The Mini-burger

FanFic in the Birmoverse

Wetar Strait Memorial – By Tim Hooper (aka Drunkwombat955)

14th  AUGUST 2024: CALIFORNIAMarie Kolhammer had not been down here for months. She sat silently for
a minute before getting out of the car. Not many people here today. The
last few weeks of summer still had plenty of heat in them, but her and
only a dozen others shared the Wetar Strait Memorial Site this morning.The sun glinted brilliantly off its smooth, almost white, polished
metal surface. The monument was a spectacular sphere 30 metres in diameter,
partially set into the ground. As the chromium surface would never fade
or tarnish, neither would the memories of those lost. And that is
exactly what they had been. All 12,118 of them-lost. All those empty caskets
and not a single body in any of them. Marie remembered feeling a pang
of jealousy shortly after the tragedy as the British buried those who
had been recovered from the burning remains of HMS Fearless. At least
they had had a body to let go of. The gravel path crunched under her shoes, the only noise she could make
out apart from the distant rumble of waves breaking on rocks in the
distance. The monument sat perfectly on the horizon like a setting sun.
The sphere looked exactly like the footage shot from ashore in Timor on
that day. That enormous shimmering orb had only lasted a half a second.
Here it remained forever. The last instant of so many lives frozen in
steel and stone. As she got closer, passing over the brilliant reflected
arc on the ground briefly giving her two shadows, the warm lump of
grief returned to her chest. It no longer choked her like it used to; it
just felt heavy. Off to her left a father stared at the monument as he
stroked his son?s hair.  His daughter in the carrier on his back pawed at
the soggy lolly she had pulled from her mouth. The boy reached out and
touched the sphere. The film of water that flowed over its surface ran
along his arm, dripping off at his elbow. Marie turned to see her own
reflection. The shimmering film of water made it look like her whole
body was weeping tears. And over and over it had in these past three
years.Phil, if you are alive, I wonder what you must be doing?The remaining scientists from Manning Pope?s laboratory had testified
that if it was a wormhole that had swallowed those ships, it was
possible that they may have survived. No conclusion could be agreed upon if
humans could indeed survive such an event. A modern warship however,
hardened against nuclear, biological and chemical warfare, would have given
them the best chance of survival though. At the Birmingham Commision
hearings, Senator Mading had queried as to ?when? the survivors could
have been transported to. She had been met with the now infamous response: ?In a word ma?am- Anywhen. They could be an hour behind us, they could
be fighting dinosaurs. Both are equally possible and yet impossible for
us to know.? The only fact that mattered to most was that they wouldn?t
be coming home-to this universe anyway.Her thought was broken by the squeal of the little girl; the family
without their mummy. She saw the yellow silhouette and designation SC-42
USS LEYTE GULF on the back of the boys t-shirt as they walked away.
Marie touched the monument, the cool water soothing the hot lump in her
chest as it slipped over her fingers. After a few more moments alone with her thoughts, she followed the path
along the coast walk. The path lead through the memory halls, one for
each ship lost. Walls covered with photos, crayon drawings on paper,
momentos. Preserved here. Marie had seen these photo walls in just about
every city she had ever been to in her life. This was the second place
she had attached photos to a wall. She knew where his picture was in
this collage of grief. He wasn?t in the middle, or at the top. He was
amongst his other family as he always called it. After a moment her eyes
drew away to the floor and the corners of mouth turned up into the start
of a smile. 3 months after the opening and dedication of the site, this
graffiti was found on the floor. She remembered the sting of outrage
that someone had thrown this salt on such an open wound. The acid
mistakenly used to remove the paint from the limestone floor had only etched
the words deeper into the rock. But the many of the widowers soon
petitioned to leave the graffiti there. It had said in two words how they
felt. So WHEREVER, WHENEVER stayed. Preserved to prevent more damage.
Marie thought about that catchy Shakira song from so long ago. The innocent
days watching as their young son collapsed laughing, trying hopelessly
to gyrate his hips like the pop star. And Liuetenant Kolhammer?s even
more tragic attempt in the living room. Anything beyond the White Male
Two Step had always confounded Phil. It was so long ago now.
She turned and walked back to her car knowing she?d have that bloody
song in her head for the next few hours.


1 Comment »

  1. That is bloody excellent.

    Comment by Ken | 3 January, 2010 | Reply

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