Copyright (c) Victor Darnell Hadnot
"The DRB (Debt Reduction Bureau) was create by the President and approved by Congress, its sole mission is to reduce and eliminate both foreign and domestic debt." Senator Hessburg, Chairman of the DRB, testifying before the Ways and Means Committee
"I suppose anyone can be a spy. It doesn’t take much intelligence." Romkofskii
I’ve been with the DRB for seven years. We are the only agency, other than the Federal Reserve, that is authorized to print money. The power was given to us by Congress, with the mandate to eliminate all of the country’s debt. It all got started when the national debt topped a thousand trillion. I’m talking collectively. Not just the debt that is sported around on television, so that corrupt politicians can get elected, by making flashy sound bites against it. Oh, that game went on for awhile, until the public got wind of what was really going on. It was leaked through WikiLeaks, the poor bastard who put the information on the web site, was all but castrated. Hmm. Maybe his balls were cut off after all, I don’t remember? He simply disappeared. And the public, with its massive A.D.D. went on to some other flash subject in the media. There is a problem when all the media, the so called watchdog, is controlled, by the people feeding the dog.
My name is Danny Wilcox. I’m an agent with the Debt Reduction Bureau. There are two parts to the organization, paying off the country’s massive debt, by printing money, and making sure that the debt is real, before it is paid off. That is where my job comes in. I’m tasked with making sure that whom ever solicits for a debt to be paid off, that the debt is indeed real. As you might imagine, without the second part of the organization, things could get really abused. I mean, foreign or domestic entities, making claims that a debit is owed by the country, could get away with murder, financially if not figuratively. My job is to see to it that they don’t. I work with a partner, Agent Peach. She’s been with the organization as long as I have. We both were brought in from college. The director and Chairman, Senator Hessburg, wanted fresh blood. Basically, he didn’t trust anyone from any other agency, because we were tasked with paying off everything. Our goal was to bring the country from hell and back. And for seven years that is exactly what we have been doing. We went from a thousand trillion debt task, to zero debt, to a surplus, that was regulated and monitored. Alicia Peach was one of the best that the DRB had. She was loyal and serious about her job.
"I got something I want you to see." Her voice was quiet and with a sense of urgency.
I wanted to just go home to my empty apartment and cat. The cat would be pissed at me for not coming home on time and feeding him. "Can it wait until tomorrow?" I had already grabbed my overcoat and was starting out.
Alicia pushed a file in front of me. "I think we might have a problem."
I glanced at the file. "What is this? These figures can’t be right?"
Her big brown eyes widened. "That is what I’m trying to tell you. I think we have a mole in the bureau."
"Someone is siphoning funds to this account? But it would have been caught by the others in accounting and assurances."
"Not if there is more than one person involved."
"Oh. Come on. A conspiracy. Within the DRB? We are too new to have that kind of crap happening. I mean, just look at what we’ve done, in just seven short years. The country is operating in the black."
"Okay. If you think I’m wrong. I’ll file it and just forget about it. It probably is just an an anomaly anyway. I mean, all of us have been vetted a thousand times, we are all clean. Right?"
