Friday, January 14, 2011

week forty: lennox

Sometimes inspiration is a slow beast that you have to poke, prod, slap, shove, nudge, and shout at to get going. There are times, however, when inspiration is a raging bull that you can't stop. That's what happened for this week's story. A few months back, I had this idea for a story and I started. But before I finished, I had also a written an outline for a novel using the same basic concept. As a sort of "demo," I finished up the short story and here it is. I was looking through my material just a week or so ago and I found this. I had forgotten all about it.

Anyway, this week is a proof-of-concept. It's a sneak peak to something much greater going on my head. The tentative story of Bob Lennox is one about faith and belief. In the end, I found it to be a modern telling of Noah's Ark. Without any further psycho-babble from Mr. Ross, here it is. Here is a scrap of my imagination for your review.

--WA Ross


Everybody called him a freak and they were right. Bob knew they were right. Bob was at Wal-Mart, doing his shopping. He had just gotten his paycheck and was going to spend it the same way he spent every paycheck: buying as much as possible. His cart was laden with Spam and all the non-perishable food he can find. Of course, this time he cut back just a little. He had another essential purchase to make.

As soon as he checked out, he got into his pickup truck and made his way to his local gun dealer. In Bob's state, there isn't much regulation on guns so he can buy almost whatever he wants. He goes into the store and looks at every single gun. He already has a couple of shotguns, a few handguns, and a couple of rifles but this day he wants something special. And there it is on the rack, an AR-15 assault rifle, just like they use in the military except it isn't fully-automatic. Bob wishes he could get something automatic, but the law is the law.

It's all going to be gone soon though. And Bob Lennox is going to be ready for it.

He lives on a ranch just outside the city. It isn't a large plot of land, but it's enough. Bob grows vegetables on it, but his biggest project was what had everyone calling him crazy. Underneath his small home rests to this day, a fallout shelter. It's deep underground, most would estimate about five stories. Bob dug the whole thing himself. Inside are all the essentials: years worth of food, guns, electrical generators, games, a working radio and television, and even a bathroom with a separate plumbing system. It's all very impressive since Bob made it himself, even the elevator that takes you down.

Bob loaded everything onto his elevator, which sits in the hallway next to his bedroom, and goes down. The first thing he does is load the AR-15's clips and put it in the relatively large gun room. There were about forty different weapons down there. To name a few, there were several Remington 700's, Mossberg 500's, Kimber Eclipses, and a few hunting rifles. If need be, Bob knew he could supply a small army. He put away the food and then realized he would need more. There were sufficient supplies to last about two years for himself, but Bob had designed his shelter for multiple people and he wanted to save as many as possible. From what?

Nuclear fallout.

No one would believe Bob. He went to church every Sunday and every day he would talk about it. He told everyone he knew about his shelter, about his belief that a nuclear winter was coming, and how he would save as many as he could. But they wouldn't listen. None of them would hear. Nobody wanted to believe that the world as they knew it would end very soon.

But to Bob, it's too obvious. The enemies of America have been gathering nuclear weapons and whatever they can find for too long. The United States is done for; the only hope is to gather and hide. Victory isn't possible, but survival is. Bob felt sorry for everyone who ignored him. They'd all be dead or hopeless very soon. This isn't a question of if, it's a question of when. Bob knew it would happen.

His therapist had spent years trying to talk him out of it. But it was obvious that Bob didn't have a real psychological problem. He could be described as delusional, but was obviously capable of completely rational thought. Social seclusion and awkwardness were problems, but not really concerns. But just like he kept faith in God, Bob kept faith in his belief of the world's ending and worked tirelessly on his fallout shelter. It was never complete. Bob always added something new and was always stocking it. He had no goal other than to save as many people as possible.

“Bob, we need to talk,” Pastor Hughes said as he grinned the smile only a pastor can make. Bob already knew what this was about. “Look, you're scaring people. You've been at this for years, but the new people don't know what to think about all this nuclear apocalypse stuff. Now, look, I respect your beliefs, I really do.” No you don't. “But I don't want to turn new people away because just one guy believes the world is going to end. Could you maybe... I don't know, just stop with this whole apocalypse business?”

Bob looked to the floor and replied quietly, “No, pastor, I can't.”

Hughes continued his false smile, “Why not, Bob?”

“Because it's gonna happen” Bob replied firmly. “It's gonna happen and everyone needs to know. I'm gonna save as much people as I can and we're gonna survive. If you ain't gonna help me, fine, but please don't stand in my way.”

“I'm not standing in your way, Bob, I just need you to turn it down a notch. Or several.”


Bob climbed into his pickup truck and drove away. He wasn't angry; not at all. Instead, he felt pity for his pastor. They were all so closed-minded to it all. Then again, Bob understood. He had no proof whatsoever that this was going to happen; only speculation. Bob was just a janitor, not the kind of analyst who could prove anything. Bob had only one real talent and that was dedication. Once he fixated on a cause, he'd stick with it. Even as a kid, Bob was like this. During his middle-school science fair, he would lock himself up for hours working on his model of the solar system. It wound up being perfectly accurate and exactly to scale. But still, Bob only passed the class with a C. He just isn't an intelligent man.

Mopping floors and scrubbing toilets, Bob worked very hard at his job. Because of his natural dedication, the office building he cleaned was spotless; impressively so. He told some of the people at work about the coming apocalypse, but generally kept to himself. His manager had warned him that coming death was just not a workplace topic. Although Bob disagreed, his manager held all the chips. So, he quietly complied and went back to mopping.

And it was on a very simple, common night as Bob drove home in his pickup, that he saw a blinding flash and heard a deafening roar. When he looked behind him, orange glowed from the city behind him. My God, it's happened. Many men would smile because they were right, but not Bob. He knew what he had to do. He floored the accelerator on his pickup and raced home. Several more flashes followed. His city was sure to be completely decimated.

Bob pulled the car into his drive way and opened his door. He grabbed a sign he had made years ago that simply read, “FALLOUT SHELTER: GO INSIDE AND PICK UP RED PHONE.” In his living room, was a red phone which connected directly downstairs to the shelter. Bob was absolutely thorough with his planning. When a survivor would arrive, he could call Bob and be allowed into the shelter. He hopped in the elevator and rode it down. Once he arrived, he checked everything. The food supply was ample and safe. The beds were made and ready. The entertainment rooms were set. Finally came the guns. Bob went into his massive gun safe and grabbed a handgun for himself. That was it.

He rushed to the entertainment center and turned on the TV. All of the channels were dead. The radios were silent. It's really here. The world is over.

1 comment:

  1. Have you read "Alas, Babylon"? It's an end of the world nuclear war novel as well. Although I think I enjoy your charming Bob Lennox more than Frank's characters.