One Christian family, one old boat, one test of faith to stay alive. <p>
Imagine what would happen if eighty percent of the United States were without power for three or four months.
All banking and commercial transfers locked up; funds inaccessible.
Wholesale and retail distribution shut down; no computers to manage sales.
Passenger and freight lines grind to a halt; no electricity for the fuel pumps.
No cell phone or landline service; systems down indefinitely.
And the worst aspect of all; a total breakdown of law and order.
This is the setting of James Howard’s novel, What So Proudly We Hailed.
The unthinkable has happened; a limited nuclear missile strike has destroyed the power grid beyond any immediate repair. The protagonist, Jason Ribault, sensing the societal breakdown to come, flees with his family in an old cabin cruiser to wait out the worst of the chaos behind the deserted barrier islands of the South Carolina coast. There they listen to unfolding events on a short-wave radio, not the least of which concerns a hostile political and religious influence that seeks to seize control of a nation struggling to right itself once again.
Pursued by their own immediate dangers, the family is pushed farther and farther into the desolate salt marshes where they find other families in hiding. Eventually, anxious to unite with a family member in danger, they turn back into the chaos, to see the full extent of what has happened to the America they knew.
Electric with page-turning suspense, What So Proudly We Hailed is an eye-opening book every American must read.
Over 4500 copies sold!
“With recent headlines…this tale, which seemed implausible a few months ago, suddenly appears frighteningly possible. Fast-paced and filled with action…readers will enjoy this chilling thriller in which taking out the grid means take out America. 5 Stars.” – Harriet Klausner, #1 Amazon Reviewer
“James Howard knows his material…the concept of a nuclear attack from North Korea is a little too uncomfortably real to allow the reader to put this novel down once begun…fast-paced…story idea is a shocker and Howard makes it work well…4 Stars” – Grady Harp, Top 10 Reviewer for Amazon
“James Howard has taken some incredibly deep and complex Bible prophecy and with a masterful touch of the pen has unpackaged them in a gripping, modern day story that makes the concepts easily digestible and palatable to today’s readers. I recommend this novel highly.” – Michael Lewis, Senior Pastor, Cathedral of Praise Church
“This book should make anyone think about the principles upon which this nation was founded – and cling to them.” – Representative Mike Pitts, S.C. House District 14
“I recommend this book…excellent story…timely and well thought out.” – Kirk Lowe, Screenwriter
“James Howard has an amazing way of holding a person’s interest. What So Proudly We Hailed is excellently written and I thoroughly recommend it to any and everyone.” – Mike Lowry, Associate Pastor, Northwoods Assembly Church
“I was on the edge of my seat. As I read it I kept wondering, if this really happened, what would we do?” – Barbara Haile, author and inspirational speaker
“This story is amazing…” – Shannon McNear, Novelist and Zone Director, American Christian Fiction Writers
“James Howard’s talent for storytelling is superseded only by his faith.” – Amanda Capps, author/editor/publicist
About the Author
James Howard is a veteran of the US Navy where he worked with nuclear weapons. He has also spent the last twenty years working in various aspects of heavy industry, including electrical power generation and distribution, and has learned much about our nation’s power grid. These experiences, combined with his devoted study of Bible prophesy, world history, and Islam, make him uniquely qualified to write this novel.
What So Proudly We Hailed
On October 31st, 2006, at 12:15am, I experienced a disturbing dream. In it my son and I were on our way home from a store at night and saw a large glow in the sky to the north. I also saw a long contrail illuminated in the glow where a missile had passed. In the dream I knew that a nuclear attack had begun. (The details of this dream form the opening chapter of this novel.) I awoke stunned with fear, and with a question ringing in my head, “What would you do? What would you do?”
The question did not imply, “What would you do if you had thus and so?” But rather, “What would you do with what you have in your possession right now?” As I thought out the implications, I got up and began taking notes and outlining themes. Two hours later, I had the framework for what would become this novel.
I make no claim to divine intervention, inspiration, or prophecy. All I know is that I have felt an ongoing urgency to write this novel, and get it into as many hands as possible. For some it may present a new way of looking at world events, and for others it may serve as a wakeup call to prepare, still others may enjoy it purely as entertainment. I welcome you to read it and draw your own conclusions. God bless you.
February 26, 2010
“An alien sun rising in the north.”
