by Dalton McGee
Pay attention to the story. There is more than meets the eyes.
Faces start to blend together. That's all I've learned. Voices, too. Voices also start to blend together. That's all I've learned.
I shift positions in my chair as a light turns on across the street, and as the snow falls and distorts my view, a woman walks through her apartment. I pick up the binoculars I purchased last week for this and adjust the focus the best I can and watch her as she picks up a copy of what I believe is the Washington Post. I watch her carefully and purposefully as she maneuvers throughout the rooms of her home. Her movements become translucent as I try forgetting who she is and focus on what is at hand.
Walking through my apartment I notice an odd smell. I can’t locate the source. So instead I sit down on the couch. I set a newspaper on a table next to my couch. The television remote won’t respond. I have to get up to turn on the TV. The news comes on. And it has the typical information: murder, murder, murder, sandy wars, which is murder, murder, gas prices, and murder. It seems that nothing else happens in this city... even in my life. I pick up and open my computer. I check my email. I notice an email from Distolsky, Liam. I click the blank subject:
This must not be brought to the attention of anyone who is not involved. You know who to finish with.
Our pawn is being put into place.
After watching and looking for her, she reappears in the window and flashes a light that is barely visible through the snow. I take this as my cue to exit and meet up with Marron in her apartment.
“Ready?” I ask her.
“My job is already done. Are you ready?”
“I don’t know about all this.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean I don’t know if I can go through with this.”
Marron tells me of the email but I sense that there is more to it than I think. Don’t let anyone else in on this. I’ve known that since the beginning. Marron and I look at each other. I hear a sound. There is a familiar smell in this apartment.
I head outside and I see headlights barely glimmering in the thick white, and when it pulls up I only see a sliver of a face and it tells me to get inside.
I pull around the corner and the sedan slides a little in the increasing snow, but I soon gain control and pull up to a small apartment complex. Our man, Humphrey, is standing outside waiting for me, smoking a cigarette quietly and anxiously. He looks nervous and slightly dilapidated. The sedan pulls up and slides to a stop.
“Get in, son.” He gets in.
“Is everything ready, Rane?” He asks me.
“Liam is working on it right now.”
The sedan pulls away. We are headed toward a run-down garage on the lower end of town near the Potomac. The heavy snow cover makes it hard to see what is going on around us, but we all know the truth.
“Are you prepared?” I ask Humphrey.
“I don’t know.”
“Well, you better know pretty goddamn soon, son. This must happen perfectly. Any glitch in your performance might mean a cancelled operation and He will not appreciate that.”
“I know, but I don’t know if I can ki…”
“You better not botch this, son.” The young man looks at me disinterestedly then peers back out the window. I hope that the snow fall covers our tracks. After some clever and cautious maneuvering we arrive at our destination and enter the garage-turned-headquarters.
A young, frigid man and an older, worked, tiresome looking one walk into the garage as I am loading the rest of the Remform into the white van.
“A white van?” the younger man asks awkwardly.
“Son, it’s snowing out,” replies the older one.
“Oh…” quietly mutters the younger, “You guys…”
“Yes?” interrupts the older one looking sternly into those fearful eyes. The boy swallows and doesn’t finish his sentence. We both know that the kid isn’t ready for this kind of work, but he is the one that was chosen by the others and he is the one who is going to be involved. I look out the few windows that speckle the walls on this building and you can’t see anything outside. The snow is falling, covering our tracks.
“Is the Remform ready for deployment?” questions the older one. I nod.
“Well, let’s get going, then,” he pauses and thinks for a moment, “Son, you are driving.”
“No, I don’t want…”
Interruption: “But, you are.” He motions to the car parked in the mostly vacant room. “Get in.” He and I get in the back seat making sure the equipment isn’t disturbed by the shaking of the van and the possible loss-of-control that could happen. “Drive well, boy. This situation is delicate, and vital to His over-all plan.”
“I know, Rane, I know.”
“Good,” is the only word out of his mouth. The young man pulls the van out of the garage and into the haze.
I walk out of my apartment and across the road into his building. The doorman lets me in with a greeting of “Good evening, Ms. Baroczki, Mr. Martin is out.”
I respond: “Yes, I know, I am just going to put these papers in his room.”
“Yes, of course, ma’am.”
I leave the side of the doorman. I head over to the elevator and head up to Humphrey’s apartment. I use my key and enter the room. I leave a plethora of papers scattered around an already disorganized desk in his office. These, along with the radical readings assorted throughout his home will be more than enough. I leave and head toward my apartment, but don’t go in.
He says into his phone: “We’re in control of situation, sir. We’ll be there momentarily.” When he hangs up the phone, Liam remarks to Rane about how the little visibility is a blessing in disguise. Rane nods.
