Saturday, June 9, 2012

On the Eve of Hammerfall: Chapters one and two

 (Author's note: Just having fun here, for those poor souls who might be interested there are two other stories in this series. "Falling Up" and "At the Turning of the Page".  As I have noted at the other stories, this series is inspired by two fake documentaries concerning what we would do if aliens did invade, like I said, I'm just having fun. Oh yeah, chapters three and four already exist.)


Chapter One



Despite centuries of nicely crafted and self-centered assumptions about how wonderful and intelligent we humans are our only real talent has been the ability to slaughter each other like mindless insects while our various tribes believed they were the chosen people of some invisible god. This existence served humanity well as long as our numbers stayed small and our technology little better than primitive muskets. Unfortunately, as our numbers increased and weapons made quantum jumps in efficiency our morals and principles stayed the same as those we had while living in caves forever fearful and ignorant of everything that lurked just outside the light of our fires.

In modern times decades of space exploration by various national governments sought to expand humanity’s knowledge of what lay out in the dark beyond our world but only a very few took notice of the hints that the universe might be filled with life. In underdeveloped regions of the globe, the greater mass of people had a daily struggle to survive; they had little time for such abstract notions of life beyond the Earth. For those who lived in the First World the majority chose to submerge themselves in banal pursuits that gave them a narrow view of anything outside their interests.

All that began to change in March of 2024 when the military of the Russian Federation, People’s Republic of China, and the United States became aware that not was their territory being violated by UFO’s but that they were attempting to remotely tap into highly classified computer networks. The incidents were each slightly different but the militaries of those nation reacted the same. Unfortunately for the intruders, they were caught inside the boundaries of strategic military facilities and they paid a heavy price as computerized defensive systems trained sophisticated radars and missile batteries on them.

The UFO over a Russian strategic rocket base was utterly destroyed with the use of a tactical nuke leaving them just radar and video images to study. The Chinese, using newer systems were luckier and brought theirs down but the craft was heavily damaged and the crew killed. The United States through sheer chance was able to shoot down their intruder down without severely damaging the vessel and were rewarded with two aliens emerging and destroying several blocks of Norfolk, Virginia before two Apache helicopters put an end to their rampage.

How did humanity handle this less than advantageous first contact situation? For several days, there was a certain panic but when no further alien ships appeared to beg forgiveness or seek revenge humans incredibly went about their business as if it was nothing but a movie. Sociologists were not really surprised, years later after all the dust was settled and the alien menace defeated they published countless papers on how it was implausible to expect humanity to adjust their myopic view of the universe so quickly. They further explain that what we as a species survived was nothing less than a massive evolutionary challenge that ultimately changed us all for the better and that each individual had to adapt in their own way. I cannot speak for anyone else but for me it began with a phone call in the middle of the night. 

***   

When a phone rings at four o’clock in the morning, the possibility of it being good news is extremely low. If you want to get technical about the best it can be is a wrong number with the caller lost, broke down, drunk, in jail, or some combination of the four. Unfortunately, for me there was a strong chance that the person on the other end was one of my family members back home in Alabama calling me for those very same reasons wanting money. During those years after my retirement from the Air Force and before the invasion, I had disentangled myself from both them and civilization in general.

For several seconds I laid in my comfortable bed looking at the phone on my nightstand hoping it was the theoretical wrong number and that the caller would realize he or she did had not dialed their best friend, brother, wife, or parents but some poor fool who did not want to be bothered with their problems. When the chirping stopped, I breathed a sigh of relief only to hear it start back up ten seconds later. Sitting up in bed, I reconciled myself to answering it, already contemplating how to nicely tell whatever family member on the other end that I was deeply sorry about whatever situation they were in but I frankly did not give a rat fuck. When I glanced at the number on the small screen and saw no name or organization associated with it, I automatically knew the situation was far worse than a simple family problem.

“Hello,” I said sheepishly after raising the phone to my ear.

“Major Andrew Jamison?” the caller asked in a business tone that suggested nothing good.

“I’m retired but yeah, that’s me, what’s the issue?” The caller remained silent for several seconds, enough to raise my opinion to a near certainty that a major load of shit had hit a huge fan.

“I have been instructed not mention the issue over the phone but is your location ten miles west of Vidal, California on Old Parker Road?”

“I figure you already know the answer to that question but yes, you’ll have to make a right off Old Parker and go two miles further down a dirty road to reach my cabin. When can I expect you?” I finished already planning on what I was going to pack.

