“No. Jake bunks with three G.I.s and the girl is never out of Raoul’s sight. I’d invite her to a meal but our love-nest will be up in smoke in a few hours. Shaky as it may be, you and the boys lovingly slaved over it and I’ll miss it. Kiss me and go to sleep.”
` It was three twenty-nine when Clark, bleary-eyed, got into the Jeep and Penny made a screeching U-turn, growling, “Cutting it close, aren’t we?”
“Hey,” rasped Clark, his throat still sore. “Don’tcha wanna see the fireworks?”
` The jeep, about to fly down the paved road, screeched to a stop, made a u-turn, went back past the lot and up a rough track to the top of the hill. Better view, everyone saw, but Penny didn’t stop. She went bumping across to another hillock; not as high but further from the cottage. Facing the dome, she hit the ignition switch and turned to Clark.
“Okay, husband, your turn.”
“Can’t it wait? My head’s so full, I—okay, okay. Gimme a sec to get it organized.”
“Organized? We want it from page one, para one, with the bomber boy!”
“Yes, yes, of course, dear. Ahh . . . well, with his family in danger—you know he loved them, that’s why we went after them.”
“Not we,” cut in Penny, “I and captain Starkey.”
“Clark!” It was Anne. “Just tell us what Walker said so we can start first thing this morning to do some damage control!”
“Right,” echoed Richard. “You’re just like us, an old married couple.”
Chuckles all around with different meanings.
Clark sipped from a canteen and launched into it. “Damage con—never mind that, it’s been handled—that is, fingers crossed. Walker spilled the beans, the big can. Names, dates, weekly calls from phone booths, not just to and from my pals at the Pentagon but members of Congress—you’ll like this—from the beginning of your march, uh-huh.”
“Holy Moses,” wailed Penny, “he even helped me photocopy my notes. I thought we were on the same team. Sorry, love.”
Clark fixed her with a look of shock, faux of course. She said sorry again.
“Exactly. He was their mole, passing on most of your plans, but not, I think, the Prime Directive. So naturally they had to accept your invitation, Anne, and sit through every article. And pretend to object some, but can you imagine the stuff they withheld from sayin’? And, yes, dollin’, as we surmised, they are definitely planning a coup d’etat. Hell, they didn’t need half a company to come on in with choppers and arrest y’all before anybody—even the press—knew. What a brilliant idea it was, you postponing the press conference until tomorrow. Now the whole country will see and know their business.”
“Clark,” said Richard anxiously, “when are – or were they planning to bring in the troops and arrest us?”
“Tomorr—this morning, soon after the blasts. Anybody left alive, that is.”
Anne gasped, “The Press—I’ll have to tell them not to come.”
“No, no,” cried Richard, “let ‘em see the destruction. And yes, our boys took all their equipment out of the dome. It’s all with the troops’ tents and gear down by the stream. Oh, and no one was killed unless somebody asks. Let the world see how debased our government is—was!”
“Damn straight,” said Clark, “and it was gonna be pretty awful. Gas the commune, kill anyone left alive and bury the whole shebang with some radioactive waste. Ya know, keep anybody from snooping. Very well-planned, and not like us boobs, they kept it secret. I’ve mobilized as many aircraft as there are in the area – but not before they show up.”
“Damn them,” said Anne again. “It’s too—how can we—it’s less than two hours away from now! Richard, your beautiful commune!”
“My fault entirely,” said Clark. “I never pressed anybody to know how extensive the opposition was. Was it to preserve the status quo, or a power struggle, or just a refusal to accept the warnings by scientists? I asked Don. Probably all three, he said. Ambassadors and the top military brass spread all over, even overseas, were quietly recalled and are hunkered down inside the Pentagon, the civil servants at the Greenbriar Country Club in West Virginia. Plus some of the group that was here. It’s an old Washington hang-out, there’s even an underground bunker that’ll withstand a nuclear attack.
“The politicians held off the military’s plans to see if they could infiltrate and neutralize y’all peacefully, hence the large turn-out. Golly, was that only this morning? When they saw how committed you were, they gave it up and skedaddled. I’ve been on the horn with the few friends I’ve got left in the Pentagon. The situation isn’t good. Same feeling from the folks on The Hill I used to—lot of them women, by the way. So we’ve gone on the offensive and mobilized.”
“Clark!” from Richard. “We’ll give in before it comes to killing our own countrymen!”
“Sorry,” said Clark, “I’m used to military terms. We’re not about to kill anybody, at least, not if we can help it. We’ve mobilized our own people plus a brigade of grunts still in basic training at Quantico and Fort Meade and suited ‘em up in combat gear. By noon, once the Pentagon is fully occupied, we’ll surround it. That’s our offensive: a siege, no one in or out, and that includes communications. Your Lieut—excuse me, Captain Starkey, and his team will neutralize all phone and fax lines. There are fast food places inside, but they’ll run out pretty quick.