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Authors: Bruce Roland

Blinding Fear

BOOK: Blinding Fear
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Blinding
Fear

By
Bruce Roland

Copyright © June 2016
by Bruce Roland

All rights reserved.

This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the Author. With the exception of the use of brief quotations in a review.

It is a work of fiction. Names, characters, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or events is entirely coincidental.

Cover and Book Design by Fred Butson

fredxDesign.com

ISBN 978-0-9978843-0-2

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To my wonderful wife and family

Prologue

It was an unusual asteroid.

Made up of two, mostly iron and nickel, mountain-sized chunks of rock that orbited each other like a mini solar system, it—or perhaps they—had an eccentric, elliptical orbit around the sun that took it far out of the plane of the greater solar system and back again every 319 years.

The asteroid was what some astronomers referred to as a Trojan. It looked, acted and had a composition not too far outside the norm. But ominously it had an orbit that intersected the middle planet’s orbits. It was a celestial object that looked benign, even peaceful when viewed from afar. But it had potential that carried destruction on an unimaginable scale for any planet or other solar system resident unfortunate enough to get in its way.

One of the celestial partners looked vaguely like a misshapen pear and spanned approximately ten miles across its long axis. Its partner’s more normal shape had a diameter a bit over six miles. The smaller member of the asteroid team was as nearly spherical as any asteroid could be—perhaps resembling a golf ball; its heavily dimpled surface cratered by many, semi-catastrophic encounters with other, smaller asteroids and other space debris over countless eons.

The pear’s surface dust—as is the case with most asteroids—was not thick and consequently its albedo, or brightness, was relatively high. The golf ball’s on the other hand was for some strange astronomical quirk, the opposite. Its layer of dust was improbably and impenetrably thick. Its ultra-low albedo made it something like an old-fashioned, spherical slate blackboard drifting through the solar system, sucking up—instead of reflecting—whatever photons of light happened to come its way.

The asteroid couple was ultimately separated by one of the countless cosmological encounters that had governed its life for tens of millions of years. Another single but much larger asteroid—its orbit perturbed ever so slightly by Jupiter’s massive gravitational field—strayed just close enough for its gravitational field to cause the pear and golf ball’s orbits around each other to become progressively out of sync. The two began to drift closer to each other causing the orbital speed of the smaller golf ball to greatly increase. Over the course of unknown time the astral ballet around each other deteriorated to the point where the golf ball finally broke free and was flung away from its partner at a much higher velocity. The pear—now unfettered by its partner’s mass—settled into a new orbit around the sun that would, in a few dozen millennia, send it crashing into Jupiter leaving an ugly black stain in the multihued, striated clouds of the gas giant.

The golf ball, however, managed to stabilize itself in an orbit that strangely enough was nearly the same as its old, with only a few, tiny arc-seconds of difference between them. On the grand scale of the solar system it was a nearly infinitesimal fifty-thousand miles of difference at any point in its new orbit; overall nearly nothing when compared to the millions of miles of its orbital journey through the solar system and its environs.

And now, having lost its symbiotic relationship with the pear and gained a new orbit of seeming insignificance, it began its own, new solitary life around the Sun.

Chapter 1

Seoul, South Korea, September 1958

“I won’t go!” Five year-old Kayode wailed, tears rolling down his cheeks in steady rivulets. “I hate Kindergarten!”

His mother continued to dress him in preparation for her son’s first day of his second year in the country’s compulsory preschool system. She sat on his youth bed in the small bedroom where he slept alone each night. He stood in front of her, quivering in despair and anger, stomping his feet, folding his arms across his chest, making her job of dressing him all the more difficult.

“Kayode, you know you have to go to school,” she soothed as she finally managed to finish buttoning his white shirt and begin working on getting the knot in his little black necktie just right. “This year will be different. You’ll see. I’m sure you’ll make all kinds of friends.”

“No, I won’t! They hate me!” he shrilled, raising the decibel and pitch level to even greater heights. “When I went to school before they called me bad names! They called you bad names! They called daddy bad names because he married you!”

“What’s going on, Martha?” Kayode’s father said in Korean-accented English, poking his head around the corner of the door. “The neighbors will complain again if we don’t keep the volume down.”

“I’m sorry, Joo-Won. Give him a minute. He’ll calm down. Won’t you sweetie?” She stopped dressing him for a moment, took his face in her hands and gently kissed each cheek, then tenderly smoothed the tears away with her long, graceful fingers.

Joo-Won stepped into the room and stood over both of them as his wife finished the arduous task of dressing their son. “Kayode, I thought we decided last night that you were going to be really strong and brave when you went to school today?” he asked quietly.

“But you and mommy don’t understand! The other kids were so mean to me last time I went to school!” He paused for a second, his voice quavering. “Sometimes the teacher was sort of mean, too.”

“Mommy and I are sad that school is hard for you. But we promise that everything is going to be better this year. We have already talked to your new teacher to make sure.” He tousled his son’s dark brown, tightly curled hair. “Hey,” he said looking at his watch. “The bus will be here any minute. Is his lunch ready, Martha?”