Alicia was right. We had all been vetted so many times, it was like our entire lives was out there, for the world to see. The director didn’t want any crap, that is why. The country had been headed off a cliff without a parachute. Economic suicide was what the Washington Post called it. Others. Just said that it was stupid. So. The DRB was created to undo the stupid stuff that the freaking fat cats on Wall Street had done to the nation, basically, economically raped the population. And like a serial rapist, when the people tried to complain about, they put the public on trial. All that aside, the problem at hand was a serious one. I’d known Alicia the whole time she’d been with the bureau. She and I were friends with benefits. Though, not always. I mean, neither of us would have a cow if we saw the other with someone else. Truth be told, that only meant that whatever we had going, was still flexible enough, so that there were little if no strings attached. That was great. For me. She tended to shift back and forth, I figured it was a chick thing. She really wanted distance at times, and I gave it to her. Just us being professional and stuff. But. Other times, she acted like she really cared about me. To be honest, I was the weak one in the relationship. I mean, Alicia was beyond hot. She had long thick black hair. I loved long black hair. I never understood what men saw in blondes? To me, black hair was a dominate genetic trait. That meant tons of things were going right. She had those wide, well rounded hips going for her. Oh. When I’d see her walk sometimes. It was like art. And those firm and full breasts. Not fake! The real deal. Wow. Oh. And her eyes. Those big moonful eyes. Brown. Another dominate trait I loved. Once, she I got to talking about having a family. We were just talking. Nothing serious. But. I could tell, she’d make some kid and swell mother. She’d make some lucky bastard a wonderful wife. Imagine, having a beautiful wife that can kick-ass at the same time? Heaven I tell you! Oh. And the woman was lethal with a gun. Man, could the woman shoot. So. I was more than pleased to have her as my partner. Out in the field, you have to know who has your back. But. Equally so, in the work environment. After all. This is Washington. Backstabbing is par for course.
The director looked over the file. "You told anyone about this?" Hessburg’ eyes glanced up, like, he didn’t want to hear that we had.
I shook my head as looked over at Alicia who was shaking her head too. "We decided to come to you before investigating any further. You know, just incase you wanted to control the flow."
Hessburg looked surprised. "Why? Because if something like this leaked out, the public would loose confidence in the bureau? Hell. I’m more worried about appropriations. We are all doing a good job right now. Never in the history of the nation, has it come back from the brink, in such a way."
Alicia said, "It should have never gotten that way in the first place."
Hessburg nodded in agreement. "Yes, you are right, Agent Peach. It shouldn’t. But. When you have the top one percent, controlling everything, crap happens. Lucky for the country, the President decided to do something courageous and right, for a change. She created the DRB and not a moment too soon. China was poised to own 80% of the nation. Now. They can’t do anything but talk crap."
"We got them paid off first." It was a wise move by the director. Because, of that alone, I knew we had a serious and honest leader. Rare in this Town.
Hessburg unlocked a bunch of computer files and handed us the thumbs. "This mess stays with the three of us. You have full authority to investigate this matter. No matter where it takes you. Do you understand?"
"Yes, sir" We doth said.
There was always a risk involved in running an investigation under the table. Basically if everything fails, you are the one that takes all the blame. I wasn’t sure if the director was just hedging his bets or was doing this because, he realized the seriousness of the situation. The problem with working in the field, is that you eventually become paranoid. Now. I’ll be the first to tell you that even paranoids have enemies, but, eventually, you do start seeing shadows, where there is no light. It was late in the night. I got a call from a more than upset Alicia. When I got to her apartment, I saw what she was upset about. Her flat had been turned upside down. Someone had just gone through everything. I did my best to let her know that she would be alright, but, even to an experienced agent like Alicia it was more than just a little disconcerting, having your privacy invaded. The question became, why? What were they looking for? Who were they? How did they find out where she lived, seeing that personnel files on the DRB are top secret? I helped her clean up, the best that I could. Some of her things, were damaged beyond fixing. Then there were the little things, you know, the stuff that represents memories, events, the like. They had either been broken, or, as Alicia put it, violated. It didn’t take much to understand what she must have been going through. I thought about how I’d feel, if my place were turned upside down. Hell. Would they harm my cat? Half the time that cat and I were at war. He’d do something to piss me off. Then. I’d do something to piss him off. It was how we were, our relationship, wasn’t that of master and pet. It was that of equals. I was as much his pet as he was mine. Hmm. Cats. Why a cat? Because cats are quiet. They don’t bark and they clean up after themselves, sometimes. So. In my line of work, having a pet to keep me company, it had to be independent. And he was. But. If anything were to happen to that pain in the ass, I’d probably fall apart. I know, a big guy like myself, getting all teary eyed over a dumb cat. Well. He wasn’t just any cat, he was my cat. So. In my own dumb ass way, I really felt for Alicia. I began to wonder how safe she was? I mean, you could dismiss this as a robbery but nothing was stolen, at least, that was what she told me. So. She was tossed by professionals, who, wanted to send her a clear message.
