© Jan Wayne Fields
“I say we’re gonna get the code real soon. We’re at DEFCON 2. If the Commies run the blockade and the Navy tries to stop ’em, it’ll be nuclear war.
Despite his apparent anxiousness. Air Force Corporal Brandon “Red” Kowalski was still deemed able to man one of the 50 Minuteman missile silos on the Ellsworth Air Force Base complex north of Sturgis, South Dakota.
“President Kennedy won’t risk World War III over this. He’ll figure something else…” SSgt Tyler Lundgren stopped talking when the alarm went off. Lundgren decoded the message. Both men retrieved their individual keys. They were at war.
I wrote this for the Rochelle Wisoff-Fields Friday Fictioneers writing challenge. The idea is to use the photo above as an inspiration to craft a piece of flash fiction no more than 100 words long. My word count is exactly 100.
When I found out that the image is titled “lights of sturgis,” I looked that up and found out that Sturgis, South Dakota has an annual Parade of Lights. I also found out that “the vast Ellsworth Air Force Base complex, the land north of Sturgis was dotted with 50 Minuteman missile silos. The L5 is 3.5 miles (5.6 km) from the center of the town.”
That led me to think about the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Here’s a quote from that article:
“On October 25, the aircraft carrier USS Essex and the destroyer USS Gearing attempted to intercept the Soviet tanker Bucharest as it crossed over the U.S. quarantine of Cuba. The Soviet ship failed to cooperate, but the U.S. Navy restrained itself from forcibly seizing the ship, deeming it unlikely that the tanker was carrying offensive weapons. On October 26, Kennedy learned that work on the missile bases was proceeding without interruption, and ExCom considered authorizing a U.S. invasion of Cuba. The same day, the Soviets transmitted a proposal for ending the crisis: The missile bases would be removed in exchange for a U.S. pledge not to invade Cuba.”
But what if the Navy did try to seize the Bucharest and tensions continued to escalate? The Soviets might not have transmitted their proposal ending the crisis and nuclear war could have been the result.
While all this was happening, I was an eight-year-old boy resting in a hospital in Omaha, Nebraska after having my tonsils taken out. I don’t have a clear memory of Mom or Dad, but much later on, Dad told me that while Mom and I were in the hospital, he and another Air Force airman were manning a missile silo preparing to launch their Minuteman at their designated target. You may or may not know that after receiving the nuclear go codes from the President, each of the two men had to individually insert a key into different locks and turn them simultaneously in order to launch their missile. This prevented any one person from being able to perform the launch.
Fortunately, in real life, none of that happened, but at the time, everyone thought it would, at least the adults.
I know. My story has practically nothing to do with the prompt photo. Normally, I’m pretty literal, but this time, I had a different idea and I ran with it.
To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.