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Monday, October 18, 2010

Executive Order 16661: 7:10 am

That was a big mistake Lia...

I don't normally act like a college student; going out, getting smashed, and then ending up in bed with a strange boy. It had not been a good week; I needed to escape and not be me for a night. He was the perfect opportunity to do something reckless and somewhat crazy; I took advantage of him and I hoped he saw his way out. I had been called in that morning much to my dislike and so I had to leave him in my bed and hope that he was not a thief who would rob me or a pervert who would riffle through my lingerie.

I hope he heeds my note; he has no idea who he is dealing with...I killed a man.

That Friday I had killed a man; it was in self defense and it was legitimate, but the guy was still dead. He had a family; a wife and three kids with another on the way. My partner, Ian, had corroborated my story and there was not going to be any disciplinary action used against me, but there was still a guy in a coffin, with loved ones grieving, who was never going to draw breath again. It sucked, man did it suck. He had come up from the side, weapon raised, and I pivoted and attempted to shoot him between the eyes, but I missed and hit him in the jugular.

Blood sprayed everywhere.

I had tried unsuccessfully to sleep that night; all I could see was his face. So, instead I lay awake going through all the justifications for what I did; even though I would be acquitted in any local or federal court, there was this sinking feeling that there was a court where my actions would always be declared guilty. There were many times where I was tempted to go to church or at least to dig out my Bible from under my bed. It had comforted me during my college years to read about God and his love, but once I joined the Bureau and I began to advance in my career, I had just neglected God completely; I was not even sure he loved me anymore. My parents had repeatedly called and urged me to go back to church; every conversation ended up being an argument where I told them to keep their religion to themselves.

I was a believer; I just had my own life.

I had called my parents Saturday to tell them what had happened and to ask for prayer, just for prayer.

My dad, however, once again insisted that I go talk to a pastor; he recommended one that his pastor knew. I lost it.

"I really think you should go talk to a pastor about this, honey. You have been out of a church now for ten years; don't you think it is time to go back?"

"Dad, did you not hear me? I shot a man; he is dead...his wife has no husband; his kids will never say
'Daddy,' again...and all you can do is tell me to go back to church?" I was now crying; tears blurring my vision.

"I am telling you, Lia, that God may be using this to get your attention. He is telling you to repent and turn to him! He can take care of this..."

"Dad, could you just pray for me! For once could you keep your guilt to yourself? I called you for help, and you used it as an opportunity to preach to me. I don't have time for this."

After that conversation, I threw any return to God temporarily out the window. I had received several phone calls from concerned colleagues who were making sure I was not about to jump off of a bridge or something else suicidal. There concern was justified; I had at one point attempted to take a whole bottle of muscle relaxers in order to end my misery. Yeah, it was back in college, but when you join the Bureau they want to make sure you are no longer about two seconds from ending your life. I assured them that I was not suicidal and that I just needed some time to sort things through. They told me about a get together they were having down at the local Irish pub and at first I was not going to go. However, the more I tried to sit and zone out the more I thought about that man’s neck exploding.

So, I went.

It was real fun at first but then I began to get more drunk than normal and somehow floated away from my peers who were similarly hammered. I was approached by this cute, young guy who had a really nice smile and I really nice…well you know. Anyway, we started talking and I am sure that I made no sense because I don’t remember anything of particular importance in what we discussed. I do remember laughing a lot and somehow inviting him to my place (not quite sure how I managed to give him directions or how managed to get me home).

Drunk. He took me home drunk.

Anyway, by the grace of God (maybe I should not say that because God really frowns on this sort of thing) we made it back to my place where one thing led to another and we ended up sleeping together. It was a complete one night stand; it meant absolutely nothing and felt so good while it lasted. I do not know if he used a condom or not; so I made sure to take some of the birth control pills that I had kept in my drawer from my previous relationship nightmare, I dressed quickly, disgusted with myself; making a quick and sure vow that I would never tell my parents about this. Even though they knew I was sleeping with the previous guy, at least it was some sort of relationship not a hit and run.

I would never hear the end of it if they found out, they will send the pastor after me or something, maybe try to exorcise some sort of demon.

I wanted to deal with him personally, man it is bad that I can’t remember his name, but I got called in so quickly that I was unable to even speak to him. It is not normal for me to get called into the office on a Sunday morning so I was just a tad bit curious as to what was going on. I pulled up into the office and was surprised to see quite a few people in the parking lot. What the hell is going on here? I parked the car quickly and meandered into the office noticing the Chase Bank clock read 7:31. So, so early on a Sunday. I opened the door said hello, the receptionist and headed toward the back.

“Nobles, Quincy is gathering everyone in the conference room in five minutes. All of our field agents have been called in…this place is restless.”