"I want to talk to the Watchdogs." She finally decided, after tidying up as much as possible.
I didn’t have a problem with looking into things with the three most geekiest people I knew. The Watchdogs ran an underground website, in which they perpetually investigated everything. Sometimes, they’d even get some of it right. That was how Alicia and I met them. When we were investigating a case, and those little bastards, caught on to us, as DRB agents. A nice piece of sleuthing, that gained Alicia and my respect. Two women geeks and one man, who was more geeky than all of them. What a motley crew.
"What are you thinking?" Alicia asked me as we entered the building that housed a ton of computers, a mega super computer system, and all the licorice and jelly beans a person could ever want. They liked importing their candy, so it was always very good.
"I’m thinking that maybe you should stay with me an Powow, until we get this all figured out. Just to be safe."
"Are you sure Powow will mine? You know how possessive he can be." She kind of smiled, and, I took that as a, yes, and a good thing, that she wasn’t letting the break in get to her.
We explained the events leading up to our arrival. Door Mouse was the fat woman’s pen name, the skinny woman’s name was Alice, and the man’s name was Mad Hatter.
Alice said, "You probably stumbled on to something that you were not suppose, too."
Mad Hatter shook his head. "You think? They trashed her home. What are you guys working on right now?"
Door Mouse raised a hand. "Stop. I’m not sure we want to know the answer to that. All we need is the same people, coming over here and trashing all our equipment." She was right. We didn’t have the right to get them involved in our problem. But then they surprised us. Mad Hatter showed us a screen. On it was the exact files and information that the director had handed over to us. Those cheeky little bastards, they were already working an angle, but, the information on the screen, some of it I’d never seen before. At first I wanted to know how they knew, then, they all started to act even more paranoid than usual. Finally, they admitted hacking into the DRB’s secure server. Alicia and I had known these guys for a good while, worked together on many small cases, with them. But. If any of what we were seeing was slightly true, this was a case that the Watchdogs might, indeed, want to stay away from. It wasn’t likely that the people after Alicia, and I had to assume, me as well. After all, she was my partner. You freak with her, you freak with me! We needed to gain some kind of perspective. I left the Watchdogs, with instructions to keep an even lower profile than they already were accustom. Not that I was too worried about someone trashing all their expensive equipment, they had booby traps and security all over the building. Plus, their main location, where we were, was an old abandoned fallout shelter, that they had long since, removed all existence, from the City Planning database. Hackers, you gotta love’em. After we all got coordinated, Alicia and I went to my flat. She was right, Powow has having a fit, at first, man, what a jealous cat. But. She was smart, she brought some of his favorite food, canned tuna. Oh. That was it. He was suddenly in love with her. I wasn’t sure how long she’d be staying, but, I could tell, that, me having her back made her feel more at ease. Though, she was too tough, or stubborn to admit it. Sleeping arrangements was easy. She’d been over before, as I’d been over to her place. It wasn’t like we’d never seen each other naked before. So. We both fell asleep on my bed, guns, cast to the side, just in case the unexpected happened. It didn’t, we got a good night’s sleep, with old Powow, next to us.
