‘That first domino began an endless chain of events that cannot be escaped,
not by the limitlessness of space,
nor even by the end of time itself …’
WE SHOULD NEVER HAVE TRUSTED THE ALIENS
The first “domino” – July 3, 1947.
637th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron
Long Beach, Southern California
The spirited conversation around the room had inevitably turned to the following day’s Fourth of July celebrations and planned holiday weekend activities. Half a dozen crew members sat at various workstations in near darkness, their facial features softly illuminated by the glows coming from their radar screens. What had been an uneventful day was drawing to an end with the next shift due to take over within the hour. Nobody had really noticed Betty’s absence from the conversation as she sat with her head down, and her hands tightly clasped over her headphones trying to block out their chatter.
‘… please identify,’ she repeated into the microphone, more forcefully this time. Static from her headphones washed like waves onto a shore. Could it mask a response? Lifting her head above the screen partitions, she addressed her colleagues through the thick haze of cigarette smoke randomly dispersed by the slow pulse of overhead fans. ‘Shut up will you, please?’
It achieved the desired outcome.
Curious as to the cause of the late disruption to their day, the crew manning the new high-tech radar installation abandoned their stations, rushed over, and jostled for position in the cramped space behind her. Something immediately apparent … this was no ordinary incident. An aircraft of unknown origin had just crossed the US/Mexico border at extreme velocity and altitude. The contact was difficult to track, with little profile for the radar to detect. Protocols for entering United States airspace had been ignored; repeated attempts at radio communication failed to achieve any response.
Crossing the southern border about forty-five miles inland from the western coastline, the bogey was heading north at an altitude greater than 70,000 feet. Betty’s initial velocity and altitude determinations seemed completely implausible. She tweaked the radar’s settings with unsteady fingers trying to get a better fix, acutely aware that her every action was being scrutinized by her colleagues.
‘Go find the CO,’ somebody ordered behind her. Outside daylight burst into the murky room to assault her eyes that were conditioned to darkness. ‘And hurry!’
The 637th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron was a result of escalating tensions and rivalry between the USA and the USSR. The well-funded and equipped facility was just seven weeks operational, boasting the highest signal-processing radar detection technology operating anywhere in the world. Weapons and warfare technologies were closely guarded as each adversary imagined the other to be well advanced of their actual achievements. Rumors from both sides of captured Nazi German advanced military technology exacerbated those concerns. The 637th surveilled the skies of the southwestern United States 24-hours a day with expectations of Russian hostility at any moment. With technological advances towards the end of, and post, World War II unfolding at an incredible pace, it was imperative for the preservation of democracy that the United States of America, the self-appointed leader, and champion of the free world, maintain its technological edge against the rising menace of communism.
The role of the 637th was of heightened importance that day, and for the previous three days. Top-secret, experimental jet aircraft testing was being conducted by the Air Force Flight Test Centre temporarily based at Muroc Army Airfield in California. Actual testing would only occur in restricted airspace to the northeast around the Nevada Test and Training Range. The area was strictly off-limits to unauthorized aircraft. Apart from border security, an additional responsibility of the 637th was the monitoring of air traffic that might potentially compromise the no-fly zone.
‘It could be a surveillance aircraft … maybe?’
‘The isolation … a good spot for a nuclear demonstration.’
‘Shut up!’ Speculation from behind wasn’t helping Betty decided.
Keep cool, she thought, as beads of sweat formed on her upper lip. Twenty-seven-year-old radar operator Lieutenant Betty Fielding was the finest the 637th had. Her years of specialized training and extensive wartime experience had prepared her well for this exact scenario she realized. The bogey’s declining altitude and velocity projections required her full concentration … check and recheck.
‘You’re right. The isolated destination … it can only mean one thing,’ said somebody behind her.
‘A nuclear test,’ offered another. ‘They minimize collateral dam…’
‘That’s it!’ Betty ripped off her headphones and swung angrily around to face them. ‘If you don’t shut up …’
The entrance burst open, again flooding the room with light, to announce the arrival of Commanding Officer, Colonel Stuart Hughes, who forced his way through to stand behind, and to Betty’s right. She balked from the pungent odor of his sweat and felt the heat from his body as he leaned in close to observe her screen. Wearing white shorts and polo shirt, he had probably been thrashing some of the enlisted men at basketball; a game that he loved and excelled at with his tall athletic stature.
‘Sir, we have …’
‘Jesus H. Christ! Do we have anything that fast?’ It was a rhetorical question that only the colonel himself could comprehensively answer.
‘It’s steadied to a speed just under Mach 1, sir, but it was much faster when I first detected it. More than Mach 2. It’s not responding to my broadcasts.’
‘Altitude?’ Deliberately calm, Hughes took long deep breaths to recover from the game and the sprint over.
‘Steadily descending. I first detected an altitude of more than 70,000 feet, but it’ll drop through 50,000 any moment. Sir, it’s heading directly towards the Nevada no-fly zone and today’s testing. Maintaining current speed, it’ll enter restricted airspace in about fifteen minutes,’ offered Betty, her thoughts spiked with concern for family in Los Angeles. The fallout …they’ll be safe as long as the wind doesn’t change direction. She swiveled her chair to look up at the CO directly. ‘Could this be an attack, sir?’
‘Get me the officer in charge of testing over at Muroc. Pronto!’
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Chapter ONE … The first domino
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About the first book:
For most of his adult life, Evan Armstrong has been afflicted by strange dreams that warn of an apocalyptic future. A traumatic incident ends the dreams, to be replaced by fractured memories of something he was never meant to remember.
With his time drawing near, Evan reaches out as he realizes that back in Roswell, 1947 … they made a huge mistake!
“We should never have trusted the aliens”
Julius “Caesar” Romeo, has a secret passion … he loves to chase aliens. A world-famous lateral thinking entrepreneur, Julius considers his meeting with Evan to be a coincidence, but as their time together forges a powerful friendship, Julius realizes that Evan is in fact handing him a terrifying legacy.
Melanie “Mel” Stuart works for Caesar. She’s his strength and his keeper, and she’s the real power behind the rise of the Romeo business empire. Mel also has a secret … she’s in love with her boss. Evan’s “story” doesn’t sit well with her beliefs or her plans.
Julius and Mel are polar opposites in almost every way … it’s what makes them such an effective team. They find an unexpected new common purpose … to unravel the events of 1947 that threaten our future survival.