“This better be good.” General Andrews barked at the men who stood at his front door. They both saluted him quickly, a little more sloppily than the General liked, but he decided to let it go. They seemed to be on urgent business. The night air was cool, and it was blowing uninvited into the robe that Andrews was wearing.
“I’m sorry to wake you, Sir, but we have orders to get you to a safe location.” The uniformed officer said as if he had memorized the line. Andrews flipped the switch that turned the porch light on. He recognized the two officers although, their names were not something he had attempted to store in his already over packed memory.
“Couldn’t you have phoned?”
“Yes but,” one of them began to say but was interrupted by the phone ringing somewhere in the General’s quarters. “That’s probably them, Sir.”
“Wow, you boys got here quick.” Andrews said with a wry laugh. “You can return to your posts gentlemen. I am perfectly capable of finding my way. I, however, do not intend to do so without my pants.”
“My apologies, Sir, but there’s been an incident. We are under strict orders to transport you to a safe location. You will be briefed along the way. We have a helicopter waiting at the pad,” The young officer said. Andrews was a student of human behavior and therefore noticed that the young man’s uniform had a button fastened in the wrong place. That was not a mistake an officer of the US military would make when meeting his General, unless it was under dire circumstances.
“What safe location?” The general asked.
“Deep Stone, Sir.”
The General caught an unspoken meaning in the words. If they were going to Deep Stone, something had hit the fan. He wouldn’t know what exactly had hit that fan until he got the briefing.
“Hold on a minute boys,” The General said. He stepped back into his quarters for a brief second. He considered dressing out, but thought better of it. Instead he packed light. Grabbing only his side arm he walked toward the two young men waiting for him. He strapped the gun to his hip around his bathrobe. He was sure that among the decade’s worth of provisions in Deep stone, there was a fresh uniform waiting for him.
“Alright Officers, take me to this helicopter.”
They shared a quiet ride to the chopper as General Andrews attempted to hold his Robe closed. The younger of the two men in uniform drove like he was trying to outrun a hurricane. In less than a minute they had the General at the Helicopter and were escorting him aboard. It was in the air almost as soon as he stepped into the cabin. Andrews put on a headset after he strapped himself in.
“Colonel Jones,” Andrews said once he was seated. The Colonel who apparently was also coming along for the ride saluted. “You will have to forgive me for my lackadaisical attire. I was ushered into the dark by two boys who were still wet behind the ears.”
“I suppose you will be briefing me on why my head is not still resting comfortably on my pillow.”
“That’s right, Sir,” Jones said as he reached out with a digital device in his hand. Andrews took it and glanced at the screen which was bright with text.
“Colonel, I’m a little old fashion as you are aware. When an old chap like myself is pulled out of his house after midnight it can mean one of two things. You might be taking me to a surprise party, but seeing as my birthday is not until April, I’m guessing it’s the second options which is much less desirable. Unless you tell me otherwise I am assuming we are currently at war. I don’t want to get my information from an digital screen. Do you mind, just telling me what is going on?”
“Yes, Sir,” The Colonel said as he reached for the device in Andrews’ hand. Colonel Jones took a deep breath and began to deliver the news.
“There has been a launch.” He cleared his throat. “Well ten launches to be exact.” He paused and the stuttered. “Well not ten in all exactly. There’s more like forty in all.” He stumbled again. “What I mean to say is that.”
“Colonel!” Andrews barked. “A third grade girl with a speech impediment could tell a better story than you are relaying currently. Start over and tell me what happened.”
“Yes, Sir.” Jones gathered his thoughts and then began again. “Early this morning, ten missiles with live nuclear warheads were launched from somewhere outside Tel-aviv. They struck their targets, and now all hell is breaking loose.”
“I suppose that puts to rest Israel’s nuclear ambiguity policy.” Andrews said but did not laugh at the irony. “Have any of the targets retaliated.”
“None had nuclear capability. However, their allies do, and in the last” Jones looked at his watch. “half hour around thirty more have been launched from various locations. We’re not even sure whose firing at who, but when those stars fall we’re going to feel it.”
“Do you mean to tell me, that we’ve been targeted with nuclear weapons?” Andrews asked as he leaned in for the answer.
“We are Israel’s ally.”
“Not after tonight,” The General barked. “How many?”
“Twenty one were targeted for US cities. All but nine have been shot down.”
“Nine!” Andrews roared. “What you mean to say is that nine nuclear weapons are going to fall on nine American cities, killing millions who are under the protection of myself!” Of midnight briefings, Andrews did not like the type that involved end of the world scenarios.
“Yes, Sir. They will strike within the hour.” Jones paused. “There’s more.”
Before Jones could get the words to come from his mouth a flash of white light overtook the chopper cabin. For a few seconds following the brilliant blast they couldn’t see anything. Once their eyes began to regain sight both men leaned over to look out the window. The distance they had flown since take off had saved their lives.
“Dear, God. I never thought I’d see the day,” Andrews whispered.
They watched as a massive mushroom cloud enveloped the mile radius that the Air Force base had been occupying. The billowing column of glowing super heated air and debris rose into the sky like a pillar to the house of the gods. They had cleared the blast radius but a shock wave was on it’s way.
The Helicopter lurched violently as the concussion smashed into the helicopter’s flank. The digital device that Jones had been holding ricocheted off the wall and both of their headsets were tugged violently from their heads. Andrews had his headset back on before Jones, whose hands were still shaking.
“It seems, Colonel Jones, that had I taken the time to put on my pants, you and I would no longer be among the living.”
Jones nor Andrews considered this a joke as they continued on toward Deep Stone.