Jason Ribault stood up straight and stepped back from the hull of his boat where he had been sanding a patch of fiberglass repair material. He stretched, arching his back to loosen the stiffness, and groaned. Looking down the hull along the waterline he surveyed the four other sanded patches and the corresponding piles of white powder on the ground below. He sighed and wiped the sweat from his brow, leaving a streak of white across his forehead. Around him the shadows were beginning to lengthen and the chorus of insects in the woods beside his home was getting louder. A cicada buzzed from a nearby tree.
From the house Jason heard the screen door slam shut and turned to see his fifteen year old son Brian leap down the front porch steps and walk across the yard toward him. The young man’s jeans and tee shirt accentuated his narrow frame and he jerked his head to clear the long hair from his eyes before he spoke.
“Mom wants to know if you’d take me to the store to get some stuff for school.”
Jason sighed again and looked down at his white powdered legs and feet. “Can’t she take you?”
“She’s making dinner.”
Jason nodded. “All right. What do you need anyway?”
“A poster board and some other stuff for a project.”
“A project? They’ve got you doing projects already? School’s just started.”
“I know, right?”
“When’s it due?”
“Tomorrow? Why did you wait until the last minute?”
“I didn’t. It’s all done. I just have to mount it on the board.” Brian smiled and jerked his head again. “When I get my license I’ll be able to drive myself to the store.”
“I can’t wait,” Jason said, rolling his eyes. “Let me get cleaned up.”
As Brian returned to the house, Jason gathered his sandpaper and tools and canteen and headed for the garage. At the deep sink he washed the dust from his arms and neck. The door to the kitchen opened and Jason’s wife Valerie stepped down into the garage.
“Thanks for taking him,” she said. “I hated to ask, but I can’t leave the dinner on the stove for that long.”
“That’s okay. It smells good.”
“You’ve got something on your forehead,” Valerie said, tapping her own forehead with her index finger.
Jason rubbed his face, and then glanced at his wet hand before rinsing it again. “Thanks.” He took a nearby towel and began to dry himself.
“Hey,” she said, “what’s my Penguins towel doing out here?”
“I don’t know. Someone took the one I had here before.”
“Hand it here. I don’t want it to get filthy.”
“Huh!” Jason handed her the towel. “You act like they won the cup or something.”
“They did. How’s the boat coming?”
“Slow, as usual. With the days getting shorter, there aren’t enough daylight hours after work to get anything done.” Jason looked out past the garage doors to where the cabin cruiser lounged on its trailer in the front yard. “It’s already September and I still haven’t got it painted, yet. Another summer gone and we’ve never camped out in it even once.”
“I’m sure you’ll have it done by next summer.”
“Yeah, but who’ll be here to go out with us? Kathy’s always on the go with work and school. Jeremy’s always at Ruth’s. Before you know it Brian’ll have his license and will be gone as well.”
“I’m not going anywhere,” Valerie said, “so you have at least one crew aboard.”
Jason looked up at her. “I am glad for that.”
Valerie came down the steps and stood next to him as she studied the boat, now becoming a shadow against the backdrop of trees. “I think once you get the boat in the water, they’ll make time to come camping with us.”
“Yeah. Maybe I could kidnap Ruthie aboard. That’ll bring Jeremy.”
Valerie started to reply when Brian came down the steps. His hair was neatly brushed, he wore a new shirt, and an aroma of aftershave wafted in his wake. “I’m ready. Let’s go.”
Valerie exchanged a glance with Jason and said, “Youins hurry back. Dinner will be ready in about twenty minutes or so.”
Jason adjusted the ball cap on his head as he steered his extended cab truck down the road. Above him the stars began to twinkle across the darkening sky and scattered clouds. He dimmed his headlights for an oncoming car, then said to Brian, “Are you meeting someone at the store?”
“No,” Brian said, with unmasked irritation. “I just don’t like to go someplace, like, all sweaty and everything.”
Jason suppressed a smile. “Sorry if I look kind of ratty. I just thought it would be a quick trip.”
“It’s not about you, all right?”
Jason sighed aloud. Here we go, he thought. He pulled into the parking lot of the large discount store and found a place not too far from the front entrance.
“Are you sure this poster board is all you’re going to need?”
The kid flung his hair to the side with a jerk of his head. “Yes, that’s it.”
“You don’t need any tape, or glue, or anything like that?”
