Caution: Electrical Hazard by Allen Watts by Allen Watts - Read Online

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Summary

Clear weather on a beautiful summer day turns into a frighteningly huge storm. Two lives are greatly affected; a washed up pro golfer and a National Guard pilot. They both are struck by lightning and suffer the same injuries and after effects. Bobby Thomas and Capt. Tony Burns each beat the odds and survive the deadly strike, but the storm super cell has created an electromagnetic pulse. It has chemically and magnetically altered their bodies on the sub atomic level giving them a telekinetic power that enables them both to move and control small objects. A government agency, DARPA, wants to use their 'gift' for different reasons. Tony uncovers the plot and goes into hiding. Bobby wants to use his new found power to further a lost career, but a gambling debt catches up to him. Denied the fame and luxuries of her husband's misspent youth, Sherry Thomas schemes to jump start her husband's path to golfing stardom, at the same time eliminating his sordid past. Together, Tony and Bobby form an uneasy alliance. Their lives change as they combine attributes to defeat those trying to use them for their own sinister means. A runaway division of the Defense Department, unsuspecting doctors and scientists, corrupt lawyers, gamblers and murder face them each step of the way.
Published: Whiskey Creek Press on
ISBN: 9781611602579
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woman.

Introduction

Lightning:

The thunderbolt from mythology has long been feared as a flash of supernatural origins, the great weapon of the Gods. The Greeks both marveled and feared lightning as their God, Zeus, hurled it. For the Vikings, Thor produced lightning as his hammer struck an anvil while riding his chariot across the clouds. In the East, early statues of Buddha show him carrying a thunderbolt with arrows at each end. Indian tribes in North America believed that lightning was due to the flashing feathers of a mystical bird whose flapping wings caused the sound of thunder.

Today, scientific rather than mystical techniques are used to explain lightning with experimental procedures replacing intuitive concepts. Yet, we remain in awe of lightning which still shines with its mystery, and rightly so. Each year, lightning is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people, injuries to several thousand more, and millions of dollars of property damage, in North America alone.

From the time of Ben Franklin’s kite experiment to the present day, more and more sophisticated methods of lightning detection, prediction and measurement have been developed.

The National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN), which is operated by Global Atmospherics, Inc. in Tucson, Arizona, is a network of at least 130 magnetic directional finders that cover the entire United States, Canada, and parts of Mexico. Each station can pinpoint a direction toward a detected electromagnetic discharge. The location of the discharge is determined by triangulation. Each of these sensors is capable of detecting cloud-to-ground lightning strikes at a distance of 400 km away. Satellite and ground processed information is transmitted via computer to the Weather Control Center (WCC) in the form of a grid map showing lightning across the United States. Additional data is collected from an array of weather balloon sensors and over-flights, either drone controlled or piloted. Local weather stations and amateurs also receive and accumulate information for the NLDN.

Source: The Internet.

Chapter 1

Early August

It is born!

The cold front of air descending from Canada had just crossed over the border into the United States from the southern portions of Manitoba and southwest Ontario. It began mixing with a warm pocket of air the same size which had slowly pushed its way up from the Gulf of Mexico two days earlier. Upper atmospheric columns of swirling colder air rushed downward as would a waterfall over a cliff. Drawn to the warm air as if it were magnetized, the cold pushed the warmer air skyward, increasing the pressure of the wind. As the cycle continued to repeat, the mass began to spread outward and in its first hours of development was soon across most of Minnesota. Thick, broiling vaporous structures began forming as the warmer air was stripped of moisture. White plumes formed at first, quickly turning to ever darkening shades of gray as the moisture clustered into what looked like long bands of smoke. The ever circling air mass pushed upward as the combines of cold from the North kept reaping the water vapor off the warmer waves of Gulf air. Natural pressures needed to release. A massive storm began to form.

As the huge towers of saturated plumes rose thousands of feet high, forming the leading edge of the unstable air mass, the cloud bowls could no longer hold back as sheets of water began to descend from every level.

A torrent of rain!

The storm was now moving from west to east at twice the speed as before. Almost all of Minnesota and half of Wisconsin would be blanketed by this cloud cover soon, and yet this was only the beginning. With sunrise still more than two hours away, the added warmth would lead to a new dimension of the storm. What began as just a low atmospheric depression was now compiling into a much larger disturbance. Forces found across the universe were starting to overload in this structure as positive and negative charges both in the clouds and on the ground were accumulating. The imbalance of opposing ions would soon discharge an unimaginable amount of energy.

