5:00 a.m. – continued
“Last one,” one of the dozen soldiers announced as he lugged over the last crate of explosives, the wooden box heavily labeled with warnings in five different languages and three different colors. “Let’s get this wired so we can go home to our families.”
One of the other soldiers nodded and wiped his brow. “Sounds good to me. I can’t wait to get home.”
For the past few months, during shift after shift, the soldiers had been digging deep into the ground to bury the explosives, which were all being prepared for detonation. Starting two days before, the explosives had been arriving and they were being carefully lowered in to the ground and wired together. A hundred miles away in every direction, more military units from all over the world were doing the exact same work.
It was a grim task, preparing the world for destruction. The only grimmer task was given to an entirely different group of soldiers all over the world, the soldiers who were the ones who would be detonating the explosives. That had been drawn by lottery. Some were infantry, some were generals. It didn’t matter; each had been tasked with an important duty and they were ready for it.
“Any word on the rest of the world?”
One of the soldiers grunted as she and another soldier worked on unloading the last crate of explosives, carefully handling each little and large exploding package.
“I heard Asia’s finished. Europe is set to be finished this morning. I think Australia and Africa are taking their time. They’ve gathered all the explosives, but haven’t wired them together yet. Some of the French and Japanese soldiers are supposed to be heading over there now to help them. We’re the last group in North America and South America should be done by this afternoon.”
“What about the explosives that were being dropped in the oceans?”
“I think that’s being done this morning. Or was supposed to be finished this morning. Or something like that.”
“Yeah. I was in touch with a friend from high school. He’s in the navy and they and their families put out to sea last night to dump some weapons. The detonation crews are heading out throughout the day, depending on how far from the coast they’re supposed to be. I heard all those ships are hosting some wild parties all day. Man, I kind of wish I was there instead. Imagine, partying on the sea in cruise ships. Cruise ships! Not navy ships.” He shook his head in disbelief and worked on wiring two explosives together.
“They’re not using the Navy’s ships?”
“Nope. They wanted the men and women and their families to be comfortable and able to enjoy themselves. Those ships are loaded with tons of stuff to do and eat. Those are going to be some serious parties.”
Some of the soldiers laughed.
“I think we picked the wrong military branch.”
“You’re telling me.”
Silence fell as they finished unloading, placing, and wiring the explosives together. When they were finished, they stood in a mile long and mile wide ditch filled with explosives wired together. Fortunately, the detonation devices were nowhere near them, instead being kept by the detonation crew for this particular pit.
One by one, the men and women removed their hats and placed it over their heart. They saluted the Earth and each other one last time. A bugle sounded from above them, playing “Taps” even though it was only sunrise.