Mike is a long-time supporter of procrastination and enjoys doing as often as he can.
The massive ship shuttered then broke into several large parts crashing into the ground. The last of the large ships were gone. The ruins they left behind would take many years to rebuild and would most likely be taken over by nature long before man. The war was far from over, but the battle once thought lost now had hope.
A man slid down a broken airshaft to a room just as a series of explosions closed off his exit. He made his way into an axillary control room just as the last hallway collapsed. Behind him, the way closed with no way out. He checked his guns then checked around for supplies finding a field kit with some food and a working laptop with a connection to a cloud server but not the internet. The man sat down using the equipment to dress his wounds while heating some food. In a closet, he found a box filled with bottles of Wild Turkey whiskey. The man sat down with an open bottle and a blank screen.
Beginning the Beginning
Where do I begin? It’s hard to start a story with a solid start knowing where it all must end. Getting to the end is where most would like to start, and it’s that end that is the crucial part, but the end doesn’t explain the entire story, so I guess I’ll start at the beginning, As I sit here I can hear the structure creak and smell smoke. I don’t know if I have just moments or days before it all comes down. What I have are a couple of Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), six bottles of Wild Turkey, and this connection to a cloud. Trying to get to me would waste too many lives to save just one, so I won’t divulge my location. I’m ready to die to save what must be left of humanity if any still exists. I’m not a hero nor do I play one on TV, I just want people to remember us and why we fought. I should start with my name. My name is William James Masters, but most people called be Bill or Billy, Mac or Buddy……... sorry, I liked that song, but really, they just called me Bill.
Mom and Dad
In the beginning, there was nothing……... and no, I’m not going back to that beginning. I’m starting where this story began with me alone. I was or am the oldest of four children from Frank James Masters and Mary Lynne Colt Masters. It’s hard to see myself as the only one left, but that might be the truth for the entire world. I might be typing this for no one to read. Dad worked as a truck driver for twenty years before one slippery road in Michigan cost him and us his life. He died in the winter of 1995 just weeks after the birth of their last child, but I’ll get to her soon. I was twelve years old and the self-diagnosed man of the house. My mom was a stay-at-home mom until dad died. She had a degree in education, but she saw her family as her greatest accomplishment, but really, she had her last three children in the last six years keeping her on her toes while off her feet. Mom went back to teaching, where she taught for seventeen years until a student shot her over a bad grade.
Maggie and Frankie
Mom lived long enough to bury her second son. Frank Colt Masters Junior or Frankie joined the Marines right out of high school and served with distinction for four years. Frankie was home on leave. He signed his reenlistment papers and was on his way back to Afghanistan. That night he just turned twenty-one, and he and his friends went out drinking, and none of them survived that night. It’s hard to say what happened. The wreck was so bad that no one could tell who was driving or who was at fault. We buried my silver star war-hero brother, a closed casket with a footnote in the paper about the perils of drunk driving. Not that I’m bitter or anything. I know we most likely broke a few laws, but we buried him with his metals and our mother with his flag. We didn’t know then as we lowered our mother into the ground that our sister would be following her in just a year.
Magdalene Tabatha Masters or Maggie was just twenty when she died. Her friends called her Molly not because of her name but her drug of choice. She was a party girl and one of my greatest disappointments. No, I was never disappointed in her I was disappointed in how I handled her addiction. She was thirteen months younger than Frankie and his opposite. Where Frankie was driven, Maggie was drifting from party to party, just looking for a good time. She was the gifted one of all of us with grades that should have made her their class leader, but her reputation and purple hair put her on the sideline when they graduated. It’s just as well, she planned on streaking the podium, and it wouldn’t have been the first time. Maggie was the life of any room and a party in a person. I look back now, and I can see where things went wrong. When Frankie died, a part of her died too. She went from a borderline addiction to being high every day. I thought my job was as an enforcer with tough love. She was found in the back of a stolen car unresponsive, but really, she was dead.
I think I’m about half a mile underground. The roof just shifted, and I think this room is about to become my tomb…... sorry about the rhyme. As the roof moves, I wonder if I should speed up, but no, it's my story, so I’m telling it my way. The youngest of the four of us was Francene Marylynn Masters. She died about two years ago. Of the four of us, Pasties had the closest thing to life. Side note, we called her Pasties because of her choices in swimsuits or the lack of material. At the age of ten long before it would be a more apparent issue, she had found a set of pasties, you know those things meant to cover the nipple and wore them out to our pool instead of her bikini top. Mom just shook her head and didn’t say a word, but from there on, she was Pasties. A year after mom died in 2012, Pasties married David Harm, and his name should have been a clue. Eight years into their marriage and three months into their first pregnancy, good old David pushed her down a flight of steps killing both her and the baby. It would later come out while he was on trial about the years of physical and mental abuse. He got away with it……... but not really.
