SHOOTING STAR – PART VI

“STAR STRUCK”

[WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINS]

U.N. HELICOPTER #1: Helo Fox to Base, come in!

U.S. AIRBASE: Lion to Helo Fox, go ahead!

U.N. HELICOPTER #1: Helo Fox to Base, we are about two mikes out and have both packages on board.

U.S. AIRBASE: 10-4! We will have personnel on the ground awaiting your arrival.  See you when you get here!

U.N. HELICOPTER #1: 10-4!

During the whole flight from downtown Raleigh to their final destination deep in the West Virginia mountains, a make-shift airbase, Vince fell asleep from the exhaustion and his mind just being overwhelmed.  With just under a minute to land, he begins to wake up and adjust his eyes to the soldiers inside the cargo bay with him.  He quickly notices that they all have transformed in front of him, neither one of them are wearing their gas mask, but he quickly realizes that he’s having slight issues breathing.  He goes to scratch his face and hits hard plastic on his cheek area, and quickly begins to feel around his face and notices that he is wearing a gas mask himself.  Vince begins to freak out and grabs the closes soldier to him by the blouse and starts to become aggressive by tugging and pulling.  Just as he realizes that he can take the mask off himself, the attempt becomes quickly squashed as the soldiers grab his arms to keep him from removing it.  The fight continues in the back of the helicopter and grabs the pilots’ attention when the helo starts shaking and the commotion in the back gets very loud.

One of the pilot’s starts yelling through his headset to the soldiers in the back, but gets no response.  Unable to unbuckle to check on what is happening, one of the soldiers respond on their headset, ‘situation is under control’.  Almost immediately after the soldier said that, Vince was struck in the midsection and flipped on his side with his hands bound behind him.  Vince tries to scream through the gas mask, but his screams and words were muffled.  Just as the helicopter touched down on the helo pad, several medical personnel rushed towards them and quickly grabbed Vince out the cargo bay, threw him on a stretcher and wheeled him into an awaiting ambulance.  Christina’s helicopter lands a few seconds later and although she doesn’t see what happened to Vince, she knew something wasn’t right.  With her hands bounded in front of her she was more cooperative and didn’t fight with the soldiers escorting her to another awaiting ambulance.  Once Christina enters the rear of the emergency vehicle, she is strapped down, gas mask removed and feels the ambulance speeding away with the siren blaring.

In a few quick minutes, the ambulance that Vince was in pulled into a bay and the doors quickly opened where more medical personnel were stationed in full body chemical suits.  Vince’s gas mask was removed and the sweat started to pour from his forehead as they escorted him to another part of the facility.  Halfway through the escort Vince was cooperative and making smart remarks about the situation until he saw that he was going to be quarantined.  This just sparked up the aggressive fight once again, but with limited range of motion with his arms still bound behind him.  Knowing this he starts to use his shoulders and his body weight to shove off the medical staff, and for a few seconds he was gaining the upper hand.  He even kicked one staffer in the groin and just watched the man fall to the ground in pain, holding himself, but the joke was on him.  Vince received a strike in the groin from behind and unable to use his hands to hold himself, he tightly closed his legs together and dropped to his knees.  Coughing on his knees, he hears boots being walked from behind to in front of him.  Looking up he sees a purple haired woman standing in front of him, but that vision went black when he was knocked out by a boot kick to the face.

Christina’s reaction when she saw herself being escorted to a quarantined room was of some fight, but she was quickly overwhelmed.  The back of her hair was grabbed and pulled severely to the point of her falling on her back and then stomped in the midsection.  She was quickly rounded up and shoved in the room and didn’t know she was next to Vince until a few minutes later.  She heard this strange knocking to her left and someone calling out to her name when she realized it was Vince in the next quarantined room.  Due to the thickness of the hard plastic make-shift walls surrounding them both it was very hard to hear words, and reading lips was somewhat of a challenge.  Neither one was very good at it.  With nothing to write on in their room communicating back and forth was very frustrating, but Vince’s attempt to tell her something was interrupted.  He hears unzipping and air being released from the door being opened to his room.  Turning around he sees two medical personnel standing and looking at him.  Not knowing who they were he stares at them and gets sense that these two in the room are of importance.  He walks up to them within a few feet and breaks the awkward silence.

VINCE: Who are you people?

