Sunday, October 20, 2019
It was 1982. Reagan was president and in the Navy the money was flowing in like the sea through a 16-inch shell hole below the waterline. At Naval Air Stations around the globe Helo Bubbas were working up Combat Search and Rescue (C-SAR) procedures at a feverish pace.
The failed hostage rescue mission in Iran had cast a broad shadow.
The heavies in Warshington didn't want untrained U.S. forces making more stupid mistakes.
The word came down to train and train hard. Money was no object. In my neck of the woods at NAS Oceana we got more helos, more crews, and more maintainers. Flight hours doubled, doubled again, then doubled again. Machine gun mounts came out of storage and old, fat, veet-nam guys appeared to show us how to mount them. Armor kits came out of storage and were bolted on. M-2 and M-60 machine guns appeared and all the aviators -- including the drivers and even some of the girls -- learned the care and feeding of .50 and .30 caliber machine guns. As you might imagine, the Sea Kings could be real pigs when full of gas and loaded down with armor, guns, and a shitload of ammo. At least in comparison to the way they flew in bare-bones SAR mode, when as stripped down Golf models they were pretty sprightly. But if the mission became real world C-SAR, you were taking a pig to the dance so you'd better be able to dance with her.
We started flying with sidearms on dedicated C-SAR hops and some of us flew armed all the time. It seemed to me a prudent habit to develop. The issue piece was the Smith & Wesson Model 59, a double action/single action (DA/SA) automatic pistol chambered in 9 millimeter and featuring a double stack magazine with a 14 round capacity. We added rifles to the mix as well in the form of a couple of M-16-A1's, each with a pair of cloth bandoleers of 20 round magazines. Some of our scenarios included putting a pair of crewmen on the ground to search for and locate the rescuee, and they needed more firepower than a pistol in such situations. We shot thousands and thousands of live rounds.
It was great fun. There were a lot of moments when we'd look at each other, faces split in enormous grins, and channel Flounder from Animal House.
One day we flew a C-SAR profile which we called a snatch. The idea was that an aviator was down in dense tree cover ("triple canopy jungle" as we described it) with bad guys closing in. Our training site was the Navy Dare complex near Manteo in North Carolina. It was a live fire range so we could blaze away.
To rescue the survivor we'd zip in at low altitude, hover over the survivor's smoke while blazing away with an M-60 aft and an M-2 forward, send the jungle penetrator down, haul up the survivor, then haul ass. Of course we couldn't have a real live human on the ground, not with a bunch of half-trained monkeys on the guns, so the penetrator was pre-weighted with 170 pounds of sandbags. We'd fly over the site, toss out a smoke, then make an orbit and come in hot and do our thing. Did I mention this stuff was fun?
As we came hard into the hover with lots of flare and g on the airframe the tail rotor departed the aircraft and the helo immediately began to spin violently. There was exactly one option for survival and that was to dump the collective and put it down immediately. Which is exactly what the HAC did. Straight down through the 40-foot trees. We hit the ground no more than five seconds after losing the tail rotor.
It was an incredibly violent experience. We three in the back were on gunner's belts but we bounced around like rocks in a blender. When all violent motion had ceased and the rain of rotor blades and tree limbs had abated we all unassed and met about 50 yards in front of the nose of the helo. Of what used to be a helo but was now a smoking wreck. All five of us were absolutely beat to shit, but the broken nose I'd collected was the worst injury.
When the range crew showed up to look at the bodies they expected they instead found us smoking cigarettes and laughing uproariously. I can't begin to describe how funny everything was at that moment. It was less funny at medical two hours later when the mishap investigation began, and even less funny when the adrenaline wore off and our bodies reminded us of the beating we'd taken.
As things turned out the cause was mechanical rather than human. The investigation was brief and the findings straightforward. We were all back on the flight schedule within a week or two, and we had a replacement helo on station sooner than that.
Now what does any of this have to do with ejection seats?
Well, the following video is quite interesting. One of the reasons the concept was never fielded is that most of the time when helos crash they're already out of the envelope for the system as described. It's usually better and more survivable just to ride the pig in and see if you can limp (or swim) away.
It's a pretty cool video though.
