A SCHOOL of anchovies glistened iridescently, like thousands of tiny winking lights, flickering, and then disappearing, in the gently heaving clear waters of the California continental shelf. They flowed and ebbed, shimmering faintly, as their leaders darted this way and that, in pursuit of the tiny microorganisms glowing with faint phosphorescence in the brightly moonlit Pacific water.
Suddenly, a huge black shape slid enormously toward them, trailing ponderous streams of bright, glasslike bubbles. The little fish, startled by the monster looming from the murky depths below, winked dully as they darted frantically away.
The black shape shoved its rounded nose silently along, raising its snorkels and periscope to the surface like a weird, primordial monster gasping for air.
Eyes glued to the face piece, the stout blondish captain, whose not unpleasant, fleshy farmer's face belied his 52 years and past war wounds, issued sibilant orders in a strange, rapid-flowing succotash of sounds, smiling tiredly as he gazed at the faintly visible lights of the hills above San Francisco, 40 miles away.
The huge submarine, slowing, tracked around to 280°, its computers whirring and clicking, or quietly humming their sterile electrical tune as they continually fed corrective information — course, speed, pitch, yaw, depth, distance from target — into the impersonally somnolent firing mechanisms of the huge, bottle-like missiles nestled, totally hidden, in their immaculately clean cylindrical metal silos plunging from tightly sealed deck-level doors into the bowels of the ship.
They were the being and purpose of this sophisticated undersea monster — those missiles. Everything, from the cramped crew's quarters to the tiny captain's cabin, and everyone, from the least machinist's mate to the captain himself, was subservient to them. Like monstrously threatening ancient Molechs or Dagons, they stood upright, quiet, never stirring, yet perpetually poised for instant, shattering, terrifying flight.
Their individual targets never changed. Three of their multi-megaton nuclear tips were programmed to explode high in the air over strategic parts of San Francisco. Two would ignite into thermonuclear flashes of destruction over Oakland, and others would fall upon preselected Air Force and Naval targets.
Sighing with patient resignation, the captain snapped orders, heard them crisply repeated, watched the shining tube begin its swift plunge, retracting the periscope. The huge shape shoved smoothly downward, toward safer depths, to continue its endless, intricate changes of course, always remaining within a specific block of ocean, covering its pre-assigned target areas.
In San Francisco, the throaty roars of the crowd at Candlestick Park soared into frenzy as Willie Mays rapped a sharp single into right field, loading the bases against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Atop the Mark, cigarettes winked dully, as couples sipped their martinis, and allowed their gaze to wander along the beautiful lights below — the Embarcadero, the flow of red taillights going north, and white headlights coming south, autos along the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a beautiful, rare, clear night in San Francisco.
Nearby, at Naval Air Station, Alameda, the young sailor heard the final report. "Target lost, last position (check charts for accurate fix about 40 miles offshore). Possibly large school surfacing dolphins." The roar of a departing Electra, radically altered, with its pipe-like tail extension, could be heard faintly from inside communications, as another American ASW patrol bomber, armed with the latest electronic surveillance equipment, bored into the bright night, headed for its assigned sector far offshore.
Near Albuquerque, New Mexico, a tired Lieutenant Colonel listened for the thousandth time, it seemed, to the carefully detailed report of anti-missile magazine conditions — temperatures, security reports, a stupid jeep accident that had partially jammed an expensive door. Inside those deep shafts, ranging along the bleak, eroded mountains, were stockpiled the assorted shapes and sizes of the weapons of modern thermonuclear madness — which boasts enough explosive force to more than annihilate two worlds full of people.
Tomorrow morning, his relief would come in the form of pedantic, bespectacled, career officer George MacDoughty, and he would return to the world of normalcy — perhaps he ought to run up to Taos, for a bit of skiing. Mary and the kids would like that, if she felt it was OK to take them out of school for a few days...
At Norad, a youngish officer reached for the millionth time, it seemed, to grasp one of the many tape cassettes, preprogrammed to flash instantaneous messages all over the country — to DEW stations, to missile silos, to aircraft aloft, to selected public communications centers, and to the White House.
Aghast, he suddenly heard the unbelievable words stirring his consciousness... "... radar identified as enemy missiles incoming over..." and realized he had grasped the wrong cassette!
