|A Vulnerable World
Author: M. T. Christen PM
Garth is a freshman who has to experience the escapade of a war, a war that could mean nuclear bombs and a loss of family. Short Story.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Drama/Tragedy - Words: 3,240 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 02-19-11 - Status: Complete - id: 2892658
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
He stared at himself in the mirror, hoping one day that face full of pimples could be as clean as his personality. He had to admit to himself, he was pretty sociable and had a girlfriend, but that was all he had. He didn't have money or fancy objects like he wanted, and he didn't have a computer that cleans the house like he hoped the future will hold. Instead, he was aware of the crisis out there in the Middle East.
His parents had told him repeatedly not to worry about what was happening, but how could he not? Out there, the President was visiting Egypt, just hoping he won't get assassinated with the start of the war. Israel had disabled all internet radio waves into Iran and launched a virus that erased any plans for a nuclear weapon. Now Iran is furious with Israel and the U.S., and is cutting off all oil exports to the world. They hoped to block the Strait of Hormuz. The U.S. navy has already mobilized, which began the race for oil today. It took fifty years since 2012 to convince people that the world wasn't going to end, and now, a hundred years later, the world is sliding into a third world war that could possible send the world flying backwards in revolution. Everything we've developed and made will be forgotten: just for the need to survive.
And people tell him not to worry; his parents in particular. They are so flimsy and gullible—it scares him sometimes—that they don't have a care in the world except to make money and pay off bills so he can stay clean and healthy. Otherwise, they're wrapped up in their own little world of parties and family and driving the car less and less because of the rise of gas prices. They wanted him to be carefree just like them, and not worry about adult things at his age, but he couldn't, and it bothered them too much. They had to think about more important things, like Petroleum. Oil is disappearing fast. Most of what the world uses and wears today was made from Petroleum, and without it, America would fall into an economic crisis.
Carefully he lowered the razor at the call of his name. "Garth, you'll be late for school!" Oh yes, his parents cared about his education too much to be normal. Garth washed his face roughly. He hoped today won't be like the past two days. Everyone at school has been edgy and murmuring about bombing undergoing in Iran and Afghanistan. People are crazy enough to actually think cities in America might be bombed. Garth didn't believe it, but he was tired of hearing it.
"Look guys," he began when his friends met up with him, "Those Arabs aren't going to bomb us. I've been reading up and following the news, and I heard America, Britain, Russia, China, and Israel are definitely much more powerful than we give credit for. We'll win this war."
"What about Egypt?" His friend, Jack, challenged.
Egypt was a whole new story. One hundred years ago, Egypt underwent a change in government and has been teetering back and forth on dangerous turfs. Unfortunately for America, Egypt's president was assassinated two days go, which was why the President of the United States was currently lying home. Egypt was in a state of panic that no one saw coming. The next leader in line for Egypt, however, was a member of the Hamas, a religious terrorist group that encouraged this war right now. With Egypt being converted to Iran's side, Israel is threatened and is starting to shake at the knees.
Of course, no one knew this because no one cared enough to see what was going on. Everyone will only care if America officially declares war on Iran, and Garth didn't think it'd be really soon.
Garth's teacher, Sharek Smith, was a man deeply into war and religion. He taught everything Garth liked to know, and he was his inspiration for looking into dealings of the Middle East. It was a Wednesday afternoon, so Mr. Smith stood and turned on the T.V. It was always set to channel eight, a news broadcast that always focused on the Middle East every Wednesday. Garth really appreciated it, because it opened his mind to the world, instead of being so ignorant like others in this poor country.
"Garth…Garth!" Her voice shook him from his thoughts. Skylar was standing next to him, shaking his shoulder a little too roughly for comfort.
"Oh, yeah?" He looked up at his girlfriend. Today she was dressed in her crazy attire. The tape o her glasses were bright blue; her flannel painter's shirt was yellow plaid. She had electric blue skinny jeans on that complimented her shining blue eyes and brown-streaked-blond hair. Skylar was pretty today, but she looked annoyed and jittery. Immediately the question formed in his throat. "Are you okay?"
"Great, just great," It was her famous sarcasm again. If he knew her well enough, she was angry at someone, and she was about to break some hearts.
"No really, speak to me." He patted the desk in front of him, and she took a seat with a huff.
"My momma…she's stressed again." Everyone was, here in Virginia. It was close to five dollars a gallon, and everyone was being cut off from work. "She's been talkin' suicide…I just don't know what to do any more."
Garth patted her hand, "Your brother can take care of you, right?"
"Yeah, but he's having just as hard a time as momma. He just doesn't have the mental capacity to feel the stress that both she and I feel." Skylar was one to get stressed just as easily as anybody else. It worried Garth sometimes, because when she's stressed, she's angry, and when she's angry, she'll bite someone's head off. Hopefully it won't be his head.
