Life & Island Times: Red Death Chapter Five


Our young Lt. was estimating how much he would have to fork out for the braid and expensive bespoke tailored dinner dress uniforms that he would need when he was subsequently invited to soirees in the salons of DC’s national security power brokers, when his division boss’s deputy, an ex-Army intel guy, stopped by.

In a grim voice, he ordered El Tee to meet the division head in his office. Marlow didn’t panic. “He wants to know about your one-liner.” he thought, mentally reviewing everything he knew about the piece, which was not much more than what the imagery report said and that it was wholly singly sourced to the ROK analysts of which there were only two. The deputy vanished into thin air as if he were a ghost.

“Lt. Marlow, I read your piece,” the division head continued in a soft yet parental tone, “You know, this is very important. I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but the NORK Navy is conducting naval exercises in the Sea of Japan. We knew that they were planning something of the sort, but we weren’t expecting them to be out in such large numbers or conducting operations this extensively. Are they monitoring our reaction to this launch? Aenid is doing a spot report on the exercises; I want you to send out a joint piece on this.”

Marlow was feeling mighty pleased. At last, someone grasped the importance of the “Red Death.” He decided to press his luck. “What about my Brazilian article? I’m supposed to have my third draft on it in by Friday.”

“I want to focus this joint piece on the technical end of things. Details, details, details are what they’ll want in the Pentagon. Not earth shaking conclusions. Cut the part about threatening the balance of forces between the superpowers.” Stick to the facts of the matter.”

Young Marlow was too wet behind the ears to have anticipated this. The middle bureaucrats of the Center were mostly Cold War technical analysts, who were weak on larger strategic concepts. Had he been older, Marlow would have sighed at this man’s open willingness to allow framing such a hot issue to drift away from his control.

The division head’s voice interrupted Marlow’s character analysis. “By the way, I want this to go as a Special One Pager. Talk to Aenid. I’ve already given her some points on what I want in it.”

Marlow closed the door behind him, ashen grey faced and filled with dread. By the time the piece would run, the NORK’s new sub would probably be coming back from its fifth strategic missile deterrent patrol in the Sea of Japan.

Copyright 2017 My Isle Seat

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