DR. MELINDA: I’m Dr. Melinda Jones and this is Dr. Phil Marks. We are with the CDC.

VINCE: CDC, huh?! What the fuck is going on? Why did you bring us here?

DR. MELINDA: Mr. Green. You and Mrs. Smith were located in an extremely contaminated zone and radiation poisoning is very likely. We will need to run some tests on you both to make sure two are not in extreme danger, and if so we will need to know how to treat you.

VINCE: Treat us, huh? It probably wouldn’t matter anyway since we were out there for a very long time and most likely we will die.  If so I would just ask that you let us die in peace and with less pain as possible.

DR. MELINDA: Once we know how much radiation you have been exposed to we will understand better of how to treat you. There is usually no cure for radiation poisoning, but the best we could do is to help you live better with the issue.

VINCE: We’re both part of the presidential campaign team so we would ask for transparency in this treatment.

DR. MELINDA: We planning on treating you two with such ideas in mind.

VINCE: Good.  So what is next?

DR. MELINDA: We need to draw blood from you and get you cleaned up, change out of those clothes and ask that you be patient with us.

VINCE: See! That’s what I like.  Respect and ask nicely you shall receive.  Not those assholes I was dealing with earlier.  Especially that bitch!

DR. MELINDA: They’re not my responsibility or under my command, but they can be a little heavy handed.

VINCE: A little heavy handed? Whatever…what do you need me to do?

DR. MELINDA: Strip down to your underwear and lie in the bed. We need to get blood from you and start that process.

VINCE: Sure. (Everyone just stands there looking at each other)

DR. MELINDA: Anytime you are ready.

VINCE: So I have to undress in front of you two?

DR. MELINDA: You don’t have anything that I haven’t seen already, Mr. Green. Besides stripping down to your underwear is all we need.

VINCE: I see. Well…I suppose I better comply.  Don’t want that purple haired bitch in my room.

DR. MELINDA: I would ask you to refrain from using that language here. Some of my colleagues might take offense.

VINCE: You rather…cunt?

[NORTHERN FREDERICK COUNTY, MD]

Just a few minutes outside of Camp David, Jennifer and Marcus start to try their luck by searching in the nearby woods for any dead animals to eat.  Not sure if any water source nearby is contaminated, they find a small stream flowing over the rocks and from their position it looks clean.  Marcus still not trustworthy of his legs, and now going around with a prominent limp, Jennifer crawls down towards the stream and as she gets closer her excitement rises.  She sticks her hand in the water once she reaches the stream’s edge, and the cold rushing water just pounding against her hand and flowing through her fingers, gets her excited and yells to Marcus that the water appears to be clean to drink.  Hearing the exciting news, Marcus yells as loud as he can back at the car to Luther and Brooke, who sigh in great relief of possibly drinking some clean water.

Marcus limps as fast as he can through the tall grass to find a container to fill it with water.  He gets about two feet from the car, and along with Brooke and Luther, hears a helicopter off in the distance and they can only speculate that it is near Camp David.  Filled with such excitement Jennifer doesn’t hear the helicopter in the distance until it gets closer and she pulls her head from under the stream.  She shakes her soaked blonde hair and strokes it back with her also wet hands as she frantically looks around to see where it is coming from as the noise bounces off the terrain.  Suddenly the helicopter appears above going in the eastward direction, real low and slow as if it was about to land.  Jennifer was able to get a look through the trees she was under at the helicopter flying low overhead.  Frantic and excited about the possibilities of being rescued by American soldiers she finds her way across the stream to follow the helicopter.  When it disappears behind a set of farm buildings and trees, she stops and immediately make her way back to the rest of the crew.  As she gets closer to them, Marcus looks at her with a curious look and asked her, “Who was that? Are they American?”  Jennifer looks at him and responds, “I’m not sure who that is! I just know we need to find out.”

Brooke shouts out, “What about water?! We are severely dehydrated?” Jennifer pauses after getting back in the driver seat, and tells everybody, “We’ll come back. I promise.  We need to find out if they will be able to help us.”  Luther jumps in as she pulls off, “If they can’t help us? Then what?”  Another pause by Jennifer before she responds to Luther’s concern, “Hopefully we don’t find out.”  She drives off and heads in a direction where she thinks the helicopter might’ve landed, which takes her down dirt and private roads bypassing old abandoned farm buildings and dead animals tucked away in the brush.  After about ten minutes of guessing where she thought the helicopter landed, Luther points out to her that he can see it through a set of thick branches.  Jennifer leans forward to see if she can spot it and she does when they break through a small clearing that doesn’t impede their vision.

