be stopped. The world was a dangerous place. It would get a great deal more dangerous if this mission went badly.

“Captain, I think this one is coming straight from the White House,” answered the pilot.

Excellent, a politician is micromanaging the endeavor. To make it worse, a politician who was having multiple political problems and was known to allow politics to drive all of his decision making. Wonderful, just wonderful. He wondered how long until the focus group decided if the jump would be popular or not? That was assuming the night’s activity ever became public knowledge.

“Assuming they let us in there, how hot of a landing will we have?” Frank asked.

“Our equipment can’t get really good visuals, but even from this altitude we can see obvious explosive flashes. We think they have been using RPGs, but which side is using them we can’t be sure. Those ten alleged terrorists appear to be bunkered down pretty well, or there are more than ten of them. We do not know if the nuclear material has been compromised but they appear to be well equipped with enough firepower to either hold that position a very long time while they search for it, or shoot their way out if they already have it. That is assuming the situation on the ground doesn’t change,” the pilot said.

“Thank you, Major,” Frank answered.

The flight continued in relative silence for another twenty-five minutes. The plane would shake, the plane would rattle, but it continued to circle. There was nothing to worry about from an equipment standpoint; everyone had their equipment strapped on tight since before takeoff. Everyone was ready to go, no matter how rough the ride, no matter how long they were in the air, or how hot the landing, they would follow him out the door.

The young Captain couldn’t take it anymore. He unplugged his headset from the intercom system and made his way forward to the cockpit. Once there he heard the pilot arguing with whoever was on the other end of the radio to let the team go in. He heard the Major say that there had been no anti-aircraft fire and they could get the team on the ground without risk to the team while in the air, or to the aircraft and crew.

Finally the pilot noticed Frank, “Well Captain, it looks like someone back in the land believes we should be living a risk free life.  Apparently you Green Berets are no longer allowed to get so much as a skinned knee.”

“I know you said the White House, but seriously, who is calling the shots? What kind of desk riding asshole are we dealing with?” Frank asked.

“Sir, as I have come to understand it, this one is coming straight from either the President or someone in the room with him,” answered the Major calmly.

“Well shit, let me revise my previous statement. I am sure that they know some vital piece of intelligence we don’t. Let’s follow orders gentlemen,” the men in the cockpit kept their bearing but all understood what he meant. They were just as tired of eternal political crap as all soldiers had become. Thiers was a life spent defending something. But, right now, there was someone wishing to do harm unto others, and they were in a position to stop it, yet someone was stopping them.

Without warning the radio came to life, the Major put a finger to his ear and turned to look at the cockpit visitor, “Looks like you and your men are finally going to get to go.  Three minutes, to jump, get in position.”

Frank made his way to the back of the banking aircraft, “All right men. Get up, we have work to do!”

The men stood, their combat gear still strapped to them. They made their way to the back of the aircraft, stacked up in the right order, and silently waited for the door to open.

They waited, ten seconds, then another twenty seconds passed, and finally the door opened. They needed no prompting, no speeches, they poured out of the plane with Frank in the lead. Everyone had their tactical radios on and operating from the moment the order was given to stand.

Frank was glad that he had one of the new helmet visors equipped with a heads up display similar to what fighter pilots used. It showed the exact glide path to take during a jump, and gave some navigational assistance once on the ground. If enough situational awareness was known to the satellite and drone network feeding data to the thing it would even superimpose the locations of the enemy to make the job that much easier.

He watched the altimeter numbers rapidly decrease, 4000 feet; 3000 feet, pull the chord.

Frank felt his entire body jerk as the main chute opened. The decent was still rapid but not nearly as impactful as it would have been without it. With the new parachutes, and that new nav system he could hit the center of a landing zone every time.

The landing point was a short half a mile away from the firefight. Frank could judge from the sounds, someone was definitely shooting at someone else with large caliber weaponry. Soon they would be in a position to tell who was who and what weaponry they were really using. At their current distance it was still impossible to tell.

