Authors: Nick Mariano
“DAWN OF A NEW DAY”
By Nick Mariano
Copyright © 2016 by Nicholas G Mariano
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof
may not be reproduced or used in any manner
without the express written permission of the publisher
except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Printed in the United States of America
First Printing, 2016
“Dawn of a New Day” begins where my last book “Attack on the Homeland” ended. I hadn’t really intended to do a sequel to my book but changed my mind after a friend read my first book, liked it, and insisted that I write a sequel. I must say that writing the sequel was a lot harder than the original book. I hope that those of you who read “Attack on the Homeland” like the transition I made into this second book.
Needless-to-say, both books are entirely a figment of my imagination and although several of the facts in both books about viruses are actually true, no such virus exists, at least that I am aware of. Some other facts about World War II and other odds and ends are also factual and when I could, I tried to come up with something that was realistic enough to be believable. I do admit that in some cases I may have stretched things a bit.
Here’s hoping you enjoy this sequel and that if you haven’t read it yet, you’ll pick up “Attack on the Homeland” and “the Silo”, a book I wrote in between these two. Enjoy!
In March 2015, the Wilmington Star Newspaper carried a story that researchers had found the wreck of the German Sub U-756, which had been sunk toward the end of World War II. The U-boat had sunk for some unknown reason as US Naval records failed to reflect that it had been attacked or sunk by any U.S. Naval vessels during the war. The German Government made a brief statement the following day that the U-756 had been lost during the war while on a mission along the East Coast of the US. The wreckage lay in 200 feet of water near New Bern, NC, and was considered a war grave, however, both the United States and Germany had given approval for divers to visit the site as long as they respected it as a war grave.
Gary and Reed were dive instructors from Myrtle Beach, SC, and although for years they had frequently talked about diving a U-boat site in NC, they just never got around to it. On May 15
, 2015 they finally decided to make the trip to NC to dive the newly discovered U-boat, 30 miles off the NC shoreline. Both divers had recently completed their technical diving courses and so a dive of 200 feet, although deep by recreational standards, was not the maximum they were capable of diving. Both had trained to depths of over 350 feet. They got in touch with a friend who owned a dive shop in Wilmington, who said he would take them out to the wreck site on one of his slow days. They would be the only two divers diving the new site.
It was a beautiful NC day and the seas were like glass on the day of their trip. Water temperatures were still a bit cool but the visibility was supposed to be at least 80 feet during the day. It would be the ideal day for their visit to the U-756.
They descended slowly to the wreck site and initially the water was cold and hazy, although as they passed through the thermocline the visibility improved dramatically. At about 150 feet they could begin to make out the outline of what appeared to be a German U-boat. When they finally reached the bottom at 200 feet they could see the boat clearly and noted that it had been split in two and that wreckage was scattered across a wide area of the ocean’s floor. They circled the wreck once or twice to get their bearings and, on the last pass before their planned ascent, Reed spotted what looked like a metal box several yards from the actual wreckage of the sub. A closer look at the box revealed that it was constructed of some sort of steel, that it was still intact, and that it had heavy clamps securing the lid. An engraved Nazi SS emblem was faintly visible on its lid. The divers decided that they would retrieve the box since it could contain something of value or some items that would be historically valuable to the local museum, which had an entire wing devoted to U-boats of WWII. They attached a lift bag to the box and slowly filled the bag with air from a spare air tank. They both watched as the box began its slow ascent to the surface.
Harold Stevens was the owner and boat captain for the local dive shop in Wilmington and as he stood on the deck of his boat he began to notice bubbles approaching the surface. Suddenly a lift bag popped to the surface and Harold could see that some sort of metal box was attached to it. He grabbed a grappling hook and pulled the bag and its cargo toward the boat but decided that he would wait before trying to get it on board since it would be another 30-40 minutes before Gary and Reed reached the surface, as they had several decompression stops to make along the way. Harold wondered what they could have found and also knew that since this was a designated war grave they had to be careful about what they removed from the site.
Forty-five minutes later Gary and Reed finally surfaced and after they got back aboard the boat they explained that the box wasn’t in the U-boat but several yards from it. They understood the sensitivity of a wartime grave but thought it would make a great addition to the local U-boat museum in town. The three agreed to take the box back to the dive shop to further examine it and that they would get the museum curator to take a look too.