The son drew in a breath to speak, paused, and said, “I’m not sure about the tape. I might need some tape, too.”
Jason nodded. “Let’s just get whatever you think you need now.” He removed the keys and unlocked the door. “I don’t want to have to come back out.”
They headed for the store entrance and briskly made their way to the aisle where the school supplies were. As Brian thumbed through the poster boards, Jason stopped to look at the pens on display. He looked up when a woman with a shopping cart came around the far end of the aisle and called to him.
“Hey, Pam. How are you doing?” They met with a friendly hug. “Where’s Derek?”
The two spoke for a few moments as Brian collected what he needed, then carried his supplies over to where a couple of teens were looking at a display of DVD’s. They looked up and smiled as he approached and the three began to converse.
“We’re kind of taking a break right now,” Jason said, “But we plan to join another group in January.”
“Let us know which one and we’ll join it, too.”
“Will do.” Jason glanced at his watch and looked around him. “Well, I guess I’d better get… Where did he go?”
“I think he’s over there,” Pam said, pointing.
“Ah,” Jason said. “Well, give Derek a hug for us and keep in touch.”
“I will. Take care!”
Jason walked quickly over to the DVD rack. “Come on son. We’ve got to go.”
Brian parted company with his friends and followed his dad to a nearby register. They paid for the items and headed out of the store. They put the items in the backseat of the truck and drove out onto the road.
“Who were those kids you were talking to?”
“Just some kids from school.”
“What were they talking about?”
“Nothing. Just school stuff.”
The two rode in silence as the road passed through a wooded area. In the absence of streetlights and businesses, something caught Jason’s attention in the sky. He turned his head left and saw, through the trees, a vivid, unnatural yellow light that grew rapidly in intensity, as if an alien sun were rising in the north.
“What’s that?” Brian asked, staring out the driver’s side window.
Jason didn’t answer. He divided his attention between the strange light and the road, and as the trees thinned, he saw that it was brightest toward the horizon. Then suddenly it began to fade. Before the light was completely gone, he noticed a single contrail, a gash across the sky from the southwest to the center of the glow at the horizon. Jason could tell by the thick, puffiness of the contrail that it had not come from a jet flying at high altitude, but rather by an object entering the earth’s atmosphere.
A prickly feeling spread across Jason’s scalp.
Then the light faded completely, and the sky grew black once more.
“What the heck was that?” Brian asked again.
Jason knew. Though his eyes returned to the road, his mind reeled with the implications. The contrail had explained all.
“Uh,” Jason said. “We need to go home and check the news.”
“Was it the mill?”
Jason drew in a breath to speak, but only shook his head and exhaled again.
Ten minutes later, Jason pulled into the driveway of their home and parked the truck next to his boat trailer. The house brooded darkly against the backdrop of woods except for the glimmer of a single candle in one of the front rooms. A wavering flashlight beam shone from the front door. Leaving Brian to gather his supplies from the backseat, Jason got out of the truck and jogged across the front lawn. Valerie, her face a pale blur against the black of her hair, directed the flashlight beam toward Jason’s feet as he came up the steps.
“How long have the lights been out?” Jason asked.
“About ten minutes or so. I nearly broke my neck trying to find a flashlight.”
“Did you see that weird glow in the sky?” Brian asked, coming up the steps.
“No. What glow?”
They all stepped inside where the smell of dinner on the stove still hung in the air. Jason went to the television set out of habit and pushed the power button. Then he sighed loudly and turned to Valerie. “We need to get a radio on.”
“What’s going on?”
“We were coming home and saw this bright yellow glow in the sky,” Brian said.
Jason moved into another room. “Do we have any more candles?”
“Yes. Wait! What’s going on?”
Jason picked up the lit candle on the dining room table, but as he did so the power restored and the rooms became bright once again. He waited to see if the lights would stay on, then brought the candle into the living room and placed it, still lit, on the mantle above the fireplace. He turned to face Valerie. “We need to get the TV on.”
“Honey, first stop and tell me what’s going on.” She grabbed his arm as he reached for the TV remote. They both sat on the couch.
“Um, I’m not sure.” He bit his lower lip. “There was this glow in the sky, like a bright, searing yellow. And above us I could see a contrail where something had passed overhead, in a line straight to the glow.”
“Like a plane?” Valerie asked.
“No, like a….” He hesitated. “Like maybe a missile or something.”