Jennifer was able to find a spot that they could park in and hide themselves from being seen.  She pulls parallel off the dirt road and in a position where all four can see the helicopter about 100 yards into the grassy field.  While they are watching the crew of the helicopter mulling about doing whatever they are doing, Jennifer begins to ask a question to everyone in the car about who are they waiting for.  Finally, Brooke breaks the streak of silence and comes up with an idea of just going over there to at least get medical help.  This becomes a discussion between the four of them for at least a few minutes of what to do, who is to go, all four should go or neither should go.  After a few minutes of going at each other’s throats, Marcus makes a decision in a very determination voice to go over there and get help.  Making the argument that he isn’t sure if they will have another opportunity to get help.  Several minutes of hesitation looms over the situation and Jennifer makes the decision to drive over to them, but does it at a speed not to alarm and frighten the men.  Almost no matter what they do it will definitely strike up the alarm in the men.

Great anticipation and nervousness creeps through the car as Jennifer makes her way on to the grassy field towards the helicopter.  Coming from underneath the shadows of the trees, they just knew that someone would see them right away.  Anticipating being spotted at any moment, Jennifer moves ever so slowly towards the helicopter and is shocked that they haven’t been spotted yet.  Suddenly, they are approximately fifty yards away from the helicopter and someone opens fires on the car, which causes Jennifer to accelerate in shear panic.  Everyone in the car is screaming and yelling as rapid fire rounds pierce through every glass structure in the car, the hood and one tire blown out.  Even with heavy fire coming at them, Jennifer maintains control of the car and turns away from the helicopter to only find that she was heading towards a tree stump.  Turning away from the tree stump became impossible when both front tires were blown out and the car just slid through the grass striking the tree stump.  A very loud crash and scratching could be heard as the car went over top of the stump and crashing in place.  Although the rapid fire of rounds had stopped, they were not completely out of danger as Jennifer fruitlessly tried to start the car.  Male voices could be heard coming up from behind them and before they knew it, automatic weapons were being pointed at them with trigger happy soldiers.

Jennifer went to explain that they are just looking for help, but discovers the soldier at her door is only shouting at her in a foreign language; which to her is German sounding.  She pauses and glances at each one of them to see who they are and notices that each one looks German, but in a blue camo design unlike the U.S. Air Forces design.  Silence falls upon them and Jennifer becomes brave enough to ask in German, who they were and her response shocked her senses when one of them said United Nations Security Force to preserve stability.

MARCUS: WHAT THE HELL? THE U.N.?

END OF STORY

Next Publication – Part VII @ May 13, 2017

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SHOOTING STAR – PART V

“PATRIOTS MOURNING”

[RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA @ DUSK]

It has been at least a few hours since an American fighter jet was seen streaking at very low altitudes, about tree top level, through the ruined scenes of Raleigh, North Carolina, witnessed by Vince and Christina.  As dusk begins to take heed in the skies, Christina continues to struggle over the massive debris in the streets, weaving through burned out automobiles, and keeps fading back and back as Vince easily overcomes obstacles.  Unable to keep up and exhaustion overtaking her physical being, she yells out to Vince who stops in mid-climb on a truck and stands on the severely damaged bed.  He turns around and sees that Christina is leaning up against the frame of a car and breathing heavy.  He yells back out to her, “you okay?” and so exhausted she shakes her head side to side indicating that she is not well.  Frustrated to have to stop again, Vince takes his time getting down off the bed of the truck and navigates his way back to her location.  With dusk quickly approaching the air is getting thinner and beginning to get cooler, but neither one is prepared to spend the night underneath the stars.

“What happened to the jet?” Christina asked Vince when he gets within normal voice range.  Vince kneels down, feels for a fever and checks her injury on her leg before answering, “I can only assume that the pilot has relayed the information back to D.C. about the president of the United States, and they will send a rescue party.”  He makes a seat next to her and leans his back up against another car frame right across from her.  “Do you think we will ever be found? Will we ever make it out of here alive? Get back to our families and loved ones again?” Christina quickly stated to Vince.  He looks at her, glances down at his hands and responds, “We have to maintain a positive attitude and have the faith that we will be just fine.  I would like to say we might get rescued along with the president, but for all we know they might not be thinking about us.”  Vince takes a big gulp of saliva and then looks up into the sky at the early evening sky with a full moon getting brighter each minute.  In the middle of his stare at the full moon, Vince begins to hear a chopping sound to his right and struggling to make out what it is.

