Sleeping Giants Page 35

—We got out of our controls and sat on the floor in the middle of the room. Kara wrapped her arms around me and helped me lie down. We held each other for…I don’t know, it seemed like hours, without saying a word. I must have fallen asleep. How did we get down?

—A Delta team took you down with a tower crane.

—It seemed like a long time…I’m so sorry. I’m so terribly sorry. We just…I thought you wanted us to move faster. I thought Rose did too, but she would never say it. I don’t…We lost everything, didn’t we? All our notes, everything…I don’t know what to say. I’ll find a way to make this right. We can fix this.

—I do not believe this, as you call it, can be fixed. We can only try to move forward from here.

—The helicopters. Is that gonna be a problem?

—Will it be the end of our project? I do not know. I know things will become…complicated.

—Now can I ask where we are?

—This is the base hospital at Fort Carson. You were flown here after they took you and Ms. Resnik out of the device.

—I don’t remember flying. I don’t remember anything after we lay down on the floor.

—They gave you a sedative. You were in shock. You became agitated when they tried to take you out of the sphere. They had to restrain you.

—Where’s Kara? I wanna see her. Is she OK?

—She is fine. She is in a room a few doors down, sleeping. She stayed by your side for a few hours, but she fell asleep in her chair. I found her a bed.

—A few hours? How long have I been here?

—About sixteen hours. It is almost dawn.

—Wow. Where’s Rose? Is she here too? She was…She…

—She was in the lab.

—In the lab? The lab is…No! She wasn’t there. She went to get more cinnamon buns. She said she would.

—She never left.

—No! No! She said she would get more cinnamon buns! She went to get some. She said she would get more for Kara. You see, Rose and I, we ate all the pastries. Kara was mad at us. Rose said she would go and get some more. She wasn’t in the lab.

—Mr. Couture…

—Rose, she…She cared about the little things. She cared about us. She made sure we knew we were appreciated. Every day. Little things, you know. Coffee, cake. She found some Kinder eggs somehow. She knew they reminded me of home. She would drop one at my station every now and then.

She could have left them in my locker, anywhere really, but she took time to take the elevator up to the sphere before I’d walk in, just because she thought it would make a better surprise. So, you see, she would have made sure Kara didn’t stay angry. She would have gone to get more pastry.

—Mr. Couture…

—She said…

—VINCENT!…She’s gone.

FILE NO. 211

INTERVIEW WITH ROBERT WOODHULL, ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR NATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS

Location: White House, Washington, DC

—I feel as though I have been summoned by the principal.

—The reports are in. I thought you’d like to know how much damage you’ve caused.

—It was an accident, admittedly a foreseeable one, but an accident nonetheless.

—Let’s talk infrastructure first. You have obliterated two buildings on Vandriver Street, just about half of Runway 17L-35R, as well as the east end of Concourse B. Fortunately, there were no planes leaving out of the east-end gates. They estimate the damage will be around 300 million.

—I am not very good with numbers. I assume this is a lot.

—How about this number, smart-ass: 311. That’s the number of people you killed.

—How could there be so many? You said there were no departures in the portion of Terminal B that was destroyed.

—There were only a few employees in the terminal: concession-stand workers, janitors, some ground crew on the tarmac just outside. Forty-two people in total, all of them Americans.

There was, however, an Icelandair Boeing 757 on the runway when it happened. I think it goes without saying that all on board have perished, since the plane itself doesn’t exist anymore…The flight was almost full, 193 passengers dead, 6 crew members. Most were Icelanders. Icelandic? Anyway. Eighteen were Americans.

There was also a Dash 8 taxiing to Terminal B, fifty-one dead. And you took out the tail end of a United Airbus 320, that’s another nineteen. They were lucky, only the last three rows of passengers were vaporized, along with one crew member.

Three hundred eleven people in total, three hundred twelve with your scientist. One hundred nineteen Americans, about two hundred Ice…people from Iceland, two dozen Canadians, and a few people from nine more countries whose governments are publicly blaming us—rightfully so, I might add—and demanding an explanation. Some of them will get over it, but you can definitely add Iceland to the list of countries that want bad things to happen to us.

—Do we really need Iceland on our side?

—Well, we need someone on our side.

—Perhaps.

—That’s it? One snide remark about Iceland? No expression of remorse, no apology, not one word about the people you killed?

—Could I erase 312 deaths with a few heartfelt words?…Then, no, I do not see the point.

—It might make you at least appear like a human being. In any case, you’re probably the only person on the planet who doesn’t want to talk about it.

There’s pretty much nothing else on television anywhere in the world. Strangely, most channels are going the human-interest route.

—Why is that so strange?

—Giant robot magically dematerializes everything for half a mile. I just thought…

—People will not understand that part. Crying mothers are accessible. I find it rather typical.

—Maybe you’re right. Heartbreaking stories though, you should hear some of them.

Husband surprised his wife and three kids with tickets to Paris for their anniversary. There is a fourteen-year-old girl in Memphis who will die in the next few hours because the heart she needed was on the Dash 8 that vanished. Lots of twin stories, both twins on the plane, one twin on the plane. There was a young couple, coming home from Thailand, with the daughter they’d been waiting for…

—You can stop. What are they saying about the robot?

—Anything and everything. Speculations range from a giant Mayan statue to…well, to pretty much what it really is, but everyone is completely baffled by whatever made that hole. The best explanation they came up with so far is some amazingly fast cover-up on our part. The press is suggesting we somehow got rid of all the debris from a large explosion, in less than ten minutes.

Regardless, we’re gonna have to come up with something. I’ll meet with the president this afternoon and figure out the best course of action.

—That will not be necessary. The president already knows what he will do.

—What are you talking about?

—He and I met this morning and we are in agreement.

—How dare you talk to the president without speaking to me first! I tell you what he wants, not the other way around.

—You can take it up with him if you want. He was not, in any way, obligated to talk to me.

—I will. As soon as this meeting’s over.

—That will not be possible, I am sorry to say. He is in New York, meeting with the Security Council. He will make a public announcement this afternoon.

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