November 8th, 2033
I made my way to Dan and Maureen’s camp this morning only to find the place burned to the ground and not a soul in sight. I can only hope they had ample warning and got out in time, if not, God help them all.
I picked through the debris for a minute, taking it all in when I heard branches snapping underfoot behind me. I whirled around, gun in hand, and leveled it at the movement in the trees.
“Don’t shoot!” A kid’s voice cried out. I lowered my weapon and out of the woods stepped Dan Wolfe’s nine-year old son, Jimmy. He’d been crying and was trembling with fear. He looked around the campsite, and a whole new round of tears welled in his eyes.
“Jimmy, Jimmy, it’s me, Dante, remember me?”
He stopped and looked me in the eye, and I saw the horror in his staring back at me.
“The aliens took my Mom and Dad.”
“How long ago did this happen?” I said.
“This morning, before the sun came up. They came and they took everyone.”
I had a quick look around. There was nothing left to salvage. The camp was in ruins.
“All right, Jimmy, here’s what we’re going to do…”
I heard voices.
I looked at Jimmy. He looked at me. Slowly, and without a sound, we crept behind a debris pile and ducked low. The voices grew louder and when it became apparent they were human we both were able to breathe a sigh of relief.
Coming into the clearing were a group of men, five in all, – armed to the teeth and ready for business. The leader of the group, a thick, bald man with a full gray beard yelled out as he entered the compound.
“Dan Wolfe!” “Maureen!”
Jimmy rose slowly. He knew the man.
“Mr. Ross! Mr. Ross!” He yelled, waving his arms and running toward the group.
I rose from my spot and instantly had five weapons trained on me, but I expected as much and didn’t take offense. I raised my arms up over my head and turned around slowly, this would all be sorted out in a few seconds anyway, so there wasn’t any reason to get excited and take it personally.
Jimmy rushed up Mr. Ross, who never took his eyes off me and listened to Jimmy as he told his tale. When he was finished, Mr. Ross nodded his head and his men lowered their weapons
I held out my hand and Ross did the same.
“Jimmy tells me you’re a friend of Dan’s. You’re the guy who crashed the shuttle.”
“That would be me,” I said, shaking his hand, “Dante, Dante Mason.”
“Well, that explains why they targeted the Wolfes”.”
I couldn’t get angry. He had every right to drop the ball in my court, and moreover, he was probably right. I’ve been wondering if I’d brought this to Dan and Maureen’s doorstep myself.
“They’re still alive,” I said, “But, they’ve been taken. Most likely to the air base along Interstate 5.”
Ross looked away and signaled for his men to secure the perimeter. I looked at back down at Jimmy and he was looking back up at me. I knew, and he knew, I owed his old man and his mother big time.
“I’m going after them.” I said.
“What?” Ross couldn’t believe it. Jimmy smiled. I dropped to one knee and looked the freckle-faced kid straight in the eye.
“Listen, Jimmy, I’ve been to the base. I know how to get in and I know how to get out. If your parents are in there, I’ll get them out. I promise.”
Jimmy nodded his head, yes, and I did the same.
“Okay”. I said.
“Okay.” He said.
Ross had his men feed Jimmy while he and I had a good talk. I shared with him what I knew of the Threak, and he, a bit of the dried venison he had with him.
I told him of the air base and its operation and he told me of the other camps in the area and how an underground network was developing across the western states.
“Then you’ll need this.” I said, offering him the secondary pack I’d been carrying. At first, he looked a bit confused, but I insisted and he took hold of the sack and held it out in front of him
“Careful.” I said. “It has glass tubes inside.”
“Glass tubes?” Ross queried.
“Parts for a couple of two-way radios, CB’s, – a couple dozen transistors and capacitors, and, most important of all, tubes. It’s all pre-1980’s electronics, all tube, all good. I have a working one at my camp. I was bringing these parts for Dan. I’m sure he would’ve known what to do with them.”
Ross got it right away.
“Trust me, Dante, they won’t go to waste.”
And, I knew they wouldn’t. He understood the radios were a game-changer. Communication would open up the insurgency. A new day was dawning.
It was getting late. Shadows were growing long in the east and darkness would soon fall across the valley. We exchanged our goodbyes and I slipped back into the scrub and headed south.
I’ll be a stone’s throw from the base by this time tomorrow.
I have to get my friends out.