Location: The Global Watch Towers – Virginia
Meghan Castella stood behind the crew of camera and light engineers as they silently worked on minor adjustments to their equipment. The news anchor was John Buchanan, a young suave man with an ego bigger than the American wastelands. He delivered his headlines with confident clarity and barely a blip or a mispronounced word. John had always loved the stage, and it was evident in his performance tonight. He shifted expertly in his seat so the light caught his face at the right angles and smiled at the right cameras without being told. Despite all the apparent vanity surrounding him, Meghan still held a deep respect for him. He was a real journalist and she had met few who were braver. John rounded up his show and smiled at the cameras long enough for the ON AIR signal in front of him to go off. The smile simply went off with it.
Meghan walked around the camera men, just as John left the desk. He saw her and the real smile played on his face. It was laced with worry and stress. Nothing, not even the makeup used to accentuate his features, could hide the distress he felt. He ran a hand through his jet black short length hair, slightly disheveling it as he did. As she walked towards him, she couldn’t ignore his toned physique beneath the form fitting black suit he wore. He had a strong face with a leading man’s jaw and his blue eyes would have made him a Hollywood dream in another life. It was no wonder many young women swooned over him.
“Hey there.” John said, trying to sound as boisterous as he could. “I thought we were supposed to meet at Dunkin’s.”
Meghan held up the carton of donuts and the tray of steaming hot coffee she had brought with her.
“We could just have Dunkin’s in the back room.”
She flashed him the friendly smile that had won her the hearts of many around the world. Meghan Castella had a disarming beauty about her. She was not your typical super model hot kind of reporter. Her beauty was much more natural. Her blonde hair bordered on iridescent and her skin was always so full of color. She also had a physique any man would appreciate and it certainly helped that she carried herself with a certain unteachable poise. The smile put John at ease. Dunkin’s or the back room. Did it matter?
“Fine then. Why don’t you set up, and I’ll grab the reports.” John conceded.
Five minutes later, they were both seated in a small room with plain white walls, a single fluorescent bulb and air vents that let cold wafts of air cascade down on them intermittently. The box was already three donuts short. As John devoured his second helping of chocolate topped donuts, Meghan continued speaking.
“A Chinese monk named Jiang Li and the German Chancellor, dead by a shot to the head each. All the special agents assigned to protect them were killed as well, including an American… ”
“Dean Cradell.” John interrupted. “I knew the guy. Well… knew of him. Former special forces. These were very highly trained agents, Meg. My source in Berlin tells me the authorities suspect two attackers at most. One for the monk, and the other for the chancellor. The chancellor’s agents were taken out brutally when an explosion took out the Waldorf Astoria’s power. Three of the monk’s agents were killed by nano-bots designed to induce a violent heart attack. The last one? Silenced by a single head shot.”
Meghan leaned forward and took another Donut. She studied it for a while, with a faraway look in her eyes. John knew that look all too well. It was the look she gave when her mind went from walking leisurely to a full on sprint.
“There were eight special agents guarding the Chinese monk and the chancellor. You are telling me one man took out all four of them? Yet they make you report that it was a terrorist attack?” Meghan asked John.
“They make me?” John asked, clearly upset at the remark.
“C’mon John. Don’t play victim with me. I know you far too well and this isn’t you. You don’t tell the world lies.”
“What would you have had me do, Meg? The world is in chaos right now and the media is more manipulated now than at any time in history. Our lives are always on the line. Me, you, our colleagues? We can’t stand our ground and hope to be protected anymore. You do it the most, but you are loved and you’ve got protection… more so than the rest of us.”
“Don’t bring my husband into this.” Meghan snapped.
“I’m sorry, Meg. But you took shots at me knowing what the situation is. It is hard on me too.”
Meghan took a deep breath and a long gulp of her still fairly hot coffee.
“Refreshing?” John asked.
“Yeah.” She sighed. “Listen, John. I apologize. I just don’t understand why. Why go to such great lengths to hide the fact that it was an assassination. The terrorists use the same tactics they’ve used since the early 2000’s. They strap bombs unto themselves and blow up the innocent folk. They employ the most inhumane guerrilla tactics when the fight our forces. Yes they are trained, but their strength lies in their lack of moral inhibitions, and their kamikaze style. They aren’t known for operations as clean as this.”
“Ask the question, Meg.” John urged her.
“Did your source tell you who this Jiang Li was? Why did the German chancellor want to meet him and why such secrecy? Not us, not the British, the French or even the supposedly neutral Russians, knew about it. But someone knew.”
“Jiang Li was a forty-five year old Chinese monk who claimed to have psychic abilities. It’s not your X-men stuff though. His powers apparently came from years of intense meditation and practice. He could sense certain emotions that seeped from the consciousness of living things, into the space around them. He was also reported to display a limited form of precognition. In the company of more pressing news, he hardly turned any heads and most including myself, took him to be just another fraud.”
Meg sighed and bit into the donut she had been holding.
“I see. And now the only person who believed him is dead.”
“Yeah.” John concurred as he took a casual sip of his coffee, before studying the Styrofoam cup.
“Any guess on the assassin’s identity?” Meg asked, breaking the silence.
