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[M&M 3E] October 1962

Mark Chance

Boingy! Boingy!
Tuesday, October 23
The sun rises late over New Falls owing to the town being nestled in a wooded valley. Dawn slides over the forested hills to the east, casting long shadows that slide slowly away from the west as the sun climbs higher. Right now, it's still early, not much after 7:00 a.m. A damp fog clings to the streets and yards, promising a chilly morning....

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Gabriel snoozed in bed as his alarm blared.

“Turn that thing off and get up!” His mother yelled for the third time. “You’re going to be late for school, and breakfast is ready!”

That got his attention. He groggily slammed the alarm button and sat up. He hat there for a while, letting the sleep drain from his head before rolling out of bed.

First thing’s first. He had his own bathroom, a blessing in a house with three sisters, so he did his morning business and stepped on the scale. He’d gone up since yesterday. He was starting to get closer to three .

He sagged a bit. His friend had told him about a diet where he didn’t eat anything with grains or sugar. He couldn’t imagine not eating bread. Or pizza. Or Cheetos.

He stepped off the scale and shrugged, looking himself over. He was big. Not just wide, but big. He was over six feet tall, and his weight sat mostly on his gut. It wasn’t horribly big. Daryl from school was almost as big around as he was y’all. But he definitely had a belly, and he wouldn’t be winning any awards with washboard abs.

His beard wasn’t coming in all that well. He probably should shave today. Nah. No time. He had to get breakfast.

He dressed quickly and headed down stairs. His plate of bacon, scrambled eggs and toast greeted him.

He ate breakfast quickly and managed to dodge any questions about the big dance coming up. He hadn’t found a date and his mom pestered him every morning. He’d never gone to any the previous years, and this was his last chance. He just...he wasn’t the type to get a date for these things.

At grabbed his bag and headed for school.

"Good morning, Em, I made eggs," Jennifer said, bustling about the kitchen like she owned it. She did. A hundred things were going through her mind. "Don't forget you have ballet class after school. Dad should be able to take you."

"I know," Emily said. She was starting to notice all the stuff Jennifer did and was trying to be more grown up. But that was hard. She ate her breakfast in silence. The front door opened and Emily ran from the table. "Daddy!"

"Hey pumpkin," Greg said as he was nearly tackled by a hug. "You be good at school today."

"You always say that."

"You need to clean up your plate and grab your lunch, Em. Bus'll be here in 10 minutes," Jennifer said coming into the living room. "I have practice this afternoon, so make sure Emily makes it to ballet, Dad."

"Yes, sir," Greg said with a salute. He limped over to a chair and sat down.

"I'm leaving," she said picking up her school bag sitting waiting at the door. She went out to the garage, door still open from her father coming home. She grabbed her bicycle and secured her bag before riding off to school.

Mark Chance

Boingy! Boingy!
Tuesday, October 23
Gabriel is no more than ten yards from his front door when Bill slouched down his driveway and fell in beside Gabriel.

Gabriel and Bill have several of the same classes together. In class, Bill seldom says much of anything. Keeps his head down, doodles in his notebooks, does just enough work to not fail. Gabriel is a senior, but he looks more like a freshman: short, slim, skinny arms, acne-marked cheeks and forehead, seemingly lost in clothes that look a size or two too big. Bill shifts the grip on his briefcase, an accessory his mother insists he use because "it makes him look more mature."

"Morning," Bill says to Gabriel as he brushes his bangs away from his eyes.

Farther down the street at the T-intersection, the two young men see Jennifer pedaling into view on her bicycle. She cannot help but notice the pair shuffling down the street.

Charlie had been up since dawn. Out in the woods like he was most mornings. It got him away from the house and his parents. He relished the peace and quite. He took a deep breath and raised the rifle to his shoulder pointing it towards the buck he had been tracking for the past half hour. He holds the breath just about to take the shot when the animal looks up and then bolts into the trees.