Saturday, October 19, 2019
Friday, October 18, 2019
It was remarkably warm, still and beautiful here today. These October days are a delight.
I took advantage of the nice-nice to do some work-work.
Fence work, stock tank work, well maintenance work.
Late this afternoon I was just about out of juice but had enough left to shift 120 twenty-foot joints of 1.5 inch water well pipe.
That tuckered me out.
Now that I've established an excuse...
This will be an exceedingly short post.
With a few pictures.
And not a lot else.
Except road killed pork-queue-pines.
It just don't get no more lame.
Thursday, October 17, 2019
It was early September, 1982. It was a Friday, and in Virginia Beach the weather was just gorgeous. It was warm and balmy and humid, but the oppressive heat of summer had taken a few days off. For the moment it was simply a wonderful day to enjoy existing. In only a few days I'd be off on deployment.
On this Friday I had the duty at NAS Oceana's Branch Medical Clinic. I was just one of the duty section, somewhere in the middle of the stack rank-wise. Having decided to straighten up and fly right I was an E-4 and had just learned that I'd made the cut for promotion to E-5. I'd be frocked a day or two before we hit the boat.
The Chief of the Day was an HM1 named something like Smart, only different, and who, IIRC, had just made the cut for Chief Petty Officer. He was therefore in possession of a special log book, called a charge book, which was chained to his body, and on this day he was pulling a little wooden toy duck around on a string. In those days it was called CPO Initiation. As I understand it, CPO Initiation was found to be murder-death-kill at some point and therefore is no more. Which is fine, I suppose, seeing how I'm no longer in charge of the entire navy. Butt I digress.
BTW, HM1's unofficial super not-so-secret call sign (which would be a nickname anywhere but on a Naval Air Station) was "Notso."
Ahem. Back to the facts, ma'am.
This duty section was loaded with medical skill and talent. We actually had three Aircrewmen/Paramedics. Jim was senior and had just made E-6. Which was a bit of a waste in a way because he'd be off in a few days to AOCS. In a couple of years time he'd be flying Intruders. The junior Aircrewman/Paramedic was an E-3 who had just made E-4 and was an Aircrewgirl, though the proper name for the position remained Aircrewman. Her call sign was High-Beams, and there's a reason for that which I won't detail. It wasn't anything bad, but, well, stuff. And there was me.
High-Beams had only just bagged her Paramedic certification. As Jim had done with me, I'd rather taken her under my wing and she'd proved to be a crackerjack. She was so way better than me that it's hard to describe. Much smarter, less apt to brute force problems, much more open minded and with a lot more situational awareness.
The Flight Surgeon on duty was an O-3 Lieutenant called "Blinky". He was a tall, thin drink of water in spectacles which magnified his eyes a great deal, to the point where most people noticed that he seldom, if ever, blinked. It freaked some people out. He was sharp though and a very good Flight Surgeon. I liked him a great deal, and I was always pleased when he was the duty doc.
The only other guy I remember from this particular duty section was a fellow with a Hispanic-sounding name. He claimed to be 100 percent Chicagorican and got really irate when the clinic nurses tried to assign him as the clinic's Spanish translator. "I ain't a Mexican, Lieutenant, and I don't speak Mexican!" His "polite-company" call sign was Super Mex (shortened to Super, of course. Or was it shortened to Mex? I fergit.). When it was just beers and friends he answered to Belly, which was short for Pepper Belly. Remember, it was 1982. The world wasn't completely awash in psychotic NPC's. No, seriously! It wasn't. Belly was an FMF Corpsman and was on orders as well. He'd soon be heading South to join 1/8 at Camp Lejeune.
Other then the people I've mentioned, two events stand out in my mind from that Friday night. The first one was chow.
Some folks brought their own chow from home. Notso, for instance, usually brought a kid's lunchbox stuffed with sammiches and ding-dongs. Occasionally people would throw coins in the gedunk machines back in the staff lounge. Sammiches, chips, canned soup and pasta, microwave popcorn, candy, soda pop, etc. It wasn't all that horrible, and believe it or not, those gedunk machines were my first introduction to the physical and gustatory reality of the bagel ("what the fuck is wrong with this doughnut?"). Very rarely someone with a chow pass would actually venture over to the Galley. Quite often we'd all pick a place close by and send someone with a list and cash to buy chow. BK or Wendy's, Taco Bell, KFC, etc. Other times we'd call for delivery. White Lotus was fantastic but took a looooooooooooooong time. Worth the wait though. There were also local Mom & Pop sub shops that delivered, and of course the perennial favorite, Dominoes.