On the way back to shore Gary and Reed examined the box and were amazed that it was still in relatively good shape despite having been on the ocean floor since the 1940’s. It appeared to be constructed of some sort of stainless steel and the hasps on it had kept their integrity. The box still looked to be tightly sealed. A Nazi SS emblem was engraved on the lid and it weighed somewhere between 40 and 50 pounds. They concluded that it probably didn’t contain any gold as some of the previous U-boats had yielded. They couldn’t wait to get back to Wilmington and get with the museum so that the box could be opened and reveal its contents.
The U-756 under command of Captain Hans Falke was just passing the coast of Nova Scotia and would soon be approaching American waters where the Allied naval presence would be more noticeable. He had already met with the landing party to discuss how he planned to approach the coast and discharge them for the link up with their German operatives on shore. He estimated that he could get his men in close proximity of the shore although they would still have a bit of rowing to do to get there. He had already studied the tide schedules and charts for the projected landing date and thought that if he could get his men underway when the tide was beginning to rise and move toward shore they would be rowing with the current most of the way and should have an easier time reaching their destination.
It had been almost 30 hours since the virus was accidentally released aboard the U-756 and already a few of the men had begin to experience sore throats and a certain stiffness in their bodies. Many had already reported to sick bay and the ship’s doctor felt that the symptoms were probably due to the confined quarters and the fact that the ship had been running submerged most of the time, with the men breathing recycled air. He thought the men would feel better after they completed this part of their mission and they began to run surfaced again, giving the men more fresh air and allowing them to get on deck and get some needed sun. He prescribed some aspirin to a few of the men who appeared to be suffering more than the others. The doctor himself wasn’t feeling his best today either but he just shook this off and figured it was the lack of sleep he had been experiencing.
The landing team aboard the U-756 stopped by the secured room where their cargo was being held to check the box and ensure everything was in order. The sentry on guard duty looked to be a bit under the weather and it appeared that he had some sort of rash on his arms and neck. Opening the secured room the box appeared to be in order, however, some moisture was visible on its sides. The men thought this was just due to the high humidity of the boat and the salt-water environment. The room was re-secured.
Captain Falke noticed during his briefing that several of his men appeared to be suffering from some sort of cold or virus and many were coughing and sneezing the entire time. A number also appeared to have rashes on their arms and necks and the Captain contacted the doctor after the meeting to see if any had recently reported to sickbay. The doctor said that he thought a mild flu had come aboard with someone and that over half the crew was now infected. He added that he had prescribed an antibiotic to the men and that they should be seeing a marked improvement in a day or so. He wasn’t sure, however, what the rash was that some had exhibited during their sickbay visit. He had prescribed a mild fungal cream to a few of the men to see if that might clear up the rash.
A few of the men in the aft section of the sub had begun to notice a slight oozing of fluids from some of the rashes they had. Others also noticed that they were sweating more and beginning to feel a bit more irritable but dismissed this to the fact that the sub was now running submerged most of the time. Most thought that a good night’s sleep and the medications the ship’s doctor had prescribed would have them feeling better in the morning.
Day 12 on board the U-756 did not begin well for Captain Falke. Over three-quarters of his men were suffering from some unknown illness and many had been forced to stay in bed. Some were beginning to display dark spots over their bodies and it appeared that some of the sores were beginning to ooze dark fluids and blood. He worried that soon he would not have enough able sailors to safely operate the boat, plus they might soon be encountering enemy surface vessels and he needed sailors who could man their battle stations and fight if necessary. It also seemed like many of the infected men were starting to become irritable and some fighting had already broken out in sections of the ship. Falke hoped that he could complete his mission and get his men home before something terrible happened. U-756 was making it way past Massachusetts and Connecticut and should reach their final destination of New Bern, NC, on schedule.
Captain Falke awoke hoping that things would be better today for him and his crew. By the time he had retired last night more than eighty percent of the crew appeared to be suffering with the mysterious illness that had infected his boat. He hoped that the doctor’s antibiotics would start to work and that his crew would be getting back to normal and be able to finish this mission. His worst fears were realized, however, when he got to the bridge and talked with his XO. Fights had broken out in the aft sections of the boat and many men were now almost completely incapacitated. Several of them had developed unsightly tumors that appeared to be oozing blood. Fights and acts of violence had been reported in the torpedo room and finally the XO had been forced to seal off the area by locking the watertight hatches separating the various sections of the sub. Many of the men on the bridge were beginning to feel flu like symptoms and the XO himself reported that he too was not feeling totally himself.
