Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Illuminoimia Ch 7: True Names

In 1975 Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson published The Illuminatus! Trilogy. It remains a seminal work of conspiracy fiction. Today, The Omnivore continues a serial-fiction experiment: Illuminoimia. 

Everything You're Afraid Of Is True.

On the night of the Benghazi attack, someone in the White House tries to do damage control. She has a name you'd probably recognize.
Previously On Illuminoimia

Why  2013 Might Be 1984

Washington DC September 11th 2012 3:00 AM (The Day Of The Benghazi Attacks)

Evergreen sat in her chair looking bleary-eyed at the scrolling information on the monitor. It was a complete fucking disaster--and it was in her lap. She sat back: she’d ordered the stand-down and it had stuck: a military relief effort would not be sent to the Diplomatic Compound in Benghazi.

There would be time for the terrorists to escape. There would be time for them to sterilize the annex so that The Package’s existence would not be discovered. If she could prevent the press from realizing it was a terrorist-based attack for several days--until the election at least--that would be enough to satisfy Them.

She got up, caught a glimpse of her now iconic frown in a framed picture and looked tiredly at the door. The night wasn’t over yet: she still had to do battle with Renegade … to get his attention to deploy the Recovery Team. And she would have to get on the horn with Javelin.

She picked up the phone. It was red … she’d asked for it that way. It was a traditional handset and it resided in a locked desk drawer in the Secretary of State’s desk. The wood desk had been reinforced with an infrastructure of ASTM A 416 steel and a  Medco3 high security lock backed up by a Samsung ENCO electronic keypad. It wouldn’t do to have it compromised.

In the desk was a cell phone as well. It was a Walmart special and it had been paid for with cash. She opened the back of the phone (irritably hard) and inserted the battery. When it came up, she punched in a number from memory, and sent a text. It was a time-code two minutes into the future.

She waited. A response: 20. She glowered. Twenty minutes. Well, she could use some coffee. She turned the phone off and removed the battery. It was done. There were a stack of those in the drawer. They’d last until November 5th at which point she wouldn’t need them anymore.

Twenty minutes later she extracted the red telephone from her drawer and sat it on the desk. She dialed her 10-digit code.

The unit encrypted her voice in its tamper-proof internals and then transmitted them through the White House communications satellite and completed the call to Javelin’s equally encrypted mobile. He was in his campaign van somewhere out there in the dark country known as the United States of America.

He also sounded tired when he answered.

“Javelin,” she said, “What are you hearing?”

“Embassy overrun in Egypt. Embassy burned in Libya--somewhere--rumor that someone’s dead?” the man said. “It doesn’t look too good for your boy. They’re going to be all over this.” She knew the man relished it--even if … well, what difference did it make?

There had better, Evergreen thought, be several people dead.

“I want you to issue a press release,” she said. “Hit Renegade for ‘sympathy with Muslims.’ Say it’s disgraceful.”

There was silence. Then: “Wha--at?” Javelin couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Go after POTUS with American blood spilled? On the 9/11 anniversary!?  Are you--” he didn’t swear--he never swore--that was one of the reasons Evergreen despised him--”Are you serious?”

“As a heart-attack,” Evergreen said. It was both an old saying but in this context it could be an implied threat: she had access to teams with so-called heart-attack guns. Of course they were all civilized human beings: if Eagle was still drawing breath she wouldn’t kill Javelin--but it didn’t hurt to make the point. After all, that fat video leaker rabble rouser was dead as a donut, wasn’t he?

“You want me to--” he still couldn’t get his head around it. “You have to be kidding me. Are you trying to humiliate me, woman?” His stress was on humiliate--but she knew it really resided with woman.

Evergreen felt cold. It was a kind of internal fury that had guided her through her climb--and broken obstacles--and made even serious people get the hell out of her way. Now she burned with it. That little fucker out in the desert on the run with her weapon? He was fucking everything up. She would kill him--no. She would do worse. It was all business and reputation now.

But Javelin … well, he still needed a more personal touch.

“Let me tell you something,” she said, “about humiliation.” The way she said it--Javelin shut up and listened. “For you,” she said, her voice icy, “this is your first real time at the rodeo. For me? It’s the second and you know what They did the first time? Do you want to hear this?”

“E-evergreen--” he almost used her real name. They didn’t. Not for security reasons--but because when they were all having these discussions they were Evergreen, Renegade, Javelin and whoever else was in the club.

“No,” she seethed. “Let me tell you.”

There were places where They took you. Some were very, very nice. Some were not so nice. Each place where you met and talked was full of imagery and pageantry--of pomp and circumstance and symbols and sigils. When you entered you knew the men and (maybe) women who breathed the air in these places were more than you. The architecture itself pressed down on you and made you small. They gave you awe. They fed you terror.

They had sat her down and she had waited. And waited--on the couch, in a building like a cathedral, surrounded by Egyptian treasures taken from a tomb ages ago before the modern era--from a tomb which made Tutankhamen's look like an unmarked Pauper’s grave. She sat on a couch until she had to pee and that was when they came in to talk to her.

