I'm gonna do this thought-to-keyboard - no planning, no editing, no revisions, and see if it works.
Heavy fog again.
I'm standing on the front lines of the Cold War.
It's 1979, RAF Lakenheath, England. They call this place Victor Alert. I am an Aardvark Doctor. We have several F-111F Aardvarks, sitting in blast-hardened shelters, right at the end of the runway, ready to go. Ready to go on the last mission of Civilized Humanity, as we know it.
This morning, it is my job to program the flight mission into a Victor Alert Bird. I have been training for this job, for almost four years. This morning, it's not just another bird on the flight line. This morning, I am doing my job in the "holy of holies", in the inner sanctum, in the Victor Alert Hangar.
What would normally be a routine job, all alone and unremarkable, without fanfare, is now a Religious Ritual. Today, I am the High Priest, in the Cathedral of Doom. Before I entered the hangar, radio conversations were held. Names were given. All was arranged. I walk in with my Acolyte, who brings the programmer, and hooks it up in the nose wheel-well. He is watched by the guardians. Two Security Police, with loaded M-16's and very serious looks on their faces.
I ascend the altar. I climb the ladder into the cockpit, and as soon as I am seated, I raise my hands, but not in an invocation of deity. I keep my hands in plain sight, until one of the guardians has ascended the ladder behind me, to watch every move of my hands.
I open the holy book. I follow the ritual letter by letter. The pre-power checklist complete, I signal my acolyte on the ground, to apply power to the aircraft. Step by step, we dance through the ritual.
Once the mission has been loaded, comes the moment of divine revelation. I must verify that the data has been loaded properly into the computers. Latitude, longitude, elevation, of each turn point, each guide point, each target on the flight of the dragon of doom. The load is successful. I power off the aircraft, and again raise my hands, as the guardian descends the ladder. Then I descend myself.
The man who descended from that altar of death, is not the same man that ascended. Somewhere, in between, it all became real. Those were real targets, destined for nuclear obliteration. And my life was changed. That foggy morning, in Lakenheath England, I shed the role of the Universal Soldier. No longer would I be the Harvester of Souls. I had turned the corner.
I journey now on a path of healing. I have broken the chain. A long line of warriors has come to an end. Never again, in this life, or any subsequent lives, will I be the instrument of agression.