If you don't like the Weather Prolog and Chapter 1


If You Don’t Like The Weather… - Prolog

It was one little toggle switch that started it all. It was a heavy duty toggle switch, if it makes any difference to the historical record. When the toggle switch was toggled, all it did was trip a small, low voltage electronic relay. And that relay simply tripped a much heavier relay. And the current poured into the rest of the circuitry that made up a portion of the apparatus that had been built over the last several years.

The Communist government of China had paid dearly for the secret plans of the device. And spent vast sums to get it built quickly and quietly. But finally it was done, each element of the complex device tested separately. When the Chairman was informed of the device’s readiness he gave a one word order to the General in charge of the project. The General himself flipped the toggle switch and the Chinese copy of the United States HAARP device activated.

“Let the Americans feel the wrath of Chinese technology! And they won’t even know it is happening!” His laugh could only be described as evil. It sent chills down the back of the necks of all those in the control room. They had no idea just how appropriate the sensation was. They also didn’t know that a test of the American HAARP system was being conducted at the very time they began their own. Nor did they know Russia started their own test the next day.

If You Don’t Like The Weather… - Chapter 1

“Mr. Lanigan,” asked Reggie, “Would you come and take a look at this?”

Brian Lanigan sauntered across the busy newsroom of the television station to see what his meteorologist wanted.

“Yeah, Reggie? What’s up? We got a storm coming?”

“I don’t think so. Not here. But look at this satellite image. There wasn’t anything there this morning.”

“It’s the weather. If you don’t like the weather…”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just wait fifteen minutes. I know the joke. But Mr. Lanigan, I don’t think this is a joking matter. Stuff just doesn’t suddenly appear like this.”

Reggie was a bit of a light weight when it came to meteorologists, but he did know the basics well enough. “Okay. Follow up on it with the National Weather Service. Might as well check the Weather Channel, too. See if they are saying anything about it. Could be a story in it.”

After going back to his office, Brian went over the stories they were planning for the day with his General Manager. He’d just had his lunch delivered when Reggie knocked on the door and came in.

“Something weird is going on,” he said, before Brian could say anything. “I was talking to a guy I know at the local NWS and he said he had noticed the anomaly, too. I heard somebody say something in the background on his end and he just hung up on me. And then, when I was watching the Weather Channel, almost the same thing happened.”

“What do you mean, almost the same thing?”

“The meteorologist was handed a sheet of paper while he was at the map and he started to read it. It was something about the same system. I’m sure of it. But the screen went black for a second and then a commercial came on. After about a dozen commercials the set was back on screen and they went to talking about some small storm system off the coast of Florida. No mention was made of the interruption or about the system they’d just been about to mention.”


“Yeah. Strange, huh?”

“I think so. There may be something to this. Check with your other contacts and see what they are saying.”

Reggie nodded. “Will do.”

His lunch forgotten, Brian leaned back in his leather executive chair and tented his fingers over his chest, thinking. Finally he turned to his computer station and began to search the internet for anything on the event.

It was just before he was ready to give up when one of his searches turned up something. It seemed to be some sort of survivalist’s site. Posts were popping up one after another about some strange weather phenomenon.

Brian opened another browser window and kept searching, checking on the first forum from time to time. He found another site where the forum members were discussing the event on their chat room.

Much like Reggie had said happened when he was talking to the NWS and watching the weather channel, Brian suddenly lost his internet connection. He tried several times to bring it up again, but with no success.

He called the station’s electronic tech. “I’ve got a glitch. I just lost my internet.”

Before he could say more, the tech said, “It’s not you. The internet is down.”

“We have a T1 line!” Brian exclaimed. “How can we not have internet?”

“It’s the internet itself, Sir. It’s crashed. There’s nothing I can do on our end. It’s up to the big boys controlling the switching network and key servers.”

“Okay. Thanks.” Brian hung up the telephone receiver slowly. “This is going to give the conspiracy nuts conniptions,” he said softly. “But I wonder…”

Before he could follow up the thought, Reggie came through the open door of the office. “Weather satellite links are down.”

“Oh, yeah. Definitely conspiracy time.”

“What?” Reggie asked.