* * * *

The sound was unmistakable!

Dr. Brian James was working the graveyard shift at the Weather Control Center when the computer assigned to detect lightning had just whirred to life, causing him to redirect his attention. He turned to the adjacent console and adjusted the brightness control on the glowing green monitor. The grid pattern showed the beginnings of a tremendous electromagnetic storm forming just northwest of Lacrosse, Wisconsin. Using his own familiar formulas, he immediately calculated the size and directional travel of the growing storm center. Typing in the dimensional data he had just configured, he leaned back to read the data before pressing the enter key. Once that was complete, the other automatic computer systems began to kick in, and the Doppler radar stations were pre-programmed to alert all weather stations in both Chicago and Milwaukee.

Other alarms started to echo in the WCC control room.

Dr. James tried to move to a console with a radar image, but the same wheel that always stuck on his desk chair refused to turn. He got up and walked the five-foot distance. He leaned in toward the monitor and as he did his face began to glow green like the screen he was staring at. What he was looking at were the beginnings of a super cell.

This is going to be massive, he lectured as he turned to his assistant.

Once the storm gets over Lake Michigan it’ll pick up steam and rumble from here all the way to New York.

James positioned and set dials, then toggled several switches. He then felt his breast and pants pockets as if looking for something. Finally turning back to his empty chair, he reached over and pulled the lab coat off the backrest and pulled out a small notebook from the pocket. Scrawling a small entry, then noting the date and time, he turned to his assistant and barked out his orders.

Andrew, make sure that all the recorders are up and running. I want to form a complete road map of this cell. We are going to track this one from start to finish. He added, And call that air base...have ’em wake that pilot up and get his butt over the center of this storm within the hour.

* * * *

Bobby couldn’t sleep.

It was the rumbling in his stomach that woke Bobby Thomas. He got up and plodded toward the bathroom. Just flicking on the light made so much noise he feared it would wake his wife. He listened intently and thought he heard her stir.

That would be a mistake, he thought.

Bobby wondered if she would start nagging him again first thing this morning. He didn’t need any more aggravation today, especially from her. He turned on the hot water handle and thrust his finger under the stream, waiting for the temperature to rise. He was going to take a shower but it wasn’t going to be another cold one.

* * * *

Sherry wasn’t asleep.

Her long blonde locks were spread across the pillow and the small rays of sunlight that entered the window streaked her hair. She heard the noise of the shower coming from the bathroom and slowly opened her eyes. Once again, she began her day with her mind focusing on only one thing. She pulled herself out of bed and followed a worn path in the carpeting to the bathroom door. Recalling their argument of the night before, she edged the door slightly ajar and poked her head into the small room. The steam had only slightly distorted her view. Bobby had just finished drying off and had begun lathering his face with shaving cream.

Bobby, please don’t go today…the bills are overdue and we can’t miss this house payment. You know that you’ve got to stop playing these games. We need you to get off your ass and start looking for a real job.

She crossed her arms, and stood waiting for a response.

He was about to lift his razor when he stopped, turned and just stared at her. Deep in his mind, she was right. He knew this situation couldn’t go on forever. His income as an assistant pro at Lakeside Shores Golf Club wasn’t enough. He was really nothing more than the pro shop cashier. Even though he held the title of pro, the salary could hardly pay his bills. Even less, were his attempts to win money on the Nationwide Golf Tour. His family of four was really starting to suffer.

Bobby, are you listening to me? Did you hear what I said?

He glanced into the mirror, looked up at her reflected face, but just watched as her lips moved. He knew what she was saying. He’d heard it before. His wife was right…a better job…something more secure, with benefits…stop the debt spiral.

He wiped the lather from his lips.

Listen, honey. It’s almost the end of the season. I’m going to play this last match with this rich doctor dude at Meadow Lake Country Club then…I’m calling it quits. My buddy Matt says I can take this guy for ten grand…he’s played him before and won two thousand. You know how shitty Matt’s game can be. This will be a piece of cake.

Sherry looked at her husband with disgust. Her life had become a joke. What she thought was going to be a perfect marriage years ago was now a daily nightmare. Her husband is an addict and his drug is gambling. She could see it in his eyes. He needed another fix. She realized that nothing would stop him, not even shame.

Sherry raised her voice, saying, Bobby, between us right now, we don’t have a hundred dollars! Where are you going to get the money to play against this man? I’m sure he’s not going to allow you to play on credit. Your credit is for shit! It’s been shit for over a year…and don’t be a Goddamn fool and think you can borrow this from anybody; you’ll lose it as sure as I’m standing here.

