Authors‎ > ‎Thomas Calabrese‎ > ‎

COSMIC SALVATION

posted Sep 12, 2014, 6:18 AM by Ron Pickett

COSMIC SALVATION

 

            The giant asteroids were on a collision course. One was almost six hundred miles across at its widest point, the other was slightly less than five hundred.

They had been floating through the infinite vastness of the Whirlpool Galaxy for thousands of years but destiny had other plans for them.

 When they hit the impact was so immense and incalculable that the largest piece left of both asteroids was less than a mile across. Billions of particles were dispersed over millions of square miles of infinite space.

Centuries passed until one chunk of these orphan rocks drifted into the earth atmosphere. The two hundred ton projectile was a beam of bright light as it flamed across the sky. It was burning and disintegrating at a rapid rate. Its own speed and gravity was cannibalizing and devouring it, but unlike most meteors that vaporize into this dust, this one's twenty ton core made it all the way to the ground.

It exploded into the Hindu Kush mountain range and cut through the  solid rock formation as easily as a surgeon's scalpel through human flesh. When the meteor stopped, it was imbedded eighty feet below the surface. There was a faint humming sound and an orange glow to  it. The meteor's location prevented it from being seen from above. This was June 7, 1952. For decades the Pastun tribes of the region knew there was something different about this area. Sometimes they would feel the ground vibrate under their feet. The ground was distinctively warmer here. Many thought it was an underground hot spring or volcano. Still others felt it was something else, sinister or spiritual....opinions varied as time passed.

Over the years the humming grew softer and orange glow diminished.

            Firebase Viper was a small forward operating base, fifteen bunkers and a LZ. It was located near the Afghanistan and Pakistan borders.

Third platoon of Lima Company 26th Marines had just relieved Bravo One Nine and had only been at Viper for a few weeks.

Corporal Mike Hoffman was playing cribbage with Ron Pickering. Lance Corporal Norman Muhl was sending an e-mail to one of his girlfriends, both were named Gail so to avoid confusion, he always consulted his notebooks which contained pertinent and extremely personal information on both. Lance Corporal Muhl considered it a great accomplishment to keep two woman dangling from his strings of verbal deceit.

PFC Frank Summers was browsing through a Popular Mechanics magazine and Corspman Griswald was catching some zzzzz's.

Sergeant Van Zandt entered. “Hoff, patrol..ten mikes.” and was gone without waiting for even a nod of acknowledgment.

Everybody gets a nickname in a grunt unit. It's a rite of passage. Hoffman was Twister because he was from Oklahoma's Tornado Alley and had an uncanny sixth sense when it came to predicting bad weather.

Pickering was called “Samaritan” because it was just his nature to help anybody who had a problem...he was sometimes called “Sam.”  Summers was Pseudo, short for pseudo-intellectual. Psuedo was always searching for explanations even where they weren't any to be found and liked to think that he was smarter than he really was. Muhl was “Ab” not Abe, but Ab. No Marine is ever going to be called Norm Muhl by his buddies as in normal so ab was added. Abnormal shortened to Ab. Griswald was called “Lampoon” after Clark Griswald in National Lampoon's Vacation. He was also kind of a dufus. Van Zandt was the “Bear” not just for the obvious reasons, but partly after Teddy Roosevelt who said “Walk Softly And Carry A Big Stick” Teddy Roosevelt also had a great affection for the American Grizzly Bear. Teddy just didn't fit a man like Van Zandt who was both mentally and physically strong. A Marine would be better off ignoring the roar of an angry Grizzly than disregarding an order from Sergeant Van Zandt. Nicknames have their own twisted logic and rules of application. If the name sticks, that's good enough. Bear pulled out the map, set it on the ground and put rocks on each corner to keep it from blowing away.

This is our sector of search.” and pointed to a place on the map.

What are we searching for?” Samaritan asked.

Some soldier walked off his base last night. Left his weapon and all his fighting gear behind.”Bear answered.

He deserted? He picked a hell of a place to beat feet...ain't nothing out here except rocks and Taliban.” Lampoon laughed.

Maybe he was sleepwalking...he could of had a dream about donuts and lattes and went out looking for the nearest Starbucks.”Ab interjected. “Kind of like the last time you had a dream about marshmallows and when you woke up, half your pillow was missing” Ab taps Samaritan on the head.

You know how those doggies are. He probably decided to go after the Taliban on his own.” Twister said.

Without his weapon?”Ab questioned

All Army dudes are basically a cross between Captain America and Audie Murphy. He just wanted to make the fight fair, his bare hands are lethal enough.”

I sure would like to know his motivation.” Pseudo rubbed his chin.”

You can ask the bonehead if we find him. Saddle up. You got point,

Twister.” Bear ordered. “The sooner we get out there, the sooner we get back.”