“None. Officially, it has been called a terrorist attack so no one is looking to the death bringers of the underworld. If I could take a guess though, I’d say it was the one they call Horus. Remember the New York Times did an article on him a few years back?”
“Yes. I also remember them calling it a myth.”
“Yeah. Listen, who cares, right? ‘Who killed the monk?’ ‘Who wanted the monk dead?’ It could be anyone. World War 4 is going on, remember? We are all just victims, one way or another.”
Meghan looked at John with mild surprise. She had never heard him sound so negative before. It was clear that the memory of the lies he had just been forced to spew on live TV was gnawing away at his conscience. Meghan sighed.
“Go home, John. Find a nice girl to warm your bed tonight and possibly clear your head.”
John laughed out loud. It was a hearty laugh and Meghan had to admit, it was good to see and hear.
“Is my love for women so obvious?” He asked.
“Almost as obvious as their love for your persona.” Meghan said as she got up.
John got up with her and they both smiled at each other.
“Listen,” John said as he handed a brown folder over to her “thanks for your suggestion. I just might take it up, but this is all I’ve got on Jiang Li. I chickened out, Meg. I did and I’m ashamed of it. Just take a look at it. You might see something I missed and… be careful, alright?”
Meghan took the folder and slid it into the black handbag she carried with her. It was a reporter’s handbag. They were always big enough to carry all sorts of things, including folders like the one he’d just handed her. Meghan looked at him and pulled him in for a hug. She pulled back and smiled.
Meghan nodded and let herself out of the room. The door shut behind her with a click, leaving John standing there alone. He sighed and looked at the half empty box of donuts. John shrugged and sat back down, grabbing another donut as he did.
The car pulled into the driveway of the house, just as the warning sirens signaled an incoming and potentially fatal weather phenomena, no doubt caused by the use of another nuclear weapon.
When will it stop!
The blast doors quickly slid down to close the garage the car had driven into. Meghan waited as the air from the garage was sucked out and replaced. Her car’s external sensors soon changed the ambient red light that illuminated her interior, to green. She quickly stepped out and made her way into the kitchen where her husband, Victor stood. He stopped mid pace and walked up to her.
“Darling, are you okay? I’ve been trying to reach you.”
The embrace was a firm, concerned one. Meghan buried her head in his chest. He smelled like Lavender. He always did and she loved him for it. It reminded her of a time long forgotten, before most of the flowers could no longer grow. It was natural and a sharp cry from the filtered air that always felt… too clean.
“I’m sorry love. I listened to the radio and heard about the radiated winds coming in. I got caught in the stream and it messed up my signal.”
She looked up at Victor’s face, which was still scrunched up in a ball of worry.
“Aww you big worry wart. Come here.”
A swift grab of his turtleneck sweater and a tug were all that was needed to pull his handsome chiseled face to hers. His medium length black hair was lined with more than a few streaks of grey, revealing his moderate advancement in years. Their kiss was interrupted by the sound of their house shuddering a little.
“I think this would be a good time to retreat to the bunker.” Victor said, smiling wryly. “We’ve got supplies down there and a stash of movies and music.” He added as though she needed any convincing to take the precautionary measures needed to preserve life.
“Could I possibly make use of the cable downstairs? You know the wireless doesn’t stand a chance of working now.”
The house shuddered again and they quickly made their way back into the garage. In front of the car Meghan had driven in, were blast doors in the ground. Meghan had been careful not to cover them with her car. Victor hit a button on the wall near the kitchen entrance, and the grey doors with industrial markings, began to slowly slide open. They made their way inside and the doors slid to a close above them.
“You are working tonight?” Victor asked.
The tinge of disappointment in his voice was not lost on Meghan.
“Yeah… unfortunately. I’ve got a couple of things I wanna research on. You know how this things go love.”
She caught another scent of lavender and whirled around into his embrace.
“I was hoping… we could have a little us time. We are going to be holed up in here for a while anyway.”
Meghan smiled. She really had wanted to get straight to work, besides she needed to do her research and see if she could find out more about him.
Us time could wait… but what would it hurt. I can research later and he’ll be fast asleep.
She pulled herself to her toes and kissed his strong neck sensuously. A soft groan escaped her husband’s mouth.
“I wouldn’t mind some us time, myself.” Meghan said, very softly.
The next few moments were a frenetic dance of kisses, fondling, groping and cloth pulling. One by one, each piece of their respective attires fell away to the floor. The accessories were dealt the same fate, as they clattered noisily to the ground beneath the two bodies set on fire. It was not long before Meghan felt Victor plunge into her depths and burrow into her like a hungry mole. She looked up at him as their bodies moved in rhythm and in passion. Her mind temporarily disconnected and she went back in time to a place long forgotten. Victor’s face was replaced by one so different and yet loved as well. In her heightened state of ecstasy, all she could focus on was the eyes. Those intense eyes that gave away so much passion. She looked up at Victor again. His eyes were closed.
She knew what was coming soon as she gripped him tighter within herself. The quicker the better. She had a lot of paperwork to sift through. She had to get to work soon. The sooner she could do that, the sooner she could stop thinking of him.
“Mi… My handsome Victor Castella.” She said as she crashed her pelvis upwards him.
Victor’s body shuddered and he let out another groan. One round down. One or two more to go. One or two more steps to her laptop.