Two minutes later the entire team was on the ground, silent as ghosts, and the men assembled on Frank’s position.

“I will take point with Sergeant Fisher. We move in at best possible speed, find the internal security force, who should know we are on the way by now, if they are still alive, and move in. Do not wait, if you see a tango, eliminate that tango at best possible speed. If they have managed to get ahold of the material they came here for it will be in a heavily shielded containers. Hand grenades, and rounds from small arms are known to be unable to penetrate those containers. From this point forward unless absolutely necessary we will keep radio silence,” he said. There had been an intelligence leak that showed anyone with access to the Internet how to triangulate the US Military’s position with some simple electronic equipment lashed together in the right order. What they said would be scrambled, but giving away their position was not on Frank’s to do list.

As they approached the nuclear facility they finally got a better look at the firefight in progress. It was impossible to tell who was where at this point. Neither group appeared to have taken notice of them on their decent or approach. Frank quietly hoped the security team would realize they were here to help and not open fire on the team.

The facility was a nested series of buildings, each one increasingly more difficult to destroy than the last. However, the outer layer of defense was a simple chain link fence with a single strand of barbed wire at the top. That was the only bit of good news that could be seen.

From there on in, it was thick reinforced concrete walls and solid steel containment buildings, depending on where in the facility the bad guys were located.

They set about to locate and secure whatever was left of the security office. It should have cameras monitoring every single room in the facility. From there it was possible that they could get lucky and see what parts of the facility were under the control of the tangos. Perhaps Captain Banner and his team could also determine if they were on the way in or out of the area.

When Frank made it to the main entrance of the facility he started to see the signs of what had been an intense firefight. From the amount of damage and spent rifle rounds, there were either more than ten guys inside, or those ten were a hell of a lot better armed than the intelligence briefing had indicated. Frank decided they should slightly slow the pace and exercise a bit more caution.

Everyone stacked up with their backs to the reinforced concrete retaining walls that surrounded the main reactor facility. Frank inched closer to the entrance and quickly took a look around the corner before pulling back behind the wall.

There were no tangos to be seen. He used hand signals to inform the team about the lack of danger from humans at this corner. Booby traps were always a concern. Knowing its better to stay stealthy as long as possible, they slipped silently around the corner, vigilantly scanning for traps, and into the compound sticking to the shadows whenever possible.

The door to the security building was thirty feet past this entrance. They closed the distance in seconds silently, not knowing what to expect inside.

Once inside they found the surveillance room was right where they were told it would be. Unfortunately, there had been a large explosive set off in the room and nothing remained that could be helpful.

Shit, Frank cursed, this whole thing was starting to go sideways. These intruders were covering their own ass. That meant they were not just off the street thugs, they were an enemy to be taken seriously.

An unexpected explosion rattled the building. It was followed by a large burst of automatic weapons fire coming from where the main reactor was, which would also be where the nuclear material could be accessed from storage.

As they made their way toward the firefight they could see what remained of the security team was pinned down behind a large storage container. The storage containers were forty feet tall, cylindrical, and with each passing moment becoming more riddled with bullet impacts. The attacking force was obviously more than the ten men the “intelligence” services had claimed. They had large caliber automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades at a minimum.

So far neither side seemed to realize that a group of newcomers was about to join in the fight with the violent precision only a team of special operators was capable of delivering.

Frank took up position behind the rusted front end of an old two and a half ton cargo truck that looked like it had been built in the 1940’s. He knew the truck would offer Sergeant Fisher and his own rear-end some reasonable protection. Frank watched and waited as the remainder of the team picked the best available fighting positions and angles to engage the terrorist, he corrected himself, “alleged terrorist” force.

Using a flurry of hand signals, he let the team know the plan. They would start firing as soon as he let the first round go.

Frank took careful aim at what appeared to be the terrorist’s heaviest machine gun position and swiftly pulled the trigger. The team opened up as one. They had joined the battle. It was time to earn their combat pay.

