Friday, 21 June 2019

How Soon Is Now? A novel by Gary Walton Part 2: The Storms Chapter 13: Brussels




Part 2: The Storms
Chapter 13: Brussels

Echo & The Bunnymen

"Stormy Weather"

Hope you're feeling better now
Hope you got my letter, how?
Is my stormy weather now
gonna change?

Can I be like everyone?
Pretending that there's nothing wrong?
Remember when we walked upon
clouds that never rain?

And I need it more than love
And I love it more than life
And I want those stars above to shine this night

Maggie and I sat in the car with the airco on high, the cold was delicious, Maggie called the route planner, "destination," the voice replied.
"Hilton Brussels Grand Place, Carrefour De L'Europe 3, Brussels," said Maggie, a hologram of the route and the hotel came into view above the dashboard.
"Travel time two hours and thirty-eight minutes and a distance of 205 kilometres," the route planner answered.
And off we went.
I switched on the radio, Iran had launched the two satellites into space which their leader had promised was for peaceful purposes. Meanwhile, a terrorist attack had killed 55 people in Barcelona, with the Spanish government pointing its finger at Iran. While the Hamas leader was claiming Iran was helping Hamas prepare for war with Israel.

Elsewhere Hurricane Lance was threatening a direct hit as Hawaii’s worst storm in a quarter century churned toward Oahu, the island with the largest population, schools, government offices and business closed and residents stocked up on supplies and boarded up homes. According to Reuters, Lance was packing sustained winds of up to 150 miles per hour (241 km per hour), Lance could dump as much as 30 inches of rain, triggering flash floods and landslides, the National Weather Service said. Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion according to the National Weather Service’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu. It was classified as a powerful Category 5 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane strength.
"Now that's a biggie," said Maggie.
"Yeah the hurricane season has been quiet, I guess next month is the dangerous time, for the Atlantic, anyway," I replied.

"What does the Bible say about Ufo's," I asked Maggie.
Maggie laughed, "where did that come from," she asked?
"It doesn't specify, but in 2 Thessalonians it does warn us of Satan: The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders," said Maggie.
"And there are many mentions of Ufo's in the Bible," she said.
"Ezekiel being the most popular," I said.
"Here, read it out loud," Maggie passed me her Bible out of her bag.
"Ezekiel 1-28, if I remember," she said.
I turned to the page and read, "In the 30th year, on the fifth day of the fourth month, while I was among the exiled people by the river Cheʹbar,b the heavens were opened and I began to see visions of God.."
"On the fifth day of the month—that is, in the fifth year of the exile of King Je·hoiʹa·chinc the word of Jehovah came to Ezekiel son of Buʹzi the priest by the river Cheʹbar in the land of the Chal·deʹans." "There the hand of Jehovah came upon him.""As I was looking, I saw a tempestuous wind coming from the north, and there was a huge cloud and flashing fire surrounded by a bright light, and from the midst of the fire was something that looked like electrum."
"Did they know about electric back then I asked?"
"Lightning," answered Maggie.
I carried on. "Within it was what looked like four living creatures, and the appearance of each one was like that of a human." "Each one had four faces and four wings." "Their feet were straight, and the soles of their feet were like those of a calf, and they were shining like the glow of burnished copper."
"They had human hands under their wings on all four sides, and the four of them had faces and wings." "Their wings were touching one another." "They would not turn when they went; they would each go straight forward."
"Their faces had this appearance: Each of the four had a man’s face with a lion’s face on the right, a bull’s face on the left, and each of the four had an eagle’s face." "That is how their faces were."
"Their wings were spread out above them." "Each had two wings that were touching one another and two wings covering their bodies." "They would each go straight forward, going wherever the spirit would incline them to go." "They would not turn as they went."
"And the living creatures had the appearance of burning coals of fire, and something that looked like torches of a bright fire was moving back and forth between the living creatures, and lightning was flashing out from the fire."
"And when the living creatures would go forth and return, their movement had the appearance of flashes of lightning."
"As I was watching the living creatures, I saw one wheel on the earth beside each of the living creatures with four faces." "The wheels and their structure appeared to glow like chrysʹo·lite, and the four of them looked alike." " Their appearance and structure looked as though a wheel were within a wheel."
When they moved, they could go in any of the four directions without turning as they went." "Their rims were so high that they inspired awe, and the rims of all four were full of eyes all around." "Whenever the living creatures moved, the wheels would move along with them, and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels would also be lifted up." "They would go where the spirit inclined them to go, wherever the spirit went."
"The wheels would be lifted up together with them, for the spirit operating on the living creatures was also in the wheels." "When they moved, these would move; and when they stood still, these would stand still; and when they were lifted up from the earth, the wheels would be lifted up together with them, for the spirit operating on the living creatures was also in the wheels."
"Over the heads of the living creatures was the likeness of an expanse that sparkled like awesome ice, stretched out above their heads." "Under the expanse, their wings were straight, one to the other."
"Each one had two wings for covering one side of their bodies and two for covering the other side." "When I heard the sound of their wings, it was like a sound of rushing waters, like the sound of the Almighty." "When they moved, it was like the sound of an army." "When they stood still, they would let their wings down."
"There was a voice above the expanse over their heads." "(When they stood still, they would let their wings down.)"
"Above the expanse that was over their heads was what looked like a sapphire stone, and it resembled a throne." "Sitting on the throne up above was someone whose appearance resembled that of a human." "I saw something glowing like electrumb that was like a fire radiating from what appeared to be his waist and upward; and from his waist down, I saw something that resembled fire." "There was a brilliance all around him." "like that of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day." "That was how the surrounding brilliant light appeared."
"It was like the appearance of the glory of Jehovah." "When I saw it, I fell face down and began to hear the voice of someone speaking."
"Wow, amazing just amazing," I said to Maggie.
"Oh there are more, many more," explained Maggie.
"In Revelation 21:2-3 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."
"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with the man." said Maggie.
"The star of Bethlehem, Matthew 2:9: After listening to the king, they went on their way." "And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose and went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was."
"And what is your stance on Ufo's Maggie," I asked?
"That's a good question, they are apparently abducting people and cattle, they are very sneaky and secretive, I think they are fallen angels or demons," explained Maggie.
"And, honey, what do you think," asked Maggie.
"Well, I have given it a lot of thought, I have even seen them, several times but I guess I have to agree with you, they are not our friends," I said.

We arrived in Brussels and checked into the Hilton, we went to our room and freshened up, again Maggie had booked a double-double room, Maggie wanted to work on her talk scheduled for tomorrow morning so I decided to use the time to work on my blog.
An email from the BBC claimed that the US has sensationally claimed the two satellites catapulted into space by Iran was a decoy for an intercontinental ballistic missile test and a breach of United Nations rules, stepping up threats of a WW3 clash between the two nations. Israel had joined forces with the US in condemning the satellite launch from the Imam Khomeini Space Centre. Mohammad Khan said: “The Payam satellite was successfully launched this morning with the Safir satellite carrier.

In Italy, the latest heatwave, nick-named 'Lucifer' by locals, had caused a 25 per cent spike in admissions to hospital emergency units and forecasters see no respite coming before early next week. 
The heatwaves had brought wildfires to Spain, Italy, France, The Balkans and Romania, destroying millions of Euro's of crops and killing thousands of cattle.
Flash floods and lightning strikes had also increased at an unprecedented level in the area. The Croatian Meteorological and Hydrological Service said temperatures of 42°C were expected, with temperatures soaring to a scorching 44°C in Slavonia in the east of the country. It was also expected to hit the 40s°C in Zagreb, Rijeka, Osijek, and Karlovac over the weekend, whilst Knin will hit at least 42°C.
Meanwhile,  the Kingdom of Jordan was being affected once again by a new heatwave which had pushed temperatures to 44 deg C, 115 deg F and the sea temperature measured at 3m depth in a yacht marina on the eastern coast of Malta had reached a new record of 35°C.
Spare a thought for the birds in Kuwait who had reportedly been dropping from the sky as temperatures soared to 50C across the Middle East. The temperature in Kuwait had been consistently above 45C but the added humidity in the region was making it seem even hotter, creating extremely difficult living conditions for both humans and wildlife. The Middle East has been hit with an 'ungodly' heatwave so extreme Iraq's government ordered all of its civil servants to go home on Thursday when temperatures rose above 50C. Temperatures are expected to stay above 45C for the next week, with the UK Met office predicting temperatures as high as 50C this weekend in Iraq.
Some of these temperatures are insane, I thought to myself.

Tropical Storm Frank has emerged back over the open waters of the southwestern Gulf of Mexico and is forecast to strengthen into the Atlantic's first hurricane of 2025 prior to making a second landfall in Mexico. Frank formed over the western Caribbean Sea on Sunday and made its first landfall near Pulticub, Mexico, at approximately 11:45 p.m. EDT on Monday. Frank had maximum-sustained winds of 100 mph as it slammed onshore along the east coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

Three million animals had now been lost to the "devastating" drought in Ethiopia with a further 10 million people starving. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) had said that three million animals had been lost to a "devastating" drought in Ethiopia. The UN agriculture agency said that the drought had devastated herders' livelihoods as it exhausted pastures and water sources. It said the current food and nutrition crisis was significantly aggravated by the severe blow to pastoral livelihoods.

More than 300 people had been killed and 600 people remain unaccounted for in a landslide horror in Sierra Leone's capital Freetown. Torrential rains had caused a mountainside to collapse onto a residential community, while they were sleeping. The country's national broadcaster announced that the death toll had risen above 300, and it's expected to go higher. 

Meanwhile,  astonishing figures as16 million people were affected by floods in Nepal, Bangladesh and India, the floods had claimed hundreds of lives with hundreds missing.

Lovely long slender arms wrapped around my shoulders, Maggie gave me a tender kiss on my neck.
"Hmmm that feels nice," I said.
"I owe you dinner," Maggie said.
"Yes, you do."
"Shall we eat downstairs," Maggie asked?
"I guess we could," I agreed.

The hotel lobby was very elegant, with a marble floor and a wonderful golden chandelier, and four Greek-style pillars. We found a table for two in the restaurant and sat down.
"What do you fancy," asked Maggie.
"When in Rome my darling, Belgium beer with Moules-Frites, (mussels cooked or steamed with onions and celery served with fries) will do for me," I laughed.
"Oh oui, Moi aussi, (me too)," said Maggie laughing.
Moules-Frites was considered Belgium's national dish and their bottled beer was probably the best beer in the world.
"Are you ready for tomorrow," I asked Maggie?
"Yes, well, I will have to be, such short notice," Maggie replied.
"And what are you going to talk about," I asked Maggie?
"I will be discussing Ephesians 6:10-13," said Maggie, with a cheeky look on her face.
"Oh, dear is that the part which says; because we have a struggle, not against blood and flesh, but against the governments, against the authorities, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places," I said smiling.
"You are going to tell the Europen Union leaders they are in league with the Devil," I giggled.
"Yes, but not in so many words, I will be discussing the importance of the Devil and the darkness, they should take up the complete suit of armour from God, so that they may be able to resist in these wicked days and learn to stand firm," explained Maggie smiling.
She went on, "that they should go on acquiring power in the Lord and in the mightiness of his strength. Put on the complete suite of armour from God so that they may be able to stand firm against the crafty acts of the Devil."
"Genious," I said laughing.
"Thank you, my darling," she said.
The food was delicious and the beer even better, we went up to our room fairly early as Maggie wanted to get a good sleep.

The next morning something very unusual was happening, something I hadn't seen for weeks, it was raining, I stood in the room, looking out of the window like a kid does when he sees his first snowstorm. Maggie was in the shower, so I switched on the news on the massive TV on the wall of my room.
The two Iranian satellites launched a couple of days ago were said to be falling back to Earth, Iran was accusing the U.S. of destroying the satellites with a space weapon, an accusation which the U.S. had denied, saying the satellites had malfunctioned.
The war of words continued, a terrorist blew himself up on a bus in Tel Aviv killing sixteen people, Hamas had claimed responsibility.
Maggie came out of the bathroom dressed to kill, grey skirt, white blouse and red heels, "you ready to knock em dead," I asked?
"I am as ready as I ever will be," she smiled.
I pulled her to me and kissed her, "good luck," I said.
"I have to go, honey, a car is waiting for me downstairs," she kissed me and left.

I ordered breakfast in my room and started work on my blog, opening my Gmail account.
Hurricane Harold had broken a 122-year record for the coldest maximum temperature on Aug. 29 in Houston. The high on Tuesday was just 75 degrees, following days of record rainfall from Hurricane Harold, according to the National Weather Service.
Hurricane Harold continues its course east into parts of Louisiana, as the death toll rose to 20 people.

An email from NOAA claimed July 2025 was the warmest on record and the 476th 
the consecutive month with global temperatures above average.  Heatwaves in July were reported from Canada, U.S. UK, Ireland, Europe, Russia, Japan and the Korean peninsula as the Northern Hemisphere baked in what appeared to be endless sunshine, in many parts of Europe didn't have a meaningful drop of rain during July and August as most days climbed well above 30 deg C, well into the 90's deg F. Heat records around the world tumbled daily as climate change had begun to hurt.

The torrential monsoon rains paralyzed India's financial capital Mumbai for a third day as the streets turned into rivers and people waded through waist-deep waters. The city had received almost 300mm of torrential rain in the last four days, reported the Hindustan Times. Public transport stopped and thousands of commuters were stranded in their offices overnight. The devastating floods had killed more than 1,000 people across South Asia and affected close to 40 million in northern India, southern Nepal and northern Bangladesh.

The California State Parks Department said the massive fish die-off along the Malibu Lagoon State Beach was most likely down to a jump in water temperatures. Millions of dead mullet and smelt fish were now rotting along the shoreline causing an unbelievable bad smell causing locals and tourists alike to stay away from the beach. According to ABC7.com, parks employees armed with rakes and protective suits were removing the dead fish. The department was trucking the fish out to a local landfill.

I looked out of my hotel window, below was the Carrefour de l'Europe a large square, which ironically is round, directly across the square was Brussels central station, above me in the air, a couple of drones were patrolling, about a mile away I could see the EU building were Maggie was doing her talk, the rain kept on coming hard, suddenly I heard a large explosion, people started running out of the station entrance, obviously in panic and screaming, it was a surreal scene, the panicking people appeared to be running out of the station in slow motion. Then my stomach tightened, I heard semi-automatic gunfire, suddenly the Paris terrorist attack was filling my head with horror making me panic. Black smoke was billowing out of the station entrance, I heard a shot and saw a woman fall as she tried to leave the station. More shots rang out and two men dropped to the ground, black smoke was now filling the air above the station, my room telephone rang, I answered, a staff member asked me to stay in my room and not to leave the hotel and on no account to open the door. A terrible panic came over me, "it's happening again," I said out loud. More drones appeared in the sky, uniformed soldiers suddenly appeared, they ran crouching toward the entrance, automatic weapons at the ready. More shots rang out, this time the soldiers were shooting. A helicopter had arrived, flying well above the drones, flames were now visible just inside the entrance of the station, black smoke now dominated Brussels skyline. The soldiers had slowly moved into the station foyer, more shots rang out, outside, in the square, six people lay in the rain motionless. I stood there, glued to the spot, I was terrified but I had to watch flashbacks from the Paris explosion haunted my thoughts.
I called Maggie but there was no answer, she was probably doing her talk.
Another large explosion rattled and the huge window in my hotel room shook so hard I thought it would shatter. The station foyer was now ablaze, inside the entrance I could see more bodies motionless. I suddenly realised I should be filming the whole thing, I grabbed my phone shakily and dropped it, I was no use to anyone at that moment, I heard another barrage of shots and then another big explosion, the whole hotel shook to its foundations, pop, pop, pop, more shots, I turned on the TV, nothing, too soon, I watched the scene below Police officers were now running into the station, more shots and then silence, the shooting stopped, screams and shouts could be heard faintly through the double glazing. Belgium had suffered another terrorist attack I thought.
The ambulances arrived and the fire brigade, along with more Police, a line of ambulances was already forming on the street adjacent to the station lights flashing and sirens whaling, the scene was not real, it was like I was watching a movie. I wanted to be anywhere else in the world than here.
Another shot rang out, then silence again. I just stood there for what seemed like an eternity, my legs were shaking and my shirt was wet through with sweat. I watched the paramedics examining the dead or dying on the street below. In the distance, I could hear a phone ringing, I suddenly realised it was mine, I couldn't find it, it was not in my pocket, I looked around in a panic, it was on the floor by the window, I picked it up.

"Honey, your ok," Maggie asked.
"Yes I'm fine, a little bit shaky but I'm ok," I said.
"Are you ok Maggie, where are you," I asked?
"I am in lockdown, guarded by the military, three suicide Islamic bombers did it," said Maggie.
"I heard three explosions, they must be dead then," I said.
"Oh, they are dead, but of course we are on lockdown hear," she said.
"How did the talk go," I asked Maggie.
"Just fine honey," she said.
"I don't know when they will release me," she said.
"You just stay there safe darling," I said.
"See you soon."
"Bye."

The attack was now on the TV, three Islamic terrorists had entered the station foyer, one of the terrorists shouted Allahu akbar before he blew himself up in a cafe, while the other two went on a mass shooting spree, soldiers already patrolling the station managed to shoot the other two terrorists but not before they had shot people, they did manage to blow themselves up. Casualties at this point were unknown. This was the sixth terrorist attack in Belgium in recent years, the reasons why Belgium is attractive to terrorists are diverse. First, there is its strategic location between France, Germany and the UK. In two hours one can cross Belgium by car, and because Belgium is part of the Schengen area its outside borders are open, making it extremely easy for terrorists to enter and leave the country quickly. Second, the anonymity of Belgium’s capital appears to offer an ideal hiding place, with some sympathisers for the terrorist struggle individuals, not communities willing to give a helping hand to plotters.

Two hours later, Maggie and I were in the car heading home, I was still shaking. The journey back was tense and we didn't speak much, I was subdued and Maggie left me to my thoughts.

We arrived back at the apartment late in the afternoon, we went straight upstairs, I poured Maggie and me a large brandy and we sat outside on the balcony, as the brandy hit my stomach, I began to relax and managed a smile.