"I'm sorry, babe." He told her carefully, slowly his attention was being drawn back to the broadcast. People all throughout Egypt have been protesting, just like back in 2011, and Garth began to have a funny flutter in his stomach. What he heard next, tested the entire class's nerves.
"I mean, I don't understand why all this gas has to be so expensive. My momma's paints are so much money now, and that's her only pass time…" She trailed off, her own ears picking up on the hysterical female reporter.
"Today the United States congress has voted to declare war on Iran. Great Britain has followed pursuit. According to President J. C. Harrison, Russia has mobilized troops towards France. No one knows why this strategy has taken place, but China is mobilizing fleets to start towards Iran, near the Strait of Hormuz between the Persian Gulf and the Oman Gulf. Iraq has claimed they didn't want to be a part of this war, but a few Egyptian citizens claimed to have seen some "Iraqi Muslims" wandering around with bulky black items under their robes. The Hamas, a terrorist group of Islamic people, have been said to been mobilizing. It's only a matter of days when the first bomb will trigger the war."
"Thanks Amelia, and tomorrow we'll delve deeper into the doings of a forty six year old man and his crimes with neglect and sexual abuse on his own three daughters—"
Mr. Smith flipped the T.V. off and turned to face the class with a grim face. "No one should panic. We are going to review what happened during the first World War, and how people around the countries dealt with war in their lives."
Garth hadn't realized it, but his knees were shaking hard, and he was shivering. Skylar laid a hand on his shoulder comfortingly, but he barely seemed to notice her. Just the thought of living during a time of war scared Garth more than it should be. The paranoia of a bombing in America began to raise its ugly head within Garth. Once more his fingers clenched and he began to raise his hand. Mr. Smith's grim face told him otherwise, so he quietly lowered his hand.
"Skylar, please take a seat. This is a serious matter, and I want you all to listen closely." Mr. Smith nodded at Skylar and she took a quick seat next to Garth, eyes wide open from what she just heard. So it wasn't just him.
"It's not every day that we are sitting in a classroom with a Nuclear war outside these walls." Mr. Smith paced around slowly, his fingers trembling. "I admit, I've never experienced this before, despite how old you think I am." He half-teased this part, trying to lighten the mood. "I didn't expect the war to start so soon. I hope you all realize why this war has been provoked. Does anyone want to tell us?"
Skylar's foot slammed into his calf, and he bit his tongue in surprise to the sharp pain. He jerked his chin towards her and found her wide eyes expressing a new respect for him. She was telling him silently that HE should raise his hand. He knew a lot about what has been happening, but Garth doubted he could speak at all anyway. It wasn't in his nature to speak in front of the class or in front of Skylar like this. He couldn't even find his voice.
"No one? Garth?" Mr. Smith's hand rested on Garth's desk, and suddenly he didn't feel as dry and wimpy as he felt a minute ago. He cleared his sticky throat and slowly stood.
"Um…Iran cut off Oil exports because they were mad at Israel. They wanted to prove to us that that's what they'll do if we ever piss them off…?"
"Very good," Mr. Smith approved, "But it's not only that. Why do you think Russia and China are taking sides with Iran?"
"Because Iran is offering them…something…" Garth swallowed.
"Possibly, we can't be so sure though." With that, Garth sat down and Mr. Smith moved back up to the front of the room. He was a quick teacher, always thinking deeply, and great with changing subjects. He dove right into how they were supposed to take this war stress wise. Garth didn't listen at all.
Buttercup was notorious for scratching the brick column outside Garth's front door. The yellow kitten mewed when she saw Garth trudging through the snow to get to the door. To his right, a loud yap came from the tiny devil dog next door. Satan's pawn, A.K.A. the neighbor's Chihuahua, was tugging at its tiny chain to possibly come bite Garth's leg. Thank God for leashes, Garth thought. Of course, he hated that dog, but he loved his own dog, Rombo. A beautiful German Sheppard is what his family loved and needed, and when he got it, he didn't realize the responsibility in maintaining one. So when he learned about cleaning up after him, and cleaning him, and feeding him, Garth wasn't so sure. Later though, he learned to love Rombo, and in doing so, he respected the dog...except for Chihuahuas…
Once inside, Garth was bombarded by his frantic mother. Her hair was a mess and in a frenzy. She looked surprised and traumatized, and Garth knew his mother heard about the war. "I'm so glad you're okay! Did you hear? Did the schools…?"
"Yes mom, I'm alright. There was no bombing or anything." He hugged her half-heartedly and shrugged, but his mother continued to rant.
"I never knew! This is so sudden. I didn't think the Middle East was going to do such a thing. I always thought that Germany might have started World War Three. Oh the sound of that is so horrible! We need to call your father." And the adventure began. His mom called every family member she could reach and talked for at least an hour with each. It blew Garth away with how much that woman could talk, although he's known it for a while.
It wasn't too long before his dad was let off work early and arrived home with a jerky stature and a grim smile. "Glad everyone is okay…gosh, I didn't believe we'd ever have a World War Three happening anytime."
