Sorry about missing the weekend.
For those of you who are new: You are now reading an online serial pulp novel. If you didn’t start at the beginning, you may want to do so. Chapter 1:Â Down By The Bay. New chapters are posted on Fridays. This serial is the sequel to my first novel, Oasis.
As always, I appreciate typo alerts.
Chapter 7 â€“ A Solemn Broadcast
Castroville. I had nowhere else to go and my subconscious took me to Castroville. Castroville was the small town just thirty minutes out of San Antonio where I grew up. Back before my mother died, my father once took a petition door to door every night for a month trying to drum up support to change the name to Reagan City. When the matter finally got before the city council, my father was informed that Castroville was not named after the Cuban dictator after all.
Strange are the things you remember after returning to the place you grew up.
My father held the ice pack to his face with one hand and rubbed his forehead with the other. “Who taught you how to hit like that?”
My first impulse was to kick him while he was still down. I gagged the impulse back. The second impulse I couldn’t fight. “From a father that used to get drunk and beat his only son.”
Deep lines stretched down his face as he frowned. He shook his head. “I know. I didn’t- What I mean to say is- When your mother died- It was just- The booze- What I mean is, I’m sorry, son. I’m so sorry.”
I had waited for over nine years to tell him off. I had written pages of names to call him. I had planned all manner of revenge. Now that I was standing there, having full advantage, I didn’t feel like following through.
What would be the point?
My mother died in a car accident when I was fifteen. When that happened, my father took to two things: drinking, and beating up on his kid. I ended one of his addictions when I ran away from home on my seventeenth birthday. From my mother I received a burning desire to become a nurse and work in the ER to save lives. My father had given me a capacity for violence. I’d been waiting a long time to give it back.
I gave Walter my best stink eye and made my way to my old room.
It was still a mess. Exactly the mess I remembered leaving. Walter probably hadn’t touched a thing since I ran away.
I sat on the dusty bed. Everything felt so familiar, but nothing felt like home. Home had been Oasis. My room was more like a giant bad memory. I wondered if I’d ever find a place to really call home again.
I felt lost, and I guess I was lost. I had nowhere to go, no purpose, and very few resources to get me wherever I might want to. I was stuck in a place that was no longer home with a man who was now my father in name only.
And then I remembered the note the major had given me. How could I have forgotten that? I pulled it from my pocket and unfolded it.
The note read:
According to your story, two of the terrorists escaped Oasis before it was quarantined. A rental car was found wrecked with a body in the passenger seat just outside Anthony, New Mexico, about six hours from Oasis. It happened about six hours after the first cases of the virus were reported. The driver of the car disappeared before authorities arrived on the scene. If the passenger was infected, it doesn’t appear that the infection has spread.
The car was rented to one Samir Amani. The body had a drivers license in the name of Dion Feroz and a passport in the name of Makis Kasim. Makis is booked to leave the country aboard the Grand Paradiso Cruise Ship sharing a room with a companion leaving from Galveston, Texas on the 15th.
Samir Amani was arrested at three fifteen this morning for a DUI violation in Baytown, Texas. The wrecked rental car came up when the arresting officer ran his license. Amani is being held at the Baytown municipal jail pending investigation of the wreck.
I suspect the local law enforcement personnel will be too busy in the very near future to care about him, and they have no way to connect him to the outbreak in Oasis. I further suspect you’ll have some interest in tracking him down.
Good luck, and hurry.
Back in Oasis, six terrorists had started the spread of the virus. Four were infected by it in an accident. Two of them spread it throughout the city by pretending to distribute West Nile Virus vaccinations. I had seen those two in their mock-vaccination trailer, and in a frantic struggle I had stabbed one of them with one of the virus-laden syringes.
Six hours. That could have been enough time for the virus to take hold and start to affect behavior. The infected terrorist probably lashed out at this Samir guy and caused the wreck.
I knew what to do. I had to catch up with Samir. All the pain and emptiness that I’d been feeling didn’t just go away, but having a purpose made me feel a lot less crippled by it.
Walter stepped in. “You know Alan apologized, right?”
My head snapped up. “Do you still have all your guns?”
“He read what you delivered, and then he came back on and apologized. He wants to organize a-”
“I need a rifle.”
He shook his head. “I’ve got most of my guns out at the comp- out at the, uh, club.”
