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I wrote a Sci-Fi years ago, “Sgt. Ma, Space Soldier.”
It became my number one, with frequent calls for a sequel.
So, I have responded with a Prequel, written 700 years BEFORE Sgt. Ma.
Supervolcano Yellowstone has erupted, plunging much of the world into a volcanic winter, killing plant and animal life. Cannibalism has become rampant.
Humankind is on the path to destruction.
A secret military base believes they can deliver survivors to other planets.
Chapter One SAMPLE:
Past famous seers like Nostradamus and Edgar Cayce set end dates for humankind, foretelling wars and natural disasters.
The world continued turning into the blackness of space, though the upper atmosphere had worsened and become deadly to life below.
Talking head news was filled with the dreaded Mayan Long Count Calendar ending December 21, 2012.
For some, waking nightmares include losing civilization from nuclear wars, carbon dioxide, political stupidity, or a returning messiah.
To an educated observer, it would appear that people have always been fascinated by ending more than living since repeated written apocalyptic predictions began circa Sixty-Six of the common era.
All failed to materialize in the end.
Instead, Mother Earth threw the kill switch on humans once more when Yellowstone erupted.
In the subsequent world’s vast volcanic winter, enormous amounts of ash in the atmosphere kept sunlight from reaching the surface, providing only twilight even in mid-day.
Yellowstone had relived its super volcanic past by ejecting various noxious materials sixteen miles up into the stratosphere, blocking and reflecting the sunshine that usually warmed the Earth.
A normal volcanic eruption would not have extended past the troposphere of seven miles. But, a typical volcano usually has only a single pipe of magma leading from the inner Earth to the surface.
Yellowstone was not a typical volcano, but a huge one called a supervolcano.
Any supervolcano could have many miles of magma below the surface, pushing to come out in a vast explosion.
The jetstream would continue to cause the circulation of ashes and sulfur dioxide worldwide in the immediate future, reflecting sunshine into space.
Harry knew the collection of people surrounding him in the truck was in more significant numbers than he had seen in weeks.
One might imagine the human diversity with him in varied colored garments wrapped against the cold.
Nearby sat a bald man, not looking into the eyes of anyone. He wore a pink-colored snow jacket highlighting his foot-long brown beard.
Across the aisle sat a black man looking more angry than scared, clutching his gloved hands as if to keep them from shaking.
To Harry’s left was an older woman with one functional arm, as the other just dangled, moving when the truck jostled back and forth. Her face looked like she had suffered frostbite with poorly healed pockmarks.
A middle-aged man clutched a young blond girl protecting her with his hands to Harry’s right.
If anyone said anything, it was just above a whisper. Few spoke.
Since most had lived in the same clothes for a long time, the smell inside the vehicle was unpleasant, but it was at least warmer than the sub-freezing temperatures outside.
Yesterday, the soldiers had called to Harry while he crouched and hid behind a rock outcropping twenty yards from the asphalt road, supporting a few enormous camouflaged, three-axle trucks.
An amplified voice said, “We know where you are. We have various tracking drones and infrared devices that see you. We are here to help, but you need to come to us. Our facility is warm. We will issue you fresh clothes, clean water, and food. For the first time in weeks, you will be safe.”
Harry had taken several more minutes to peek through a rock crack to watch the orange-helmeted people as they looked directly at his location.
He gave up and let them take him as he nervously left his protective cover, walking over blackened snow and stone-strewn ground closer to the trucks.
So began his truck journey that seemed never to stop unless to pick up other survivors.
The next day, the wheeled convoy finally halted after pitching and lurching over uneven roads.
“Alright. Everyone get out of the trucks,” one voice commanded.
Harry found himself standing in the cold, other survivors’ positions punctuated by foggy mists from their mouths.
He had assumed their rescuers were soldiers wearing orange helmets and blue jumpsuits. Strangely, none seemed to be armed. Later he would learn it helped get people hiding to move closer to the trucks.
