This week, our Sunday Scribblings prompt is Fallout. If you decide to write a post based on this week’s prompt, be sure to go back here and share your link so everyone can see how you interpreted things! Here’s what I did with it…
“This is just crazy,” said Tony as he knelt beside his sister’s black and white television set. “Are you believing this nonsense?”
“Shut up and listen!” Betty whisper shouted at her brother, wanting to hear what was being said. President Kennedy was updating the American population on the ongoing crisis in Cuba. Living in Ft. Lauderdale, Betty was painfully aware of how close they were to the small island communist nation that now threatened countless American lives.
She wasn’t alone as she entertained her worst fears. Whether the missiles reportedly found in Cuba could reach them or not, people as far away as Los Angeles faced sleepless nights and anxieties over the possibility of global thermonuclear war.
“It shall be the policy of this nation,” said the president, “to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.”
Tony stood up and repressed a nervous laugh that came out as more of a snort. “Mutually assured destruction…” he said.
“What?” Betty asked, turning her attention to her brother.
“Mutually assured destruction,” Tony repeated. “It means that if they launch against us, we launch against them. Basically, everyone dies.”
“Oh,” Betty said, growing more and more pale, “that’s reassuring.”
On the TV, Kennedy continued: “To halt this offensive buildup, a strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba is being initiated. All ships of any kind bound for Cuba, from whatever nation or port, will, if found to contain cargoes of offensive weapons, be turned back. This quarantine will be extended, if needed, to other types of cargo and carriers. We are not at this time, however, denying the necessities of life as the Soviets attempted to do in their Berlin blockade of 1948.”
Betty couldn’t take anymore. She walked to the television set and turned the knob to the off position.
“What are you doing?” Tony asked, still wanting to hear what else the president and commentators had to say.
“I can’t listen to this anymore!” yelled Betty, nearly hysterical.
“Hey, it’s gonna be okay,” Tony said, attempting to calm his sister. He crossed the room and embraced her. Holding her at arms length, he looked at her and asked, “Weren’t you making fun of your in-laws a couple weeks ago for installing one of those stupid fallout shelters in their back yard?”
Betty laughed through the tears that had begun to form. She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, they got rid of their swimming pool to make room for the thing.”
“So when Sammy gets back from the store, we’ll hop in the car and go wait this thing out with his folks,” Tony suggested. “Odds are this whole thing is gonna amount to nothing. Next week we’ll look back on all of this with a sigh of relief.”
“What if Khrushchev or Castro have itchy trigger fingers?”
“Then we’ll ride out the fallout with Sammy’s parents.”
They only had to wait a few more minutes until Sammy got home. He rushed inside without any of the groceries he had gone to the store to get. Immediately, he ran to Betty, hugging her tight. It was obvious, he was as scared as she was.
“I heard the whole thing on the radio while I was driving,” he said. “Why don’t the three of us go to mom and dad’s?”
“That’s just what we were thinking,” Tony said.
Even though they knew they wouldn’t reach Sammy’s childhood home until it was nearly 9:00, they knew that his parents would still be up listening to the radio or watching the TV for the latest reports. So the three of them piled into Sam’s station wagon and began the hour long drive.
They were mere miles away from the house when the world forever changed.
The darkness of night was suddenly interrupted by a blinding flash of light. Sammy slammed on the brake, shielding his eyes and warning the others to do the same. The bright light, coming from the south, began to dim little by little.
All three of them got out of the car, as did dozens of other motorists on the road that October night. They looked toward Miami as the light faded and saw it replaced by a mushroom shaped cloud.
For years, children had been taught by animated public service announcements that the safest thing to do in case of a nuclear explosion was to duck and cover. These grown-ups knew that no amount of ducking or covering would save them from the firestorm that was quickly moving up the coastline. Tony looked from his sister to his brother-in-law, knowing that they had only minutes, if not seconds, to live.
Tony grabbed the only two people he considered family as tears streamed down his face. “I hope your parents were able to get into the fallout shelter in time,” he said to Sammy.
“Me too,” Sam said calmly, awaiting the inevitable.
The shockwave that accompanied the nuclear blast moved so quickly that none of them even knew what hit them.
Hopefully you know enough about history to realize this isn’t how the Cuban Missile Crisis actually turned out. But it’s crazy to think of how close it came to this being the result. Thanks to everyone who participated this week and shared your links! Please visit their blogs, give them a follow, and take a look at how they interpreted the prompt.
Be sure to come back on Wednesday for the next Sunday Scribblings prompt! Encourage other bloggers to challenge themselves with the prompt!