This night it was Dominoes. I remember being very hungry and so very pleased when the pizza arrived. I believe Jim and I each ordered a large pizza (leftovers for breakfast), and I rather imagine I ordered pepperoni and mushrooms. Pretty sure that's the only thing I've ever ordered from Dominoes. When the driver had finally been paid and lavishly tipped it was time to chow down.
The tower radio erupted with the Crash and Smash song.
"OCEANA C&S, OCEANA C&S, OCEANA C&S, ROLL-EM OUT ROLL-EM OUT ROLL-EM OUT, RUNWAY FIVE RIGHT!"
A precautionary roll out meant we had to respond to the base of the tower in a field ambulance, and by "we" I mean me and a driver. So much for chow. Shit!
However, something cool happened. Jim grabbed the keys and both of our pizzas and shouted, "C'mon Evert, let's go!"
So we did. Before we pulled out of the parking lot though I realized we had no drinks.
"Stop by my car!", I shouted, and Jim did so. It took me no more than 10 seconds to pull a six pack of Meister Brau out of a cooler in the back. It was warm, and it was Meister Brau. As if that was a problem or something. Two minutes later we were eating pizza and drinking beer at the base of the tower. Before we'd finished our first beers an F-14 suffering from a combined hydraulic failure took the short field gear on 5R.
We finished the beer and pizza about the time the crash alert was rescinded and we tooled on back to the clinic well satisfied.
By our interpretation of regulations, which stated that one could consume 1-2 beers with chow at the club when in duty status, we determined that we weren't in violation. And quite possibly we weren't, however, it might not have been the greatest head work of all time. That said, we got away with it, and that simple thing often defines operational reality in Naval Aviation. Or it did, back in the Glory Days.
A couple of hours later it was getting close to rack ops time. Over night everyone in the duty section would pull a two-hour watch in rotation so that there'd always be a pair of corpsmen awake and at the desk while everyone else was racked out. Everyone was subject to instant (more or less) recall if needed, and it was usually needed on a Friday night. Breaks of naval air. But every once in a while, if the stars lined up correctly and you were in the proper place in the rotation you could get 6-7 hours of real shuteye. You could never count on it but it was a nice surprise when it happened.
So, time to hit the rack.
The phone rang with an ambulance call. Motorcycle accident on Dam Neck Road, not far from the main gate of the Dam Neck Fleet Training Center, no more than about four miles down the road.
This time Belly was the driver and High-Beams was the Paramedic. IIRC the call had come from Virginia Beach Dispatch, which was a civilian agency. We were closest and had a pretty tight working relationship with our non-military community partners, so such calls were far from unusual. The MVA sounded awful though, and police on scene had called for Nightingale (Norfolk General's medevac helo, an MBB-105 iirc), so I hopped in the back of the ambulance to provide extra hands.
When we got there it was a real bad deal. The motorcycle rider (a sailor stationed at Dam Neck) had been travelling westbound at a high rate of speed and had failed to make the very slight curve in the otherwise straight road. He hit a tree head on right where a small creek exited the woods and flowed under the road. The bike bounced off the tree, the sailor did not. Somehow, some way, he was stuck to the tree. He wasn't impaled on anything, he was just stuck there, as if glued in place.
I briefly chatted with the cops while High-Beams and Belly checked the victim. The cops were a bit shaken, and were convinced that the victim was still breathing and therefore still alive. I could tell by the way my partners were behaving that the victim was not, in fact, still alive.
I walked over to where Belly and High-Beams were carefully examining the dead guy. He wasn't terribly disfigured, but most of the blood his body had contained had come out through his nose and mouth. Given that, it's possible that he was in fact alive when cops arrived at the scene. But he was not anything close to alive now.