We had breakfast at a favorite local café that we often frequented. It wasn’t one of those cop hangouts. I hated those places. First of all, I didn’t consider myself a cop. I didn’t go around arresting people or making trouble for others. I was an investigator, my job was to look into things. Make sure that the people and companies, were on the up and up. If any arresting was to be done, it was done by someone else, other than myself. Plus, I really didn’t care for the police anyway. They were all a bunch of professional bullies. You talk about bullies in high school, well, where do you think cops come from? It wasn’t enough that they did crap in school, they had to get out into the real world, and spread that crap. Does it sound like I was bullied in school? Yes. I was. But. Unlike some, who seek to transfer that pain to others, I decided to learn from the experiences, and move on. All those television campaigns to end bullying in school. Those unnecessary suicides associated with bullying. And what does society do? They have professional bullies. Whatever. So. I didn’t like locking up people for a living. Some people will do anything to earn a buck. Some people had a conscience. I fell into the latter. Alicia and I ordered and settled into eating. As we went along, she started to act kind of funny. Uneasy. I asked her what was wrong and she quietly motioned to an area of people. She felt that she was being followed and watched. I was discrete, and managed to get a glimpse of the area. At first I didn’t notice anything. We were trained to notice things. But. At second glance, I too, felt that something wasn’t right. Were we being watched? And by whom? If the Watchdogs could hack into our files, who might else, have the information? We were going to have to do something about adding extra security to our servers. Right there. I called the office. Told them the situation. Also, happened to mention that our computers might have been compromised. I knew that, that would put a crimp in what the Watchdogs were doing, but, they were good enough to work around it. Besides, when they revealed what they had been up to, they had to have known, that either Alicia or myself, would inform the office. We continued to eat as if everything was just fine. You know, making small talk and occasionally a laugh or two.
"I don’t like this." Alicia finally gave in.
"Hold on," I told her. "We don’t know for a fact that we are being watched." That was stupid, because everyone in the country was being watched. Most, if not all of our guaranteed rights, had been trampled on, if not down right, violated. Go figure. We fought a war to put an end of that kind of thing, only, to find ourselves, becoming what we once stood against.
"Maybe we should go?" She really didn’t want to be there anymore. Was there something else wrong that she wasn’t telling me?
"We can go if you want. Maybe we should go back to the office?"
"Okay. We need to check in anyway." She openly looked over in that direction, now. I observed, and indeed, someone did react to their being made.
"Yeah. We are being followed." I finally admitted.
Alicia signed. "What is going on? We need to look at those files again."
"Maybe look into a few leads. See what comes up." I told her.
"To be honest. I didn’t think any of this would really go anywhere. You know. A clerical error? Just wanted to cover our collective asses." She admitted.
"No. I get it. You were just being thorough. I think the director feels the same way. But. It is a lot of money. And dark accounts usually spell trouble, but, can be explained, by a number of ways. Usually the CIA, or FBI, or NSA. You know, the usual operators of covert bull crap."
"What if this is dirty?" Alicia’s big brown eyes fixed on mine for a long moment. "I mean, why didn’t someone in our office, other than, myself, notice this before?"
I didn’t like it either. "We need to keep our heads low." She was right. About all of it.
If there was more to this than what was in the files, it wasn’t going to walk up to us and reveal itself. Or. So I thought. We had just managed to shake those following us, though, we both knew that they must know where I live, because of what had happened to Alicia’s apartment. The director had informed us that he was looking into the matter. We were at my apartment when we got a strange message online. A person calling themselves, White Rabbit, wanted to meet with us. I cautioned Alicia about the serious possibility of a trap. But. Looking into things was what we were suppose to do. So. Well armed and wearing body armor, we went. The place was dark, not well used, no surprise there, who wants to meet in a well used place with lots of light? When we finally saw the person, they were wearing a rabbit’s mask. White Rabbit? Anyway, they spoke with us at length, explaining as much as they were willing, the contents of the files, what must have been really going on. How the money from the DRB was being funneled into a program created for purposes other than what was described. There was no shocker, to either of us, that someone or department, would be trying to get away with stealing the funds. After all, I’d run into dozens of cases, where that was exactly the problem. But. This case, had been successful for seven years. Since the bureau was created. From what White Rabbit told us, the deception was built into the planning of the bureau, from inception. So. Whoever or whatever, was doing this, was very high up, and knew how to cover their tracks. It actually might be impossible to actually discover the real people behind this, that was what our informant was telling us. I was inclined to agree, but, Alicia kept insisting that there had to be a way. Finally, things got down to finding out who White Rabbit really was, when things turned to that, information stopped. I really didn’t want Alicia to push the issue, because, White Rabbit, whomever this was, knew a great deal that wasn’t in the files, but, clearly, could be proven, and linked to other aspects of the now, obvious case. One thing for sure, a Federal Judge’s name kept coming up. What was that all about?