We pull up to the Capitol building where Congress has been called into special session by the president regarding the war overseas and the necessary steps that need to be taken. Liam directs me around the side of the building to a point on the building that is the most hidden from view and I park the van and we begin to unload the Remform. We each have two duffle bags full.
“Son, are you sure you are ready for this?” Rane asks.
“I really don’t think so,” I respond.
“You know there is no turning back now, right?”
“I don’t know if I can handle this, Rane.”
“You better damn well handle it professionally or it’ll be your ass.”
“…” I don’t respond to this. What can he do to me that is worse than what my past hides and worse than my, my conscious concerning the information that I possess on what I am doing. I try not to think about it and the snow distorts all.
“You all know what to do, right?” Rane says as he checks the inside of his suit to make sure that his badge is there. Liam and I both nod. “Good. Let’s go.”
The steps of the Capitol are difficult to traverse due to the heavy snow and I almost fall several times heading up the stairs, but we eventually make it to the top and walk inside. We walk up to the security guards, but they don’t look at us suspiciously at all, and Liam flashes his badge and Rane his.
“He’s with us,” referring to me, “Presidential Orders.” Rane hands the guards a document that I don’t see and the guards only give me a slight glance and we walk through the metal detectors. They don’t go off. The dogs stationed with the guards don’t bark. This distinct form of plastique is imperceptible, I suppose, even to the highly sensitive olfactory glands of a dog. undetectable. We make our way to the basement of the building right below the congressional chambers.
I fight with it and fight with it, over and over, in my head, but in the end I go ahead with the mission. No matter if I try to stop this from happening (and even if I succeed), some other act will take its place until His mission is in motion. So:
I aid in the plantation of the explosives under the two chambers where the House and Senate are holding their sessions. We work carefully and exactly, putting everything into place as says the plans that Liam has laid out. Everything goes into place, on the support beams, on the weak spots in the wall, everything is prepared correctly.
My mind wanders into ambiguity and I can’t help but second-guess myself again and again, then I ask this to Rane:
“Are you sure about this?” I hesitate, breathe heavily. “Won’t you take the fall for this? Won’t you get some kind of prison time? Capital punishment? I don’t know! Anything?
“Imprisonment? I’m above that,” he responds, “Son, are you aware that after this, it won’t matter?”
My mind spurs into a frenzy of deliberation: “No. I can’t do this shit, Rane!” I finally scream, “Liam?” Liam doesn’t say anything. All three of us just stand and stare at each other. Liam is calm and Rane is calm. And because of that, though I really can’t go through with the mission, I am calm. We’re all calm. I close my eyes and cannot think, cannot move, cannot breathe, I just stand, clear-headed until Rane tells us that everything is set and we head upstairs
I left when they told me to. Where are the guards? As I walk out the doors of the Capitol I can see him getting to a white van and leaving. Were there not more? Palakon said more were involved. It doesn’t matter. I run across the road and head toward a nearby parking lot where my car is parked. I think I hear someone behind me, but cannot see. I don’t worry about the cameras. They’ll all be destroyed in the blast. I can’t tell anyone. They’ll put the blame on me. We’ll be hidden away they told me. This is not the way it was supposed to be. But I found out about it and I can’t tell anyone. They said they’d kill my love. I can’t let that happen to him. As I run, I change my mind.
No, I can’t let this happen. I have to warn everyone. I am near my car, but I turn around. I see a white van pulling up to me.
“Where are you going, Senator?” he asks me.
“I can’t let all these people die.” I say.
“You have to. It’s for him.”
“But so many people are going to die. Important people.”
“You’re right,” he tells me, “they’re important to the cause.”
“I thought there were more. He told me there would be more.”
“Nevermind that,” he responds, “Get in your car and drive away.”
I get into my car and the van pulls away into the haze. I act like I am going to drive away, but I get out of my car. It’s hard to make out where I am running, but I begin to run as fast as I can back to the capitol. As I run I hear a slight noise. My body is knocked off course and I fall into the snow. I cover my jaw with my hand. A person walks up; I cannot see him. The snow is too heavy. He puts a gun in my free hand. I try to shoot at him, but the clip is empty. All I can see is a white van for only a few seconds before if fades into the cloud.
I run out of the Capitol and head toward the van. Liam and Rane are a couple of steps in front of me. When we get into the van, Rane tells me to pull away from the Capitol as inconspicuously as possible. To be slow. To be silent. I look over and see a congressman running across the street and Rane tells me:
My car broke down on North Carolina Avenue and I can’t find anyone. Maybe someone is at the Capitol and can call a tow truck for me. I think I see someone running across the road from the Capitol and yell to him, but he keeps running and fades into the distance. It’s so hard to see anything. I make my way up the stairs. I enter the building, but I can’t find any guards. Where are the guards? Doesn’t this building usually have guards?