“Yes, I just need to get the thermos out of the refrigerator and put it in his lunchbox.” She got up and slipped out the door past her husband.

Joo-Won reached down and picked up Kayode, held him close for a second, gave him a hug and a kiss on his cheek, then asked, “Do you know what our family name, Seok, means in Korean?”

The boy barely shook his head, swiping at another tear that was swiftly sliding toward his chin. “No.”

“It means ‘Like a Rock.’ Do you know what your name means?”

Again, a nearly imperceptible shake.

“Well, the name comes from the country mommy’s parents and their parents came from a long time ago. It is in Africa. Kayode means ‘He brought joy.’”

“Really. That’s neat!” he replied, brightening slightly.

“Yes, it is. So, here is what you need to do today when you go to school. Remember our name every time something bad happens or if somebody says something mean to you. Be like a rock. Do not let them make you angry or sad because when you do they win and you lose. Be like a rock whenever you need to and then do whatever you can to bring happiness to as many kids in your class as you can, just like you bring joy to your mommy and me. Can you do both?”

“Okay. I think I can be strong, daddy, but how do I make other kids happy?”

“Say nice things to them. Tell them how nice they look, what pretty clothes they have, how smart they are, what good football players they are. Everybody likes to hear those kind of things. Do you understand?”

Kayode smiled and reached around his father’s neck to give him a hug. “Yes, daddy. I’ll try,” he whispered.

“Great! Now let’s see if mommy has your lunch ready.”

Joo-Won carried his son out of the bedroom into the kitchen where she was just finishing packing his Mickey Mouse School Bus lunch box.

“What kind of lunch have you prepared for Kayode today, honey?” he asked brightly.

“His favorite. A baloney sandwich on Wonder Bread with mustard and Miracle Whip, sliced apples, carrots, potato chips and a Twinkie.”

“Oh, boy!” Kayode cried.

She handed him the lunch box and added, “But remember: Don’t let other kids take your food and don’t forget to drink all your milk. Okay?”

He grew serious again. “Okay.”

Just then they heard a horn blare from in front of their on-base married officers quarters. Together they walked out to see a drab, grayish-green Kunsan Air Base school bus idling at the curb, children of many different ages chattering nosily inside, its door open, waiting for Kayode. The driver was a young corporal in the Republic of Korea Air Force.

Before his son could get on, Joo-Won stepped into the bus door and fixed the man with a deadly serious glare. The driver instantly stood to attention as Joo-Won, dressed in his full ROK military uniform, loudly addressed him in Korean. “You will do everything in your power to ensure my son has a peaceful transit to and from school today and for the rest of the school year! You will also inform any replacement drivers of my orders! If I or my wife hear that something—anything—other than that has happened, I will make your life a living hell! Have I made myself clear!”

“Yes, Major!” he crisply and just as loudly responded, snapping off a smart salute. The driver knew the threat was real. As the senior Korean military attache to the U.S. commander of the base, Major Joo-Won Seok wielded considerable power and influence

“Good!” Calming himself Joo-Won smiled and turned to his son. “All right Kayode. It’s time to go.” He took the boy’s hand and carefully guided him up the steps, then stepped back to stand next to his wife. In spite of what Joo-Won had said to the driver, they watched with some trepidation as Kayode stood absolutely still at the head of the seat aisle, his lunch box gripped tightly in one hand, trying to see where he could sit. Finally, he slowly walked to a vacant seat halfway toward the rear. They also watched as the other children stared silently at him. None greeted him. The door closed and the bus pulled noisily away in a cloud of diesel smoke. Joo-Won and Martha smiled and waved as he peeped out the window to look at them, his face expressionless. His small hand appeared above the window ledge barely waving in response.

Back inside the house Martha and Joo-Won sat down at the dining table. Both were silent, deep in thought about their son and what he would face at the civilian, off-base Korean school.

“Will it ever get any better?” Martha plaintively asked after several minutes.

Joo-Won sighed deeply. “I don’t know. Korean cultural barriers are hard to break down. Mixed-race marriages have been severely frowned upon for generations. Children of them face....,” he paused trying to find the least inflammatory word to use,.”....difficulties.” He paused again. “I guess we can only hope our conferences with the principle and teachers will have some effect.”

They were silent again for several minutes.

“What about you?” she asked. “You’ve been stationed here for three years. There’s been no hint of a promotion or advancement. The Lt. Colonel List came out last week and you weren’t on it.....again. There are times when I can’t help but think you would have been better off not marrying me.”

Joo-Won could see tears welling up in her beautiful brown eyes. “No, no, no, no! Do not ever think like that!” he said, gently taking her hand. “I love you more than anything! If I do not get a promotion that is a very small price to pay to be married to the most wonderful woman in the world! Yes, we are facing struggles but we can overcome them. Now we must be strong for Kayode. He is extremely intelligent. We must make sure he has every opportunity to use that intelligence so he will have a better future than we do. And if so, maybe he will grow up to make a positive difference in the world.”

BOOK: Blinding Fear
11.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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