A CIA agent wants to give a journalist certain very important information for publication. What is it? True remorse or another red herring from intelligence agencies.
Politicians can’t make our lives better, since their main aim is to struggle for power, not to solve social problems.
Carl opened the door and walked into the office. Several men in business suits, seated at a large oval table, raised their heads.
Middle-aged man: Come on, Mr. Bush, we've been waiting for you for a long time.
Instead of greeting them, Carl looked over everyone sitting at the table with his piercing cold stare. Even though a seat was ready for him at the table, Carl wouldn't sit down. He walked past the table and stood by the window.
Middle-aged man: (turning towards the window) We've got a very important and urgent task for you. As you know, the president plans to play out his game, and despite all our warnings and attempts to bring him to his senses, he still does things his way. Now this stubborn fool intends to take up the financial system. We have information that he intends to act decisively and lightning-fast. Our colleagues are very concerned about this situation. Not just in America, but in Europe and Asia, too.
Carl: And what about the first lady?
Middle-aged man: She'd lost all her influence on him.
Carl: I understand that we don't have the time to spin the dirty laundry option, right?
Middle-aged man: Right. We have no leverage left with him and we're running out of time. So, we decided to take the most decisive and radical measures. How quickly can you prepare everything? (he looked at Carl closely)
Carl understood perfectly what this unequivocal look meant. But it was not a surprise to him. It was his job.
Carl: It depends on how credible it all has to look.
Middle-aged man: You must have been prepared for this course of events, didn't you?
Carl: Yes, but it'll still take me a while to use that trick that I've got up my sleeve.
Middle-aged man: The president will deliver a speech in Boston in four weeks.
Carl: That should be enough.
Elderly man: Go ahead then, Mr. Bush. Use any and all financial and information resources available to us. Use your best people in for this task. You haven't got any room for mistakes.
Carl: I'll just do it myself.
The middle-aged man nodded affirmatively. Carl left the office without saying goodbye.
Sean came home late. He had barely managed to take off his shoes and change when the doorbell rang. Sean looked at his watch and walked over to the door to look into the peephole. A man in a black raincoat was standing behind the door. Sean opened the door.
Carl: Good evening, Mr. McKenna. Can I come in and speak to you?
Sean examined the stranger with suspicion.
Sean: I'm sorry, who are you?
Carl: My name is Carl Bush. I have very valuable information that you will surely find interesting. Let me come in, though, I don't want to explain myself right here in the hallway. (Carl looked around)
Sean shuffled about a little on the spot, still doubtful, but ended up letting the stranger in.
Sean: Go on in, right over there. Sit down in the armchair if you want. So, how can I help you?
Carl: I work for one of the state military structures. I’ve got some very important information for you that I would like to make public.
Sean: CIA? FBI? NSA? Can I see some ID?
Carl: I could show you any of these credentials, but there’s no point to it.
Sean: Why would I believe you then? How would I know that this isn't disinformation or a fake? And what information are we talking about, anyway?
Carl: When you hear all of it, you'll definitely know it's not a fake. I give you my word.
Sean: Why me, though? Don't you have your own channels where usually you leak the right information to the media?
Carl: Right now, I am acting without approval from my superiors. You could say I am doing it as a private individual. I've been watching you for a long time. You are one of the few truly independent journalists left in our country. Your investigative journalism, well, it's a headache for the people I work for. They even wanted to kill you a few months ago, but I talked them out of it, since it may have attracted unwanted public attention. Plus, you seem like an honest person to me, someone who sincerely wants people to have access to truth. You have your own perspective on everything that goes on in the world, which makes it so hard for you to move up the career ladder on television.
Sean: Screw that career ladder! Television is a thing of the last century. I have my internet channel and my blog...
Carl: That's why I chose you. I know many people think you're a wacko, because you deeply believe in various conspiracy theories. I can give you information that will make everyone listen to you.
Sean: I have tons of information. I need irrefutable evidence.
Carl: Believe me, Sean, what I'm offering you will send the entire planet into a frenzy... or at least, I would like to think that.
Sean: Okay, let's say I believe you. What are your terms?
Carl: The terms are very simple. Be at this address at 12:00 next Saturday. (Carl handed a note to Sean)
Sean: (Unfolding the note and reading it) Next Saturday? In Boston?... Wait, hold on... next Saturday, the president will speak in Boston. It's got something to do with all this, isn't it?