No. The submarines are there. They are real. The nuclear weapons are not only stockpiled in mountain magazines, but carried daily back and forth in the bowels of American and Soviet nuclear submarines, in aircraft of both nations, or nestling ominously in their underground silos. Soviet submarines prowling America's Pacific shores replenish at sea, or in far-off Vladivostok. Those patrolling the Atlantic or Gulf replenish either at rendezvous at sea, with their tenders, or at the Soviet submarine base newly being developed in Cuba. The stored bombs are real. The preprogrammed messages are real. American bases, equipped with B-52 bombers, armed with nuclear bombs, ring the Soviet Union. American nuclear submarines prowl the waters of the world, off Soviet Siberia, in the Mediterranean, in the icy waters near the roof of the world, or in the Sea of Japan. They carry nuclear-tipped Polaris-type missiles, capable of being fired from beneath the sea.
A continuing part of the deadly, computerized, tape-cassetted, preprogrammed flirtation with Armageddon — the accoutrements of a nuclear nightmare — the war of nerves between the superpowers.
Computerized Cosmocide Not only do preprogrammed, specially cut tapes exist which warn of enemy missile attacks, but prewritten newspaper and radio releases also exist which give general, horrifyingly encouraging accounts of "massive retaliation heavily devastates major enemy targets."
What a shocking age — this 1971.
Now, warfare could be joined — nuclear disaster which could forever maim the world, potentially exterminating all humankind, or leaving only pitifully warped, struggling survivors — all by accident. A faulty transistor, a sudden, unexplained surge of electrical power, a nervous hand inserting the wrong preprogrammed orders into a bank of computers — a chance midair collision — these could plunge the world into a nightmare of destruction.
It all began back in August 1945. At 8:15 a.m. on that day, three United
U.S. Hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Island, May 1956. Photo was taken fifty miles away from an altitude of 10,000 feet. - Wide World Photo - See PDF for PictureStates B-29's approached Hiroshima, Japan. One plane, the Enola Gay, carried a single atomic bomb.
The culmination of years of painstaking research, scientific theory and experimentation, military intelligence reports of the mysterious new "super weapon" the Germans were working on, an awesome, towering explosion as a test — and the final "go" signal from the Commander in Chief, Harry S. Truman, had contrived to place the bulbous, massive shape securely in place in the belly of the Enola Gay.
The "fat man," as it was menacingly dubbed in tragicomic jesting, comprised the accumulated knowledge, research, sacrifice, effort, and prodigious cost of man's latest and most advanced "achievement." It was being steadily borne, now, nearer the target, selected almost by chance occurrence of clear weather — equally necessary for the all-important films and observation as for sighting in on the target correctly.
Released of its burden, the Enola Gay, lightened, surged noticeably upward, requiring a re-trimming of controls.
Moments later, about 100,000 human beings ceased to exist. One moment they were there. The next, they were nothing. Another 140,000 suffered the mutilating, searing, tearing effects of the flash, resultant fires, and force of the huge explosion. They died. Another 100,000 would carry the mutilations for years — many to finally die.
The "atomic age" had arrived.
No one felt like applauding.
A war was brought quickly to an end; and a new era — with the growing realization of a more awesome power potential for destruction than the most hideous of nightmares — dawning on human minds.
From then to now, men have changed.
We live, now, in the vortex of a spiraling arms race. It races dizzyingly upward, as the combined forces of scientific research, discovery, experimentation and invention contrive to devise ever more ghastly means of disintegrating, pulverizing, burning, vaporizing, blasting, tearing, searing, maiming, or exploding human flesh.
We have arrived.
We have made it. Now, we can kill the world.
The Quarter-Century War of Nerves For more than twenty-five years, human governments have vied for position, jostled, maneuvered, parlayed, fought, struggled, talked, argued, threatened and conciliated as they somehow steered a death-defying course between a war which must not be fought, and a peace which always eluded their grasp.
Between the larger jostling among the superpowers, the mindless, agonizing record of terror has continued to mount as the smaller nations — almost always helped by the larger, nuclear-powered nations — fought bloodily.
From the end of World War II, and the horrifying explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, more than 50 separate struggles have been fought, with two of them, Korea and Vietnam, becoming of such major proportions they vie with World Wars I and II for numbers killed, bomb tonnages expended, and towering costs.
Somehow, the world proved it could still go about the grisly business of war in efficient, pragmatic fashion, killing one another by the "conventional" means of searing napalm, exploding mortars and bombs, or the sudden shock of a high-powered bullet.
