Author’s note: Well, friends, it looks like this is the end. Thanks for hanging in there with me. For the next little while, I’m going to focus on shorter works, up to novelette length. That way I will have a chance to finish something in a reasonable amount of time. Anyway, let me know what you think.
For those of you who have never read any of the Journey Of St. Laurent before: You are now reading an online serial pulp novel. If you didn’t start at the beginning, this is almost the end, so you’ll want to do so. Here it is Chapter 1: Down By The Bay. If you want to know just as soon as I’ve posted something new, you can watch the RSS feed or follow me on Twitter.
In a relatively short time, the aliens had visited or abducted the entire presidential line of succession, including the President and his cabinet, the Vice President, the Speaker of the House, and the President pro tempre of the Senate. Each person had been subdued then implanted with an explosive device and then given a warning not to upset the alien agenda. The day they killed the President was the same day they killed everybody who could have been president. Historians would later call this the “Executive Branch Assassination.”
Nobody likes to remember the time immediately following the Executive Branch Assassination. America had the runs. There was a run on banks, a run on groceries, a run on guns and ammunition, and a run on anything else that might help someone hole up for a while and protect his family. Panic gripped the hearts of America.
To make matters worse, nobody knew who to follow, and so everybody simply waited and hoped for a miracle before the food ran out. Even the military largely sat paralyzed.
For a couple of days, life stood still.
And then London, Rhett, and I did what we did to topple the Kentucky alien base.
Desperate to curb the despair felt across the country, the army allowed journalists to Jex’s camp site and released a careful selection of photos from within the base, keeping hidden any trace of zombies, and keeping our identities secret.
Perky reporters stood near the wreckage of the UFO and declared to the nation that we had a chance. After all, if a ragtag militia could take down a ship and decimate such an important alien facility, who’s to say we couldn’t win this thing after all?
The nation ate it up and went to work again. Business got underway and food made it back on the shelves.
More importantly, the military brass got their collective act in gear and took the fight to those green bastards. It didn’t take long for somebody to figure out how to track and target the alien ships. After a brutal couple of months, victory was ours. The defeated invaders rounded up whatever they could and headed back into space.
I heard experts talk about it later. They said the aliens were simply not equipped to deal with an organized military resistance. Over several hundred years of exploring, colonizing, and strip mining, they had never encountered another advanced race.
War was something they had no preparations for, so they had threatened and bluffed their way into governmental protection. The plan was to study us and build an army and weapons capable of wiping us out. Given a couple more years, they may have been able to pull it off.
That’s not to say everything was ice cream and butterflies after the aliens’ defeat. Far from it.
It’s been said for years that civilization is only a day and three meals away from anarchy. Well, now America had it’s chance to test the axiom.
Just before the interstellar retreat, the aliens managed to punch several large holes in the nation’s infrastructure. America was still willing to work, but now unable to move the goods. The whole “we-must-fight-together-or-die-separately” spirit dissipated. With the supply-lines cut, the food dried up again. Sure enough, a day or two later, hungry mobs hit the street.
Those unwilling to loot and unable to protect themselves hoped someone in the government would jump up and put a stop to the looting. The only problem was that the government remained in shambles.
The US changed from the world’s strongest superpower to the worlds most appetizing target.
All of that happened later, of course, and isn’t really important to my story… well, at least this part of my story. I just thought you’d like to know.
* * *
When I awoke from my ordeal in the mine, I found myself staring at the ceiling of a large plastic tent with an IV in my arm. The tent appeared to be inside some other structure.
My eyes slowly focused on the IV stand above me. Just one bag. Saline. That’s a good sign. The saline was there to add volume to my dehydrated circulatory system.
What I didn’t see were antibiotics, painkillers or any other medication being added into into the drip. I wasn’t on a feeding tube, so I hadn’t been in a coma or anything. I also wasn’t on oxygen, unless they were pumping it into the tent from somewhere I couldn’t see.
