Chain of Command
Chain of Command
His heart rate never rose above sixty as he looked through the scope of his .50 caliber sniper rifle at the unfortunate soul caught in his crosshairs.
He kept his breathing even. He inhaled deeply, slowly, so he could hold his breath as long as it took when the moment came. Then, he controlled his exhale equally. Hold. Breathing when he pulled the trigger could affect the shot's precision. He had done this a time or two. Actually way more, but this one was different.
This one he knew.
Still, no reason to worry. Stick to the protocol.
He fixed on the target's head in the center of the scope. The perfect kill shot. Just the way the United States military taught him.
Beside him sat a cell phone, the prepaid kind you could pay cash for in any discount store so it couldn't be traced. Only one person had the number to this phone.
He sucked air into his nostrils, noting the feel of the air temperature as he watched the glowing face of the phone, the clock flicking in time from 8:59 to 9:00 PM. The phone vibrated against the cement. He turned it on and listened in his earpiece.
"You good to go?"
"Yep, have to go now. Target locked."
"On my three," said the voice.
It was important their shots go off at exactly the same time so the message would be unmistakable.
He heard the voice count it off at the other end of the phone. "One..."
His finger tightened on the trigger. His eyes bored into the skull of the man he was about to blow apart. He was lucky he still had a clear shot, but then again, the plan was perfect. Amazing something so incredible and horrible could be counted off in the same manner as ripping a Band-Aid off of a five-year-old kid's knee.
His finger tensed just the right amount and held there, ready to fire.
As he squeezed the trigger, he heard the shot at the other end of the line. A blast right on top of my own. That's a new one .
Even as the recoil slammed his frame backward, he was already back on his feet and disassembling the rifle. He thrust the pieces into his case in less than thirty seconds, then ran down the stairwell, calm but rushed.
And he was right to be in a hurry. He'd not only just heard the gunshot that killed the President of the United States.
He had just executed the Vice President.
Day 1: Early Morning
The phone rang. The shrill cry of her mockingbird ringtone crowed in the air demanding an answer. Try as she might to ignore it, it wouldn't stop.
"All right, all right!" Fifty-three-year-old Elaine Covington rolled over in her bed and pulled the receiver to her ear. This had better be good.
"What?" she barked into the phone. The numbers on the clock beside her four-poster bed read 12:44 AM. Who the hell would be calling at this hour, and what was so important they felt it warranted waking her?
"I'm sorry for the lateness of the hour, Madame Speaker," said the voice on the other line, tension seeping through his tone. His first words were too fast, his last too slow, as if he didn't know what to call her. "But it's an emergency. This is Bert Royal."
She knew him, though her staff spent more time with him than she had. There weren't many occasions when her position required her to interact with President Seymour's Chief of Staff. Elaine clutched the phone tighter as Bert spoke.
"The president and the vice president have been shot. Both are dead. Madame Speaker, you're the first Congressperson, um, former Congressperson to know."