Whatever your stand on killing, your whole life is dramatically affected by it. You may, without realizing it, owe your job to the business of death. You may, without realizing it, be busily enjoying the paraphernalia and gadgetry of a modern age of affluence which owes its very being to the never-ending quest for means to kill. Practically all our most significant breakthroughs in science, industry, technology, aerospace, medicine, and even agriculture, are direct "spin-off" from man's bizarre search for destructive devices.
But the traffic in arms, and the search for more effective ones, goes on.
Worldwide Armaments Expenditure In late 1969 the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency surveyed the arms spending of 120 countries. The latest year for which they had comprehensive data was 1967. Then the world's military expenditures totaled an incredible $182 billion. This averaged $53 for every man, woman and child on earth. (One estimated average for 1970 was $56) This $182 BILLION for defense was approximately 7% of the total Gross World Product.
Note also that the average per-capita income — including the U.S. — is only 720 dollars per year. That means the world spends 7 percent of its citizens' income ($53 per man, woman and child) on armaments and the military. More staggering is the fact that about 28 out of 142 nations have a per-capita yearly income of $100 or less — close to the $53 per person spent on armaments and military worldwide.
If the recent rate of increase in military spending continues to climb as at present, the arms race may cost $4 trillion over the next decade. This is FOUR TIMES the yearly Gross National Product of the United States. This exceeds the total value of all U.S. land, buildings, machinery, cash and business.
If one silver dollar coin were dropped every second, it would take 126,000 years to exhaust this amount of money estimated to be spent on world armaments in the next ten years. Or this four billion dollars could pave the entire nation of Denmark with one-dollar bills — or a string of thousand dollar bills to the moon and back. More to the point, this four billion could virtually feed, clothe, and house the world's poor for a year.
According to UNESCO, world arms expenditure between 1964 and 1966 was climbing faster than Gross World Product.
For every dollar the world devotes to closing the rich-poor economic gap, $20 are spent on arms. In 1969, the world spent three times as much on arms as it did on health. Resources devoted to education also take a back seat. This area receives 40 percent less than arms. As one writer put it, "the pen is much less mighty than the sword."
The estimated $200 billion the world spent in 1970 on armaments would provide TEN MILLION families with a fine, moderate-cost suburban-type home. The price tag of one of the new prototype bombers equal the price of many tractors.
Price Tag of Armaments Goes Up Meanwhile the grisly "kill cost" per individual enemy death has mounted dramatically. In the days of Julius Caesar it cost about 75 cents to kill an enemy soldier. Because of inflation and greater technology, the cost rose to about $3,000 per enemy dead during Napoleon's time.
Since then the cost has risen with burgeoning defense expenditures. During World War I, it cost the United States about $21,000 to kill an enemy soldier. World War II was even more expensive — costing ten times that amount.
Already, the war in Vietnam is costing the United States $170,000 per enemy death. One estimate put the total at over half a million dollars when all costs such as war debts, veterans' benefits, are considered.
As a result, the cost of armaments and military becomes a weighty economic burden, especially for many poor nations.
Somehow, we find ourselves unavailed of statistics which would show how much money the world has spent, or would be willing to spend, to keep a man alive.
Many emerging new nations, whose desperate business should be the pursuit of a better life for its citizens, turns instead to the arms traffickers and asks about costs.
Usually, the graphic cost comparisons between airplanes and tractors, tanks and trucks, mortars and ploughs, rifles and rakes are not considered. And yet, newly independent countries find themselves in the control of a revolutionary new government which came to power largely because it continually highlighted the terrible plight of the average citizen of such country.
Notably, the dismantlement of Empire in Africa; the retreat of the Colonial Power era into the maze of newly constructed, autonomous countries. The screams of peace, freedom and the good life which brought such governments to power quickly turned to cries for arms, as each new government looked about itself, frightened at the new neighbor government, or tribalism within its own boundaries.
While country after country in Africa should have busily pursued agrarian reforms, campaigns against disease, malnutrition, illiteracy, and stifling superstition, it found itself, instead, caught up in the same mindless search for killing implements as the rest of humankind.
The first order of business, it seems, is to put the peasant in a uniform — not a better home. And so the arms race goes on — and on — and on.
