Back to Wayne Faust Home Page

Armageddon – The Short Version”

By Wayne Faust

© 2010 by Wayne Faust
All rights reserved

And unless those days should be shortened, no flesh would be saved.”

Matthew 24:22

And so it began…

All the armies of the Earth met in one place. At least all the armies that mattered. On one side you had the Americans and their allies, which included the British, the reluctant French, the Australians, the New Zealanders, the Israelis, the Scottish Republic, the Irish, the…

This is the Short Version. There’s not enough time to list all of America’s allies. Suffice to say that there were a lot, mainly because America is usually good at winning wars. Most countries like to win wars, except maybe the Germans, who had decided to sit this one out.

On the other side were the oil-rich Muslim countries, backed by the Chinese and their allies, which included North Korea, most of Africa, and the reluctant Russians. The Muslim countries had all been taken over by Al-Qaeda by then. The Chinese didn’t care much about that of course, but when it came to World Domination, Al-Qaeda was handy to have around, especially when they came with all of that oil money. For in spite of the best efforts of climate change activists, most of the West still consumed tankers full of oil every day.

Which is why all the armies of the Earth were in the middle-east, facing each other across a broad, sandy plain.

This was, of course, the climactic event in all of human history. Every war, every change of government, every revolution had ultimately led up to this moment – Armageddon. But since this is the Short Version, there’s only time to focus on one player in this epic, an American named Wally.

Now Wally sounds like a quintessentially American name, so in a way it fits. But the name ‘Wally’ was just a nickname for General William Wallace, an American of Scottish descent, named after the hero of the Battle of Stirling Bridge, and played by Mel Gibson in the movie “Braveheart.” But all of the soldiers under his command just called him “General Wally,” or even “Old Bill,” another quintessentially American name. And since he was a quintessential American, he liked the informality, unlike the stinking Chinese, with their ancient traditions of bowing to one another at the drop of a hat, or the Mullahs, who would chop off your head if you didn’t use the right name. No sir, that wasn’t his style. “Hey, General Wally, Sir!” suited him just fine.

And now this unassuming fellow was in his Command Post on the Plain Of Megiddo, facing down his enemies at the End of Days.

Long ago, during Mutually Assured Destruction, there would have been nukes involved. But surprisingly, even America had finally gotten rid of all of those, because everyone knew that to use them would turn the Earth into a crispy marshmallow. So they had been banned. Of course there were rumors that America had kept something in reserve, in Mayfield, Iowa of all places, according to Internet blogs. But this would be a conventional war – and with the numbers involved, it was likely to be the real Mother of All Battles, another name for, you guessed it, Armageddon.

Even without the nukes, America still had the coolest stuff. No one knew what the secretive Chinese had. They had been piling up interest money from America’s out-of-control debt for decades, so maybe they’d spent some of it on weapons technology. But Wally was confident that they didn’t have anything that could match up to America and her allies, so this would be a short war and America would win. And once the Chinese and Muslims and Russians were defeated once and for all, it was time for peace on Earth. At last.

It was hot inside the Command Bunker and Wally called for another bottle of water. Those blinking lights on the Battle Array meant only one thing. The Chinese were getting ready to attack.

I’m going upstairs,” said Wally to his Weapons Tech, a Captain named Theodore, who gaped at him as if he had just sprouted a third eye. But Wally was an old-school general who liked to get the lay of the land before making a decision.

At the top of the metal stairs, Wally pushed open the hatch. He stuck his head up and took a deep, cleansing breath of dry, cool, January air. Back in Chicago it was ten below zero, but here it was a pleasant sixty degrees. “Good thing we didn’t decide to fight ‘em in July,” he said to himself.

Against every bit of advice, Wally had decided to lead from the front line. Heck, he was the front line – another quintessential American trait. And now, he gazed at the vast plain ahead. From earliest history, this was the designated place for Armageddon; even the Muslims believed that. And Wally had a front row seat. The horizon was choked with dust from over a hundred million Chinese, Muslim, Russian, and African soldiers.

A lot more than at Stirling Bridge,” muttered Wally with a grim smile. Behind him were a hundred million of his own soldiers. No general had ever commanded such a huge army. And no general had ever had the kind of technology to keep track of it all.

Wally tasted sand in his mouth as he stared at the enemy lines. He heard a faint rumble. Something big was coming. A lot of something big. Maybe cruise missiles. Maybe planes. Maybe tanks. Heck, maybe even a million marching feet.

Time to rock n’ roll.

Wally swallowed hard and charged below. By now the Battle Array screen looked like the 4th of July. All eyes in the bunker were on him. “Let’s do it,” he said in a firm, calm voice.