I managed to convince Alicia that the identity of White Rabbit had to wait, because, it was too much of an asset to have him or her cooperate. At that point, before we left, White Rabbit revealed to us, that he or she was not a fool, if we had pushed to the point of trying to find out who her or she was, there was backup, no doubt, we’d been shot and killed. But. That only proved, that White Rabbit, wanted us alive, by not killing us. When, there were those, who did wanted us dead. We went to the Federal Judge and managed to get some of his time. After questioning him, the judge finally just shut up and exercised his immense power, to make our lives a living hell. A gross abuse of power, no doubt, it would backfire after a short period of time. But, that is what desperate people do. They make threats, trying to throw you off your game. After the meeting we reported back to the director, in person.
Hessburg shook his head. "This can’t be happening. The bureau is too young to endure a scandal like this. We’ll be dissolved an all the good work we’ve done, will be overshadowed by the scandal." It was at that moment that someone came into the office, whispered something in the director’s ear. The director’s reaction told Alicia and me that something was very wrong.
Alicia finally asked. "Sir, what is wrong?"
Director Hessburg explained. "About an hour ago, the judge just announced that he is stepping down, for personal reasons."
"What?" I just blurted out.
The director went on. "That is not the shocking part. He was killed in an auto accident, shortly after that." We all just sat there for a long moment. It was like you could hear the very air, thinking. Finally Hessburg said. "This can’t be contained anymore. I’m gong to have to bring in some of the others. I thought we could look into this quietly. Root out the problem and solve it. This problem has tentacles. And it seems to spread pretty far."
Alicia and I went into the research room. There we could access all sorts of data that might help us. The two of us kept going back to how coincidentally the Senator’s accident was. Things like that don’t just happen. Right? Not in our line of work. Factor in that there was a massive amount of money missing, specially, if you looked at the entire seven year period. Who was getting the money? Was it the CIA? Or. Some other covert branch of the government? That was a lot of money, not to have surfaced by now.?Was it obviously being channeled out of the country to some obscure offshore accounts? We looked and searched and finally in the end, came up with nothing conclusive. Whoever it was, knew how to hide large amounts of money. Doing something like that wasn’t easy. Records would have to altered. Something like that would cause red flags to pop up. No. Whatever was going on, they were totally able to alter real facts, to suit their own agenda. Alicia and I went and talked with the late Senator’s widow. She was up in years, as had been the Senator. At the house, we saw family and friends, all come to comfort her. Even if the guy was dirty, his family, they were the ones who would bare the blunt of his actions. What it all meant, was beyond me at the moment. I let Alicia do most of the talking, all the while, I kind of snooped around, asked a few questions, all in a way, as to not upset anyone. A few times, someone would just break out in tears. It was hard to handle. I finally found myself wanting to get out of there, motioning to Alicia, to let’s go. She acknowledged my efforts, but, still lingered. I couldn’t figure out why. I came over to her, stood there, listening to the conversation she was having with a family member. Turned out, that the good Senator wasn’t going to run for re-election, next time around. Hmm. It wasn’t that he wasn’t popular. He’d been at it for decades. What had changed? I heard one family member saying, that he waited too late. But. That could have meant anything. I mean, he just as easily waited too late and time caught up with him. You see? At his age and all, it was more likely that none of the family actually knew what he was up to. And just listening in on random conversations, while interesting, wasn’t providing any answers.
