Part 1: Half Moon
Why, it’s absolutely beautiful…
Reverend Enoch Winchester marveled at the sight of his tank. It had recently been repainted in a dark blue hue, and emblazoned with the half-circle symbol that the Half Moon Church occasionally used as their logo. He took in the beauty of it all, a big smile on his weathered face.
His current base of operation was a retired army building out in rural Virginia. As he and his church began expanding the scope of their “projects,” their facilities had to expand as well. Enoch figured that, since they were waging war against the modern world, what better place to use than a military facility?
He hoped that he wouldn’t have to use any of the weapons they had purchased, of course. Project BlueBell was their line of offense. They other stuff would be the fallback in case things got really ugly.
If it comes to that, so be it, Enoch thought. He’d accepted long ago that pursuing his purpose in the world would be fraught with danger.
“Bzzzt bzzzt!” His phone, which was currently in his pocket, vibrated loudly. It didn’t surprise him, however. He had been eagerly awaiting the call for hours.
“Niles!” he said excitedly. “What’s the good word?”
Part 2: The Plan
“You’re gonna love this.”
Just outside of the hotel, Niles glanced around at his surroundings to make sure no one was listening to him. He normally would have called from his hotel room, but he had no idea if the place had been bugged or not. He didn’t think they would try to monitor him like that, but it was a non-zero possibility, and he couldn’t afford to take any chances, especially now that he was so close to completing his mission.
“Remember that data I sent you from Station 8?” he asked Enoch Winchester.
“Well, we finally found it, the supernatural weapon that’s been killing people. It’s buried deep in that data, but it’s there.”
Enoch was silent for a moment before letting out a little grunt of approval. “Well, I’ll be,” he replied merrily. “And it’s the real deal?”
“Yes. I saw the effects with my own two eyes. One of our team members here got hit with it.”
“What happened?” Enoch asked, somewhat pensively. “Or do I not want to hear that?”
“That part isn’t quite clear. It seems to awaken some kind of paranormal force, but we’re not exactly sure what it is. The guy who died, he… ah, how do I explain this? He said he saw some… things following him.”
“Don’t know, but whatever they were, they began tearing him apart around midnight. It was brutal. They bent one of his elbows backwards and popped his shoulder out of place, then started suffocating him. I had to put him out of his misery myself.”
“Oh... well I’m sorry to hear that.”
“It’s alright.” Niles thought back to all of Mike’s snide comments. “We weren’t particularly close.”
“Well, you did what you had to do, I’m sure.”
“Yes, of course. But back to the topic at hand. I want you to have your guy find the file within the data. It’s a picture file called ‘433.jpg.’ Just make sure he doesn’t open it. I don’t care what he has to do to avoid looking at it, just make sure it doesn’t happen, alright? Even if he has to modify his operating system or something like that.”
“Is looking at the dang thing all it takes?” Enoch sounded surprised.
“Yes. That’s all. Our running theory is that whoever looks at the picture will die once the clock strikes midnight. It seems that has been the case with all of the known victims so far.”
“I see. Sounds like a powerful weapon indeed...
In his peripheral vision, Niles could see an unmarked van pulling into the hotel’s parking lot. He suspected it was the FBI.
Or they’re from whatever Wolf’s division is called, he thought.
“I have to go,” said Niles. “When is the earliest you can get project BlueBell operational?”
“Operational?” Enoch asked. “I mean, it’s technically operational now. If we want to get the biggest bang for our buck, though…” He thought for a moment. Niles could hear the soft scratching noise of Enoch running his fingers through his beard. “Probably a week from now. Should be a safe bet.”
“Got it,” Niles replied. “I’ll stay in touch. Thanks.”
Part 3: BlueBell
After the call, Enoch Winchester was feeling absolutely giddy.
It’s happening! he thought as he slipped his phone back into his pocket. It’s actually happening! A holy weapon from God to cleanse the Earth!
Using his cane, he hobbled as fast as he could towards the computer room.