Five minutes earlier he had been given authorization from the President. He paused one more second before pushing a gold button, setting into motion the carefully war-gamed plans that would deliver shock and awe to the enemy. As the sounds of keyboard punching filled the room, the first wave began, the armada of Patriot 7’s which would intercept the Chinese cruise missiles that were already showing up on the screen. After that, the American cruise missiles would launch, almost certain to get through. They would be followed by bunker-busting drones. And then would come thousands of B-99’s, carrying half a million smart bombs. After maybe thirty minutes, the Commie, Muslim, and Russians lines would be smoking ruins. By the time the Allied tanks and soldiers moved in, they would simply have cleanup duty.

At least that was the plan.

General Wally, Sir!” shouted Theodore in a shaky voice.

What is it, Captain?” he asked. “Are the Patriots in the air?”

N-n-no, Sir.”

No? Why not?”

I think you need to look at the screen, Sir.”

Wally stood up and stared at the wall screen.

Sir,” said Theodore, “the Patriots fired just like they’re supposed to, but then they just…disappeared.”

Wally felt a rock in the pit of his stomach. “Did something shoot them down?” he asked.

Not that I can tell, Sir.”

Then what happened to them?” asked Wally.

I don’t know, Sir.”

Wally scratched the back of his neck, feeling genuine dismay. Did the Chinese have something nobody knew about, maybe some sort of particle beam? “What could have brought those missiles down?” he asked.

Nothing I know of, Sir.”

Try the next wave.”

Theodore pushed some buttons. Bright green flashes lit up on the screen as the Patriots fired. The flashes should have been followed by dotted green lines as the missiles headed toward their targets. But like the first time, each missile winked out, leaving an eerie afterimage on the screen.

That’s impossible,” said Wally.

Yes it is,” answered Theodore.

Wally’s mind raced. If the Commies had come up with something that could hit the Patriots right after launch then the plan….

Wally picked up the phone and punched a number.

Missile Control,” answered a voice on the first ring.

This is General Wallace. Who am I speaking to?”

Captain Modello, Sir.”

Captain Modello, did the Patriots launch?” Wally could hear a jumble of panicked voices in the background.

Yes, Sir, they launched,” said Modello.

Then why aren’t they on their way?”

A pause.

It’s crazy, Sir. They flew out of their silos and then they were just...gone.”

Wally grimaced. “Did you see anything strike the missiles? Maybe a beam of light? Was there an explosion?”

No, Sir,” answered Modello. “They just disappeared.”

The rock in Wally’s stomach was growing larger by the second. “Stand by,” he said.

Wally was good at thinking on his feet. There was only one thing to do now. The best defense was a good offense. He hung up the phone.

Captain Theodore, launch the cruise missiles,” he said calmly. “Right now, if you please.”

There wasn’t much time. At any second, the Chinese cruise missiles would arrive, the ones that the Patriots should have shot down. But there was time to fire off one salvo before that happened. Theodore pushed a button and the first wave of American cruise missiles fired, flashing bright blue on the screen.

Cruise missiles underway,” said Theodore. And then his mouth dropped open liked a beached fish. On the screen the cruise missiles all winked out just as the Patriots had done.

Son of a bitch!” said Wally.

No one in the bunker spoke. Wally knew they were all dead. Like a brave idiot, he had positioned them on the front line. But maybe there was time to do one more thing before…

Sir!” shouted Lieutenant Haskell from the other side of the command post. Her voice was shrill.

What is it?” asked Wally.

The Chinese cruise missiles…they’re gone, Sir.”

Everyone gaped at the screen. Where moments before there had been bright yellow flashes indicating a Chinese launch, now there was nothing. A few more yellow flashes lit up the screen, making them all flinch. But then they disappeared too.

What the hell’s going on?” asked Wally in exasperation.

No one answered. They all looked at him, holding their breaths.

Wally scratched the bald crown of his head. The close-cropped hair on the sides held faint traces of gray among the red. Well, he knew there would be a lot more gray before this was done. If he was still alive. He began to pace. Finally he picked up the phone and spoke in a low voice.

Get me the President,” he said.

When the President came on the line, Wally spoke in hushed tones, trying to describe the situation to his Commander In Chief. Every couple of seconds he would glance at the wall screen and see the yellow flashes that told him the Chinese were still trying to fire their cruise missiles. He knew they had a lot of them and it was only a matter of time before they started getting through.

I recommend Mayfield, Madam President,” said Wally, his voice now down to a faint whisper. “It’s our only option.”

Wally held his breath as he waited for the President’s decision. After what seemed like hours, he got it. He nodded his head. “Yes, Ma'am,” he said quietly. “And thank you. God bless America.”