He whispers to Christina, but when he looks over to her he sees that she has fallen asleep from mere exhaustion.  Vince tries to wake her up as the chopping noise gets closer and closer, but appears to be unsuccessful in doing so.  He slowly stands up and as the noise gets closer, bouncing off the ruined landscape, Vince finally makes out what the noise is and looks in that direction.  Coming from behind a tall concrete rubble structure, two large helicopters appear, with their floodlights on for searching the ground below them, and as they fly overhead, Vince screams as loud as he can waving his arms in all directions to draw attention.  The helicopters, flying at tree top level, continue over his head towards the last known location of the U.S. president and vice president.  Immediately Vince starts to scream at Christina to wake up, as he shakes her aggressively, but slowly starts to come around.  As the choppers continue to fly away from them, Vince lowers his voice and gets Christina’s attention and tells her what has just happened.  Hearing the news about helicopters flying overhead wakes her up enough to gain the strength to get to her feet.  Once on her feet Christina begins to navigate through the very rough terrain they had did once already, but knowing that help has arrived she ignores the pain and fights through it.

Within seconds they lose sight of the helicopters and can barely hear them off in the distance, but they use the hope to keep tracking their way in the same direction.  Eagerness increases with every other step as they can hear the blades of the chopper getting louder and louder.  Voices could be heard along with tearing metal and radio traffic from around the corner of their present location.  Both get close enough to round the corner of a concrete post and spot the two large helicopters about two blocks down from where the president’s motorcade is located.  They smile at each other and get closer to the group of soldiers prying into the president’s vehicle, but that would quickly become a huge mistake.  One of the men spot them and yells at them through his gas masks, which was very hard to hear, but Vince assumed by the reaction of the men pointing their automatic rifles at them that they are to stop immediately.  With Christina leaning her weight onto Vince, he struggles to hold her up as he stands there wanting to drop her.  One of the soldier’s slowly approach them with their rifle pointed directly at them.  Christina and Vince stare at the soldier approaching them and they attempt to slow down their breathing as their heartbeat increases with the fear of the unknown.

When the soldier gets within a few feet of them, Vince notices a black inscription on the chest of the soldier’s olive drab chemical suit.  As he leans forward to get a better look at the inscription, his heart quickly drops from the surprise to see the U.N. on American soil picking up the president of the United States.  His surprise quickly turns to anger and for the moment of not thinking he rushes the soldier in the response to protect his leader, but to only receive a butt stroke to the side of the head, and he stumbles down to the ground.  For the time being Vince forgot where he was and forgot about Christina, who was able to maintain her own weight and rush over to aid to his injury.  She looks up at the soldier into the tinted glass of the gas mask, with tears in her eyes, and makes a request to save them as well.  Christina goes on to explain that they are part of the campaign team of the United States president, and that they can help them with anything they need.  During her explanation, two other U.N. soldiers walk up with their rifles at the ready standing slight behind the lead soldier, on both sides.  A few seconds later the other two walk up to her, on either side of her, and pick her up by her underarms and aid her to the waiting helicopters.  One more soldier comes up to help the lead soldier pick up Vince, who resists a little bit, but quickly goes quietly with them to the second helicopter.

As Christina is being lead to the first helicopter, she looks down to the second helicopter and sees the American flag draped over the bodies of the president and vice president while being loaded into the rear of the helicopter.  Once she climbs on the first chopper, she begins to let the tears flow as the reality of the situation has begun to hit her like a brick wall falling down.  Vince is guided to the second helicopter and sees the president being loaded on the same chopper that he is approaching, and the emotions strike his hard in the chest.  Emotions hit him so hard that he had to be almost forced on to the helicopter as the first one started to lifts off.  Just before he was able to grab a seat, the second chopper lifts off the ground seconds later and quickly thousands of feet in the air leaving the city.  Both Vince and Christina sit in silence, into their own minds, as they take it all in of what has happened, what is happening and what is about to happen in the near future.  As the helicopters streak quickly through the skies, over nothing but ruined landscape as far as the eyes can see, Vince sees two fighter jets accompanying them on either side with Canadian markings.  Life has just become very real!