Unsurprisingly, Project BlueBell required a great deal of resources: electricity, computer workstations, and a massive server. Enoch had made sure that the first room in the base to be completed was the computer room.
As he entered, Enoch was bathed in the blue glow of the many computer screens. Despite the large supply of equipment, only a few of his developers were there at the moment. Luckily, one of them happened to be the man he was looking for.
“Zach!” Enoch called, spotting his project manager from across the room. “Great news!”
Not content with being on the computer all day, Zach had set up some gym equipment near his workstation, including a set of weights and a bench. He was currently doing arm curls with weights the size of his head.
Out of all of Reverend Winchester’s converts, Zach had perhaps the most dramatic transformation. After joining the Half Moon Church, his entire outlook began to change, followed by physical changes. Once a soft and scrawny Silicon Valley transplant, Zach had transformed himself into a powerful force of nature.
The young man turned his head to see Enoch approaching him. “What is it, Reverend? he asked.
Enoch couldn’t wait to tell him. “They found it!” he blurted out excitedly.
“That project Niles has been working on. They’ve found the weapon!”
Shocked, Zach let his bulky arms fall down to his sides. “You mean…”
Enoch grinned and pointed at Zach’s computer. “Yes. And that means we got it as well. It’s right there in your computer. A powerful supernatural weapon.”
Zach glanced over at the device. Enoch had already told him about the mysterious deaths, and the theoretical supernatural force behind them. However, could such a thing really be sitting on his hard drive at that very moment? He believed in the supernatural (one couldn’t follow Enoch Winchester without believing in that stuff), but this felt... strange.
“When are we going to pull the trigger on BlueBell?” Zach asked as he racked his weights.
“We’re shooting for a week from now.”
“That soon, huh?” Zach turned to look at the massive server that occupied the far wall of the room. It hummed with electric vigor, its blue LED lights pulsing in the shadow. “It’s really happening…”
“Indeed. The lord has finally delivered his gift unto us, and now his will is in our hands.”
Newly impassioned, Zach scurried back to his workstation and began pulling up the data Niles had recently sent them using the protocol he’d coded specifically for that purpose.
“Just a warning before we proceed,” Enoch said, holding out his hand as a warning.
Zach looked over at him expectantly. “Yes?”
“Whatever you do, you absolutely cannot look at it.”
Part 4: Lazarus
Niles held the transparent bag up to examine the contents more closely.
“This is all you could find?” he asked.
Fabi watched him with his dark eyes, heavy and red from sleep deprivation. He seemed just as disappointed as Niles was.
“Yeah, that’s it,” he replied. “We searched the entire place several times over and came up empty handed.”
To be fair, Niles wasn’t exactly sure what he had expected. Even if the photo was in one piece, it’s not like he could have looked at the thing. But still, it was hard to deny that the black and white scraps at the bottom of that plastic baggie were so… underwhelming.
Just then, he noticed something unusual.
“What’s thirty-three?” he asked, squinting at the hand-written number on the back of one of the photo pieces.
“Dunno,” replied Fabi. “It was the same number Mike had written down, though. Might have something to do with that.”
“Do you think the image would return if we pieced it all together?” Niles asked.
Fabi shrugged. “I dunno. It’s probably not worth even attempting such a thing because… we’ll, you know. Success would mean death.”
Behind Fabi, Kimura stirred on his cot. He had been so exhausted earlier that he had nearly collapsed. Needless to say, a small nap was in order.
Still, Niles thought. Is only an hour enough?
“Fabi,” Kimura croaked out, his throat still dry from his slumber. “How is Lazarus doing?”
The “Lazarus” in question was the man sent by Agent Wolf’s agency. Clad in a leather patch-covered jacket and sporting a green mohawk, the “tech specialist” looked as if he’d stepped out of a time machine sent from the 1980s.
He was currently at Mike’s old workstation, typing away and examining the data they’d gathered. Niles glanced at the strange man from the corner of his eye.
