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Atomic Marine Boy
February 13, 2017
by William P. Meyers

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A variety of confluences have pushed me into telling people tall tales about my family. Mostly I just enjoy the fact that both my parents are dead, and that I can get back at all the lies they told me when I was growing up. Sometimes adding emphasis by slightly exaggerating what I know about them and my other ancestors.

Perhaps it was starting watching the TV series Wayward Pines, starring Matt Dillon (and based on the novels by Blake Crouch). That is a show best watched without knowing the plot, so I'll just say, Things Are Not As They Seem.

Things were certainly not as they seemed when I was growing up. My father retired from the Marine Corps in 1961, and almost never talked about it. The family was run like the Marine Corps, at least at first, with the help of my mother, the only Woman Marine to kill a Japanese soldier during World War II. Here is her gravestone, at Arlington National Cemetery:


Before getting to my childhood memories and explanation of my superpowers, I'd like to mention that my mother hated being called Bessie. Also, her legal middle name was Juanita, which she also hated. Her preferred method of being addressed was Mrs. Captain William Meyers, USMC. No kidding. Mrs. Captain.

I thought I was a normal child, living in a normal family, at first.

I don't remember much of my life before my father left the Marine Corps, when I was six years old.

I have four unusual memories, or perhaps false memories, from the Marine Corps period. In addition to a few more normal memories. Two were recurring nightmares. In the first, I was walking a tightrope across an abyss, terrified I would fall. The second was that I was in a foxhole, in a battle zone, and a woman came up and cut my head off with a sword.

The third was that my mother locked me out of the house we lived in while my father was stationed in Japan, in a blizzard, which left me buried in snow. Then I just started radiating heat from my body, melting the snow around me, after which my mother finally unlocked the door to the house. It was not the only time she tried to kill me, and failed.

And fourth was a deeply buried memory, which I always thought was a dream, until I was told it was not. I was with my father and a bunch of other Marines. We get in a trench. Then there is a blinding light. Then my father is giving orders to his men, who start trotting, and he grabs my hand and I run with him behind them.

[There were also the Mysteries of the Scars, which I will treat elsewhere]

My father was a very silent man, but during one of my rare visits to see him, a few years before he died, he showed me some old documents. I am quite surprised he had kept them. They were from the Atomic Soldier program (not an official name; each "maneuver" had a code name), in which, from approximately 1948 to 1958, the government of the United States ordered soldiers (including Marines) to participate in atomic tests. Participation ranged from just viewing the explosions at a safe distance, to playing war games in which the soldiers charged (or marched) across the craters left by the explosion, or sometimes areas nearby. My father said he had been present at an explosion and, with his unit, crossed the resulting crater. The idea was you, say, wiped out part of the line of defense of North Korea, then charged through and attacked the rest of their line from their flanks or rear.

Anyway, at another visit he said my mother had a bunch of miscarriages before I was born. He had a picture of one that was not exactly a miscarriage. It looked like a science fiction space alien, sort of human, sort of wrong proportions on everything from the too-long arms to the forward-pointing ears. He said the hospital (run by the Navy) took it and said it had died. I asked my mother about the papers and photo after my father died, but she claimed to know nothing about them. Lying was PFC Bess Meyers' basic tool for dealing with life. That and a mean tongue and brutal fists.

So maybe I am not a mutant. Maybe my particular mix of mother's and father's genes is clean. But I like to think of an alternative reality in which Atomic Marine Boy has superhero powers. Not just the power to figure out the truth behind the facades of American propaganda and power, but the power to fight the forces of evil.

As a child I grew to enjoy science fiction, starting with C. S. Lewis's Out of This Silent Planet series, and then on to Philip K. Dick and all the rest. I used to try to write science fiction, but while I've had a reasonable amount of my writings published, and even been paid at times, I never sold a single science fiction story. Maybe an Atomic Marine Boy graphic novel, or TV screenplay, or even novel would finally let me break into that field.

Meanwhile, like I said on my Facebook page, on November 9, 2016 "Woke up in a Philip K. Dick novel. WTF? In this world there is a God, there is no global warming, and Donald Trump is in charge." Or maybe Steve Bannon is in charge.

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