The lights of the carnival glowed brightly along the sea, reflecting back upon the still waters of the cove built adjacent to the shore where it was built in an open field. Orange lights of the Ferris-wheel could be seen brightly a half mile off shore, as well as the blue lights of the roller coaster, the various other lights, that blinked and sparkled, from the arcade and mezzanine area. These lights attracted the hordes of people to its gates, like the pied piper, on this cool, December evening, the sounds of joy, laughter, and mirth echoing the grounds and the gates.
In addition to the sounds of music, merriment and mirth, it is combined with the smells of popcorn, cotton candy, and boiling hotdogs, making it enticing for the visitors who now arrive here at the gates despite what had happened twelve hours earlier in a far away state, that had brought the United States into a state of war. As it is the even of December the 7th 1941, and Pearl Harbor had been bombed at seven in the morning Hawaiian Time. They said the use of a carnival would be a great moral booster to the spirit of war, to ease the pain and suffering of those lost at the battle of Pearl, as well as civilians. It would take the mind off the questions that would follow now: What would start and hang in for the months to come now that the United States was at war. The music would sooth the aching agonizing beast within, bringing smiles to the faces of the people who gathered for the first day of this carnival that would be for the families and the troops that served in a time of war.
Jack Johnson held the hand of his mother, as he walked along the path of the parking lot and as he walked he glanced up at her. He is seven years of age, tall for his age with brown hair, gray eyes, and a stocky build. He has a square jaw like his father and unusually large hands. His father is in the military right now, as war broke out against the Japanese Empire, and he had been with a group in the clock tower on the base that had eliminated here zeros by trickery, when three planes had been lured by two of our planes (that had finally got up) to turn the tables on the attacking force.
“This way Jack.” His mother told him and he nodded, his gray eyes studying the beauty of his mom carefully when he sensed her worry. He peered at her long brown hair, and the butterfly pin, that was positioned in the center of the mass of hair. His eyes moved down to the simple baggy dress made of cotton, designed with simple striped pattern and she wore black pull on sandals. Her face was made up partially, and she really didn’t take the time to make herself up properly for a trip to the carnival where she would be seen in public. All he really knew is that his mom had not received a letter from dad lately, neither a check from him nether. She was visibly upset, and worried that something had happened to him while he served at Pearl during the attack.
Jack followed his mother and toward the lights and the gates where a line formed and the corny carnival music echoed the grounds as it played over the speakers located nearby. The boy managed a smile as performers approached, juggling balls, or balancing items on canes. Other people smiled and pointed, applauding or cheering as they passed them by. Paying for the tickets, he and his mom walked through the gates and she smiled at the sight of the Ferris wheel that loomed ahead of them, amidst the catwalks and rails of the rollercoaster that surrounded it. Her gaze was transfixed on the wheel, and it was the tugging of the sleeve of her tunic, that made her shake her head and look down to smile at her son. The Ferris wheel had been the first place that she and her husband Jack, had been on when he proposed to her.
“So what do you want to do first Jacky?” She asked, using the nickname for him, that distinguished him from his father, and the boy looked up at him in silence pointing silently at the rollercoaster. His mom shook her head sarcastically.
“Ohhh no.” She said, “Your father scared me on those. How bout the Ferris wheel instead honey? You are a bit small to go on that alone yet…”
“We can get a hotdog and cotton candy after and hit the mezzanine area after…” She promised and he turned his head as a big smile lit up his face.
“Yay!” The boy answered, his eyes lighting up, as bright at the lights around him. The thunder of the rollercoaster echoed across the grounds as it passed over their heads on the track.
As they walked toward Ferris wheel, the boy stared at it that towered before him, at the circular shape of rods, wire, plates, bolts and the steel frame holding it all together. Jen and his son walked toward the gate and they handed the gruff looking operator two tickets a piece and he lifted the bar allowing them to step on. The boy’s heart raced when the wheel began to move as it was being loaded, and soon they were on top of the wheel with a spectacular view looking down at the carnival and the cove and ocean below.
Jack, in the dim light could see the hint, and the outline of what he thought was a naval ship. A submarine! He always had keen eyesight even at night. His studies of the Marines and Navy from the encyclopedias had kept him keen on wanting to join the military like his father.
“Look Mommy, A submarine!” He shouted, pointing at the water and she turned her head. She had missed what her boy had pointed out, but had not the second time. Jen let out a gasp. It was black as pitch as it lay low in the water, the conning tower just visible in the foggy gloom. She could see a white and red flag and there was only one country that used that flag that looked like a rising sun.