“Nothing. Just thinking out loud. We’re stymied at the moment. Go ahead and work on the local forecast.”

“But Mr. Lanigan…”

Brian shook his head. “I’m working on it. You just make sure you do the best forecast possible without the usual information sources.”

Reggie nodded, if somewhat dejectedly, and left the office. Brian picked up the telephone receiver again and began to make a few calls to fellow television station, radio station, and newspaper owners. Most hadn’t noticed anything out of the ordinary, weather wise, but all said the same thing about the internet and several satellite links. Their links were down.

On his fifth call he got a slightly different response. Or rather, no response at all. The station owner wouldn’t take his call. Neither would the next three. He was about to try another when the receptionist buzzed him and said, “You have a call on line three. They won’t say who it is, but says it’s important.”

Brian pressed the button for line three. Before he could say anything a voice said, “You will not do any weather news, other than a local forecast, and there will be no speculations as to why. Violate this instruction and you will pay dearly.” The line went dead. Brian never got the chance to get a word in.

After hanging up the telephone Brian just sat and thought for a little while. And then, very reluctantly, he picked up the telephone receiver and dialed a number he pulled up from his personal file on the computer.

“Hello? Sue?” he asked when he heard the receiver lifted on the other end.

“Why are you calling?” came a cold, hard edged voice, even through the electronics of the telephone. “You know I don’t want you bothering me. We had a deal.”

“I know. I know. I was just wondering if the Senator knew what might be happening…”

Apparently Sue knew something, since she started laughing. Cackling if you weren’t a politically correct type. “Of course he knows! If you’re ever in Acapulco, don’t bother looking us up!” Suddenly her voice lowered to a conspiratorial level. “How would you like to get rid of me for good?”

Brian held his tongue. Sue was a tricky one.

“Brian? Brian, I asked if you wanted to get rid of me for good?”

Cautiously, Brian asked, “What do you mean?”

“A payoff. Give me a hundred thousand, in gold, and I’ll let you off the hook for maintenance and child support forever.”

Incredulously Brian asked, “A hundred thousand in gold? Are you nuts?”

Sue’s voice was icy. She didn’t like to be accused of being mentally ill. People had tried it before. “Careful what you say. I’ll only make this offer once. Pay up and you’ll be done with us for good.”

Brian’s mind raced backwards in time. Sue had tricked him into marrying him, claiming she was pregnant. She wasn’t at the time. But she’d become pregnant, only it wasn’t his. She’d cried and begged for him not to leave her. So he stayed.

And she did it again. A second child, also not his. And then the tricky divorce. Her lover had political pull. A lot of it. Brian got hit with maintenance as well as child support for the two children that weren’t even his. Sue had claimed she couldn’t work and wanted to be a stay-at-home mother, anyway. Of course that wasn’t the situation, but the judge believed it. Or pretended to believe it. She got the awards.

He’d been paying for three years, with another fifteen to go, until the children reached twenty-one years of age. The amounts went up every year. And the kids were just like her. He was glad they weren’t his.

“Put it in writing,” Brian finally replied. “All nice and legal. Notarized. Everything to make it permanent.”

“You’re such a horse’s behind. It’s a deal. I want it by Friday.” She hung up.

“Acapulco? Gold? What is going on?” Brian said aloud as he slowly put the receiver back on the cradle. Brian headed back up to the newsroom to find Reggie. “What do you have, Reggie?” he asked when he found him pouring over satellite images.

“None of my contacts are talking. At least not plainly. Some of them, in between the lines, intimated that something was going on. But they all sounded like they were afraid to say more.”

“Yeah,” mused Brian. “Same on my end. I’ve been warned off following up on this. Anonymously. But whoever it was talked in a way that makes me want to believe them. Well, with what you did get before everything went down, what is up? Can you make a prediction?”

“Not really. The only thing… If this was to continue very long, the northern hemisphere is going to get really cold for a while. Not just unseasonably, but really cold. Below freezing, all the way down into the States.”

“This is June, for crying out loud! How can it get that cold?” Brian asked.