The police radios squawked and the cops suddenly needed to set a landing zone (LZ) for Nightingale. I looked at High-Beams and nodded toward the cops. She instantly figured it out. The victim was dead, and this was a horrible place to land a helo. Darker than the inside of a cow, thick woods all around, power lines hard by the roadway.
"Guys," High-Beams said, "you can call off Nightingale. This victim is deceased."
And of course they wanted to argue with her. They were pumped up to do something, only a physician can pronounce, once dispatched the helo has to transport a patient, yada-yada. The problem, of course, is that it's a very bad idea for live guys to land in a terribly marginal and risky LZ to pick up a dead guy. Nevertheless, the cops had it all figured out. Plenty of room to land just up the road at the farm. Except not really.
I motioned High-Beams to follow me over to our ambulance. "Lemme show you," I said, "a trick I learned in the Army." It was a line I'd stolen from Jim, who used it to great effect whenever he'd show me a non-standard solution that worked. I grabbed the radio and called the clinic, asking for the duty doc.
I didn't want to broadcast specific details over the air. This was a tragedy, and the whole world didn't need to know before the poor guy's wife or parents got the awful visit.
When the doc rogered up I sent my message.
"Blinky, Mikey. DRT. Recommend air RTB."
"Concur," answered the doc, Wilco."
DRT is (was?) a sort of slang brevity code. It doesn't sound like anything important or thrilling or titillating. It's just some letters. The letters mean Dead Right There. I know the words sound awful, but they're not meant in an awful way.
Within a minute or two the police radios squawked again and that was it. We peeled the dead guy off the tree, put him on the stretcher and covered him with a sheet, then loaded up and headed for the clinic. He was a sailor, so he was our responsibility.
At the clinic we had to wait for the coroner to arrive. High-Beams was pensive. It wasn't the first death she had seen, but the first death in the field she'd seen, and she was the Paramedic of Record. We sat in the ambulance with the dead guy, back doors open, and listened to the backdrop of night bugs popping out of existence in the bug zapper. It was a quiet and solemn time. It's also 30 minutes that I cherish.
I've thought about writing this for some time. It's been extremely hard to figure out how to write, and even harder to write.
And that's because the postscript is so awful.
Belly was dead just over a year later, vaporized in Beirut with 240 other guys when the Marine Barracks was bombed.
Not long after that Chief Notso was dead of lung cancer.
Blinky was killed in early 1986 in a TAV-8B crash at Cherry Point. Less than a week later Jim and his B/N flew into the water in the far Western Pacific.
High-Beams was the first to go, though, lost at sea in a Sea King crash north of Hawaii a bare three months after we'd spent a quiet half hour together with a dead guy.
I've had my soul smashed a bunch of times. The day I got the letter in December, 1982, though. Yeah, that was probably the hardest day of my life.
We never get to know the answer to the "why" question. It's far, far above our pay grade. And that's okay. It's the way of reality, the way of life.
I have such a bag of inarticulable emotions about my long-lost, hard-charging, aircrewgirl shipmate. I didn't know her for all that long. We didn't hang out or pal around. By many standards you would hesitate to say we were anything more than acquaintances. That said, there's no doubt that simply knowing her made me a better person, a better sailor, and maybe even a better man.
Wednesday, October 16, 2019
Recycled blast from the past today. This one went up on January 3, 2015 and was the first Corpsman Chronicle.
I've had to deal with a few people lately who were behaving like real shitbags. People totally focused on their own thing, to the point that everything and everyone else on the planet is simply an abstraction, and not getting their thing handled immediately and exactly as they want it -- regardless of reality or anything else -- is exactly as bad as being murdered.
I think it's a stupid way to behave, and because I'm a first class jerk, I seldom let the whining go on for long before I caustically tear them down. Which further oppresses and victimizes them of course.
Couple of days ago a fellow wanted to take up my time by forcing me to help with a project he hadn't bothered to plan or prepare for. He'd assumed that the goot lort had put me on the earth to do his bidding and was murder-shocked when I told him firetruck you very much.
"You're screeching like you've got a broken leg," I said, "chill the fuck out."
"Well it's just as bad! Actually it's worse!"
"Tell ya what," I said, thumping him in the chest, "how 'bout I knock you down and drive over your legs so you can compare."
Guess I was a little testy. But the whining went away.
