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and the home of the brave
By Nicholas Samuel Stember
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
Rated "G" by the Author.
This was my first piece published back in 1990, by "StarSong" Magazine. It's labeled "Science Fiction" it's more of a fictional Sociology piece, written in that "Twilight Zone" style.
You can tell it was written before the Berlin wall came down ~smile~.
It is approximately 1400 words long
Copyright 1990 - Nicholas S. Stember
...AND THE HOME OF THE BRAVE
by Nicholas S. Stember
Alex gazed out the tinted bedroom window of her luxury townhouse as waves of apprehension washed over her like the tide coming in...the moon is full, she thought reflectively...the season is ready to change. She realized that she should be getting ready for work, yet she couldn't quite motivate herself to get going this early morning. Not that they couldn't survive without her at the high school, or that they would come and get her if she didn't show up. After all, it wasn't like they lived in a totalitarian society at least not yet.
She walked back over to the forgotten newspaper and rapidly cooling cup of coffee on her kitchen table and sat down. Slowly she brought the white cup to her lips, letting a little of the cold bitter liquid slide through.
"Ugh," she exclaimed as a grimace formed on her slightly tanned face.
Alex briefly considered putting the cup in her microwave. A few seconds in the nuker would do it some good, she absently considered, and then laughed...for the nuker was what they all could find themselves in soon...I wonder if it will do us any good?
She glanced over the paper again, centering on the date...July 4th, 2014... A day of independence, she mused, for some.
The newspaper held all the grueling facts of the time, blatantly screaming before heaven and earth...'where have we gone wrong?'
Maybe the news broadcast will have something better to say, she
silently hoped as she listlessly carried herself to her living room and activated the television.
Instantly the 3D image sprang to life as the anchorman was silhouetted by the images of hovertanks battling fiercely in the background.
"And so..." the anchorman concluded, "with the war going the way that it has, it looks bad for our forces on the European front." He paused for a moment and tried to compose himself, but underneath that emotionless facade was a cry of anguish, a plea not to die. "A special bulletin has just come in from our President."
The voice changed, as a tall and proud woman formed in the image. "My fellow people," she began firmly as she stood there, like the goddess Athena herself, all the wisdom of her people wrapped into one package, "we must not give up hope. Just a few decades ago, the bond between ourselves and our fellow superpower had grown to the point of forming a lasting alliance. Many changes happened to allow that occurrence...but time goes on, and changes continue. The totalitarian regime that our oppressor became could not go unchallenged, they had to be stopped in the name of freedom and democracy for all the people of
the planet Earth." At last, the President's face betrayed some dent in that Athenian visage, as a tear formed in her eye. "But we have failed," she continued, regaining her stoic features. "Although our enemy has managed to destroy our allies in Europe, and Africa, and in the Middle East, they now realize that to overrun us would require more forces than even they can conscript, despite their imperialistic methods of recruitment. They know, so you must know as well, that the only way
for them to defeat us would be a nuclear attack."
"Nuclear attack," Alex's whisper rang sardonically through the empty townhouse. As a teacher of history, she knew, as everyone did, that the treaty of Berlin in 2002 clearly stated that all nuclear weapons were to be dismantled, and that any use of that power source for military aim was considered an act of inhuman disgrace against the planet as a whole. Isn't it amazing, she reflected with a sigh, how easily humans find it to be inhumane, especially to each other.
"It is now believed," the President continued, "that our enemy does have a number of nuclear warheads left. To this form of attack we have no defense, since it is well known that the last of the 'killer satellites' came down four years ago." The leader paused again as a sad look invaded her gentle eyes. "I didn't intend for this to be my farewell address, but you all deserve to know the truth. If they do the unthinkable, if they dare to have the audacity...the barbarism, then the sirens will sound. But I have faith in humanity, all humanity, and I feel that we will persevere through this one. Farewell...."
The screen went blank for a moment as the news crew sat in stunned
silence, but before the anchorman could regain his faculties and return to the news, Alex touched the remote and silenced the machine.
She looked at the time again and wondered how late she could be before anyone would call to confirm if she was going to come in at all. Then she walked back to the window and noticed that the rising sun had caused the full moon to all but vanish.
Apollo's journey has begun, she silently mused, farewell Artemis, will your father, Zeus, unleash his mighty thunderbolts today?
Then she laughed quietly...you've been a history teacher to long, Alex. Maybe it's time for a new career, like joining the Earth Restoration Society. Her laughter turned hollow.
She wandered around for a minute, intent on actually accumulating her needed work for the day's lessons, but somehow found herself back at the kitchen table instead, holding the ice cold cup of coffee in her trembling hands.
I was there once, she reflected while absently sipping the sour liquid. I actually crossed the ocean and went to visit our new 'lifelong' ally. That must have been almost ten years ago, right before their leader changed, and what seemed like great improvements turned into dictatorial fascism instead. But it had all seemed grand to her back then, a girl barely in her mid teens. She had managed to pick up a small flag of theirs in a souvenir shop, an object of transient pride that she still had somewhere.
Alex got up and went over to her desk and intently rummaged through the drawers, suddenly she just had to have that flag in her hand, as if it was a link back to the past, to a time of misspent youth and lost dreams. She had her whole life in front of her back then, of course she never expected it to be in danger of ending this soon. The small cloth flag was found in the bottom drawer, and Alex clasped it tightly, suddenly afraid to let it go. It was as if she held onto it forever, then, maybe, things would return to the way that they were back when she was young.
But perhaps this was normal for them, and they had been deceiving us all along how could we have been such fools? But we had all wanted to believe that they were going to be peaceful and non aggressive, even our President.
Alex collapsed at the table again and stared absently at her half filled cup of coffee, the forgotten crumpled flag clutched tightly in one hand.
Perhaps I should just to back to bed, she pondered. Yes, a chance to sleep, to forget about all of this. I'll wake up tomorrow and all will be calm, I can feel it now. She started to get up, to return to her bedroom, when she suddenly froze...and slowly turned back to look at the microwave again.
Alex felt a ripple of fear flow through her body as a sense of change washed over her. A noise had sounded outside, impossible as it seemed, it had started. She sluggishly fumbled for her coat as her brain ceased to have the desire to contemplate her present situation. Must get to the school, she numbly thought, they'll miss me if I'm late.
Somehow, Alex managed to put on her coat, though her limbs felt
like lead. Then she paused at the door and gazed back into the place that she had called her home for the last decade, as if unsure if she had forgotten something.
Mustn't leave anything on, she chuckled quietly, as her mind desperately fought the hysteria that threatened to encroach upon the false sense of reality that she was forcing to the surface. Then she turned back to the door and opened it, dropping the tiny flag as her cold fingers lost their tenuous grip. The stars and stripes fluttered noiselessly to the floor as she walked out, leaving the door open, allowing the howl of the sirens to fully invade the room.
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|Reviewed by Nickolaus Pacione
|Your work reminds so much of Rod Serling it is scary.
This is a strong write, and one that will stand the test of time. I wish I wrote within the Sci-Fi genre but I don't have the technical knowledge to write a good one though. I agree with Linda here, this work is quite engaging and creates a dark addiction.
|Reviewed by Erin Elder
Ironically I turned off the news a short while ago with a "war scene" going on behind the newscasters. Eerie. Good story, it's very thought provoking. Something perhaps many others should read.
|Reviewed by Linda Alexander
I've checked out your new book info & a few of your short stories. You're a very engaging writer. Even though I'm not a real sci-fi enthusiast, I enjoyed your stories. Good work!
Nicholas Samuel Stember