Charlie curses, lowering the rifle. He sighs and then glances at his watch and curses again. He was going to be late. The boy turns, shoulders the weapon, and jogs towards home. He didn't even know why he bothered attending New Falls High anymore. He had turned 18 last month and wasn't required to go anymore. He knew he wasn't going to go to college. Not that he couldn't get in he just couldn't leave his family. But he still went, not wanting to admit that to himself just yet.

Charlie broke out of the woods and jogged past his Pa's workshop. He could see the soft glow of a light on through the slightly ajar doors but didn't hear anything coming from inside. That meant his Pa was either still asleep or down in the bunker. Charlie walked into the main house and hung the rifle on a rack with several other guns in the mud room. He pushed his way into the kitchen and smiled. His mom was actually in there making some food.

"Hey Ma, sleep well?"

Dorothy looked at her son as if just noticing him.

"Yes, Balthazar sang to me all night."

"That's nice, Ma." Charlie smiled weakly to his mom. "I almost had dinner, but it got away. I'll pick something up from the store on my way home from school."

Charlie grabbed some toast threw some eggs and bacon on it, wrapped it in a napkin and shoved it in his bag.

"I gotta run going to be late for school. Try to remind Pa he's supposed to patch the Johnson's roof this afternoon. He forgot last week and they're getting really mad. If he forgets again they're probably going to find someone else."

Charlie sighed knowing that his Mom would forget and his Dad would lose another job. Charlie was going to have to find time to do it himself on top of his real job. He ran out the door knowing he was going to miss his first class but had to many other things to worry about to care.

Mark Chance

Boingy! Boingy!
Nota Bene: We're a little out sync time-wise between the characters. Charlie is about one class period into the future. :)

Charlie's prediction about when he'd make it to school proves accurate. The bells ending first period starts to ring as Charlie makes it through the door. Miss Balametov, the front desk secretary, looks up and Charlie and frowns. Classroom doors open, and students spill into the hallways, which go from peaceful to full of chatter and clatter in almost an instant.

Jennifer arrives at school thirty minutes early. She locks up her bike and heads to the front office. She is there before many of the office staff except Ms Brubank, the vice principle. "Morning Jenn."

"Morning, Ms B."

Jennifer starts doing the office tasks she is paid to due in the morning, including putting the office announcements in an order she thinks makes sense. As the secretary and other staff arrive she engages them with small talk. When the homeroom bell rings, she sits down at the office microphone and begins to lead the school in the Pledge of Allegiance. Then she reads the announcements. She's handed a final announcement. "Tennis practice is canceled today. Mr Stone is not here today." She pauses awkwardly as she realizes she might have some free time later. "Enjoy your day," she concludes the announcements as she always does.

The bell ending homeroom rings and she leaves the office with a wave and few good byes to go to first period. Calculus. She never complains but math that early is only tenable because Mrs. Grass makes it fun.


New Falls, Washington/Home and school
Tuesday, October 23, 1962/7-8 AM

The alarm went off and Sofia sighed. She always woke up before the alarm and stared at the ceiling, dreading starting the day. She slapped the alarm off and tossed aside her blankets, heading for the bathroom.

After morning business, Sofia went across the hall and banged on the next door. “ALEJANDRA! Get up! Right now! Or I’m eating your cereal!” She didn’t wait for a response, but opened the door and tugged the sheets off her ten-year-old sister and gave her a swat on the butt. “Up!”

There was mumbled protesting, but Sofia finally dragged her little sister out to the bathroom and went down to the kitchen. She put out two bowls and a box of cereal -- that was the last of it; she would have to pick up more on the way home from school --, then made some toast, putting down a jar of honey.

“Alice’s mom makes her eggs and bacon for breakfast,” Alejandra said as she entered, her hair not even combed as she plopped down in the seat.

Sofia finished filling glasses of orange juice. “Well, when you get a mother that doesn’t have to be at work before you get up, Mama will make you huevos rancheros y chorizo,” she said, grabbing a brush and starting to work at Alejandra’s hair.