Bullets impacted three of the enemy positions. Concrete chipped away from walls, adding to the deadly projectiles that were flying around. The tangos stopped firing at the security team, obviously surprised by this new development.

The new incoming fire he and his team were putting out was far more accurate and heavy than what the security team had been able to produce. Two of the terrorist positions had stopped moving due to the initial volley. That left six known positions to deal with.

Frank took aim at the closest of those remaining and continued firing. Just as he pulled the trigger an RPG was launched from one of the flanking positions directly at one of the team’s locations.

He watched helplessly as the shot tracked towards two of his men. The position that two Sergeants had taken would not protect them from a direct hit. They were forty feet away and there was not a damn thing Frank could do, and he knew it.

The two men saw the RPG coming their way, turned and started to run, but by then, it was too late. RPGs were too damn fast. It hit and all that could be seen was a violent fiery explosion followed by dust, debris and a fine red mist that had once been men under Frank’s command. His teammates, his friends, now dead.

They continued to return fire. They all knew what could happen. They would mourn the dead later.

Once the dust settled the only evidence that could be seen that there was once a living human in that location was a severed arm about ten feet away from the blast and riddled leg laying in a slowly expanding pool of blood. Small bits of unidentified matter were splattered against the walls. The bloody remains may not have been from the same person. Only time and DNA would be able to determine which body parts belonged to which of his soldiers. It was not the first time he had lost men under his command but it stung just as much each time.

Focusing on the battle, he looked up to make a count of how many terrorist positions were left. They were down to three.

There was no good way to get a clean shot at any of them. They had elevated, shielded positions. They had put themselves in a fantastic defensive spot. It was the position Frank would have chosen if he was trying to perform their mission. He touched Sergeant Fisher on the shoulder and pointed to the door of the building the tangos were holding and signed his intention to take the fight to the terrorist. Sergeant Fisher indicated he was ready with a thumb up and a feral smile. This is what they lived for, doing damage and harm to those who would do harm to the good people of the world.

He sprinted for the door with Sergeant Fisher right behind him. Their hearts beat faster with each step as they ran. They went up two flights of stairs to the level the enemy fire was coming from.

A right down a long hallway, then a left, and they could hear automatic weapons fire coming from at least two of the rooms. The sounds of battle were so loud it was hard to tell if it was two rooms or three. Perhaps the men on the ground had taken one more of their positions out, maybe they just couldn’t hear anything because of the continuous ringing in their ears.

Frank made his way to the first of the doors and braced himself behind the wall for a quick second. He stood, kicked in the door, and burst in the room with Sergeant Fisher right on his tail.

Without a second thought, they quickly dispatched the two men firing out the windows with short bursts to the back of their heads from their M-4s. The bullets entered clean enough, but exited taking the front half of the terrorists’ heads with them. What was left of the tangos fell to the floor with a very disturbingly loud wet sloppy sound. The walls of the room were decorated with blood red mosaics complete with chunks of grey matter that was starting to slowly slide down the walls leaving deep red gelatinous streaks in its wake. These two were down. They did not even have to double-check them. The faceless men were now crumpled on the floor, blood still flowing from the mess that had been their heads. To make matters worse for them, the other body functions relaxed and the smell of feces intermingled with blood and cordite.

In the room was an array of weaponry. There was an older Russian model PKM machine gun with bipod mount, a small stack of RPGs and a launcher. With all the firing still going on, it seemed the short in-room gunfight went unnoticed by the other tangos.

It was obvious they had two more rooms to clear. Frank looked at Sergeant Fisher, “Let’s get the other two rooms clear and end this.”

They could hear another RPG being fired out of one of the two remaining rooms and into the compound below. It was most likely aimed at the other men on their team. This had to stop!

Sgt Fisher yelled over the sounds of battle, “Sir, I can handle one of them alone, if you can handle the second.”

Frank knew it wasn’t the way they were trained to do these kinds of things, but he also didn’t want to lose more men. They had the advantage of coming in behind them so he decided they could afford the risk, “You got it, Sergeant.”

