Read an Excerpt
By William W. Johnstone J. A. Johnstone
PINNACLE BOOKSCopyright © 2011 William W. Johnstone
All right reserved.
Chapter OneFort Rucker, Alabama—Tuesday, January 10
Major Jake Lantz was thirty-two years old. A helicopter pilot and flight instructor in the Army Aviation School at Fort Rucker, Alabama, he was in the peak of physical condition, recently scoring a perfect three hundred on his latest PT test, maxing out on the three required events: push-ups, sit-ups, and the two-mile run. A not-too-prominent scar on his right cheek, the result of shrapnel wound in Afghanistan, ran like a bolt of lightning from just below his eye to the corner of his mouth. He had blue eyes, and he wore his light brown hair closely cropped, in the way of a soldier.
Jake, who was a bachelor, lived alone in a three-bedroom ranch-style house on Baldwin Court in Ozark, Alabama, the town that proudly bills itself as the "Home of Fort Rucker." He had kept the heat down during the day to save on his gas bill. Now he shivered as he turned it up.
Stripping out of his flight suit, Jake pulled on a pair of sweatpants and a red sweatshirt, emblazoned with the word ALABAMA across the front. He had not gone to school at Alabama, but had become a big fan of University of Alabama football.
Checking the digital clock on his dresser, he saw that he had but one minute left until the program he wanted to watch came on, so he hurried into the living room, settled down on the couch, picked up the remote, and clicked it toward the TV.
The initials GG appeared on the screen, then the voice-over introduced the show.
From New York! It's the George Gregoire show! And now, here is your host, George Gregoire!
The GG monogram moved into the background, and George Gregoire, with his signature crew-cut blond hair, slightly chubby face, and toothy smile, greeted his television audience.
You are not going to want to miss the show today. I have information that, if I had been able to verify it before the election last November, might have saved our country the anguish, turmoil, and trouble we are going to go through over the next four years under President-elect Mehdi Ohmshidi.
In fact, I will say it here and now, this could be grounds for impeachment. Can a president be impeached even before he assumes office? I don't know, but if the men and women in the House and Senate would put our country ahead of party, they might just want to think about this.
Here is a video, recently surfaced, of President-elect Mehdi Ohmshidi giving an address to the OWG. The OWG stands for One World Government. Ohmshidi is—well, let's just let the video speak for itself.
The video was somewhat grainy, obviously taken not by a camera for broadcast, but by a small, personal camera. Nevertheless, it was quite clearly President-elect Mehdi Ohmshidi standing at a podium addressing a rather sizeable crowd. Many in the crowd were holding signs, saying such things as:
U.S. Is An Obsolete Concept One People, One World, One Government No More Flags, No More Wars Patriotism Is Jingoistic
Ohmshidi began to speak and because the sound wasn't of the best quality, his words were superimposed in bright yellow, over the picture.
I see a world united! A world at peace! A world where there are no rich and there are no poor, a world of universal equality and brotherhood.
Such a world will surely come, my friends, but it will never be as long as we are divided by such things as religion, patriotism, the greed of capitalism, and the evil of so-called honorable military service. There is nothing honorable about fighting a war to advance one nation's principles over another. One world, one people, one government!
Ohmshidi's closing shout was met by thunderous applause and cheers from the audience.
The picture returned to George Gregoire on his New York set.
The question of Ohmshidi's membership in the OWG was raised during the election, but spokesmen for Ohmshidi said that it was merely a flirtation he had entered into when he was in college.
Ohmshidi graduated from UC Berkeley twenty-one years ago. I'm going to bring the video up again, in freeze-frame. I want you to look at the sign on the curtain behind him.
In freeze-frame, on the curtain behind the speaker's stand were the words:
WELCOME TO THE ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT CONVENTION
Notice, that beneath the sign are the dates of the convention, June 6 to June 10—TWO YEARS AGO!
"Jake, are you in here?" a woman's voice called from the front door.
Jake picked up the remote and muted the TV. "In here, Karin," he called back.
Karin Dawes was a captain, an Army nurse, who was still wearing her uniform. She had short black hair, brown eyes, an olive complexion, and the same body she had when she was a college cheerleader. She was also a world-class marathoner who had just missed qualifying to represent the U.S. in the last Olympics. Seeing George Gregoire on the silent TV screen, Karin chuckled.
"You're watching Gregoire. Of course, it's six o'clock. What else would you be watching?"
"You should watch him," Jake said. "Maybe you would learn something."