Dealing with Family
I killed him. At this point, there’s no need to hide it, and I killed the bastard. About a month after he was found not guilty, he and some of his friends went up to Lake Erie for a night of drinking and camping. I found myself following him after the trial, and that night, I found him on the beach passed out. His friends were at their campsite trespassing on private land around an illegal fire, also drunk and passed out. I stole a boat and took him out into the lake near their campsite. He never woke up. I struck him in the head with a rock I took from the beach and pushed him into the water. The police ruled it an accidental drowning saying he hit his head under the water and went down. I thought about the day after the trial and how he had told me how he did kill my sister because he didn’t want to be a father. I returned the boat and cleaned up my Jeep, getting away with murder. Even now, I dream about the lake. So maybe there’s some truth to that returning to the scene of the crime thing. At this point, if you want to stop reading this, I could understand, but I don’t regret it.
My sister’s death left me alone…… I know most of that is my fault. I drove everyone away. My solitude started with my first girlfriend, Sasha Smith. She was my friend long before she was my girlfriend. It’s hard to say when we became friends because it was like she was always there. I don’t remember a time when she wasn’t there. Sasha or Sassy was cute; I say cute because it’s creepy for a grown man to say a teenager was beautiful, but she was, more than any of that, she was fun to be around. Her father was from the Russian occupied part of the country of Georgia while her mother was from the American state of Georgia. Sassy told people she was a black Russian. At ten, she was my first kiss; she was the first girl I made out with and at thirteen. Our families all camped together, and one night, we snuck away from the group and kissed under the stars. It was one of those perfect moments you don’t realize until years later. No, we didn’t go all the way, but we went further than before and just maybe too far for us. She stopped hanging around us, and the next year the girls went off on their own forever, dividing boys and girls. She would later tell me she felt used that night, and that was why we broke up.
Mood Ring Head
I dated on and off throughout high school, but I never had another true friend that was a girl like Sassy. In my senior year, I met the girl that would be the longest relationship I would have…... assuming I am going to die down here. We met in homeroom on the first day of school. Denny or Denise Drake was fair-skinned with ultraviolet red hair. She changed the color from red to blue to green and rose gold, which was the closest thing to her natural color. I can say that I never saw her with her natural strawberry blonde hair in person, but the rug matched the drapes…… sorry about that. We went from lunch in school to studying after going out on official dates. She wasn’t the first girl I said I love you too, but she was the first to say it back. Despite my carpet joke, I respect her and want nothing but the best for her. When we broke up, we broke up hard with plenty of harsh words and accusations, but I would instead think about the good times.
A week before graduation, we were at our usual spot; a drive-in called Swenson’s. I had my first Jeep, and Denny loved taking it out into the country into the mud, but she also liked how difficult it was for the server with a vehicle without doors. We left the Cuyahoga Falls and drove into Portage county, looking for some mud and good times spending the day sliding around. With no doors, we ended up covered in mud. We stopped, and using a self-wash carwash; we cleaned the Jeep then each other. We drove into what was supposed to be a closed park and took our clothes off to let them dry…… yeah that’s why we got naked to let our clothes dry. Naked, illegally parked, we did what you should be guessing…... yes, we played scrabble. OK, no, not really, but maybe that part is just for us.
Long Term Break-up
After school, I got a job in a factory making toys. Denny started at Kent State in Kent, Ohio. She wanted to become a teacher, and from the last time, we spoke, she was teaching in an elementary in East Cleveland. I want to say we made up, but that would be a lie; we just became less angry at each other and just maybe a little nostalgic. She went to school and worked as a waitress in a restaurant nearby while I worked for the continuous operations B team from 6 am to 6 pm two days on and two days off. I think our schedules, as well as the pressures she felt working 18 hours a day with both school and work, broke us up, but that would take the pressure off me. I did nothing to help her with her rushed life, just thinking about what I wanted. It wasn’t too unrealistic for her to say I was treating her like a fuck buddy and not a girlfriend. After one particularly bad day for her, we fought, and it was over. I left her the apartment paying for it for the next year until she could take over the payments. No matter how angry I was, I would have never left her with no place to go. That’s not true; if she would have cheated on me, then it would have been different, but we were just kids playing house. I hope Denny, her husband, and child are still alive.
Driving for a Living
I just spent a lot of time talking about the past. I confessed to murder while saying how I was a bad boyfriend and brother. I think to understand how I got to where I am; I should explain my past. That includes the people I lost and those people I hurt along the way. A few years on the job, I was on my way to becoming a machine operator when I was laid off. The company wanted to cut costs while hiring a temp service over traditional hires. I had my Jeep and a minivan I bought hoping to convert into a makeshift camper but no job. I found a job with a delivery company where I use my vehicle, acting as an independent operator. I liked the idea because I would set my hours, but over time, I learned it meant I would work from sunup to sunset with a company that was never satisfied with good enough. Working fourteen hours a day, six days a week, changed my life, or that is it took the place of my life, and I let it. Now excuse me while I take a drink.
- My Private Global War, Part Two
Bill starts to talk about the events that led up to him being trapped underground at what might be the end of the world.