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The Rod of God
Staff Sergeant Saxon “Pagan” McKenzie and Tech Sergeant William “Choir Boy” Kabilis are involved in a nuclear accident during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Not only does it threaten to set off World War III, but it sends McKenzie and Kabilis on a journey into the first days of the Vietnam War.
Excerpt from Chapter Five
“Inserting key,” Kabilis said as each of them took a key dangling from a chain around his neck. The pilot inserted his key into the Failsafe box in the cockpit, while Kabilis inserted his into the key slot on the side of the weapon.
The pilot said, “Key on,” while turning the key on the black box. He’d done this a hundred times before, and the key would never turn. It was the last Failsafe checkpoint; it wasn’t supposed to turn, unless he was really going to deliver the weapon. But the key turned, and Lieutenant MacSlat looked down at it, his eyes wide with panic and disbelief.
We heard the pilot say, “What the hell?”, but we didn’t think anything about it; he was always saying off-the-wall stuff.
Kabilis said, “Key on” and turned his own key.
“Wait a minute!” the pilot shouted.
But it was too late.
The Failsafe box inside the cockpit of the F106 was armed! We were told this was a practice drill…or was it? We never knew how we’d be notified if we were actually going to war. Perhaps this was how we’d find out; we’d pass Failsafe, and MAD would begin to unhinge civilization, and perhaps initiate the prelude to Armageddon. But if the order had come from Cheyenne Mountain, all the F-106s would have been armed, not just one. The other bomb-loaders were standing around their aircraft, shooting the breeze. They’d finished their practice drill and were waiting to download their weapons.
Something had gone wrong.
Kabilis’s mouth dropped open as he felt his key turn. We then heard the heavy, metallic thump inside the weapon as the solid steel barrier came down between the uranium-235 and detonation chamber. A high-pitched whine came from a tiny motor deep inside the device, which we’d never heard before. We knew what it was, because we’d read about it in the tech manuals during training classes, but we’d never actually heard it until that moment. We were never supposed to hear it unless we were going to war. It was the sound of the motor used to provide the spark that initiated the nuclear reaction.