Excerpt from "Conspiracy!" Chapter Twenty Nine
The Washington Monument stands most impressive against a cobalt blue sky, its marble face nearly blinding in the late October sun. Well, the first one hundred and fifty feet are nearly blinding, the upper four hundred and five are, frankly, a little dingy.
Inside the world’s tallest man-made stone structure, Woodhead and Blundstein are feeling the burn as they struggle to climb the granite stairs... Jack with his beanstalk never climbed so high. Blundstein counts off the last few steps as they finally reach the Observation Deck. “...896...897.”
The spectacular view of the nation’s capital will have to wait, as the reporters are bent over desperately gasping for air. A kid wearing an Air Force One ball cap gives them a puzzled look.
“Why didn’t you just take the elevator?”
Woodhead and Blundstein look up, holding their sides and wheezing.
“There’s an elevator?!”
The reporters turn to see the doors of an express elevator slide open. The place is starting to clear out as a group of sightseers board the waiting car.
After a few deep breaths the boys manage to stand upright again.
“How will we know the guy from the note?” Blundstein asks.
Woodhead studies the dwindling crowd.
“I don’t know. I guess we’ll just have to trust our instincts.”
They look around and spot a tourist in a ‘WE THE PEOPLE’ t-shirt taking pictures of the National Cathedral through the north window.
They exchange a confident smile.
The tourist takes a few more pictures then lowers his camera to find himself sandwiched between Woodhead and Blundstein. The reporters speak in a low tone while pretending to admire the view...they know how to be discreet.
“So...who are the men behind the conspiracy?” Woodhead asks, out of the side of his mouth.
“Don’t worry, we can protect you,” Blundstein adds, also out of the side of his mouth.
The tourist looks at them like they’re crazy. He backs away and quickly darts into the elevator just as the doors are closing.
“Please!” Woodhead calls after him. “You’ve come this far!”
The reporters are left alone on the observation deck. Blundstein frowns. “Damn!”
Woodhead shakes his head, sadly. “He must’ve got cold feet.”
A low and cautious voice intones behind them.
“Gentlemen, I believe I’m the man you’re looking for.”
Woodhead and Blundstein turn to find a man in a long raincoat standing in the shadows. The reporters shrug and cross to him.
The man looks around, nervous.
“I have a lot to tell you and not much time.”
Blundstein takes out his notepad. Woodhead gives the mysterious man a grateful nod. “We appreciate you coming forward, Mr...?”
“I’m not going to tell you my name, or who I work for,” the man in the long raincoat says. “Just call me...‘X’.”
Blundstein looks up from his notes, his curiosity piqued.
He takes a guess.
“As you know,” X continues. “Bellamy was assassinated to keep him from giving you the original draft of a secret trade agreement.”
Blundstein tries again.
X stops to give Blundstein a sideways glance then continues.
“This is far more than just a trade agreement. It’s an instrument of surrender. Once signed, entire nations will fall. The treaty will force countries to give up their national sovereignty through an unbreakable contract, which guarantees private investors the right to extract global resources without restriction. This is a new form of colonialism…contractual colonialism. Any law, or regulation, that interferes with corporate profits will be seen as a violation of the agreement and the offending country will be subject to sanctions, or sued for up to half of its GDP.”
Blundstein turns to Woodhead.
“Sounds like your phone contract.”
“Yeah, those guys own me.”
“This document goes way beyond the level of greed that has run the world to this point,” he says gravely. “Beyond the simple capture of trade routes and the control of energy resources. With this agreement, wealth extractors have found a way to legalize their spread of Empire. This trade contract will supersede the rule of law, and with nothing to stop them, this consortium of money monarchies will divvy up the wealth of the world in a modern day conquistador pursuit of gold and return us all to feudalism.”
Blundstein turns to Woodhead.
“You really should change your carrier.”
Woodhead shakes his head.
“I can’t…you heard what he said. They’ll sue me for half my GDP!”
X hears a sound from the elevator shaft.
He listens for a moment then lowers his voice even further and continues.
“The operation is run by a high-ranking military officer, the same man who ordered Barton and Farrell to assassinate Bellamy.” He pauses, “Let’s call him...General ‘Y’.”
Blundstein looks up, his curiosity piqued. He takes a guess.
“It was General Y who gave the order to bug Green Party Headquarters. The Green Party candidate has promised, if elected, to get off fossil fuels and switch to renewable energy. General Y cannot allow that to happen.”
Blundstein tries again.
X gives Blundstein another sideways glance.
“General Y works for a secret group of men. Men with no names and no allegiances. Men whose only concerns are wealth and absolute power.”
The boys exchange an ominous look.
X nods, gravely.
“Yes, and they must be stopped. But you’ll need proof. The original draft memo, Document 214.8, which outlines the provisions of the secret treaty is kept in the National Archives. You must find a way to get that document to the public, but be careful...the conspiracy goes everywhere.”
Woodhead gives him a solemn nod.
“You can count on us, Mr. X.”
Woodhead and Blundstein shake hands with X.
Blundstein takes one last shot.
The elevator doors open.
X nods to the reporters.
“We shouldn’t leave together…you go first.”
The boys step into the elevator. X tenses at the sound of footsteps on the stairs. He turns to the reporters.
“Are you sure you weren’t followed?” he asks, in a hoarse whisper.
“We didn’t see anybody,” Blundstein says, with a shrug.
X looks around, nervous.
“Did you take the precautions I outlined for you on the phone?”
The reporters give him a blank look.
The elevator doors slide shut. X is alone on the observation deck. He turns toward the stairs as the footsteps grow louder.
© 2015 S.A. Gorman and S.J. Curwick