Sunday, December 2, 2012

Final Peace on Earth

 (Author's note: Excuse the typos, did this in a hurry and will correct later.)

Those few left with some interest in human history and the state of civilization had long since classified the era I was born into as the Age of Fear. Both people and nations based their whole existences on whom or what might be lurking around the corner or hiding in the night ready to cause them harm or take some of their precious possessions.

On an individual level for those that could afford it in the United States this dread took the form of true gated communities complete with twenty-foot high fences around the entire perimeter of paranoid neighborhoods and private guards. For those less fortunate, namely those living in urban settings, survival required some sort of alliance with gangs, which were usually as vicious to those they were suppose to protect as it was to their enemies.

Nations were even worse, by the mid-2030’s the world was a seething mass of complicated alliances and pacts with so many lines drawn in the sand that the smallest ethnic or religious incident regularly threatened to send everyone over the brink. Increasing scarcity of vital resources like oil and fresh water along with massive swings in climate producing an escalating number of destructive super storms only made things worse.

In an attempt to protect their interests and allies, the United States government kept twenty-five aircraft carriers, along with the required support ships, at sea each brimming with sophisticated warplanes ready to launch at a moment’s notice. The Chinese had twenty-three similar vessels and they and the United States Navy played a dangerous game of chicken in the world’s ocean with lesser powers either joining along or nervously watching on the sidelines.

For decades pundits and politicians told us in America we had to be prepared to defend democracy and our freedoms and to do that meant even more weapons, tighter security here at home, and eternal vigilance overseas. But armored tanks, stealthy submarines, and sleek jet fighters cost hundreds of millions if not multiple billions of dollars requiring sacrifice from patriotic citizens who could learn to live without decent roads, schools, or health care.    

As our perpetual war machine readied for new conflicts the masses would mindlessly parade into churches during Christmas and Easter to pray for peace. It was all a grand production fit for the finest stage play. The pastor would stand high on his pulpit in his expensive suit with his arms raised pleading for guidance from God in hopes about bringing goodwill on Earth. The parishioners would sit in the pews with men looking at best somber but more than likely bored with the whole affair while the women just tried to look dignified. Even as a child I could tell the preacher was mouthing the words while the others were just going through the motions and that when they returned home they would continue watching their favorite news outlets and root for the defeat and death of those they were told endangered their way of life.

My family was no different but in many ways my brother Jeffery and I were lucky. Both my mother and father were attorneys employed by an important law firm in Atlanta and were able to keep the illusion of a sane way of life for most of our childhoods. We lived in an exceptionally nice suburb that boasted a community pool and even a park all within the security perimeter. It was not until our teenage years when Jeffery and I began sneaking across a weak spot in the security fence that we realized our way of life was the exception.

The woods on the other side of the security fence fascinated all the neighborhood kids. But it was Jeffery who found the drainage pipe going underneath it that allowed us both to act out our games of being commandos or super spies. Each time we delved deeper into those woods until we came across the collection of dilapidated homes that made up a far different way of life for those that lived in them.

“Thomas,” he whispered as he lay behind a pine tree, “come look at this.” I crawled on my belly through the mass of fallen leaves to stay in my playtime role as a special operations soldier. When I pulled up beside my brother, I got my first glimpse of American squalor. Years later I would realize those ramshackle houses at one time had been decent homes belonging to families like mine. But as conditions in the United States worsen to the point the infrastructure and economy collapsed those who lived there at that moment were not far removed from people living in filthy slums in the most desperate places on the planet.

When Jeffery and I returned home, we asked our grandfather about those people. He had been a congressmen in his younger years and to us he was the wisest person we knew. “They were takers,” he sneered, “all of them wanted special gifts and favors from the government. It was a tough fight and we did things I’m not proud of but after the election of 2016 we took our country back and now they are forced to live by their own means.”

Jeffery accepted our grandfather’s explanation and went up to his room to play his new virtual reality video game. To me, granddad’s answer did not add up but I was in no position to challenge his word or investigate further. Cocooned in our specially protected and privileged world Jeffery and I lived out our childhoods in a pleasant ignorance.

Adulthood brought new challenges and duties, for Jeffery it meant a military career. He achieved his lifelong dream of going into combat and saw action in Central America barely a month out of training. From then on for him, it was one military theater of operation after another and five years later I lost contact with him after he was dropped into Australia to help repel the Indonesian incursion.

My path was very different. My teachers discovered I was something of a math genius and I earned many awards all through elementary and high school resulting in a free ride at the best universities paid for by various military contractors wanting first shot at a new and gifted engineer. My math abilities proved to be everything my teachers and corporate benefactors wanted and after I earned my doctorate, I was hired by one of the largest producers of missile systems in the Western world.

I was not at my job a month before I started hearing rumors of super secret projects that guaranteed American victory in all our conflicts. All of that talk of super weapons was highly improper but the corporation we worked for had us living on a secure compound and no matter how hard they tried people cooped up like prisoners eventually started running their mouths to pass the time. Of course I was skeptical about all those rumors, but I did enjoy the fact that all pretenses of hoping for world peace had been dropped, the powers that controlled the country no longer crouched their desire for global dominance in empty, meaningless words.

Global tensions only worsened until it became apparent by every living person on the planet that the fear and paranoia could not go on further for much longer, something had to break. I lived out my life alone and in my office balancing equations and solving design issues on a missile that cost more money than I thought could exist. News about China sinking two American carriers off the coast of Alaska brought me out of my stupor and sent everyone else running with several of my bosses whispering time had finally come for Aurora Glory, a code name for one of those talked about secret weapons projects. Figuring if the world was about to end at least I would be vaporized instantly since I lived on a military base that was a primary target.

