The Ronnenberg Confession

 

girl in cave

Image credit – Michal Matczak

The Haunted Wordsmith proposed a challenge whereby participants would pick the book of their choice (hardcopy or digital), turn to page 62, select line 6, and use that as the basis for crafting a poem, short story, or some other creative work.

Since I just checked out Philip K. Dick’s novel The Man in the High Castle from the public library, I decided to use that:

“And must have all the other artifacts in stock examined by University lab.”

As Professor Sterling Piper’s senior research assistant, twenty-two year old Gabriela Wallace had a valid key card to access his private research lab in McCarthy Hall at all hours. However, she still crept like literal thief in the night, dressed all in black, including gloves, and wearing sound absorbing shoes. It was after eleven on a Friday night as she navigated the work benches and displays by dim light.

If anyone checked the logs and discovered she’d been here, she could easily say she’d been catching up on collating recent samples sent over from Scripps, which she sorely needed to do. However, her mission tonight was notably different and infinitely more critical.

The straps of her backpack were uncomfortably tight, but she couldn’t afford to have the weight on her back moving enough to make noise. She wasn’t sure why she was so nervous as beads of sweat continued to form on her toffee-colored forehead, except that if she was caught, she could be condemned as an enemy of the state and executed.

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The Algerian Exchange

pillars

© Sue Vincent

Twenty-five year old Eileen Kateb could only hear the sound of her own breathing and her soft footfalls as she slowly made her way between the columns of the Cathedral de Sacre Coeur, which had recently been converted to a library. Her grandparents had quietly immigrated to England during the heyday of French rule over Algeria, so she could have blended in among the millions of Muslim women in the coastal city of Oran who looked just like her. However, she chose to dress as a European instead of clothing herself in a hijab, because, after all, Houari Boumédiène and his thugs knew she was here. That was the point.

“You can stop right there, Miss.” The man stepped out from behind one of the pillars to her left about ten meters ahead. He was average height, medium complexion, dark hair slicked back with Brylcreem, neatly trimmed mustache, pressed tan suit. He looked like an Arabic Peter Sellers. “I’m surprised the Americans didn’t send a male representative.”

“Actually, I’m British, and James Bond was too busy killing SPECTRE agents and seducing women in the Bahamas to accept this assignment, or perhaps you haven’t seen that movie.”

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Worlds: Stupid Sci-Fi Film Tricks, The Nuclear Option.

independence day

Poster from the 1996 film “Independence Day”

Periodically, I read fictional stories depicting the aftermath of a nuclear war as having devastating effects 500, 800, 1000 years or more afterward. But when I consult a credible source on the topic, recovery from such an event is considered relatively swift (months and years, not centuries). It is true that in the case of a “modest” nuclear war such as between India and Pakistan, nuclear winter (or significant cooling at any rate) would last years/decades, but afterward there would still be recovery.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying nuclear war is a good thing or that it shouldn’t be avoided, but it seems when a lot of folks consider the “unthinkable,” whether it’s nations using nuclear weapons or a person using a firearm in the commission of a crime, there’s a tendency to jump from zero to panic.

Huggins’ blog post reminded me of this, so I thought I’d do a reblog.

Oh, “Independence Day” is my favorite “Fourth of July” movie. Really, you can’t take it seriously. It’s just for fun.

G. Scott Huggins

A version of this post appeared earlier on my Patreon site, but I thought it was worth exploring here.

Let me introduce you to one of my pet peeves about SF movies in general, through that awesomely terrible film, Independence Day, a film that apparently existed for the sole purpose of trying to make Will Smith and Bill Pullman as President Lone Starr into badasses, if you kinda squint. Hard.

What was the funniest moment in Independence Day? Was it Will Smith’s “Welcome to Earth,” line? Brent Spiner’s performance as the clueless Area 51 boss? No, I suggest that it was the parts where humanity attempts to fight 15-mile diameter floating city-battleships with air-to-air missiles. It’s kind of a credit to the movie that when the shields go down and the missiles hit the targets that the response form the audience is a cheer rather than, “Wow, the humans scratched…

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The Unwanted Gift

alien

From the 1951 film “The Day the Earth Stood Still” starring Michael Rennie

The public hoped after the spaceship carrying Klaatu and the robot Gort launched from the Ellipse just south of the White House, that it was all over. The newspapers, radio, and TV broadcasts reported the full text of the speech the alien had given to the international group of scientists assembled at the park by the esteemed physicist Professor Jacob Barnhardt. For a time, the citizens of the world were terrified that the Earth would be destroyed if the Americans and Soviets continued their efforts to develop nuclear power and advanced rocketry.

But with the passing of weeks and then months, when nothing else happened, humans, being who they are, paid less and less concern to the dire warning of the man from another planet and got on to the next crisis or fad.