"I do watch him," Karin said. "As much time as I spend over here with you, how can I help but watch him?"
"Ha! Now I know why you spend so much time over here. Here, I thought it was my charm. Now I find out it's just so you can watch George Gregoire."
"I confess, you are right," she said. She leaned over to kiss him, the kiss quickly deepening.
"Damn," Jake said, when they separated. "That's what I call a greeting. Do I sense a possibility that this could go further?"
"How can it go any further?" Karin said. "It's at least half an hour before Gregoire is over, isn't it?"
Jake picked up the remote again, and turned the TV off.
"You're sure I'm not taking you away from George Gregoire?" Karin teased. "I certainly would not want to be accused of alienation of affection."
"Woman, you talk too damn much," Jake said, kissing her again. "Besides," he said, "I've got a TV in the bedroom, I can always watch him while ..."
"You try that, Major, and you'll have George Gregoire in bed with you before I split the sheets with you again," Karin said, hitting him playfully on the shoulder. Jake laughed out loud, then put his arm around her as they went into the bedroom.
There was an ease in their coupling, the assurance of being comfortable lovers who knew each other well, and yet their relationship was not so stale that it couldn't still be fresh with new discovery. Outside, the wind was blowing hard, and Jake could hear the dry rattle of the leafless limbs of an ancient oak.
Afterward they lay together under the covers, her head on his shoulder, his arm around her, his hand resting on her naked thigh. It was, as always, a feeling of total contentment.
"Yes, my love?"
"Will we always have this? I don't mean are we going to get married, or anything like that. I just mean, will we always have this sense of joie de vivre?"
"Is there any reason why we shouldn't?"
"I don't know," Karin admitted. "I know I tease you about watching George Gregoire all the time, and about listening to all the right-wing radio shows. But, what if they are right? What if the country has made a big mistake in electing Ohmshidi?"
"There is no what-if," Jake said. "We did make a big mistake. Well, we didn't. I'm not a part of the we, because I didn't vote for him."
"I didn't either."
Jake raised his head and looked down at her. "What? You, Miss Liberal Incarnate? You didn't vote for him?"
"I couldn't bring myself to vote for him," she said. "Not knowing the way you felt about it."
Jake kissed her on the forehead. "Maybe there is some hope for you yet," he said.
"But you didn't answer my question. Will we always have this?"
A sudden gust of wind caused the shutters to moan.
When there was an uncomfortable gap in the conversation that stretched so long that Karin knew Jake wasn't going to answer, she changed the subject.
"I wonder if it is going to snow."
"Don't be silly," he said. "It never snows in Ozark, Alabama."
There were three inches of snow on the ground the next morning as Jake drove the ten miles into Fort Rucker. Because snow was so rare here—it had been fifteen years since the last snow—neither Ozark nor Dale County had the equipment to clean the roads. As a result, Jake drove slowly through the ruts that had been cut in the snow by earlier cars. He returned the salute of the MP at the Ozark gate, then drove down Anderson Road, which, like the streets in Ozark, was still covered with snow.
As chief of Environmental Flight Tactics, Jake had his own marked parking slot, though the sign was covered with snow. He exchanged salutes with a couple of warrant officer pilots as he covered the distance between his car and the front door of the building which held not only the offices of the faculty, but also classrooms for the ground school.
"Major, I thought you told me that it never snowed in Southern Alabama," Clay Matthews said. Sergeant Major Matthews was Jake's right-hand man, the non-commissioned officer in charge of EFT
"It doesn't," Jake said. "Disabuse yourself of any idea that this white stuff you see on the ground is snow. It's just a little global warming, that's all."
"Right," Clay said with a little chuckle. "Oh, Lieutenant Patterson called from General von Cairns's office. The general wants you to drop by sometime this morning."
"What's my schedule?"
"You don't have anything until thirteen hundred."
"All right, maybe I'll drop by his office now. I'm not surprised he wants to see me. I told him, he wouldn't be able to run this post without my help."
"Yes, sir, that's what I tell everyone about Environmental, too," Clay said. "You couldn't run the place without me."
Jake chuckled. "Yeah, well, the difference is, I'm just shooting off my mouth when I say that about the general. But when you say that about me, you are right."
Like Ozark, Fort Rucker had no snowplow equipment. But it did have a ready supply of man power and there were several enlisted men, under the direction of a sergeant, clearing off the parking lot and shoveling the sidewalks at the post headquarters. Because of that, Jake was able to walk from his car to the building without getting his boots wet.