He sprinted down the hall. The sounds of automatic fire could still be heard coming from two different rooms. Frank was behind Sergeant Fisher by a few steps. The Sergeant took the first room and Frank continued down the hall. His target was only two doors down. Once both soldiers were in position they attacked in unison.

Frank burst into the room, and fired at the first of two targets. His shots were well placed and lethal. The second target was in the middle of reloading and had been caught off guard. Frank turned his M-4, pulled the trigger, and nothing happened.

The weapon was jammed.

The tango instantly realized what was going on, and charged.

Frank threw the jammed, useless weapon to the ground. He went for his handgun but the terrorist was moving too damn fast, and had a wicked looking knife in his hand that was at least six inches long.

The terrorist plunged the knife at Frank’s face and he instinctively reached up to grab it. Its razor sharp blade ripped into the flesh of his left hand and cut deep. Frank let out a yell of anger and pain that sounded like it came from something that wasn’t human, but he was sure it came from him.

Frank pushed back on the knife and saw blood pulsating in streams like a water fountain with every beat of his heart. He knew the knife had at least nicked an artery by the way that pulsating fountain kept spraying out onto the floor. If he didn’t end the fight soon he knew he ran the risk of bleeding to death.

He got his legs underneath him and threw the smaller man across the room, where the man hit the wall with a sickening thud. Adrenaline had to be doing most of the work as Frank’s muscles were tired and the blood loss was making its presence known.

As Frank’s world slowly compressed inward, he pulled out his pistol and put ten rounds into the tango’s head ending the confrontation.

Frank sank to the floor and put as much pressure on the wound in his hand as he could. He knew that he had to stop the damn bleeding or he was in deep shit. A few seconds later Sergeant Fisher came in the door. Thank God he was one of the team’s medics, and appeared to be in good health after his own brawl with the terrorist from the room down the hall.

Frank suddenly realized there were no more sounds of a firefight. He looked down and saw that his uniform was soaked with his own blood.

Sergeant Fisher knelt down beside him. “Looks like you have a little boo-boo, Sir” the Sergeant said as he calmly pulled out a medical kit.

“I think he fucked up my hand,” Frank said, indicating the now dead terrorist and knowing that shock would start to set in if he didn’t get the injury dealt with quickly.

“Well, I think I can fix that, just don’t go all crybaby on me,” Sgt Fisher said getting to work.

Five minutes later the bleeding was stopped, the hand was wrapped in bandages, and Frank was holding it close to his chest. Sergeant Fisher retrieved the jammed M-4, cleared and reloaded it for the Captain as they walked out of the building to rejoin what remained of the team.

Once outside they saw that aside from the two dead team members, there were only some minor injuries. At least they hadn’t lost any more soldiers.

The pair went over to where everyone had gathered with what remained of the internal security team.

“Sorry we ran a little late,” Frank said to what appeared to be the local in charge. “To the best of your knowledge do we have any more bad guys running around?” he asked no one in particular.

The tall man of at least six foot four inches answered, “No Sir, we don’t. You have done us a great favor. We were almost out of ammunition. If you guys hadn’t come along when you did more of them would have gotten away.”

“More of them?” Frank asked closing his eyes, wishing he hadn’t just heard that. “You mean some have already left the area?”

“Yes I am afraid they did. Four men with a truck load of nuclear materials.”

“Fuck,” he said thinking fast. “Does the truck have any kind of identifying marks?” Frank asked while trying to maintain his composure.  He was even angrier now about the delay inserting than he was mere moments before. These guys were real pros. They left a team behind to cover their escape.

“Unfortunately we don’t know the answer to that. It was a very generic truck. We have ten that look just like it at this facility alone. We lost track of it less than two minutes outside the gate, without getting a really good look at it. They even took out our cameras so we don’t even have it on video,” the man answered.

“So, let me get this straight, we have four or more unknown guys, on the loose, with no way to track them, and they have a truck load of some really nasty stuff. How much of that material could that truck carry?” he asked, afraid of what the answer might be.

