All the lights in were off. No candles were lit.
Bob Maith’s den was never this dark.
The only light came from the images of the unsettling footage of the devastation in Lower Manhattan flashing on FNN.
As Bob slouched on his sofa, and his right hand shook, tiny whiskey droplets innocently plummeted onto the armrest of his hundred-year-old black leather sofa.
The crevasses of the wrinkles on Bob’s face expanded like a fracturing fault line as he listened to the angry words disseminated by his favorite TV pundit.
“I will get fined by the Freedomian Communications Watchdog Unit for this, but I don’t care!” Mark Leonard, dressed in a gold suit with a loosened red tie, declared while demonstratively pointing at the camera. He appeared like he exited a sauna with the tomato pigmentation on his cheeks and the saturation on his face. “TO HELL WITH THOSE KNATS!” he screamed.
Bob did not react to the racist, offensive remark. The weight of the issues on his mind had rendered him numb. Usually, he mutters to himself under his breath. This time, his shouting matched the exasperation and decibel level of Leonard.
“What is it worth?!” Bob boomed, attempting to regain his posture as he came inches away from falling to the floor. Whiskey and ice flew out of his glass and on to the carpet as he pulled himself up. “The damn Jacobson deal fell through, Lonnie is ready to kill me, Jesse and my kids hate me, and my wife… ugh, who knows what’s going to happen! What else could go wrong today?! WHAT ELSE?!”
Soon, what was originally white noise filtering through Bob’s intoxicated head became a pattern of echoing.
“What is Project Miracle, exactly?!” Leonard shouted.
“I’ll tell you what it is!” Leonard and Bob shouted. “It’s the reason New Alaska attacked us! Not a vendetta!”
Bob added his own personal slurred commentary. “Damn right! It’s all… Project! No politician… would…”
“George Fetisov is a jealous little man!” Leonard shouted.
“He’s angry that our nation leads the world in economic prowess, technology and scientific advancement, and frankly…”
“DON’T FORGET EDUCATION!”
“… he has not accepted that the sacrifices Joshua Evans made are the reason he even has a country to oversee!”
“HE SHOULD BE GRATEFUL!”
Bob stood up from his seat, pointed his finger toward the television, and repeated Leonard’s impassioned plea: “HEY, NEW ALASKA! IF YOU WANT WAR, YOU’LL GET IT! AND YOU WILL REGRET EVER MESSING WITH US!”
And then, just as Bob regained his mental and physical equilibrium, his holophone rang.
He raced over to his desk and fumbled with the device as he attempted to answer the call. Trepidation filled his mind, and soberness enveloped the still-functional brain cells as he swiped the image in front of him.
“HELLO?!” Bob shouted.
“Yes, may I please speak with Mr. Robert Maith?” a gravelly voice spoke.
“Mr. Maith, my name is Dr. Elliott Schwarz from Endgame Memorial Hospital near Battery Park, Manhattan. It’s about your wife, Stacy. She is in critical condition in the ICU.”