Lieutenant Phil Patterson was on the phone when Jake stepped into the outer office, but he hung up quickly, and stood.
"Good morning, Major," he said. "Just a moment and I'll tell the general you are here."
First Lieutenant Phil Patterson was a West Point graduate who had recently completed flight school. Jake remembered him when he was a student going through the Environmental Flight Tactics phase of his training. He was a bright, eager, and well-coordinated young man. Patterson had wanted an overseas assignment out of flight school, and was disappointed when he was chosen to stay at Fort Rucker as the general's aide-de-camp. But, he was a first lieutenant in a captain's slot, so the assignment wasn't hurting his career any.
Patterson stepped back out of the general's office a moment later. "The general will see you, sir."
Jake nodded his thanks, and stepped into the general's office. Major General Clifton von Cairns was pouring two cups of coffee.
"Have a seat there on the sofa, Jake," the general said. Jake had served in Iraq with von Cairns when he had been a captain and von Cairns had been a colonel. That was von Cairns's second time in Iraq—he had also been there during Operation Desert Storm.
"As I recall, you like a little bit of coffee with your cream and sugar," von Cairns said as he prepared the coffee.
"Yes, sir, thank you."
Carrying the two cups with him, von Cairns handed the one that was liberally dosed with cream to Jake. "I'm sorry I don't have any root beer," von Cairns said. "That is your drink, isn't it?"
"I like a root beer now and then," Jake said.
"Yes, I remember your 'beer' run when we were in Iraq," von Cairns said.
Jake's preference for root beer was well known by everyone who had ever worked with him. What the general was referring to was the time Jake had made a run to Joint Base Balad for beer and soft drinks. Beer wasn't actually authorized due to cultural concerns and was officially banned by the military; however the civilian contractors were not constrained by such rules and they were a ready source of supply for the Army. But Jake had come back with only one case of beer and nineteen cases of root beer in the helicopter. He was never asked to make a beer run again.
"How many students do you have in your cycle right now?" the general asked.
"I have twelve."
"Can you expedite them through? Double up on the flight hours?"
"Yes, sir, I suppose I could. It would mean rescheduling some of the ground schooling."
"I want you to do that," von Cairns said. He took a swallow of his coffee before he spoke again.
"Jake, I'm not much for politics—I've always thought that as a professional soldier I should leave the politics to others. But I don't mind telling you, this new man we're about to swear in scares the hell out of me. I've heard some disturbing talk from some of my friends at DA. They are afraid he is going to start cutting our budget with a hatchet. If we don't get this cycle through quickly, we may not get them through at all."
"Surely he wouldn't halt flight training, would he?" Jake asked. "So much of the Army is now oriented around aviation."
"Did you watch George Gregoire last night?" von Cairns asked.
"I rarely miss it."
"You might remember when Gregoire showed Ohmshidi speaking to the OWG group, he said, and I quote, 'the evil of so-called honorable military service.' This man doesn't just distrust the military, he hates the military. And he is about to become our commander in chief."
"I understand, General," Jake said. "I'll get the schedules revamped as quickly as I can."
"You are a good officer, Jake. Would that I had a hundred just like you. It is a pleasure to have you in my command."
"And I am honored to serve under you, General."
General von Cairns stood up then, a signal that the meeting was over. Jake stood as well, and started to leave.
"Jake, are you still seeing that nurse? What is her name?"
"Karin Dawes, sir. Captain Karin Dawes."
"Yes, she is the one I pinned the Bronze Star on last month, isn't she? She's a good woman. You could do worse."
Chapter TwoWednesday, January 18
With just two days before we swear in our new president, I would like for us to take inventory of just where we are in this country.
Four decades of social engineering have begun to accrue in such a way as to presage disaster for the U.S.
Gregoire held his hands over his head and waved them as he rolled his eyes.
This is not just the ravings of—mad—George Gregoire. No, sir, and no, ma'am. Events over the last several years have borne me out.
Consider this. Stringent environmental laws have inhibited drilling in new fields for domestic oil. Those same laws have also limited refining capacity and dictated exotic cocktail blends of fuel for certain parts of the country. Even during times of critical fuel shortages, these blends cannot be transshipped from region to region.
Automobile companies are mandated CAFE standards and unnecessary safety features that add thousands of dollars to the base prices of cars.
Do you remember when we were young, how eagerly we looked for the new cars each year?
Excerpted from Phoenix Rising by William W. Johnstone J. A. Johnstone Copyright © 2011 by William W. Johnstone. Excerpted by permission of PINNACLE BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.