The voice was that of my partner Ian Vance or “IV” as we liked to call him. This was ironic too because you could not get him to donate even a drop of blood; he hated needles with a passion. I had been Vance’s partner for going on three years; we even came close to dating once and then he almost got killed. It was just too much for me to be romantically involved with someone who could reliably drop out of my life at any moment. We still remained close friends and there is not a man in the world I would trust more than Ian Vance; which is why it truly sucked that his new girlfriend was uber-protective and jealous.

“Do you have any idea what it could be about?” sometimes if I prodded, Ian would give up info.

“No, actually nobody does but it has to be something really serious to call us all in.”

“Agreed; I am definitely not accustomed to a Sunday morning wake up call.”

“I wonder if it is something I heard about from my cousin Carlos this morning,” the voice came from
Agent Victor Cabrera who had joined us walking down the hall, “Carlos told me that his mother’s pastor had received some sort of warning via text message; I ignored it completely till I got the call to come in…now my curiosity is piqued.” Cabrera was a good guy; the kind with a wife with three kids who was civically involved in everything from coaching little league to serving meals at the homeless shelter. He had once been a practicing Catholic but had left the Church disgusted with what he considered too much preaching and not enough serving. He was a model husband, father, and gentleman and we were always glad to be able to work with him.

“That is strange; but doesn’t Carlos live across the country? Why would it be something we would worry about here?” My curiosity was also now piqued.

“Well, Nobles, if it is some sort of terrorist threat it could be a nationwide thing.” Piped in Vance.

“But that is just the thing,” interrupted Cabrera, “It was not a threat over the text message; it was a
warning. Whoever was sending the text was trying to warn the pastor about something.”

“Well, it could be just some kid pulling a prank,” I was not convinced of this, something in me said that it wasn’t, “and if so it would not be too difficult to send some sort of mass text if they were able to get a large list of pastors.”

“Yeah, it is certainly possible.” Conceded Cabrera

We all entered the large conference room where Quincy had gathered what appeared to be everyone in the whole division; all the seats were taken so we stood near the back.

Quincy looked kind of annoyed at our tardiness but did not address us:

“Good morning ladies and gentlemen, I know that you are all wondering why you here this morning, and I am going to be quite honest with you, I don’t know why. What I do know is that we have received word that several thousand churches have been contacted by someone whom we are considering to be whistleblower at this point…”

So it is about the church text message. My thoughts began to wonder off, trying to imagine what kind of terrorism could be unleashed on several thousand churches. “…the person who sent text message did so from a blocked number which we have been unable to trace. However, we do not believe that this individual has any sort malicious intent. We do not know what exactly the extent of the threat is and that is why I am deploying all of your to various churches in our district.”

“Sir, what did the text message say?” Cabrera opened the questioning.

“Good question, agent Cabrera. The message was as follows: Executive Order 16661 has been issued. Do not go to church this morning; if you do they will have you.

Silence descended upon the room.

Cabrera spoke again, “But sir that says that an Executive Order was given? Wouldn’t that come from the President? And who is “they?”

“I agree, agent Cabrera, this a very confusing text. However, we checked with the White House and they say nothing of the sort has been issued. We can only assume then that it is some sort of code for whatever the operation is that this group is going to carry out.”

“Sir,” an agent spoke up, “are there any commonalities shared between the churches?”

Quincy nodded, “Yes, I was just about to get to that agent Covington. These churches seem to have almost nothing in common except one thing; they all signed the Church Transformation Pact a couple of weeks ago. Every church that has been notified has been a church who signed this pact.”

“Sir,” another agent at the table inquired, “couldn’t we just have an inside prank? If someone worked at the convention where this pact was signed then they could have obtained the list of churches and decided to be funny.” If it was a prank, no one was laughing; it was clear that no one was thrilled with giving up their Sunday, even the ones scheduled to be working were not thrilled with the idea of chasing some phantom prankster who was terrorizing churches.

“That is what we are hoping agent Hendricks, but we cannot take any chances on a threat this large. I have here a listing of the churches in our area that signed the CTP. I am going to assign each of you to a church; unfortunately we have too many churches to cover so I can only send you in teams of two, so King and Loxley you have…”

I listened as Quincy doled out the assignments, still not quite sure what to think when I realized something that caused my heart to screech to a halt: my parents’ church signed that pact. My mind lolled and all of my recent anguish with my father was replaced by deepening concern. Oh God, I have to warn them about this.Everything was bright and suddenly the room was spinning…”Nobles and Vance you will take…” I heard the church but my world was reeling.

“Nobles? Nobles? Hey, Lia; are you alright?” Vance was making sure I was ok and I definitely was not.
“Ian, I am going to need to call my parents will quick, my God, they go to one of those churches!” I was panicking; breath was not coming easy.

“Ok, sure Lia, hey don’t worry about it. I will be in the car; you take your time.” Vance gave me reassuring shoulder rub as Quincy dismissed us all to our assignments. I got up quickly, startling a few people as I ran out the door; I grabbed my cell phone and hit the auto dial. The clock read 7:53.


C’mon dad, please, please pick up the phone!



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