A third snippet from my summer's writing project.
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This wasn't Charlie's first rodeo, so the activation of the security protocol wasn't the cause of some huge adrenalin dump like the new agents on his team were exhibiting. Just another day at the office, he thought, even though 'the office' in this case was the White House. Counting this new guy, this was Charlie Randolf's fourth administration as part of the Secret Service presidential protection detail.
Despite the pageantry and hype, Presidents were only human, of course. They all react and overreact to different things in their own way. For only being in 'the big chair' for a few months, this guy wasn't taking it too bad. He knew them by name, didn't treat them like wait staff, and almost always followed their advice on protective matters, which was nice.
This fellow was a Senator from back west, a decent enough dude, Charlie thought, who waited his turn in line until he was his party's inevitable nominee. The fact that the new First Lady was easy on the eyes and a former Miss Colorado didn't hurt, either.
This was the first Secret Service security incident for the President, though, and he had looked a bit pale when he was bum-rushed by the evac team through the White House.
That being said, it wasn't every day that the heavy weaponry and armor was busted out. Some of the junior members of the team, and most of the younger Marines, were still pretty tense and on-edge. Charlie just suited up, met his team at the response point outside the conference room, and kept his muzzle trained on the elevator doors. Just another day at the office.
After a half-hour of waiting, Charlie, his partner Tim Martling, and the rest of his response team received the all-clear signal. Martling gave a radio acknowledgment, and the conference room doors behind them unbolted, their thick steel locking pins pulling back with a half-greased shriek from their sockets in the reinforced frame.
The two dozen generals, cabinet members, and other staff members and advisers all emerged from the bunker, some popping antacids, other rubbing their temples, their faces a uniform shade of haunted gray. Charlie Randolf had seen some meetings go bad, but this one must have been pretty serious. The satellite feeds on the walls confirmed his suspicions. Screens with rapidly escalating counters were titled "Initial Casualty Estimates," and the numbers were already in the millions. Charlie was careful to not be caught gawking at the screens.
The president was still seated in the room, his elbows on the table, his head in his hands. Mr. Portsmouth stood behind him, his finger tracing across the screen of a tablet, scanning through some breaking news or some other report. The displays in the room were full of maps of Texas. There were rings around the Dallas area. Big, broad, red and black rings, some solid in color, others shaded or striped, like ripples in a pond of toxic paint. Shit. That can't be good.
Randolf turned to his team mate who was busy undoing his assault vest and packing it away in a large black response bag.
"Hey, Martling, aren't you a Dallas Mavericks fan?"
"Not any more, you aren't. Look at that shit in there, but don't get caught."
Martling handed his rifle off to the junior member of the team, Ramirez, to return to the armory. He zipped his gear away and stood up, slinging the heavy duffel bag over his shoulder. He scanned the screens in the briefing room for a second, then pulled back when Portsmouth looked up, frowning, from his tablet.
"Damn. My wife's got people down there. Well, fuck it. The Mavs have a rebuilding year ahead of them, I guess."
"Yeah, you ain't bullshittin', there. Dallas. Vaporized, man. Wow."
"Who do they think did it? Russians? Chinese? Home-growns?"
"Damned if I know. They were talking about some experiment that went sideways when the doors first shut. That must have been one earth-shattering kaboom. Maybe it was Marvin the Martian from the Bugs Bunny cartoons."
"Man, you and your fuckin' cartoons, man. Just, please, don't do the voice again. You suck at it."
Charlie Randolf did his best impersonation of an extraterrestrial looking for his missing PU-426 Modulator. Martling's unkind assessment of his talents proved true: it didn't come off so well.
There was a shout from the inside of the armored briefing room. Randolf and Martling bolted back in to the room, their hands unsnapping the holster releases for their pistols. The president was on the phone, his back turned to them. Portsmouth had dropped his tablet, and was pointing at the two of them.
"Agents, get on the horn. Get the National Security Council back in here. There are survivors in and around the dead zone, and something's not right. Hurry up."
"What do you mean, 'something's not right?' 'Something's not right' that there are survivors, or there's something wrong with the survivors?"
Chief Of Staff Sherman Portsmouth's mouth became a grim line, and his normal, cheerful disposition disappeared. "Agent Martling, I don't have time to explain, so do me a favor, shut the fuck up, and call it in. Charlie, get them back in here, and you and your team post up at the elevators again. Break out your gear."
Martling slipped his response bag off his shoulder as he pulled out his radio. He looked at Charlie Randolf with annoyance.
"Well, shit. You armor up while I cover the door, and then you do me. At least we go into overtime in a couple hours."
"Yup," Charlie said, as he pulled his vest back over his head. He winked at Martling as he secured the snaps of the load-bearing gear.
Martling caught the look, and said, “Don't say it.”
Charlie grinned, and said, “Just another day at the office!”
“Dammit, Charlie, I hate when you say that. Ramirez! Get back here with those rifles!"
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