The President Of The United States

A small group of advisers had stationed themselves around the heavy oak desk where the president of the United States was seated. The desk was a gift to the White House from Queen Victoria and fashioned from the timbers of the historic British discovery vessel the H.M.S. Resolute. It was befitting – the President’s countenance was resolute this morning. The sunlight found its way through the large oval window at his back and fell on the west corner of the desk. Seated from his left to his right was Rupert Langford, the National Security Advisor, Adam Mendez, the new National Intelligence Director, and next to him was F.B.I. Director Dale Barker. Finally, to his far right, was the President’s personal friend and confidant, the White House Chief of Staff Theodore Clark. The President waited for Ted Clark to move his chair out of the glare of the sun and then spoke.

“What do we know, Ted?”

Clark cleared his throat, and then began without looking up from his notes. “At approximately seven-thirty a.m. this morning, Texas time, Houston experienced an explosion of such intensity that all communication from downtown was cut off.” His voice wavered slightly. “There is dust and debris above the city that can be seen for miles.”

The president braced a pencil eraser against the desktop and ran his fingers down the side of the pencil. “Have we authenticated this information…do we have facts?”

Clark continued, “The air force scrambled two F-16 jets from Cannon. They’re trying to put together a profile right now.” The president focused his attention on Adam Mendez.

“How did the Air Force get involved so soon?”

“The jets were scrambled on NORAD’s directive, sir. It’s procedure.”

“Is that all we know then?”

The National Intelligence Director was uneasy. He uncrossed his right leg and then crossed the left before he answered the question. “That’s all we know, right now anyway.”

The President pushed against the leather backing of his swivel chair in a relaxed posture. He slowly clasped his hands behind his head, attention trained on Mendez.

“Are we going to put the nation at high alert, Adam?”

“We are assessing whether or not this is a national security problem. We simply don’t have enough information to make that call this early.”

The President shifted his weight back toward the desk in Rupert Langford’s direction.

“I suggest we go high alert right now and worry about whether it’s appropriate later. Do you agree, Rupert?”

“Yes, Mr. President. I think it’s imperative.”

The President nodded at his ranking police officer. “Dale?”

“I agree.”

The president then pushed himself away from the desk and slowly walked around to the front, making his way through his seated company, resting his weight against the front of the hefty fixture. “My gut feeling is that this is a very serious situation and I want to be informed by the minute. Ted, we will use your office as a temporary operations room until we can get a handle on what’s happened. It’s expected of me to make some kind of statement as soon as possible.”

 

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