“Just look,” Reggie replied. “See?” He pulled another satellite photo up on the computer screen. This was twelve hours ago.” Another photo overlaid the first. “Six hours. And now four hours. And this last one…”

Brian cut him off. He could see the way the storm system had developed in the Arctic. From nothing to huge in just a few hours. And it was moving south-east, toward Canada. And on the track it was on, it would hit the US, if it didn’t fade away. “How soon?” he asked.

“If it keeps at the same speed, twenty-four hours. But I think it will keep growing and moving faster.”

“What makes you say that?”

“My gut feeling. Sorry, Boss. That’s all I got to work on.”

“Yeah. My gut feeling is telling me the same thing. You’re on the air in less than an hour. Cobble up the best local forecast you can. No mention of national weather. I’ll let Jim know you’ll be running short. We’ll come up with something to make it look like we had to cut you off.”

Jim Schneider was going over the stories they had for the evening news with his staff. “What’s up, Boss?” he asked. “A weather problem I should know about? You and Reggie been tense all morning.”

“Yes and no. For the moment, I just need you to cut Reggie short. Just the local forecast. You have something important enough to be a breaking news story you can cut to?”

“Well, there is the internet going down story.”

Something suddenly occurred to Brian. “Jim, I want you to check on gold sales and futures. See if there is anything there out of the ordinary. If there is, go with it for the breaking story.”

“You heard the man,” Jim said to his staff. “Get on it.”

“Thanks, Jim,” Brian said, putting his hand on Jim’s shoulder. “You always come through for me. See if you can round up Tony. I want to see him in my office as soon as possible.”

“He’s at home. Had a late night on the Toomey story.”

“Ask him to come in now, as a favor to me.”

“Consider it done. If he thinks there is a story in it, he’s liable to show up here naked, not wanting to take the time to dress.”

“Encourage him to dress first, please.” The two men laughed and Brian went back to his office.

With a sigh, Brian sat down again at his desk and leaned back in his chair. After several minutes of contemplation, he tried the internet again. Still nothing. His lunch a cold mess on the edge of his desk, he dumped it into the trash bin and headed down to the small cafeteria the professional building boasted.

He felt a bit better after a sandwich and iced tea. On his way to the elevators to go back up to the studio suite he ran into Tony. “Thanks for coming in, Tony. I really appreciate it, since you put in such a long day yesterday.”

“No prob, Chief. I smell a story. What’s up?”

“After we get to the office,” Brian said, reluctant to bring up what he was thinking with others in the elevator.

When they entered Brian’s office, Brian shut the door as Tony sat down. Tony looked at Brian expectantly as he walked around the desk and set down.

“Okay,” Brian said. “I need to know more about survivalism. You did that piece about a year ago…”

“Sure. Interesting. Not what I thought it would be when I started investigating. Something particular? The tape is in the vault.”

“No. It was only something you referred to on tape. It was something about gold and silver.”

“A bunch of them invest in gold and silver for the collapse they expect to happen.”
“That’s what I remember from the piece. Are there more details to that aspect of their preparations?”

“There is, Chief. But you know me. Once a story is done, it’s gone out of my head.”

“Oh.” Brian’s disappointment was obvious.

“But you also know I do an awful lot of research when I do a controversial story. I’ve got all of that. I scanned all my written notes into the computer and burned them to DVD’s, along with all the footage we shot that we didn’t use. Only take me an hour or so to go home, get them, and get back.”

“It would mean a lot to me if you would.”

Tony grinned. “I get the story?”

Brian smiled back at the station’s ace investigative reporter. “Of course. If there is one. I’m still trying to find out. Bring your stuff back and I’ll fill you in.”

Tony was gone without another word being said. Brian checked his watch and then turned on the broadcast monitor built into the wall. It was time for the five o’clock evening news. As he’d requested, the local weather forecast was the only weather shown. The rest of time normally devoted to regional and national weather was taken up by the story on gold and silver prices. And, indeed, there was a story. The price had reversed from a steady downward trend, to a rather sharp upward trend, in just a few hours. And the stock market was falling off.

The news signed off and the comedy scheduled after it began to air. Brian was watching a competing station that ran a 5:30 newscast. That weather report was about like Reggie’s. But they had a fluff piece for the rest of the weather time. Something that had probably been planned for a Sunday show.