END OF PART V

Next Publication – Part VI – April 29, 2017

THE CRAB DIARIES: HELL WEEK!

COLLEGE PARK (UMPD) & LAUREL, MARYLAND (HOME)

Being diagnosed with lupus is one thing, but living with the disease is a whole other situation. I can’t remember the exact time, but it might have been summertime of 2013, however, the one thing that I do remember is that it was definitely summer.  Living in the Mid-Atlantic region you are used to dealing with certain weather forecast and cultures, but even with some of the native locals they still complain every chance they get.  With this summer in particular, I couldn’t really blame anyone complaining since it was the hottest summer on record, or at least one of the hottest.  Unfortunately, this incident took place while I was at work on patrol and I don’t think anyone expected this swift storm, called a “Deracho”, to come through the area and cause mass problems in such a short time.  I remember being at work, this particular night I was on the evening shift I believe, and just doing my normal patrols around the city and campus, when suddenly it seemed like we were reliving the scene of the tornado swooping through Kansas in the Wizard of Oz.

A very strong wind started to come through the area, causing light poles and power lines to sway very noticeably. Then the rain started to come down very heavy and hard where your windshield wipers, even on the highest setting, wasn’t making visibility good enough to drive comfortably.  Suddenly, I started to see objects, which were not heavy enough and not secured to a solid structure, fly through the air, such as construction cones and trash.  In driver through this harsh mess of a storm, I made the decision to find a parking lot on campus and just stay there until it passed.  Some of us drove around the area with our emergency lights on so we would be visible until we all got to a safe place, which I think was broadcasted over the radio for us to do so.  As I sit stationary in one parking lot, near the Children Youth Center, one of the construction cones hit the passenger side of the cruiser and continued across the windshield through the parking lot.  In complete amazement, I continued to sit there watching the storm all around me as I felt the cruiser shake and rock a little bit.

As suddenly as it started, the storm ended and everything was calm once again. However, it wouldn’t be without consequences that the storm left behind in such a short time.  The quickest and strongest storm I ever been through, as far as I can remember at this point, caused numerous power outages throughout the D.C. area, including my apartment complex.  Thankfully, my wife was home at the time when this storm happened, but while the storm was going on she was sound asleep in the bed.  In other parts of the county, power lines and telephone poles were knocked down and strewed across roadways, along with trees, and it appeared, the thickest branches of those trees were causing horrible travel conditions.  I can’t remember if any cars in the area right off hand were heavily damaged, but if none were, then that was truly a blessing.  Normal patrols, I believe, were suspended as we had to drive around the city and campus assessing damages and what areas need our attention immediately.

With the damages that was done during this Derecho, most people were out of power for at least three days to a week, or maybe even longer. Our apartment complex was out of power for at least a week, and that sucked royally for so many reasons.  Thank God we didn’t have any family pets with us because it would’ve been a lot worse.  During the week of no power, the temperature in the apartment reached over 100 degrees, and every window in our apartment was opened as wide as it could be, but with no wind blowing around for that entire week, which seemed impossible, didn’t help at all.  My wife’s lupus anti-bodies began to work overtime, and each passing day and night her condition was getting worse and worse.  Her lupus made her body swell, joints extremely sensitive to the touch and constantly sweating with no break it seemed.  You would think at night the temperature would be low enough to make it feel cool, but even at night the humidity was high and the temps sitting somewhere in the mid to high 80’s; sometimes in the low 90’s.  However, the outside temperature didn’t matter because the sauna inside our apartment was literally killing my wife with her lupus just breading through her body like never before.

It was during this week also that the Marriott Hotel on campus was offering all the university employees, especially the police officers, a break in the daily rate to stay at the hotel for at least one to two days. Watching my wife over on the other couch suffering in this God awful situation, day in and day out, prompted me to check on that deal or we would end up in the hospital if she has to suffer through this one more day.  On a Saturday night while at work, I went to the Marriott and spoke to one of the employees there, who told me that at least 75 people are checking out the next day and that he will hold a hotel room for us to have.  I was so thankful for his generosity and for the Marriott allowing us to stay there for a night or two to regulate our body temperatures once again.  The news excited me that when I told my wife about it, she explained to me that she can make it one more night, but after that the hospital would be our friend once again.  Being in a position at first where I couldn’t think of anything to help her ease the pain and suffering, I felt much better knowing that for the entire day Sunday we would be in great shape.

