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Thursday, September 10, 2015
Disturbance At The Reagan Museum - Part 2: The Writing On The Wall
Read Part 1 here.)
September 10, 2015
The first night passed uneventfully. On the second, they began to find the messages.
humility and fear
Lisa Styles found these words written in neat blocky letters - small and large capitals - on the wall of an emergency stairwell. The writer had used some kind of charcoal substance. Lisa was certain she had not seen the message when she'd passed hours earlier. She called Henry Talbot.
"Get a photo," he said when he arrived. "Document everything."
"Maintenance will probably clean it up first thing in the morning."
"I wonder how many times they clean up something like this."
"What are we trying to do here?" she asked him.
He didn't have an answer.
Later that evening the two of them discovered an intense burning scent that lasted for a few moments before dissipating.
"It's not a cigarette," he was making a statement to ask a question.
"No," she answered. "It's too... sharp. Too intense for that."
"Something's happening," he said. "Something's happening all around us." She noticed that as he spoke these words, Henry's jaw was slack with loss and confusion. He had an unfocused look for a moment. And Henry Talbot winced and touched his chest. His collarbone had once been injured, and it still pained him sometimes. She'd guessed that awhile ago, but he never talked about it.
It hurts him when he's scared, she thought. And while all this happened, they stood in front of the suit Reagan had worn while giving a speech at the Brandenburg Gate.
"An empty suit," he said. It took a second for her to realize he was making a joke. Henry was trying to recover, to look like he wasn't shaken.
An hour after all this, one of the audio-visual booths switched on for several seconds, showing a black and white image of an outdoor plain; empty of people and buildings, it was covered by sparse grass and rocks.
"I couldn't identify where it was, but I've seen it before. I've actually seen the place," Henry told Lisa later. Lisa Styles had not seen the phenomenon herself, and she studied Henry's face, which made him turn away. He wasn't able to get a photo, he told her.
They spent the rest of their shift in silent patrols.
"Did you hear that?" Henry asked her later. It was early in the morning, just as they were leaving. She was exhausted, and he had to ask her again.
"I... I don't know what you're talking about."
"There," he said.
"No." She hadn't heard it.
He acted like it was nothing, just a mistake. They said goodbye in the parking lot and drove off separately. But Henry Talbot had caught a single word, whispered to him just on the edge of hearing. He was not certain what it was, but it may have been:
Something's happening, he thought as he drove. Something's happening all around. His chest pained him again, and he thought of his friend Andrew Roth, and the terrible circumstances of the man's death. When he got to his room, he pulled blackout curtains closed against the cruel and brilliant daylight. He tried to lose himself in sleep. He tried not to hear that familiar voice again.
Read Part 3 - Mask of Command