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Random Fiction #2 – 112918

“I'm interested in learning more about your process. Tell me what makes it special.”

Jean Sarlenz pulled nervously on the coiled phone cord as she spoke. She sat behind a five-inch thick reinforced steel door in the sub-basement of the Federal States repository. The sole light in the room was dimmed so low she could barely see the spiral-bound reporter’s notebook on the desk in front of her.

She hadn't used a handset in years and blew dust off the light gray faceplate so she could read the Property of the U.S. Governmentsticker beneath. She coughed a little as the dust cloud dissipated and apologized to her guest.

Dmitry Rodale settled in on the other end of the secure line, sipping a piping hot cup of rigiberoo tea to soothe his sore throat, sensing what she really wanted to know.

“You want to know how I got mixed up with running the energy sector for the Federal States after the fall of the USA?” he asked, not wanting to beat around the bush.

Jean didn't know what to say. She hadn't expected Dmitry to be so casual and upfront about his part in the biggest scandal in decades.

“It’s alright,” he said. “We’re on a secure line. Besides, there are so few of these machines left in working order. And I own all of them.”

Jean leaned forward, pencil at the ready.

“Since we’re speaking freely, Mr. Rodale, saying you ‘run’ the energy sector is a bit of a joke,” she said, taking a deep breath after she had the nerve to tell the most powerful man in the underground that he was lying.

“Go on,” Dmitry said.

Jean steeled herself to calm her nerves, brushing her chin-length chestnut blonde hair back behind her right ear so she could hear more clearly.

“It's rumored that you pull the strings behind Chancellor McGraven’s government,” she said. She wanted to say more, but her sense of self-preservation kicked in. She imagined the black attack drones racing down the hallway any minute now, zeroing in on her secure line, prepared to blow up the room and all the secrets inside.

Dmitry let out a deep belly laugh, his booming voice echoing around the vast emptiness of his penthouse office overlooking the remnants of Millennium Park. In the distance, the icy waves of Lake Michigan swelled five meters high, whipped to a froth by a fierce November gale.

“I find that difficult to imagine,” he said. “I'm 2000 kilometers away from the coast, fly-over country I believe you journalists used to call it. Hardly a convenient location from which to run the last functioning government on this planet.”

“In this day and age it hardly matters where you live,” Jean snapped. “At least you're on-planet and not living the high life on Europa like the rest of your comrades in the revolution.”

“You've done your homework; I'll give you that, Miss Sarlenz,” Dmitry said.

“It's Mrs. Sarlenz, thank you,” she said, correcting him brusquely.

“My mistake, I thought your husband was killed last year,” he said.

“He was.”

Jean bit her tongue. She wanted to reach through the phone line and strangle the evil, demented S.O.B. with the cord. He was the reason she dug this deep into the underground over the last year. She knew Dmitry was behind Paul's murder.

“Yes, some of my associates think I'm slumming it by remaining behind on Earth. But this world has a certain charm that the pristine chill and perfection of Europa lacks. Besides, I am old and in no shape to bother with losing weight to fit into your skinny spaceships.”

“You could afford to build your own, down to the last double-wide Corsican leather seats,” Jean said, her voice dripping with disdain at the vast wealth she knew he could casually drop as if buying a bag of dog biscuits.

“I thought we were discussing my role in the energy sector, not the latest issue of the Starships of the Rich and Famous,” Dmitry said, attempting to steer the conversation back to more comfortable topics.

Copyright © 2018 Chad V. Holtkamp.

All rights reserved.

Yong Chuan

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