“Japanese!” Jen stammered, and as the ride ended she shouted out. “A Japanese Sub! There!”
She pointed at the ocean at the dim lights and a crowd had gathered and there was a murmur as people saw the sub lurking. Japanese mini-sub U-454 had its orders to recon the United States Coastline, to test readiness of the mainland forces. But they had been discovered.
“Holy Shit, its da Japs… Cut the lights quick!” A voice shouted, as a few men returned with rifles as they positioned themselves in open spaces on hilltops nearby. A boom sounded from the sub’s main gun and there was a whoosh as a shell flew inland and struck the shore in a massive explosion.
“We’ve become a target!” A voice quailed as people scattered in panic. Jen and her son Jack ran toward the parking lot, but shells were being lobbed in and hits exploded the cars causing shrapnel from the explosions to be thrown ten feet in all directions.
“This way Jack...” Jen shouted, as she heard rifle fire echo from the rifles from the men stationed at various positions around the Carnival. She didn’t realize that this place would become a battlefield, not in Eureka California, north of any major city found on the coast. They were miles from San Francisco, Redding, Red Bluff which was inland or even Portland and Seattle further north on the coast.
“W-why are they attacking us?” Jen thought as more shots rang out, followed by multiple rounds of sonic bombs by the gun of the sub.
Darkness enclosed the Carnival around them as the thousand or more people waited and watched. Round after round they continued to be under fire until they turned their heads as military personnel and vehicles and equipment showed up.
There was a cheer as they drove up, expertly avoiding the fire and the leader, a young Captain got out of the lead truck.
“Captain James Yueing.” He said, “The police mentioned there was fire from a sub?”
“Right over there, Captain.” A deputy, stammered. “Four of our guys are shooting back with long rifles, but not having much effect.”
“Alright men, set up the field guns on that point and the other across opposite, both able to be aimed one hundred and eighty degrees with a slight overlap.” He said, “Spotters, get me some distances.”
“We have to hurry sir, fog it rolling in.” A voice said and the officer nodded. “Take up a protective defensive perimeter along the coast and make sure no one comes ashore. If they are looking for prisoners, they aren’t going to get them here.”
“Yes sir.” A chorus of voices replied and people scattered as more gunfire ricocheted through the air, followed by a boom of the main gun.
“We got to take out that sub or render its gun useless.” He shouted, “Send up a flare in ten minutes when we are ready and commence firing.”
Meanwhile, Jack watched in amazement at the military officer and the soldiers as they worked and he walked unattended among the equipment and men and watched them. He waved to the men who smiled at the boy and motioned him to move along.
“I definitely want to go to the military.” Jacky muttered to his young self, “Be strong like my dad, a Marine. These are puny Army guys…”
A flare was sent up and a moment later the field artillery weapons were fired at the sub and salvoes splashed harmlessly on either side of them.
“Reload and continue firing!” A voice shouted, “…And get this kid out of here!” A grizzled sergeant pointed at Jack who had his hand on the tire of the gun as it pushed back from the force of the recoil when another round burst from the muzzle. A high pitched ring sang out and one hit the sub on the conning tower. The shot partially damaged it.
“Move it slightly left and fire!”
“They’re disengaging sir!” A corporeal shouted, peering through field glasses at the sub and in the moonlight saw the men run to disappear below decks. The sub slowly began to sink into the sea.
“One more shot!” The Captain shouted, “Fire!”
A loud boom sounded, and there was a massive explosion as both rounds hit the sub. A wall of flames, a massive waterspout and smoke tube rose upward as pieces went everywhere. One shot hit the torpedo room and had detonated the forward torpedoes, the fire and smoke cascaded into the moon filled sky.
“Do we turn on the lights and resume the carnival?” A voice asked, and the owner shook his head, “Hell no… it’s war and by operating at night we almost got these fine folks killed. We are supposed to be enduring blackout restrictions like the town, effective immediately. Free passes to everyone who was here tonight, and we will hopefully see them back at seven AM, Wednesday, giving us time to repair any damage.”
There was a cheer by the crowd. War had come to the United States, starting with Pearl Harbor, but it also had done another thing it had brought a town together in a time of need, thanks to a simple carnival. It had also exposed that the Japanese were out there and ready to start a ruckus in which the US would have to be ready, ready to fight and win.
Copyright © 2015 Nathaniel A Miller