A Warm Wind

A warm wind blows the acrid smoke across the land that was scarred and ripped apart from the devastating blow. A young woman, wiping sweat off her forehead, is trying to grasp in her mind the scene that surrounds her. Even though what she is seeing is not too pleasant, she knows she is the one to blame. "Why?" she said, with tears in her eyes. "Why did I do it?” thinking of the circumstances that led to this horrid day. How could it have happened?

        She could hear each step she took echo down the hall, which connects the ready room to the firing room at the United States Air force’s number nine-missile silo, located in Jackson County, Wyoming. She is the lone person in this operation and nothing would, or could, stop her. Her mind was made up. She thought back to her childhood problems and the hardships during her adolescent years. The moving from town to town and not having a loving family. She joined the Air Force to show everybody and herself that she was somebody to respect, not somebody to kick around. As she pulled the body of her coworker to the storage area across the firing room, she is committed to her goal. "They must pay," she said softly. As those words were said, she moved towards the console. "Now!" At that moment, her fingers grabbed the shiny red knob and she turned it with vengeance. She pulled the key out of the firing knob and put it on a chain, which she hung around her neck. A scorched memento of the situation she is living.

        I was making my way up the hill, trying to find any sign of life. It was silent. I had nothing left: no family, no friends, and no possessions, just the instinct to survive. There was not any time to be stunned at what just happened. I was lucky. When the threat of nuclear war posed its ugly head forward, I had built a shelter into which I could escape. My supplies had dwindled down, so I decided to stock the shelter so I would be prepared if the unlikely event occurred.

        As I walk along the road that leads out of town, a young woman sitting on a rock, sweating from the summer sun, burst into tears when she saw me. I asked her where she came from. "Jackson County," she said, softly and nervously. We embraced each other, knowing there is another living soul. Thank God!

        A few days went by without a sign of any living creature. Maybe we are the only two people left on this smoldering heap called Earth. Could it be? For the first time the thought ran through my mind. What in God's sake happened? Who was the murderer, the destroyer of life?

        She was a plain woman, yet sort of beautiful in a certain way. I respected her strength to endure this situation. I was not easy. The feelings she had inside she never parted with easily, yet, she did talk a little about her past. The problems with her parents, the moving from town to town, made it difficult for her to make friends. I tried to find out more about her, but it was to no avail. I was willing to listen and reach out. She chose not to talk about it.

        Winter approached fast and the cold northern winds reached out and grabbed us without warning. I poked the wood in the fireplace and the flames gave enough heat to make the room bearable. We embraced each other without saying a word. We were close, yet so far away from knowing each other. To survive would be impossible without other people to interact with. The problems were too numerous, and it took its toll on both of us. Both of us knew what we had to do. The answer lay on the table. I noticed a glistening reflection of a metal object that hung on a chain around her neck. I asked her what it was. She said, "Nothing special" It was a key and I asked her why she had it. She said, "If I had been wiser I would not have this key now, but I was a fool and sometimes fools make mistakes."

        The fire was smoldering away and the blazing sun rose up from the horizon, but with one difference, there was no person to greet it. The Earth rotates silently without life, around and around.





James Killmer

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