led Alec to the old storage room adjacent to Monty’s office.
Mounds of military communications gear were strewn about in
Against one wall, a portable computer desk that sported a
strange device that looked like an old Teletype machine was
winking and blinking in an impressive display of technological
importance. General Gomez was sitting stiffly at a small table
in the center of the room. Floating over the table in magnetic suspension was an apparatus
that looked like a combined
spotlight, microphone, and camera. The general waved Alec to
the empty chair.
on the Omnivore 90 image to stop it or start it.
"Well, …umm…Mr. Booner…Alec
is it? Well, I understand that you were the one to first report
seeing an alleged phenomena on the patio." Alec nodded.
"So then, why don’t you tell me in your own words just
what you think you saw, right from the very start. Everything
you say will be recorded," the general said waving vaguely
at the apparatus overhead. "That’s an Omnivore 90…like
a camera, only more. We’re talking 90 frames a second here
Alec. Got three of ‘em running right now watching the…umm…intrusion,"
the general said casually. "Now, umm…just tell me what you
think you saw."
hesitation, Alec described the encounter from the moment he
started watching the sphere gliding in for a landing. The general
listened intently and flashed her too-bright smile whenever Alec
added details or his own interpretations.
this has been so extremely helpful, Alec." the general
pronounced when Alec had finished his account. "Now, just
one more thing and then you can go home for the night. If anyone
asks you about the affairs here today, you just tell them…umm,
you are a witness in a…government matter...you are cooperating with us in an urgent investigation. Isn’t
that so?" the general oozed as a glint of light flashed on
a shiny military insignia that Alec judged to be just about at
the apex of her ample, left breast.
nodded into the daze from the hovering halogen illumination.
the general grinned. Now, just this simple form here," she
murmured as a large document suddenly was pushed across the
table at him. "Basically, Alec, this…umm…form just says
that you are now covered by our Witness Protection Program. You
promise not to talk about these events that you just described
to me with anyone except Mr. Sturm, your employer. We are
talking the highest levels of national security here, Alec, and
I think you understand the importance of…umm… containing…
ummm…keeping this all confidential for the time being."
if I were to just have a slip of the tongue and say something by
accident to somebody, maybe my parents say?" Alec pressed.
that would be very serious," the glittering mouth across
the table said. "We might have to…umm, yes, quarantine
you or take you to court on espionage charges. You see, Alec,
what we might have here is an utterly pernicious and insidious attack,
or prelude of attack, from one of our country’s many
enemies. Probably a new techno-terrorist group…we’re
following up the leads fast on this. Right now, my brain boys
think it’s an…umm…intermediated cyber intrusion. They tell
me that as soon as we figure out how to disintermediate it, the
damn thing will disintegrate into harmless photons."
Suddenly, the general pounded her fist loudly on the table.
"We’re talking, Alec, about a Code One Delta Orange
situation here. Do you understand kid?"
about to say that he really was not a kid and that he really did
not understand because the creature seemed friendly to him, but
General Gomez suddenly leaned across the table and bore down on
him. "You will cooperate, won’t you Alec? Just sign this
little agreement that you won’t blab about government secrets.
Then you’ll be on your way."
will give me a copy of this with my signature on it, yes?"
Alec asked firmly.
course. Now just sign. I have a conference with the president in
ten minutes, so we have to wrap this up now. OK?"