[an error occurred while processing this directive] ZEPHYR Magazine
 
                              T H E
  
                      E S T A B  - L O I D
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                Issue #4                  2-15-86
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            A weekly electronic magazine for users of 
                The Establishment BBS (894-6526)
                owned and operated by Thane Smith
  
                    Editor - Gene B. Williams 
   
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                            (c) 1986
 
THIS ISSUE:
 
     For those of you who haven't heard, I've become a papa since 
the last issue. At 6:03 AM on Wednesday morning, 2-12-86, my wife 
gave birth to a 7 lb. 14 oz. baby boy. For anyone interested, the 
boy's name is Daniel Gorden Williams.
     That has nothing to do with this issue. It's just the 
ravings of a proud parent, and is also my excuse - a justifiable 
one, I might add - for being late with the magazine.
     I almost did an article on childbirth, but then gave the 
idea some second thoughts. With some people that's a touchy 
subject. Strangely enough, more than a few people don't think 
that building a family is a suitable topic for a family oriented 
board.
     So, I'll leave that up to you, the users. A negative 
response, or no response at all, will tell me that either you'd 
prefer to avoid the topic, or just aren't interested.
  
     In any case, this week I'm presenting another piece of short 
fiction - science fiction to be more specific. Although it's 
fiction (and improbable fiction at that) the subject matter 
*could* be interesting as a discussion.
     Some of you might remember it. Some of you might even 
recognize the name of another user in there.
     I hope you enjoy it.
  
                     THERE'S ALWAYS TOMORROW
   
     Four uniformed men sat in the relative quiet of a room. They 
were surrounded by the flashing lights of the computers, and the 
controls that commanded the military might of a country. The 
sounds of mayhem and confusion in the war room outside could just 
barely be heard through the heavy door. The voices were muffled 
by the thick wood and armor plating. Occasionally a few words 
could be made out - a sharp and angry bark of a command.
     Outside were the tiny firecrackers - the sargeants and 
corporals yelling at each other because there was no one else to 
yell at. Inside there was the sizzling fuse of a case of 
dynamite. And it went off.
     "How could this happen!" screamed General Harkins. "It's 
impossible. It wasn't supposed to turn out this way!"
     "General, I . . ."
     "Shut up, Colonel. Just shut up. If your intelligence 
reports had been more accurate, we wouldn't be in this mess."
     Colonel Grieves thought of what was happening outside the 
sanctuary of the building. He wasn't about to accept personal 
blame for the disaster. He slammed his fist on the table and 
glared at the General. "Now listen to me, Harkins. Your rank 
doesn't mean a damned thing anymore. You can take those gold 
stars and . . ."
     The third man of the group stood and motioned with his hand. 
"Gentlemen, accusations won't get us anywhere. And this certainly 
isn't the time to take up personal grudges. Both of you calm 
down. We've got to come up with some answers - and fast! The 
latest report says that the enemy has already infiltrated the 
area. And we're not exactly in a secure spot. We may not have 
much time left.."
     Almost as an answer to his prediction, the sounds of gunfire 
crept through the walls. General Harkins took a deep breath. 
"Okay. Fine. Our first initiative was *supposed* to take them 
out. It was *supposed* to make retalitation impossible. Just a 
quick, single, massive attack, and the enemy would never be able 
to threaten us, or the world, again. What happened?"
     "Apparently, we judged incorrectly," said the third man.
     "You're damn RIGHT we judged incorrectly. We've lost! The 
most powerful nation in the world - and we've lost! We can't even 
defend ourselves. Everything's gone. The country is in ruins. The 
military forces are destroyed. NOW what do we do?"
     The gunshots outside were getting closer.
     "That's what we're here to discuss. The way I see it, we 
don't have very many options. With our military destroyed, we can't 
attack, and can't even resist for much longer. So, option one - 
we can surrender."
     "Never!" shouted the General. "NEVER! We owe it to the 
world, to our children and our children's children, to protect 
them from the menace of the enemy. We can't surrender to them. 
With our country out of the way, there'll be nothing to stop 
them. We have a responsibility to the world."
     "There is another alternative." His voice was almost a 
whisper. "There's the Last Resort."
     "Senator MacLeod," stammered Colonel Grieves, "You can't be 
serious."
     "What's this Last Resort nonsense," asked the General. "Why 
wasn't I told about it."
     "Only four people knew anything about it; the President, 
myself, Colonel Grieves, and . . ." he pointed to the fourth man 
who'd remained silent, "and Doctor Murphy here."
     Murphy stood and looked at the General. "Some years ago we 
began investigating the possibility of a doomsday bomb - a last 
resort in the event of . . . in the event that we found 
ourselves in the present situation. A new explosive was developed 
that sets up a chain reaction with everything around it. Within a 
few minutes, everything will become a part of this chain reaction 
- the ground, even the atmosphere. Obviously we haven't been able 
to test the explosive thoroughly. We don't know how far the chain 
reaction will go. About all we know for sure is that it *will* 
shatter our planet." 
     "About 3 years ago the bomb was put into place. It's located 
several miles beneath the surface, and situated in such a way 
that if exploded our planet will be shattered completely. The 
threat of being overtaken by the enemy will be gone because there 
will be nothing left to conquer . . . or to defend." He indicated 
a flashing button on the control console. "As per Senator 
MacLeod's instructions, control of the device has been 
transferred to this room. This button will activate it."
     The sounds of gunfire and the screams of death penetrated 
the heavy door from the next room.
     "You can't be serious," said the Colonel. "I agreed to the 
funding of the project, but I never dreamed that anyone would 
seriously consider using it."
     "We have no choice," said the General. "Do you want the 
enemy to rule over all the innocent people of the world? We have 
to protect them. We can't allow the menace of the enemy to 
continue."
     A deafening blast shattered the door and enemy soldiers 
poured into the room. Before they could react to the new threat, 
three of the men in the room were gunned down. The Senator 
MacLeod leaped for the button, shouting, "FREEDOM!"
     He never felt the ground begin to shake. A bullet penetrated 
his brain as his finger pushed the button.
 