“Hundreds of pounds, easily.”

“Wonderful,” was all Frank could say. Doing the after action report was going to make this a very long night.

“Mr. Choi,” Frank called to the Warrant Officer, “Can you call for our helicopter evac. We need to make a report, and this one needs to be in person.”

The Captain sat down. The stab wound was starting to send throbbing sensations higher up into his arm. This was going to be a very long night.

 

 

AP NEWS FLASH:  More trouble for the President today as polling shows him to be at his lowest popularity rating ever. The majority of Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction.

 

AP ECONOMIC NEWS:  The markets ended mostly flat today on light trading. Investors appear to be sitting on the sideline not wanting to jump into the market with uncertain economic policy direction coming from Washington. It is thought that the FED meeting tomorrow will answer some questions, which will allow investors to get back into certain, very specific sectors, such as technology and manufacturing.last-world-war-book-cover

Upcoming Novel: The Last World War Volume 2 – Chapter One

Matt pulled up in front of Shelly’s house and couldn’t get over the fact that it had been a year since they had become seriously involved. They had started dating at the end of their junior year, and now, as graduation approached, it was hard to believe all that happened and how it had changed their lives forever.

Watching the latest war unfold on television, was part of the series of events that made them grow emotionally closer very quickly. Luckily it had all taken place far from their front door, making it feel safe, but still so strange to watch. Wars were things that happened elsewhere in the world; they didn’t result in the destruction of American cities. It had been that way for so long that nothing but black and white photos still existed of the last war to happen on American soil. It was considered unthinkable until those attacks, but at least there had been no follow-on invasion.

Everyone could remember the terrorist attacks that marked the start of an active war on terror, but this had been different. Those attacks had tragically destroyed some massive office buildings and killed thousands of people, but that was considered small by comparison to this new madness.

Nukes going off on U.S. soil had always been a threat, but the threat had always seemed empty. It was the kind of thing petty dictators would say they were going to do when trying to get attention, but it never happened, no one even considered it a possibility since the issue with Cuba in the 1960s.

Watching the television news coverage of the affected areas, with all the dead civilians, changed their young world forever. It made it all that much worse considering Matt had lost his brother in one of those hellish fireballs. That had made him angry in ways he had never experienced.

Now they were getting ready to go to college. Matt and Shelly had agreed that because of all they had watched unfold, all that the world had been through; this love they shared was the one and only love they wanted for the rest of their lives. They would use this past year of loss, danger, and recovery, as the basis for a lifetime they would spend together, but that plan was their secret for the moment.

After the loss of Matt’s brother, Chad, in the attack on Detroit, Shelly had helped him as he mourned. That support meant a lot to him. He would miss his brother for the rest of his life, but the thought of Shelly now in his life made it easier to cope with Chad’s loss. Matt had been on the verge of trying some very foolish things to dull the pain.

They were both glad that the United States had fought back and won the War. The other side had suffered staggering military casualties while sparing the civilian populations and had unconditionally surrendered. Matt, like so many Americans, had thrown a party to celebrate. It was like he could finally say his brother had died for a reason. Now perhaps there could be decades of peace in the world, and terrorist attacks could become a problem of the past.

He got out of the car and headed for the door. Shelly came bounding out before he was halfway up the walk, and threw her arms around his neck, “A year, can you believe it?” she asked.

Matt took a step back to look at the young woman he loved. The look of her blonde hair shining in the evening light, her athletic build, and tonight of all nights, wearing her “comfy jeans” as she always called the threadbare cutoffs, accompanied by a bare midriff t-shirt.

“It seems like so much has happened; like I have known you my whole life. You have kept me sane through it all. I have a surprise planned. You ready to go?” he asked with a devilish grin.

“Oh, I like surprises, let’s go,” she said with a flirtatious smile.