Jim, and Ted Preston, the GM, came into Brian’s office as Brian started to watch another station’s 6:00 PM news. “How did you know?” Ted asked as the two men sat down in the chairs in front of the desk.

“That gold story is a breaking story. You had to know something to put us on it,” Jim said, staring at Brian.

“A hunch. That’s all.”

“Good hunch. Up there in the same class as some of those Tony makes.” Ted laughed and the other two men joined him.

The light mood didn’t last long. The receptionist buzzed and said someone from the FCC was on line one. The three looked around at one another as Brian picked up the telephone handset. Ted and Jim saw Brian go white. Brian hung up the telephone. He was silent for several long moments as the two men waited for him to tell them something.

“Pull the plug. Right now,” Brian said.

“What?” exclaimed Ted.

“Our license has been pulled, effectively immediately. If we’re still on the air thirty minutes from now, I go to jail. And there is to be no announcement as to why. Just go black and power down.”

Jim hurried out of the room, to carry out Brian’s orders. Ted hesitated, looking at Brian. “Brian…”

Brian waved his hand. “I’m okay. Go help Jim. Assure the employees, before you go home, that they’ll get paid through the end of next month, whether we power back up or not.”

“This has got to be some kind of mix-up,” protested Ted.

“I hope so. I plan to get legal right on it.” Ted left and Brian did just as he said he would. He got on the telephone to get his lawyers involved. When he hung up the telephone Tony was coming into the office.

“What’s going on?” Tony asked. “People are crying, leaving early. Someone said we’re off the air.”

“We are. FCC pulled our ticket. Take a seat.”

Tony sat down and handed Brian a trio of DVD’s. “Everything is on those three DVD’s. It’s all searchable dot PDF. You want me to find something for you?”

Brian shook his head. “No. I’m not a hundred percent sure what it is I’m looking for.” Brian looked up at Tony and added, very seriously, “I think something is going on with the weather. And the government knows it. If you are up to it, see what you can find out. But be careful. I think this could be dangerous.”

“Of course I’ll look into it. And I’m always careful.” Tony got up and hurried out of the office as Brian put the first of the DVD’s into his computer drive.

It was after midnight when Brian finally shut down the computer, feeling like his head was spinning. He picked up the phone and dialed a number from memory. A very groggy voice asked, “Who the blazes is this? It’s almost one in the morning!”

“Charlie, it’s Brian Lanigan.”

“Brian! What on earth?”

“I need you to do something for me very first thing in the morning. And I mean early in the morning.”

“It’s already morning!”

“Yes, and if the markets were open I’d tell you to get on it right now.” Brian’s voice was firm. “I want you to liquidate me just as soon as the markets open. Everything. I want five million in cash sent to my office. Two million in mixed small bills and the rest in hundreds. No fifties. I don’t like fifties. And all the rest convert to gold and silver.”

Brian’s request for gold had peaked Charlie’s interest. “As a matter of fact, I’ve been looking at some gold stocks to put you in and…”

“Not stocks Charlie. Gold. Metal. Coins to be exact.”

“Well, numismatics are a very…”

“Current gold coins. The kind the US mint puts out. All denominations. And pre-1965 US junk silver dimes, quarters, halves, and post-1921 Morgan silver dollars or Peace silver dollars. And the one ounce Silver Eagles, too. Half gold and half silver. And I want it brought here to my office as well. After the first five million, start buying the gold and silver immediately. Don’t wait to get a better deal. I want it done by noon Thursday.”

“But tomorrow is already Tuesday!”

“I want it done. Take a loss if you have to. There’s a hundred thousand in it for you.”

“A hundred thousand! Okay! I’ll do everything I can!”

Brian hung up and decided there was nothing else he could do at this time of night. He headed for his apartment to get a bit of sleep.

Despite the little sleep he got, he was back in his office the next morning at eight o’clock. It was eerie walking through the silent studios. He’d never seen it empty. There was always someone in the control room, and someone working the news desk.

He went through the DVD’s Tony had given him again, taking copious notes. He put down the pen when the telephone rang a little after ten. It was Charlie. He sounded out of breath.

“What is it, Charlie? Things going okay?”

