POLAR VORTEX: SS: TWO

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic
A group of youths encounter a polar vortex with hurricane force winds, blinding snow, and terrorists.

Submitted: November 08, 2016

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Submitted: November 08, 2016

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 POLAR VORTEX

A Short Story in Chapters

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter Two

 

As a farmer with a substantial inventory of animals, HaroldStanton—a tall, roughly hewn, rail of a man in his sixties—did not normally finish his chores and quit much before seven, despite the encroaching dark of a January afternoon. 

Harold had barely managed to both feed and calm his livestock in the shelter of their three barns.

Along with the Canadian side of the St. Lawrence River, upper New York State was also suffering the white hurricane, Thor.

‘this goddamned snow’

Tons of wind-driven snow were pushing him from his largest—and sturdiest—barn in what he believed to be the general direction of his house. 

Thor, the overwhelming, inconceivable snowstorm was concealing everything behind a howling white blockade that had fallen between him and his home.

Stanton slowed, as a mighty gust threatened to topple him. He cursed and kneaded his memory to recall a whiter whiteout in some forty years of winters on his farm. Or, in fact, ever. 

Their radar commanded the weather forecasters to report in disbelieving tones, that bordered on amazement, that this ‘Super-Storm’, mega white whirlwind would produce winds of eighty miles per hour with gusts up to a hundred miles per hour.

Stanton, unsteady and concerned, was reluctantly recalling all the details from every report of the last few days as he spun his arms before him in a snowplow of rotating limbs. 

He completely lost all orientation. 

He decided to stop and stoop while he peered into the grayish maelstrom of the blinding snow. 

He planted his feet in a wide stance, bent his knees, and lowered his head and shoulders against the annoying—and unnerving—freezing cold hurricane. 

Suddenly, the ferocity of the blizzard slackened.

Harold slowly stood up in unabashed awe as he watched the merciless polar vortex slowly recede in a halting manner from the Eastern perimeter of his property line.  

Abruptly, his house appeared before him shifting its form within a lingering dancing veil of snow. 

“Well I’ll be,” whispering aloud, “that was—by far—the damndest thing I was ever in; I ever saw”.

After a few wary steps into that lingering veil of snow, he spied the door to the rear porch.

His wife, Lenore, remained in the hunched position she adopted while shouting her husband’s name into the opaque fury of the swirling white monster. 

On finally seeing her husband, she immediately stood erect as she directed a warm and very relieved smile at her darling Harold.

“Harold. My goodness, man; that was something, eh? Are you all right?” and she jumped off the three snow-drifted steps into his arms and hugged him. 

He didn’t let go until he told her that he was just fine—and so were the animals. 

He began to laugh as the tension and frustration ebbed from his soul and he found great comfort in the warmth of his wife’s embrace. 

The jolly couple plodded up the snow-covered steps. When they reached the stoop, they both turned around to make sure that all three of their barns were still standing.

Instantly, their brows crinkled in dumb amazement; they sucked in their breath; and looked at each other; astonished—and they both felt a trace of fear.

*  **

 

Then, just as Colin and Danny appeared beside their three buddies, the massive glowing object broke through the wall of snow just a few yards from the boys. They were all standing by the snowbank across the street from Billy Brimsek’s house. 

For no clear reason, all the boys instinctively jumped back behind the cover of the snow bank and scuttled toward the snow-laden hedge of the Cramer house.

A massive slow-moving object took on the shape of an enormous snowplow and snow removal vehicle. 

For a moment, Johnny’s grip released from Wade’s arm while the other boys inhaled deeply and then exhaled huge balloons of freezing breaths.

They peeked around the corner of the hedge as some inner voice told them to stay hidden while the monster snow- removal truck plowed past their concealment.  

Fierce mantles of snow covered a massive following vehicle. The shadowy outlines of this behemoth were somewhat similar to those of a tank. The boys could barely make out treads on the left side of the mechanism that gave it the total appearance of something very much like a tank.

While this second vehicle had followed the monumental snow removal truck up the steep Water Street hill, its headlights had projected  a gigantic image on the snowy screen in front of the boys, an image so large that it had appeared to be at least five or six times its actual size.

As the carrier went by, all the boys began to stand. They laughed and punched each other on the arm while they tried their very best to convince the others that they had felt no fear.

They all secretly admitted to themselves that for a moment there they had been very close to wetting their pants. 

