After The Storm
Bill drove. He didn't want to think. He didn't want to think at all. There was life back there in Rapid City but that life was gone. The washboard road leading to the Badlands was all the future left for the old man.
He swerved missing a twisted tractor thrown by the tornado that tore through Box Elder. His loyal friend Guthrie stared out of the fractured windshield. A kind of dog tired look framed bloodshot eyes. Guthrie didn't miss a beat as Bill turned the steering wheel missing half a grain silo. It looked like a new home outside of Denver buried mostly in the prairie.Honor, Duty, Sacrifice
Betty Sue held Joshua in her arms. Her thoughts drifting between sunset and dusk. One headlight beam illuminated half her future.
He was killed on a solitude mountain somewhere in Afghanistan during the Black Banner Skirmishes that proceeded Foreshadowing. War wasn't war anymore not like the one her great, great grandfather fought. Her husband died in an era of elite, specially trained volunteer units who warred in the shadows.
A man and woman wearing pressed battle dress uniforms knocked on the front door of their house in Kadoka. They said he died a hero saving a covert team of volunteers from certain annihilation. The bad guys pinned them down using rocket propelled grenades, automatic weapons fire, and artillery fired from an opposing mountain peak.
The team took casualties.
The two mentioned that her husband fixed the satellite radio and reestablished communications. He used Morse code to transmit their grid square coordinates and summon a rescue Osprey along with a pod of drones. The uniforms looked at each other acknowledging a deep respect.
Betty Sue's husband born and raised in Kadoka, South Dakota fixed broken flat screens, repaired computers, and saved cell phones from early obsolescence. He never spoke about his experiences. When he did, it was always about the relaxing times, the fun times, and never the full, ugly truth.
The remainder of the story, said the uniforms in pressed battle dress uniforms, was classified. The neat, tidy service members gave her a flag. The woman gave her medals, too.
But, the uniforms couldn't give what she wanted the most, her husband.
Guthrie leaned over and nuzzled his nose against her and turned toward the fractured windshield. He watched the solo beam of light dancing up and down on the washboard road. She looked into the sleeping face of Joshua. And, remembered. Together, they sacrificed for something greater than themselves and endured the pain of separation, for nothing less.
Together, making the ultimate sacrifice for Red, White, and Blue.Heading Badlands
Bill kept his foot on the gas pedal when the squelch broke on his Baofeng VHF handheld, "Anyone out there?"
The short, pudgy man sat in his pick up truck and looked toward Rapid City. The black ooze of clouds covering his western horizon. Tom, from the gas station convenience store, was not an American archetype in possession of go-get-it attitude.
His membership in the disenfranchised sub-generation raised by babysitters, the next door neighbor, one another, and high fructose corn syrup lent credence to the giant tattoo on his chest.
The black permanent ink read in capital letters, "AlienNation".
There was a ray of possibility and it was Amateur Radio. The lost hobby gave him a shot at something bigger like a garage electronic repair shop. Yeah, Tom dreamt of bigger things yet his dream extended no further than the chipped blue vinyl, between him and salvation.
Billions of gallons of water released from the sky. Tom picked up his Wouxon VHF transceiver and spoke his Amateur Radio call sign into the wireless radio microphone.
Tom held the radio near his ear when he heard Bill's gruffy voice break squelch. He possessed enough wit despite the torrent of water falling from the sky and followed up with their respective call signs. He shouted into the microphone, "Frack me! Bill, you're lite copy but I can hear you good enough. Over."
Bill winked at Guthrie and looked over at the sleeping widow before keying his microphone, "Damn good to hear you old man! I'm traveling your direction. What's your QTH?"
Tom followed up, "QTH is the visitor parking lot."
"Okay, sounds good and I'm turning off Old County Road onto Interstate 80 about five miles from your location," Bill concluded with their call signs and released the button on his microphone.
The rain slowed down and Tom said, "QSL! Be ready for flash flooding. Over."
"Alright, partner. Thanks for the warning. Hang tight and don't move," Bill didn't feel isolated or alone. He met Tom at the monthly club meeting and even bought gas from the old boy. He sensed the storm was breaking up and turned off the operating windshield wiper.Over The Horizon
In the meantime, Frau599 muted the audio gain control on the software defined radio connected to Deep Listen and paged Seth over the CQ Ranch intercom, "Report to transportation bay."
She worried about Maxim and Jacqueline after the surprise drone pod attack over Easter Island. They were en-route to the ranch when she heard his distress signal on 14 megahertz. Frau599 wondered if Seth possessed the metal of a warrior and she would soon find out.
Meanwhile, buried in a concrete bunker deep in the mountain on Heard Island, "I'm skimming traffic on very high frequency and our package coordinates is somewhere near the Badlands of South Dakota."To be continued...73s from the shackadelic near the beach.See AlsoDangerous Skies | Old Man And An Old Dog Pt. iii