February 3

Doomsday Plane initiated in 1961 as part of Operation Looking Glass (US)


DEFCON 2, your co-pilot says.  Time for the eye patch.

You retrieve protective goggles from your Emergency War Order kit, and adjust them over your regular glasses.

Landons joke referenced an outdated low-tech protocol.  In previous decades, pilots in your position wore a patch to prevent total blindness from a nuclear flash.  They could simply remove the patch after the event, and theyd still be able to see through one eye to pilot the plane. 

The so-called Doomsday Plane — kept in the air as an alternate nuclear command base in case Ground Control loses functionality. 

What happened if there were two flashes? you say, continuing with the kind of dark humor that helps people cope in tense situations.

And then the first flash hits.

Your goggles darken, as theyre supposed to.  Youre barely able to make out the lights on the instrument panel, and cant identify the direction of the attack.

A shock wave follows, jolting the plane with unimaginable force.  You fight with the controls, but need better guidance.  Langdon says nothing; aside from static, your headset remains silent.

You hear nothing from other staff in the main compartment of the plane.  Perhaps they are scrambling with the retaliation codes, or protecting the materials that can reboot the U.S. government.

Another flash.  Another horrific jolt to the plane.

This time, even with the protective goggles, your vision gets worse. 

Worse than any eventuality youve been prepared for.

You shout to your co-pilot, asking what to do.  Langdon doesnt respond.

And you cant see him.  Your stomach sinks.  With one hand fighting resistant controls, you reach your other arm in Langdons direction. 

You touch the side of his face and realize hes not wearing goggles.  Your forefinger passes over his eye, slips inside a wet socket.

The body of the plane trembles.

You remove your goggles.