“Brian, man! Gold took a turn up yesterday. And it started climbing again today. Up to seven hundred already today, from six thirty yesterday at close. And the stock and bond markets are getting soft. Some big time investors are moving a lot of money around. A lot of which is going into precious metals. We could pick up some real bargains in…”

“The cash, gold, and silver, Charlie. That’s all.” Brian hung up, hoping Charlie had the intestinal fortitude to do as Brian had asked.

Brian then called an old buddy. Jake was in the trucking business. He wasn’t big time, but he did okay for himself. “Jake, how you doing?”

“Okay, buddy. How are you?”

“Worried,” Brian replied.

“Worried? Why are you worried? You’ve got life by the tail.”

“Some strange things are happening. I don’t want to go into all of it, but because of it, I have a favor to ask.”

“Sure. For an old friend such as yourself, anything. What do you need me to do?”

“Do you have a box trailer out in the Rockies somewhere?”

“Sure do. I have two working that area, plus me. Reefers, actually, but doing box duty.”

“Can you take down some information now, or are you driving?”

“As a matter of fact, I am driving. Talk with Callie.”

“Hello Brian. What should I write down?”

Brian slowly read a list of company names, with addresses and telephone numbers.

“Honey, South Carolina and Ohio are not in the Rocky Mountains.”

He had to grin. “I know, Callie. I was going to ask Jake if he had a truck there or for the address in California.”

“Nada. Not in South Carolina. There is a truck on the way to California. What is the name and number?”

Brian read off the last set of information.

“Jake says okay. Jake says… Oh, here’s Jake.”

“Brian, buddy, should I be worried for my family and my business?”

“I can’t say absolutely. But I believe you should be. Perhaps for a long time. But I wouldn’t mention it to very many people, if any.” Before Jake could reply, Brian continued. “And Jake… I’ll pay you double for the freight and spot you whatever you want to get when you get to the places.”

“Brian, buddy, I could not do that. ‘Taint right to take money for nothing.”

“Jake, if you can do this, anything you decide to spend, will be worth it to have you where I want you to go.”

“Buddy, I have to believe you, ‘cause I’ve never known you to lie. I will keep it in mind. Here. Tell Callie where we take the load.”

“Jake. You know where it is. The hunting camp. Down on Table Rock Lake?”

“Oh, yeah! Great fishing, too! I think I can find it again”

Another though suddenly occurred to Brian. “Jake,” he asked, “Did you ever get a fuel tank trailer like you were talking about?”

“Did for a fact. A set of doubles. Want me to bring them, too?”

Brian laughed. “Can’t get a thing past you, can I?”

“No, buddy. We have been buddies too long for that.”

“Is the truck on a run right now?”

“It is. But it’ll be loose tomorrow, if it needs to be.”

“Have the driver have the plant manager where you want to get the fuel to call me for a credit card number. A tank apiece, diesel and premium unleaded gasoline.”

“Consider it done, buddy.”

“Thank you, Jake. I owe you one.”

“No, way. We will never be even. You count on me, Brian. You will have your goods.”

As soon as he hung up with Jake, Brian was dialing again, another page of notes on the desk in front of him. Fortunately Tony had included sample catalogs of several of the most popular survival supplies companies. Brian put in huge orders at a couple of them, smaller orders at the others.

All were paid for with Brian’s no limit platinum credit card. Brian got a call from the card company asking him about the purchases. He told them they were indeed his purchases and he hadn’t lost his card. He informed them that there would be additional purchases.

But he still needed a way to pick up the items coming from east of the Mississippi. Finally, Brian just upped the orders considerably and offered to pay for immediate shipment by hotshot truck. Both companies agreed, though somewhat reluctantly. Those tasks done, Brian left the office and headed for the gun store he’d used a time or two.

The owner was an older man, and ran the shop with the help of his two sons. Brian knew he wouldn’t be able to buy what he wanted, since he wanted to take the items by Friday. But he had another plan in the back of his mind.

Brian rang the bell, and the electric latch sounded a moment later. Brian went into the shop and headed right to the counter. One of George’s boys was at the counter. “Can I help you, sir?”

“Actually,” I wanted to talk to George about something.”

The young man stepped to the door that led to the back of the shop. “Pop! Man wants to talk to you.”