Wally hung up the phone and sighed. He looked around the deathly quiet room. “There’s no time to explain, people,” he said in a firm voice. “But we have a kept something in reserve. And thank God for that. I have just been given authorization by the President to use it.”

He pushed a few buttons on his keyboard and a map appeared at the bottom left corner of the wall screen. It was a map of the Midwestern United States, centered on the state of Iowa.

Sir, is that what I think it is?” asked Theodore.

Yes, Captain,” answered Wally. “The internet rumors were true.”

There were gasps all around the room. Wally said, “It’s our only option. Those Chinese missiles will get through before long. We all know that. We have to stop them or not only will we die, we’ll lose everything we stand for.”

Wally pushed a button on his console. An authorization code popped up on the screen of his 118th Generation I-Pad. He typed some numbers on the screen. A secret panel opened up on the bottom of his console. Inside was a big, red button. He paused for the briefest of moments, his face surprisingly calm. He had trained for this all of his life. He pushed the button.

There was a bright, red flash on the screen, coming from the very middle of the state of Iowa, in the very middle of the USA. That seemed somehow appropriate. Everyone but Wally had been reduced to spectators, and they were all gazing open-mouthed at the screen.

ICBMs underway,” said Wally softly.

But then the missiles winked out.

Son of a bitch!” muttered Wally for the second time that day.

Sir!” shouted Theodore. He was pointing at the lower right section of the wall screen where there was a map of Asia. “Missile launches in Lanzhou Province!”

Wally’s head snapped around in time to see the last of a series of red flashes from the center of China. He had just enough time to utter a curse before the secret Chinese nukes winked out, just like the American ones had done. He might have breathed a sigh of relief but he was getting so confused that his head felt like a cantaloupe.

Missile launches from Ysad!” shouted Theodore.

Wally looked at the screen and growled. “Iranians! They were supposed to have destroyed their nukes years ago!” And then he had a terrible thought. What if it was the Iranians who were making everybody else’s weapons disappear?

But before that thought could take hold, the Iranian nukes winked out, just like the others. Wally should have been relieved. After all, the Iranian missiles were the closest of all and it would have taken about five minutes for them to arrive.

What the Hell is going on?” Wally shouted, his calm demeanor peeling away like old paint getting burned off a garage. “How are you supposed to fight a war when nothing works?

And so it continued…

Thirty minutes later Wally was pacing again. Firing any kind of missile was impossible. The same was true for the bunker busters, because they too had all disappeared upon firing.

And when Wally had ordered in the B-99’s, things had gone from bizarre to just plain wacky.

They what?” asked Wally when Bomber Control told him what had happened. And then he had actually begun to foam at the mouth as the voice on the other end of the phone described bombers vanishing from underneath their pilots while still parked in their hangars. Their crews had been left in midair, dropping down onto the deck like cartoon characters falling off cliffs, bruised and gasping, all dressed up for a war they were no longer able to fight.

And then the same thing had happened to the tanks.

Wally had never felt so impotent. All of those cool toys…

But he was a born leader. He knew that there was still something he could do. He sighed and picked up the phone. They’d have to do this the old way – the really old way.

Send the Marines,” barked Wally into the phone. There was a pause. “Yes, I know,” he said. “We don’t have any planes to fly them in. And yes we don’t have any tanks either. So I guess they’ll just have to walk!”

Wally slammed the phone down and held his fists to the sides of his head.

And so they waited…

Sir!” shouted Theodore.

What now?” asked Wally loud enough to make the whole command post shake.

Theodore flinched but continued. He was listening to the chatter coming in through his headphones. “It’s the Marines, Sir. All of their guns, grenades, flame throwers, they all…”

Don’t tell me,” said Wally. “They disappeared.”

I’m afraid so, Sir.”

Wally threw his I-Pad across the room where it shattered into a hundred pieces. “Somebody doesn’t want us to fight this war,” he said. And then he looked up at the ceiling.

Wally rooted around like a gorilla in a cage. Finally he stopped in front of the metal stairs that led to the surface. “Theodore!” he shouted. “Call for my jeep.”

Moments later he was on the surface. Compared to before, it was eerily quiet. The earth wasn’t rumbling. Even the dust cloud ahead of him on the horizon was beginning to subside. He heard birds chirping somewhere. A few moments later a jeep pulled up beside him, driven by Corporal Rutherford, his driver for the past seven years. It was an ancient jeep, probably the last one in the army, but Wally liked to emulate his hero, General George Patton.

