On this Labor day, I thought I would take up Kosmo’s challenge to write short story. For your enjoyment, a story called “The Bomber Pilot”

Forty four hours since they had taken off and just one hour way from home. Captain Andrew Decker was proud to be the pilot of a B-2 Spirit Bomber. Major Walter Hampton was his commander sitting in the left seat for this leg of the mission. They had been the flight crew for take off, the bombing run and now for landing. Captain Zachary Wetherby and Lieutenant Catherine Miller were the second crew sleeping after their trans-pacific effort.

Andrew loved flying and loved being part of the strategic bomber command. All those hot shot fighter pilots might get the girls, but he was home four nights a week in the loving embrace of his wife Rosalyn (Rosie) and playing with his kids, Emily and Andy junior.

Forty five minutes out. “Call for clearance, then wake them up,” Major Hampton ordered. “Little Rock, Spirit of Ohio, forty five minutes out, requesting clearance,” Andy broadcast. “Ohio, ping IFF,” was the instant response. Andy activated the identification device. “Ohio, we confirm, clear runway four nine, you are next in line, no traffic.” “Roger runway four nine, g’day.” Andy switched to the intercom, “Wake up, we are home.” Andy didn’t hear the groans from the sleeping area as they sat up and fastened their harnesses. They still had to de-brief before finally getting home to sleep. Cathy was single and lived in the single officer’s dorm, Zach was on deployment, his family was in Dover, Delaware. Andy and Walter had taken the last leg to be awake when they got home.

Andy remembered a Navy story of a sailor coming home after a long deployment. His letter home was “you had better meet me at the dock with a mattress strapped to your back.” The response letter was “you had better be the first man off the boat.” After two day missions, Andy felt the same way.

They landed and got through de-brief. The mission had been perfect. The target was verified destroyed, there was no politically incorrect collateral damage, and for once, the French agreed with the target. Andy had called home as soon as they had landed, and again after de-brief, but there was no answer. Rosie must have been getting Emily from school. They could never plan his return since is take off and landing schedule were classified. Oh, well, he would just surprise her.

The drive across the base to married housing was quick. Kids were out playing, other air force jockeys doing their things. Rosie’s car was parked in front of the house, she must have just gotten home. Well if she listened to the messages, she knew he was back, no surprise. He parked the bright yellow Corvette next to the little blue Prius and hopped up the steps of the front porch.

The front door was slightly open. That was odd, he would have expected it if the kids were out front playing, but they were inside. He pushed it open and called out in a booming voice “DADDY’S HOME!” There was no response. He didn’t smell supper cooking, didn’t hear the kids. He walked through the house to the kitchen and looked into the back yard, not there either. Maybe they were next door with the Wilson’s. Rosie and Jackie were best friends and the kids were about the same ages. Andy decided to clean up a bit before heading over. He went to his bed room taking off his flight suit as he walked. At the door to the bed room he stopped.

Rosie and the kids were lying on his bed. They looked like they were sleeping, but Andy knew that they were not. The spread was soaked with blood. It took him a long time before he could move, then suddenly he rushed into the room and scooped his wife up in his arms. He held her lifeless body against him, her blood soaking his flight suit and shirt. He stood, holding her and crying. He didn’t notice as his body slowly sagged down and he set her back on the bed.

When his world came back into focus, he had to do something. He ran next door and started pounding, screaming for Jackie. Jackie’s smile flickered on when she saw him, then off when she saw the blood. “Andy what has happened?” “They are dead, they are all dead,” he stammered between sobs. Jackie backed up and grabbed the phone. She called the base police without taking her eyes off of Andy. As calmly as she could, she told the dispatcher the address and that she believed that three people had been killed.

Andy just stood there, shaking and sobbing. He had been out protecting his country and he had not been there to protect his family. His energy gave out and he collapsed on Jackie’s porch.

When he awoke, he was in a hospital bed, clean, and dressed in a hospital gown. There was an MP outside the open door and a Colonel sitting next to him. “Welcome back Captain.” “Yes, Sir, have you found out what happened to my family?” “We thought that you might be able to fill us in on that Captain.” “I walked in, saw them…” he sobbed, “I tried to pick up my wife … hold her…” Andy started to cry again. “Hm, Captain, please control yourself. We would like to know what happened during the hour between your debrief and you arrival at the Wilson front porch?” “What do you mean? It was only a couple of minutes.”

“Captain, we understand the stress that missions can cause, we are just trying to determine what happened.” “I told you, I walked in and found them,” there was some desperation in his voice as he realized that the Colonel was suggesting he had killed his own family. The Colonel leaned close, “Captain, there was no forced entry, the knife was cleaned and in the sink, and the time of death matches when you were there. What happened?”

Andy realized then that the killers had heard his message. They had killed his family as he pulled up. He had warned them so they could get out the back door. He was now the only suspect.

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Martin writes about writing in his weekly column Ramblings from Martin.

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