Who's Watching the President
With Frank gone, Sara sat in the living room nursing the baby until she fell asleep in her arms. She looked at the oak furniture he had built and again at the walls of the house he had also built.
Through the doorway, she saw his gun room where he built and experimented with various bullets to find just the right shot for his rifles. It was a room she feared to go into before and which she feared even more now that he was gone.
That room was an addition Frank had put on the house years ago when he joined Delta Force. Since then, he had built five more rooms onto the house to accommodate the growing family she had given him.
She couldn’t help but think of how much she hated the Army and how often it separated them at the worst times. Growing season.
Harvest season. And worst of all, peach season. She thought of the way he returned home with a broken foot because some bum pilot dropped him into the trees too early, or failed to properly bandage his hand when gun power had exploded right by him in a live fire exercise two years earlier.
She had fled Baltimore as he had fled Washington, DC in the wake of the 1968 riots and pollution and the indecency of life in American cities in the last part of the Twentieth century.
They had bought land in the pristine mountains of West Virginia because that is where the land was the cheapest and the neighbors the farthest away.
All she wanted was to be left alone by the government that was so out of control. Now that same government had grown to communist-nation size, and had reached out and snatched her husband.
And now this. As she got up to put the baby away there was a loud knock on the door. Mrs. McKenna continued to put the baby in the crib and then opened the gun drawer to withdraw a .357 magnum Smith & Wesson. She checked the chamber to ensure it was fully loaded and walked to the door.
Who was out there at this hour was beyond knowing. Hopefully, just a city person whose car had broken down, but you were on your own if it was a criminal, so she cocked the lever of her gun.
“Mrs. McKenna, this is Colonel Watson. I’ve been assigned to ensure that you and your family are safe while your husband is away.”
She continued to hold the gun in her hand. “Then what unit is my husband with and where did he go.”
“The 10th. I’m not at liberty to tell you where he went. I can tell you he is safe at present. Your husband’s middle name is Joshua. His social security number is 199-37-9879. He has skin grafts from his burn...”
She put the gun with the Civil War era long rifle above the fireplace and opened the door. “I’m sorry Colonel. This is happening much faster than I can cope with.”
Colonel Watson stepped in and directed several of his men to points within the house. What he had failed to tell Mrs. McKenna was that the Pentagon officials who had survived the initial assault on their quarters were hunkered down over command, control and communications computers in the “Nirvana Vault.”
They were capable of using satellites to establish command post anywhere they chose. Sgt. McKenna’s orchard would do just fine, especially since so many of his unit had been dropped into that orchard over the years on training exercises and knew it well.
Colonel Watson liked what he had seen outside. The fruit packing sheds and cold storage rooms would provide excellent cover for his men and equipment. They would also provide generators, tools, fuel, food and other necessities until his main forces and supplied arrived.
In the current national horror, this peaceful orchard buried deep in West Virginia’s ancient Appalachian Mountains was ideal. Having served in Iraq and Afghanistan, Watson knew how to improvise in war.
“Mrs. McKenna, we’ll be as non intrusive as possible. We’ll try to respect you and your family’s privacy. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you and we’ll get it done.” He looked above the door to the note pinned there and knew he was dealing with a professional.
“We’re all family now, Colonel Watson. We’ll bury our dead men and women together, will we not?!” Mrs. McKenna turned and walked away.
Colonel Watson removed the envelope from above the door and read the note inside. It was coded but he knew the code so well after reading it for so many years he smiled. Sgt. McKenna had chosen Morris Code and some Navajo Code for greater safety.
Translated, it read as follows. “Whoever reads this knows what we are up against. I am to travel by pedestrian means and to blend into the civilian population of Washington, DC until the moment of attack. I am also to hook up with three other squadrons. I will be in contact -- both to check on my family -- and to appraise of current odds and realities when I can.
My cache of Nirvana contingency supplies is underneath the unused cabin south by southeast at 40° about one click from the sawmill. Backup and extra supplies, per orders, are to be found under the saw mill. Keep all of this completely transparent to my family by using the orchard entrance from the cabin and not the one from the saw mill.
We have to live here after you move on and I would appreciate you’re keeping that in mind as much as possible throughout this crisis. God give you strength and courage and say a prayer for me if you get time.”
Colonel Watson threw the coded message into the fireplace and smiled. Although he had never met Sgt. McKenna, he liked him already. He moved outside quickly into the activity that was overtaking this section of the orchard and barked an order to his frenetic men.
“Post haste to a location due south by following my lead. We’ve got lots of work to do before this night is over, and most of it will be underground. You are all on twenty hour shifts with four hours sleep until further notice. Anyone’s whose performance is less than perfect will be disciplined harshly. That said, I am to be notified of any problems and it will not count against you as long as you notify me early before it can affect mission readiness. Let’s move out.”
Behind Colonel Watson, the best America could offer were gathering up their gear, checking weapons and communications gear, and turning over engines. Like the bees that pollinated the twenty-four varieties of apple trees that were grown at the orchard, they each had a specific job that fit into a web of jobs that resulted in the success of the mission as long as they did their job by instinct.
Colonel Watson intended to ensure that all went by rote in his little bee hive. His worker bees did as well.