Still months passed as both the United States and China danced around each other wanting the other to throw the first real blow. As December approached, I found myself forcibly posted at a forward military base in Poland working on the missile system that was supposed to guard the skies from Russian and Chinese fighters. It was a difficult weapon system to operate and the military technicians had convinced their leadership the contractors should be called into fix the problems.

My third week there the balloon finally went up with all major military powers going to war. The airspace over all of Eastern Europe filled with missiles and jet fighters exploding along with armies battling on the ground. While I was never part of the Aurora Glory project the name alone suggested something extraordinary and the night it was loosen on the world my base was under assault by Russian and Chinese airborne troops.

Even though I was a civilian weapon familiarization was a requirement for everyone and on the second night of the attack I had joined the fighting but found myself separated from my group and taking cover amongst a row of mobile high-voltage transformers and deactivated electrical generators. I stayed low and underneath a huge, trailer-mounted generator looking out towards the runways of the airbase. Unbelievably, another group of transport aircraft were dropping what looked to be a brigade-sized airborne force. Hours before my group had briefly linked up with a squad of infantry troops whose passed the word that an relief force of NATO troops were massing to repel the attack. I had to figure that if they did not arrive on the scene soon they would be too late.

It was then that I noticed a strange grow in the sky and figured NATO leadership in Brussels had decided instead just to nuke the Polish base and call it even. Realizing there was no need to fight the coming blast I crawled out from underneath the generator but kept myself concealed amongst the transformers. The sky continued to brighten until it was a brilliant orange; it was a speculator light display far greater that the natural aurora borealis that had terrified and entertained people since our traveling ancestors left Africa. I could tell from the reduced sound of the fighting that the even the enemy had noticed.

Right when it began to fade that was when I started to feel the squeal inside my head. The pain was so intense I fell down and instinctively huddled against the metal side of a transformer, within seconds I had passed out from the torture. The next morning was bright, sunny, and incredibly, deathly quiet. The silence was damn bizarre and curiosity itself forced me to investigate. It was then as I walked amongst the aftermath of Aurora Glory that I was able to piece together the vague bits of information I had heard over the years about its true nature.

Thousands of soldiers, both enemy and ally, were sprawled on the ground. They were not dead, I could see from the movement in their eyes and shallow breathing they were very much alive but they were totally unable to move in any fashion or even speak. As long as I live I will never forget to utter fear and silent pleading in the eyes of those condemned soldiers.

The laughing boys back in States who whispered about this project said it was the ultimate weapon for use in a small area but as the days went on, I learned that for some reason whether on purpose or by accident, the entire planet had been pulsed. Being a smart boy myself, I was able to figure out that a network of communication satellites my corporation had a part in developing had been fitted with special nuclear-powered devices. Once the decision was made those special devices were trigged it charged the Earth’s own magnetic field to emit a certain frequency of electromagnetic pulse that could short circuit certain critical parts of the human brain.

Why did I come out unharmed? I can only figure that the collection of high-voltage transformers I was in the middle of had diffused the pulse and shielded me. About the time I realized the use of Aurora Glory was planet wide it was Christmas morning and I about lost my mind over the incredible irony. After centuries of empty and hypocritical prayers for peace on Earth the fact that it had finally arrived in such fashion suggested a divinity with a real sense of humor. 


lime said...

merry apolcalyptic christmas!

Windsmoke. said...

You certainly paint a bleak future indeed. I don't think there will ever be peace on earth when you have religious nutters and the like running around killing people and blowing up everything in sight.

Pixel Peeper said...

This is the stuff nightmares are made of!

So...was he the only person in the entire world unaffected by "the pulse?" This story could go on, with him finding a few others.

Cloudia said...

Nah, the world and everyone in it is making a sharp turn to the light!

Wishing YOU a sweet week,
with Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral

~ > < } } ( ° >

> < 3 3 3 ( ' >

><}}(°> ~

Red Nomad OZ said...

I just hope you're not a prescient prophet!!!

Beach Bum said...

Lime: Saw some Indian-American dude on one of the cable news channels talking about how instead of cutting defense we were going to have to increase it all through the 21st century. Can't remember the guy's name but he wears clothes worthy of a GQ shoot and has a bald head. Imagine an Indian-American Lex Luthor with a taste for fashion and that is him. A real nut job.

Windsmoke: I believe you very well may be right.

Pixel: I sort of picture "Thomas" being all alone in Poland if not Eastern Europe. The reason for the planet wide pulse instead of just a region? Once again I have to picture operator error.

Cloudia: Human advancement is a piecemeal endeavor subject to pitfalls and blind alleys. I hope we avoid anything like this scenario but given the people I live around its going to be close.

Red Nomad: Me too!

Life As I Know It Now said...

As our perpetual war machine readied for new conflicts the masses would mindlessly parade into churches during Christmas and Easter to pray for peace.

Indeed, this is pure insanity.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

When I first started reading this, I thought you were writing a post about yourself, and I was thinking, No, MY childhood was the age of fear. (HA!) Really, we had air raid drills a couple times a week in school, children dropped to the ground in terror when an airplane broke the sound barrier, and people talked about building bomb shelters, and intellectualized who to "let in" to that shelter when the worst happened. I like to think that the world has progressed beyond those days of paranoia and demonizing of the "other side", but it hasn't come very far at all, has it? Good, thought-provoking (scary) story. More, please.

Mr. Charleston said...

Walk the straight and narrow boy, or you're toast.

Beach Bum said...

Life As I Know It: Yeah, it's crazy.

Susan: Like I said to Lime, saw some well dressed, Indian-American jackass going on about how scarey and dangerous the 21st century was going to be. His only response to his fearmongering was even more defense spending now matter what.

Mr. Charleston: The folks around where I live already think I'm a strange hippie-type.

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

Whoa, this sounds way too realistic!