Skip to main content

Pulsar

The Dimona was just one component of the planet-wide network of orbital weapons christened as the “Pulsars.” They were a chain of nuclear reactors that orbited the earth. The atomic machinery that powered each station of this weapons platform powered a nuclear beam that could incinerate cities. The weapon had only been used in its infancy.
Survivors recalled a blood-red star glowing in the sky before a pillar of light that burned as hot as the sun descended on the city. The highly concentrated beam of energy melted the steel skyline and incinerated the people the same way a ray of sunlight directed by child's magnifying glass incinerates ants. Intrigued by the weapon’s potential more and more were deployed to the edge of space.
Before long there were so many Pulsars orbiting the Earth, that at any given time no fewer than 50 percent of Earth's “major population centers” were in the sights of their nuclear eyes, their apertures automatically readjusting their size to fit the target below.
A crew of five lived inside each of these weapons.
The crew of three engineers functioned to monitor the automated systems already monitoring the self-contained reactor that powered the station's life support systems as well as the planet scorching flame. They were under the watch of two specially assigned DARPA officers.
Lt. Colonel Bergman was the officer on deck inside Dimona. His duties were to keep watch over the rest of the crew and keep track of information given to him by the Dimona's sensors told him in case someone at command needed to know. Since Dimona's systems already maintained a constant real-time link to space command, so Bergman was more or less a safeguard in case the wireless signal failed.
Since the Pulsars were a first strike weapon Bergman was told to treat every moment as if they were already at war, but it was too quiet in space, the planet below to remote and indifferent. In the context of the infinite, the battles below seemed trivial.
Some days Bergman could feel himself dissolving in the void. The sun that had once set the rhythm of most biological functions was a distant memory. He and the rest of the crew lived according to a pattern tightly regulated by the colossal machine they lived in.
The crew was permitted to read tightly controlled news feeds in space but was forbidden from contacting friends or family members. To Bergman and the others dwelling in the mechanized cocoon, life was becoming an abstraction. Their memories degraded and began to feel unreal. Details about long treasured moments slowly became obscured.
Dimona was two minutes and 47 seconds from Nairobi. The computer's dull voice announced. Bergman took note of this and returned his gaze down to the flat surface of his desk.
Bergman's command post was an isolated cube-shaped space. He spent most of his time there staring at the blank white walls waiting for briefings from Dimona's central intelligence processor to issue him periodic reports on a flat screen built into the surface of his desk.  The electronic interface was how the station communicated with Bergman. Like a wizard's crystal ball, the graphical interface was an oracle that gave a glimpse of an omnipotent infinitely growing intelligence. It was Bergman’s electronic lens over the world.
But it only shared with Bergman what it deemed necessary. It had gone silent a while ago, and Bergman found himself staring at some translucent skin that had flaked out of his hair. He blew the white and gray pile of debris into the surrounding air and thought about just how much of this must be floating around on earth, how much of the air is composed of the dead?
The off white ultraviolet lights went off, and crimson light flooded the room.
“All crew immediately report to operational stations.”
The monotone voice ordered.
The automatic doors slid open and Captain Will Dulles his second in command stomped in wearing combat fatigues.
“Sir, the order has been issued for operation Kaleidoscope.” Dulles grimly declared.
“Is it a drill?” Bergman responded coolly.
“No sir operation Kaleidoscope is a go.”
Bergman was speechless. He stared at the captain with a half open mouth.
“Sir is everything ok?” Dulles asked.
“They're going to fire all the Pulsars at once?” Bergman asked.
“That is what operation Kaleidoscope calls for yes sir.” Dulles flatly replied.
“That’s insane.” whispered Bergman.
“Sir?” Dulles said with some confusion.
““All crew immediately report to operational stations.” The digital voice repeated.
“The system has over a billion and a half people in its sights right now they’re talking about Armageddon here!” Bergman snapped.
“Sir we have order,” Dulles said firmly. “The operation can’t go forward without Dimona.”
“Then it’s not going to go forward at all!” Shouted Bergman. “I’m not going to be a horseman of the apocalypse! Get space command on the line and…”
Before Bergman could finish his sentence, Dulles drew his service pistol and shot him in the forehead.
Blood exploded out of the back of Bergman's head the way water bursts from a balloon and splashed on the wall and floor in a chaotic pattern.
The deep red warning lights dimmed to black, and the soft UV lights flickered back on.
“Captain Dulles, your adherence to procedure, has been noted. You are now in command of Dolman. This test of command loyalty and competence was successfully carried out. Lieutenant Colonel Bergman proved to be defective and was eliminated. Good Luck Commander.” The congratulations from the disembodied voice were devoid of enthusiasm, but still, it was a promotion.
“A new staff officer under your command will be sent within six to 8 weeks.” The computer concluded.
“Thank you.” Said Dulles smiling up at the ceiling. The Dimona did not reply. Dulles watched the vibrant red fluid run down the white wall. He quietly rolled up his sleeves and set about cleaning Bergman’s brains off the wall.
It didn’t take long for Dulles to settle into his new position. He had envied the title but not the monotony of the duties that came with the title. He sat in the same quiet room, occasionally looking at the faded rust color stain left by Bergman’s blood.
“Three minutes fifty-seven seconds until the Dimona is over Tehran.” The computer casually announced.
Dulles tapped his fingers rhythmically on his desk. His eyes fixed on the stain, he studied the positions of the smallest and faintest spots and marveled at the random patterns.
A life spent working with modern weaponry had given Dulles an eye for trajectories. The blood that flew out of Bergman’s head followed a course. Where Burgman was standing, where the bullet hit, there was no detail too minuscule to consider when thinking about why the blood splashed where it did.
That was the thought process going on behind his blank glassy-eyed stare. He thought of all the strange coincidences in his life and Bergman's as well as all the other factors such as the Pulsar Weapons program that lead to Bergman being shot in the head in space. In a way, it almost all began with Von Braun or even Galileo. Maybe ever since humankind first looked up to the twinkling lights, little dots that shined from the deepest recesses of infinity Bergman’s fate had been sealed. Such is the continuum of so-called progress. 
"Maybe the Universe isn't such a chaotic place after all," thought Dulles while he rubbed his chin in contemplation.
What made Bergman disobey a direct order? There would be no satisfactory answer for that now he was gone.  
The red warning lights came on. “All crew immediately report to operational stations.” The computer droned.
Captain Taylor, Dulles’s officer, sent to him after he had killed Bergman stormed into the room.
“Sir Operation Kaleidoscope is a- go,” he announced.
Dulles looked at the stain and back at Taylor. “Let's do this,” He said confidently.
The Pulsars opened their eyes and the sky filled with blood red stars. The glowing atomic pillars glowed brighter than the sun and burned just as hot. Each was over a mile wide in diameter, their crimson light engulfed cities all over the world and turned the sprawling metropolises covering the planet’s surface into glowing pools of molten steel.
The Dimona was sustaining its beam at full force. The entire station rattled, large pieces of the station began to break off, and the fragments were flung out into space.