Honestly, Lazarus worried Niles quite a bit. Enoch had assured him that the protocol they’d used to send the data to the Half Moon compound would be completely undetectable to all modern security systems, but that wasn't something they could know for sure. Their agency was a complete enigma. Who knew what kind of technology they had access to?
“He said nothing looks out of the ordinary,” Fabi assured Kimura. “They’re gonna quarantine the 433 file, of course but, other than that, who knows?”
“Understood,” replied Kimura with a quick nod.
Niles held up the plastic bag so Kimura could see it. “Are they going to take this thing as well?”
Kimura stared at the ragged envelope pieces with his usual blank expression. “Of course. It will likely be examined and stored with the other unnatural objects.”
With the others?
Niles hadn’t given it too much thought before, but Wolf’s agency would necessarily have a place used to store the supernatural things they found, right? He thought about all the stories he had heard about “Area 51” as a kid. Perhaps there was some truth in those.
“Uh, guys?” Lazarus suddenly interjected. The three men all turned their attention to him. “We got a problem.”
At that moment, Niles felt as if all of the blood in his body had been frozen solid.
Part 5: Proxy
Agent wolf paced back and forth behind Lazarus’ computer chair. From the chair next to him, Victoria peaked at his computer screen. Kimura, Fabi, and Niles all stood beside the work table and listened to the man’s explanation.
“I’ve never seen a protocol like this,” Lazarus told them, scrolling through the program’s code. “It looks like it’s been built from the ground up. Whoever did this must have been a professional.”
Wolf sighed in exasperation. “Great,” she said sarcastically. “So not only do we have a data leak, but ‘professionals’ are apparently involved.”
“Now, let’s not panic,” Kimura reassured her. “We can still figure this out if we keep a level head.”
“Easier said than done,” Wolf growled. “It’s not your head on the chopping block right now. There was one thing on that computer that I absolutely had to make sure wouldn’t leak, and it still happened.”
“Can we figure out where it went?” Fabi asked.
“I’m trying,” Lazarus said. “It’s very likely that it went through a proxy.”
“It’s like a server that data gets routed through before going to its final destination. Handy for obscuring data transmission through several levels.”
Niles watched all of this play out with cold anxiousness. He could feel nausea beginning to build up in his stomach.
It’s alright, he told himself. That data went through several different proxies. It’s highly unlikely they’ll figure it out any time soon.
“I think I got something.” Lazarus chimed in. “The first place the data stopped is a VPN called Astrodust.” He sighed and shook his head in frustration. “It’s gonna be hard to get the data from them. I heard they’re tight with their data.”
Yes! Niles thought. He had to actively suppress the grin that threatened to show up on his face.
“No, it’s fine,” Wolf said. “We’ve had backdoor access to their stuff for over a year now. Victoria can get a hold of the info for us.”
The news felt like a gut punch. Small beads of nervous sweat began forming on his forehead.
This is bad. At this rate, they might actually do it.
In the corner of his eye, Niles could sense Fabi staring at him. The scruffy detective had a powerful gut, and if Niles didn’t play it cool, he would definitely begin to suspect that something was up.
Cool your jets, Niles, he thought.
There were still a few more layers the team would have to get through to figure out what happened. It would take them another few days at the very least. Niles decided that he should call Enoch and tell him to move the activation of BlueBell forward.
It’s no problem. We can still pull it off.
“Hey, Lazarus,” Fabi began. “Do you think this had to have been done from the inside?”
Niles winced internally. Fabi was definitely onto him.
“Oh, definitely,” Lazarus replied. “Could have been installed on the computer yesterday or back when it was originally built for all we know. Have no idea how long it’s been there.”
“Mrs. Wolf,” Victoria suddenly chirped in a delicate voice. “Home base tracked down the destination for us. They’re sending the location to Lazarus now.”
Not good. They’re operating too efficiently right now.