However, governments capable of observing orbital space and a small but select group of scientists knew that when Klaatu departed, he left something behind or rather six somethings.

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The Search for Armageddon

 

camera

© A Mixed Bag 2013

“It’s just a camera. Where’s the special device you told me about?”

“It’s quite special Mikiko, if you’ll allow me to explain.”

Everyone called Desmond Llewelyn an “old curmudgeon,” but the Japanese agent found him endearing, sort of how she remembered Sofu. For the past year, he’d been outfitting her for missions assigned by their two governments.

“It’s a sophisticated sensor that detects specific rad levels from weapons grade uranium.”

“Then I’m going into North Korea…”

“Not precisely. During World War II, your government conducted secret operations to develop the atomic bomb. After VE Day, a U-boat transported Nazi uranium to a base in occupied North Korea. A working prototype was developed but the war ended before they could use it.”

“So you want me…”

“Intelligence says that Kim Jong-un is bluffing and has no nuclear weapons, but they are actively searching for the prototype. You have to find it first.”

Seven years ago, Mikiko Jahn had been horribly mutilated in a nuclear power plant disaster. Her “reconstruction” had been extensive and left her with a body more than human, but the frightened little girl inside didn’t know if she had the courage to face her personal atomic holocaust again.

I wrote this for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge of November 5th 2017. The idea is to use the image above as the inspiration for crafting a piece of flash fiction no more than 200 words long. My word count is 200.

I leveraged two series I’ve been working on. The first is the saga of MI6 Agent Ian Dennis and his discovery that North Korea’s nuclear weapons development is a fake. The second involves Mikiko Jahn, a young Japanese technician who was horribly disabled and mutilated in a nuclear plant accident and who has been reconstructed using advanced synthetic materials and techniques to become more than human and an agent working covertly for the Japanese and British governments.

I did find out that the Japanese were working on the atomic bomb during the war, they did have a secret base in North Korea, and after Nazi Germany fell, a U-boat carrying the remaining Nazi uranium was sent to the Japanese. In real life, the U-boat was intercepted, and the confiscated uranium was used to make the first four American nuclear weapons. I thought I’d tweak history a bit.

Oh, “Desmond Llewelyn” is the name of the late actor who played “Q” in the first twenty or so James Bond, 007 films. I have a sort of affection for the character, so I thought I’d pay homage to the man behind “Q”. Also, “Sofu” in Japanese means “grandfather.”

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

To read other stories about Mikiko, visit:

  1. The Reconstructed Woman
  2. Burn Victim
  3. Woman Under Repair

The next chapter is The Swimmer.

The Mauritius Robbery Affair: Gardens of Peace

mi6

Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) building – London – Found at manchesterhistory.net

Chapter Nine: Gardens of Peace

December – MI6, London

“Glad to see you up and about, Dennis. I hear it was a near one this time.”

Ian was sitting in the office of Benjamin Cross, Director of the British Secret Intelligence Service. Although Cross’s name and background were a matter of public record, at the agency he was always referred to only as “The Director” or “Sir.”

“Yes, so I was told. Thank you for your concern, Director. Doctors said that if either shell had hit just a few centimeters one way or the other, I would have been killed instantly.”

The Director chalked up Ian’s stoicism to the attitude of a career agent, not knowing that during his recovery, the man had worked out the events of the night of Hall’s death in great detail.

“I’m sure you realize I didn’t call you in just to inquire about your health.”

“No, of course not, Sir.”

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The Mauritius Robbery Affair: Another Shot

Port Louis

Port Louis, Mauritius – Found at Mauritius Life

Chapter Eight: Another Shot

“He gave up his two mates so we should have this case tied up fairly soon, Ian.”

Police Lieutenant Winston Permalloo on the island of Mauritius where this whole mess began had finally gotten a break. A DNA sample of one of the four robbers who had been in Krista Bernham’s flat the night she was assassinated was matched up with a petty thief named Cassam Denmamode who was subsequently arrested in the aftermath of yet another heist. His attorney suggested he might be better off turning over his two accomplices rather facing a murder rap alone.

“What did he say about the fourth man, Winston?” Ian didn’t need to speak louder just because it was an international call, but decades of habit were difficult to break.

“Their boss, though Denmamode doesn’t know much about him. He planned all their jobs, emailed them their instructions for the robberies, and in addition to what they got for each haul, wired additional funds for them into an offshore account. The three we have here are small timers, but whoever put them up to this was a stone cold professional.”

“Qian.”

“Quite, Ian. It seems clear that the robberies were just a front for the real objective, the assassination of Ms. Bernham. Once that had been accomplished, the fourth man disappeared again and he stopped sending them any further crime plans.”

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