Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Sci-fi · #1857564
Political paranoia, Mystery, Monsters, Ghosts and Boy Scouts w/machine guns... nuff said.
WHY I DROPPED THE BOMBS
By Christian Powers
An introduction from the author:
Using my talent for speaking with the dead, gained from ancient sources and earned by unmentionable acts, I now provide the sane world I left behind a detailed report of what is really happening out there.
I assure you. Not even your most paranoid imaginings will prepare you for the truth.
Let me begin with this outrageous historical account as told by the very man who was there, and, I am certain you will all soon agree, a most trustworthy source.
I am honored to present one of America’s most esteemed deceased political icons.
Sir, you may address the nation.
* * *
Dear fellow Americans, being dead has given me the freedom to divulge things I never could have let slip when I was alive. But if you still refuse to believe me after all the trouble I went through to tell you what is really going on then you can kiss my moldy, dead Missouri ass.
One dark night, back when I was still Vice President, two Secret Service agents (who even in those days were not completely human) came to my home, requesting that I accompany them to the White House to see the President.
"But the President is in Georgia," I corrected.
They failed to answer me or react. Cold and serious, they only waited for me to comply.
On several hair-raising occasions – all, of course, unreported to the public - I witnessed these dreadful creatures use superhuman strength to mangle common citizens or members of the press with their bare hands, and no official, even a Vice President, could ever be certain their rank would protect them from such a fate.
"All right then, you devils," I snapped. "I'm coming."
Dressing quickly and donning an old trench coat over my suit, I took the ride with them up Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House, the home of our most beloved President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
During the ride I pulled something from my front, left coat pocket, and found myself staring down at a patch bearing the patriotic symbol of the Boy Scouts, a gold fleur-de-lis with an American eagle and the banner below it that reads, 'Be Prepared'.
The Boy Scout who gave it to me only two days before had been standing outside a Five and Dime, gathering donations for his troop and looking sharp in his neatly pressed uniform. When I approached he snapped to attention, saluted me and handed me that very patch, asking me to accept it on behalf of the Boy Scouts of America.
“You’ll make a fine soldier one day,” I said, placing a dollar in his tin can.
"Not just any soldier, Mr. President. I'm going to be a United States Marine."
"I’m only the Vice President, Son."
He gave me a knowing smile, and pointed at the patch. "That patch is good luck, Sir. Be prepared. Keep it with you."
The whole incident had struck me as odd, but not nearly as odd as finding that patch in my pocket. I could have sworn I had tossed it in my desk, and I hadn't worn my trench coat in months, certainly not on the day I got the patch.
I slipped it back in my pocket, and promptly forgot about it. None of it mattered anyhow since no man could ‘Be Prepared’ for what I was about to experience.
We arrived at the White House and the Secret Servicemen led me in through their subterranean entrance, guiding me up through pitch-black passageways until we emerged into the Oval Office where several more Secret Service agents lurked in the shadows.
I looked to where Franklin should have been in that dimly lit room. He was there, dead, and face down on his desk.
Regardless of the history books - which are ten percent half-truths and ninety percent horseshit - Franklin was a dear friend of mine. I stood there appalled at the sight.
"What is this?" I demanded.
The Secret Service agents remained impassive, their Fedoras and black sunglasses making them seem even less human. Without a word of explanation, they receded into the shadowy edges of the room.
"Forget them," said a voice in the darkness. "They are merely doing the bidding of their evil masters. Hello, Harry."
My eyes studied the gloom in the direction of that voice. There, behind the desk, an apparition stood tall, needing neither crutches nor a wheelchair. I could see the wall and bookcase right through him. It gave me the willies something awful. It was Franklin, or, at least, his ghost.
He smiled. It was a friendly enough smile, but I had never seen a ghost before.
"Holy horseshit," I whispered. The room seemed to swirl around the apparition, a dizzy spell threatened to overwhelm me. Fear had frozen me to the spot, so I didn't flee, but Christ only knows what kept me from fainting. The terror must have been plain on my face because Franklin picked up on it right off.