It was 1997 and they were there to talk to her about Eagle’s second term--really, about her future. The man wore glasses which she thought was an affect: these people had the best medicine in the world: If it could be corrected, it would be. He had a suit which was the deadest black she had ever seen. It was a bespoke cut--it might be a bespoke unique fabric for all she knew. He had emerald cuff-links and a green tie of a material she thought might be spider silk by Hermes. His wristwatch was unique, she was sure--designed by an artisan specifically for him … like everything else in his life. And that was nothing--that was effortless.

He looked at her like a psychologist and she looked back with the look of a hare cornered by a wolf: it knows it may get eaten but looks up anyway as the beast comes down.

“Do you think,” he asked her, “you are ready?” She could tell in the question that the answer was ‘no’ and she felt flush in her cheeks--embarrassment. Shame. She clamped down on it as hard as she could: she would not give this … Thing … the satisfaction of seeing her pain.

“I am not, sir,” she said carefully. This was not a time to be forceful. They were speaking in one of their Puppet Theaters. She was their puppet: if she didn’t ‘Get It’ … they’d make sure she got it. She didn’t want it (she wasn’t even sure what it fully entailed but she knew enough that the idea of Their anger terrified her in ways nothing else could). “I am sorry.” and she looked down because she couldn’t do otherwise.

The man--the Thing--leaned forward and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. Would he--It--wash it later? She forced herself not to bristle or shrink back: that would not do. This was a test--a high-wire act--and there was no net. She looked up. Could she disguise her fear--from It?

“You are almost ready,” he said--his voice was sonorous. Resonant. “You will need more humility--but your time will come.” He smiled: encouraging.

“Humility?” She felt like a bird’s talon made of ice had closed on her heart. Didn’t he know about That Woman? What she had endured? What they had made her endure? Despite the sudden swelling pain in her chest she felt her pulse quicken. Could he mean this--could they want worse for her?

The vast ceiling overhead--the pillars gleaming bronze and marble with the inscriptions and symbols in them seemed to sway. The alcoves with the figures--the icons--the Doctor--the Skeleton--The Crocodile--The Devil--the Hangman--and near the the front--at the altar, of course, Mr. Punch and below him Judy holding her infant--seemed to sway. No. She must not lose it. There must be nothing to alarm It--him. She forced herself to blink and look up.

She forced herself to nod--’Oh--I see’ and meet his eyes as a hopefully promising student.

“I know it seems almost impossible,” he said. “I know how hard it has been. Your time, as I said, will come.” His hand rubbed her shoulder. GET IT OFF ME, her mind screamed. “You will ascend.”

He sat back.

“What do I do?” she asked. “Where do you want me?”

“There will be time off--there is another we have uses for. Then it will be a time that seems to be yours. The signs will be right. The people will be ready.” She nodded. One term? Two. Not so bad. She could wait.

“But it will not be your time,” he said. Sadly. “You will come close--but in the end you will work for him.”

For him. Oh, mercy.

“For who?” she asked. And here he looked … even sadder.

“He will be like a child. Intemperate. Arrogant. Not unintelligent--but a fool. You will carry him, Rodham. You will bare him as a child. You will clean up his messes. You will wipe his nose. You will see to his house.”

She shook her head. They could not mean this. No. No.

Behind his glasses, his eyes shone. His voice was drenched with sympathy. “You will wait and wait and suffer and seethe,” he said. “And then you will be ready. I am sorry. It has always been this way--it must be this way. It will be.”

He sat back and looked at her. His hands together, fingers intertwined.

She tasted ashes in her mouth. She made herself nod. These were places that sometimes people did not come back from. These were Their places in Their world. The altar at the front under stained glass windows with ancient designs on them that had become modern-day corporate logos was not just for show. There were sacrifices. Some were metaphorical. Some were not.

“I will,” she said. “As you say it.” She swallowed pain--swallowed tears. She would cry later and she would hate. Every. Drop.

Did he taste her despair? Her anger? Her pain? She imagined he did--that he sampled it behind those fake sad eyes and he enjoyed it: the Tears of the Girl Who Would Be President.

She sat there, her body aching from top to bottom--waiting to be dismissed. Someone else would send her directives. Someone else would tell her what to do. And she would do it.

Moments passed. And then he stood. “You may go,” he said gently. “I know how hard this has been for you--and I know how hard it will be,” he said. “You are stronger than you think.” He placed a hand on her shoulder and she walked--keeping her eyes off the pillars and archways: in the Puppet Theater they were all, ever-so-slightly off kilter. Looking at them for too long made you sick.

“Do you know what he wanted?” she asked Javelin--who had been silent--dumbstruck, she thought. “I think I’ve figured it out. Do you want to hear it? Why they made me do this? Why they made me do this with him?” She meant Renegade and Javelin knew it.

“No,” he said. His voice was hushed.

“To make sure,” she said tiredly, “That by the time I got it, it didn't matter to me anymore. To burn it out of me. To hollow me out.”

“I’ll send the press release,” Javelin said.

“Yes you will. Embargo it until I say.”

“Yes ma’am,” he said.

She hung up the phone. Wait until you see what I have cooked up for you in the second debate, she thought. They’d put this thing to bed--so long as she could recover that weapon and get things back on track. She didn't want to think of what would happen if They became concerned.

She set out down the hall: Renegade was probably sleeping off the drugs and girls. Maybe she should get Renaissance to wake him up, she thought. That’d serve him right. But she didn't. She was tired--and, when it came down to it, she wasn't quite that nasty.

List of Secret Service Code Names

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