Monday, 5 October 2020
Weekly Update No News and some short fiction 'Strike Like Lightning'
Expecting final proofs and all artwork files for approval at the end of this month or beginning November at the latest.
I don't write much with a military background at all. I wrote this very short story when there was actually a little scare over the F-35 Fighter (I just can't call it a Lightning although I do in the title. There is only one Lightning (this one)).
[Image source: San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive, no known copyright restrictions]
Anyway, this story is about the new(ish) Lockheed "airplane". I changed the ending of this story just today.
Strike Like Lightning
Number withheld. I thumbed the cell screen.
‘On base, checked in with OSIHQ.’
‘Chili’s, off I-95, a strip mall towards Morningside.’
The connection was cut. I called Captain Kierkegarde in the Office of Special Investigation, to report leaving the base. They had my number, doubtless they’d follow me on GPS.
It was a biker place. My haircut stopped conversation, much as I assumed Specialist E-7 Steenburgen’s entrance had, when she arrived. We were both in civvies, so the conversations began again, but in whispers punctuated by glances. She had a beer in front of her, I pointed at it and waved at the owner. No-one would have hired a bartender that ugly.
She waited until Brad Pitt moved to the other end of the bar.
I flashed my DD-2 and her eyes widened at the red color.
‘It’s complicated,’ I shrugged. ‘Tell me... Everything.’
Perhaps she wondered why I hadn’t asked to see her own ID.
‘No way, tell me why OSI let you on base. What the hell could you be investigating?’
I read the words she’d left out in her eyes: Old Fart. Not too old to remember that I’d enjoyed the company of many attractive non-coms, back in the day.
‘SH at Tucson Air National Guard. An everyday story of victimised women. It’s a real investigation. They called me.’
‘Yep, another International Military Student getting felt up by some peckerhead.’
‘I pressed buttons for Power Point there as an E-3. Got transferred out for creaming a peckerhead.’
I smiled, ‘Where would the military be without peckerheads?’
She smiled too and gave the punchline,
Another beer came unbidden and I let it stand. The woman chugged the last of her previous and took a swig of the next.
‘Spill it then,’ I said.
‘The Lightning II, you read it?’
‘Nothing classified: just internet, Julian’s joke pages - the usual’.
‘It’s not true.’
‘Didn’t think it was. No big deal is it?’
I finally took a drink of the second beer.
‘Why d’you call me?’ I knew the answer, and she gave it.
‘You served with Dad.’
‘He was a good guy. I miss him.’
Steenbergen Senior had died in Baghdad at the tail end of Gulf II. I remembered the round entering his back.
‘You were there, at the end.’
‘He died well, like you would.’
‘You don’t know that.’
But I was pretty sure she would, if it came to that.
One more swig and she let it out.
‘Thing is, it’s sort of half-true. We’ve sold the Israelis a batch with that fault. Ours are clean. No F-35 is going to fall out of American skies.’
‘Is that all? They’ll ground their own and find the fault, won’t they.’
‘They’re not operational yet. Some expendables are going over to Nevatim to train with them.’
She looked at me.
‘Come on, ours will be found clean and they’ll have a disaster on their hands. With American casualties.’
I should have shot her and called OSI for clean up. Sometimes following orders isn’t the right thing to do.
There, that was different, wasn't it?