Deep under the mountain a teleprinter chattered, its noise almost lost in the background of many hushed voices, ringing telephones and hurrying steps. Neat rows of capital letters appeared on a sheet of paper, which was then messily torn off and carried to a frowning man in a glass booth overlooking the large control room. Orders were given, klaxons sounded, blast doors were sealed. Grim faced sentries chambered rounds in their religiously cleaned rifles. The frowning man looked at the computer-generated vectors, drawn on the big screens in the control room, then picked up the red telephone handset and made the call.
Many hundreds of miles away from the mountain a small neat park basked in the midday sun, until the calm was ruined by a sudden thundering roar.
A startled family turned their heads: past the trees and greens, past the chainlink fence, paths and roads of a nearby base, a flock of missiles was rising on the thin columns of white smoke.
The boy looked at them with wonder, his mother with fear. The father stood up and brushed the grass off his Air Force uniform, his face unreadable.
– Take the kid and go to your mother. Don’t even think of going back to the city, there’s a green bag in the trunk, everything you need is there. I’ll join you as soon as I can. I gotta run now.
– No buts, I have to go. The bombers are coming.