Fabi was staring at Niles once again. It was making him sweat even more than before. His forehead was now drenched.
What’s with this guy?!
“Looks like it went to a private server farm in Serbia,” Lazarus told the others. “We can probably figure out who owns it and give them a call.”
The owner was a contractor that Niles had hired specifically for this operation. He didn’t think the man would squeal very easily, but it wasn’t outside the realm of possibility.
I should hurry up and give Enoch a call.
“Could you excuse me?” Niles said, trying to keep his voice from quavering. “I have to take a little break.”
Without waiting for a reply, he quickly moved to the door and walked out into the hallway. He just had to get into the elevator and he’d be home free.
Don’t screw this up now, Niles. Not after you’ve gotten so far already.
“Hey,” a voice called from behind him. Niles turned to see Fabi’s stubble-covered face staring out at him from the doorway. “Is there something wrong?”
“W-what do you mean?” Niles stammered. “Nothing is wrong.”
The two men stared at each other for a few seconds, both as still as a statue.
Niles suddenly began running towards the stairwell as fast as he could.
“HEY! WAIT!” Fabi called behind him. “STOP!”
Niles didn’t look back to see if he was being pursued. He couldn’t afford to. He simply booked it. Once he got to the stairwell door, he flung it open and leaped down the stairs two at a time.
His loafers lacked traction, so they slid on the concrete stairs. Niles lost his balance and went tumbling onto the nearest landing. He landed with a loud “THUD!”
His entire body was rocked by the impact. If he didn’t sprain anything, he would at least have a serious bruise by the morning.
Opening his eyes, Niles could see Fabi descending down the stairs towards him.
“You’re coming back to the room, bastard,” Fabi snarled.
Niles desperately dug his pistol out from his holster. Noticing this, Fabi grabbed Niles’ wrist and forcibly moved his aim away.
“BANG!” The gun went off, striking the concrete of the stairs above them. Fabi squeezed hard, hurting Niles’ wrist and making him drop the gun to the floor.
“THWACK!” Niles threw a punch with his free hand as hard as he could at Fabi’s face, knocking the detective backwards. The punch had apparently broken Fabi’s nose, and blood splattered onto his raincoat.
"AAAAAGH!" Niles screamed internally from the pain he felt in his knuckles. It had been a very long time since he had to punch anyone, and it definitely felt that way.
Regardless, he had to escape while Fabi was recovering. He ignored the aches and pains running through his body and continued down the stairwell until he reached the bottom.
“Sir? Is everything okay?” one of the hotel employees asked as she saw Niles sprint by. He pretended he hadn’t heard her and made his way to the front entrance. As he left the building, he reached into his pocket to produce his burner phone.
“RIIIIIING!... RIIIIIIING!” The dial tone sounded from the phone’s speaker.
Come on, Enoch, Niles thought frantically. Pick up. PICK UP!
“Whats going on?” Enoch finally asked upon answering.
“They’re onto us,” Niles nearly screamed into the phone’s receiver as he ran to a nearby alleyway. “Activate BlueBell just before midnight tonight! It needs to happen!”
“Say no more,” Enoch assured him. “It will be done. Stay safe out there.”
As Niles hung up and slipped the phone back into his pocket, a familiar figure emerged from the alleyway in front of him.
“Hey!” the man’s voice called excitedly. “Well, would ya look who it is! It’s Mr. Snappy!”
Before Niles could react, Earl’s big meaty fist collided with his jaw, knocking him to the pavement.
“I told you I’d remember your face,” Earl said with a chuckle as he looked down at him.
It was the last thing Niles heard before losing consciousness.
Part 6: Surprise
Niles groaned as he woke up in intense pain. His arm was banged up and sore, and his jaw clicked when he moved it. Worst of all, there was an intense and painful pounding in his head that got worse the more he moved around.
Where am I?...
He looked around the room and noticed there weren’t any windows. It was just a bare concrete cell with a single cot in it. The old cot creaked noisily as he turned.
