Alien Hunter: The White House by Whitley Strieber is the 3rd installment of the Alien Hunter series where Flynn Carroll must save the president before an alien race attempts to control his mind and take over the world (Available April 5, 2016).
The aliens have seen many worlds, but they know that Earth in particular is a jewel. They lust for its soaring mountains, its shining seas, its gorgeous forests, and majestic deserts. There is just one part of the planet that they don't want: us.
Flynn Carroll knows that the aliens are a race of brilliance and extraordinary cruelty. And he knows that they have found a way to eliminate humanity: capture the mind of the president of the United States. Control him, and you control the most powerful man in the world.
Though Carroll is determined to stop the aliens from achieving their goal, the president remains ignorant of the danger that he and the rest of the planet are in. With doomsday coming ever closer, Carroll might be the only hope for the survival of the human race.
MELANIE HOLLISTER, a member of the White House secretarial pool for thirty years, was the first to see the dark liquid oozing out from under the door of Albert Doxy’s office. She stared down at it. Could it be blood? That’s what it looked like.
She tapped on the door, but softly, tentatively. Doxy was just a kid, but there was something about him that made her uneasy. He didn’t belong in the West Wing, surely, or, for that matter, even in government, not at twenty-four.
No answer. She reached down, but hesitated. Maybe she should inform somebody. She walked on, her heels tapping smartly as she hurried back to Legislative Affairs.
She sat down at her very polished desk and at once dialed the Secret Service duty officer. Then she stopped. She should have examined it more closely. What if it was floor cleaner, or paint; she’d look like a fool.
When she returned to the corridor, she found that the gleaming, dark red pool had spread almost across to the other side of the hall. It was blood, no question, and a lot of it.
Fisting the scream that the sight of it drew from her, she went to the nearest inside phone and said to the duty officer, “I believe we have blood on the floor here.”
Moments later, two Secret Service agents appeared, guns drawn.
Confirming that it was blood and that there was nobody responding from behind the door, they initiated a “possible intruder” alarm.
Under such an alarm, the first thing that happens is that the president, First Lady, and family members are evacuated from the building. If possible, they will be escorted aboard Marine One on the South Lawn and flown to a place of safety.
In this case, though, the helicopter was not present, so they were hustled into a car and driven away. The nondescript emergency sedan, its existence known only to a few security personnel and the first family, was heavily armored. It was balanced in such a way that its exterior—the body of a Chrysler 300—revealed no hint of either its great weight or its powerful engine. Normally, no escort accompanied it, just the agent driving. It was meant to be incognito, this car. Still, its every movement was tracked, both via a GPS unit built into its onboard computer and by satellite. Unmarked cars shadowed it, ready to pounce at the least sign of trouble.
As the First Family left, a staff evacuation took place and all tourists were escorted to the street. Just as in a fire drill, the staff members moved calmly to their assigned staging points, identified themselves to their group heads, and waited. As always, they were given only necessary information. They had no idea if this was a drill or the real thing. Some of the most powerful people in the world stood in the Rose Garden and on the South Lawn, shielding their eyes from the bright sun and staring back at the building’s dark windows.
Within four minutes of the emergency being declared, the agents on scene received word that the building was clear and that POTUS was on his way to a safe house. This could be the vice president’s mansion; 716 Jackson place, the ex-presidents’ “clubhouse” across the street from the White House; or any number of other locations in Washington, kept ready for the president in the event he needed to evacuate but not to leave the city, and so far that did not appear to be necessary.
After a series of double and triple checks of the complex building, the staff was allowed to return to all areas except the second floor of the West Wing, which was now sealed, all stairways and the elevator guarded by Secret Service agents.
