Date Published: December 13, 2022
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
Agnew, a small farming community in south-central Texas, has just been
obliterated in the nation’s worst rail accident in history. The
President of the United States enlists cybersecurity expert, Mike Paxton, to
lead the investigation and determine who is to blame.
As Mike seeks to uncover the truth behind the attack, more weapons of mass
destruction are unleashed across the country in what appears to be an
attempt to eradicate western society. Those who survive are forced into a
near-apocalyptic existence: transportation, manufacturing, agricultural, and
oil industries crumble, and economic collapse devastates America.
With time and resources running out, Mike must discover the cruel forces at
play. Are these violent attacks merely a ploy to preoccupy the American
government so a larger, global plan can be carried out without the threat of
intervention by America’s powerful military defense? Will Mike and his
team be able to stop them before it’s too late? Or will the United
States lose all hope of maintaining its status as the most powerful country
in the world?
About the Author
Chuck Edmonds is a scientific writer whose military experience includes the
evaluation of weapons of mass destruction. Most recently, his work has
focused on mechanical circulatory support systems (partial and total
artificial hearts), his field of specialization at one of the nation’s
leading cardiac centers. His research has appeared in national medical and
surgical journals. He draws from his background of deep scientific knowledge
to create his fictional works, which often incorporate apocalyptic and war
themes. Chuck and his wife live in Houston, Texas, where they enjoy spending
as much time as possible with their kids and grandkids.
The sweltering humidity, unseasonable this time of year in the south-central Texas farming community of Agnew, made the scorched air feel close to a hundred degrees. For the overflow crowd in the aged gymnasium, it was stifling. The community-wide pep rally was a welcome respite between harvesting soybeans and pulling cotton bolls. Everyone hoped their undefeated, six-man football team could do what had not been done in two decades: win tomorrow’s game and play for the state championship.
Signs and hand-painted banners urging the team to victory hung on every surface in town, from storefronts to churches, the co-op grain elevator, even the fire station. Nine-year-old Emma Bergsten and her classmates sat atop the foldaway bleachers, screaming cheers and singing songs. Her older brothers were team stars, her sister the head cheerleader, and three cousins played in the band.
Hearing the whistle of the train on its way through town, Emma glanced out the gym’s gaping double doors just as the landscape of Agnew and the lives of everyone she knew changed forever.
The colossal explosion from its payload ammonium nitrate bomb obliterated a box truck near the railroad crossing. In an instant, the first of five engines pulling the hundred-car Union Pacific Eagle Ford Shale crude carrier plunged into chaos as the eruption thundered all around.
Screaming at supersonic speeds in every direction away from the explosion’s core, the shockwave freed its unbalanced energy in a microsecond. Driven by molecular nitrate collisions at the nanoscale, the invisible, vibrating force smashed tsunami-like through massive concrete cylinders at the grain elevator, destroying the cotton gin, sheriff’s office, and volunteer fire station in seconds. Intense wind followed, sweeping the debris into a destructive wake. The concussion shattered the cafeteria windows. It triggered such biological havoc in the bodies of the three cooks, they died before the glass hit the floor.
Jolting through the adjacent gymnasium, the devastation continued, windows shattered, and shards of concrete from the elevator scythed the roof. Survivors scrambled over tubas, trombones, ceiling fragments, and each other in their efforts to escape. Find Mommy, Emma thought as she fell from the top of the foldaway bleachers.
The old building shuddered and collapsed. As the explosion subsided and the smoke cleared, only a portion of the south wall remained.
Tank car after tank car buckled like an accordion stretching a half mile back through town, some upright, most on their sides. Oil gushed from fissures in car walls. Sparks emitted from the wreckage ignited the low flashpoint crude. Rapidly growing pools generated a huge fireball twice the height of the grain elevator. The first of five explosions registered 4.8 on seismographs in Austin, Houston, and Albuquerque, shaking every structure in town and alerting the residents in a twenty-mile radius to what many believed to have been an earthquake.
The initial concussion from the blast shattered businesses and most of the homes closest to the tracks, while others crumpled and ignited. Menacing flames destroyed everything in their wake. Those trapped in their homes died as their skin melted. The town burned in a sea of red, yellow, and orange.