Carl: I can't tell you anything else, Mr. McKenna. Be there at the specified time. Bring a camera and a tripod. I'll be waiting for you there. And don't be late.
Carl got up and started walking towards the door.
Sean: Wait... why are you doing all this? Why do you want to leak this info to me?
Carl: (without looking back) Come to the meeting and I'll tell you everything. I have to go now.
Carl yanked the door handle and disappeared behind the door. Sean was left standing in the middle of the room with a note in his hands, his head full of questions and assumptions.
Up until Saturday, Sean kept doubting whether or not to go and meet the weird stranger. Is he just crazy? Or is it a trap to compromise Sean as a journalist and finish off his already tarnished reputation? Curiosity and interest ultimately took over. At exactly 12 on Saturday, Sean was in the designated spot. It was the internal courtyard of some administrative building. Sean looked around and then glanced at the watch. A door slammed somewhere behind him, and Sean turned around.
Carl: Mr. McKenna, I'm very glad you came. Come with me.
Sean nodded back and followed Carl. They climbed up the stairs for a long time, and finally reached the very last floor. Carl opened the door with a key, and when Sean went inside, he locked it again from the inside using the key.
Carl: Come on, Mr. McKenna, make yourself comfortable.
Sean: (looking around) Where are we?
Carl: Damned if I knew. It used to be an office of some sort.
Sean walked to the window and looked outside.
Sean: Look, you can see the stage where the president will speak from here...
Suddenly, Sean had a very unpleasant premonition. He looked at Carl.
Sean: Why are we here?
Carl: We're here to reveal the truth. If anyone else needs it besides you and me.
Sean's discomfort intensified, and he started panicking. He began to look around and noticed a large travel bag laying by the wall.
Sean: That's it, I've got to leave...
Sean darted towards the exit, but Carl stood in his way. He was holding a gun pointed straight at Sean's stomach.
Carl: I'm sorry, Mr. McKenna, but I can't let you leave. Believe me, nothing is threatening your life.
Sean: What? You are pointing a gun at me! You want to set me up!
Carl: No one wants to set you up. We've already set someone else up. Calm down. You're only here as a witness. Did you bring a camera?
Carl: Great. Set the camera right here.
Stunned by this development, Sean began to fix the camera on the tripod with shaking hands.
Sean: Done. What's next?
Carl: Take a chair and sit next to the camera. Good. Mr. McKenna, before we start what we've come here to do, we'll have to do something else. I apologize for the inconvenience in advance.
Carl took out the handcuffs from his pocket and fastened one of Sean's wrists to the cast-iron radiator.
Carl: As soon as we're done, I'll set you free at once, you have my word. Can you control the camera with the other hand? Okay, let's start then. Turn on the camera. You can ask me questions if anything is unclear.
Sean: What are you up to? What the hell is going on here?
Carl grabbed the bag lying by the wall and threw it under his feet.
Carl: I was recruited by the CIA when I was twenty-three. I was a promising young serviceman. At that point I still thought that I was serving my country and my people... (Carl unzipped the bag and started assemblying a sniper rifle)
Sean: Oh God, what are you up to? You're going to kill the president, aren't you?
Carl: (ignoring Sean's questions and continuing to put the rifle together) ... I was adept at dealing with various issues. I was particularly good with the dirty work. My talents were noticed and at one point I was introduced to people who have enormous power today.
Sean: Answer my question! Are you going to kill the president?
Carl: You better focus on what I'm telling you. I'll get to the president as well. So, these people were a group, an association that included the most powerful people on the planet at that time — heads of military agencies like the CIA and the FBI, big-time businessmen, politicians and, of course, bankers. They often held meetings — In London, Paris, Vienna, Los Angeles, New York and other cities. I often attended these meetings, and soon became a regular member of such gatherings.
Sean: What were they talking about at these meetings?
Carl: Lots of things. Discussed international politics, decided where, when and why it was necessary to unleash a war. How and when to launch another financial crisis. Technology and medicine were discussed, along with the vectors of social development. But all their decisions were always aimed at one thing — to keep power and financial dominance in their hands. My task throughout this game was to implement these decisions. Recently, they made another decision of this sort, which brings us here today. But it's all going to be different now.
Sean: Different in what sense?
Carl: I realized something in my many years of working for them. You see, their activities, which are basically the secret collusion of a group of people against the rest of society, may seem irreverent to a layman. I'm sure you think so, too, even though you're not a layman.
