The Lucky Strike

The Lucky Strike by Kim Stanley Robinson Read Free Book Online

Book: The Lucky Strike by Kim Stanley Robinson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kim Stanley Robinson
Tags: Fiction/Science Fiction General
it myself. Besides, the bomb exploded miles beyond Hiroshima, look for yourself! That’s minutes .” He wiped spit from his chin and pointed at January. “You did it.”
    â€œYou don’t know that,” January said. But he could see the men had been convinced by Shepard, and he took a step back. “You just get me to a board of inquiry, quick. And leave me alone till then. If you touch me again,” glaring venomously at Fitch and then Shepard, “I’ll shoot you.” He turned and hopped down to his seat, feeling exposed and vulnerable, like a treed raccoon.
    â€œThey’ll shoot you for this,” Shepard screamed after him. “Disobeying orders—treason—” Matthews and Stone were shutting him up.
    â€œLet’s get out of here,” he heard McDonald say. “I can taste the lead, can’t you?”
    January looked out the Plexiglas. The giant cloud still burned and roiled. One atom ... Well, they had really done it to that forest. He almost laughed but stopped himself, afraid of hysteria. Through a break in the clouds he got a clear view of Hiroshima for the first time. It laid spread over its islands like a map, unharmed. Well, that was that. The inferno at the base of the mushroom cloud was eight or ten miles around the shore of the bay and a mile or two inland. A certain patch of forest would be gone, destroyed—utterly blasted from the face of the earth. The Japs would be able to go out and investigate the damage. And if they were told it was a demonstration, a warning—and if they acted fast—well, they had their chance. Maybe it would work.
    The release of tension made January feel sick. Then he recalled Shepard’s words and he knew that whether his plan worked or not he was still in trouble. In trouble! It was worse than that. Bitterly he cursed the Japanese, he even wished for a moment that he had dropped it on them. Wearily he let his despair empty him.
    A long while later he sat up straight. Once again he was a trapped animal. He began lunging for escape, casting about for plans. One alternative after another. All during the long grim flight home he considered it, mind spinning at the speed of the props and beyond. And when they came down on Tinian he had a plan. It was a long shot, he reckoned, but it was the best he could do.
    The briefing hut was surrounded by MPs again. January stumbled back from the truck with the rest and walked inside. He was more than ever aware of the looks given him, and they were hard, accusatory. He was too tired to care. He hadn’t slept more than thirty-six hours, and had slept very little since last time he had been in the hut, a week before. Now the room quivered with the lack of engine vibration to stabilize it, and the silence roared. It was all he could do to hold on to the bare essentials of his plan. The glares of Fitch and Shepard, the hurt incomprehension of Matthews, they had to be thrust out of his focus. Thankfully he lit a cigarette.
    In a clamor of question and argument the others described the strike. Then the haggard Scholes and an intelligence officer led them through the bombing run. January’s plan made it necessary to hold to his story: “...and when the AP got under the crosshairs I pushed down the switch, but got no signal. I flipped it up and down repeatedly until the tone kicked in. At that point there was still fifteen seconds to release.”
    â€œWas there anything that may have caused the tone to start when it did?”
    â€œNot that I noticed immediately, but—”
    â€œIt’s impossible,” Shepard interrupted, face red. “I checked the switch before we flew and there was nothing wrong with it. Besides, the drop occurred over a minute—”
    â€œCaptain Shepard,” Scholes said. “We’ll hear from you presently.”
    â€œBut he’s obviously lying—”
    â€œCaptain Shepard! It’s not at all obvious.

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