Alicia and I decided to eat in. She was a good cook and I knew my way around the kitchen. So. Neither of us were going to starve. "No matter how you look at it. It was tragic." Alicia said, with celery in her mouth. Hell. She even looked sexy with food in her mouth.
"It doesn’t take away from the fact that it seems like such a big coincidence." I was straining some vegetables.
"Okay. Let’s say that he told someone about our little visit. Announces that he is going to resign, maybe because he is scared."
I nodded. "Okay. He talks to someone. They don’t like the fact that we are onto him. He does his thing with the media, with the hope of being able to get away. You know, take his money, whatever that amount is, and live the rest of his life in some South American country."
"What went wrong?"
"Okay. Then there must be a record of it, right?"
I shook my head. "These people have been stealing from the DRB for seven years. Hardly any blip on the radar. I don’t think something like contacts, will be easily traced."
"But. We are pretty sure he talked to someone?"
"Yeah. He must have. The so called accident and the resignation are too convenient."
"None of the relatives seem to know anything. Least. Not the ones that I talked to."
"I got the same impression." I told her. "But. Everyone seemed to know that they all were in for some serious inheritance."
Cases like this were rare. In most cases, there were no deaths. Well. Maybe an occasional suicide. You know. Some hedge fund person, finally getting caught. Instead of going to jail, they kill themselves. Rich people. They don’t know how to live without their money. That is what makes poor people better than the rich. I’m not saying that people should be poor. No. Not at all, it would be better if everyone had a standard of living, in which to spring from, that elevated them above the poverty line. But. What can one say. We live in a global culture of capitalism. Money. Not even the so called countries that were suppose to hate, such ideas, as putting a money value on people, the things they do and possess. So. Is it a small wonder, that human life has been devalued to such a low? I mean, when you think about it. What is money? It is ink on paper. Numbers in a computer. Idolatry. It is not real. But. Feed your propaganda, fill everyone’s heads with the idea, that money is the ultimate end game, and well. Happy anti-Christ. Yeah. That is what makes the whole thing so sad. That we as a people, would allow other human beings, to starve, be homeless, die of sickness. And for what? Because they don’t have ink on paper? Does that sound right to you? The events that led up to the senator’s auto accident, couldn’t be connected to any wrong doing. Perhaps, it was what it was, just an accident. But. Alicia kept on looking into the path that was taking us down a dark place. How could an agency be created, from the beginning, with the obvious intent, of doing a serious public good? Only, to have a flaw like this? For seven years, money had been pouring, un-detected, into a series of channels, and just disappearing. Who were we paying off? Dictators who did our bidding? Okay. There is not big shocker there. But. Organizations, like the CIA, and such, had funds for things like that. Hell. If anything, they’d just steal it and be done with it. No. This was official, in that the mechanism was built into the system. If Alicia hadn’t stumbled onto it, in the course of investigating something else, we might not have ever known about it. That is why they were coming after her. They must have thought that she knew more than what she really did. We talked to a contact we knew named Big Wiggy.
Big Wiggy was a character in and of himself. "You don’t need to know everything in order to figure out what is going on."
Alicia shrugged. "So far, we don’t know anything."
"And that might be why the two of you are still alive." he told us.
I scratched my head. "So. You are saying that the senator was killed, after he finished talking to us? They. Whoever they are, were watching him?"
"Or. More likely, they were watching you." Big Wiggy explained. "They haven’t killed you because something is missing. It might be that they don’t know how much you really know. More than likely, you have triggered some protocol. They need to see how far they have been discovered. Killing you will come. Because you are talking about a lot of money. And as you know, people have been killed for far less."
Big Wiggy was right. I had heard of a person being killed for five bucks. Now. That is just not right. Idolatry. I said, "Some of this stuff looks to be offshore."
Alicia asked. "How could anyone get this kind of clandestine operations going, right under the people who created the bureau?"
"Exactly!" came Big Wiggy’s answer. "You have just asked the right question."
