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Delta Green: Two Tickets, Please

Posted on May 23, 2011 by Flames

Born of the U.S. government’s 1928 raid on the degenerate coastal town of Innsmouth, Massachusetts, the covert agency known as Delta Green spent four decades opposing the forces of darkness with honor, but without glory. Stripped of sanction after a disastrous 1969 operation in Cambodia, Delta Green’s leaders made a secret pact: to continue their work without authority, without support, and without fear. Delta Green agents slip through the system, manipulating the federal bureaucracy while pushing the darkness back for another day-but often at a shattering personal cost.

Ten years ago, everything changed. It’s time you found out how.

It’s January 2001. The Delta Green agents code-named Cyrus and Charlie get the call: A young boy dead and buried for years has reappeared, healthy and happy, as if no time at all had passed and the disease that killed him had never been. The family thinks it’s a miracle, but Delta Green has seen too many miracles turn to madness. Cyrus and Charlie must discover what horrors lurk behind this one. The mission brings them to the brink of apocalypse-to the edge of the revelation and destruction of Delta Green-to secrets and terrors at the heart of reality itself.

Delta Green: Through a Glass, Darkly is a new novel written by Delta Green co-creator Dennis Detwiller. The book is finished. It’s been reviewed, revised and edited. Now Arc Dream Publishing is holding a Kickstarter project to raise the funds to publish it.

Flames Rising posted an earlier excerpt from Delta Green: Through a Glass, Darkly on April 30, 2011.

Here’s another glimpse.

Delta Green: Through a Glass, Darkly is by Dennis Detwiller, © 2010.

Two Tickets, Please

    Initial conspiracy cell contact: JFK International Airport, Queens, New York. 40.64 N/73.97 W latitude/longitude. Approximately 2,416 miles from Seattle: Sunday, January 30, 2001, 3:41 P.M. EST

    Sunburned and squinty, Curtis McRay stepped into the worst winter New York had experienced in thirty years. During his first vacation in five years (alone, thank you very much), McRay had sat on the beach at St. Thomas like some sort of plant, absorbing sunlight and slowly changing colors-and drinking. Much to his chagrin, he found he had forgotten how to have fun. He knew only how to unwind. Drinking every night, baking every day, sleeping in and eating out. Now he was back from fantasyland, looking red and out of place among the snow-bleached natives of the Big Apple. At least he still had about a week before he was due back at the Buffalo office. Time enough to wind himself back up to the breakneck speed of federal law enforcement.

    It had to be ten below with the wind chill, but JFK warmed his heart. People were being ticketed, yelling at ticketers, double-parking, unloading in the no-unloading zone, and entering unmarked, unlicensed cabs. New Yorkers always reminded him of the endless chattering of the monkey cage at the Bronx zoo. Little furry people hitting each other and flinging dung at innocent passersby. Without tails, of course, but basically the same. This sensation did not make McRay feel as one might think. It wasn’t a bad sensation. It was a warm, cheery feeling: I’M BACK IN THAT CAGE, THANK GOD. He looked goofy, standing there, a gawky man in a light coat amid a sea of freezing pedestrians. His weasel-like face, topped with shaggy brown hair, was broken in a grin even though his bulky Buddy Holly glasses were coated with fog. He stood for a while in the nasty weather and breathed it all in: New York.

    “Home,” he contentedly sighed. A Pakistani cab driver (apparently licensed) threw a chunk of ice from his windshield at a black cab driver (obviously unlicensed) who had stolen his fare by knocking ten dollars off the outrageous price for a ride to Queenswhich, needless to say, they were already in. All this took place a few feet from a bored transit cop who considered an interesting piece of snot he had removed from his nose with a meaty pinky. Nothing came of the ice attack. The projectile bounced off the black driver’s windshield as he laughed and pulled away with two terrified elderly passengers in the back seat. They looked like they had just leapt to life from the pages of Our Town.

    McRay lifted his luggage (he was slipping, you never let your luggage out of your hand at JFK, much less out of sight) and felt the wind cut into his sunburned face like razors. Someone shuffled up uncomfortably close behind him from the Delta terminal. McRay felt a single cold finger settle at the base of his skull. He spun comically.

    “Bang,” Poe said, face empty of emotion.

    Donald Poe lowered his left hand, poised in the shape of an imaginary gun, to an imaginary holster at the hip of his battered camouflage jacket. His heart jumping wildly, McRay began to laugh and let his hand drop away from his shoulder rig. There were some perks to being a fed; carrying a pistol on a plane ride was one of them. It had long since gotten to the point where he almost felt naked without it.

