Los Angeles airspace, 2038 – three years ago
Flight Transcript: Classified – Top Secret
TELEMETRY AND BIOMETRIC DATA INCLUDED
“Whiskey Niner One, Whiskey Niner One, this is Flight Command. ETA to target?”
“Command, this is Whiskey Niner One, ETA eight minutes. Package is prepped, all lights green. Whiskey Niner Two on station.”
“Whiskey Niner Two to Niner One, recommend switching to Channel six.”
“Roger, Niner Two. Switching to channel six.”
“Niner Two to Niner One, comms established. Hawkeye, tell me you are not going through with this?”
“Boomer, orders are orders. You knew what we might have to do one day.”
“Begging the Colonel’s pardon, but that is Los Angeles painted in the center of my targeting map. Are you saying you can drop a bomb there and not look back? Don’t you have family there? ”
“Well, sir, I can’t do that. It’s fucking downtown Los Angeles!”
“Boomer. (pause) Whiskey Niner Two, return to your flight path and follow your orders.”
“No, Colonel Hawkeye, sir. I will not be responsible for being the first pilot to bomb American soil.”
–FLIGHT DEVIATION DETECTED
“Niner Two, check your six. Do you see those four escort fighters? They are here for our protection. But they have another job to do.”
<squelch> “Bombers Whiskey Niner One and Whiskey Niner Two, you are deviating from your flight path. Return to the flight corridor.”
–FLIGHT DEVIATIONS CORRECTED
“Boomer, this is an Executive Order. That means its bigger than you or me. The fate of the United States may lay in the balance.”
“To hell with your executive order. It is an illegal order to bomb Americans, I don’t care what is going on down on the ground. I don’t have to follow an illegal order, no matter who it’s from.”
<squelch, unintelligible> “Whiskey Nine One. This is Ground Command, we are expecting your delivery. Are you in the pipe?”
“We are in the pipe, Ground Command. Are you on site?”
“That is an affirmative. I’ve never seen anything like this. We won’t last long, son. We are being overrun. <multiple sounds of gunfire are heard in background, men shouting, screams> But you can’t let anyone leave this city. Whatever this is, it cannot get out. Promise me.”
“You have my word, Ground Command.”
“We are lighting the beacon, our position is compromised. You hit this mark, son. This is Ground Commander, Zachery Baker, Colonel, United States Army.
“Boomer, you don’t have to look. Just do your job, drop the payload and don’t look back. This isn’t about your personal comfort.”
“Flight Command, this is Whiskey Niner One, we are thirty seconds out. Weapons armed, coming in hot.”
“You are free and clear. You may launch when ready. May God have mercy on our souls.”
“Whiskey Two, Boomer what are you doing?
–FLIGHT DEVIATION, W92, THROTTLES BACK, ATTEMPTS TO LOCK W91.
“I can’t let you do this. We can’t do this”
–W92 FIRES ON W91, DAMAGE RECORDED, W91 EVADES
“Escorts you are free and clear, fire on Whiskey Two.”
–W92 EVADES FOR ELEVEN SECONDS BEFORE BEING SHOT DOWN
“Flight Command, this is Escort One, we have a splash on Whiskey Niner Two. There was no chute deployed. Whiskey Niner One is smoking and leaking fuel.”
“Whiskey Niner One, you are clear for payload delivery. Can you deliver the package.”
“Flight Command, the package will have to be a manual drop. Tell my family I may be a little late. Carol will understand. Thank you Escort One, get clear.”
–PILOT EXPERIENCING TACHYCARDIA DUE TO BLOOD LOSS, RECOVERY IN PROGRESS
“Good luck, Whiskey Niner One.”
If I had any luck Escort One, I wouldn’t have been here. Don’t look back.
“This is Escort One. The payload is on target. We have detonation. Whiskey Niner One hit the mark.”
–TELEMETRY INDICATES MANUAL ACTIVATION OF DEVICE AT OPTIMAL HEIGHT, FEED FROM W92 LOST.
“This is Flight, you are to shoot down any aircraft that attempts to leave that airspace. No exception, no exclusions. We are tracking two jets which launched ten minutes ago. Split up and take them down. No survivors.”
“This is Escort One. Understood Flight, we are moving to intercept.”
–TRANSCRIPT ENDS, ALL FURTHER FEEDS REDACTED.
Four hours later, Daryl Mayers woke and walked out of the wreckage of flight 326 to New Mexico in the foothills of Southern California. He had only been on the plane for thirty minutes, and had a slight tickle in his throat. He found himself still strapped to his chair with a painful concussion for his troubles. Meanwhile the burning wreckage of Flight 326 with 193 passengers and crew a few hundred yards away exploded sending chucks of debris and the smoldering remains of passengers all over the area. Confused, he got up and walked away from the plane. A fighter jet roared away in the distance, its work done.
Curiously enough, none of the Native Americans who found him wandering from the crash thought anything unusual about him and nursed him back to health. For weeks he danced in and out of consciousness, sick with fever, they were initially afraid, especially after the tales of the new disease in the remains of Los Angeles. But no one else grew sick and they eventually found him friendly, but unable to remember anything about his life.
The only thing he seemed insistent on was returning to a particular stretch of road to create new paintings in the sand. The Native Elders saw it as therapy and did not stop his weekly wanderings.
He became a local legend as he created sand sculptures and paintings often visible from the air. It was not known how he created these images without the aid of a computer or an aircraft. An occasional wanderer might appear or come to see his work, be amazed and leave feeling enlightened. They were never seen again.
He would never know any of these things. His ability to remember anything beyond the basics had, at least for the moment, left him. It was just as well. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.
A doctor might have diagnosed him with a traumatic brain injury which removed his power of speech and caused his artistic talent to explode. That same doctor, in a month after diagnosing him, would too be dead, with an irresistible and inexplicable urge to travel and mingle before he died. The same urge every visitor would have upon leaving, the once Daryl Mayers, now desert artist, spreading a unique contagion associated with a desire to create beautiful art until the moment of their painful demise.
Daryl would spread his art to over a thousand people before an unfortunate accident with an eighteen wheeler ended his career. The driver tried to help and resuscitate Mr. Mayers, unsuccessfully, but his truck of produce would arrive on time, hand delivered by an honest fellow just doing his job. An outbreak of artistic talent would follow almost two years to the day of the bombing of Los Angeles. These artists, of course, experienced an urge to travel…
House of Oak: Red Star, White Sun © Thaddeus Howze 2012, All Rights Reserved
BONUS: Los Diablos
Jump to Red Star, White Sun (7)
The whole series is intriguing, each selection leaving the reader wanting more. The overall structure of the premise and underlying plot begs for a full novelization of the story(s). I look forward to additional output in this creative “universe.”