Alicia looked at me. "It was designed that way?"
Big Wiggy told us. "Maybe you two should just walk away from this one. I think you are fighting people within your own organization."
Alicia stepped back. "You have proof of this?"
Big Wiggy handed us a thumb drive. "Take a look at the information on this."
Maybe there were some things that we should have been cautious about. After all, trouble within our own department meant that we’d have fewer people that we could turn to. But. When I ran it pass Alicia, she seemed more fired up than ever. Gone was the rational fear of those who had ransacked her apartment. Contrary to the movies, people in our line of work, don’t have other people doing that kind of stuff all the time. So. It was understandable that she was cautious at first, maybe even a little frightened. Hell. It was un-nerving. But. That said, I was concerned that she had gone the other way, now. She was acting like she was unable to be hurt, or, that was how I was seeing it, and I’d known her for some time. Alicia was really lovely to look at. I say this, because some partners might not be so pleasant, yet, you have to find common ground, in order to work with them. Not with us. We hit it off, seemingly, at first sight. I liked her, and she seemed to feel the same. Her long legs drove me crazy. And her face was nothing less that just pretty. She was a real woman. No phony implants and stuff. Not that I would have complained if she had, I mean, I’m like most guys, I just want them to be hot. Well, Alicia was hot alright. Her voice was so sweet and lyrical. I could listen to her talk to me for hours and just sit there and daydream. When she got all chatty, I just listened to the rhythm of her voice, not the words. I know, that makes me a bad person. But. What the hell. At least I’m telling you the truth. Anyway. We decided to look into a new lead. The old one was fine. Big Wiggy was a help after we passed the information to the Watchdogs for further analysis. We went and talked to a person of interest, a Lana House.
She was a fat woman, up in years. The years hadn’t been good to her. "I’m not sure how I can help you." The overweight woman told us.
"You worked on a project called Sandman?" Alicia asked her.
"Yes. But that was a long time ago." She responded.
"We know that. But. In the course of your involvement with Project Sandman. Did you ever notice any accounting irregularities?" I asked her.
The woman thought on it for a moment, then, shook her head. "Nothing that would warrant the two of you coming to my home and asking me questions. Like I said, it was a long time ago."
"Do you have any old records?" Alicia asked.
The woman studied the two of us for a moment. "You know as well as I do, that if I did, it would be illegal for me to have them. You can’t take records out of the agency. Against policy."
"We don’t care about policy," I let her know. "We are just interested in finding out the truth."
"What truth? There are all sorts of truths out there. Some more truthier than others." she barked.
"Hmm. Nothing that would have raised red flags?" Alicia wanted to know.
The old woman went on messing with her flowers. I liked gardening. It was relaxing and Zen-like. "You see, I go telling you things, and then, someone ends up in trouble or dead. I don’t know anything." We left the woman, doing her gardening. As we drove off, we noticed a strange car, just sitting to the side. We both kept an eye on it. Yep. We were being followed.
