One hour after commencement, I sensed something was wrong—Jimmy did too. We watched in silence from our driveway. Jimmy, sitting in his ’55 Chevy pedal car, and me, wiping engine grease off my hands with an oily rag. “What do you make of it, son,” I asked, trying to get the grease between my fingers, “Do you think it’ll work?” “Don’t know, Dad…it looks sort of…scary.” Jimmy’s blue eyes dazzled in the waning sunlight. He was five, and had his mother’s eyes. At first, only wisps of vapor appeared in the blue sky. Seconds later, the thin vaporous substance formed into white fluffy cotton balls that spread out over the vast expanse. They looked like white polka dots on a blue background. The cotton balls quickly banded together. In a matter of minutes, they began to form a thick ominous swirl of black, green and violet colored thunderheads. They moved like clouds in a movie that had been sped up for effect. It wasn’t the black I was so concerned about—it was the green and violet. Having been raised in Missouri, I’ve seen my share of storm clouds. But this—this was the damnest thing I’d ever seen. What the three of us saw, along with hoards of neighbors standing out on their driveways, was a colossal black funnel cloud a few miles off the coast. Today was the day our government initiated, Season Maker, the world’s first publicly tested environmental modification experiment, otherwise known as weather control. After years of mankind’s assault on the environment, seasonal weather had become totally unpredictable. Rain, sun, sleet and snow had lost their place in the natural course of things. Everything was out of whack. Last summer, for instance, the country went as dry as chalkdust. Farmers were having a hell of a time surviving the drought. Many did not, despite government subsidies. The following spring, President Trenton declared a national state of emergency. Last month, on a live worldwide television broadcast, the President—along with a handful of advisors and well respected scientists—made an announcement that a missile would be shot up into the Earth’s ionosphere, somewhere over the Eastern Seaboard of the United States—directly over our home for all I knew. From there it was to detonate and release charged particles of some sort. These particles were supposed to produce rain. And, oh, how we needed it. Science has come a long way since my school days, not that I paid much attention back then. So, when the broadcast mentioned something about free energy and Scalar Electromagnetics, it went right over my head, like I imagined the missile would. All I knew was that it promised to simulate rainclouds, and I believed many others on the east coast were hoping for that very same thing. Just as Jimmy was pointing up behind me, shouting, “Dad, look!” my wife, Claire, came running out of the house with the same look of horror on her face as Jimmy had. “Tom, what is it?” I turned around to look—I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Some things the mind can grasp, and some… The funnel was inverted. The wide end of the cone was facing down, narrow at first, but quickly expanding. It must have grown to at least a mile wide. I had never seen such a sight. I glanced around at my neighbors and saw hands covering mouths in disbelief. Old Mrs. Chaney looked wobbly, like she was going to collapse. I could already hear the chaos mounting in the distant streets and freeways—a maddening frenzy of blaring horns. I figured that trying to drive out of here now would be pointless. Besides, there was no time. It was coming too fast. The funnel was moving inland from the Atlantic, hurling downward as it weaved aimlessly back and forth over the ocean. But it didn’t touch down. Instead, it began sucking up the ocean’s salty water, like a waterfall, only upside down. It was an eerie and unnatural sight to behold. Birds were being inhaled into the twisting funnel’s grotesque, snarling mouth. I wonder if this is how black holes in space work—where nothing escapes their pull. And then there was the sound. An eerie, low hum, with high pitched overtones. “What the hell did they do?” I said, stunned. Claire, now clinging to my rigid arm, had a distressed look in her swelling eyes. Jimmy, sensing the fear in us both, was now crying and had wrapped himself around my leg. The funnel was heading in our direction. It somehow looked alive—and hungry. “Oh please, God, no,” Claire whispered. By now Claire was holding Jimmy tightly in her arms. Suddenly, the neighborhood gasped—almost in unison—like an audience watching a gymnast fall from a netless trapeze. Our great Lady of Liberty was violently consumed by the funnel’s raging updraft. Moments after that there were cries of horror as ships, piers, and vehicles were being vacuumed up like crumbs. Buildings swayed, and some were swept up. Then, small black shapes, thousands of them—people. At that moment my face went white. The only thing on my mind was Jimmy and Claire. “Head for the house,” I screamed—had to scream, the roar was deafening. Going to the basement was our only hope. That…and praying. I’d like to tell you that everything turned out ok, but I’d be lying. The crawlspace provided some protection, but not enough. Jimmy and Claire were gone. Parts of them anyway. By the next morning, the smell of sea salt and rotting fish saturated the air. Human bodies were scattered everywhere, torn and mangled beyond recognition. I saw old Mrs. Chaney again—she was impaled on a thick branch of an uprooted tree. And as for the weather? It looked like it was going to be another hot, dry day. …Just the way I like it.
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