The only positive glimpse we had during the week of no power, is while the power company was working on the busted up transformers and severed power lines, everything came on for at least ten seconds, but then it went out once more until that Sunday night/Monday morning. I was definitely happy to be in a cool and comfortable hotel room after suffering for nearly six days in the intense hot and humid apartment, but I was extremely happy to know that we avoided my wife visiting the hospital, which were apparently working at near max capacity.  Our overnight rate at the Marriott turned out to be only $35, which was a tremendous break from the normal rate at that time of $350-$400!!!  I got the employee discount rate, and was in good standing with employees there; however, shortly after that or before that Hell Week, our free dinners at the Marriott were stopped suddenly.  Most of us have suspicions on why that is and can probably point fingers at certain people for jacking that privilege up!!  My wife and I lived through that week without getting pissed off at each other and without arguing.  At that point in our lives, and through that situation, being good towards each other was our most important goal, and it worked.

We were not going to spend our week, or days, in the hospital once more because the lupus disease decided to kick in high gear! Everyone who lived through it lost tons of money in generator gas and the supplies of food in the refrigerators.  When you buy bags and bags of ice, which we had a very hard time finding some, seriously, and you pour them in the bathtub to keep food fresh and cold and the ice melts within a matter of a couple of hours, sometimes minutes, you know that inside your dwelling the temperatures are just brutal.  I hope to never experience anything like that ever again in my life, but if it does happen again in our lifetime, my wife and I will be much better prepared; we hope lol!!  After that week passed, some homes and businesses still had no power, but majority of the area was able to go on with their lives and look back into history to remember where they were when this quick, but devastating storm struck.  I don’t want this to sound like it was hurricane force winds and trees and telephone poles coming out of the ground, which some did, but it was bad enough to cause millions of dollars in damages throughout the area.

Once again this storm exposed the vulnerability of our infrastructure in this country, and that things need to be replaced, repaired and rebuilt as soon as possible. This storm also, once again, sparked up the debate that power lines and telephone lines throughout the D.C. area should be placed underground and out of harm’s way.  Knowing the area, this will take another twenty years, three more devastating storms and cost serious more millions of dollars in damages and hundreds of lives before they expedite the fixes.  Time will tell!!

Henry Scott

SHOOTING STAR – PART IV

“FORSAKEN”

[Northern Israel, town of Nazareth]

Almost immediately after the news was reported to the world that the western world has possibly gone off the map, and this includes the United States, the tension in the Middle East rose to an all-time high.  The most dependent ally in this region to the United States, Israel, immediately put their military and state militias on extreme high alert, pending and preparing for any attack that would be coming.  As it was expected by some global leaders, some of those that opposed the United States, celebrated and partied with hate chants and marches through their neighborhoods and cities.  Even amongst the crowds that are either gathered to show support for or against the West, this gave no illusion that as tensions rise in the region conflict is only minutes away.  However, no state or nation in the darkness part of the world, is prepared and ready to deal with what is about to happen next.

Some Israeli soldiers are conducting foot and vehicle patrols above ground while others are stationed in underground bunkers as reserve or special units for specific missions.  On this particular night it seemed awfully calm and quiet, but with the tensions as thick as a brick wall the soldiers are somewhat optimistic that any military conflict can be avoided.  During their underground standby orders, four soldiers are in one of the bunkers, guarding ammunition and classified information, and heavily engaged into a game of spades.  The men are yelling and screaming at each other in their native language, and some lingo was spoken in English, but others above ground couldn’t hear them arguing and laughing.  When the final hand was played, the two partners that won did some gloating and taunting over their over-joy of beating two other partners who were known to be the toughest to beat.

PARTNER #1: Well, well, well…what do you think about them oranges, huh??! (Laughs loudly afterwards)

PARTNER #3: Oranges? Do you mean apples?!…Such a damn goofball!

PARTNER #1: Apples?…Huh?

PARTNER #2: You were supposed to say how about them apples.  Not oranges.  You substituted one fruit for another.