Bobby pretended to be listening to her, finished shaving, and turned off the water. He grabbed another towel and wiped his face. Walking back into the bedroom, he brushed up against Sherry as she continued to stand in the doorway with her hands on her hips. He pulled out a dresser drawer and grabbed a bundled pair of socks. Using the edge of the bed as a seat, he donned the socks, rose and walked to the closet then pulled his dark blue shirt off the hanger.

Frustrated, Sherry asked, Are you going to say something or what?

As he looked for his slacks, he decided to tell her the truth…just not all of it.

Matt set it all up. He’s putting up half the cash out of his own pocket. The other half came from the title to his boat. I play him match play for a grand a hole and I got to give him a stroke on the par fives and a stroke on the fours that are over 400 yards. We figure if I just play my normal game, I’ll easily win ten holes. The guys’ an eighteen handicapper who’s best drive is 240 yards.

He found his pants and looked up to see her reaction as he put them on.

I pay back Matt and we split the winnings fifty-fifty. Minimum I’m sitting on five thousand dollars when it’s all said and done.

She was fuming. The blood was rising from below her shoulders and started filling her neck. Bobby finished pulling up his pants and began to put his shirt on. He stuck his arms into the sleeves and pulled it up over his head. As soon as his face appeared through his collar, the back of her hand slammed against his cheekbone. It caught him off guard but it didn’t hurt.

You son-of-a-bitch! she screamed. You can’t do this to us! Tell me you are not going to play this man. You leave this house today and the kids and I won’t be here when you fuckin’ get back!

She sat down on the edge of the bed and started to sob.

Bobby turned away from his wife and walked over to the window. As he stared into distance, the undersides of the morning clouds were getting coated with sunlit colors of purple and red. The yellow shafts of light poked through the clouds, just like needles. He reached up to his own cheek and felt the needles from her slap.

As Bobby looked out the window to the gathering pillowed shapes, he decided what to do. His wife wasn’t going to stop him from playing. Not today. His whole life had been centered on golf. He was going to play.

Bobby won his first tournament at age 11.

It was a small club championship that pitted him against others his age, but it also started a string of victories that lasted for a decade. With each win, his confidence, cockiness and arrogance grew. Bobby knew that golf stardom would be the one dream he could easily fulfill. He’d won his first Michigan High School State Tournament in his freshman year and again each year through his senior year, topped off with All-State and all-American honors. The name Bobby Thomas filled the sports pages of Michigan newspapers for years.

When he ignored several local scholarships and finally decided to attend Oklahoma State University, his parents, Hal and Kathy, were not pleased to become empty nesters, but they knew their son was on cruise-control to the big time. With a full ride athletic scholarship at OSU and the academic credentials to back it up, Bobby’s new coach, Riley Logan, was looking forward to having Bobby on his team, a team that would bring in another NCAA championship. On his first day at the Norman, Oklahoma campus, Logan took Bobby under his wing, and proudly gave him the grand tour of his new surroundings for the next four years. Logan prided himself in becoming an instant mentor and counselor of all his recruits. He was anxious to start grooming the skills of this young man. He had spent months convincing him to come.

The campus was just what Bobby imagined it to be.

He had only seen brochures and pictures on the Internet. The phone conversations with Logan and several assistant coaches inviting him to see the college he would eventually attend were enticing. His parents just couldn’t afford to have him travel all over to look at other schools. But he guessed right. OSU was perfect in every way…older buildings with beautifully terraced gardens and clean open spaces. The classrooms were newer and the dorms clean. Ten months out of the year the weather was perfect for golf and the students they encountered looked happy and content…and there were so many girls, hundreds of gorgeous girls. He was finally in his new home and anxious to be a player. Bobby met one of those girls in his first week at OSU.

Sherry Rybicki was a sophomore from Houston, Texas. A beautiful blond, Sherry had a 3.5 GPA, and was studying to become a child psychologist. She was also a woman who was looking for Mr. Right…any Mr. Right. Sherry spent her freshman year trying to latch onto a star football player, but an injury to him caused her to break up that romance before it got serious. She only became more determined in her sophomore year, and shortly after his first week of school, she met Bobby Thomas at a party. She checked into his background and found all the campus rumors to be true. He was being touted as the next Phil Mickelson. She set her sights on him and made him an easy conquest. Much later, and too late to bust up the new romance, Coach Logan would see the signs of a potentially fractured relationship in the making. He tried to warn Bobby about her, but that warning fell on deaf ears. Bobby was smitten and Sherry was already putting together her shopping list for her bridal shower. She, more than anyone, realized his earning potential as a golfer.