While out hiking with some friends Matt found an excellent spot where you could park, take a walk in the woods and watch the airplanes take off out of Bangor airport on their way to someplace better than the middle of nowhere Maine. Seasonal tourists might love this place for the view, and he enjoyed that as much as anyone, but growing up here it didn’t seem that special. However, all of that leaf covered scenery would offer some privacy for a romantic night.

Matt always loved it when his dad let him borrow the convertible. There weren’t a lot of months it was useful in Maine, but he still enjoyed it. He had the top down, and Shelly’s long hair was blowing in the wind. It made her look even sexier than normal. The way she looked was causing a rush of hormones as they parked the car and headed into the woods for their walk.

As they finished their walk, the sun was about to disappear for the day. They had no interest in such things as they sat in the backseat; they consumed one another. It had started side by side talking about graduation while holding hands. Slowly their talking stopped, and the kissing began. Matt didn’t know when and didn’t care how, but Shelly wound up straddling his waist as he felt like he was about to explode. The hormones were now raging, and he wasn’t sure he could control things long enough to get to the finish line they were both hoping to reach.

Shelly stopped abruptly. She eagerly looked down at him and slowly removed her shirt, then her bra, exposing herself. The sight of her is what he had been hoping to see all day.

He had been too distracted by the sight of her bare breasts to notice the man in jeans and a t-shirt with military gear strapped to his body. The man grabbed Shelly by the hair and dragged her from the car as she screamed wildly as much from pain as shock and fear. Matt watched in disbelief as the man threw her to the ground and kicked her in the stomach as he shouted in guttural tones.

The man had two partners who grabbed Matt by the arms and brutally dragged him from the car. He landed hard on his back with a huge rock digging into his spine as three men started to kick him in the face, back, chest, in any exposed area until his head was spinning from pain. He could feel bones crack in his chest; the favorite target of the savage assaults.

Matt was on the ground half naked and bleeding from more places than he could count. Blood had run into his eyes and mouth. Every time he tried to move there was a searing pain in his chest, left arm and right leg.

He made a huge mistake by looking at his arm. It seemed like a white stick was poking out of his forearm. Blood was dripping down his fingertips. It took him a minute to realize that was his bone sticking through the skin. At first, he couldn’t believe it, then he panicked and was certain he was going to die.

He watched helplessly as the largest of them stalked back to Shelly who was trying to crawl away, screaming hysterically. The men laughed as one of them grabbed a handful of her hair and pulled her as she kicked and screamed around to the front of the car.

The largest of the assholes threw her onto the hood of the car hard enough to dent the thing into the shape of her body. One man pulled out a huge knife and cut her pants until he could easily rip them from her body. Her screams grew louder and more desperate as the metallic blade slid along her skin. Matt wanted to help, but he couldn’t move. Every time he moved the pain would make his vision go fuzzy.

The largest of them loosened his pants as the other two moved to the sides to hold her down. Knowing what was about to happen Shelly bucked wildly trying to break free. She did not want him to be able to put that thing sticking out towards her from a massive mound of bushy black hair into her, at least not without a fight.

They were too strong for her. She was exhausted from the struggle, but she continued to kick, getting weaker and weaker with each attempted strike. Finally, with a little luck, she managed to connect with some soft part of one of the men, and he let out a surprised scream. She had no idea where she hit him, but it gave her hope. She doubled her efforts, lashing out with renewed energy. The injured man stumbled back and fell to the ground. One of the others laughed and grabbed her by the hair then beat her head against the hood of the car until blood ran into her eyes. Two of the men held her left arm out as the third, who had finally recovered somewhat, kicked it at the elbow shattering it and leaving her arm useless in her fight.

Matt could only watch in horror as blood sprayed from her mouth in all directions while she let out an inhuman scream.

The man who had fallen to the ground after Shelly kicked him, picked up a large rock and returned to the struggling young woman. He bashed her in the leg with a rock making her leg snap as the knee bent backward.

Shelly lay barely conscious across the hood of the car after the beatings and having her arm and leg broken, as the men took turns raping her. With each violent thrust, they would punch her in some new spot; stomach, kidneys, face, chest, it didn’t matter where. They were on a mission to inflict pain and humiliation.