Thanks for coming, Lumpy.” Wally tried to sound calm. He had just noticed that the sidearm he always carried was no longer in its holster. Ditto for the ceremonial Bowie knife that was supposed to be in its scabbard.

Where to, Sir?” asked Rutherford.

That way,” said Wally, pointing toward the enemy lines.

Rutherford glanced warily ahead. Behind them, the sun was setting and the plains in front of them were red as blood.

I have to see what’s happening,” said Wally. “And with the way things are going around here, the only way I can do that is to see for myself.”

Rutherford swallowed hard and opened the door. Wally climbed in and they were on their way. It was becoming a very pleasant evening, with a gentle breeze drifting down from the high country. A good day for Armageddon.

As they traversed the vast plain, a jumble of questions ran through Wally’s head. What could have caused all of this? If the Chinese had something to make the American weapons go away, then why had it happened to their stuff as well? And the Iranians too. Wally was a very skeptical fellow, but it seemed that the only explanation was a supernatural one. Was it aliens coming to Earth to keep humans from wiping themselves out? Or was it God?

Wally shook the thought away. He was not a religious man.

The jeep slowed. “What is it, Lumpy?” asked Wally.

Rutherford pointed ahead. On top of a small rise in the very middle of the vast plain was a lone figure. It was hard to see him in the fading light of sunset, but Wally could make out the uniform of a Chinese Army officer. As the jeep crept closer, Wally gasped, My God!” For only one man in China would be wearing a uniform like that. It was Wu Zhi, the General of the Army, the commander of all the forces of the Chinese and their allies. His counterpoint.

Stop the jeep,” said Wally. As an afterthought he muttered, “Well, isn’t this appropriate?”

What, Sir?” asked Rutherford.

Nothing,” said Wally.

Wally stared up at Wu Zhi. He was just standing there with his hands folded in front of him. He didn’t appear to have a weapon.

Lumpy, give me your sidearm,” said Wally.

Rutherford reached his hand down and stopped. His face flushed. “I…seem to have forgotten it, Sir,” he said, his hand fingering the empty holster.

Wally cursed. He knew that on any other day, forgetting your weapon was grounds for Court Martial but this wasn’t any other day.

Forget about it,” he muttered.

Wally stepped slowly out of the jeep. This was bound to be the defining moment of his life. How he handled himself now would be written about in history books for a thousand years. On his back, he carried the hopes of over half the world - the free half. But he knew that his counterpoint was watching him, so he had to appear as if this whole thing were just a walk in the park.

Wally shut the jeep door gently. He stretched and forced himself to yawn, gazing up and noticing the first star in the darkening sky. Then he began to go up the hill.

It was about a hundred yards from the jeep to where Wu Zhi waited and Wally was walking slowly and deliberately, giving himself time to think:

What if all that had happened today really was the hand of God? It certainly made sense if you thought about it. The world was on the brink, all right. And although Wally was confident that the good guys would win, he had to grudgingly admit that the bad guys could do a lot of damage before they were wiped out. If those nukes hadn’t disappeared today, a good part of the world would be glowing in the dark right now. If there really was a God up there, he wouldn’t want that to happen to his Creation, would he? So yes, it all made a certain amount of sense.

But there was no more time to think. Wally had crested the hill and was now face to face with Wu Zhi. A cool breeze blew across the plain, making eerie, howling noises in the distant hills.

Wally studied the man standing in front of him, who he’d never met in person before. He was 56 years old, almost the same age as Wally, and a lot taller than Wally had expected. Weren’t Chinese people supposed to be short? Maybe that was an old stereotype. Didn’t there used to be Chinese basketball players in the NBA before all of this had happened?

Like Wally, Wu Zhi was wearing a sidearm holster. And like Wally's, it was empty. Wally fingered his own empty holster and the two men stood two feet apart, staring into each others eyes. Wally felt like Wyatt Earp, facing down Ike Clanton at the OK Corral. He had already decided what his next move would be.

But before that happened, a few last, fleeting doubts fluttered at the edge of Wally’s brain. There could be a God. And if there was, maybe He just wanted us all to get along.

But Wally wasn’t a religious man. He forced a tight smile and reached out his right hand. Wu Zhi hesitated, a momentary look of confusion on his face. And then he reached out his own right hand to shake Wally’s, a timeless symbol meant to show that you were not armed and that you came in peace. At least in the west. It was just the gesture that Wally was waiting for. There were advantages to being left-handed.

As quick as a snake, Wally grabbed Wu Zhi’s right hand with his own, while balling his left hand into a fist and punching Wu Zhi in the nose as hard as he could. The sound was like a gunshot as it echoed across the vast Plain Of Megiddo.

And so it began…



Back to Wayne Faust Home Page