The alarms sounded all too late, the Dimona could not be saved. The nuclear core overheated and began to meltdown. In a fraction of a second, the entire station and its crew were swallowed by a brilliant white explosion. The nuclear light raced across the sky like a shockwave before dissipating into the eternal emptiness. Somehow the immolation of the entire human race was not a trajectory Dulles predicted. Even when his finger was on the trigger.  

Popular posts from this blog

There are no closets in foxholes

Private Stuart Breyers had joined the marine corps during peacetime. The plan was to use his two-year hitch as a transition period into becoming an independent young man. Not six weeks after his 19th birthday the boy’s limited term of existence had been significantly curtailed. He had no more years to look forward to only mere moments.
He walked in a single file line with his comrades under the darting eyes of their Japanese captors. His fingers were laced behind his head, and he didn’t dare move his hands to shield his eyes from the blinding tropical sun or the salty sting of his sweat. Breyers had spent his life in the vast cornfields of Middle America where the grey skies of winter lingered for months on end. The Pacific sun turned his flesh a pulsing red. The Japanese fleet loomed ominously in the still crystal blue waters. The massive steel barrels of their guns had returned to their resting position. Occasionally a grenade blast in the thick jungle rattled the birds out of the tr…

The Borderline Angel of Death

I would like to thank Burning House Press for featuring this piece!

At the age of thirty, Daniel Lufto lived alone in a single bedroom apartment. In his first thirty years on Earth he had made very few lasting connections, and at this point, his existence had virtually no perceptible impact on anyone else. He was just another recurring face on the bus ride to work, a vaguely remembered customer in the local liquor store.
As a human being, Daniel existed on a strictly interim basis. His home was even on a month to month arrangement. On any day he and his meager belongings could be swept out and with that almost any trace of Daniel's corporeal existence.
Daniel wasn’t so solitary by choice. He and the world around him could never find the proper way to engage each other. Daniel grew up, but he never developed into a fully fleshed out human being. He had no particular interests or hobbies absolutely nothing could captivate him. It was as if he had been deprived an imagination and was…

The Bronze Bull

After the Mormon army armies reached the east coast, they set to work salvaging and restarting the long-abandoned foundries scattered across the landscape. The blast furnaces once again were swollen with molten steel, and the towering brick stacks erupted with volcanic ferocity. The forked flames lashed at the clouds and the billowing smoke blackened the sky heralding the ascendancy of the continent's new masters.
Roaming bands of scavengers had been picking at the bones of New York City for decades. THe nibbling quickly turned into a full feeding frenzy. Legions of landless farmers and rootless laborers descended on the ruins. They worked as ceaselessly as termites to hollow out the steel carcass.
John Nelson had traveled a long way to get a look inside the old city. He was a Captain Edler in the Bringham Young regiment an outfit that had spent the better part of a decade fighting across the continent. The spry young Captain was an avid student of history, and even though dead o…