Waking Gods Page 42

—It’s the end of the world.

—Very unfortunate.

—That’s better.

—If you allow me to focus this conversation on the problem at hand rather than on my personal shortcomings—

—By all means.

—When I said: “That is not true,” I was not refusing responsibility for our inability to act, I meant that there was something we could do. You are correct in stating that a permanent solution, if there is one, will come from Dr. Franklin and her team, but you and I should do what we can to give her some extra time.

—How do you suppose we do that?

—If we cannot stop the aliens from killing people, we can at the very least try to make the task more time-consuming.


—We could ask everyone living in large urban areas to find a less populated place of refuge.

—Every city in the world? Are you out of your goddamn mind?

—We could start with every city of over two million people.

—Have you looked out the window lately? There are forty-five thousand soldiers patrolling the streets of New York, twenty thousand police officers pulling sixteen-hour shifts. There’s looting, people are getting killed. They’re barely able to keep things under control, and that’s with us lying through our teeth telling them there’s nothing to worry about. What do you think’s gonna happen if we tell people they should leave? Besides, where would they go?

—Farmland, perhaps.

—They’re not ready for that. There’s no rural area in the world that can handle millions of refugees with no advance warning. There will be violence, sanitary issues, food shortages. Even if it worked, wouldn’t the places where people cluster become just as good a target for the aliens? If they can decimate a city in half an hour and move on to the next one instantaneously, I don’t think we’ll accomplish much by moving people around.

—I was not suggesting that a mass exodus from urban areas would go smoothly. Not everyone would be able to leave, and many would no doubt perish or be injured in the process. I also did not imply that the resulting communities would be sustainable. They would exist in a state of complete lawlessness, and those who do not die in the violence that ensues would soon face famine, drought, and disease. That said, they could survive for a few days. Should Dr. Franklin and her team come up with a means of disabling the alien robots during that time, it will mean this many more people left alive. If they are unable to find a solution within a few days, I do not believe we have to worry about anyone facing dehydration or food shortages. My point is simply that it will take longer for them to kill us all if they have to do it one hundred thousand at a time.

—OK, then. Let’s move some people around! I’ll get the UN to coordinate with governments. If we can get some NGOs involved, it might make things go a little easier.

—Very well. I will leave you to it.

—What are you gonna do?

—Dr. Franklin and Ms. Papantoniou are going over the data from the London survivors. I will see if I can be of service.

—What did you do with them? The survivors.

—They have been quarantined.

—Quarantined! I thought the whole point was that they weren’t sick.

—I cannot explain why they were unaffected. I felt it was safer to keep them isolated.

—Do you think they had anything to do with the attack?

—I do not believe they were directly involved. I am, however, absolutely convinced that their survival was not coincidental. These people were chosen, somehow, whether they are aware of it or not.


—I do not know. I have no hard evidence that they are anything but extremely lucky. However, I cannot help but think that they might not be entirely human.

—Not entirely human…Like that friend of yours you won’t tell us about?

—No, not quite. I believe my contact, despite never having actually stated that he is of alien descent, to be well aware of his extraterrestrial heritage. I would be surprised if these people were aware of anything. He is also…physically unique. I suspect his lineage leads fairly directly to the first aliens to descend upon us. The survivors—the ones I have had a chance to look at—seem perfectly normal. They do not show the same physiological peculiarities. They could be…distant cousins at best.

—Ever thought of just asking them?

—Unfortunately, I have.



FILE NO. 1580


Location: FBI Safe House #141, New York, NY

—STOP! Nooooo! AAAAAARRRRGGGHHH! Please stop! Please!

—Tell me why.

—My name is Jacob Lawson. I’m a reporter for the BBC. This is illegal. You can’t do this.

—Evidently, I can. Tell me why.

—I want my government to be notified. I wanna speak to a lawyer.

—Tell me why.

—Why what? I don’t fucking understand! NO! Stop! AAAAGGGGGGGHHHH!

—Tell me why.

—My name is Jacob Lawson. I’m a British citizen. Under the Vienna Convention, I ask that the British Consulate be notified of my…NO! No! No! AAAAGGGGGGGHHHH! STOP! Stop this! I can’t….Why are you doing this? I…AAAAGGGGGGGHHHH!

—Gentlemen, stop. Sir, take a moment to gather yourself. No one will hurt you now.

—Why are you doing this? I’ve done nothing wrong!

—Are you calm?

—I don’t know what I’m doing here. I want to speak to the person in charge.

—You should by now have little doubt as to who in this room is “in charge.” I asked if you were calm.

—Am I…Yes. I’m calm.

—Then, tell me why.


—It would seem really selfish to tell you how much I loathe these debriefings, given our respective situations, but I will tell you that I find your lack of cooperation disturbing. If it had not become such a cliché, I would tell you about the definition of insanity, but, in short, you should not expect the outcome to be any different if you keep refusing to answer. Again.


—Tell me why.


—Tell me why.


—Tell me why.


—He is not responding. Wash his face with cold water. Thank you. Now please apply the ointment on his fingertips, generously.

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