“We will be there at sunrise, be ready for an extended period of time away from your home. Have a list ready for a follow up team to take care of your belongings.  As of right now per National Emergency Act 2001 you are officially back on active duty.” The voice said before abruptly hanging up the phone.

Resigning myself to dealing with military assholes again, I sat on the side of my bed for several minutes trying to figure out what the Hell the United States government had done now that it was having to reactivate a tired old man back into the Air Force. Had I not been a curmudgeon I could have turned on my television or radio and heard the news that two days before a real unidentified flying object had strayed too close to Langley Air Force base, been shot down only to have two aliens then emerge and go ballistic with their weapons before being killed themselves. 

Sick of the unadulterated propaganda of lies and neatly spun half-truths offered up by the news media and nauseous of what passes as entertainment I had spent the last six years since my retirement limiting my exposure to the outside world to a few hours a month. It was a deeply engrained habit by the time of the phone call. I had cocooned myself in numerous activities like writing for scientific journals, exploring the desert area I lived, along with spending nights under the stars with my telescope.

Not that I would have believed the story to begin with, I had spent the last few years of my military career part of a secret investigation into supposed alien spacecraft doing all sorts of crazy shit in American and allied airspace. I remember reading the orders at my desk after receiving them thinking it was a punishment for bucking the neatly structured system of graft and outright fraud. Despite the cliché of the squeaky wheel getting the grease in reality what happens is that it gets replaced and tossed aside.

For most of my career, namely after my one marriage ended disastrously, I had pissed off numerous congressmen, lobbyists, and corporate execs with my bitching about how they were the tail wagging the military dog. My protests had crossed too many lines first getting me knocked off the list for astronaut training, then busted from flying F-15 Eagles, to permanently pushing intelligence report papers at an earthbound desk. Only my combat duties from Bosnia to the first Persian Gulf War along with a series of well-placed friends with higher rank and far better attitudes had allowed me to make it to retirement.

Much to my surprise I found out that the UFO assignment was not punishment but one of my friends pushing me into a position that was sure to keep me safe until I crossed the twenty-year line. My Air Force Academy doctorate degree in theoretical physics got me the job and along with some advice to enjoy the expense account. For once, I obeyed and traveled all over the world interviewing assorted hoaxers, freaks, and the truly delusional.

During my years chasing alien gooses I had never investigated one incident that shown any evidence of extraterrestrials visiting Earth. But for once I did as I was instructed and kept my mouth shut, lived off Uncle Sammy’s paranoid tit, while traveling to some fantastic locations all across the planet. In fact, I so enjoyed the assignment I  stayed an extra two years  until some bean counter cut off my funds and the fun. After that I bought my cabin in the middle of nowhere and told the rest of the world to kiss my ass.

As I puttered around my small home waiting for the sunrise and getting ready for unwanted visitors I was so convinced that the mysterious phone call had something to do with world war three I did not once even consider the possibility little green men from some damn place had finally showed up.  When you believe the United States government is nothing more than a mentally challenged bully suffering from paranoid delusions and control issues you tend to discount its constant need to find a boogieman to scare Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Public into going along with all sorts of crazy shit.

As the sun began rising over the nearby mountains, I sat at my kitchen table sipping a cup of coffee while reveling in my nicely nurtured cynicism about institutionalized overreaction and stupidity. That was about the time I heard the thump of a helicopter landing in my backyard, which suggested I might have underestimated the possible problem we faced. I had expected a nondescript military sedan pulling up to my front door with some underachieving and nervous lieutenant knocking on my door asking if I was ready to leave.  What I got was a HH-60 Pave Hawk stirring up a ton of dust and dirt with two heavily armed Air Force pararescue guys running for my backdoor.

If I had not gotten up and met them at the door I swear they would have kicked it in. “Major Jamison,” the senior ranking PJ said to me just off my doorstep, “we have to leave now. Where's your duffel?” I pointed to it sitting in an old rocking chair and before I realized it the senior PJ was physically pushing me to the chopper while the other had my small collection of belongings. After I was thrown inside the Pave Hawk, it immediately lifted off and turned northward. Looking at the two PJ’s and seeing the real fear in their eyes I finally had to find out just what in the hell had happened.