“Hello?” I yell quietly at first and when no one responds I yell a little louder, and make my way into the eerily silent building. I pass through one of the metal detectors and it goes off, but no one is around. Where are the guards?
I walk around for what seems like an hour until I find an office. I walk in unannounced and a woman is sitting at a computer in front of a wall with a door and lettering that has a familiar name on it. The woman looks up.
“The senator is not in right now, do you have an appointment?”
“No, I just was looking for some one to-” A blast goes off, ripping the walls from around us and fire penetrates the room and we are both knocked into the air. We land heavily. My head is against a part of the wall that is left. I lie in the corner bleeding and I look down to see that my left leg is barely there the whole left side of my body is burnt terribly. I cannot feel most of my soon-to-be corpse. The vision in my left eye is gone and when I reach up to touch it, I feel a vacant space where my eye was only moments ago. I throw up on myself at the fingering of the blood and juices secreting from my socket. I lie in a stupor for a moment until I get my bearings and try my best to get a look at my surroundings. I reach toward my stomach because I feel sick again, and then I realize that there is a spot missing where my left leg was and all there is now is a pool of blood, bone, and sinew. There is a terribly smell in the air and don’t think I can hold on much longer.
The woman was thrown into the bookcase that was to her left. Her left arm is compound fractured and barely hanging on. A couple of her ribs have popped out and she has suffered a gushing head wound that expelled what looks like the protective fluid around the brain. It seeps out slowly with blood. This will probably lead to her death, if she is not already dead. Her right leg looks broken and all that is left of her right hand is smoldering, bloody stump. I fall over on my side due to lack of energy and lack of body control. I throw up again from the stench of burning flesh and my earlier vomit which is now intermingled with my blood and other fluids. I look over but cannot see what is left.
“Yes, sir. The mission was a success so far. …Yes. …He should be able to without a congress to intervene. …Yes, I also believe the several members of the Court were there. …Soon as we can. …He’ll be dealt with momentarily. … Yes, sir. …Goodnight.” He hangs up the phone and I am thrown from the van.
I, and several other officers pull up to the Capitol as black sedans and SUVs arrive. The scene is terrible. There is a terrible stench in the air. Bodies are strewn everywhere. Everything is gone. We try to help the people who are still alive. Upstairs we find a secretary who is mortally wounded. She has a several broken ribs and a missing hand. There are books everywhere, some are on fire, some just burnt. We find another person, a man, lying on the ground in a corner. He’s missing a leg and an eye. The paramedics put a sheet over his body and take it out. The woman is still alive, however, but probably not for much longer. The paramedics do what they can, which isn’t much: an air mask, some braces, and gauze.
My radio fuzzes in and out, “We have two suspects apprehended. Repeat: Two suspects have been apprehended. One is being taken to the hospital for wounds and one is being taken to the station for interrogation.”
I look into the sky as snow falls into the building. It’s difficult to see very far outside.
“I already told you what I know, and what happened,” I forcefully tell the officer interrogating me, but then a man comes into the room with some papers.
The interrogating officer and the other man speak for a moment, and the other man leaves. The interrogating officer, I just now catch his name off of the name tag, Officer Percepisca.
He stands looking at some papers.
“Of all the names you gave us, only one person seems to exist,” he tells me, “and that person is believed dead. In fact she was killed tonight, in what seems to be a similarly-fashioned explosion.”
“And who might that be?” I ask the officer out of plain curiosity because it doesn’t really matter anymore.
He tells me that is was Marron Baroczki and I am astounded. “Those fuckers killed her, too?” I say under my breath, completely astonished at how far they have gone.
“Ah, yes, these mythical agents Rane Corley and Liam Distolsky.” The officer doesn’t believe me. I sit down. “Well, it seems that ‘they’, Mr. Martin, also killed about thirty-five more people in the apartment complex that she lived in,” he pauses“Did they ‘know’ something that you didn’t want leaked?”
“It wasn’t my planning!”
“Whose was it, then?” he asks sarcastically.
I don’t say anything for a few moments and then ask the officer what the documents he has are.
“These, Mr. Martin, are copies of documents retrieved from your apartment that directly link you to, not only this explosion, but seem to spell out other targets you were planning on bombing…” he waits a moment before adding, “you sick fuck.”
I am done talking. I can’t believe I didn’t see this coming. The officer walks out the door and as the door closes I see a sliver of a face staring in at me. I close my eyes and cannot believe that I didn’t see any of this off in the distance.