The Sky Is Falling
The Angel On My Shoulder
The Sky is falling! The Sky is falling!
– Chicken Little
Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy.
– F. Scott Fitzgerald
THIS IS A WORK of fiction, but the secret underground city of Krasnoyarsk-26 is real, one of thirteen closed cities engaged in nuclear production. Krasnoyarsk-26 is located in central Siberia, two thousand miles from Moscow, and since its creation in 1958, it has produced more than forty-five tons of weapons-grade plutonium. Although two of its plutonium-producing reactors were shut down in 1992, one remains active, currently producing half a ton of plutonium a year, which can be used to make atomic bombs.
There have been reported thefts of plutonium, and the United States Energy Department is working with the Russian government on increased security measures to stop nuclear material from being sold to other countries.
CONFIDENTIAL MINUTES TO ALL OPERATION PERSONNEL: DESTROY IMMEDIATELY AFTER READING.
THERE WERE TWELVE MENin the heavily guarded underground chamber, representing twelve far-flung countries. They were seated in comfortable chairs set in six rows, several feet apart. They listened intently as the speaker addressed them.
“I am happy to inform you that the threat with which we have all been so deeply concerned is about to be eliminated. I need not go into details because the whole world will hear about it within the next twenty-four hours. Rest assured that nothing will stop us. The gates will remain open. We will now begin the auction. Do I have a first bid? Yes. One billion dollars. Do I have two? Two billion. Do I have three?”
SHE WAS HURRYING ALONG Pennsylvania Avenue, a block from the White House, shivering in the cold December wind, when she heard the
terrifying, earsplitting scream of air-raid sirens and then the sound of a bomber plane overhead, ready to unload its cargo of death. She stopped, frozen, engulfed in a red mist of terror.
Suddenly she was back in Sarajevo, and she could hear the shrill whistle of the bombs dropping. She closed her eyes tightly, but it was impossible to shut out the vision of what was happening all around her. The sky was ablaze, and she was deafened by the sounds of automatic-weapons fire, roaring planes, and the wump of deadly mortar shells. Nearby buildings erupted into showers of cement, bricks, and dust. Terrified people were running in every direction, trying to outrace death.
From far, far away, a man’s voice was saying, “Are you all right?”
Slowly, warily, she opened her eyes. She was back on Pennsylvania Avenue, in the bleak winter sunlight, listening to the fading sounds of the jet plane and the ambulance siren that had triggered her memories.
“Miss – are you all right?”
She forced herself back to the present. “Yes. I’m – I’m fine, thank you.”
He was staring at her. “Wait a minute! You’re Dana Evans. I’m a big fan of yours. I watch you on WTN every night, and I saw all your broadcasts from Yugoslavia.” His voice was filled with enthusiasm. “It must have been really exciting for you, covering that war, huh?”
“Yes.” Dana Evans’s throat was dry. Exciting to see people blown to shreds, to see the bodies of babies thrown down wells, bits of human jetsam flowing down a river of red.
She suddenly felt sick to her stomach. “Excuse me.” She turned and hurried away.
Dana Evans had returned from Yugoslavia just three months earlier. The memories were still too fresh.