I pried up some tape and gauze to check on my alien bullet holes. The stitches looked pretty good. The rest of my injuries were bandaged up neat and tidy as well. All in all, I would probably scar in a few places, but my body was in one piece, and I couldn’t complain about that.
My ears still rang, though. All that gunfire in enclosed spaces had done some serious hearing damage. Some of it might never heal.
I rolled onto my side and found moving to be excruciating.
Still, as I came over I saw something that brightened my day.
An involuntary and painful smile crossed my lips.
London sat slumped forward on a camp chair with her arms and head resting on my bed next to my stomach. Part of her hair had been shaved off so the scalp could be pulled back together and glued closed.
I reached out and brushed her elbow. “What’s up, girl?”
She snorted, her head snapped up, and she winced in pain.
Her muscles are probably just as screwed up as mine.
“Don’t do that.”
“What, touch your arm?”
She blinked, took a deep breath, and put a hand on my wrist. “Sorry, I’m kind of… reactionary when I first wake up. You’re lucky I didn’t slap you.”
“Don’t make me laugh. It hurts.”
“How long have I been out?”
“I’m not sure, I only woke up a little while ago. When the doctors got done asking stupid questions, I dragged this chair over here. I was going to wait for you to wake up, but I think I lasted all of five minutes.”
“So you woke up first? That’s a shame.”
She raised an eyebrow.
I attempted a shrug. “You know, there goes my indestructible tough guy routine.”
“I heard them say you were more dehydrated. That might be it. It’s probably because you sweat so much.”
“Yeah, I forgot to antiperspirant up before my suicide attack on the green people.”
“Well, except maybe my redheaded sidekick.” Sometimes I am still shocked at my own lameness.
She bit her lip. “I’ll bet you say that to all the girls you drag along on insane revenge missions.”
“Now that I think about it, you might be right. I have indeed said it to all of them.”
She lifted an eyebrow. “So I’m not the first?”
“I guess you’re the first redhead.”
A couple of minutes later a doctor came in to check me over. When he was gone a uniformed and armed soldier stepped in.
“Whoa. Are we being arrested?” London said.
The soldier frowned. “More like detained.”
“For what, defending the world without a license?” I was still too tired to but much sarcasm into it.
“I think you’re only being detained temp-” The soldier cut it off and looked around, searching for the right response. “Make that debriefed.”
Detained, debriefed, observed, whatever you want to call it, the end result was the same; the military wasn’t going to let us go for a while. Not that I really wanted to jump up and leave right away. Everything from my little toe to my hair ached, and I wouldn’t mind a hot meal or two. And I was in a hospital gown. I just didn’t like the idea of being forced to stay.
It’s the principal of the thing.
London reached out and held my hand. It felt nice, even if it did make me lose track of my internal rant.
We were moved from the quarantine tent almost immediately into some kind of lab. There, we slept on cots and “debriefed” for about three days. They interviewed us together and separately. We told our story frontwards and back. Some of the interviewers scolded us for our behavior and some of them almost clapped.
We talked and talked and described described and talked some more. Then all at once, they were done with us.
By that time I felt worlds better. Almost human. Somewhere along the way a few kind soldiers gave us some clothing and toiletries.
Within two hours of the last interview, we were told we could leave. Rather, we were instructed to leave and escorted to the front gate.
I turned around and took a look at the base. “Fort Campbell, huh? I never bothered to ask where we were being held. I wonder where Fort Campbell is.”
“They didn’t even give us a ride into town.”
“Well, that’s the last time I grace this establishment with my business.”
“Where are you going to go now?”
“Where are you going to go?”
I faced her and shook my head. “I don’t know.”
London’s voice quivered. “Then why don’t you come up to my place for a while?”
I paused, even though I didn’t need to think about it. “That would be great.”
“Okay, but just so we’re clear, you’re sleeping on the couch.” She winked and tapped a finger on my chest. “I won’t be having any more of that funny business like last time.”
“So, uh, how do you plan to get us there?”
The redhead smiled and took my hand. “No idea. I was thinking of making that your job.”