United States — Biggest Arms Dealer The United States is the biggest trafficker in world arms. This may seem shocking for a nation pledged to peace. Yet, the United States has found itself in the grips of the burgeoning arms race, burning up its economic strength to arm a world at war.
In the 24 years since World War II, according to one estimate, the United States has sold or given away some of the following implements of war:
2,150,000 military rifles
82,496 submachine guns
25,106 field guns and howitzers
93,000 jet fighter planes
8,340 other planes
2,496 naval craft
448,383 other combat vehicles 31,360 missiles
Selling arms is big business as well as a prime instrument in the power game nations play. The United States, Soviet Union, France, Britain all sell arms for both reasons. For example, the Soviet Union reportedly supplied Egypt with $2.25 BILLION worth of arms in the 31 months between the end of the 1967 Middle East War and January 1970. This in hopes of extending its sphere of influence in the Middle East.
It is estimated that approximately three quarters of the world's arms spending is done by the Soviet Union and the United States. The United States in one recent six-year period sold arms worth at least $13.3 billion to 57 countries — including Egypt — which was being supplied so generously during this time by the Soviet Union.
Dizzying U.S. Defense Budget The United States has continued its immense spending on defense and armaments. President Nixon's budget sent to Congress on January 29, 1971 asked for $77.5 BILLION for national defense, including nuclear weapons, for the fiscal year ending in June 30, 1972. This was a staggering ONE THIRD of the $229.2 billion total outgo projected for that year. Defense spending was by far the biggest single item on the budget.
Meanwhile, many feel that the defense budget must climb to more dizzying heights. Some economists forecast that a $100 billion budget is inevitable.
Part of the rising expenditure is the increasing cost of the weapons used. For example the proposed Advanced Manned Strategic Aircraft — successor to the B-52 — would cost 12 to 15 MILLION dollars apiece. Here are some other comparisons, showing the increasing costliness of weapons:
Aircraft carrier in World War II $55 million
Carrier Nimitz, now being built $545 million
Destroyer in World War II $8.7 million
Latest destroyer $200 million
Submarine in World War II $4.7 million
Latest nuclear submarine $200 million
Bomber in World War II $218 thousand
B-52 bomber built in 1961 $7.9 million
Fighter plane in World War II $54 thousand
F-11 fighter plane $6.8 million
M-1 rifle made in 1946 $31
M-16 rifle used in Vietnam $150
Perhaps even more frightening than the rising cost of weapons is the dangerously increasing destructive power of modern weapons.
The Era of Overkill In ancient warfare, generally one man could only kill one other man with a single effort. With the introduction of gunpowder and cannons one man could dispatch several of the enemy. When machine guns, bombs and high-powered artillery became available, the destructive power at one's beck and call increased mightily.
Then came our modern age with nuclear power, poison gas, chemical and biological warfare. Now one man's decision can annihilate entire cities — and could cause a chain reaction of events to annihilate all life!
Today we talk about "overkill." That is BOTH the United States and the Soviet Union have enough weaponry and atomic power to annihilate each other many times over.
The fear of better weapons being developed by the "enemy," QUALITATIVELY, as well as quantitatively, drives each nation onward in its never-ceasing search. Better means of delivery (what a sickeningly appropriate word), with better trajectory, better and more efficient warning systems; the search for anti-missile missiles, and anti-anti-missile missiles, and anti-anti-anti-missile missiles and anti-anti-anti-anti-missile missiles, and... all this goes on and on.
A deer hunter, armed with high-powered, scope-sighted rifle, has little use for a machine gun. But nations, armed to their nuclear teeth with a panorama of weaponry to give an imaginative "Mars" a blinding headache, continue to build, and store for future use, terribly potent arms.
It is said that by 1975, the present American stockpile of 4,600 strategic nuclear warheads could reach a total of 11,000.
By comparison, the Soviet Union currently has 2,000 strategic nuclear warheads. But according to the survey of one authoritative institution for strategic studies: "The more disturbing aspect of current research and development programs is qualitative rather than quantitative."
If Nuclear War Comes The Soviet Union, it is said, with new long-range missiles, new submarines and new strategic bombers under development, is going to become the dominant nuclear power in the years ahead — unless. Unless the U.S. speeds up its own research and development to "stay ahead" in the arms race. Otherwise, it is feared, the U.S. will forfeit the arms race to the Soviet Union.