Roger that.” Twister responded.

The patrol was almost at the end of its grid search when Twister felt something, not anything physical, more like a hunch. He instinctively looked up at the partially clouded sky.

Hold up.”

When the patrol stopped Twister walked back to meet Bear.

What's up?” Bear inquired.

We got a storm coming our way.” Twister answered without hesitation.

Bear instinctively looked up. “How long?”

An hour..maybe two.”

Both men knew that violent storms could arrive without warning in the mountains. Bear also knew from past experience that it was a

pretty safe bet to listen when Twister warned him about the weather.

Bear quickly scanned the terrain. “Let's make that next ridge line. That'll give us a good view of the valley. If we don't see him we'll head back.”

Twister continued to walk point until he reached the ridge line and was only out of sight of Pseudo for only a few seconds who was ten yards behind him when the lightning bolt struck him. Three million volts ripped through Twister's body knocking him twenty feet into the air. When he landed, Twister bounced against a rock formation and fell in the hole that the meteor made fifty years earlier.  Nearly every bone in his body was broken or shattered by the  impact of the eighty foot fall. It also caused massive internal injuries and serious brain damage. Twister was unconscious and only moments from death as the electrified blood, body fluids and brain matter seeped out of his body and into the meteor. This was the birth of a symbiotic relationship. The humming became louder and the orange glow grew brighter until it encompassed Twister broken and twisted body. The meteor was not just a rock, it was actually a living organism and it had just received a high powered blood transfusion. From this point on, this extraterrestrial creature and Twister would forever be joined.Twister's patrol stood dumfounded as they looked down at the black spot on the ground. The M27 automatic rifle was melted beyond recognition.  The ammo magazines had been turned to a puddle of liquid metal. Everything else was disintegrated. Bear reached down and touched the blackened area. He quickly pulled his hand away as it was still extremely hot.

I've read about spontaneous combustion. Maybe this is something like it.  The lightning may have exploded every cell in Twister's body.” Pseudo shrugged. “Poof.”

Nobody else had a better explanation to offer.

 Deep inside the hole the Twister's injuries were already beginning to heal. An energy source was methodically moving through his body, repairing the damage in a matter of seconds! His bones just didn't heal to their previous state, but became denser and many times stronger, similar to an alloy of tungsten and titanium. The Elastin and Collageneous fibers of Twister's muscles were magnified many times over and new flesh grew to cover the gaping wounds until there wasn't the slightest indication of an injury.  A technology so far advanced from this world had been awakened. A light entered the broken skull and moved through the brain matter, regenerating and

 

 

 

 

heightening every sense and capability. The wound closed around the light. When Twister opened his eyes, they were bright and alert.

Back at Firebase Viper, the mood was somber. The Marines in

Twister's squad were seasoned combat veterans used to seeing death, but this was something different. This was not an enemy bullet or an IED. They had never seen anything like this and they were having a tough time accepting another way to die in this hostile environment.

Bear entered. “I just wanted to give you a heads up. I notified Battalion about Twister. They're sending some people out to take your statements.”

Statements? We don't know anything. Twister was there and then he wasn't. What else are we supposed to say?” Samaritan said.

Its a little more complicated than that.”

I'm lost.” Lampoon interjected.”What do you mean, more complicated?”

Battalion is going want something that they kick up the chain of command without getting their own butts in a sling. Twister was here and then he wasn't won't look good on an official investigation.” Bear explained.

So are we supposed to lie?” Ab nervously shuffled from foot to foot.

“I'm just warning you that when they get here, they're gonna try and get you to change your story. They're going to say, Why don't we make up a different story that's easier to believe for his family and the public to believe. What difference does it make now. Be especially alert when they smile and say Trust me. And once one of us goes down that road, they're no turning back. We'll all be busting rocks in Leavenworth.”

What do you want us to do then?” Pseudo questioned.

Tell the truth and stick with your story...no matter what they say.”

 Twister stood up, still encompassed in the orange glow. He was completely naked, having lost all his clothing and boots from the lightning strike. He looked down at the meteor and communicated

telepathically. The meteor had created a smooth cylindrical surface without one protruding edge when it burrowed through the mountain.  So glassy-like that it would have been impossible for any normal human to climb up. Twister jammed the fingertips from his right hand into the solid rock to create a handhold. Then he did the same with his left hand. In less than a minute, he was standing on the ridgeline.

Another storm was in full force. The wind was blowing fiercely and the rain was horizontal. It didn't affect Twister in the slightest as he casually looked about.

The ground began to shake and rumble. After fifteen seconds the meteor rocketed out of the hole and into the sky.

Back at Firebase Viper. The squad was huddled in their bunkers as they waited for the storm to pass. The bunker rocked back and forth.

Did you feel that?” Lampoon asked.

