EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article is excerpted from Roy Griffis’s novel The Big Bang, published by Liberty Island Media. Set in a United States destroyed by Islamic terrorists, the novel chronicles the struggle of an underground resistance fighting to rebuild their nation.
When he opened the passenger door, he found his side of the Jeep filled with bags and packages. Hanner scooped up most of them, shoved them in the back. There were already two long packages lying on top of the coolers. One squarishbox was on the floor. Baldwin climbed in, put the strangely heavy box between his feet, and buckled up.
His eyes on the road, Hanner told him, “Open that up, Mr. Baldwin.” He turned onto the main road, passing the small residential area. People were outside holding cell phones, looking to the skies, talking to their neighbors. “You ever use one of these?”
Baldwin was looking down at the contents of the smaller box. Inside was a semi-automatic pistol, a brand new Glock from the markings on the package, and under it was a heavy box of bullets. “You think we’ll need these?”
Hanner didn’t reply. He didn’t need to answer that question.
Alec eased the pistol from the package. “How’d you get this? Isn’t there a waiting period of some kind?”
“Waiting period is only for Hollywood actors who are part-time residents.” Hanner grinned briefly. “The boys at the shop know me. They know I’m not gonna go ventilate my ex-wife or anything like that. Now, do you know how to use a pistol?”
It had been a long time since he’d handled a weapon for a role. He didn’t really know people who kept firearms. It seemed like the kind of thing the yee-haw and ya-hoo set did.
Sensing his reluctance, Hanner said, “It’s no different than a hammer. It can be used right and it can be used wrong.”
“You’ll have to show me how to use it safely.” Putting the pistol in the box, Alec twisted in his seat and dropped it in the back. He ruffled the fur on Queenie’s head before turning around. He dug into his pocket, pulled out his cell phone. Methodically he went through the numbers. Kim. Addie. His agent. His brothers. His parents. Each time there was no answer, if there was service at all. Hanner waited until he folded up the phone, then turned on the radio.
It was chaos on the airways, as well. Smaller AM stations were scrambling to gather more information, and they were reduced to simply repeating the same few facts over and over about unconfirmed reports of strange attacks and random bombings, mostly snatched from law-enforcement scanners and sources. One or two of the larger stations were able to get some call-ins from the area, but they only added to the confusion with reports of scattered explosions, huge clouds towering above downtown Los Angeles.
The news, such as it was, only unsettled Baldwin more, fed his sense of impotence and helplessness until he thought he was going to vomit. Hanner reached out to turn off the radio. Alec stayed his hand. “No, we need to know what’s ahead.”
Hanner shrugged and concentrated on driving. They were speeding down Highway 159. At Interstate 85, a right turn would take them south to California. The road was almost empty of other vehicles. This was normal, for the most part, the vast spaces between towns tending to thin out the traffic. Today it was unnerving. It began to feel like they were the only ones alive.
They drove in silence for a time, scanning the radio channels until one of the larger stations out of Portland played a tape recording from NBC. It was a phone call the national news desk had received about 15 minutes earlier. In accented English with a strange cadence, a man’s voice exulted, “The Martyrs of California have struck a blow for jihad and the Prophet! Allah has judged America, and we have delivered the judgment of Allah, praise be unto His Holy Name.”
At that, Hanner angrily stabbed the radio power button.