"Oh, come now," Franklin's ghost chided, "I am not some common haunt. You really don't think I would harm you, do you?"
"N-no," I stammered, my initial panic calmed by his familiar banter. "This is... this is just... somewhat of a shock."
Not able to take my eyes off the vision, I groped my way to a chair and dropped down into it. "Why did you bring me here?" I asked. "How did this happen?"
"We needed to talk." The apparition shrugged. "As for how this happened..." He nodded at his body. "That is the grim result of me defying them, and they wanted you to see it."
"You mean - Great Scott, Franklin, they killed you?"
"Their plan for some time, I think, dastardly beasts. And, somehow, they've made it so my soul cannot pass on." Franklin sighed. He floated along the edges of the room, coming to a halt in front of the window, and clasped his ethereal hands behind him, gazing down at the White House lawn. He spoke in a wretched tone I will never forget. "It seems I shall be doomed to roam the Earth aimlessly until Judgment Day." Then he was quiet for a long while.
Clearing my throat to break the silence, I asked, "Why did you defy them? You always said that was pointless." I glanced over at a Secret Service man, but quickly averted my gaze.
"They asked me to do something... I was tired, Harry. Faced with the magnitude of what they - let's just say I had a moment of weakness. My refusal got me killed, but it was a rash decision on my part. I was just so sick of their demands." He considered me with a sidelong glare. "And now they are going to ask you to do it. Now... I have left you with a great burden. I am truly sorry for that." He turned to face me. "You will be asked to drop two bombs on Japan. Not just any bombs. Lord knows we've dropped thousands. But these are different. These are called Atomic bombs, and they are... uniquely horrible devices. One blast from a single Atom bomb can lay waste to an entire city." He shook his head sadly. "In my last empty act of bravado I told them I wouldn't do it. And, of course, I claimed you wouldn't do it either. It was all a bluff really, an empty one. And, obviously," he gestured toward his body, "They called me on it."
"Well, you were right to refuse. I'm not going to do it either. That's mass murder and I won't have any part in it."
"Don't be a fool!" Franklin's ghost admonished. "Of course you will do it. You don't have a choice."
"What?" I said, wondering if I’d heard him right. "I don't understand. You refused to do it, but you expect me to kill hundreds of thousands? What kind of monster do you think I am?"
"Listen, Harry. Originally, they wanted us to drop four Atom bombs. I got them down to two. My final refusal to drop any at all was suicide. Now have some sense, my friend. If you refuse to drop those bombs you will pay a much higher price – and in American souls."
"But... but, this is the business of evil. How can you comply with any of it?"
"Nonsense. It's the price of peace. I've negotiated the lowest death toll they are willing to accept, and just two bombs. But that's only if we act quickly. They want delivery within six months or the deal is off."
"This is horrendous!" I shouted, sliding to the edge of my chair. "You of all people, Franklin, should know better. How could you give in to the likes of these...these..." I gestured at the agents lurking in the dark recesses of the room, "...these vermin?"
"Give in?" he wailed. "Give in, you say? I gave my life for this deal. Look!" He pointed at his corpse. "Don't tell me I gave in. Why not ask Stalin, Hitler or Emperor Hirohito what they sacrificed to save innocent souls? Because they sacrificed nothing, that's why. They killed as many foreigners as they could to save their own kind.” He shook his head and squinted, as if trying to ward off some mental image. His tone softened. “And I did it too, that's true, but at least I saved some souls in the process, Japanese and American. No, Harry." He held a finger up and waved it back and forth, his anger creeping back into his voice. "I most certainly did not give in."
"Well," I said, exasperated and sitting back in my chair, "What did Churchill give them?"
"What he gave is his business. Whatever it was it was something terrible, but I truly don't know. Who knows what burnt in the fires of London or fell to the ocean depths in all those British ships that were sunk? Children, I'd imagine. Those beasts love to gorge themselves on children." Franklin shook his head, and murmured, "What ghastly times."
His apparition turned back toward the window and shrugged. "I should have dropped those bombs, but now the task falls on you."
