The Caterpillar Campaign

(Chapter 1)

Brian W. Porter
(Full Book Available at Everyone has memories. It‘s like when a President or world figure is assassinated, or some big event happens like a space shot. Everyone has memories. It’s just that some of us have more to remember. Some of us remember the time before the Alnoutes attacked, and what we did during the war. Three of us of us remember how it started. On July 4 that year, one of the few days John, Randy, and I could get away from the Taylor Ranch, we'd all gone to the Woodward County Fairgrounds for the celebrations. There were best pet contests, and prize food booths, and rides, and lots of people, and girls, a typical town party before the invasion. But the best part, besides the county sponsored picnic, was the stock car race on the Fairground‘s dirt track, and the fireworks, which meant we didn't find our beds until well after midnight. Don’t think we slept in, either. We still had to wake up before sunrise in time for our morning chores. Yeah, that’s life on any farm. After taking care of the horses, and the rest of the morning chores, we were free for the rest of the day. We showered the barn smell off and ate breakfast, then walked behind the out buildings and across the dry run to the Radio Shack, John's "summer project" that we'd worked on all of last summer, and the reason we were all living here with John's Uncle this vacation. Now Randy and I stood yawning at each end of the shed, leaning against the metal shelving full of scanners and tape recorders that lined the unfinished walls, waiting for instructions and fighting sleep. John sat in front of the radio frequency amplifier adjusting knobs and peering at meters. I'd almost nodded off watching the lights on the scanners move across the display with hypnotic regularity when he finally he spoke to us. "You guys ready? Remember you have to raise the cutout limit to block the noise so the scanners will check all the frequencies." Like we didn’t know that we had to find what scanner received the signal from the low noise amp and cut the input until all the scanners scanned all their frequencies. We both told him yes, then I checked to make sure that all the digital displays moved through the assigned frequencies. John said, "All right. Here we go. Output down to zero. Graph rolling. Power on. We're ready." He checked all the gauges one more time. "Good. Everything’s nominal. You guys ready? I'm going to increase the gain." He touched a knob. One of the scanners on Randy's side broke squelch sending out a high volume of static noise. I was instantly alert, even with my lack of sleep. Randy actually jumped, his feet leaving the floor, then he quickly reached out to turn a knob and stop the noise.

I chuckled quietly then said, “Asaya, I think we’d better turn them down.” “Yeah. Please,” John agreed. “About a quarter or less until we have them set. That was way loud. Dude, you must be in pain.” “Nah, East Coast. I’m OK.” Randy and I lowered the volumes on our racks of scanners, then told John to go ahead. John raised the gain slightly again. Several scanners sounded, not as loudly, but it still filled the small area with noise. Both Randy and I hunted them down and turned knobs. Every time John added power to the signal, we hunted down more noisemakers until we had adjusted all the squelches and allowed the scanners to search for true signals across their frequencies. Now we could turn on all the tape recorders, one hundred for each of us, one recorder for each scanner. We also raised the volume on the scanners to over three quarters, where it had been originally. "Now what?" I asked once my side was working properly. This was a good day for a siesta, and believe me, I was ready for one. "Now we wait to see what we pick up," John told us. Just then one of the scanners next to me began to beep. It was my turn to jump. I really didn't think John's contraption would work, and the lack of sleep made my nervous system overactive. "What was that?" Randy asked, surprised at the clear sounds rather than the white noise we had squelched out. "I don't know," John said. "Satellite, or something, maybe." "Maybe a weather satellite," Randy speculated. "I could build a program to read the broadcast and print out satellite pictures. That‘d be cool." Randy, like his Father, was a master programmer and always ready to try something new. John turned slowly to Randy and said, "Hate to burst your bubble, Dude, but there's no way that could be a weather satellite. They have geosynchronous orbits above the Equator. This thing only looks straight up, about thirty-five degrees away from there since we‘re about the thirty-fifth parallel. Actually, depending on where we are in our travels around the sun, and what time of day it is, we could be looking a bit below the solar plane, or nearly fifty degrees above it. Now that would be a good program to set up, and not all that easy." "What's that?" Randy asked always ready for a challenge. John answered, "What star we're looking at during any moment. Sort of like a very narrow band planetarium program. You’d also need to add any satellites, and spy satellites hold top secret status so they wouldn‘t be listed anywhere you could find. We'll just have to hope we can tell the difference." “Yeah, I know that, East Coast. Dad’s written programs for them. spy satellites.” "It could’ve been a spy satellite we heard, Asaya," I offered. I’d heard somewhere that weather satellites used polar orbits, or maybe read it somewhere. Communication satellites used geosynchronous orbits and maybe he was confusing the two, but John was the astronomy expert of our group, and I wasn't about to start an argument just then. I was way too tired to think clearly. "True," John agreed. "Or it could have been an ordinary

telecommunication job, except they're in geosynchronous orbit." I was right about that. More sounds came from a scanner, this time near Randy. He asserted, "There are weather satellites and other types in polar orbits you know, John. This one just now sounded like voices, sort of." "Yeah. Right, Dude," John said. "These frequencies aren’t open to anyone around here; I checked. And I doubt we’d be so lucky to find an illegal broadcast already." "Maybe it, maybe it's a UFO," I joked. John looked at me, raised his eyebrows, and grinned. Holding an imaginary earphone to his ear, he said in an announcer’s voice, "Men from Mars attack! Film at ten!" "All right, already," Randy chuckled. "I give up. Come on, East Coast, let’s go ahead and finish. Maybe you and the Cherokee are right. We can replay it tomorrow and find out." "Yeah, we'll check it out tomorrow," John said. "I'm beat from no sleep, but the race was worth it. And those fireworks? I didn‘t think a County Government could afford a show like that, especially out here." "They were pretty good this year," I agreed. “The whole thing was good. The concert. The races. And Dad talked several of the Ranchers into adding money for the fireworks, which was why they were so good, and long.” We had a good County Government, and several very successful ranchers, including John’s Uncle, but John was from the East Coast and thought all the folk living on the prairie were poor hicks. Other than that he was a great guy, so Randy and I put up with it. Randy yawned and said, "Yeah. Two hours of sleep is not enough. Let's head back and grab a few winks." The full book and other works from this author available on Copyright 2010 Attribution Non-commercial No-derivs You may share this work with anyone in any way with the following provisions. You must share all the work, including the title and this notice. You may not make any changes. You may not use this work commercially or accept payment without the written permission of the Author. Any and all rights and credit are held by Brian W. Porter.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful