The Beginning of the End

This is part one of a multi-section short story about the beginnings of World War Three. It is entirely fictional. Names and character traits are fictional and are in no way intended to represent any living person. Locations are real, but the attacks described are completely imagined.

INTRODUCTION – THE BEGINNING OF THE END

It started swiftly, though no one can agree as to where, or exactly when. No one looked to the clock – time simply stood still. There was no warning, there were no suspects. It just happened. Some say Times Square was first. Others claim it was the Golden Gate. Others say it was the Austin Bergstrom Airport, and still others insist it was McConnel Air Force Base. But one thing is sure, we were under attack. The problem is, we didn’t know who from, or why. We had no way to predict what would happen next…

Wherever it began, the story was the same. Thousands of people huddled together in a single place for an event of some sort. An unassuming, clean-shaven man, well dressed, walks into the very center of the crowd, bows down with his head to the ground facing East, stands slowly, smiles, and explodes. Shrapnel flies everywhere slicing through people all around, and a biological agent is dispersed throughout the crowd. Those who don’t die immediately from the explosion or the wounds die within hours from the toxic biological agent. The entire area is quarantined for a mile radius or more, and cleanup begins. By the time these multiple strikes are over, all FIFTY of them, nearly three hundred thousand people are dead. Tens of thousands more are being treated for an unknown toxin, with more dying every hour.

By the time Iran claimed responsibility for the attacks, it was too late. The damage had spread too far. The National Guard was dispatched to at least one major city in every State, borders were closed, martial law had been implemented, and the entire nation was on alert. But the damage was done. We had over the course of a single hour, been brought to our knees. Iran, however, wasn’t done yet. A second wave became apparent as the nation’s power grid began to suffer multiple attacks through both hacking and physical strikes. Communication started going down. People looked to their cell phones for answers, and saw only “No Service”. In the Northern seaboard States, the elderly began to succumb to the cold, and rioting and looting broke out. The animal nature and selfishness of self-preservation reared its ugly head contributing even more to the terror already unfolding.

The President had been busy trying to coordinate with States and fighting fruitlessly to contain the damage. When he heard that Iran had claimed responsibility, he addressed the nation (those who still had power) via television and radio. Every channel carried his address.

“My fellow Americans, today an extraordinary blow against our nation has been carried out ruthlessly against civilian targets, by an evil regime. They have acted against all established treaties, and have committed war crimes. I will do everything in my power to bring them to justice. I have just called up inactive troops, and am deploying a massive military strike against Iran by air, land and by sea. They will see that America will not take their actions lightly. Our military is poised to strike hard and precise, and we will take out every general, every officer, and the heads of their government…”

Up until that point, he sounded great. Almost like an actual leader. But then came the talk about how we have the best military, the best generals, the best this and the best that… pretty much everyone tuned out and turned their attention to picking up pieces. Tens of thousands of Americans commuted to the disaster zones to render what aid they could. The Red Cross mobilized and set up mobile blood donation trailers. Highways that had been unaffected by the terror came to a near standstill as panicking people looking for family members, aid workers trying to reach the chaos, and military convoys flooded the roadways.

And this… this was only the beginning.

Download Free Books!

For those of you who are constantly on the go, and who have a kindle or a smartphone, I present you a list of 103 sites where you can legally download scores of literature, compliments of the “Confessions of an Opinionated Book Geek” blog. And no, I don’t condone using this list to avoid coming to see me in my soon to open bookstore… I still expect to see you there having a cup of tea/coffee and reading a REAL book!

The Classics

Browse works by Mark Twain, Joseph Conrad and other famous authors here.

  1. Classic Bookshelf: This site has put classic novels online, from Charles Dickens to Charlotte Bronte.
  2. The Online Books Page: The University of Pennsylvania hosts this book search and database.
  3. Project Gutenberg: This famous site has over 27,000 free books online.
  4. Page by Page Books: Find books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and H.G. Wells, as well as speeches from George W. Bush on this site.
  5. Classic Book Library: Genres here include historical fiction, history, science fiction, mystery, romance and children’s literature, but they’re all classics.
  6. Classic Reader: Here you can read Shakespeare, young adult fiction and more.
  7. Read Print: From George Orwell to Alexandre Dumas to George Eliot to Charles Darwin, this online library is stocked with the best classics.
  8. Planet eBook: Download free classic literature titles here, from Dostoevsky to D.H. Lawrence to Joseph Conrad.
  9. The Spectator Project: Montclair State University’s project features full-text, online versions of The Spectator and The Tatler.
  10. Bibliomania: This site has more than 2,000 classic texts, plus study guides and reference books.
  11. Online Library of Literature: Find full and unabridged texts of classic literature, including the Bronte sisters, Mark Twain and more.
  12. Bartleby: Bartleby has much more than just the classics, but its collection of anthologies and other important novels made it famous.
  13. Fiction.us: Fiction.us has a huge selection of novels, including works by Lewis Carroll, Willa Cather, Sherwood Anderson, Flaubert, George Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald and others.
  14. Free Classic Literature: Find British authors like Shakespeare and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, plus other authors like Jules Verne, Mark Twain, and more.

Textbooks

If you don’t absolutely need to pay for your textbooks, save yourself a few hundred dollars by reviewing these sites.

  1. Textbook Revolution: Find biology, business, engineering, mathematics and world history textbooks here.
  2. Wikibooks: From cookbooks to the computing department, find instructional and educational materials here.
  3. KnowThis Free Online Textbooks: Get directed to stats textbooks and more.
  4. Online Medical Textbooks: Find books about plastic surgery, anatomy and more here.
  5. Online Science and Math Textbooks: Access biochemistry, chemistry, aeronautics, medical manuals and other textbooks here.
  6. MIT Open Courseware Supplemental Resources: Find free videos, textbooks and more on the subjects of mechanical engineering, mathematics, chemistry and more.
  7. Flat World Knowledge: This innovative site has created an open college textbooks platform that will launch in January 2009.
  8. Free Business Textbooks: Find free books to go along with accounting, economics and other business classes.
  9. Light and Matter: Here you can access open source physics textbooks.
  10. eMedicine: This project from WebMD is continuously updated and has articles and references on surgery, pediatrics and more.

Math and Science

Turn to this list to find books about math, science, engineering and technology.

  1. FullBooks.com: This site has “thousands of full-text free books,” including a large amount of scientific essays and books.
  2. Free online textbooks, lecture notes, tutorials and videos on mathematics: NYU links to several free resources for math students.
  3. Online Mathematics Texts: Here you can find online textbooks like Elementary Linear Algebra and Complex Variables.
  4. Science and Engineering Books for free download: These books range in topics from nanotechnology to compressible flow.
  5. FreeScience.info: Find over 1800 math, engineering and science books here.
  6. Free Tech Books: Computer programmers and computer science enthusiasts can find helpful books here.

Children’s Books

Even children’s books are now available online. Find illustrated books, chapter books and more.

  1. byGosh: Find free illustrated children’s books and stories here.
  2. Munseys: Munseys has nearly 2,000 children’s titles, plus books about religion, biographies and more.
  3. International Children’s Digital Library: Find award-winning books and search by categories like age group, make believe books, true books or picture books.
  4. Lookybook: Access children’s picture books here.

Philosophy and Religion

For books about philosophy and religion, check out these websites.

  1. Bored.com: Bored.com has music ebooks, cooking ebooks, and over 150 philosophy titles and over 1,000 religion titles.
  2. Ideology.us: Here you’ll find works by Rene Descartes, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, David Hume and others.
  3. Free Books on Yoga, Religion and Philosophy: Recent uploads to this site include Practical Lessons in Yoga and Philosophy of Dreams.
  4. The Sociology of Religion: Read this book by Max Weber, here.
  5. Religion eBooks: Read books about the Bible, Christian books, and more.

Plays

From Shakespeare to George Bernard Shaw to more contemporary playwrights, visit these sites.

  1. ReadBookOnline.net: Here you can read plays by Chekhov, Thomas Hardy, Ben Jonson, Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe and others.
  2. Plays: Read Pygmalion, Uncle Vanya or The Playboy of the Western World here.
  3. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare: MIT has made available all of Shakespeare’s comedies, tragedies, and histories.
  4. Plays Online: This site catalogs “all the plays [they] know about that are available in full text versions online for free.”
  5. ProPlay: This site has children’s plays, comedies, dramas and musicals.

Modern Fiction, Fantasy and Romance

These websites boast collections of graphic novels, romance novels, fantasy books and more.

  1. Public Bookshelf: Find romance novels, mysteries and more.
  2. The Internet Book Database of Fiction: This forum features fantasy and graphic novels, anime, J.K. Rowling and more.
  3. Free Online Novels: Here you can find Christian novels, fantasy and graphic novels, adventure books, horror books and more.
  4. Foxglove: This British site has free novels, satire and short stories.
  5. Baen Free Library: Find books by Scott Gier, Keith Laumer and others.
  6. The Road to Romance: This website has books by Patricia Cornwell and other romance novelists.
  7. Get Free Ebooks: This site’s largest collection includes fiction books.
  8. John T. Cullen: Read short stories from John T. Cullen here.
  9. SF and Fantasy Books Online: Books here include Arabian Nights, Aesop’s Fables and more.
  10. Free Novels Online and Free Online Cyber-Books: This list contains mostly fantasy books.

Foreign Language

For books in a foreign language like French, Spanish and even Romanian, look here.

  1. Project Laurens Jz Coster: Find Dutch literature here.
  2. ATHENA Textes Francais: Search by author’s name, French books, or books written by other authors but translated into French.
  3. Liber Liber: Download Italian books here. Browse by author, title, or subject.
  4. Biblioteca romaneasca: Find Romanian books on this site.
  5. Bibliolteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes: Look up authors to find a catalog of their available works on this Spanish site.
  6. KEIMENA: This page is entirely in Greek, but if you’re looking for modern Greek literature, this is the place to access books online.
  7. Proyecto Cervantes: Texas A&M’s Proyecto Cervantes has cataloged Cervantes’ work online.
  8. Corpus Scriptorum Latinorum: Access many Latin texts here.
  9. Project Runeberg: Find Scandinavian literature online here.
  10. Italian Women Writers: This site provides information about Italian women authors and features full-text titles too.
  11. Biblioteca Valenciana: Register to use this database of Catalan and Valencian books.
  12. Ketab Farsi: Access literature and publications in Farsi from this site.
  13. Afghanistan Digital Library: Powered by NYU, the Afghanistan Digital Library has works published between 1870 and 1930.
  14. CELT: CELT stands for “the Corpus of Electronic Texts” features important historical literature and documents.
  15. Projekt Gutenberg-DE: This easy-to-use database of German language texts lets you search by genres and author.

History and Culture

Refresh your memory of world history, the classics and U.S. history here.

  1. LibriVox: LibriVox has a good selection of historical fiction.
  2. The Perseus Project: Tufts’ Perseus Digital Library features titles from Ancient Rome and Greece, published in English and original languages.
  3. Access Genealogy: Find literature about Native American history, the Scotch-Irish immigration in the 19th and 20th centuries, and more.
  4. Free History Books: This collection features U.S. history books, including works by Paul Jennings, Sarah Morgan Dawson, Josiah Quincy and others.
  5. Most Popular History Books: Free titles include Seven Days and Seven Nights by Alexander Szegedy and Autobiography of a Female Slave by Martha G. Browne.

Rare Books

Look for rare books online here.

  1. Questia: Questia has 5,000 books available for free, including rare books and classics.

Arts and Entertainment

This list features books about celebrities, movies, fashion and more.

  1. Books-On-Line: This large collection includes movie scripts, newer works, cookbooks and more.
  2. Chest of Books: This site has a wide range of free books, including gardening and cooking books, home improvement books, craft and hobby books, art books and more.
  3. Free e-Books: Find titles related to beauty and fashion, games, health, drama and more.
  4. 2020ok: Categories here include art, graphic design, performing arts, ethnic and national, careers, business and a lot more.
  5. Free Art Books: Find artist books and art books in PDF format here.
  6. Free Web design books: OnlineComputerBooks.com directs you to free web design books.
  7. Free Music Books: Find sheet music, lyrics and books about music here.
  8. Free Fashion Books: Costume and fashion books are linked to the Google Books page.

Mystery

Here you can find mystery books from Sherlock Holmes to more contemporary authors.

  1. MysteryNet: Read free short mystery stories on this site.
  2. TopMystery.com: Read books by Edgar Allan Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, GK Chesterton and other mystery writers here.
  3. Mystery Books: Read books by Sue Grafton and others.

Poetry

These poetry sites have works by Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe and others.

  1. The Literature Network: This site features forums, a copy of The King James Bible, and over 3,000 short stories and poems.
  2. Poetry: This list includes “The Raven,” “O Captain! My Captain!” and “The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde.”
  3. Poem Hunter: Find free poems, lyrics and quotations on this site.
  4. Famous Poetry Online: Read limericks, love poetry, and poems by Robert Browning, Emily Dickinson, John Donne, Lord Byron and others.
  5. Google Poetry: Google Books has a large selection of poetry, from The Canterbury Tales to Beowulf to Walt Whitman.
  6. QuotesandPoem.com: Read poems by Maya Angelou, William Blake, Sylvia Plath and more.
  7. CompleteClassics.com: Rudyard Kipling, Allen Ginsberg and Alfred Lord Tennyson are all featured here.
  8. PinkPoem.com: On this site, you can download free poetry ebooks.

Miscellaneous

For even more free book sites, check out this list.

  1. Banned Books: Here you can follow links of banned books to their full text online.
  2. World eBook Library: This monstrous collection includes classics, encyclopedias, children’s books and a lot more.
  3. DailyLit: DailyLit has everything from Moby Dick to the more recent phenomenon, Skinny Bitch.
  4. A Celebration of Women Writers: The University of Pennsylvania’s page for women writers includes Newbery winners.
  5. Free Online Novels: These novels are fully online and range from romance to religious fiction to historical fiction.
  6. ManyBooks.net: Download mysteries and other books for your iPhone or eBook reader here.
  7. Authorama: Books here are pulled from Google Books and more. You’ll find history books, novels and more.
  8. Prize-winning books online: Use this directory to connect to full-text copies of Newbery winners, Nobel Prize winners and Pulitzer winners.