George came though the door a few moments later. “Ah! Mr. Lanigan, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is. I’m surprised you remember me.”

“Sir, when a man buys a twenty-eight thousand dollar vierling through me, I remember.”

Brian and George both chuckled and shook hands. George’s son went down the counter to talk to another customer.

“George, if I remember correctly, when I picked up the vierling, you mentioned that you would probably be retiring soon. Is that still the case?”

“Surely is. But Greg is too young to take it over, and Jakey’s been in a little trouble. He’s out of the picture, now.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know. What do you think the business is worth?”

“You looking to get into the business?” George’s question showed a bit of incredulity.

“So to speak.”

“I’d need to sit down and do some figuring,” George said slowly. “Figure the value of the property and building. Value of good will. Do an inventory…”

“Best guess,” Brian said.

“If I had to guess, I’d have to say a million three.”

“I’ll give you that today for the place.”

Mr. Lanigan, that was just a guess. I doubt if it’s less, but it could be quite a bit more.”

“A million six, cash,” Brian said softly. “We can go to the bank right now.”

George’s eyes bugged out slightly. “Cash?”

Brian nodded.

“You know you’d have to get your own FFL to operate the store?”

Again Brian nodded, and then said, “Not a problem. Can you have your personal belongings out by Friday?”

“Well, now, I suppose so… But this is mighty quick. I’m afraid to say yes, but I’m afraid to say no, too. I’ve been planning to retire for a long time, but just couldn’t find a buyer. This is just so quick.”

George’s eyes were staring down into one of the glass showcases vacantly. He startled Brian when he suddenly slapped his hand down on the glass firmly and said. “A million seven fifty and the store is yours!”

Brian had to smile at George’s dickering. But Brian wanted the contents of the store. He didn’t care about the location. He held out his right hand to George and George shook it. “Let’s go,” Brian said. “I’ll take you to my bank, and then to yours, and then bring you back here.”

“Greg,” George called to his son, “I’ll be out for a while. Don’t let no strangers in while I’m gone.” He came around the showcase and Greg buzzed them out of the store.

It took a little over two hours to complete the sale, most of it taken up by Brian’s bank representative trying to talk the two men out of it. George used a different bank. Plus, there were some financial reporting requirements involved.

Brian, after dotting the I’s and crossing the t’s, was finally handled a cashier’s check for the agreed upon amount. George got a piece of paper from the banker, wrote out a bill of sale for the business and one of the teller’s notarized it.

Before they left the bank, Brian wrote a check to cash and got eight thousand dollars from his checking account. They left Brian’s bank with the banker looking forlornly after them. Brian knew the man might go into shock when the other transactions began taking place.

George’s banker, on the other hand, was delighted to see the cashier’s check. Brian didn’t even have to take George back to the store. He and his banker were deep in a discussion about how to invest the money.

Brian started to take George aside and warn him about what might be coming, but held his tongue. Brian wasn’t the one that was going to start a panic. And he very well could be wrong about the whole thing. He did note that it was a couple of degrees cooler now than that morning, according to the bank’s time and temperature display.

Brian’s next stop was at a vehicle dealership. A Hummer dealership, to be exact. When he found out that the original Hummer was no longer available he left the dealership, disappointed.

Next best, or maybe even better, according to much of what he’d read on the DVD’s Tony had given him, was a Chevrolet Suburban. He found a Chevy dealer on auto row. They had a diesel four-wheel-drive Suburban and a diesel one-ton four-wheel-drive Silverado pickup.

After checking the sticker prices he offered to buy them both for a set amount, by check, which the dealer could take to the bank while the vehicles were being prepped. The sales manager came out of his office and after one attempt to dicker with Brian, gave in when Brian started walking toward the exit.

Brian went back to the office. He’d pick up the vehicles the next day. He stopped at the cafeteria on the ground floor of the building and picked up a sandwich and bottle of water before he went back up to his office.

Although confident of Charlie’s ability to carry out the transactions Brian wanted, Brian decided to hedge his bets, so to speak. After his lunch, he headed out again, this time with a list of coin shops in the city in hand.