Every Tuesday, Sherry would buy a copy of USA Today and immediately open the sports section. She would scroll the columns until she found the updated list of the top PGA money leaders. To her amazement, each week, one or two new names would be added to the growing list of golfing millionaires. This she confidently showed Bobby and prepared him by becoming his unofficial statistician, hypothetically placing him on the money list based on his last four rounds of college play.

They saw each other every day, but the topic of conversation always began with her inquiries as to his last round of golf. She constantly filled his mind with visions of their future and what the game of golf could bring them. It wasn’t long before the deal was struck, and Sherry had a contract. Bobby proposed marriage and was engaged to Sherry by the end of his first year at OSU.

Bobby made it clear that they wouldn’t marry until after college. Sherry would get her degree and he would focus on winning the NCAA individual championship and the U.S. Amateur. She didn’t seem to mind the delay. Despite the initial protests of both his parents and Logan to dump the little gold-digger, Bobby remained on track and put together two tremendous years for himself, and his teammates. He also managed to squeeze in an education as well. Bobby was on his way to earning a reputation as a good landscape architect, his college major.

That was nine years ago.

Chapter 2

Stick to the routine.

It didn’t matter how badly they wanted him up in the air, he was going to stick to his routine.

Captain Tony Burns grabbed the pre-flight checklist and started to walk around his plane. It was a vintage relic, a product of the cold war, and he was familiar with every square inch of it. Burns always performed a visual of the plane’s fuselage before every flight and he was unhappy with his ground crew today. Without his permission they had moved the plane from the hanger out on to the tarmac and were starting to fuel her. The crew chief had let him know the tower was holding the main runway for him. Tony had to step over grounding cables, hoses, the tug axle, and move around assist vehicles as he did a three-sixty around the bird. Everything on the outside looked normal except for the three ring circus of extra workers trying to prep his plane.

Burns grabbed his helmet and tucked the clipboard under his arm. He walked to the base of the ladder hanging from the cockpit and ascended one rung at a time. When he got to the top of the ladder, he dropped the clipboard and helmet onto the seat and flung one leg into the cramped space, slowly lifting the rest of his body aboard. A crewman climbed the ladder behind him and helped him connect the seat harness. Burns put on his helmet and the crewman connected his oxygen hose. Radio communication with the tower was instantly established and Tony gave the thumbs up. The crewman patted his helmet, descended the ladder and unhooked it from the plane.

Burns continued the pre-flight checks. Five more minutes and he would be airborne. He looked up at the clouds and found them to be moving east. He would be bucking a headwind today. Burns took one last look out the canopy to be sure the ground crew was clear. As he did, he looked over his shoulder and was impressed at the colorful sunrise.

* * * *

"Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky at morning, sailors take warning".

Bobby was mesmerized by the multi-colored sunrise outside his bedroom window. All the red in the clouds had reminded him of that old saying. If there was a storm brewing, he wondered if it would affect his golf game today. He turned back towards the bed to look at his upset wife. She had stopped sobbing but continued to sniffle.

Bobby sat down next to her on the edge of the bed, putting his arm around her shoulder. What he said next wasn’t much comfort to her.

Today is my regular day off at the club. I don’t have any lessons scheduled, either. I’m going over to Matt’s house and pick him up. We’re gonna meet this doctor at ten o’clock in the clubhouse dining room, and then go to the course. I’m playing eighteen holes, and I promise…no, I guarantee…I’ll whip his ass…bad. Then I’ll be home by six. I’ll have at least five thousand bucks on me, which I’ll give to you. But first I want to take you out to dinner…so set up a sitter for the kids tonight.

Bobby kissed her on top of the head, got up and finished dressing. He put on a color co-ordinated belt, grabbed his wallet and car keys from the top of the dresser and walked down the hallway into the kitchen. He realized his plans were already changing and he had to cover the lies he just told Sherry. He picked up his cell phone and called Matt as he walked. When Matt answered he whispered to him, Matt, don’t come and get me… I’m driving. I’ll let you know what’s going on when I get there. I’m leaving in fifteen minutes.

As he entered the kitchen, his two sons were sitting at the dinette table and they both looked up when he hung up the phone. The oldest asked, Daddy, are you and Mommy fighting again?

This was a question he had to answer many times before. This time it was no different so he quickly concocted another story.