The largest of the men flipped her over, so she was face down. With no consideration, he stuck his dick out and shoved it in a body part that was designed for an entirely different function.

Shelly could no longer offer resistance. She could barely manage painful groans as she tried to cling to consciousness. It seemed as though every inch of her body was throbbing in pain. Blood seeped out of cuts as she sobbed uncontrollably. She finally managed a look at Matt and could see that even with his leg was bent the wrong way and, his arm evidently broken, he was trying to make his way to her.

She saw him vomit blood then collapse to the ground. She wasn’t sure if he was alive or dead.

It was at that moment she knew she was going to die. She also knew she didn’t want to go down without a fight.

The largest man picked her up and threw her back down on her back on the hood of the car. She let out a primal scream. With the little strength she had in her left she spat blood into his eye and yelled, “Fuck you pig!”

In a fit of violent lust, he stuck his dick into her then bashed her face with the rock. All three men laugh as her skull was crushed and dark, spilling out thick fluid in every direction. Strange pieces of tissue littered the area as her body went into death spasms. Matt had to watch in horror as this unfolded, unable to move. He saw what he thought was rice on the ground, but then realized they were her teeth.

He vomited more blood. Matt could still not move. He was in too much pain. He had to lay there and watch as all three raped her lifeless body. She was dead and would feel no pain, but Matt’s rage boiled. He was 20 feet away and could do nothing. His ribs felt like they were going to break through his chest.

He could only watch as they violated her dead body over and over.

The men, having finished with the girl, walked back towards Matt’s prone body. They decided one last blow to the head was in order and Matt lost consciousness.

 

***

 

Matt faded in and out. He was only half aware he was being sodomized. His mind had shut down after what happened to Shelly.

The men were finally finished and dumped Matt to the ground like a bag of trash. It was only then that Matt became aware of the sounds of large truck engines starting. Then he noticed the noise of scads of people moving around somewhere down below. Apparently, this was not a couple of random guys out for kicks. He guessed that the war wasn’t as over as people thought.

 

***

 

Matt wasn’t sure of the exact time he passed out, or what time it was when he woke up, but he knew that he had to stand up. As he looked around the area, he saw his dad’s car was gone. He was on his own, with a broken body and no transportation. Slowly the memory of what happened came back, scene by scene. He searched the area for Shelly, hoping it had all been a dream. He found where her body had been. There were some large paw prints and a blood trail. Some animal must of have taken her body off as a meal.

Matt couldn’t believe any of this.

Was he dreaming?

No, this was real.

He got to his feet, slowly. He had to get out of the area. He had to let someone know what happened.

Who would believe him?

This sort of thing just didn’t happen here, not in the United States, and certainly not in Maine.

Three guys come out of nowhere and brutally attack two teenagers, killing one of them and leaving the other for dead?

How could this happen?

Why would this happen?

Matt started moving as fast as he could. By remote control, he slowly pulled up his jeans from where they landed during the attack. His shoes were missing. He was still bleeding from multiple wounds but had to find someone and tell them what happened. No matter how much as he wanted to lay down on the ground and sleep, he knew he could not. His injuries could wait; someone had to know what was going on out here before someone else suffered like Shelly did.

Barefoot and bleeding, with stunted unsteady steps, he started off down the dirt road. He took no notice of the sharp pricks of rocks and broken glass cutting into his already abused feet.

An hour later Matt was slowly walking up a country road. He was near exhaustion. He hoped someone would stop, and then he hoped it was the right person.

 

***

 

Sgt. Greg Spoker and Specialist Aaron Little had received their calls to mount up into an armored Hummer and head off to a remote part of the country to report anything unusual happening. As they drove along the country road, they talked about how they were at least glad it was not another trip to Afghanistan or Iraq. Both had done several tours over there and did not relish the idea of going back.

Little had just popped open a soda can and lit up smoke when something caught his attention.