That prodigious second vehicle—that Wade now identified as an M113 armored personnel carrier—had barely clanked past them when Danny jumped right up into Wade’s face.

“Wade,” he yelled over the noise of the passing carrier, “I recognize that thing; that tank thing; it’s an armored personnel carrier.”

Wade bent toward Danny’s right ear, “I know; I’ve seen one somewhere; can’t remember where.”

“But I do,” yelled Danny, inches from Wade’s left ear, “I saw a bunch of them in Harrisburg, the other afternoon; across the river; in the States.”

He added something but Wade had already straightened up and taken a step back in a gesture of surprise; even disbelief.

Looking around, Wade saw all his companions drawn about him in a tight circle; close enough to be barely visible through the white shroud of snow that encircled them. 

Now the streetlight in front of Billy Brimsek’s house was simply a glow point suspended in a sea of white. There were still no visible house lights; or cars on Highway 2. 

And Billy Brimsek had still not come outside.

While the boys instinctively began to form a huddle, the lights of another approaching vehicle once more projected a colossal image onto the whipping veils of biting snow crystals.

Johnny Saxon once more grabbed Wade’s arm and pointed. 

Suddenly all the friends were in a tight circle no more than three feet from each other. Thor’s thundering winds now forced the boys to lean right up against one another to be heard.

“Guys; I have this funny feeling about all this,” Wade shouted to them, “something is wrong about it. Where would M113 APCs be coming from around here? The Armory is across the Highway—Royal Way—and a good two blocks to the north. These things are coming from the south; from the direction of the wharf and the street along the park.”

The other boys nodded and muttered muted agreement. “Let’s get on our cell phones and see if we can call home. Our parents can check it out with the police and the Army Reserve. This whole thing is looking really sinister to me; what about you guys?” 

Wade leaned in even close while the boys became shouting white statues. They all thought it was at the very least, “really weird and kinda creepy.”

A couple of the more articulate ones found it frightening.

Colin yelled the idea that maybe these thing were coming across the frozen St. Lawrence. 

That comment now scared the hell of most of them. 

As one, they dove into secret, warm pockets for their cell phones.

None of the phones produced a signal.

Now Johnny Saxon was very frightened. He couldn’t quite tell the others what it was that was deeply disturbing him; only that he thought they should run for home right away.

“But we can barely see three feet.” Danny pointed out. 

Just then, the ghostly shape of another mammoth vehicle began to cut through the cascading curtains of white and reveal its nature.

The boys ducked back behind the hedge and Wade felt compelled to tap each of them and motion for them to retreat even farther back from the street. 

They inched through the deepening snow and hid beside the front stairs of the Cramer house, on the side away from the approaching vehicle. It was another M113 APC. 

Suddenly, Danny pulled Wade’s ear to his mouth. “Look, Wade, there are guys too.”

Danny and Wade punched the other boys’ arms and pointed. Drifting shapes of walking white-clad men with white hoods went in and out of focus as Thor determined. 

Nevertheless, the shapes were enough to reveal through the stormy whiteout that they were men carrying automatic weapons and very powerful Cree XHP 70 flashlights. 

The bobbing white puppets were walking on either side of the M113 shining their lights in a careful pattern along the front areas of the houses and particularly behind the snowbanks.

Suddenly, an incredibly strong beam of light shot out from the area of a hand of the armed man on the boys’ side of the street. The boys all ducked down and flattened a foot or two into the snow beside the steps leading to the front door of the Cramer house.

Even Thor could not eliminate most of the power of the Crees. 

After the beam past their position, the boys were beginning to shake off the accumulated snow from their backs, necks, and heads when Wade shoved then all back down again with a scythe-like motion as two more figures preceded yet another M113. They too were carrying automatic weapons as well as Cree flashlights.

The boys once more hit the increasingly cold deck and began to feel very frightened.

Some had to bite their tongues to keep from crying. 

A third M113 plowed through the whistling maelstrom with two more armed men with Crees accompanying that vehicle. 

The instant the last ATC passed, the snowy late afternoon became surprisingly dark. 

The boys slowly raised their heads. The procession of illuminated airborne drifts of snow had passed.

After a couple of minutes the boys rose and began to chatter at one another in a young person’s way of releasing both the fear and anxiety that had gripped their souls and laid them low for almost fifteen minutes. 

They all huddled to talk and decide on their best move.

 

End of Chapter Two


© Copyright 2017 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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