Brian hit all the shops that were remotely close. None of the shops had a great deal of gold or silver bullion coins. He bought all each one of them had. It was a bit hard to accept that the briefcase on the seat beside him, albeit heavy, contained one-hundred eighty thousand dollars of gold and silver coins.

After the second purchase of coins an agent with the credit card company called. This time they insisted on a large payment before accepting any more transactions on Brian’s card. With a wry smile on his face, Brian went back to his main bank and did a wire transfer to the credit card company, for the total balance due on the card.

When he talked to the agent again, she was very apologetic and told Brian that there would be no more questions about his usage of the card. That taken care of, Brian finished his coin shopping, and headed back to the office.

Tony was waiting outside the station’s main entrance, sitting on the floor of the hallway, his back against the wall.

“Hey, Chief!” Tony said, scrambling up before Brian could say anything. “I need to see those DVD’s again.”

“Sure, Tony,” Brian replied, unlocking the door and opening it. “What’s up? You look like you haven’t slept.”

“Haven’t. I’ve been checking some things, but with the internet down, I’m having a hard time. I remembered one of the people I interviewed for that survivalist story and talked to him again. I’m sure there is more information on the DVD’s. Stanley Whitiker was telling me about…”

Brian cut him off. The name had rung a bell. “HAARP!” he said.

“Exactly!” Tony replied. “HAARP. And more importantly, the Russian version of HAARP. Maybe even a Chinese version.”

They weren’t quite running, but they were moving quickly, as they went to Brian’s office. Tony was shaking with anticipation as Brian loaded one of the DVD’s once the computer was up. “Here,” Brian said, getting out of the chair and standing clear so Tony could get to the computer. “You know what you are looking for.”

Tony quickly scanned through the DVD and then switched it for another. “Here,” he said. There was the scanned image of a page of Tony’s notes. “Stanley is one of the people out to try and stop HAARP. He claims it is for weather modification and that the frequencies the system uses can cause direct harm to individuals.”

Tony was running a finger along the line of script showing on the computer. “He also believes, as many do, that the Russians, and perhaps the Chinese, are also developing similar technology to control the weather.

“There have been some signs of success of the US experiments, though the government denies that HAARP has anything to do with weather.” Tony leaned back and looked up at Brian. “What if one of the experiments went bad? Or they are working together…”

“I can’t believe the US government would be cooperating on something like this. They wouldn’t intentionally set up a weather pattern that could…”

“What if they didn’t know one of the others was running an operation and started their own, and…” Brian’s words trailed off after interrupting Tony. The two men looked at one another.

Tony spoke first. “And if they inadvertently started something they can’t stop…”

Brian finished the thought. “Those in the know would want to get to someplace safe before the whole world finds out.” He was staring off into space, but brought his attention back to Tony. “How long could this storm last?”

“Theoretically… for years.” Tony’s voice was soft. “It is speculated that if a storm were to reach a certain size, it would become self perpetuating. Until some other force of nature disrupts it. If it begins in the tropics, years of hurricane weather around the equator. In the arctic or Antarctic…”

“An ice age?” Brian asked.

“So goes the speculation.” After several moments of silence as each man contemplated the possibilities, Tony continued. “Chief… Ah… when I was doing the story, I made some pretty good connections. There is this woman… If the station is down… Like you said, those in the know…”

“I understand, Tony. I’m making arrangements myself. I promised everyone the rest of this month’s salary and next month’s. Brian opened the brief case.

When Tony saw the gleam of the gold he gasped. “You sure are making arrangements.”

“What’s your seven weeks salary worth in gold?”

“What’s the price of gold now?” Tony asked in return.

“Approaching a thousand an ounce. But let’s figure it at five-hundred to be fair.”

Tony figured for a minute and then said, “Uh… fourteen and a half ounces of gold.”

“How do you want it?” Brian asked, turning the case towards Tony.

“I guess… Uh… nine one ounce coins, two half ounce, eight quarter ounce, and twenty ten ounce. And can I get the other half ounce in silver?”

“Whatever you want. But make it a full ounce worth.”

Tony looked at Brian in surprise.

“You’ve been a good employee. And I have more coming.”

“What exchange rate?” Tony asked.

Brian shrugged his shoulders.