PARTNER #1: Oh! Well…either way we (motioning with his hands between him and his partner) still won and that doesn’t change.

PARTNER #4: Come ‘on…another game…huh?

PARTNER #1: I’m tired.  I want to go to bed now.

PARTNER #2: Bed?  Come’on man!  You don’t have time for one more game?  We have nothing else to do.

PARTNER #3: Not like we can go above ground to watch television…you might as well as spend your time with us playing spades…come ‘on!

PARTNER #1: I’m tired…all the cards are looking the same…I can’t differentiate the difference anymore…I’m just tired and want to close my eyes for a few minutes.

(Silence drops amongst the four men)

PARTNER #2: Look…we understand this is difficult for you, to concentrate on your mission while majority of your family is still there in the U.S.  No one, I mean no one knows for sure what has happened.  I completely understand that you are scared and worried, but we have to make sure that you are here with us and ready to do your job when you get called.

PARTNER #3 & 4: We got your back! We have to make sure you have ours.

(Silence once again drops amongst the four men, as they look each other in the eyes waiting for a response)

PARTNER #1: Yes! Yes!  I am with you!  (They embrace each other by grabbing each other’s shoulders and pulling themselves closer together over the table yelling in Hebrew, psyching themselves up for another game; which quickly became history)

Just as the four soldiers begin to play another game of spades, an air siren could be heard coming from above ground, which quickly activated the underground alert systems as well.  This sparked the men to jump up out of their seats and rush over to their respective equipment, and prepare to put the underground bunker on lockdown.  One of the four men ran ahead to the door to step up above ground when the ground shook violently from a massive impact and explosion.  Men speaking in Hebrew and English could be heard over the radio speaking over each other making it hard to understand, but one transmission that was heard spoke about falling stars.  The first man out of the four come out of the hole and looks up into the sky and confirms with his own eyes of falling objects with bright red tails streaking.  Two more massive explosions violently shook the ground, knocking people off their feet and others receiving injuries from falling debris.

The first Israeli soldier that was out of the hole, rushes back in to inform others of what he just witnessed and to possibly tell them to stay back.  Shocking eyes came among the other three men when the situation was described to them, but the time to comprehend the information was not there.  One more massive explosion was heard by the four men still underground, but this time the dirt and concrete cave began to crumble above them.  As they panic with fear of being trapped underground, they make attempts to rush towards the rear of the tunnel to another door that could save them.  Two of the four went and grabbed most of the confidential documents their arms could hold and gave their hardest run for safety.  Just as the four are feet from the rear tunnel door, the ground is quickly collapsing behind them, and the slowest one of the four was quickly overtaken.  It wasn’t long before all four men were swallowed up by the collapsing earth above them, trapping them with no help in the distance.  Seconds later, an enormous fireball, which went out from ground zero in a circular motion, overcame the town of Nazareth and vaporized anything that was not invisible.  Fireballs and firestorms engulfs the entire region, and other parts of the world including Europe, Asia and Africa.  In an instant things changed around the world, and learning a new normal will be a strength for some and the downfall for others.

[RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA]

Vince Green, the president’s campaign manager, and Christina Smith, the president’s media secretary, are both severely struggling as they make their way through the death and destruction that has now become reality.  The skyline, life that once penetrated the social aspect of the southern town, has now become once large cemetery.  Unsure of which way to go and not sure what to do next, Vince supports the body weight of Christina leaning on him since she was nursing an injury to the lower body, as they climb over boulders, large cement objects and twisted metal and bombed out vehicles.  As they slowly make their way through all the debris, and kicking up the ashes and dust that has now littered the ground, breathing in the contaminated air, Vince looks for a place to rest before continuing.  While he looks around to find a resting place, Christina starts to moan and cry from the pain that has increased in her lower extremities.  As she started to complain about the pain she was in and wanted to stop moving, Vince glances to his right and sees a shaded hole from a collapsed parking garage.  He quickly motions to her that he was heading in that direction to rest and to also get them out of the beating sun.

Vince slowly places Christina down on her bottom, and even with his gentleness, she screamed out from the pain and release of pressure from ankles and knees.  Once he placed her down on the ground, Vince locates a spot across from her and plops his ass down and just stares at her for a minute, watching her reeling in pain, before he interrupts her agonizing mental state.