Sean: Do you not find it irreverent when a bunch of old liars keep duping the entire planet?
Carl: Wait, I'm not done. It's not that simple. They have their own theory on this. They are convinced that most people are shallow and narrow-minded laymen. If you just let things run their course, the society will quickly slide into uncontrollable anarchy. That's why we need people who will lead the way for civilization, so to speak.
Sean: Why do it all secretly?
Carl: You see, the resources on the planet are limited, so not everyone will be able to enjoy the elite lifestyle. The distribution of these resources among the planet's inhabitants is a very difficult and time-consuming process. Very unpopular decisions often need to be made. Most laymen won't like these solutions. You do know what I'm talking about, don't you?
Sean: And do you agree with their theory? Does it justify wars, crises, human sacrifices and the destruction of nature?
Carl: It used to seem logical to me. The sense of power is intoxicating, it's as bad as opium.
Sean: So, what has changed now?
Carl: I got sick of it. The doctor said I had an inoperable brain tumor. Neither power nor money will save me. It made me look at the world from a different angle. I realized I had done a lot of wrong in my life. It would be easier if I did it in the name of the universal good to make this world a better place... but it's not the case. Years go by, and our world doesn't get any better. It just sinks deeper and deeper in lies and futility.
Carl finally put the rifle together and carefully placed it on the floor by the window, flinging the bag aside. He glanced at his watch and continued.
Carl: I realized that the elite that I had served for so many years has led our society and our civilization nowhere. Our entire existence on the planet has come down to primitive consumption. And given the current economic, environmental and political situation, the future of our world seems gray and reeky to me. You don't need to have any classified information to understand that, right?
Carl: And that's when I decided it was high time to put a stop to this and change something.
Sean: You've come back too late. Alone, you can't change anything.
Carl: Yeah, I understand that. The only way to change anything is if people themselves want change and get their asses into gear. And what I thought up was a kind of viability test for humankind.
Carl took out his phone and read a message that he seemed to have just received.
Carl: Great. Everything is going according to plan.
Carl fixed his earpiece, opened the window, placed a chair next to the window and took the rifle into his hands.
Sean: Hold on, Carl, but why would you kill the president? He really is a decent man. I have information that he is planning a number of very radical reforms that could change...
Carl: They are incapable of changing anything. And the president won't be able to change anything, no matter how decent a man he is. He's a politician. And politicians can't make this world a better place. Because a politician has to lie and cheat by virtue of his profession.
Carl sat down on the chair, spread out the rifle supports and propped it on the window sill.
Carl: Whatever his intentions are, no matter how hard he tries to make this world a better place, he doesn't stand much of a chance. When you come into politics, you have to negotiate with different groups — the military, big business, bankers, other political groups. You have to please them all, otherwise it may come down to what's about to happen now. As a result, there'll be nothing left of your plans to make the world a better place. Politics is a swamp where good ideas and good people drown.
Sean: If you take politics out of it, the only other option is dictatorship, isn't it?
Carl: Right. But there is still common sense and awareness. I'm sure there have got to be other ways to structure a society. In the past, we couldn't even imagine the opportunities that the Internet gives us today. The society needs to come up with something else instead of politics. Our society has stalled in its development, and I want to give it a good kick in the butt, so that people finally stop acting like pathetic laymen. I want them to live with dignity, not to drag out their pathetic and meaningless existence. I want them to make their own decisions and take responsibility for them.
Carl pulled the shutter and began to adjust the optical scope.
Sean: Is it necessary to kill the president for that? You're making a mistake!
Carl: Yes, it's necessary. If I just gave you an interview, no one would believe me. My colleagues would quickly spread the rumors that I'm a psycho who’d run away from an asylum. Then they'd send me there after all of this, you can have no doubt. The same would be said about you. Something needs to happen to shake up the public, make people forget about their private lives for a moment, raise their heads and look around. Although, to be fair, I'm not sure that even if I kill the president and publicly confess to everything, it would make anyone do anything.
Carl took his hand off the scope and started aiming.
Carl: If people don't reconsider their principles and values after this, if the truth I tell them doesn't make them act, doesn't make them start building a new world, then they deserve the future that is coming. And I will die peacefully knowing that human civilization will not survive me by much.
Carl put his index finger on the trigger.
Sean closed his eyes and put his head down.
Carl: I'm sorry, Nick. I hope they honor you with a monument.
A frightening silence set in in the room, erupting with the rumble of the large-caliber rifle shot a few moments later.
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