We managed to finally lose our tail. But. The question remained if the last person we talked to would be okay. So. We phoned her, but, she wasn’t answering her phone. After we got back to the office, I had someone go over there, just to make sure. We were too late. The old fat woman was found in the back, by her beloved garden, dead. Alicia and I could only guess, that when we lost the tail, that they went back to the house and paid her a little visit. I went back to the house to look around, while Alicia followed up on a few leads back at the office. They were just taking away the poor woman’s body when I got there. It was then, that I remembered how she really didn’t want to be involved in any of this. Had Alicia and I, gotten this poor woman killed? There was clearly starting to be a pattern developing. People were dying, and they all had one thing in common. They had been interviewed by Alicia and me. So. What do we do? Do we stop the investigation? Tell the director that things are heating up? I really didn’t like having all those people’s deaths on my hands. Oh. I know, Alicia would probably tell me that, it wasn’t our fault. That, these people probably knew something about what was going on, and that, they sealed their fate along time ago, then they decided to get involved in whatever it was that we were investigating. Hmm. The Sandman Project? Who was behind it? Why did they feel the need to start killing people? Why now? From what I could tell, no deaths were related to this investigation, until, we started to look into things. I was beginning to come to the conclusion, that this all had to be taken out of our hands. I mean, it wasn’t that Alicia and I were not trained to handle this kind of thing. But. People dying, meant, some other agency might have to take charge of the investigation. I mean, murder, was not our mandate. Not solving them, anyway. And if those behind the Sandman Project were simply watching the two of us, and killing any and everyone we spoke with, then, we were going to have to go about our business differently. Or. There would be no one left. When I got back at the office, Alicia was being interviewed by some people from HLS. Great. It was just as I had suspected. Too many dead bodies that all lead to the Sandman Project. The people from HLS talked to us for about half an hour, then they left. We did our best to help them out, but, when I saw that Alicia, was holding back, on certain information, that we knew, I played alone. Hell. She’s my partner. If she had a bad feeling about them, then, so did I. After they were gone, the Assistant Director called us in. Her name was Emma Plant. As far as I was concerned she was too young for her position. Not much older than Alicia, with no field experience whatsoever.
Emma looked over a report concerning our current assignment. "People are dying. Why?" She finally looked up from the report.
Alicia decided to preempt me. "We really can’t talk to you about this, Ms. Plant."
"I’m the freaking Assistant Director of DRB! Who else are you going to talk to?" Our silence spoke volumes. "Oh. I see. The Director has you on special assignment."
I decided to try and take some of the heat off of Alicia. "Maybe if you clear it with Director Hessburg?"
"Hessburg is on his way to the battlefield, visiting the troops." She looked at each one of us, squarely. "I’m in charge until he gets back." It was then that Emma got a call. She took it privately. Alicia and I gestured to one another, our own special body language, deciding how we were going to handle Plant. Emma came back, flopped into her plush leather chair. She looked at us blankly for a long moment. Then said: "Director Hessburg is dead."
Alicia and I just sat there for a long moment. There was no way that this was a coincidence! A Federal Judge and a Senator, all in the same month? The Sandman Project was in full gear. I finally said, "This is insane. What in the freak in going on here?"
Emma responded. "Looks like we have struck a nerve and they are fighting back."
It was proving to be a case that I would later remember as the turning point in my career. The investigation took many twists and turns. It led to some strange connections, high up in the government. And yes. More people would die before some of the truth came out. When WikiLeaks released classified documents, some time later, the public would be both amazed disappointed, again, at their leaders and what they had done behind closed doors. During the course of the investigation, it came out, that the DRB had a duel purpose. On the surface, it did what it was suppose to do. Pay off the county’s massive debt. It did that. But. There was another purpose, much more sinister. On that front, there was less light. Alicia dug as deep as anyone could. She uncovered a great deal of what might have been going on. But. As soon as the information met the light of day. It was gone. Powerful forces within the government, swept down on us. The files and the proof, were gone. Left, was the shame and the accusations of corruption, the DRB was a disgrace. The problem was, that in a sense, those who pointed a finger at us, were right. The bureau was corrupt, from the get go. It had been cleverly designed that way, in order to cover up, what was starting to look like a program, to fund rogue governments, dictators friendly to our government, and the worst of all, to create rogue terrorist organizations. Yes. You heard me right. The funds were being channeled into the creation of organizations, that would in turn, attack not only foreign countries, but, our own. It was insane! So. In a way, wars were being created, enemies, were being created, and all, so that the war machines, could prosper. No one cared about the lives lost. No one cared about the precious history wiped off the face of the Earth, because of the vast destruction of war. The military complex, the companies that benefitted from war, needed an enemy. And with so many leaders, seriously, trying to forge peace, the military complex, throughout the world, saw their days numbered. It had truly become a global world, where the military created wars and chaos, for profit and gain and power.
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