Author: Grant Stone
Friday morning, Grant took his teenage daughter and devoted wife, Paris, to the resort island of Coronado for a restful lunch and walk in the warm sunshine. The island is also host to Naval Air Station North Island where Grant made a career of chasing maritime drug smugglers on the vast eastern Pacific Ocean. Retirement suited him but the scars of a law enforcement job gave him a weathered and tired look.
He enjoyed spending time with the girls so anytime he could treat them to lunch he always took the opportunity to make it entertaining. After a career as a cop, Grant was more than familiar with the eateries on Coronado especially the donut shops.
Grant and the family got to the island in the late morning. The Greek place was not quite ready for the lunch crowd so there was about an hour to look around. He dropped off Paris at the Ferry Landing shopping plaza and told her he would drop by his old office to say a quick hello with his daughter, Angie, in tow. Paris knows her husband will always be a cop. She gave a consenting wave and warm motherly smile but was anxious to do some quality shopping. She closed the door and the used gray Hyundai pulled away and headed toward the base. Halfway to the office Angie’s young eyes spied the movie theater and arcade. She quickly shot an inquiring glance to her dad as she grabbed his forearm. Grant pulled over to let her out onto the sidewalk and said, “Please be careful. I know you don't like to going to my office. I’ll be back to get you in half an hour. Be ready. I transferred 20 bucks to your account. See you in a bit sweetheart.” Grant’s time with the family just turned into a lonely visit to a cold office.
The explosion of red and blue lights filled the inside of the car as the siren pierced Grant’s head like a bullet. The adrenaline shot through his system as he gasped for air and his heart raced until he realized he was being pulled over. Even after 20 years as a cop, the code 3 shock never comes easy when you are the center of attention. Grant pulled over and waited for the motorcycle officer to approach. He kept his hands on the steering wheel at 10 and 2 and waited for directions. If the guy was a rookie he didn't want to make him any more nervous than necessary. His first question was “Are you heading to the base?” Grant shook his head yes. The officer simply said “Haven't you heard? They’re coming,” the officer said. “Please turn around and go!” The officer returned to his cycle and sped off in the opposite direction.
Grant continued to the gate and showed his credentials to the single guard. He waved him through while checking his watch. The guard never looked Grant in the eyes. Finally, Grant made it to the flag circle then he heard the scream from a block away. “They’re here!”
Before Grant could park his car at the bowling alley, a squad of armed men with riot gear was standing guard in the parking lot. They came from the ocean and worked their way east. He looked into the face of one of the centurions. He appeared to be of Asian descent however, he was giving commands in perfect English.
That's when it started. The retired officer felt a sharp piercing pain in his left shoulder. This was the pain that he thought would come years earlier. He couldn’t catch his breath! Grant thought it was the excitement, but he knew what it was. He worked his way out of the car and fell to ground with an unforgiving thud. This event had his undivided attention as he struggled to breathe.
Within seconds the militant Asian soldier was standing over him. In perfect English the guard assured Grant that soon everything would be ok. Grant’s vision tunneled. His only thought was of his wife, daughter and only son in college. Lord, his chest hurt! God! Will they survive? Invaded?
Darkness followed. All worry drifted from his corpse. They will survive, but all is not ok.