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from Love's Critical Ground by L.K. Thompson, LTC (Ret.)

Copyright © 2017–2021 Lasrry K. Thompson

Chapter 31


Army Intelligence Detachment A

LTC Spence’s Mission, Over-Eye

Outside Alpine, Brewster County, Texas

0800 hours Sierra



Comment of the Moment: “Cruz said, “Thirty seconds before critical mass.”



Spence spoke hurriedly and briefly. He gave the password to call off the drone strikes. The voice on the other end verified his code. Affirmation was given for the stand down.

Spence motioned the two to come near to him. He said, “Men, we have very little time to do anything. We have time to do one thing only. We can get in the truck and run. Or we can stay here and try to disarm the bomb.

Cruz counted, “six minutes.”

Spence said, “If we get in the truck and drive like hell is after us, we could probably reach Alpine. We could probably be relatively safe there. We could also chase the terrorists, too.

“Or we can stay here. We can possibly defeat the terrorist’s intent of screwing up a large part of Texas. If the bomb goes off, this area will be unusable for thousands of years. The radioactive fallout will spread on the prevailing winds and an even greater area of Texas will be uninhabitable.

“Lots of people will die!

“So, do you want to run, or do you want to try to save a small part of America and a bunch of people?”

He looked at Cruz. He raised an eyebrow.

Cruz exclaimed, “¡Hijola! I’ve never been much good at running away from trouble. I’ve always run toward it.” He paused, “Shit…I’ll stay with you, if you’re staying.”

Spence turned to Harvey.

Harvey looked away. He looked at their truck. He looked at his watch.

Finally, he looked at Spence and blurted, “Fuck the downy duck. If you two are staying, I’m staying.”

Spence turned and walked to the crate holding the device. He walked around it, looking for information on it. Then he saw the markings.

He said, “Look here. Those look like Korean glyphs.” He asked the other two, “What do you think?”

Harvey said, “Probably....”

Cruz said, “Yeah. I’ve seen one of them in Seoul outside of Rosie’s bar.”

Spence asked, “What does it mean?”

Cruz shrugged and said, “I dunno. It had a picture of an atomic cloud beside it.”

Spence complained, “Aw shit. Some help you are,”

Cruz grunted, “Sorry!”

Then he said, “five minutes.

Spence speed dialed Aleumdaun’s number. It was 0930 in Texas, and it was 2230 in the evening in Korea. He listened: one ring, two rings, three rings, four rings, and on the fifth ring, he heard a recording in Korean, and finally one in English.

The recording said she was unable to come to the phone.

He hung up. He squawked, “Ah God. What to do?” He walked over to the nuclear device.

Cruz counted, “Four minutes.”

Harvey stood from where he squatted beside the crate. He pointed at his watch and their pickup.

Spence looked at him and said, “Men, we either have to run like hell, or get this thing unarmed. What do you two want to do?”

His phone rang.

He said, “Spence!”

Aleumdaun said, “Colonel Spence. I see you called my number.”

Voice quivering with desperation and excitement, he wailed, “Oh, God. Aleumdaun, it’s you!”

With uncertainty in her voice, she said, “Yes? What is going on there?”

He said, “We have a crate with Korean markings on it. Inside is what appears to be ah…an egg. We don’t know how to stop the timer on it, or disarm the device.”

She replied, “Oh, no!”

He asked, “Can you help us?”

She remembered, “Team Under-Eye had a...

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