Sleeping Giants Page 36

—What’s the cover story?

—There is no cover story. He is going to tell them exactly what they saw.

—You mean he’s gonna tell the world that aliens left giant robot parts on Earth thousands of years ago, and that we’ve been secretly assembling them in an underground base, all in the hopes of keeping it to ourselves?

—He will probably want to reformulate the last part, but if you turn on CNN at 3:00 P.M., that is more or less what you will hear.

—He’s completely lost his mind.

—He seemed coherent enough when I met him this morning.

—He’s gonna sound like a goddamn lunatic!

—Seventy-two hours ago, a giant robotic figure, about twenty stories tall, was seen by just about every living soul on this planet after it created a half-mile-wide perfectly spherical crater, obliterating part of Denver International Airport. What would you suggest? Routine military exercise? Weather balloons? I should also point out that the leaders of several countries already know that we did not build it ourselves since we had to steal the pieces from them.

—He’s going to end his political career.

—He is trying to prevent World War III.

—Do you really think the other governments are just gonna say: “Oh! It’s an alien thing! Never mind, then. Carry on!”?

—They will have questions, I have no doubt. They will want reassurances. But they will also have to come to terms with the idea that we are not alone in the universe. The president is hoping that realization is enough to bring everyone to some sort of agreement.

—OK, so we tell the Russians, the Chinese, the French government. Why go the extra mile and tell the whole world? Don’t you think the population might react, let’s say, unfavorably to aliens and a giant government conspiracy to boot?

—I do not believe the election is foremost in his mind at this juncture.

—I wasn’t suggesting he might lose votes. I was thinking of something more along the lines of mass hysteria.

—That will not happen. People have been sufficiently desensitized.


—Desensitized. Made less sensitive. People have seen too many alien movies to be completely shocked by their existence. You expose someone to something long enough and they become…desensitized.

—We’re talking about the real McCoy here, not some guy in a rubber suit on television.

—It does not matter. You train your soldiers to kill using video games. They blow enough people up on their computer and it becomes easier for them to kill with a real weapon. Why do you think your government funds so many war and terrorism movies? Hollywood does your dirty work for you. Had 9/11 happened twenty years earlier, the country would have been in chaos, but people have seen enough bad things on their television screen to prepare them for just about anything. We do not really need to talk about government conspiracies.

—So what’s he gonna do?

—My understanding is that he will offer a compromise.

—Are you willing to share that thing? If they can’t have it, I don’t think they’ll let us keep it either.

—That is what I meant by a compromise.

—So we’ll share it with them.

—Not exactly.

—Then what? We’ll just get rid of it?


—Seems a little stupid to violate every international treaty we signed, get a bunch of people killed, only to destroy the very thing we were trying to get. You’d be willing to do that?

—I would not.

—Didn’t think so.

—In any event, I am not entirely certain that we could. Destroy it, I mean.

—So what then?

—My suggestion to the president was to drop it in the Puerto Rico Trench.

—Where is that?

—Near Puerto Rico…

—Very funny.

—It is the deepest part of the Atlantic, about five miles deep.

—Could we get it back?

—Not at the present. That is the idea.

—You mean we couldn’t reach it if we wanted to?

—We probably could. There are deep-sea vehicles capable of reaching these depths. James Cameron went 6.8 miles deep in a one-man submarine.

—The filmmaker?

—Yes, but “one,” “man,” and “submarine” were the important words. These are very small crafts, incapable of bringing back up anything that massive, even in pieces. We could reach it, but we could not bring it back. It is a solution drastic enough to meet the demands of our current predicament, but it is not a permanent solution. Someday, soon, new technology will exist, and we can revisit the situation.


—You are atypically silent, my dear Robert.

—You know what? I don’t believe you. You had me for a moment, but you’re not the type to give up on something so big so easily. No pun intended.

—Dr. Franklin is dead. Over three hundred people died in Denver, and we are on the brink of a global conflict. Easily is not the first word that comes to mind.

—See, I think you’re an arrogant, self-absorbed son of a bitch, but you’re also a cold, calculated son of a bitch. You’re the kind of guy who has backup plans for his backup plans. I don’t believe for a second that you’d walk into something that big without a plan B.

—That is enough compliments for one day. I do have a plan B. Drop the parts in the Puerto Rico Trench and fetch them back in a few years when we are able to.

—I forgot to mention, I don’t think patience is one of your best qualities, but whatever you say. Obviously, you wouldn’t tell me if you had a plan. What will you do with your team, what’s left of it anyway?

—They will go back to their lives. Chief Resnik is already flying missions out of Lewis-McChord.

—Wasn’t she grounded? Her file says she has a bad eye.

—You should take another look.

—You falsified her personnel file?

—I did no such thing. Everything that was in her file is still there. Someone may, however, have gone slightly overboard with the black marker while redacting it.

—How very nice of you. I didn’t peg you as a romantic.

—I did not say that I did anything. I said “someone” may have. However, I find it more productive to keep my promises. We may need her in the future, and I would not want her holding a grudge.

—What about the French kid? I mean French Canadian…You know what I mean.

—Mr. Couture, unfortunately, is on his own.

—Not so romantic after all, I guess. After everything he did for you, you’re gonna send him back home?

—It was his choice. I offered him counseling. I called in a few favors and found him employment at DARPA. He declined both. He is not in the best state of mind.

—You think? Where is he now?

—Probably over the Great Lakes. His flight left at ten o’clock this morning.

FILE NO. 229


Location: Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington State

—How long has it been, Ms. Resnik?

—Since we last met, or since Dr. Franklin died?

—Would not the answer be the same?

—Pretty much. And I’m sure you know the answer better than I do.

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