By Pat Frank
The vintage apocalyptic novel that shocked the realm.
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Looks like a ghost town. " "Well, we're not shouting about it. We try to keep half the wing off this base, because where we're standing right now is a primary target. We farm out our planes to fighter fields and Navy fields and even commercial airports. And we try to keep ten percent of the wing airborne at all times, and if you look down there in front of the jumbo hangar you'll see four standby Forty-sevens, bombed up and ready to go. " Randy looked. They were there, wings drooping with full tanks, bound to earth by slender umbilical cords, the starter cables.
The papers know about it but they aren't printing it," he said finally, "and the people around Orlando must know about it by now so it can't be any great secret. We've been on sort of a modified alert for four or five weeks. Maybe I should call it a creeping evacuation. We've cleared the area of all civilian and nonessential personnel, and we're encouraging everybody to move their families out of the blast zone. You see, Randy, we can't expect three to six hours' warning any more. " Randy nodded.
Besides, when you took it with coffee that made it part of breakfast, and therefore not so depraved. He guessed he had started it during the campaign, when he had been forced to load his stomach with fried mullet, hush puppies, barbecued ribs dripping fat, chitlins, roasted oysters gritty with sand, and to wash all down with warm beer and raw rotgut. After such nights, only mellow bourbon could clear his head and launch him on another day. Bourbon had buoyed him during the campaign, and now bourbon mercifully clouded its memory.