Ch. 7 excerpt


by Don



16 March 1970


The youngish looking man entered the room; he was in his early thirties, dark hair and bright eyes, smartly dressed in a dark blue suit and matching tie.  He strode over to his desk, the same way he had every day for the past three years.  When he reached his desk, he noted that not only were all personal effects gone, but everything had been removed from its surface, and the only thing left, seemingly placed carefully, in the exact center of his obsessively cleaned desk, was an eight by ten manila envelope.


Glancing around at his coworkers, he noticed that everyone seemed to be avoiding his gaze.  Fearing the worst, he opened the envelope quickly, and a simple type written note dropped onto his desk:


Mister Hargrave.  Proceed to the elevator located on the northwest corner of the building.  Proceed to sub level five.  After the elevator doors open, enter the following code on the bottom most button: 3-5-2, make sure to pause after each sequence and hit the “close door” button.   This has already been cleared through your supervisor, do not discuss this matter with anyone.  You will be expected at nine-fifteen, any later will not be acceptable.


Following the instructions as listed on the rather cryptic message, the young man quickly found himself staring into sub-level five, a vast room housing row upon row of reel to reel computer banks.  Though Hargrave had never been here personally, he knew the units stored colossal amounts of nationally sensitive material.  The air conditioning kept the room at extremely low temperatures, so low that he could see his breath crystallize before his face.  Feeling the cold creep into his body, despite the suit he wore, he quickly entered the instructed sequence, then pressed the “close door” button.


The elevator began a further decent.


For what seem like an eternally long time, the elevator continued to drop with the wall panel offering an occasional “ding” every so often to seemingly keep his mind company.  Hargrave thought it must be his imagination, but he could swear that it was getting warmer the further down the elevator dropped.  He pulled at his tie, slightly loosening the knot that seemed to suddenly constrict around his neck.


Finally, the elevator came to an abrupt stop.  The doors parted and before him lay a long brightly lit tunnel.  At the distant end of the tunnel, Hargrave spied a door.  Striding forward, he made his way to the only obvious point to the corridor, the rest of the passageway appearing to be drilled straight through solid rock with no breaks.  At last he reached the door, and quickly glanced at his watch; nine-fourteen.  Hargrave raised his hand to knock, but before his knuckles could strike the wood surface, a gravelly voice ordered him to come in.


The office Hargrave strode into was large, but it was dimly lit around the perimeter.  The only bright lights shown down on an immense, oak desk and an official seal that took up most of the wall behind it. Seated at the desk was a much older gentleman, dressed in gray suit and tie, who puffed on a pipe, as he read the papers that lay before him.  On the wall was a modified version of the Department of Justice seal, Qui Pro Domina Justitia Sequitur, super imposed over the seal of the President of the United States.


A plaque centered on the leading edge of the dark-wooden desk designated the man sitting there as being Director of Presidential Security.


In the few short years that Hargrave had served in the building on Constitution and Pennsylvania Avenues, the younger man was sure he had never heard of this particular division, or of sub-levels this far under the building. 


“Director,” the man in the blue suit stated.


“Hargrave,” The Director responded, calling him by his last name.  The Director stood, looked him in the eye, as he removed the pipe from his lips, and tapped it into an ashtray on the large desk.


“I have an assignment for you.  One that I have been told you’re ideally suited for.”  The Director indicated that Hargrave should take a seat with a sweep of his now empty pipe hand.


“Sir?”  Hargrave had done some entry-level fieldwork when he first signed up at the Justice Department, but since then he had essentially become a paper pusher.


“You served in the military accumulating quite a few honors.  You also served with some distinction in several covert operations,” the Director stated, in answer to the confused look on the younger man’s face.


“How sir, did –?”  Hargrave started.


“It’s my job to know these things.  Don’t worry about it Son, that’s why I asked for you.”  The Director moved around to the front of the desk, leaning his hip on the edge and facing Hargrave.  “Your ability to get the job done and to know when to keep quite about it.  Before you except you should know a bit more about what is expected of you.


“As a field agent for Presidential Security, nothing that happens here, is ever divulged to anyone in the outside world.  Once you accept being an agent, you’re an agent until you are, dismissed, promoted or killed.  If you don’t want this assignment, your access code will be changed and you will be given a cubical in another branch of the Justice Department where you can be watched, and returned to your life as a level three paper pusher.”


“Sir,” Hargrave sat a bit straighter, almost at attention his chair.  “What’s the assignment?”


“Good man.”  The Director reached behind him, grabbed a folder, and handed it to his new field agent.


The file folder was marked in red; “D.P.S. Eyes Only”, and under that, “Confidential/Secret”.


The new Presidential Security agent took the folder, opened it to the front page, and quickly read through it.


“Sir, I am not familiar with the Presidential Imperative,” Hargrave said, as he finished reading the typewritten page.


“The Presidential Imperative is an order issued by a President of the United States,” The Director explained.  “It is a standing order that cannot be countermanded and is never closed until the order is fulfilled, no matter if the President issuing the order is still in the office or for that matter deceased.”


“I don’t understand, sir,” Hargrave stated, not fully comprehending what the Director was implying.


“The President.  Any President.  Current or past who issues such an order does so only if he feels the situation could hold dire consequences for the United States and in some past cases the world itself.”


“Yes, sir,” the agent commented.  “And I assume I am to retrieve this item, designated as six-twelve?”


Hargrave removed a black and white photo from the folder.


The object on the photo reminded Hargrave of a pyramid.  The picture of the item itself seemed fuzzy and out of focus.  He could tell there were markings on the pyramid, but they were blurry and unreadable.  But what surprised him, was the background and the desk that the object was apparently sitting on was remarkably in focus.


“Poor photography,” Hargrave commented.


“Not at all,” The Director remarked.  “I was there when this picture was taken, several pictures in fact.  This was the best we could get for whatever reason.  This thing did not like having its picture taken.”


“You talk like this six-twelve was a living thing.”  Hargrave sounded a little shocked at the revelation.


“I’m not sure it isn’t in some way,” The Director admitted.  “That isn’t for us to decide, anymore.  We are to recover this object and see it destroyed by whatever means possible.”


“Not to be a smart-ass, sir, but why didn’t you destroy it when you had it before?”


“We tried,” The Director answered.  “Several times.  Then the damn thing disappeared.”

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