The New Weapon.
Simon Baker was born to a young woman before the great war began. His mother Simone became pregnant to a man one summer evening in a sleeper carriage on a train heading out from the city. She lived on a farm in dairy country where heavy rains fall all year around. She was responsible for the washing and cooking for all the men working there.
“Why would you call your son Simon?” the woman who owned a share of the farm asked when the boy was a few years old. “It’s so close to your own name.”
“I have conducted myself well for the last few years, have I not ma’am?” Simone asked in return.
“Yes you have.” “And I have minded my own business?” “Yes…” the woman saw where the conversation was going and left her alone.
The boy grew up happily on the farm but very lonely. He spent many hours on his own exploring the nearby forests and rivers.
It was a clear sunny day, a few days after the boy’s seventh birthday when he ran in to see his mother who had just finished making the lunches.
“Mom,” he called as he ran into the huge common kitchen. “Come down to the river with me for a walk.” His mother looked up and wiped her hands on her apron. “OK, I’ll come for a walk,“ she smiled at her thin blonde child.
They walked out across the yellow fields, being watched by the lazy big eyed cows until they entered the green forests and were hidden by the thick vegetation. They past into a clearing that the boy knew well and they rested by the river.
The sun reflected off the clear waters and fish darted about in the cool depths below them.
“Your father used to love to fish,” Simone lied. “He would spend hours by rivers just like this one while I would sit under a tree and read.”
Simon looked at the tall heavy trees sitting around the banks. He imagined his father fishing.
“Those were the days,” his mother smiled and patted the boy gently on the head.
“I would like to fish,” the boy announced.
Suddenly a deep growl filled the air. The noise was loud and soon even the river could not be heard. The sound was deep and threatening like a typhoon.
“What is that?” Simon asked, looking about in fear.
“It’s all right,” Simone said looking up into the clear sky. “It’s an airplane.” Simon had never seen one before but he knew of them. He looked up seeing a white air plane, flying low coming toward them.
“I don’t like the noise,” the boy cried and covered his ears.
“It’s OK, it’s OK,” Simone reassured him gently, putting her arm around the boy.
“No!” the boy shouted and stood up. He could see the white plane glinting in the sun. He pointed at it. “I wish it would stop!” he cried.
The planes engines fell silent. The plane cut through the air without a sound, continued over the forest and then just as it was past the trees it fell out of the sky. An explosion sounded, a fire ball and black smoke erupted over the green pine trees.
“Oh my God!” Simone yelled and held the boy to her.
They left for the city in September. Simone told no one about what happened. The plane crash had been a big event on the farm but no one knew why the engines had stopped.
They moved to a small apartment in the city where Simone worked shifts at a laundry and Simon went to a nearby school.
“Simon I want you to promise me something,” his mother said kneeling in front of him.
“This is our new start. This city we get to begin afresh. Never ever do what you did to that air plane again.” “I don’t know what I did mom.” “You stopped the engines, you pointed at it and it fell.” “I’m sorry, I did not mean to kill the people.” “I know,” she hugged him. “Just never do it again.”
Years past and Simon grew into a quiet, shy boy. He never forgot the day he pointed at the plane and silenced the engines. He continued to play back the memory, he had flung his arm toward the plane and a feeling like an electric shock ran through his arm and the plane fell from the sky. His arm ached for hours afterwards. The noise of the explosion would feature in his dreams occasionally and awaken him, screaming.
The war began on a cool dark day. The enemy in the beginning were much more powerful than we were. Their air force was ten times larger and their planes the cutting edge of technology. By day the missiles would rain upon the cities and by night the bombers would flood the sky and drop fire.
As night approached Simon and Simone sat in their apartment and tried to keep warm but nothing was working properly and the heat was very weak. A siren began to scream.
“Mom, we have to get to the shelter,” Simon said.
“No,” she replied. “Come with me.” “Where?” “I cannot stand the shelter, it feels like a coffin. Come to the roof with me, please.” His mother stood up and beckoned him to follow. He was frightened and did not want to go, but he trusted her and followed.
The night was pitch black and there were no lights on in the huge city. The only movement were the massive search lights that swept the sky. They looked out to sea.
“There they come,” Simon said. He pointed out to sea. “The black dots, the planes are coming. Can you see them mom?” “No, not too well… I think I can make them out. Tell me Simon, are any of them our planes?” “No,” Simon said. “They are all enemy. I can see the red tails in the searchlights.” Simon had a good knowledge of aviation and he could pick the enemy by their red markings.
“Simon I want you to stop them.” “What?” “Remember how you stopped the plane when you were a little boy, I want you to stop these before they destroy our city.” “I can’t.” “Please, it is our last chance.” The planes were close now, the engines hummed like angry bees. The vibration of their approach rattled the windows all around. They were huge jets flying low, death would soon come. The sound changed from a hum to a scream.
Simon stood up straight and his eyes narrowed. The sound was tearing him apart. His ears hurt.
“I want them to stop!” he screamed and flung his arm forward.
Silence followed. The city was suddenly silent, the planes came closer for a moment, then they fell from the air like lead weights, crashing into the sea.
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David O’Sullivan’s Short Story – “A New Weapon”