No…we aren’t fighting. Mommy doesn’t feel good this morning and I want both of you boys to be extra good for her. Make sure you pick up any mess you make. I’ll be home later this afternoon and I don’t want to hear about any bad things you guys did today.

Having said that, he mussed up the hair on both of the boy’s heads and kissed them on their foreheads before walking to the garage.

* * * *

Sherry stopped feeling sorry for herself and came to her senses. Her mind was now made up. She wasn’t going to let him leave…not without at least getting the last word in. In the last five minutes, she saw a perfectly clear picture of the future. She stood from the edge of the bed, pulled her robe on and dashed down the hallway to the back door. As expected, when she passed the boys in the kitchen they both tried to divert her attention.

We want breakfast…we want breakfast! was their cry.

She ignored them and pulled the handle of the rear door so hard the storm door rattled from the suction. Her husband wasn’t there. The trunk lid of the car was raised but the compartment was empty. She walked down the driveway and looked in both directions. Her only thought was, that son-of-a-bitch was so anxious to leave he didn’t even bother to lock the trunk of the car or close the garage door.

* * * *

Bobby had gone to the backyard to use the garden hose to clean off his spikes and wipe down his clubs. When he heard the trunk of the car slam and the sound of the garage door closing, he knew that Sherry might be trying to lock him out of the house. He dropped everything and went to the sliding door-wall by the kitchen. He motioned to the two boys to come to the door and open it. They didn’t have to. Just then Sherry entered the kitchen and was surprised to see him standing outside. She walked up to the door and dropped the latch open.

Bobby thought for sure he would be outside for some time begging to get back in, but because she opened the door, this had to mean that his wife wanted to talk. He had to give her some re-assuring words. He slid the door open a crack.

Honey, I was in the back cleaning my equipment; why did you lock me out?

She didn’t answer.

You don’t have to worry. When I get home we’ll be rolling in dough. This is the last time. I promise. I’ll be home by six.

She pulled her robe tighter and gave him an icy stare.

Everything will be all right, I got this covered…trust me. I promise.

The assurances he uttered failed to glean a response and a full minute went by without her expression changing. Frustrated, Bobby turned his back, picked up his shoes, and started to walk back to the garage. Sherry turned her head and watched as he left.

And… I promise you… we won’t be here when you get back, she gnarled icily, under her breath.

As Bobby drove to Matt’s, he couldn’t help but think how rapidly his life had turned around. The life he thought he would now be living had been dashed. Once filled with such high hopes, Bobby had dreams of better days. Now, those dreams that he had were all piled up in the dumpster.

Nine years ago, everything was perfect. His team at OSU had just won the big eight conference and was about to begin play in the NCAA tournament. Sherry and he were engaged and she was happy. His parents were upset at first when they found out about the engagement, but soon warmed up to Sherry. Bobby’s mother, Kathy. actively began planning the wedding. Coach Logan was forever begging Bobby to focus on golf and forget about everything else. Reluctantly, Logan soon realized that his constant bickering about Sherry had alienated him from Bobby. He began to back down and stayed busy with recruiting, focusing instead on team travel arrangements and practices. He also kept lauding Bobby as the next Amateur champion to anyone who would listen. The national media was beginning to take an interest. At Logan’s insistence, Bobby had filed the paperwork that would register him as an entrant in his first U.S. Amateur. Everything was perfect in Bobby’s life back then.

Then Bobby met Sherry’s brother, Dave.

A great guy and good company, three years older than his sister, Dave Rybicki was once a student at OSU, but dropped out after one year. He found a job as an hourly laborer at the General Motors plant in Arlington, Texas, but was laid-off one year later. He traveled around until he reached the city of Las Vegas and found steady work in the construction boom of its burgeoning suburbs. When Dave found out his little sister was engaged, he slid into town one weekend to meet his future brother-in-law.

Dave and Bobby Thomas hit it off right away, especially once Bobby found out that Dave loved to play golf. One day, as they sat at the restaurant table discussing family and interests, Dave suggested that he and Bobby play a round of golf before he returned to Vegas. Bobby made it happen, and the next day he convinced Coach Logan to allow Dave to play with the team on their home course during a practice. Bobby picked Dave up in front of his motel, took him to the club, introduced him to the team as his future brother-in-law, and outfitted him with some borrowed equipment. On the first hole, they flipped to see who would tee off. Bobby won, and began by starting his pre-shot routine. He placed the ball on the tee towards the right side marker, stood behind the ball and found a transitional aiming point between the ball and the hole. One practice swing, then