Lots of folks around who've never faced anything worse than a momentary inconvenience. There are much worse things than getting a medium fries when you asked for super-size.
When the father walked into the ER with his son, I saw at a glance that the kid was very sick. He was pale as a ghost, trembling, and hunched over. He was a junior high kid (they didn't have middle school back then. Or the internet. Or smart phones.), probably 12 or 13 years old, skinny and gangly, just starting his growth spurt.
I pegged dad as an enlisted guy, probably an E-6, probably an aviation rating, probably a wrench turner over at AIMD. I was pretty sure I'd seen him around.
I intercepted the pair before they reached the check in desk and whisked them toward the treatment room. I glanced at the clock for a start time and wrote 1540 on the back of my hand. I motioned to a couple of underemployed junior corpsmen, signaling one to start the paperwork and the other to get a set of vitals.
"What's going on?"
As we eased the kid down onto a gurney dad brought me up to speed. The boy had been speared playing touch football during PE class about two hours earlier. The PE teacher thought he'd just had the wind knocked out of him, and the school nurse decided to park him on the cot in her office for the last 90 minutes of the day. When dad picked him up he'd been in quite a bit of pain and was very shaky and weak. They'd come directly to the clinic from school.
Neither dad nor the kid were worried. I was. The boy looked shocky to me, and a blow to the belly could mean an organ injury and internal bleeding. He'd walked in under his own power, so that was good, and he hadn't cratered in the two hours since the injury, so that was good, too, but he looked rough as hell.
The clinic at Naval Air Station Oceana had a very good ER and was certified as a Level IV trauma center, but it was not a hospital. It had labs and x-ray and all the tools and skilled personnel needed to assess and stabilize trauma cases, but no ability to perform surgery or provide inpatient care. Our job was to stabilize trauma cases and quickly transport them to the appropriate major hospital for definitive care.
As HN Patel scribbled madly on the ER form and HA Gross took vital signs, I continued to assess and examine the boy. He was alert and oriented and in moderate distress from pain. He was pale but his skin was warm and not clammy. His belly, however, was rock hard, abdominal muscles rigid and "guarding" the belly in response to injury.
"B/P 60 over 30," said Gross, "pulse 130."
Yep, the kid was shocky. He was reasonably stable at the moment but he was almost certainly bleeding on the inside. Maybe not a lot, but some. My guess was a contused or lacerated spleen. We were going to have to get him to a hospital and a surgeon. I didn't really need to see a lot more, but I wanted to get some lab work to get a better feel for what was going on. A complete blood count and urinalysis would tell me how much and how fast he was bleeding.
"Okay, Bud," I said to the kid. "It looks like you've probably hurt your spleen."
|Wikimedia commons. Abdominal organs.|
"It's a little organ here in the left side of your belly and it's kind of fragile. Tends to bleed a lot when it's injured. What we're going to do is get some lab work and start an IV, then we'll drive you over to Virginia Beach General so a belly doc can take a look at you. First let's get a urine sample. Do you think you can walk into the head here and pee in a cup for me?"
"Sure," said the kid. We eased him up and he wobbled into the bathroom a few feet away. I watched closely as he moved, continuing to assess his condition. I could have collected the sample while he lay on the gurney, (something one of the navy nurses would have demanded, had they not been terribly busy with a major bureaucratic project) but having him get up and walk was a quick and dirty tilt test to see how shocky he really was. I hovered close to catch him if necessary. He moved pretty slowly, mostly because of the pain, but he didn't show any signs of lightheadedness and that was another reasonably good sign.
I sent Patel to get the ambulance crew spooled up and had Gross go fetch the ER doc. Benny was a career navy doc. He was a General Practitioner and Flight Surgeon who had been trained in trauma. He generally saw sick call but along with all the other physicians at the clinic he took a turn working in the ER.
As I jotted down my SOAP notes on the ER chart, HM3 Diaz, the duty ambulance driver, stuck her head around the corner. "Where we goin', Mikey?"
"VA Beach (pronounced, in this context, 'VAH-beech'). Thirteen year-old male, belly trauma, pretty shocky. You're probably gonna roll pretty quick."
