A little more writin'.
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“What the hell do you mean, 'it's all gone?'”
“I mean, Mr. President, that the D.F.W. area is no longer there. Gone. We've confirmed it. We've even moved one of our new recon satellites over the area. The whole place is wiped off the map. From Denton to Waco, everything is gone, or burning.”
The tall man from Colorado was incredulous. It was only his fourth month on the job, and the new streaks of gray in his hair were a testament to the burden of the presidency.
“You mean, like scooped out? Like a giant crater?”
“No, Mr. President. The new particle supercollider in Waxahachie was going to come online today and run its first series of experiments. Your office was going to issue a statement congratulating them on the start-up effort--”
The President bolted up in his chair. “Well, Jesus, Sherman, we haven't put that out, yet, have we?”
“No, Mr. President. I'm on it,” the president's chief of staff said, his hand brushing his mustache as he looked over the preliminary reports coming from Texas. “As I was saying, sir, the greater part of the Dallas area is burned away to nothing. Everything around the supercollider is a charred cinder for miles in every direction, except for an anomalous area in the center of the blast. We're looking into that now.”
The president held his head in his hands. “Jesus Christ, Sherman...Dallas is gone. Just...gone. Gone? Really?”
“Really, Mr. President. I've called the National Security Council. They're assembling downstairs in the secure conference room,” said Sherman Portsmouth.
“Any leads as to the cause? Anyone claiming responsibility?”
“None at this time, sir. This is all just coming in now, so the picture isn't exactly complete, yet. The scheduled start of the experiment was slated for about 35 minutes ago. I've issued orders on your behalf to immediately stop work at the other particle accelerators at our national labs and others at private and state universities. We should also get our science folks to talk to the CERN supercollider people about shutting down.”
The president took a hard swallow from the glass of water on his desk, and said, “That sounds like a good plan, Sherman. Good job. Let's go with that.”
“Yes, sir. Now, we should be heading to the ready room.”
The president held up his hand for a moment, and said, “Wait, Sherm, you said there was something strange in the middle of the burn area. What's there now?”
“Perhaps we should move to the ready room, Mr. President. We'll have a clearer assessment of the situation there.”
The leader of the free world blinked, nodded his head, and straightened his tie as he walked out of the executive office.
The president and his chief of staff made their way though the winding office mazes and wide public hallways of the White House. An agent was on every corner, looking towards the next guarded intersection or corridor for clearance, then bidding them come forward.
His normal security detail was double in number, and the hallways were clear of their normal governmental bustle. After they entered the conference room, the small cloud of Marines and Secret Service agents, all armored, all wearing rifles or submachineguns, closed the doors behind them, weapons pointed towards the sealed-off elevators.
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