“Were you going to say compound? What, are you in some kind of militia?”
He shrugged. “Well, I lost my family. I needed something.”
I stood up. “How far is it?”
“About an hour and fifteen minutes.”
“Isn’t there a Walmart or something closer?”
“Yeah, but I don’t shop at Walmart. I, uh… don’t believe in it.”
“Well, today you do. You’re going to buy me a graduation present.”
“I got my nursing degree.”
“You’re a nurse?”
I walked past him. “Don’t you have a job? I’m surprised you’re home in the middle of the day.”
“I’m on call. I work for a home care division of- doesn’t matter. I deliver oxygen and CPAP machines, that kind of stuff.”
He followed me out. He was looking pretty confused, like he didn’t really know what to say to me. He seemed to stumble over his feet and his words.
I probably would have felt guilty for taking advantage of him like this if he hadn’t made my life a living hell after my mom died.
He said he needed to drive his delivery van in case he got a call.
That was fine with me, as I’d done a lot of driving over the past couple of days.
At the Walmart he bought me a Ruger Mini-14 with a sling, three extra five round clips (they didn’t have any twenty or thirty rounders) and a couple boxes of ammo. After suffering what he felt was the terrible indignity of shopping at Walmart, he offered to take me to dinner at the steakhouse across the parking lot. That way, if any of his friends saw the delivery van in the parking lot, he could say it was for the food, not the imported plastic goods.
The steakhouse was one of those noisy places with flat screen TVs plastered everywhere. Other than ordering, we didn’t talk much. We were almost finished when something strange started happening on television. The sporting event was cut off by a press conference at the white house.
I immediately assumed the worst. It can’t be. I thought I had a day or two at least.
A government lackey in a bad suit was speaking. Someone turned up the volume on all the TVs and the ambient noise of the restaurant died down. The bad suit guy introduced the President.
The president had sailed through the election with a cool, collected exterior, even when his opponent was yelling at him during a debate. He had always presented the appearance of extreme self control. This time he looked horrible. His eyes were sunken in and occasionally darted around. His voice was not as sure and steady.
He raised his hand to quiet the reporters and put on one of those politician smiles. After clearing his throat, he started to speak.
“My fellow Americans. Every generation in America has had its defining moment. From the day the Declaration of Independence was signed to the day Lincoln spoke at Gettysburg to the day mankind first sat on the moon. As a nation we have come together to overcome every crisis, to break every technological barrier, and to lead as a shining example of liberty and freedom through every dark hour. We have a glorious legacy of defining moments. Today can be yours. Years from now, you will remember exactly what you were doing when you heard what I am about to tell you.
“Today we are breaking new ground. It is a historic day for our nation and the world. We stand on the footings of a new era. A question which has puzzled even the most brilliant minds for ages has finally been conclusively answered. This event is sure to bring about changes in the lives of every man, woman and child- black or white, rich or poor.
“Now, I have debated long and hard how to tell you what I am about to disclose. I had hoped to wait until my staff and I had time to prepare a more complete presentation. However, earlier today several sources released a number of facts mingled with fictions. I realized that to wait would only complicate matters.
“I would urge every listening ear to take heed.
“Do not be alarmed, this is not a time for fear. This is a time for celebration. This will be a time of great uncovering of scientific mysteries.
“I would like to thank you for your patience. I believe I have beat around the bush long enough.
“Over the past several months, the American military and various members of the American government have had contact, and a dialog with extra-terrestrials. They have demonstrated their peaceful intentions at every opportunity. They have chosen to set up a small scientific community at a secret location here in the United States. It is an honor to have them. With their help, we can build a stronger nation, and a more peaceful world.
“I know this is a shock. I know this will be a major paradigm shift, but I believe in you America. Your tolerance of the new, your ability to accept and embrace change, and your inner strength will make this our generation’s defining moment.
“There is much more to tell, and information regarding these momentous events is being distributed as we speak to news agencies nationwide. These records contain a full disclosure of our contact with the extraterrestrials.
“My fellow Americans, again, I believe in you. Let us celebrate and embrace these new brothers and sisters from another world.
“God bless America.”
Before the cameras cut away, the President put back on his big plastic smile. He wasn’t fooling anybody. His speech didn’t have the power that he was famous for. He had looked weak and unsure. He was scared.
Holy crap. We’re in trouble.
Keep Reading! Chapter 8 is here.