"If I drop these... these Atom bombs... it will stop all this killing?"
"Yes," Franklin answered. He nodded, still gazing out the window. "Until the next war."
“You have told me so little, but I’ve believed you, Franklin. These evil agents of theirs are proof enough of their existence. But now I need to know... who or what are these monsters ruling over us?”
He turned to me and said, “They will summon you once you're President, mostly to show off their powers and prepare you for future demands. But there’s more I need to tell you." Franklin's ghost moved closer. Glancing at the Secret Service agents, he whispered, "Do you have the patch, Harry?"
I stared back at him, not understanding the question.
His voice remained hushed, but he spoke more earnestly. "Check your pockets. You must have the embroidered patch. A Boy Scout gave it to you."
"Oh!" I said, fumbling through my coat and producing it. "This?" I asked, baffled.
"Good," he said, smiling at the sight of it. "Now follow my directions implicitly. You must rub the slogan on the patch twice, saying it aloud each time. When it starts glowing from the magic—"
"Magic!" I scoffed, speaking louder than I intended.
"When it starts glowing from the magic," he repeated. "You must toss it into the center of the room and take cover. Do it now."
I looked up slack-jawed and shaking my head, wishing I knew what was going on.
"Rub it now. Twice," he growled, "Repeat the phrase and when it starts glowing, throw it in the middle of the room."
I rubbed the patch twice and said, "Be prepared. Be prepared."
The patch did nothing. I pushed my glasses to the top of my nose and looked at Franklin's ghost. He stared at the patch.
I shrugged. "Well, what did you expect? Be prepared my a—!"
A bright light burst from the patch, bleaching the whole room white, nearly blinding me. I saw Franklin’s smiling face, and through his translucent image, one of the Secret Servicemen, previously hidden in shadows, standing by a bookcase.
Franklin's ghost bellowed, "Toss it and get down!"
I tossed it and dropped to the floor.
The blinding light went out, rendering my sight useless in a deeper darkness. There was a loud whooshing sound and the temperature dropped. From the center of the room a cool breeze blew over me.
I heard the sound of many rushing footsteps, and then the room exploded with machinegun fire, so loud and close that it hurt my eardrums. I pressed my hands to my ears and buried my face in the musty carpet.
"Semper Fi!" a voice shouted over the gunfire.
"Good kill! Good kill!" screamed another.
Daring a peek at the hell breaking loose around me, I spotted the agent who had been by the bookcase. He was rushing toward the gunfire. Bullets hit him in the chest, slowing his charge, pushing him back. Still his feet tried to propel him forward, but back he went until he was pinned against the wall. Soon his business suit from neck to knees looked liked tattered ribbons over ground beef. As his body slid down the wall, I heard, "Good kill! But aim for the head. It drops ‘em faster."
Another voice shouted. "Two more from the doorway!"
The gunfire resumed, rising to a new crescendo.
I cast my gaze toward the center of the room, looking for the small army that must have somehow landed there, maybe through a hole in the roof.
I expected to see a dozen soldiers. Instead, I saw only four shooters, and not a single one looked old enough or tall enough to drive. I realized also that they were all Boy Scouts, judging by their uniforms. But these 'children' conducted themselves like trained commandos.
They spent clips and reloaded their Thompson machine guns with split second precision, barely interrupting the stream of automatic weapon's fire they spouted. Working as a single unit in firing squad formation, their efforts were paying off. None of the half-dozen or so agents who charged them got within ten feet, and when the firing stopped, bodies littered the floor.
The only two agents left within earshot of the gunfire were the ones patrolling the outer hall. After a few seconds of hearing the approach of rushing footsteps, they burst into the room. The Boy Scouts concentrated all their fire on the first agent to enter, but the other one, somehow, escaped their attention. It had only been for a moment, but neglecting him cost them dearly. He crossed the length of the room with inhuman speed, and ripped the Thompson right out of one of their hands. Using it like a club, he dealt the poor child he took it from a skull crushing blow, killing him instantly.
Without hesitation the other three boys turned as a unit and fired at close range into the face and chest of the gun-wielding agent.