The Captain didn’t know what to do. They had already passed the Virginia coastline and would be nearing New Bern, North Carolina, by day’s end, hopefully to discharge the landing party and complete this important mission. Even the Captain was beginning to feel poorly but he hoped the medications the doctor had given out would start turning the crews’ health around.
Things went from bad to worst on the U-756. The XO had finally been forced to lock down several other sections of the sub and even the men on the bridge appeared to be acting a bit strange. Strange thoughts began to run through the Captain’s mind and he wasn’t sure just what was happening. The XO had ventured into the fore and aft sections of the sub on the Captain’s orders and reported back that things appeared to have deteriorated even more. Several men appeared to be dead or near dead. Almost all the men he came across were displaying unsightly sores that oozed a nauseous smelling fluid that appeared to be mixed with their blood. No one was capable of standing duty and fighting had broken out on a large scale among the men who were still standing. The last thing that he had witnessed sickened him the most. He wasn’t sure that he could believe his eyes. Some of the still living crew had begun to eat the remains of those who had died. The XO told the Captain that he had to fight his way out of the aft section to avoid being attacked himself. He had ordered all sections, connecting with the bridge, locked and sealed.
Captain Falke couldn’t believe what the XO was telling him. How could something like this even be possible? A flu outbreak was possible on the sub given its closed quarters, but men eating other men. Had this to do with their mysterious cargo? Could his country be thinking of launching something this deadly and outrageous on the Americans? It was one thing to sink ships and blow up cities using Germany’s new V-2 rockets but to unleash what appeared to be a virus of this nature on people was going beyond what the Captain felt war was all about.
The Captain stood in the bridges’ control area and contemplated what to do next. He could hear screams coming now from both the fore and aft sections and even some banging on the doors sealing the bridge. Someone appeared to be screaming for help. He asked the Captain to open the hatch and let him in. The Captain stood paralyzed not knowing what to do. Even the landing party was locked out and would be unable to depart the boat at the designated time, if they were even still alive.
The virus that had escaped just a few days earlier from its container was now in its final stages. It was working just as Doctor Mengele had predicted. The flu and plague segments of the virus had now infected the entire boat. The more deadly airborne rabies portion of it was now beginning to take hold of the few sailors who were still alive. Fights erupted among the few surviving crewmembers and sailors sat slouched over bodies eating the human remains that lay before them. Even those on the bridge only had a few hours before total chaos would take over.
The Captain surveyed the surviving crew on the bridge and several men at the controls just sat with a lost look in their eyes. The XO and he appeared to be the only ones who could still made any real decisions about what to do. Even the XO agreed with the Captain that if this is the result of their secret cargo, he wanted nothing to do with inflecting this kind of horror, not even on their enemies, the Americans. Both knew that shortly they too would be unable to think rationally and that they had to make a decision on what to do, Now!
The screams continued from outside the locked hatches. Some of the men on the bridge began talking loudly and even shouting at the men sitting next to them. A minor fight was beginning in another part of the bridge. The Captain finally knew what he had to do. He could not let this horror see the light of day, not even in America. He told the XO of his plan. The two men shook hands and hugged. They had known each other for several years and had completed several attack runs together. They knew the end was near and the XO saluted his Captain before sitting down near the control panels. The Captain removed a small key from beneath his tunic top and casually moved to a locked panel near the sonar screen. He inserted his key and unlocked the small panel. Suddenly the sonar operator appeared to realize what was happening and lunged for the Captain but was unable to reach him fast enough to stop his actions. The Captain thought of his home and family back in Germany as he pressed a small red button which activated a scuttling devise built into the U-boat to prevent its capture by the Allies. The explosive charge erupted instantly and ripped the Type IX sub in two, instantly decompressing the interior. The sub had been at a depth of 140’ when the explosion occurred. Men and equipment were sucked from the super structure and the hull decompressed ripping parts of the boat into little pieces. No one still alive on the sub survived. The mysterious cargo that the Captain thought had caused this disaster remained intact and the steel box slowly sank to the ocean’s floor.