This question might seem academic to some, since present nuclear strength and wipeout capability is awesome to behold — from either side. It is estimated by the U.S. defense department that if the 50 largest cities in the United States were hit, approximately 86 million Americans would be killed. That is 42 percent of the U.S. population. Such a nuclear attack would also kill the majority of professional people — doctors, lawyers, architects, scientists, political leaders.
Such a staggering blow to the nation is inconceivable, apocalyptic. To live in an age where such calculations are made is inconceivable. Still, these quickly read, meaningless "numbers" portray at least a sketchy, hastily forgotten idea of the very probable toll should nuclear war be joined.
That the nation could survive such a destructive horror is purely conjectural, since the massive fallout, resultant pollution, disruption of all major communications, power sources, and nerve centers for a modern, technologically oriented society would be destroyed. No human imagination can appropriately envision 86 million deaths in an instant, any more than the men aboard the Enola Gay could do more than gasp with macabre fascination as they saw the monstrous cloud unfolding itself into the skies — unable to comprehend the bits and pieces of the cloud had been human; and human habitation.
But the clinically correct words go on.
About 55 percent of the U.S. industrial capacity would be destroyed.
If the Soviet Union were attacked it would lose 48 million of its citizens — about 20 percent of its population. At the same time, about 40 percent of Soviet industrial capacity would be wiped out.
Whether either nation would recover biologically, psychologically or otherwise is an entirely different question. Some scientists feel neither could.
Nevertheless, the cry from both sides — the Soviet Union and the U.S. — is "Our strategic arms advantage is evaporating." "We're losing the arms race."
Back in 1953, the U.S. clearly had the vast edge in military power over the Soviet Union. The late President Kennedy told the Russians to "Get out of Cuba — or else." The "or else," presumably, meant America would use the power she possessed. The Russians were clearly intimidated. At the time one Soviet negotiator was heard as saying, "This is the last time you Americans will be able to do this to us."
So the Soviet Union herself stepped up the race to build up her nuclear armaments. Today, part of her arsenal includes at least 300 (total late 1970) SS-9 missiles. The cost of each missile is nearly 30 million dollars in its silo. Each missile carries a 25-megaton warhead.
Also, the Soviet Y-class nuclear submarines may outnumber the U.S. Polaris force by 1973-74.
Alternatives in the Nuclear Age What is the U.S. to do? Experts see only the following alternatives. The U.S. must aggressively push its own research and development — accelerating the arms race. Otherwise she must take second place in a world of war where nuclear blackmail by the Soviet Union would ultimately reduce all nations — including the U.S. — to vassal states.
A third alternative was spelled out by a Pentagon planner. When two nations are headed for what appears certain conflict, the weaker nation must STRIKE FIRST to offset the greater power of the enemy.
With weapons of humanity-destroying magnitude, this makes our world filled with terror and danger.
There is, of course, a fourth possibility. Nations should simply learn to live in peace. All should subscribe to an impartial world government capable of solving national grudges, mistrusts and problems. This fourth way has never been tried by the governments of this earth. Today, it would be considered an impractical, fool's policy inviting disaster.
The first three alternatives, all representative of mistrustful, hostile, hating human nature, are insane.
Still, the madness goes on.
Overkill is not enough. The ability to kill fifty worlds is not enough. Each nation continues its demoniacal dance of death, committed to a never-ending spiral of weapons-making, constantly attempting to counterbalance each new weapon created by the other.
Currently, at least 10 tons of explosives, using the TNT equivalent, are stockpiled for each person on earth. Each of us, numbering more than 3.6 billion, may now contemplate the tons of explosives waiting, quiescently, impersonally, ominously, for their intended use.
It has been pointed out, time and again, that weapons have never been designed and produced which have not been used.
The nuclear stockpile of the world, according to the most conservative estimates, is already equivalent to 50,000 megatons (MILLIONS of tons) of TNT. That's 50 BILLION TONS of explosive force — or an overkill factor of 14 for every man, woman and child on the earth.
One scientist, Dr. Linus Pauling, estimated that there were 500,000 megatons of TNT in the world nuclear stockpile, averaging out to 150 tons for every person on earth — a theoretical overkill of 150 times!
But what's "overkill?"
Can you MORE than kill someone?
From 10 tons to 150 tons of TNT is reserved just for you, and for each of your own loved ones, and for everybody else, and for all of their loved ones. Does more than a few ounces or so make any real difference?