Unfortunately, the one they had ceased shooting at was on them instantly, seizing a boy and twisting him in half with a loud, grisly crunch.
I was horrified as the agent tossed the mangled remains aside like it was nothing more than trash.
But seemingly unshaken, the two remaining Boy Scouts stood back to back and fired a relentless barrage of bullets, each at a different target. Both creatures were repelled in opposite directions away from the boys.
One Scout stood his ground, while the other, the taller of the two, walked toward his adversary, pursuing it as it back-pedaled. Even in the First World War I had never seen such cool heads in the heat of battle.
The agent being pursued, weakened by the initial volley from all four Scouts, fell to the floor.
"Mine’s down!" the taller boy shouted. "Headshots! Go for the head!" He turned his machinegun on the last agent, combining their efforts.
I recognized him then, the taller boy, as the same Scout who had given me the patch.
The last agent fell, shaking and quivering. When all movement stopped, the tall boy shouted, "All enemies down!"
My ears rang in the silence.
The two Boy Scouts reloaded before shouldering their weapons. They turned toward Franklin, came to attention, and the taller boy saluted. "Robert Oswald and Vito Moriello reporting for the BSA; mission accomplished, Sir."
Franklin's ghost said, "Good. Good. You boys did a great job. I just wish none of you had gotten killed. Are you two okay?"
"Yes, Mr. President," the taller boy said, glancing over at his shorter companion. "Yes. We're fine." He looked down at his fallen comrades. His voice wavered as he talked, but he held himself together. "Adams and Rubinstein knew the dangers, Mr. President. All members of the BSA are ready to give their lives for the cause."
I stood up wanting to punch Franklin right in his ghostly face. "You put these children up to this?" I asked.
"Yes," Franklin said. "Secret Service agents and their masters cannot detect young boys, so the Boy Scouts of America have elite squads trained to protect us and perform... other missions." Franklin pointed at the tall boy. "Oswald, you and Moriello continue with your duties. Clean up this mess, retrieve your fallen Scouts and leave through the patch portal."
"Yes, Sir." Oswald said.
"Again, good work," Franklin said. "Make sure you tell everyone back at Ten Mile River just how valiantly your two fallen boys fought."
"I will, Sir." He said. Then he approached me and held out his hand. "Mr. Vice President, I'm sorry to ask, but can you give me back my patch so it will stay with me? It’s back in your pocket.”
I checked, and found it, pulling it out.
“Just hand it back, and ask me to accept it on behalf of the BSA."
I did as he instructed.
"You're going to make a fine U.S. Marine,” I told him. “What you did was very brave."
"Thank you, Sir," he said.
Franklin's ghost turned to me "Now I can tell you everything without them stopping me. Some of this information comes directly from them, and some of it comes from one of their own, a self-proclaimed traitor who calls himself the Rebel. He says he wants to help us overthrow them.”
“A traitor? That’s encouraging. Can he be trusted?”
“I’m not certain, Harry. He’s still one of them, after all.”
“What are they, demons or – is it possible – some kind of aliens from another world?”
"Again, I don’t know, but this Rebel says his kind can be killed... if we can overcome their magic.”
“Magic, Franklin?” I asked, grimacing.
"Yes, magic, or a science that is far beyond our imaginings. These creatures command very powerful forces. Their magic, for want of a better word, is fueled by the consumption of souls. They enslaved the bulk of humanity from ancient times for the purpose of keeping us ignorant of the vast power we can possess, and, of course, so they could more easily feed on our souls.”
“This is all so... preposterous. Magic?”
“Do you believe in God?”
“Well, of course I do.”
“So without any physical proof you believe in an all-seeing, all-knowing and all-powerful entity? Isn’t that preposterous?”
“Well, yes, but I have faith.”
“You have seen more than enough proof of what we face, and yet you find magic hard to swallow?”
I shrugged. Not having an answer, I shut my mouth and listened.