The jumpsuits pushed the nervous group through colossal steel doors set deeply into the side of a mountain. Inside were various hallways, one ended in a darkened room filled with many sleeping cots with wooden frames that would scissor closed when in storage.
There were stripes of various pipes and conduits running along the ceilings and walls for a multi-purpose environment, likely including security, electrical, and water.
Harry thought, “Behind those huge doors, there has been a lot of effort and money spent here.”
Most sleeping cots ran in regular rows in a proper military manner.
It became a game, the rush to find a bunk you wanted, near someone you hoped, would not kill you in the calm of night.
Harry moved to the bunks further away from the steel doors.
A tall, skinny girl with reddish hair found one a few cots away from him.
She caught his eyes in the low light and winked.
Though Harry had not noticed her earlier, she had seen him as people stood in lines to enter.
“I am Alice,” she said while clenching her hands together, staring into the low light to see his face.
“They call me Harry, but my parents named me Harris. They are gone, of course. No one has called me either in a long time,” Harry said, almost wistfully.
Seven weeks ago, Harry was several hundred yards away from his mother and father as he had left them resting while he climbed a long hill to see what was on the other side.
The low light available through the ash made it hard to see further than a few hundred yards.
He heard two gunshots and ran back to the top of the hill to see three men bend over his parents, rifling through their clothing, and then running away.
Hampered by poor light, Harry could not see identifying features on the men as to age or race.
He ran down the hill as fast as possible but realized it was too late to save his parents.
In haste, he fell twice, rolled, and struggled back to his feet to move closer to his fallen parents.
Likely, his war veteran father would have stood up to the three thugs, but Harry saw a small entrance wound to the back of the head while the exiting bullet had blown out a large portion of his front skull.
Through his tears, Harry saw a similar pattern in his mother, as they were both preoccupied with watching Harry climb the hill.
The murderers wanted the meager migration food and clothing the family carried.
The thugs were gone.
Harry thought, “I will kill them.”
For a few moments, he thought of trailing them but did not know what to do if he found the murderers, as Harry did not have weapons or knew how to kill a person.
Mourning his loss but knowing he must bury his parents quickly before the pitch dark and cold of nightfall, he gently carried their bodies into a slight depression before the long hill. Time was not his friend.
There, he gathered many numerous limestone rocks to cover them up. It would be as good as he could do to protect their final rest.
He wanted to pray over the bodies but did not know the right words, so he said, “Thank you, Mom and Dad, for life. I love you and will miss you.”
Ragged tears went with him as he climbed the long hill needing to find cover from another sub-freezing night.
Alice interrupted his mourning and said, “There aren’t many our age here, Harry. Most are younger or old.”
Harry glanced around and said, “Yeah. I noticed. But, then again, not many of us are left of any age. I wonder what this place is. It is almost like a fortress. Those steel doors are the thickest and tallest I have ever seen. Why do you think they brought us here?”
Alice shrugged and said, “I dunno. But it is warmer than outside, and I can smell food. They have bathrooms, so there is water.”
Harry said, “I bet this is an old military compound; electrical power likely comes from a nuclear reactor.”
Alice said, “They told us we would be fed. When we are called to get food, would you sit with me, Harry?”
Fear is widespread these days for all. There was more courage in numbers.
If you were far enough away from the super eruption to survive the first few weeks, starvation or being killed by others to become their food was your likely prize.
Plants, fields of grain, and soybeans had died first, within a week, followed closely by herbivores and birds. Those that tracked and killed other animals lasted longer by feeding on the dead.
Ground Insects were still active though harder to find in the twilight. Harry had spent time trying to locate enough insects to eat.
His success was as low as their effect on his starvation.
Flies were everywhere, likely feeding and breeding on the dead.
The world was quiet now, covered with decaying bodies of grazers and predators.
He remembered cars driving up and down his hometown road, 8th St. in Marysville, Washington, and airplanes flying over.