“Sergeant, just what in the fuck is going on?” I asked the senior PJ after slipping on a flight helmet and connecting the cable running from it to the on-board intercom system.  The two Air Force special ops guys, who had already done the same, looked at each other with utter astonishment replacing the fear I first saw on their faces.

“General Mitchell said you had taken yourself off the grid,” the Technical Sergeant said as he opened up a nearby bag mounted to the interior fuselage of the chopper, pulled out a computer tablet, and then handed it to me. “He prepared this so you could be brought up to speed. He also said to get ready to use that rocket scientist degree Uncle Sam bought for you because the shit has really hit the fan.”

I didn’t hear the PJ’s last words because I was already reading the reports and watching the videos wishing like Hell I disconnected myself from the world far better than I had.

Chapter Two

Our destination was Nellis Air Force base in Nevada with the Pave Hawk pilot landing the helicopter very close to a small Air Force passenger jet waiting for my arrival. My two PJ buddies quickly hustled me inside the jet then ran back over to the chopper and were gone in under a minute. I barely had to time to buckle my seatbelt before the jet was speeding down the runway and in the air taking us towards Andrews Air Force base outside of Washington. The flight was real fun because the small jet was packed with West Coast civilian eggheads all clucking like overactive chickens about the downed spacecraft and the dead aliens. I kept mostly to myself, except to bitch to the crew chief about the lack of liquor on board. The enlisted twerp just smiled and offered me a coke, which forced me to tell him where he could shove the damn soda can.

 “You seem less than impressed at recent events.” A voice next me commented.

I turned in the direction of the voice to see a nice looking forty-something lady with brunette hair, blue eyes, and dressed in a classy business suit sitting across the center aisle of the plane. “Sorry,” I said while shrugging, “I was in charge of Uncle Sammy’s investigation into little green men for several years and before that I was deeply entangled with that paranoid bunch working out of the Five Sided Funny Farm in DC. Excuse me if I withhold judgment on what could be a genuine interstellar incident with a very advanced technological civilization.”

“So you prescribe to the theory that we attacked what amounted to a stealthy reconnaissance of our planet before a possible first contact?” She said looking at me with eyes so full of intelligence I felt uncomfortable for the first time in years.

“Yeah, if I were to bet money right now I’d say we probably shot down and then killed Spock and his science team.” I replied honestly then briefly introduced myself.

The lady smiled with little real emotion and reached out to shake my hand. “I’m Cynthia Parker, I was part of NASA’s theoretical exobiology team until two wars and tax cuts for billionaires forced budget slashing to the point they had to fire my team and me.”

“If you don’t mine me asking where does a person go after losing their job guessing what E.T. looks like and eats?”

Cynthia smiled at my question, “I packed up my belongings, including my PhD and linked up with several others on my team and started a genetic engineering company. That was back in 2007 but last year we made close to two-hundred million selling weight reduction drugs that barely work. I’d rather be working for NASA but I guess I can’t really complain. I do still harbor a serious grudge against the military and most politicians.”

“For what it’s worth I’m sorry,” I said. “If it’s any consolation I cussed out a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee right after the Iraq War started.”

Cynthia seemed amused by my statement, “What happened after that?”

“Well, various ass kissing friends of the senator tried to kick me out of the Air Force for my remarks but the worst thing that happened was that a huge group of morons nominated the senile old goat for president in 2008.”

Cynthia opened up after that and we began talking about the implications of the bloody first contact incident. She did not share my cynical attitude that the American, Russian, and Chinese militaries had let their terrestrial-based paranoia overrule commonsense by firing on a vastly more advanced species. If their intentions were peaceful, she suspected that each of three events could have been avoided if only the aliens had kept away from very sensitive military bases.

I countered by saying that the aliens may have been testing us. A more intelligent and peaceful species probably would have thought better before letting the missiles fly. Especially the Russians who I discovered from the information on the computer tablet the two Air Force pararescue guys had given me had shot down their interloping flying saucer with an air defense missile equipped with a tactical nuke.

Cynthia and I were wrapped tightly in our own conversation when the guy in the seat in front of me turned around interrupted us with some news that neither of us knew. “Sorry to butt in,” he said, “my name is Roger Clarke, I’m a cyber security systems specialist from Oakland but I just learned something before I boarded the plane. Each of the alien spacecrafts were trying to break into the computer networks at the bases they came close to. They tapped into the wireless networks at each base paying special attention to weapons capability, biological warfare defense, and command structures. The main reason the aliens were discovered was because they had to get very close to the wireless servers to tap into the networks.”