Eager New Nuclear Nations At least three major nations other than the Soviet Union and the United States possess the bomb. Britain, France, and Red China are in the business of manufacturing fissionable material. Another seven nations, Canada, India, Israel, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, West Germany, could produce nuclear weapons in a very short time. Another FORTY nations, in addition to the "big five" of the nuclear age, have nuclear reactors, whose immediate by-product is plutonium — essential ingredient for a nuclear bomb.
By 1980, the present non-nuclear nations of the world will be producing sufficient plutonium to build about 100 small atom bombs each week.
Soon, then, the nuclear nightmare will take on ever more imagination-defying proportions, until the world, notwithstanding the presence or absence of life elsewhere, could represent a threat almost large enough to challenge a huge, exploding star.
The mindlessness of all this, the stupidity of pursuing endlessly a course which can only end in apocalyptic horror, is more than bestial. For beasts exercise, among their instincts, the strong drive for self-preservation. Man's devilish death march defies even that most basic of instincts — shrugging off the very meaning of human life.
For all our calls for peace — we diligently, eagerly pursue the business of war, or revel in the technology that directly results from such pursuit.
But nuclear power is only one of the several methods for Cosmocidal madness. Botulinus, a biological agent, if equally dispersed via the jet streams, ocean currents, or in strategic areas on earth, could wipe out all humanity in six short hours.
By using only 10 aircraft, if they successfully arrived over target areas, an enemy could kill or incapacitate thirty percent of the American population with biological warfare agents. One fourth of one ounce of a particular virus could infect every man, woman and child in the British Isles.
Then, there is the biological time bomb — population versus insufficient foods, with resultant disease epidemics in the offing. Then there is the specter of famine, and of dread plague, and of earthquake, fire, typhoon, flood, and storm. The elements around us rage with indignant groaning at the madness of mankind. Our world groans — it reels drunkenly along an uncertain, insane course, talking artificially of peace, and smacking its lips in expectancy at each new technologically oriented artifice which results from the search for the more horrible war.
Now, it's time to seek God. Only God can save this world now — save it from itself — from insane, even accidental, destruction. O God, save us from ourselves; save us from our smoke-choked, filthy, stifling cities; from our chemically poisoned, sadly depleted, artificially fed farms; from our stench-ridden, sludge-filled, polluted lakes and rivers; from our sterile, computerized, dehumanized, death-searching society; from our hatreds, jealousies, and greed; from our bigotry, prejudice and egotistical defiance; save us from each other.
Save us from ourselves.
... Meanwhile With a faint sigh of escaping bubbles, the long black shape slid almost soundlessly beneath the swells, its nose swiftly nudging bits of oil sludge, filmy slick, and unseen chemicals among the flotsam and jetsam of the offshore ocean. Frightened, the wide-eyed little fish darted away, jerking with effort as its mercury-laden body shuddered with unnamed strain.
The captain sighed, snapped scope handles up, and tiredly issued the same orders of four days previously, when he had made the same precise turn in the same quadrant of ocean, maintaining the same speed, with the big, threatening, bottle-like missiles pointed in computerized memory at San Francisco.
A hundred miles away, maintaining 12,000 feet, the big patrol bomber droned along, its crew routinely scanning their radar screens, sipping black coffee.
Near Albuquerque, the Colonel was again listening to the magazine reports, including three carloads of new arrivals, now "safely" tucked away into their underground vaults. He sported a new cast on his left ankle, testimony to an icy slope and a bad fall at Taos. The bent door had been fixed during his brief absence.
At Norad, the routine business of instant global communication went on — if with more precision and alertness — spurred on, now, by the public outcries, and threatening congressional investigations.
The submarine lurched gently, bringing sudden tension to the eyes of the captain and crew alike. Quickly questioning orders brought reports from all sectors. "Mild collision." "No damage aft." "Engines operating normally." "All secure."
It must have been one of the California Gray Whales, migrating southward through these shallower waters.
The big gray gasped, its giant, barnacle-encrusted body heaving more rapidly, now, through the dark Pacific water, its trips to the surface for air coming oftener. Ahead, the dimly sensed shoals told of the bleak beaches of the channel island. The gray struggled into the shallows, throwing itself ponderously into the surf, to lay shapelessly, sides gently heaving, on the surf-pounded sand.
In the hazy, early morning, the shrill, raucous cry of the gulls told of the find. The first gull landed, standing beside the sightlessly staring eye.