Now we are all sons of bitches

Alright kid, I have a story for you. You buy me another round and I’ll tell you. You ever hear of one of the nukes we lost? I mean the US Air Force lost nukes. Yeah, in ‘68 a B-52 bomber was flying over Greenland. Goes down, crash landing. Conventional bombs go off throwing the nukes on board every which way. Story goes that all of them are accounted for but one.

Big cover up, Denmark got into some shit because they let us keep our nukes in Greenland just a year after announcing they wouldn’t. Some radiation got released.

Anyways, we didn’t lose that nuke. Big thing to say right? I know, I know, you need the facts. Goddamn reporters won’t let someone tell a good story. So, in ‘68 I was part of a tactical fighter squadron based out of Thule Air Base in Greenland. That’s where the bomber was from and where our recovery efforts started. You can find my service record if you look hard enough. Anyways, last chance to duck out of this. I had a lot of men in suits and sunglasses tell me I never saw anything, but I don’t have a family so I don’t give a shit anymore.

Yeah, like I said on the phone. My cancer’s come back and I’m the last of my squadron alive. I should have joined the damn Navy. My brother was in the Navy, and he was stationed in Hawaii. In the Air Force you were either in the desert or the fucking arctic. God forbid we get a nice coast assignment.

Alright, so what I’m going to tell you is dangerous. Just wanted you to know what you were getting into, kid. So I flew an F-100D Super Sabre. First supersonic jet adopted as a front line fighter by a national military. You don’t hear much about ‘em, replaced by the more famous F-4 starting in ‘68, but we still had our Sabres. The reason you don’t hear much because most of the guys hated the early models. The ‘D’ though was a beauty. I loved mine, never gave me any problems.

So, tactical fighter squadron sounds like a dogfighting or interceptor squadron right? Couldn’t be more wrong. By tactical they meant we were to fly into the Soviet Union with a tactical nuclear warhead under one wing, extra fuel tank under the other, and not enough fuel to get back home. We knew what we were doing. If the big one hit we were punching a one-way ticket. Best chance of getting home was bailing as close to friendly forces as possible and hope they got you before the Reds did.

Alright, kid, you want more, I’ll need a few shots of whiskey. Don’t waste your money on the good stuff. I don’t want to enjoy this next part.

There we were at the airbase when a scramble order came in. Scramble meant we had less than 10 minutes to gear up and get in the air because some shit was about to go down. I was second in the sky when we got the details. Lost one of the bombers, they wanted us patrolling the area while some Air Force nuclear techs ran cleanup. They were choppered out there, and we basically circled the crash site.

Well, you know Greenland is not green right? This bastard went down into a glacier. Our radio’s were patched in to a FAC’s radio net in case they needed support.

Oh, FAC’s are the guys on the ground that call in air-strikes and talk to air support. Sorry.

So we’re circling and they count 3 of the 4 bombs, all intact. Good news is that all of the nukes aren’t leaking. No radiation dispersal or anything. They figure the next went down into a fissure in the glacier near the site and start their climb down.

We’re circling when they find the fourth bomb. All is going according to plan except they say they can hear the glacier shifting. That’s normal, that kind of thing. Ever been around big ice? Sounds like the worst kind of house settling.

Like I said, all is good.

Then the FAC starts screaming. Just over the open net, not making any fucking sense. I’ll never forget the first thing he said over the radio. “The walls took Dallas! Get the fuck out of here!” and then just a shit ton of gunfire. Radio cuts out, goes dead.

Then the radio blares back to life. Goes crazy, with orders being barked to move to stand-off distance, and all of a sudden our radar’s light up. Russian MiG’s coming to see what’s up we’re thinking. We start picking targets and we’re ordered to stand down. The MiG’s close and all I can feel is my finger on the trigger of my cannon when the bastards pull up into an escort position. The one off my wing gives me a nod.

Radio squawks again, new voice. Very cold, very professional. Still gives me the creeps. It’s addressed to me.

“Two, you are clear to drop ordinance on the fissure,” he said. It’s like the guy was telling me what he had for dinner yesterday. The only ordinance I had was the nuke under my wing. I called to confirm, and he repeated the same statement but gave me the proper drop clearance codes. Now, when we went up we never had a full load of nukes. Some of them were fake. Turned out I was the lucky one with an active device strapped underneath my wing.

That was the scariest moment of my life, but I put that nuke right next to that damn crack and hauled ass. Bright flash, and the Russian’s just peel off. Boom. They go home. I didn’t understand at all.

We get back to base, and are debriefed by what I’m guessing are these CIA guys. Weird dudes, really precise in their movements, like there’s no wasted motion. So, I’m waiting to debrief when all of a sudden a Soviet transport sets down. Base alert goes up and quickly goes down, and some Soviet general comes in the debrief offices and heads right into the room. I can hear words like Tsar Bomba and containment. Tsar Bomba? Biggest nuke ever detonated. Blown off by the Soviets at their test range.

He leaves, and I go in. They grill me. What did I see, what did I hear. I told them as best I could and they told me to wait again. So I’m sitting on this hard metal bench when our flight leader, guy named Mitchell, goes in. I hear him start talking and then start crying. I will my ears to somehow listen harder. I know that sounds dumb but I needed to know what was being said and I heard it.

Mitchell says that before I released my nuke he saw the ice move. Like something was trying to climb out of it. Something big, we’re talking miles big. I thought it was just stress from what had happened, since it sounded crazy as hell. Mitchell comes out still in tears and I’m called back in. I don’t say a damn word about what they were talking about.

But then Mitchell died on his next sortie. Next day, the record says he had a flame out and crashed, but I was off his wing when it happened. His damn plane exploded. They chalked it up to a mechanical error. I told the rest of the squadron what he had said the day before to the CIA guys, and a couple of the other pilot’s confirmed it. The rest were too busy staring at the Reds thinking we were just about to start World War III.

Then the cover up starts and we are informed very casually that if we value our lives not to talk about it.

So, I did some digging. I was always an asshole like that. But I was able to con my way into seeing Mitchell’s gun cam footage. See, he was sent to be my chase craft to verify I hit target. We used footage like that for training on the gunnery range.

Two frames. Two frames and what I see before the flash wipes out the camera filter, is a sequence of a giant frozen eye opening in the fissure and staring up at my tiny fighter.

Let me know what you think!