Franklin continued. "First they controlled us with aging, disease and war, which of course they still use and now they control us with false technology. Science is their latest scheme, blinding the eyes of our best minds and limiting the scope of our achievements by imposing physical barriers, barriers of their design.
“Everything is controlled by them. To help me understand this, the Rebel told me that the physical limitations of our world and even what we consider science is all just an illusion of their making, and we are merely mice in their maze."
Franklin’s ghost looked over at the Boy Scouts, finishing up their grisly task. I followed his gaze. There was a pile of dead Secret Service agents in the center of the room and the two murdered Scouts were laid out neatly beside it.
Young Oswald rubbed the patch, saying 'Be prepared' twice. The room was flooded in white light. He dropped the patch and a square portal opened in mid-air. A large group of Boy Scouts poured into the room from the opening, scampering around the room almost silently, lifting bodies and carrying them back through the portal. When the last of them were through the portal, Oswald stepped through after them. He turned and saluted me from the other side just as the magical portal collapsed, blinking out of existence and leaving the Oval office much like it had been when I arrived, except of course for all the blood stains and bullet holes.
The patch disappeared a few seconds later.
"That patch, it opens some kind of doorway...?"
"Yes. The Rebel, on occasion, gives us the rare magical oddity or two. The portal opens a doorway from wherever it is back to the BSA headquarters at Ten Mile River.
“But the Rebel is an unknown factor, unpredictable and probably as insane as he claims his cohorts are. He goes to great lengths to protect himself from being detected by them, masking his identity whenever he makes his appearance.”
"How do you get in contact with this Rebel?"
"He gets in contact with us, coming and going as he—"
Just then a lone Secret Serviceman stepped into the room. He surveyed the area, looked at Franklin's ghost and immediately put a forefinger to his lips in a shushing gesture.
Franklin's mouth moved, but no sound escaped. A look of terror came over his face, and wearing that expression, he faded from my sight.
"You bastard!" I shouted, jumping up. The Serviceman ignored my outburst and moved into the shadows, taking up post where one of his colleagues had stood before the Boy Scouts gunned it down. More Secret Service agents arrived, moving around to the edges of the room, replacing other spots left vacant by their fallen agents.
They didn't seem to care where the others had gone or why there were thousands of bullet holes in the walls. Our evil overlords, apparently, were not all knowing, and using these mindless servants to watch over us had its downside, which I noted for future reference.
So there I stood in the dimly lit Oval Office, staring at the empty space where the ghost of one of our greatest Presidents had stood moments before. He was not coming back, and the realization swept over me that he was gone. They had finally taken him, every last bit of him.
I sat back in my chair and gazed at his lifeless corpse. His sallow face was gaunt, weakened by the sickness that had consumed his vast life force. All the strength of his spirit had been slowly drained out of him, until finally it had been stolen away forever. Then even his corpse faded from my sight; probably back to Georgia where it should have been in the first place.
I wept for Franklin then, or maybe I wept for the rest of us. I don't know how long I sat there.
"It's time to go, Mr. President." A Secret Service agent took me by the arm and lifted me from my seat. They led me back through the darkened passageways, out to the waiting car and drove me home. Not another word was spoken.
The next day I awaited the news of Franklin's passing. Almost immediately, I was sworn in as President of the United States. Many would say I became the most powerful person in the world that day, but I knew better.
I hope most of you now understand why I dropped those terrible bombs. I only pray that once Judgment Day puts a welcomed end to this restless roaming of mine, God will understand as well and have mercy on my pitiful soul.
Harry S Truman
* * *
That concludes this testimony from beyond the grave, compliments of one restless spirit. I, for one, believe him since no ghost has ever lied to me. Also, he is not the only dead man talking crazy. The witness list is growing daily. Truly some strange stuff, even if I do say so myself.
J.F.K. makes his startling post-mortem confession in my next installment.
And, soon, my one still breathing witness, the Rebel, will add his own report to this series, an insider’s perspective from one of the very creatures that, according to him, still rule over us...um...eating our souls.
Hey, I’m only the messenger. Don’t blame me if it’s all too tough to swallow.
Until my next report, thanks for reading.