“Come on, Jack, wake up,” she says again.

“I don’t really want to do that just now,” I answer.

“Okay, Jack, you’re on fire,” Lynn says.

“Fine, just roll me over then,” I say but my mind has now caught up to my barely open eye. “What time is it?”

“Time for you to get up. You’re going to want to hear this,” she says.

“No, I’m actually not,” I say but rise to a sitting position anyway. “Okay, what is it?”

“There’s someone calling on the radio. Seriously, shake yourself out of it and come downstairs,” Lynn says planting her hands on her hips.

I know this is her ‘I’m being serious move’ and does more to wake me than anything else. I ignored that posture once. That will never happen again.

I make my way wearily down to the radio. Squelch breaks from the speaker and I hear a voice calling, “This is the USS Santa Fe on UHF guard. Anyone read?”

I stare at the speaker as if I have discovered an alien being but the call does shake the last of the sleep from my head. All eyes go from the radio to me and back again. I don’t know why the call sends a jolt of electricity through me or causes stress to permeate my body. I am thinking that an actual military unit showing up could throw our leadership into disarray. Not that I don’t welcome them, it just could mean changes. And the fact that it is a naval vessel could upset things even more. Navy ships operate in a closed environment and are usually run very tightly by their Captains. They don’t like sharing authority.

“I’m no sailor but aren’t only the older fast attack subs named after cities?” I ask the group standing around.

I am met with blank stares and a few shoulder shrugs. I didn’t even really think of subs escaping this disaster. I wonder how many actually did. I know we didn’t have a lot out at any one time because we weren’t facing the threat of the Soviet navy anymore. I think most of them we deployed in recent times were to provide a vanguard for the fleets. However, the brass didn’t see fit to brief me on sub deployments so I haven’t the foggiest idea. The fact is that at least one did and is broadcasting from nearby. At least I assume so unless the UHF is skipping.

“This is the USS Santa Fe on UHF guard. Anyone read?” The radio squawks again.

I reach for the microphone that is being held out to me by Kathy. I don’t even really know how to answer the call. Should I answer with my name or throw my previous rank in to establish dialogue. There’s no doubt that a sub will be handy to have and I would welcome its members and the expertise but how to handle the situation. I haven’t really thought about coming across a regular, intact group of the military. Sure, there was Kuwait but that seems a little different here and now.

“USS Santa Fe, read you loud and clear, go ahead,” I answer, deciding not to give my name or previous rank.

“This is the USS Santa Fe, stand by,” I hear.

Captain Raymond Leonard glances through the periscope seemingly for the hundredth time. Nothing has changed onshore. He doesn’t witness any movement of personnel or vehicles that would normally be associated with an active base. Turning the scope slowly, the waters remain clear of any surface craft. Not that any craft normally transition through the water so close to the sub pens but there are usually some that patrol the waters. Everything remains still as if the world is holding its breath. Gulls wheel about but that’s the only movement he sees. Turning back to shore, he increases the magnification. Captain Leonard sees only an occasional bit of paper swirl, pushed along by the afternoon breeze.

He is uncomfortable with his fast attack sub lying in the shallow waters barely submerged. The observation satellites overhead can easily pick out his position with their MAD (Magnetic Anomaly Detection) detectors. What makes him even more nervous is the absolute lack of communication. He should have heard something by now given that he was scheduled for this arrival. The fact that no one was at the rendezvous, along with the absolute silence of the world around only increases his anxiety.

He removes his eye from the scope and glances at the communications gear. It has been silent for weeks. Even if it was a fleet-wide communication, it should have picked up something by now. His only assumption is that there has been some sort of act against the United States which must have happened quickly. The sub’s radiation detectors indicate normal levels and he is at a loss as to how so many people could have vanished in so short a period of time. The absence of any traffic on the normally busy routes into Seattle, the silent airwaves, and the lack of people dockside cause the crow’s feet at the corner of his eyes to become more pronounced with worry.

A corner of his mind is busy with long-range plans. Raymond isn’t sure what he will do if he can’t contact anyone. Restock, that’s number one, he thinks placing his eye once again on the scope. He zooms in on the warehouse buildings close to the submarine pens. It’s from there that he will draw supplies. He stares at the structures as if he can see inside of them and they’ll give up answers as to what happened. They stand blankly gazing back. Leonard wants to surface the sub, dock, and send a party out to see if they can ascertain what is going on. But having spent his whole career in the submarine fleet and in fast attack boats, he is reluctant to surface just yet. His whole life has been focused on concealment and stealth and surfacing, even in friendly waters, goes against his very nature. No, he will wait for a while longer to see if he can gain radio contact.

“Captain?” A voice says from behind.

Captain Leonard backs away from the periscope and lowers it. It’s been up too long but it hasn’t drawn any attention. Turning, he sees the communications officer and nods.

“Sir, we’ve raised someone on the UHF guard frequency,” the communications officer says.

“Who is it?” Leonard asks.

“They haven’t identified themselves. We told them to standby as I thought you would want to be present.”

“Very well. Lead on and let’s see what they have to say. Clear out the comm room,” Leonard says.

“Yes, sir,” the comm officers says, and turns toward the cramped radio room.

Holding the microphone in my hand, I wait seemingly forever. I’m not sure how this conversation is going to go or what they know. I guess I’ll just wait and see. I’m assuming the delay is to notify the Captain. I stare at the mic as if it will give me a glimpse of what they are thinking on the other end. The squelch breaks.

“This is the USS Santa Fe. Who am I speaking to?” A different voice calls over the speaker.

“This is Captain Jack Walker. And to whom am I speaking?” I ask, choosing to provide my previous rank thinking it will be easier to establish a rapport with another military person.

“Captain Walker, what unit are you with?” I hear. I notice the other person doesn’t answer my question as to who they are. I suppose I would be very hesitant as well were I in the commander’s shoes.

“I’m not with any particular unit. We have a few soldiers from various Army and Air Force units in addition to civilians,” I answer. “Again, I ask, to whom am I speaking with and what is your location?”

“Captain Walker, I’m not willing to divulge that information over the open airwaves,” the answer comes.

It’s quite apparent they don’t know what has happened or is going on. It’s possible they were submerged, providing they are indeed in a sub, when everything happened and don’t have a clue as to the new world they now live in. I think of how confusing that must be. As remote as I was when it happened, at least I had some news. For them, this must be like living a Twilight Zone episode.

“I’m pretty sure there’s no such thing as national secrets anymore nor much of anyone who is going to hear what is said. I’m gathering you haven’t been briefed and don’t know what happened, right?” I say.

“Perhaps you’d like to fill me in then?”

“I’m not sure I could do that in a week but I’ll give you the cliff notes version. About five months ago, a flu pandemic swept over the world. Four months ago, a vaccine was developed that subsequently wiped out over seventy percent of the world’s population. A major portion, and I mean a major portion, were genetically altered. They are now a different species that are ferocious and attack on sight. We’ve dubbed them night runners because they can only be out at night. A miniscule one percent of humans proved to be immune although that has been whittled down substantially due to starvation, illnesses, and from the night runners,” I say. There is so much more to say but this will give them some information about the new world in which they surfaced. A silence ensues. I’m guessing whoever I am talking to is in a semi state of shock.

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