Forsythe Down (excerpt)


Forsythe Down
Z. A. Crum

Chapter 1
The Informer

David sat, eating lunch in the fourth floor promenade of the embassy when the call came over the land line. An assistant, formally dressed, handed him the temporary note. David nodded, handing back the note as the words faded. Taking out a napkin, he wiped his face quickly and stood. A server came and removed his tray as he stepped away from the table.
Like most of the embassy, dust floated throughout the promenade. Cubed windows, set high along the perimeter, coursed down glimmering shafts of light. Like most of his colleagues, David was a foreigner, and as such, appreciated the cool air the massive concrete walls afforded the interior. Outside, the temperature already approached an unbearable level, but here, inside, the air remained at a cool level.
One story down he strode into his office, nodding at his assistant.
“Go ahead and let him in.”
Twenty minutes passed before the individual, tall and strikingly handsome, with trim hair greased and combed, walked in. He nodded respectfully, glancing at the chair before him. David, already seated behind his desk. Motioned for the man to sit down.
A moment passed, the individual coughed before speaking. “My name is Akio Tanner.”
“Hello Mr. Tanner. My name is David. I hear you have been through quite an ordeal.”
Akio gave a half smile. “To say the least. Traveling here, from the Site, has not been without difficulty.”
“It is my understanding that once one is assigned to the Site, it is very difficult to leave.” David said. In fact, leaving the Site was close to impossible. Once the Retriever Corps acquired personnel, they stayed for the remainder of their term.
“Yes. My term does not end until twelve years from now.” David nodded in sympathy, although from the expression on Akio’s face, he could tell the man had not minded his time down in the hole.
“But something occurred. Something to give you reason to slip away and report to us.”
“Yes. Several months ago, in fact.” Akio’s eyes drifted to the wall behind David. Lost in thought. “Three months ago the source material began to thin. For every ton of dirt we extracted, only a milligram of source material came up with it.”
David shook his head in confusion. For all intents and purposes, his duties consisted of personnel issues, not scientific understanding.
“We should have been pulling up much more. Our superiors-”
“The Retriever Corps?” David asked. Akio nodded.
“The Retriever Corps became anxious. At first we thought it was with nervousness that we were running out. A few days later a few of us realized it had been excitement.
“Excitement?” From David’s understanding, it had been the Retriever Corps that initially discovered the Site. “Foreknowledge?”
“Perhaps. We dug for another day or so before discovering another material.”
David’s stomach dropped. He looked out his office doorway to make sure no one stood nearby. He whispered, “Another source material?”
“Yes. And it was unlike anything we’d seen before. Before the Retriever Corps arrived, I squirreled away a few grams.” And then, to David’s horror, the man pulled out a containment vial from his pocket. David yelled, torn between diving and running, before deciding on cowering in his chair.

Copywrite 2012 Z.A. Crum


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