Welcome to all my new followers! Today I am doing a short story in response to Teresa’s Daily Writing Prompt #14: Alternate History. I’ve only really once written a story regarding alternate stuff, and that was with there being nine alternate realities/timelines to ours. You can read it by clicking here. So, this should be interesting. Here are the prompts instructions:
Your challenge today, should you accept it, is to explore the world of what-ifs. Write your take on the Fantasy subgenre of Alternate History and see where it leads…or whatever/wherever the picture takes you. There are no word limits or requirements of any kind. Just see where the picture or genre takes you and have fun.
Note: this prompt can be for any period in history, any event, etc. (I just really like this picture, lol)
It was 1967.
Tensions were so high you could have sliced it with a knife.
Professor Jerad was running through the hallway – well, as fast as his chubby legs would let him, anyway. And the stack of papers in his hands weren’t exactly helping, either.
He hoped he would reach NORAD’s command centre in time – before those fighters were sent off.
And a war with Russia triggered.
You see, the US Air Force had decided to expand its Air Weather Service after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957. This expanded Air Weather Service didn’t just forecast terrestrial weather for the military, but it also started attempting to predict solar and geophysical events that could affect space missions, like solar flares and disturbances in the Earth’s magnetic field caused by the sun. Soon after that, a system was developed that allowed the weather service to report its findings and concerns to commanders at the North American Air Defense, a.k.a. NORAD, where Jered was right now.
Because their Weather Service just figured out something. Something big and if the NORAD commanders didn’t find this out soon…God help us all.
Jered burst through the doors into the command centre.
“Sir! Sir!” he cried out, spotting the top dog at NORAD and running over to him. “Sir-”
“WHAT?!” the General snapped, turning around. “Can’t you see that we’re in the middle of a discussion here?”
“Uh, that’s precisely what I wanted to talk you about,” Jered said, balancing the suddenly tipping paper pile he was carrying and adjusting his pair of glasses.
“Jered, you’ve said your piece. I know you think all that radio interference might possibly not be the Russians jamming our signals, but what other explanation can there be? It’s an act of war, plain and simple, and we,” and he motioned to the other joint chiefs of staff behind him, “have all just decided before you came barging in like an idiot to launch the missiles. Now, if there’s something else-”
“NO! Please, sir! Please just give me five minutes before you launch ’em!” Jered said, his terror plain on his face and cracking his voice. The General had never seen him this desperate – but he understood why. After all, once they launched these missiles in retaliation, the Russians would surely fire back with their own nuclear missiles and it could possibly trigger a third World War.
And who would want to go through another one of those again?
“Alright,” the General agreed with a sigh, “you have five minutes. Go.” If for no other reason then to humour the guy.
“Sir, it’s not the Russians. It-it’s a solar storm.”
“Solar storm?” one of the joint chiefs of staff repeated incredulously. “Impossible! How could it do that, huh?”
The other Chiefs all began murmuring in agreement. Even the General.
Shit! Jered thought. “Yes, a solar storm. Our Air Weather Service detected that a storm erupted over a sun spot, which, if you care to look at these pictures,” and he handed the General some pictures of the occurrence, “you will see that it produced a burst of white light on the sun’s surface that it has been seen with the naked eye all the way down on Earth. X-rays and extreme ultraviolet light have hit Earth’s ionosphere, which is affecting how radio waves were transmitted. Bursts of radio waves have been emitted because of this and the aurora borealis has been reportedly seen as far south as New Mexico.”
He paused to let that sink in. He could see that he had their attention, though skeptical at best. But, at least he had it.
“All those radio waves emitted by the solar storm reached Earth at midday in North America. Everywhere that sunlight touched, radio waves bombarded the planet, and have including key radar sensors in Alaska, Greenland, and England-”
“Well, you see right there why it has to be the Russians,” one of the Joint Chiefs spoke up. “Those key radar sensors in Alaska, Greenland and England that you just mentioned are part of the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System, which, as I’m sure you are unaware, is a network that is designed to warn us of incoming missiles from Russia before those missile reach their targets.”
“Yeah, and since they have been affected to the point of being incompetent,” another Chief chimed in, “it’s too suspicious to simply be this solar storm thingy that you are trying to ship, Jered.”
“Okay, just stop for a minute and think about the consequences of this,” Jered said firmly. “If you fire those missiles, Russia will respond. And we’ll have triggered a nuclear war. Quite possibly resulting in the end of the world at worst. At best, we will have triggered the deaths of millions, if not billions of people, and most of the planet will be uninhabitable due to the radiation from all those missiles.”
“Uh, a more accurate statement, young man, is that the Russians have triggered that,” one of the Joint Chiefs that spoke earlier spoke again.
Jered looked him straight in the eye. “Do you really want to risk the fate of the world on that assumption, sir? What if it isn’t the Russians? Then we’ll have started an unnecessary war! I suggest we proceed with caution and do nothing! These papers here that I’m holding prove that it is solar interference, nothing else!”
“Those papers are just an assumption, too,” the same Joint Chief retorted. “And what if it really is an act of war? Then we quite possibly will be in the same situation that you warned us about, Jered! See? It makes no difference! General, give the order.”
“General, please!” Jered begged. “Think about what you are doing. Think about your family. Your three-week-old daughter. Do you really want to do this?”
“No,” the General said quietly. “But, I’m not taking the risk.”
Phew! Jered thought. “Wait…” he said. “What do you mean ‘not taking the risk’? What risk are you referring to here?”
The General looked at him square in the eye. “Launch all our missiles,” he ordered, still looking Jered in the eye.
“NOOOO!” Jered screamed, rushing forward to try and stop the personnel in charge of the missiles from firing them. The General grabbed him, holding him back. Jered struggled. “I’ve got children, General. Please don’t do this!” Jered begged, tears streaming down his face.
“Launch time in T-minus 10 seconds.”
“General, you are making a grave mistake here!” Jered shouted, causing a few heads from the personnel down below to swivel towards him.
“I’m doing what needs to be done, Jered,” the General said in a tense voice. “One day you’ll come to understand that.”
“With all due respect sir-”
“-we won’t be around for that to happen!”
He thought of his children as he went limp in the General’s arms. The General let him go and he fell in a heap to the floor. He was vaguely aware of the rest of the countdown as he begged the General to stop it.
“3. 2. 1. Launch.”
This is what quite possibly could have happened if the event listed at the start of this post had went 180 degrees the other way than to how it actually played out. Click on the link, and read about it. Scary to think that this nearly happened, eh?
BTW, I dramatized this story as that’s what fiction writers do. I have no idea if it happened exactly like I wrote it, but I just dramatized it for the readers’ sake.
So, DON’T SUE ME!!!!
Have a great day/night!
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