    “I could have shot you, you old dumb hick,” McRay laughed in a plume of steam, and then clapped the huge man on the back. Poe stared back impassively, but a hint of a smile bled through. The hick was indeed getting old, but he looked solid enough to play professional football. Age had not yet consumed his natural bulk or turned it to fat, something that seemed to occur after retirement in most men. That was a good thing; there weren’t too many in the group like Poe.

    You didn’t retire from the group. No one retired from the group. Maybe that’s what keeps Poe going, McRay thought.

    To McRay, Poe would always look like some sort of aging professional wrestler. Dressed in camo, boots and a John Deere cap, the squarely-built giant looked exactly like the type of gun-toting militiaman that had the FBI all in a twist. But he had humped it in the jungles for his country in the Sixties and had spent his fair share of time in “the dark” after his return. Hell, they both had had seen their share of some seriously spooky shit. McRay was only a little more than half the bigger man’s age but the two had spent some of the most harrowing moments of their lives together.

    POE EMPTYING THE CONTENTS OF A MOSSBERG SHOTGUN INTO A GLOWING MAN. The memory swam up in McRay’s mind like an untethered balloon drifting by in the dark, and he tried to push it away. RONALD VALIANT WAS THE MAN’S NAME, the quiet voice in his head intoned. VALIANT WAS LIKE SUPERMAN BECAUSE THERE WERE THINGS THAT GAVE HIM POWER, THINGS THAT CLICKED LIKE BUGS, LIKE GIANT MAINE LOBSTERS, LIKE.”

    Enough. It was hard to think about the specifics. It was the little things that got to you.

    They had paid their debts, or so he liked to imagine. But it was never over, once you were in; it was never over until you were over. It had taken McRay nine years to learn that. Poe had taught him by example. Donald A. Poe “Charlie” to those within the conspiracy-was the model agent of Delta Green.

    “I don’t see how you could have shot me,” Poe replied quietly, in a gravelly voice. The burn scar on his cheek rippled in time with the words. “I shot you first.” Someone laid on a horn so hard and so long McRay was sure some mechanical failure had occurred. Poe didn’t even flinch.

    “Let me guess: bad news?” McRay sighed. Suddenly he was glad he had cashed in a month of vacation time. He had planned on visiting New York City for two weeks before drifting back into the Buffalo FBI office. Now, it seemed, he would be on an op instead.

    “Nice tan. Yeah, I got the call yesterday. Came through Benton. Two tickets to the Opera. We’re on a plane in,” Poe glanced at his huge silver watch, “twenty-two minutes.”

    “So what’s the deal? Missing person? Creature feature?”

    Poe grabbed one of McRay’s bags, the big one, like it was filled with tissue paper, and walked back into the Delta terminal. McRay followed. Poe said something but it was lost in the mechanical slam of the doors.

    “What?”

    “I said, ‘Found person.'”

    “I didn’t get you.”

    “I said, ‘Found person.'”

    “What?” McRay stopped in the terminal and people fluttered by, maneuvering around him with contempt in their eyes. Poe stopped and turned to look at him, his voice even and quiet. Around them the world went on and on, secure in its own importance.

    “Michael Lumsden, age nine, was found asleep in his parents’ house six days ago in suburban Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia. The boy had been missing for more than ten years.”

    “Ten years? Age nine?”

    “Yeah,” Poe muttered back, his voice dropping. Something like fear was in his tone, but something else was there as well, something like certainty. McRay watched closely to see if he was setting up one of his rarely seen jokes, but his icy blue eyes stared back empty of any humor.

    “So?” McRay laughed nervously. “I guess, good for the Lumsdens, right? Who took him?”

    “Cancer took him. Michael Lumsden died at Philadelphia Children’s Hospital on October 5, 1990, of leukemia. He was two days short of his tenth birthday.”

    It didn’t matter how long you had the job, the ops still had a way of punching through anything you placed in their way. Work, life, the world meant nothing in the face of what McRay and Poe confronted. You never got used to it. It never became routine. Maybe that was its draw. Why so many had signed on and so many had died.

    And there were always more bodies coming down the chute.

    Poe turned and continued to check in. McRay stood for a moment, watching the man disappear into the crowd.

    “That’s all I fucking need,”he said to himself. “Another night at the fucking Opera.” He followed Poe.

    The Clipping Service

    Official notice of Class One paranormal event: The Country Club, outside Mount Weather, Virginia. 38.98 N/76.50 W latitude/longitude. Approximately 241 miles from Queens: Saturday, February 5, 2001, 1:12 P.M. EST

    The thin man approached the security checkpoint and presented his credentials. A guard considered him with the piercing stare of a sentry on the edge of enemy territory.

    The thin man stood stock still with his hands on the desk as the guard slipped the badge through the machine. A green light lit on the device.

