I was a junior that year at A&M in College Station studying business administration. I had started, like so many other high minded freshmen, studying engineering, but after the first week of classes realized my instructors might as well have been speaking Swahili as I had no idea what they were talking about. I switched over the biz admin and plodded away at my studies earning passably decent grades at least as far as my parents were concerned.
I had an older sister who as nice as she was, was a tough act to follow. Valedictorian, class president and scholarship to American University in Washington, she graduated with honors and was recruited by a consulting company which focused on government related business. She earned a top salary and was on a five year fast track to senior management her first year out of college. She was now living in northern Virginia to be near "the city" as she called Washington D.C. and was having a great time.
I had nothing against here as she was a wonderful big sister and always encouraged me in my school, sports or anything else I liked to do. And I could not blame my parents for being as proud of her as they were since they treated me fairly and provided for my college education at A&M as well as sending money and other neccessities as needed.
It was Thanksgiving break, the Wednesday the day before to be exact and I had the dorm to myself. My parents were visiting my sister in Virginia for the holiday and we all decided it would be best if I skipped out due to the travel hassles. My room mate, Allen, had flown home to Salt Lake City Tuesday morning after classes. In our quad, only Curtis next door and Chuck, in one of the other rooms, remained behind for the holiday. The rest of the dormitory was a ghost town as it often happens during the holidays.
Chuck studied electrical engineering and came from Minnesota. His parents could not afford to fly him home both for Thanksgiving and Christmas so he offered to stay in town.
Curtis on the other hand, had no problems with money. In his case, his family had other plans for Thanksgiving which did not include him so he was left to his XBox 360 and trust fund to pass the time. Curtis' hailed from Southern California and was part of a family made famous by his great-grand father, founder of a well known aircraft company, where Curtis' father was president while his uncle was chairman of the board at the time.
It was decided at birth that Curtis would continue the family business and that meant a degree in engineering. Now three years and four universities later, Curtis was still working on that degree and the approval of his family.
Curtis was in his room with the door closed, headset on, playing some video game of mindless destruction and mayhem. I had my door open and had just come back from the sandwich shop with two huge sub sandwiches. One for now and the other for dinner or breakfast tomorrow. Knowing there was no meal service on campus, I had also purchased a six pack of cokes and a giant bag of nacho cheese doritos to flush out my gourmet Thanksgiving Eve meal.
I was about to unwrap sandwich number one when Chuck came down the hallway carrying a couple of shopping bags.
"Got your turkey day dinner there, Chuck?" I yelled as he passed my door.
"Um Mike, what are you doing? Don't you know what's going on?"
Yep, I am just about to eat this big ole sandwich. What's up?"
Chuck stood in my doorway. "Have you been watching the news? What's going on in the Middle East and China?"
Honestly, I had passed the TV down int the lobby four or five times and there was the usual 2 or 3 people sitting on the couches staring at the set. I saw it was the news and not a game show or soap opera they were watching and gave it no time. On the Internet I had logged into Facebook and iTunes and hardly ever looked at the lead stories on Yahoo or Google News.
"It's like a war or something. What's new with that? They are always fighting over there".
"Mike, its more serious than that. It's about to boil over into World War 3. Hey, I was going to talk to you and there's not much time. Look, my brother called me last night from San Diego. He is in the Navy and stationed on the Ronald Reagan, that's an aircraft carrier, and told me some stuff they are not saying on the news before his ship pulled out early this morning. He told me to get some where safe as soon as possible because we don't have much time"
"Time for what? You are not making sense.."
"Before the bombs fly. Nukes, you know nuclear bombs"
"That's stupid. Whose going to bomb us? They don't have any nuclear bombs in Iran, China can't hit us and only the Russians have them but they are our friends now, right?"
"You got it all wrong, Mike. Long story short, the US and the Russians are having a stare down over Syria and Iran. A US ship was attacked and some American planes were shot down near Iran. The US and Israel dropped some bombs on Iran and then Israel dropped some on Syria. China is on the sidelines but apparently is taking Russia's side right now. Supposedly a nuke was dropped on Tehran and the world is going nuts. Russia is threatening to retaliate against the US with nukes and the US is saying the same back"
I set my sandwich down on the bed and rolled my chair over to the desk and flipped open my laptop. I pulled up Yahoo and saw the entire page was covered with urgent stories, the worse of which featured a mushroom cloud photographed (from a distance) over a city in what looked like a middle eastern country. "Tehran, Damascus bombed!", "US carrier attacked!", "WAR" and other similar links.
At that moment, we heard the low wailing of the weather siren start to howl outside. We both turned to the window and said the same expletive simultaneously.
Be Prepared For Anything Survival Guide