Must have been an earthquake.” Pseudo replied and pulled his blanket tight around him.”

Major Matthew McStay and Captain Ryan Frost were JAG officers and had been working as an investigative team in Afghanistan for the past six months.

They were quartered in the command bunker and were also waiting out the storm. They took this time to compare notes and personal assessments.

If it doesn't make sense, its not true.” Major McStay commented.

All of their accounts of the incident are consistent.” Captain Frost rebutted.

Too consistent. It's like they been rehearsing. When this storm is over, we'll take them back to the rear, split 'em up and see how they react. Agreed?”

Roger that.” Captain nodded.

By the time Twister had taken his first step, all his memories were back as well as a massive amount of other information.

The storm had passed and the leader of the Taliban enemy patrol had a clear view of the naked unarmed American in his binoculars.

 They prepared their ambush and waited for Twister to walk into it.

By the time Twister made the turn in the trail, he already knew the enemy was hiding behind the boulders ahead. He had his own plan so he knowingly continued into the trap.

The five heavily Taliban fighters began screaming in Pashto for Twister to surrender.

You surrender.” Twister calmly replied in the same language.

When one Taliban fighter moved closer and poked at Twister with his weapon, Twister grabbed the Kalashnikov assault rifle and broke it in half with his bare hands.

The other Taliban opened fire.

The CH-53D helicopter landed at the LZ.  Sergeant Van Zandt lead his Marines to it. Following close behind was Major McStay and Captain Frost.

Lampoon stopped dead in tracks and Samaritan ran right into him.

What the hell!”

Lampoon pointed off into the distance.  Six men were walking toward the firebase. The Marines instinctively went into their defensive positions and began watching through their rifle scopes.

You see what I'm seeing?” Ab asked.

 Lampoon said. “What are you seeing?”

Bear stood up. “Cover me.” and walked out to meet the men, keeping his weapon in the firing position. When he got close enough, Bear called out. “What the hell happened to you?”

You almost sound like you missed me.” Twister smiled.

Bear looked at the five Taliban fighters were cowering in fear.

Where did you pick up these knuckleheads?”

I ran into them on the way in.”

What did you do to them? They're all freaked out especially the naked one.”

Nothing..they're just the nervous types.” Twister responded.

No weapon?” Bear questioned.

Twister began speaking in Pashto to the Taliban fighters and they nodded in acknowledgment. “Sometimes the right words are powerful enough.”

Major McStay and Captain Frost approached. “Corporal Hoffman?”

Yes Sir.”

Where have you been?” Major McStay ordered.

I was just getting ready to tell Sergeant Van Zandt  about that.”

Tell me.”

Corporal Hoffman was transferred to a hospital in Kabul where he was given a battery of tests. The process was repeated three times over to ensure accuracy.

Lt. Commander Gordon, a Navy neurosurgeon was reviewing the test results when Lt. General Conner arrived on the floor with his entourage in tow.

I got word that you needed to see me, Lt Commander. You said it was urgent.”

You better sit down, General. You're going to have some trouble believing what I'm about to tell you.”

Later that night as Twister sat in the darkness next to his hospital  bed, Lt. General Conner entered his room. His eyes had not adjusted to the darkness when he heard.

 “I've been expecting you, General.”

Two weeks later, Corporal Hoffman and his squad were lounging on the tarmac at Bagram airfield waiting for their flight.

I don't get it.” Lampoon said

What don't you get?” Ab replied.”Besides everything.”

We got five months left to go on our tour. Why are they pulling us out?”

Samaritan called out. “Never question anything good that happens to you in the Corps...just keep your mouth shut and don't let them see you look happy.”

Bear saw Lt. General Conner approaching. “Atten-shun!”

The Marines started to stand up.

At ease! As you were.” Lt. General Conner ordered. When he got closer. “Corporal Hoffman, I'd like to talk with you.”

Twister and General Conner walked out of earshot of the others.

Your newly acquired abilities present some unique opportunities and challenges, but I'm going to need some time to put together a plan.  There's a lot of problems in the world and your country needs your help.”

I'm ready.” Twister replied.

One more thing...You shouldn't..”

Twister interrupted. “Don't worry, I wasn't going to tell my family.”

I'll be in touch.” Lt. General Conner placed his hand on Corporal Hoffman's shoulder. “Have a good flight home. Semper fi.”

When Twister walked back. Pseudo grinned. “How do I get a three star to come and see me off?”

 Twister shrugged and plopped down next to his seabag. Bear walked over, sat down and looked Twister straight in the eyes.“You don't expect me to believe that we're all going home early just because a lightning strike knocked you on your ass, do you?” Corporal Hoffman took out his K-bar knife and held it so that only Bear could see it. The handle was in his right hand and the steel blade was in his left. Twister crumpled it into a small ball and handed it to Bear.

 

THE END

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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