    “Hand on the scanner, please, sir,” the guard ordered. The thin man knew that below the plain-looking desk a submachine gun was pointed directly at his crotch. If the light did not come on, if the chime on the palm scanner did not sound a Ding!, the thin man would not be long for this world. He would be cut in half by automatic fire in the middle of all this splendor and perfect architecture. If his bona fides were not up to snuff, he was dead. Even if there were some kind of computer glitch, he would be an ex-member of MAJESTIC and of the human race, in that order.

    The warmth of the light from the scanner ran up and then down his palm, followed rapidly by a loud DING! Something loosened in his chest.

    Not today, he thought.

    “You are free to pass, sir,” the guard said, and his voice held a distant note of regret.

    Fucking black-ops DELTA psychos, Martin Glenn thought. A buzzer sounded as the guard unlocked the tan double doors, and he passed through.

    Perched precariously on the edge of an immense desk covered in papers, Charles Bostick glanced up as Glenn entered.

    “Marty, what’s up?”

    “I just got this from the national clipping service. It looks like another Class One event, something for Yrjo and the boys. Ross is going to want a piece of it, too. We’re lucky the facility is in such a shambles. How long until OUTLOOK is back up and running?”

    “A month, maybe more. Shit,” Bostick cursed and stood up. His soda-stained shirt hung from an undone belt and his hair stood up in sleep-sculpted strands. They had just finished erasing the “deaths” of twenty-three men who went missing from Fort Benning in late June under circumstances best not considered. Thirteen men had spent three months rewriting files, changing dates, moving reports, misplacing and destroying and doctoring personnel records all the way down to individual gas receipts and photographs. With the illusion complete, they hoped, each family would believe that only their loved one had simply gone AWOL.

    If not, other resources would be tapped. It was a complex shuck and jive. MAJESTIC was good at it because it had done it so many times. It was their most basic play: Cover it up and deny it all. It was best not to think of how much there was to eliminate. The jobs just kept coming, each more complex than the last. Walking corpses, alien parasites and spaceships.

    MAJESTIC was lucky to have a master at the wheel of their disinformation machine. That master was Charlie Bostick.

    Martin Glenn handed the sheet over. In the past few years Bostick had perfected the classic technique, honing what had been a blunt tool to a wicked razor’s edge. Before his arrival, going back to 1947, the group would muscle in, throw some weight around and crush anyone who failed to toe the government line: ”UFOs did not exist, and neither did anything smacking of UFOs. It was expensive. It was a lot of work and it led to its own set of problems.

    Bostick had simply pointed out the obvious: What the MAJESTIC study group dealt with, for the most part, sounded just plain ridiculous to anyone outside the group. With his new program there were no more heavy-handed black ops, outside of closing off a few persistent loose ends. Instead the group applied a little disinformation here, some misleading data there, a few small character assassinations, and voila, the mystery=the darkness that the group covered up-vanished like a media magic trick. For the most part there was no need for cordons and containment and guns. People didn’t believe in aliens and spaceships and monsters from other dimensions. Their disbelief was the lever on which human thought could be moved.

    Bostick manned that lever.

    Bostick knew people better than they knew themselves. He was a walking encyclopedia of fringe lore and factual weirdness, a cross-referencing media machine.

    But he didn’t look like a genius. He looked like formerly happy man who has just now found out some terrible truth about life.

    FINGERPRINTS CONFIRM MYSTERIOUS YOUTH IS MICHAEL LUMSDEN, the tabloid headlines shouted. NINE-YEAR-OLD RETURNS FROM THE GRAVE. FAMILY WITHHOLDS COMMENT. Bostick scanned the stories rapidly.

    “Sweet Jesus,”Bostick muttered, mostly to himself. “How the fuck are we going to cover this up? This shit’s like media heroin. They will report on this one story until they die. Even I couldn’t come up with shit this sweet. . . .”

    Martin Glenn could hear Justin Kroft’s answer already, and now he and Bostick said it together in unison the standard, pat answer they always were given by the steering committee.

    “Just cover it up,” they both said glumly. Then they sat down and got on with it.

    A look of confusion spilled over Bostick’s sallow face-then the look of something clicking into place. Hard. He jumped up and snatched a file from the edge of his desk and rapidly leafed through the pages. He settled on something, a name, circled it and then checked another in a newspaper article.

    “Oh shit, they match, I think. What does that mean?” Bostick said in a strangled voice, biting his thumbnail, “I got a feeling about this one. . . .”

    “What do we do now?” Glenn asked.

    “We go to Philadelphia and find some yearbooks from Thomas Jefferson High School for 1989. Then we get Kroft on the horn.”

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