Gradually, some spotty memories started to come back to him.
Did Kimura and his team lock me in here?
Suddenly, a nervous rush came over him and he felt frantically at his pants pocket.
They had taken his burner phone. There was no doubt they would be able to track down Enoch from the information on it.
I screwed up so bad, he thought, almost on the verge of tears.
And we were so close...
He only hoped that Enoch could activate BlueBell before they found him. It was their last chance to do God’s bidding and finally cleanse the world of sin.
“Please lord,” he muttered to himself pitifully. A tear rolled down his cheek, striking the cot’s meager mattress. “Just let us pull through this.”
“CLICK-CLACK!” The room’s single steel door opened noisily, making Niles jump in surprise and shaking him out of his sorrow.
He turned to see Mitch, of all people, standing in the doorway and holding the heavy door open. Mitch glared at Niles with an expression of pure scorn.
“Niles,” he said calmly. “I need to let the others know you’re awake. From what I hear, they have a surprise in store for you.”
Mitch stood completely still for a moment, his eyes burning with hatred.
“You’ll see,” he finally said before closing the door and locking it back up.
“You bastard,” Niles grumbled as he stood up from his cot. His bones popped and cracked when straightened himself up. “YOU BASTARD!”
Transitioning seamlessly from sadness to fury, he shouted loudly and threw himself against the metal door. The adrenaline in his bloodstream prevented him from feeling any pain at all as he did so.
“BANG!” The sound of his body colliding with the steel reverberated through the small concrete chamber.
“I’LL KILL YOU!” he yelled, particles of spit flying from his mouth. “I’LL KILL YOOOOOUUUU!”
Part 7: Good Cop
Fabi was the next to visit him.
Niles was sitting cross-legged on the bed when he arrived, rubbing at his aching head with both of his hands.
“Where am I?” Niles asked immediately.
“The hotel,” Fabi said calmly. He had been carrying a small chair, which he ended up placing directly in the center of the room. “We made a special space in the basement just for you.”
Niles had suspected as much, but it was good to have his suspicions confirmed.
“I’m sure you know what I’m here for,” Fabi said, making himself comfortable (at least as much as he possibly could) on the tiny chair.
“You want me to tell you why I leaked the photo, right?”
Fabi nodded grimly. “That’s right, and we could do this the easy way or the hard way.”
Niles couldn’t help but laugh. This was a scene straight out of a cheesy police procedural.
“Let me guess,” he began. “You’re going to play good-cop-bad-cop with me. You come in first and call me all sorts of names while threatening to beat me up, then Kimura comes in with a snack and reassures me that everything will be alright as long as I spill the beans. Do I have that right?”
Fabi’s eyebrows raised in surprise. “You think I’m the bad cop here?”
Huh? What does he mean by that? Niles wondered.
“So what’s it gonna be?” Fabi asked. “We can keep you here as long as it takes.”
Niles simply stared in defiant silence.
“I thought so,” Fabi continued. “You’re gonna regret not coughing it up sooner rather than later. I can promise you that.
As Fabi eased himself back up, Niles leapt from his place on the cot and launched another punch straight at Fabi’s head. This time, however, Fabi was ready. He grabbed Niles’ fist and rammed his forehead into Niles’. The pounding headache Niles had immediately increased a hundred times over.
“GAAAAH!” He grasped desperately at his skull as it was filled with blinding white agony.
Fabi ignored his screams completely. “Kimura will be here within the hour,” he said as he made exit. “Make sure you’re ready for him.”
Part 8: Bad Cop
Niles coughed. He hadn’t been given even a drop of water since he’d been imprisoned.
How long have I even been here? he wondered. Has it been an hour? Three hours? A day?
Regardless, his condition seemed to worsen with every passing moment. Not only could he barely move his arm, but his chest hurt every time he breathed.
Is there any way I can get out of this?
It didn’t seem to be the case. Even if he did manage to get out of the room, he wouldn’t be able to get very far without getting caught.