Well now, without even trying the computer geek had just stopped all the talking in the plane with every clucking egghead acting like a chicken that had just seen the front door of the Kentucky Fried Chicken processing plant. All the time I had been talking with Cynthia she had seemed confident and very assured of herself even though she believed the aliens were hostile from the start. When I looked into her eyes after Roger told us what he had learned I now saw real fear, even worse, I felt it myself down to my bones. I wasn’t the only one, the little crew chief twerp heard it as well and was upset enough to break out the hidden stash of bourbon.

After landing at Andrews we were quickly rushed off the plane by a squad of Air Force security types decked out in full combat load and carrying M4 carbine assault rifles with rounds in the chambers forever answering the question on the proper way of herding uncooperative cats. A large bus was waiting for us on the runway that after the eggheads, Cynthia, and I boarded rushed everyone to a nearby building. All the while, I watched the security forces riding with us and saw several fearful glances out the bus windows directed towards the sky. After years of watching the American military strut around believing their shit not only smelled like roses but that everyone else in the world should want to rub their bodies in the stuff it was very disturbing for me to watch them visibly shaken to their core.

(Just because I already have it on my hardrive this story most definitely will be continued.) 

16 comments:

Ravens said...

And then? And then?
Like it so far, keep on scribbling, or typing or whatever.

Ravens said...

BTW - thx for the comment on my blog

Windsmoke. said...

I'll be back for the installment :-).

Beach Bum said...

Ravens: Will post chapters three and four sometime this coming Friday. After that I have no idea where I am going with this.

No problem, I've been real bad about keeping up with the flash fiction crowd, I work nights and lately I come home dead tired.

Windsmoke: Thanks!

Akelamalu said...

Looking forward to the next instalment. :)

Beach Bum said...

Akelamalu: Thanks! It really is a problem for me when I have no decent ideas but somehow have the time and want to write something.

Pixel Peeper said...

Count me among those who are looking forward to the continuation. If Chapters 3 and 4 already exist, why are you making us wait until Friday?

I know, I'm impatient... :-)

Suzan said...

My comment on the country lately.

southern Alabama was a placid and unchanging paradise of stability while for me it was a stifling and suffocating place of ignorance and superstition.

I'm so glad you're still writing. We need your voice, and your fiction will undoubtedly provide you with the way out (of the SC madness).

Love you,

S

P.S. Did I fall off your blogroll for some reason?

Beach Bum said...

Pixel: LOL!!!!
Very few people read long blog posts much less the insane brain droppings from a marooned beach bum.

Chapter four does need some basic reworking but I should be able to post both Friday or Saturday. It all depends if I have enough free time to get some work done.

Suzan: Too true.

I've been rearranging a bunch of stuff on the left side of my blog. I deleted a bunch of old blogs that have not been updated for months. Accidentally got yours, will correct the mistake.

Red Nomad OZ said...

OK, here's the deal ... YOU post the next chapter/s (however many it takes) and I won't be forced to take extreme measures!! This is FAAAAAABULOUS!!!

Randal Graves said...

YOU KILLED SPOCK YOU BASTARD.

Why do I get the feeling that this isn't going to end well.

Life As I Know It Now said...

As usual, you write stories that grab you and won't let go :)

Suzie said...

Patiently awaiting the next 2 chapters. Your stories are so fun!

Beach Bum said...

Red: Thanks! Just having some fun and blowing off steam at the same time.

Randal: Yeah, but Spock always seemed at little to smug.

Life As We Know It: Thanks! Almost have chapter four ready. Then I go vacation Sunday which will have me posting pictures.

Suzie: Thanks so much!

Mike Williams said...

Good Stuff, I need to get off my ass and start writing again. Loved this:

"but the worst thing that happened was that a huge group of morons nominated the senile old goat for president in 2008"

I wish they had nominated him in 2000 instead of the other guy.

Beach Bum said...

Mike: I actually liked the 200 version of McCain very much. I was especially embarrassed for South Carolina for what the senator had to endure here during the primary.

His character was criminally slammed in this state for months. Bush/Rove knew he was held in high regard for his service during Vietnam by the huge number of veterans that have retired here.

My issue with McCain began with his reversal of his saner policies and his adoption of George Bush's. The straw that broke the camel's back for me was his picking of that ignorant Alaskan Barbi as a running mate.