VINCE: How bad is the pain? (Looking at her with a genuine expression)

CHRISTINA: (Answers with obvious annoyance and painful expression) I can barely bend my knees and put full pressure on my feet without excruciating pain shooting up my shins.

VINCE: (Releases a huge sigh) I suppose we need to find you some medical help, but everything looks like it has been destroyed. (Releases another sigh while rubbing his face with his dirty hands)

CHRISTINA: (Tears start to spill out of her eyes) Is it true that the president and the vice president are dead? (Sniffles) What are we going to do?

VINCE: Well, (sniffs quietly) we need to find out how to let those who need to know that the president and vice president are dead, and try to get help.  I must say though our situation doesn’t look good, and I’m not sure if anyone even knows what happened.

CHRISTINA: What and how are we gonna…(Vince puts up a finger to tell her to stay quiet as he hears in the distance a fighter jet overhead)  What…(he tells her to hush)  Vince! What is going on??!

VINCE: (Looks up into the ceiling of their hide out listening to the sounds of the engine) You hear that? Fighter jet overhead! F-16 I believe!

CHRISTINA: WHAT?! How do you know who it is?  How do you know it’s not an enemy plane?  It could be the Russians, Chinese who the fuck knows! It doesn’t matter with our president dead. (Moans in agony after her rant)

VINCE: It does fucking matter, Christina! Whoever is responsible just killed the leader of the free world, possibly sending the country into chaos and who the hell knows what else is going that we don’t see or know.  If that’s an enemy fighter overhead that means our defenses have deteriorated and the skies are free for whomever wants to reign!

CHRISTINA: (Stares at him with tears filling her eye sight) What the fuck is your problem, Vince?! Huh!? You still pissed off at me for nearly costing your job, fucking around with the president’s daughter and having the secret service involved?  You can hate me all you want! I don’t give a fucking piece of shit! You will not and I will not allow you to talk to me that way!! (Continues to stare at him with tears randomly dropping out of her eyes)

VINCE: (Sighs heavily before responding) Christina…(sighs once more)…I don’t hate you…okay.  I was mad at you, yes! I will admit that, but you need to understand what that did to me.  I never thought that someone I trusted would turn their back on me without coming to me first.  If I didn’t listen, okay then I can see it, but not giving me a chance to correct my behavior is what pissed me off to no end.  However, I also understand why you did what you did.  So I (sighs) I apologize for my actions…okay?

CHRISTINA: (Looks at him and doesn’t break her glance from him for at least a minute before responding) That’s in the past now and not much we can do about it now.  I have to trust and lean on you in the situation we are in, however, that doesn’t mean I have completely forgiven you. We need to find a way to let the world know what happened to our president and to also help in guiding our country in a direction of strength…no one knows what has happened and no one knows who is alive and who is still alive.  Right now our goal is to get out of here and find safety and medical treatment.  Can we both agree on that?

VINCE: (Slightly shakes his head before responding with a small smirk) Yes. I will get us out of here and do our part to maintain our nations strength, however, as long as you do your part we will be just fine.

They look at each other with a smile and prepare themselves mentally and physically to move along the heavily debris region, as well as not knowing who was flying above them.  One extremely low pass by the fighter jet, which scared Vince and Christina off their ass, left behind a rumble and jet engine noise that made them believe that the world was imploding around them for the final time.  The screams that they were letting out of their lungs couldn’t be heard over the streaking of the fighter jet flying at tree top level or lower at extremely high speeds.  It felt like an eternity was going by, but when the fighter jet lifted off the deck and began climbing quickly in altitude, Vince and Christina removed their hands and arms from their ears, breathing continued to be heavy but for some reason both passed out completely.  Unaware what is now known by the fighter pilot thousands of feet above the surface.

FIGHTER PILOT: (Speaks in a British accent) Fox Sierra 2-7 to Red Baron, come in?…(dispatcher responds)…I might’ve found the president of the United States last known location, however, I couldn’t confirm the sighting.  Requesting you to send in for a closer look.

RED BARON: Any survivors?

FIGHTER PILOT: I didn’t see any, but that doesn’t mean no one could be alive.  I’m sure several are injured, but all that can only be confirmed with troops on the ground.

RED BARON: 10-4! We’ll send in security forces as soon as possible to secure the area.  Out!

END OF PART IV

(Next Publication @ April 15, 2017 – Part V)