He stared up at the fluorescent light on the ceiling and thought about Enoch and his crew. It should almost be time to activate BlueBell and cleanse the world. If they actually went through with it, Niles hoped he could live to see the end result.
Our new world, he thought. Ours to build…
He was supposed to be the one to lead the chosen people to their paradise. It was his destiny. Instead, what did he actually preside over? A tiny concrete room?
It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
“CLANK!” The door opened once again and, just as Fabi had promised, Kimura peeked inside, a playful smile on his face.
“Ah, you’re awake,” Kimura said. “Good! We have some work to do together.” In his right hand, he carried a small leather briefcase. He set this down on top of the chair Fabi had left and carefully opened the twin metal latches on it. As he slowly opened the case up, Niles felt his heart drop into his gut.
You have to be kidding me…
Inside the case was a long pair of bronze-colored scissors, roughly a foot long and patched over with scratches, scuffs, and bits of rust. Although they looked old, the blades still seemed exceptionally sharp.
“Ah,” Kimura said to the scissors, his eyes shining. “My old friend. You remember me, right?” He picked them up and gave them a couple snaps.
This can’t be real, Niles thought, absolutely petrified. It’s not legal! You can’t treat prisoners like this!
To his horror, Kimura’s smile grew bigger and more sinister. His eyes also became wider and redder as he turned to glare at Niles. This was a side of Kimura that he had never seen before, and dearly wished he hadn’t.
“What are you going to do?” Niles asked, inching backwards as Kimura took a step towards him. “You can’t possibly be serious, right?”
Kimura laughed. It sounded distorted and too low, as if it were coming from an entirely different person (or even a different kind of creature entirely). Scissors clasped firmly in his left hand, he reached out and opened them up, showing Niles the sharp clean blades.
“You can end it at any time,” Kimura said, taking another step towards him. “Just confess, or you’ll end up like me.”
“N-no!” Still on the cot, Niles backed up into the corner, as far as he could possibly go in his position. “NO!”
“Yes!” The blades of the scissors inched closer to Niles’ arm. He felt the shock of something cold as one of them brushed up against his flesh. To his horror, that was all it took to draw blood. The red liquid trickled down onto the thin white sheets of the cot, creating vibrant stains in the fabric.
“OKAY!” Niles shouted, “Okay, I’ll tell you! Just please stoooooop!”
Kimura backed away and closed the blades of the scissors. His face seemed to revert back to normal instantly.
“Alright then,” he said. “Talk.”
Niles felt warm tears begin to spill all of the details. “I work for the Half Moon Church,” he confessed. “I installed the program on the computers so I could send the photo to their Virginia compound as part of project BlueBell.”
Niles nodded and let out a small pitiful cough before continuing. “It uses a massive computer system. I don’t understand all of it, but it involves a botnet.
“They’ve been spreading a special virus around for years now. It lays dormant on the computers it infects until BlueBell is activated. Once that happens, they have remote control of computers across the entire country. It’s something they’ve been working on for years.”
Kimura tilted his head slightly. “And the photo?” he asked. “They plan on using it with that botnet?”
“Midnight tonight. I made the call just before I was knocked unconscious.” He looked downward, unable to make eye contact out of shame.
“Midnight?” Kimura seemed panicked. He immediately shoved the scissors back into their case and flew out of the room in a mad dash, closing the door and locking it behind him.
“W-wait a minute!” Niles desperately called after him. “HEY! WAIT! CAN I AT LEAST GET A CUP OF WATER!?”
Part 9: Thunder and Lightning
Standing outside of his compound, Enoch Winchester watched as the helicopter slowly approached in the dark night sky. He breathed deeply the crisp night air, and felt his body become reinvigorated.
It truly is a good night, he thought with a smile.
His team was currently hard at work making final preparations on BlueBell. If he could keep the federal agents occupied, they’d be finished within the hour.