"Roger that," she said, and dashed off to collect her EMT attendant as the boy came out of the head, clutching a pee cup half filled with dark red liquid.
His face told me that the bloody urine had scared him. It scared dad, too, and the pair shared a concerned look. It surprised the hell out of me, though it shouldn't have. Damn. Probably not the spleen, then, more likely a kidney, maybe ureter, maybe bladder. Maybe all three.
Wikimedia commons. Human urinary system: 2. Kidney, 3. Renal pelvis, 4.Ureter, 5. Urinary bladder, 6. Urethra. 7. Adrenal gland Vessels: 8. Renal artery and vein, 9. Inferior vena cava, 10. Abdominal aorta, 11. Common iliac artery and vein With transparency: 12. Liver, 13. Large intestine, 14.Pelvis.
Almost certainly a more serious injury than a bruised spleen. The red liquid in that cup made me want to get this kid to a surgeon most rikki-tik.
"Okay, Bud," I said, taking the cup and guiding him back onto the gurney. "Time for an IV, then we're gonna give you an ambulance ride to the hospital." As I prepared to start the IV, I explained what we were doing and why, being both explicit about the seriousness of the injury and upbeat and confident about what was going to happen. Father and son relaxed.
As I was starting the IV, Benny breezed in, asked a couple of questions, and palpated the boy's belly.
"We're going to send you to Virginia Beach General," he said...
Five minutes later the ambulance was pulling out for the short trip to VA Beach. "Thanks, Doc!" yelled dad as he sprinted for his car.
I glanced at the clock. 1605.
A week later the boy was back in the ER, this time with both mom and dad. He was still hunched over, but he looked a lot better and had a big smile on his face. Mom and dad were smiling too.
"Hi Doc," said dad. "You were right. They had to remove his kidney."
"Show him your stitches," said mom.
The boy lifted his tee shirt and proudly showed off a sutured surgical incision.
"They treat you okay over there?" I asked.
"Yessir," said the boy.
Mom dug into her purse and pulled out a card. "I don't know what else to say but thank you. Thank you so much." Her face scrunched up and tears began to flow as she gave me a fierce hug.
"Hey," I said, "that's what they pay me for, right?"
After they'd gone I opened the card and passed it around.
The navy nurse snorted at the coarse handwriting and misspellings.
Me, I was fine with Angle of Mercey.
Tuesday, October 15, 2019
Now why do I like that video? Is it the jiggle or the short-shorts? Or (shudder) the Hatfields?
Just for the hell of it, and just in time (kind of) for Halloween.
A short-short is a fiction tale, and is supposed to be considerably shorter than a short story. How long is a short story? Well, it varies, but in general it should be easily consumed in a single sitting. One authoritative source puts the upper limit at 7,500 words. But the SFFWA have become a bunch of psychotic hard-left goons, so there's that.
Good short-shorts are fun and enjoyable. This is in no way a good short-short.
The Turquoise Rule (c) Shaun Evertson, 2019
The man slowly swam up and into consciousness. He felt warm and relaxed and safe, which was comforting. Lurking in the shadows of his mind were hazy memories of a desperate, agonizing illness and the terror of pending death.
He was... where, exactly? His eyes darted around, taking in the walls and ceiling of a small room. The lighting was good and his vision sharp. Something about the place reminded him of a hospital, but there didn't seem to be any medical equipment. Glancing down, he saw he was laying on a narrow cot, or perhaps something like an exam table. He was dressed in a suit and could see the warm glow of freshly shined cordovan loafers on his feet. He felt a glow of satisfaction. The suit and shoes were very expensive and were a symbol of his power and prestige.
He began to sit up, but nothing happened. He wasn't sure if he couldn't move or just didn't care to move. It didn't matter at the moment; he could relax and try to figure out what was going on.
He heard a faint rustle and glanced to the right where a vision of incredible loveliness had appeared. The woman was young, perhaps no more than seventeen. Long blond hair loosely framed her face as she peered down at him. Her eyes were the turquoise blue of a pristine Caribbean Sea, and filled with a mixture of innocence and knowing. Her eyebrows were paradoxically dark and heavy. Her nose was just slightly too large for her face, and her lips were delightfully vermilion but on the thin side. Her neck was too long and her shoulders a bit too narrow. She wore a brilliantly white tee-shirt, and beneath that her bosom was unencumbered by any brassiere, though it was a bit too large for her frame. He could just make out the slight swellings of fabric which marked the nipples of her breasts. There was nothing of perfection in this vision of loveliness, but the imperfections somehow combined to make the young woman -- the young girl really -- quite the most beautiful and desirable object he had ever seen. A familiar pressure of began to flood his abdomen and loins.