That was then Garth left and hid in his room for the rest of the night. He debated on calling Skylar in case she needed comfort, but he wasn't so sure that he could comfort anyone right now. He needed comfort. America probably needed comfort. He sat down in his bed, counting the seconds that passed in his head. With every second he counted, the more tense his body became. For some reason, he couldn't get the feeling of insecurity out of his torso, out of his head. He felt dizzy and sick. There was nothing anyone or anything could do to make him feel better when it came to this.
Sure enough, Skylar's "Cherryblossom" ring tone flared in his ear and he jumped up, reaching for his cell phone. He didn't really want to talk to her anymore, but he couldn't just stare at it and let it ring. So he slid it open. "Hey sweetie,"
"I have something to talk to you about." She murmured on the other end. She sounded scared, almost as if she was in trouble.
"What is it?" he asked slowly.
"They're coming. I heard planes. They're softer than normal planes, and they're high in the sky…"
His stomach dropped, "What?" He didn't want to believe what Skylar was saying.
There was a long pause on her end, and then she replied, "I bet it's just the airforce…"
"You need sleep. You stayed up late last night."
"You did too." She accused softly.
"It doesn't matter, we both need sleep."
"Okay? Okay, I'll see you tomorrow, goodnight." Garth pressed end and he leaned back in his bed, just when he heard the low hum of an engine above his roof. Garth felt his blood go cold, his heart nearly stop, and then it was over. The noise was gone, but it was loud, and it was low. He couldn't make himself stand and ask his parents, not that they would know what he was hearing. They wouldn't know anything, they never studied this kind of thing before, which worried him a lot.
The noise came again, this time even louder. Suddenly adrenaline swallowed his entire being, and he was up and thumping down the stairs as fast as he could. "MOM! DAD!"
"What is it, honey?" His mother set down a steaming hot cup of tea gently, like nothing bad was happening.
"Listen. Do you hear those planes?" His crazed expression must have set her off.
"What do you mean?"
"Turn the T.V. on, just in case." He insisted.
His father had it on before he finished protesting, and the first thing they heard, no matter what channel was on, was a loud warning siren blaring from the T.V. Not shortly after, was the blare of a firetruck siren, a police siren, and ambulances. Bombers were here.
Why Virginia? Was it because Richmond was the capitol city? Why not New York? Garth felt like he was going to pass out. "Mom I—"
"We need to go!" She squealed in clear panic, a state of mind he had never seen his mother in. It scared not only him, but his father also.
"Calm down, everyone," his father put a hand on his shoulder, and an arm around his mother's waist. "Let's go see what's going on, maybe the authorities will have an idea of where to go—GARTH!"
He was running out the front door, seeing the floods of families in his neighborhood not sure of where to go, just as a plane flew overhead, the engine roaring loud. People of all ages were crying, and Garth didn't know how to feel. He felt weary and exhausted, like now was the end. Because that plane was going to drop a nuke, and they were all going to die. Until another sound was made clear. The sound of many engines. Garth watched with strained eyes as the bomber above them stuttered in the air and suddenly increased speed. The air force was on them.
"Aha! AHA! I TOLD YOU! I foretold this happening to come true! Alicia questioned me, but I TOLD YOU!" Garth stumbled away from the psychotic man with wide eyes as the man disappeared into the crowd, still shouting out his horrendous prediction towards the almost bombing. It wasn't long before the bomber was taken down by the fleet in the air, the sleek jets were decked with heavy artillery just for this reason, and in an odd sort of way the weaponry comforted Garth.
It wasn't long before police began to give the orders to go back home and keep the TV's running, because the next bomber might be coming. Everyone was told to go to their basements if it they heard the siren again.
On shaky knees, Garth turned towards his horrified parents, standing and hugging each other tightly. Suddenly he wondered if Skylar was doing alright. That was when the surprise took them all for granted.
There was silence, absolute, stunning silence. Then it was as if the world began to melt; that the world had lost all sense of gravity and feeling. Garth felt like he was floating in gelatin, and he knew that wasn't good, somewhere in his brain. It was short lived, but Garth hit the ground hard, feeling his shoulder blade spike with pain. Before he knew it, all sense of hearing, taste, sight, and touch came rushing back as fast as he could say "bomb". Only then did he feel the sudden burning sensation that engulfed him, but it wasn't on him. It was coming from the gigantic mushroom cloud in front of him, the smoldering after effects of a dropped bomb. It wasn't nuclear, thank goodness, but it was just as deadly as a World War I grenade. Garth's vision was swept clean with bright white light, then reds and yellows as fire and air waves traveled past him in a hot sweep. He curled into a ball, trying to crawl towards a burning car for cover. He didn't know what to do anymore.
In a sense, he just wanted to let it all end now. It was better than thinking about how his parents and girlfriend may be dead…just like that. How all his life he learned about these problems around him, then find out firsthand how bad it was. It hurt. It hurt him, and it hurt his soul. He sat there, wondering when the next bomb would drop…