“There was this story… fiction… on one of the forums. They used thirty-six to one. That sounds a little high to me. How about…”

“Thirty six to one is fine. You want it all in the Silver Eagles or in small change?”

“Geez. I don’t know what the coins are worth. Just give me the Eagles. I think I’ll be able to break them later.”

Brian counted out the coins for Tony, and Tony scooped them up and put them in his jacket pocket. “You have enough cash?” Brian was reaching for his wallet.

“I’m good. I’ve been saving for a new car. I’m going down right now and get the cash out of the bank. With it and this, I’ll be okay.”

“Good luck,” Brian said and held out his hand.

Tony took it and said, “You, too, Sir.” Then he was off at almost a jog.

Brian closed the brief case and sat down. He’d been running on pure gut instinct since yesterday morning when Reggie first brought his attention to the matter. Not that the speculation was necessarily true, but something was sure going on. He might very well be giving half, or more, of his net worth away by making the preparations he was making. “So be it,” he thought to himself. He would continue with his plans.

With two calls he had the plans for the payroll payout up and running. The checks would be ready the following morning if the two accountants worked all night. And they had said they would when Brian offered them a nice bonus to do so.

His next call was to a man he didn’t like. Which was part of the reason he called him, and not someone else. “Herbert, It’s Brian Lanigan.”

“Yes, Brian, my secretary told me. What is it you want? You about to sell me that little station of yours? I understand the FCC pulled you off the air.” Herbert chuckled.

“As a matter of fact, Herbert, that is exactly why I called you. You finally wore me down, Herbert. I’m ready to sell. But it’s going to cost you.”

“That little station of yours? And in trouble with the FCC? Even if I still wanted it, I wouldn’t pay all that much for it.”

“Five million, lock stock and barrel. You deal with the FCC.” Brian heard Herbert catch his breath. The amount was less than Herbert had offered before to get an Independent station.

“Well now,” Herbert said after a short pause. “I’m willing to negotiate…”

“I’m not,” Brian replied, cutting Herbert off. I want your decision tomorrow before noon, and the cash, that’s C, A, S, H, by 6:00 PM tomorrow evening.”

“You’re out of your mind!” Herbert replied and then hung up.

Brian grinned. It was a long shot, but anything that upset Herbert was a good thing, in Brian’s opinion. He was about to call Charlie, but Brian’s cell phone rang. It was Charlie calling. He didn’t sound too good.

“Brian, Brian, Brian,” Charlie intoned. “This is killing me! Do you know how much money you’ve lost on these transactions? And you know gold can’t hold at this level for long. You’re going to lose even more! What is the matter with you? Let me buy some of these stocks that the bottom is falling out of. You could make millions when the markets turn.”

“I’ve got millions, Charlie,” Brian replied. “And I tell you now, that you should be doing what I’m doing. What’s the price of gold now?”

“It was nine-eighty-nine on the last purchase.”

“How much is there left to do?”

“I’ve been holding some blue chips, hoping you’d come to your senses…”

“Charlie,” Brian said rather harshly, “I’m not kidding. Sell everything and buy the gold and silver.”

“At least the blue chips have been holding. If you say so, I will sell them. But you really owe me that hundred large. This has been a nightmare.” Charlie hung up.

Brian sighed. He didn’t like putting Charlie through this, but he was Brian’s portfolio manager and it was his job. Brian had debated telling Charlie what was going on, but had decided against it. Charlie would never believe it.

Same with most of his employees. Tony had. Reggie would if he didn’t already. The rest… Well they would get their money as promised. And a bit more. Brian began to count out and stack the gold and silver coins on his desk.

When he was done with the task, he locked his office, checked on the accountant’s running the payroll program, and then went home to his apartment. He was restless, more than a little worried about his actions the last two days. He poured himself a shot of Jack Daniels Single Barrel and sipped on it as he watched the TV news, with special interest in the local forecast and the loss of the Internet story. There was no national forecast.

The local weather called for above seasonable temperatures. In the low eighties. There was no news about the Internet, other than the fact that those in charge were working on the problem.

He checked all three of the other stations in the area. All pretty much the same. Brian turned in at midnight and managed to sleep soundly, despite the uncertainty of the future.

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