POLAR VORTEX: SS: SIX

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
During the vicious whiteout Polar Vortex named Thor, a column of armored vehicles is vaguely outlined while crossing the frozen St. Lawrence River to Canada . . . and the nation's capital.
An unlikely band of young and old, male and female, give warning and chase.

Submitted: January 11, 2017

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Submitted: January 11, 2017

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POLAR VORTEX

A Short Story in Chapters

Nicholas Cochran

Chapter Six

 

Harold Stanton arrived at the glowing building during a moment when Thor was at a peak. In addition to snow, the mega storm was now blowing before it, a cloud of garbage and plant debris, including some fair sized tree limbs. 

Despite the amazing pounding from Thor’s detritus, the windshield of his Nytro 1 held fast, albeit somewhat cracked and starred in spots. 

Before he thought of getting off his snowmobile, Harold weighed the chances of the occupants of the glowing building being friendly.  

*  *  *

 

Andy played older brother to Colin. "Just come here; up the stairs. Get thawed out, man; this could be a hell of a long night. Thor appears to be refueling again.”

Wade started to follow Colin up the stairs with a lively step, “Well, Colin’s right, Andy. We saw guys with automatic weapons walking along the sides of M113 APCs; very frightening; creepy too, because they looked like they would have shot us if they’d seen us. Boy, we were …”

Andy cut in, “Well get warm, Wade, and you can tell Bill Noonan. He’s up here with me,” pausing, “we’ve had some weird crap going on around here too. Some guys speaking Arabic reversed the wires on our generator and cut our phone lines.” 

Wade stopped three steps from the second floor to look over his shoulder at Andy. When he turned around to face Andy, Wade’s features revealed concern and a tinge of fear. “Do you think those guys were in the carriers?”

“Could be Wade; step up and we’ll see what Bill thinks. You know he was Lieutenant Commander in the Navy. He’s changed his personality  . . .well, not really his personality, more his, well—his style. You know he’s usually a funny guy; lots of laughs, you know, like Jim Cornstalk’s dad. Well now, he’s a Lieutenant Commander again; very exciting.”

After more stairs, the two young men entered Bill Noonan’s office. It was empty. Sounds of laughter and relief were coming form the direction of the conference room. 

When Wade and Andy followed the laughter and opened the conference room door they were met with a Norman Rockwell animated portrait.

The boys were laughing and rubbing their hands together while Bill entertained them with jokes and comments to relieve their fears while getting them to stoke up as well.

He was doing the latter by feeding the lads any and all the contents of the three vending machines, which were strewn about all the way across and to the end of the huge table. 

The boys were lining up to get their free drinks while Bill acted as host and pressed all the correct buttons to supply the lads with their favorite soda.

“Wade,” cried Bill, “come in here my boy and get some food and drink. The lads have been telling me that you led them here. Well done. They also tell me that you guys saw some armed guys and APCs; what do you make of it all?”

Wade sidled up to the ‘table of plenty’ where he selected a Heath Bar that he was able to consume while he wrenched himself out of his jacket.

Colin brought him a Pepsi, Johnny Saxon gave him a bag of M&Ms. All six boys brought something to Wade while Bill and Andy looked on and smiled.

“Gee thanks guys,” laughed Wade, “you’re too good to me. I could have gotten you all frozen stiff.” He laughed.

Everyone laughed. After a few moments of serious munching and slurping, Bill urged the boys to approach the four electric heaters that he had rounded up and plugged in at the far end of the room.

“Come along troops, time to warm up while you tell me everything you saw and heard about these armed guys and the APCs.”

**  *

Among her extraordinary accomplishments over her seven decades, AdeleChambers had been an Olympic champion at cross-country skiing. Those same seven decades had taught her much about meteorology. She favored the study of winds.

Outside the Markham Potter Museum Mansion, Thor was blowing from the North.

Adele Chambers knew the exact mileage on a direct overland route to Brookvale, the closest town with police, firefighters as well as cadets from both.

After packing some food, and another full bottle of rum as well as a couple of changes of underwear, Adele Chambers attached her skis, put on her helmet with her Boruit Tactical Code Red V2 headlamp, consulted her compass, and set out. 