“You mean a nuclear missile?” Brian asked.
“Are you sure?” Valerie asked.
“No. We need to turn on the news.” He switched on the television and the satellite receiver and went to the program guide. He tried the main news channels, but most of them were running their regularly scheduled programs recapping the news of the day.
“Try Fox,” Valerie said, and he did so. On that channel a blonde woman was talking to a person by phone line.
“…so while we have no estimate of damage or casualties at this time, the hope is that because it was a semi-rural area the loss of life might be limited.”
“And how widespread is the power outage?”
“From what we can tell right now, the southern and central portions of the state are completely without power.”
“So cities like Miami, Tampa, and Orlando and their surrounding areas are blacked out?”
“Yes, that’s correct.”
Valerie pointed to the screen. “Look at the words on the bottom.”
At the bottom of the screen scrolled, “At six forty-seven p.m. EST a large explosion occurred in Central Florida causing power outages throughout the state.”
“That’s what you saw?” Valerie said.
Jason shook his head. “What we saw was to the north.”
The newscaster concluded her phone call, then spoke to the viewing audience. “For those of you just joining, there are reports of a massive explosion that occurred in northern central Florida. We have no details as to the cause of the blast, nor of the extent of the damage, but the explosion seems to have triggered power outages across the state.” She paused as she read from a monitor at the desk. “Uh, this just in. Moments ago a similar explosion was reported outside the city of Charlotte, North Carolina. Widespread power outages are occurring in that state as well.”
“Is this a nuclear war?” Brian asked, his voice anxious.
“I don’t know,” Jason said. “I’m not sure what it is or who’s doing it, or why. But I’m worried this may be just the beginning.” He stared at the screen. “And if it’s just the beginning, we’ve got to prepare. Right now.”
“Prepare?” Valerie asked. “How do you prepare for something like this?”
“We go out and prepare as if a hurricane was coming. Water, canned goods, etc.”
Just then the front door opened and a slender young woman dressed in the black pants and white blouse of her work outfit walked in. She tossed back her long brown hair and set down her purse and bottled drink. “Have you guys heard anything about some explosions going on? We lost power at work and….”
“Shhh!” Jason gestured with his hand. “It’s on right now, Kathy. Watch!” The young woman sat on the couch with the rest of the family.
The newscaster continued. “At this time we are going to join our affiliate station in Charlotte to see what is going on there.” A man’s picture came on the screen. “Patrick, can you tell us what is happening in the Charlotte area?”
“Charlotte?” Kathy exclaimed.
“Shhh!” Valerie said.
A man’s voice, crackled with static, came over the speakers. “Yes. We’ve been speaking to several eyewitnesses who saw the blast and all of them describe what appears to have been a nuclear detonation. They saw an extremely bright flash of light followed by the sound of a thunderous explosion and a telltale mushroom shaped cloud. There are many reports of blindness caused by the flash of light, and also many people reported feeling a blast of hot air many miles from the explosion.”
“Was it a direct hit on the city?” the newscaster asked.
“No. The city itself was spared the brunt of the explosion, but, unfortunately, some of the outlying towns and suburbs have been destroyed.”
“Oh, my God,” Valerie whispered.
“What about Uncle Terry and Aunt Rhonda?” Brian asked.
“We’ve got to make preparations,” Jason said. “We’ve got to get ready.”
“What about Uncle Terry and Aunt Rhonda?” Brian asked again, more insistent.
“Oh, that’s right!” Kathy said. “Uncle Terry and Aunt Rhonda live there! What’s going to happen to them?”
“Kathy, listen!” Valerie said.
Just then the power blinked, but came on again. Jason looked up at the lights, then he stood and shut the television off. “We’ve got to go right now. We can’t wait.” He turned to face his family. “I’m sure Uncle Terry and Aunt Rhonda will be all right. We don’t know what area was hit. You know Terry. He’ll take care of them both well enough. And that’s just what we’re going to do.” He pointed to Valerie. “Get your purse. Let’s go.” He turned to his daughter. “Kathy, get on the phone and call our relatives. Don’t stay on long, just check in and see if they’re all right. The numbers are in my Palm Pilot on my desk. Let them know we’re okay. Tell them they should prepare as if for a hurricane. Brian, come with us.”
Valerie grabbed her purse and the three of them headed for the door. Jason called back, “Keep the TV off until you make the calls.” Then they went out to the truck.