"You are Damarien White," the vision said, "member of the United States Congress representing the State of Nebraska, for, hmm, twenty-six years and eight months as of August, hmm, twenty twenty-three."
Her voice! My god, it was the loveliest sound he had ever heard! The sound of singing crystal and warm breeze and the certain promise of rapturous post-coital contentment. An impossibly beautiful voice belonging to an impossibly beautiful woman. A woman he knew in the core of his soul he must possess. A moment later the meaning of her words registered, as did the odd phrasing. A small nugget of caution, born of a life in politics, solidified in his mind.
"Yes. I am Congressman White."
"You...are a longtime member and...Chair...of the Committee of Science and Technology."
This was beginning to sound, thought the man, like an interrogation of a witness standing before his committee. His desire began to fade, albeit only a tiny bit.
"That is correct," he replied formally. "Who do I have the pleasure of speaking to?"
"My name holds no meaning for you. You may address me as, hmm, Aide. If you like."
The man tried to sit up. Nothing happened. He tried harder, then harder still. Nothing. He could move his eyes. He could speak. That was it. Part of his mind tried to panic, but he felt overwhelmingly hale and calm, and in some strange way as if he were in complete control of the situation. Panic fled more quickly than it had arrived.
"Very well, Aide. Why can't I move? Is there something...?"
"There is nothing wrong with you physically. The hmm, treatment you've received can sometimes cause...adverse effects. Therefore the protocol requires that we maintain a sort of...induced paralysis. For a time."
"Nothing wrong with me physically," said the man. "Nothing wrong mentally I hope!" The jocularity of his tone fell utterly flat.
"You are...cognitively...intact," said Aide.
As the man pondered the careful phrasing of that statement, Aide continued.
"You co-sponsored the Climate Endangerment Emergency Act, and were a key author of the secret provisions."
"Is this an interrogation?", snapped the man, considerable ire in his voice. This woman shouldn't know anything of the secret provisions.
"No," said Aide. "This is simply a recitation of the factual record as required by law."
She paused, as if waiting for a response. The man petulantly held his tongue, and Aide continued.
"The secret provisions empowered Federal Authorities to hunt down and execute those opposing the new law, and in particular anyone claiming evidence refuting Climate Endangerment Emergency findings. The secret provisions also directly funded anarchist groups and set them on the path of eliminating less publicly vocal opposition. The pogrom was brief but quite severe. In fewer than sixty days the death toll in the U.S. ran to over 50 millions."
"A planet-wide emergency," said the man coldly, "required immediate and extraordinary measures. Is this a trial then?"
"This is not a trial," said Aide. "It is simply a recitation of the factual record. It is required by law."
"Required by law, my ass," said the man, "I'm sure I know more about the laws of the land than you, and I'm unaware of any such law."
Aide simply gazed at the man quietly, without expression. Her lovely face hadn't changed at all, yet her turquoise eyes held less of the Caribbean and more of an icy, northern sea.
"I ask that you pay close attention now," said Aide, "as parts of the factual record will be unknown to you. The people of your nation proved much stronger than you planned for. They took up their personal arms, and although they fell at every side, they killed the anarchists wherever they lurked and they killed the Federal Authorities whenever they operated. Your solution was failing. At this point you and your fellow members of the ruling legislatures treated yourselves with an antidote, then unleashed the bio-engineered plague your scientists had developed."
"We had no choice! We couldn't turn our backs on the planet! We had to save Humanity's only Home!"
Now the woman's soft but unceasing turquoise gaze was unnerving. The man became nauseated. A cold sweat prickled his skin and he felt his bowels turn to water. The lust that had filled his being only moments ago was dead and gone. He felt his genitals shrivel.