“Ouch! Don’t pull so hard, puta!”

Sofia gave her a thwack on the head with the brush. “You want some soap with that orange juice, hermanita?” she warned.

Once the hair was brushed, Sofia finally sat down to scarf down her own cereal. “Go get dressed,” she told her sister when she was done eating. “Clothes are on the chair. Get your stuff ready. And brush your teeth!” she called after the girl.

Sofia rested her head on her hand and sipped some coffee left in the pot from her mother’s breakfast. She cleared the table into the sink then hurried into the bathroom once her sister had cleared out. She brushed her hair and put on some light makeup, then went to her room to dress for school. She rolled the skirt up so that it was two inches higher than regulation length and slipped on her blazer. Most importantly, she slipped her cigarettes into her purse.

“C’mon! Bus will be here soon!” Sofia banged on Alejandra’s door, and she came out. “Grab your bag. Go! Andale!

With Alejandra safely on time for the bus, Sofia headed on foot for the high school. She arrived with a bit of time, and moved behind the field house to have a morning smoke. She blew into the air as she leaned against the wall. She heard some passing students talking about the big upcoming dance. Well, it wasn’t something Sofia needed to worry about. None of the white boys were going to ask her to the dance, and she wasn’t going to go and hold up a wall. Dios! She missed Miami and her friends.

Crushing out her cigarette, Sofia nodded to the others that had congregated out of sight beneath the bleachers for a cigarette. She popped in a mint and headed inside.

“Miss Ibarra!” came the strict voice. “Your skirt!”

Sofia sighed. She did a little wriggle as she pulled it down and headed for homeroom.

Mark Chance

Boingy! Boingy!
Sofia walks down the hall on her way to homeroom. The school is small, but it seems crowded. Students move about, talking at lockers, entering and exiting the bathrooms, many walking briskly but slowing down as they closer to their respective homerooms and the time when they won't see their friends again for any length of time until lunch.

Most of her classmates are seated by the time Sofia makes it through the classroom door. Her homeroom teacher is writing a few agenda items on the board. The first of which, repeated in every homeroom throughout the school, is another "Duck and Cover Drill".

Each homeroom teacher goes through the procedure by rote. "In the event of" and "readiness" are among the buzzwords. The drill begins with a blast from the alarm, ends with the all clear. Then, before each teacher moves onto the next agenda item, there's something new. A handout. A map of New Falls with more than a dozen locations marked with red exclamation points.

"Please keep this map with you," the teachers say. "Each exclamation point is a small bunker, and, as you can see, there are several located throughout town, including one on our campus. These bunkers are reserved for students. In the event of an actual emergency, if you're not at home, find your way to the closest bunker and seal yourselves in until you receive the all-clear. Titan has installed the bunkers, and plans for larger bunkers are currently in the works. Our goal -- Titan's goal -- is maximum readiness."

Mark Chance

Boingy! Boingy!
As life in New Falls continues very much like it did the previous day, five Titan Defense executives meet in a dark paneled conference room. They're all older, not a one without at least some gray in their hair. Four of them are men, and they wear dark suits, white shirts, and black neck ties. The fifth, the only woman in the room, wears a crisp white lab coat over a burgundy dress.

"The teachers are making the announcement this morning?" one of the men says.

The woman nods. "Most likely, as we speak."

Heads nod.

"And the threat level?" another man says.

A third man answers. "Elevated and increasing. It is unlikely New Falls will survive past sundown today."

"Readiness?" the first man says.

"Minimal," the third man replies. "Casualties will be high."

"But," the woman says, "the shelters are ready and operational. It is likely some of the children will progress to the next stage."

The fourth man, who up until had remained silent, leaned forward at the head of the table. "Then it sounds like there's nothing else we can do here. Initiate transfer."

The five executives exchanged glances, eyes hard, faces grim. As one, they inhaled deeply. As they exhaled, they slumped in their chairs, motionless, unbreathing....

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