Thor gave her such a boost that she was soon concentrating only on staying upright and away from trees. Her headlamp barely managed to show her a pathway over the sheet of white countryside.

*  *  *

Harold Stanton was becoming comfortable with the idea of being pummeled by Thor who was pushing back twice as hard as when he set out. However,Harold’s Nytro 1 engine could manage—barely. He smiled to himself while he thought of calling Lenore when he realized that any form of communication during Thor was virtually impossible. 

He parked his three snow hogs while he loosened his jacked to extract both pistols.

The depth of the snow in the road was astonishing. For a moment,Harold thought of quicksand, smothering, sinking beneath the snow to an icy demise.

Luckily, at about five and a half feet down, he felt some stability that allowed him to gently ease across the thirty yards toward the front of the lighted building. He stopped every ten feet to look for people or shadows; any sign of activity. 

His first thought had been and still was that the occupants—if there were any—would be dangerous. The APCs weren’t on the frozen river for an exercise.

When he reached the brighter glow cast by the lights in the lobby of the building he decided to crouch and sidle around the perimeter of the building, looking for life and good guys.

When he maneuvered around the second corner of the building, he saw a strong light over the back door.

Snow had piled up in the parking lot of the building, where the lone vehicle sagged, completely covered with snow to the top of the windows while some snow oozed over the roof to be hurled away by gusts from Thor.

Harold drew closer to the back door. His right foot stubbed against a step. He managed to catch his balance before falling headfirst into the five to six feet of snow that had accumulated into a bank against the back wall of the building.

He eased himself against the deep snow and up the remaining two steps.

From his height, Harold was able to see through the door and down the corridor, which appeared to be long enough to be the main hall between the front and the back of the building.

In a flash, a body passed before him at the end of the hall. He recognized a youngster; a kid. Somehow this made Harold feel much better about the prospect of peacefully determining who was in the building and just what their intentions might be.

Harold waited for a few moments before trying the door handle. It was locked. He considered breaking the window, but even with the howling storm, breaking glass would certainly be heard by anyone on the first floor.

By now the wind was reaching a startling speed; perhaps one hundred and ten miles per hour. Harold could feel Thor pressing him against the door. He decided to try and pry open the door but had nothing handy to use for prying. 

In an instant, he found himself gently hitting the bottom left corner of the windowpane on the upper half of the door. It quietly broke. Painstakingly,Harold removed enough pieces of glass to allow his bundled and triple-gloved right hand to reach in and turn the lock. 

He immediately edged inside, closed the door, and fell to the floor in preparation for any resistance. Except for bizarre whistling noises made by the wind as it pushed through the broken spot of the door glass, Harold heard nothing by way of movement from a worker or other inhabitant of the building.

He decided to stand up and ease along one wall toward the front of the building, where he expected to find all the occupants who he was sure would be there, if for no other reason than to watch the doors.

Despite his precautions—or rather his expectations—he rounded the corner of the hall and saw only an empty lobby with an office behind a counter. To his left was a long hall going across the building. In front of him, past the hall, was a set of stairs that appeared to go to the next floor. Harold cautiously felt his way along the walls of the lobby, and then over to the wall supporting the stairs.

Before he had a chance to do or say anything, three boys came jumping down the stairs. Upon seeing a man bundled in layers of clothing, wearing a balaclava and a toque while waving two pistols, they stopped and cried out.

Harold took a chance. He dropped one pistol, tore off his toque and balaclava, and spoke.

“It’s okay, boys, I thought there might be bad guys in here. I saw them crossing the river. I live on the other side. Sorry about the pistol.”

He shoved it inside his outer jacket into a belt. He left the other one on the floor while he held the eyes of the last boy because he was nearest to the second floor and if he was so inclined, he could quickly spring up the two or three steps before Harold could get off a shot.

Colin Banner was the last boy on the top of the stairs.

“Hey, we’re friendly here. We saw those guys from across the river, too."

Andy and Bill heard the cries, the sound of the pistol hitting the floor, and the deep voice of Harold Stanton.

Both men appeared on the landing and drew back until Harold assured them that he was a good guy and had seen the same procession of vehicles that the boys had seen.

Bill told Harold to come up and get some food and drink and: “How the hell did you get here?”

End of Chapter Six


© Copyright 2017 Nicholas Cochran. All rights reserved.

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