“Hey, Sgt Spoker,” Little said, “slow down and load up. I see something about 500 meters up on the right.”

The Sgt. slowed the vehicle to a crawl 250 meters out from what looked like a “zombie” slowly shuffling along the road. Both men raised their weapons to the ready, with their fingers off the trigger, but not far away, and scanned for threats, sarcastically hoping to each other that the “zombie” wasn’t a real one.

As they neared the person one arm began to wave them down, “Stop where you are,” Little yelled wondering the hell was going on.

Sgt. Spokers got on the radio to call in the “unusual activity.”

Specialist Little looked through his rifle scope to see the frightening image of Matt, “GET THE MED KIT AND CALL A DAMN AMBULANCE!” he screamed.

“Aaron,” Greg said, “What the fuck is it?”

“It’s some kid. He is seriously messed up; someone worked him over just like the Iraqis used to do to uncooperative local prisoners.”

Little grabbed the medical kit and ran to Matt. Sgt. Spoker was frantically talking on the radio looking for help, “Headhunter Base, this is Ghostrider 3 Alpha Over.”

“Ghostrider 3 Alpha, this is Headhunter Base, go ahead, over.”

“Base, 3 Alpha, we need casualty evac at,” looking over at the GPS on the dash he read the coordinates.

“Casualty is a teenage male, severe blunt trauma. First Aid initiated, but we will need higher care before we can move him back, over.”

“3 Alpha, this is Headhunter 6, say again your last. Do I understand you have a casualty, over?”

“6, this is 3 Alpha. Roger on last. One civilian casualty, priority evacuation is needed. First Aid started, but the kid has blunt force trauma, open fractures, and looks like he may lose a leg if you don’t get that evac here now, over.”

“Evac being called. Secure the area, treat casualty to the best of your ability. Keep whoever it is alive, we need to know what the hell is going on. Intelligence coming our way is confused, at best, and contradictory at worst, over.”

“6, 3, roger, out.”

Specialist Little slid to a stop as he ripped open a medical kit. Sgt. Spoker was moving the truck forward to shine more light on so they could work on the injuries.

“Shit, where is Doc when you need him? 0This kid is messed up. I can stop most of the bleeding, but he has so many broken bones I don’t know where to start,” Little said to no one in particular. He had already bandaged some of the head wounds and was working his way down the body trying to prioritize the worst injuries first. Looking at the open fracture, he just immobilized the arm and moved on.

Sgt. Spoker was moving around with his weapon at the ready, looking for trouble when he saw footprints along the road. Kneeling down, he flipped on his tactical light and noticed the bloody prints.

“Aaron,” he called out, “check the kid’s feet and tell me if he is bleeding.”

Little moved to the feet and recoiled in horror. He had seen people, friends as well as enemies, blown up; but never in his life had he seen as much damage done to a human body part as there was on the kid’s feet. At least not while the person was still alive. The only thing his mind could see was ground up beef, ready to be made into burgers on the weekend.

There were bits of twigs sticking out of Matt’s feet. His heels were down to the bone in multiple places. There was torn flesh just dangling off in multiple directions. One toe was missing from what appeared to be the result of Matt dragging that foot behind him.

He put tight bandages over both feet as fast as he could and said, “Just save your energy man, stop trying to talk. We have an ambulance on the way. You are massively dehydrated on top of everything else. I am going to start an IV and start getting your blood levels back up.”

Sgt. Spoker kept patrolling the area while Specialist Little worked on Matt as fast as he could. They could hear sirens in the distance and a large helicopter thumping its way towards their position.

They both knew this was not the training exercise they initially thought.

What the hell had happened?

The War was supposed to be over, but something about the situation said it had come home…again.

 

 

AP NEWS FLASH: There are unconfirmed reports of a foreign military invasion in the state of Maine. These reports are scattered and varied. There is no video, photographic, or audio evidence of these claims. The Governor has activated the National Guard, who is currently patrolling the regions of these reports. <STORY DEVELOPING>