Just in time too…
He reached up and pulled the black eyepatch off of his face, revealing the completely black eyeball underneath. It was finally time to unleash his true power.
He lifted his hands up towards the approaching copter, and dark clouds began to form in the sky. They swirled around at an unnatural speed, looking almost like the start of a tornado. The helicopter became unsteady, rocking back and forth in the furious sky.
“BOOM!” A bolt of lightning burst from the clouds and struck the top of the helicopter directly. Enoch watched with glee as the machine plummeted into the forest below.
They’ve been grounded! he thought gleefully. Good!
Out of his coat pocket, he produced a walkie talkie. He pressed the button, prompting a beep from the device.
“Jacob,” he said to the crew member on the other end. “Open up the garage door. It’s time to prepare the tank!”
Part 10: 33 Minutes
“We’ve got thirty-three minutes left,” Kimura said, a panicked expression on his now very pale face. “Once the clock strikes midnight, that botnet is going to display the photo on computers all across the country!”
The whole team in the hotel room went slack jawed in abject horror at this sudden development.
“A-are you serious?” Lazarus asked. He frantically scrambled to remove the phone from his pocket and began dialing someone. “There’s no way around it. We gotta get the country’s power grid shut down now. Otherwise a ton of people are going to die!”
“He’s right,” Agent Wolf chimed in. “I’ll get a hold of the president. Victoria can try the FBI as well.”
Fabi felt dizzy in the middle of all of this chaos. Just a few days ago, he was a normal small city detective investigating an alleged suicide. Now he was at the epicenter of a national crisis on a scale he had never imagined.
I can’t just sit here frozen, he thought. I need to do something as well.
Fabi took out his phone and dialed the only person he knew could do something about the situation.
“Sheriff,” he said immediately as Sheriff Zimmerman answered.
“Fabi?” the sheriff asked. He had obviously been sleeping, and his voice was still raspy and dry. “What’s going on?”
“I need you to call the city power plant as soon as possible to shut down the power grid.”
“Th-the whole thing?” the sheriff asked incredulously. “Why? What for?”
“I can’t explain, but we only have half an hour! It’s a matter of life and death! Please, I need you to do this!”
The sheriff considered it for a moment before replying.
“Mendez,” he finally said. “Do you know how insane that sounds?”
Fabi was at a loss, so he handed the phone over to Kimura, who took it instantly.
“Sheriff,” he said. “This is Inspector Shozo Kimura, working with the FBI and CIA. I hope you’re in good health.”
Sheriff Zimmerman was taken aback by this sudden turn of events.
“Uh… Yeah, I’m doing fine. You said the CIA?”
“Correct. There’s reason to believe that an attack on your city is imminent. We need the power grid shut down as quickly as possible. Can you do this for us?”
A stark silence hung in the air. Fabi felt his nerves burn with anxiety as he waited for the reply.
Sheriff Zimmerman sighed audibly. “Okay, okay. I’ll do it. But I need you guys to give me the rundown afterwards.”
“Of course, Sheriff,” Kimura replied. “We appreciate your cooperation on this matter.”
After Kimura hung up and gave the phone back, Fabi began dialing the sheriff of the next town as well. Sadly nobody answered this time.
After giving the call another try, he glanced back at the clock at the far end of the room. There were only ten minutes until midnight, and they were going to go by fast.
“Any luck?” Kimura asked Wolf.
The expression on her face was dark and grim. “They’re going to do it,” she said. “But it will likely take them at least ten minutes.”
Fabi’s gut churned at the news. He had to forcibly stop the bile from coming up into his throat.
She nodded solemnly. “It will likely be too late.”
Feeling the room spin around him, Fabi turned to look at the clock once again. With each tick of the second-hand, a little more of him seemed to die inside.
No, he thought, his mind buzzing with nervous energy. This can’t be happening… It can’t be real…
Kimura closed his eyes, unable to watch the clock any longer. “Dear god,” he muttered. “We’ve failed.”