"Pay attention now," said Aide. "Your antidote didn't work. You and your fellow legislators fell ill also. When the plague had run its course, fewer than a quarter-million human souls survived on this planet."
The turquoise eyes bored deep into his soul. He was suddenly, violently ill, vomiting a reeking, bile-laden soup of yellow terror all over his expensive, immaculate suit. When he'd finished retching, Aide gently cleaned his face with a warm, damp cloth, then positioned the glass straw of crystalline goblet where he could reach it with lips and tongue. Cool, refreshing water flowed into his parched and rancid mouth. He sucked greedily at the finest ambrosia he had ever experienced.
The man's mind was suddenly filled with urgent questions, too many to number or articulate. He couldn't bear to experience any more of the arctic turquoise, so he kept his eyes tightly closed. "What, um, how...I d-don't..."
"Listen," said Aide. "Not everyone died. The strongest and the smartest survived. They inherited the resources of a completely healthy world, and the entire knowledge base of the species. The world as it was is long gone, more than half a millennia gone now. We remain, more than seven million of us. The United Sates is no more, though many of her written principles help us to guide the civilization we cherish."
"B-but how am I...what am I...?"
"Listen. You fell in your office, as did nearly every one of your peers. A wise man, a visionary, perhaps even a holy man, collected the genetic essence of thousands who fell in and around the halls of your government. He proposed that the survivors should bend every effort to study and understand you and your fellows, in order to learn how it was possible for you to travel so far down the path you chose. It took a great deal of time and effort, but we succeeded. As I'm sure you've begun to realize, your present physical being is a clone of your former self."
"B-but, how can that be?", asked the man. "I remember so much! A clone couldn't possibly share my... I remember!"
"Yes," said Aide. "You do remember. That was important to us."
"Why?" asked the man, though he was beginning to suspect he knew the terrible answer.
"Because you must atone," said Aide. "Your soul must be washed clean in the fires of agony. We owe this to you because we long ago chose to treat others as we would ourselves be treated. Had I taken your path, I would have my soul cleansed in the fire. There can be no other way."
"This is imp-imp, this is impossible," stuttered the man, "you've resurrected me in order to torture me? It makes no sense at all!"
"To the contrary," said Aide, "this is the outcome you yourself demanded."
"For God's sake, I never said any such thing!", snapped the man.
"June 30, 2023," said Aide, "in a speech made in Emergency Session on the floor of your House of Representatives, you said, and I quote, 'There is a special place in Hell for those who deny the truth of our present crisis.' That you said this is not debatable, for it is part of the factual record that your people bequeathed to us. Damarien White, you believe in Hell, do you not?"
"This is, my God, this is impossible!", shrieked the man. "I'm a member of congress! Just who the fuck are you?"
Hard turquoise flooded his senses.
"As you wish then. I am Persephone."
The man began to scream as his nerves exploded in fire.
Monday, October 14, 2019
That was the sound of me actually doing a full day's worth of physical labor. Feels good.
It's presently Indian Summer here, there having been a hard freeze earlier in the week and now, with the passage of the weather front, the sun is radiating strongly through a crystal clear sky and air temps are warm and delightful.
Just in time for Columbus Day!
The fact that it's Indian Summer obviously means two things. One, it's one of the most beautiful times of the year. And two, it won't be long before the season of hard living is upon us.
And now, on with the show!
As for working today, I had a mess of fence to fix. I had a big pasture to go around and nail up loose wires, which involved four miles of walking and a good bit of hammering.
Then I had a short stretch of fence to tighten as well as add a fourth wire to, so I did that. I babbled a lot in the following videos. Put it down to the relief of still having a modicum of good health. Or maybe it was sunstroke.
I was really proud of myself!
It was altogether a good workout. It was nice to be able to do some actual useful physical labor. It was nice to not have to quit it the middle of things because my ratty old body was falling apart. There seems to be hope, in other words, for a return to normal life, including good ol' sweat-making labor. Yay!
And just because it's Columbus Day, enjoy this. In a shamal, with the boat in a starboard hook! Can you say shit hot? All in a day's work -- Naval Aviation Style! And what an 80's porn star/naval aviation mustache! If this video doesn't convince you the kids are alright you might want to lay off the geritol for a while... 😈