*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *     *    
 
     Some time later, at the other end of the galaxy, a young 
couple was having an argument.
     "If you really loved me," he said, with feigned hurt 
creeping into his voice, "you'd let me."
     "Oh, Doug, you know that I love you. I'm just not ready yet. 
Can't you understand that?"
     "Aw, c'mon, Marie," he pleaded.
     "No!"
     "Marie," he breathed, snuggling in closer."
     "Doug, no! If I let you . . . if we, . . . you won't want me 
any more."
     "Sure I will," he laughed, kissing her ear fondly. "I'll 
always love you. To the end of the earth, Marie. Now, come on. 
Loosen up."
     She relaxed. With a speed nearly equal to Doug's hand, Pluto 
vanished.
                                   *
 
     "I'll do it tomorrow," he yelled. "Goddam, you're always 
nagging me. I'm tired!"
     "Tomorrow and tomorrow! It's always, 'tomorrow' with you. 
What's wrong with today?"
     "Leave me alone! And, get off my back."
     She stomped off, cursing him under her breath. What a 
mistake it had been to marry him. Lazy, no good, cheap bum.
     Almost instantly she felt guilty. He wasn't such a bad 
husband, really. She considered going back in to make up. But, 
her steps were cemented in place with her own pride.
     "Let him come to me," she thought.
     In the living room, a similar scene was taking place. She 
wasn't asking that much of him. And that TV show wasn't all that 
great. Maybe he should go and apologize. 
     He finished his beer, stood, then sat back down.
     "Let her come to me," he thought.
     And the planet Mars ceased to exist.
     "There's always tomorrow to make up," they both said to 
themselves.
  
  
UNTIL NEXT TIME
  
     I hope everyone could understand the story in this week's 
issue. It is not scientifically feasible, but the basic premise 
of waiting until tomorrow is valid. In the story, the actions of 
a few set up the chain reaction that spread through space. (If 
the chain reaction moves through space at the speed of light, 
we'd never know it was coming. As Mars exploded and disappeared, 
we wouldn't know about it until the chain reaction was doing its 
thing to our own planet.)
     Maybe someone should inform Senator MacLeod that he should 
keep his fingers off buttons, huh?
  
NEXT WEEK:
     As Chris said, I'm a bit of a basket case right now. I'm 
just not sure what I'll pull up for the next issue.
     Any requests?

Zephyr Magazine is © Gene Williams. All rights reserved.