Keith M. Kitchen
General Lee Hunter climbed slowly out of the old ground car and looked to the sky. It was a beautiful day and he felt that fitting. Clear blue sky with not a cloud in sight. It was warm, nearly seventy-five degrees on the old scale, but that didn't bother him at all. His dress uniform was as crisp as it had been when he donned it that morning, the creases still evident.
It had been fifty years since three billion people had been murdered. Fifty years since the Earth discovered terror unlike anything it had ever faced before. It had been fifty years since the Zhwai made themselves known and the human race realized that Al-Quaeda and Hamas didn't have a clue what terrorism truly was.
Hunter was a tall man, just a touch over six feet, with a deep-lined face and craggy features. His dark hair had just a touch of gray at the temples. His blue eyes were piercing, haunted things, etched with the memories of too many deaths over the years. Three wives, three children, his parents, his sisters and God alone knows how many people under his command had paid the ultimate price.
Looking around, Hunter saw the area hadn't changed much in the years since he had been last here. The old cabin was still there, not looking too bad for not having any maintenance for far too long. He knew there were a few new additions installed by a small crew only several days before, but, while they were important, they didn't change the looks of the cabin in any way.
The cabin sat along Pine Creek, about twenty miles north and west of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, more or less. At one time, so many years ago, it had belonged to Hunter's first wife's grandfather. After he passed away, it had gone to an uncle, but after Death Day, it had gone to Hunter. He had used it as a retreat over the years, although more and more seldom of late. Then again, since he had become a general, he had so much less free time.
The cabin itself was an anachronism, something truly from the past. While less than a century old, it might as well have been from the Middle Ages. Only a one story dwelling, built mainly for summer occupancy, most of surviving humanity wouldn't have wanted to spend a day there. It was all Hunter could do to have it converted to use modern power sources for today's purpose.
He checked his watch, saw that the time for his meeting was close and walked towards the cabin. It was ironic that he would meet with his nemesis here and on this beautiful day. Really, it was a gorgeous, picture perfect day.
Then, he shook his head. It wasn't ironic. It made perfect sense. It was, after all, Death Day.
Hunter walked into the cabin, noting that it looked almost as he remembered it. A large main room, subdivided to act as both living area and a kitchen. Two chairs and a couch facing a cold fireplace with an old, weather-beaten coffee table in front of the old couch. The furniture was threadbare but passable. In the left-hand corner sat a small desk with the necessary computer.