It was to the ex-presidents’ clubhouse that the Secret Service took President “Wild” Bill Greene, his wife Lorna, and their daughter, the tightly self-contained Annette, known to her few close friends by her childhood nickname of Cissy. Privately, the staff called her Snow, for her flowing blond hair and her coldness. She was twenty and as desirable as a woman could be, tall, smooth, and slender. She had gray eyes that watched the world around her with a vigilance that all who met her found disconcerting. She had a difficult past, Cissy, hidden even from her parents. Something had been revealed to her when she was all of seventeen that should never have been revealed to anyone without the skills necessary to cope with secrets, and this was not just any secret. It was the most toxic secret in the world.
It was illegal for her to tell even her father, despite the fact that he was now president. The secret had transformed her from a hell-raising, fun-loving teenager, every bit as wild in reality as her father was by reputation, to an old woman in a shimmering young body, her once-innocent face now wrapped in shadows.
The First Family’s Secret Service code names were Rover, Silver, and Tea, all chosen at random, so it was claimed. But Wild Bill had many girlfriends, Lorna—understandably—had silver hair, and Cissy would have looked very appropriate behind a formal tea service.
Back at the White House, the teams that now filled the corridor outside of Doxy’s much-coveted office prepared to enter. These people were all in shock, but only the Secret Service understood this. The agents were watching closely for the sorts of fumbling mistakes and emotional outbursts that come with these situations, ready to pull anybody out of their task at the first sign of trouble.
Al Doxy’s having a West Wing office had been deeply resented by everybody in the administration who thought they deserved one, which was everybody who indeed did, who might have, and who absolutely didn’t.
If you’re anywhere in administration in the Executive Branch, you need that West Wing address. It doesn’t matter that many of the second-floor offices are closets, crammed in under the roof so that all you might see from your window is the inner view of the parapet and, above it, a little slice of sky.
The office of Albert Doxy didn’t have even that. It was windowless, located next door to the National Economic Council’s suite. It was identified only by its number and a small placard that said A. DOXY.
He reported to the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, Maynard Peebles, who had not wanted him anywhere near the National Security Council, let alone in an important supporting role. Peebles had been career Foreign Service until he had been tapped by Wild Bill’s secretary of state, Tom John Costigan, for the NSC position.
Costigan was a protégé of Robert Calhoun Doxy, Al Doxy’s father. The elder Doxy was a close friend of the president and his most important contributor. They’d grown up together in Midland, Texas, both of them privileged sons of wealthy oilmen. When he’d been tapped for the NSC job, Costigan had been president of the TR Corporation, a defense contractor owned by Doxy.
Was he capable? He was loyal, and that was what was crucial to the president. First and foremost, he wanted loyalty at the top. Ability could show up among the underlings.
Truth to tell, young Albert Doxy was not entirely unqualified. He had excelled in college. He was University of Texas Plan II Honors,Texas Law Review, then briefly with Adams, Walker, Price and Smith, the Doxy Companies’ captive law firm. He’d gone from there to the White House, appointed at the insistence of the president to the job of coordinator on the staff of the National Security Council’s senior director for intelligence programs. He’d read his le Carré and David Ignatius, so he considered himself ready for the job.
He was in a position that saw substantial memo traffic, and that was just where President Greene wanted him. Loyalty at the top, ability in the middle, loyalty again among supporting staff. Call him a crook, as many did, a fool as many more did, you could not fault Bill Greene’s management skills.
The boy’s death—for he was quite likely in there dead—was going to cause a major upheaval, and everybody working the case knew that. The least mistake, and you were off to the farthest, most miserable, most thankless post that could be found for you.
Among the thousands of contingency plans that the Secret Service had run over the years was one known as Host Element, which was to be applied in the event that somebody was behind a locked door in the White House, holding hostages, carrying a bomb, or in some other hostile or extreme state.
Host Element had been activated, and therefore, before opening the door, the agents swept the room with portable sonar. The image that came back showed a figure slumped over a desk.
“Suicide?” the operator muttered.
They sent a camera in on a flexible cable, working it undér the door, through the blood.
There were now six agents in the corridor, not enough to compromise security elsewhere, but enough to raise the odds that an unexpected event could be handled.
There is no door in the White House to which the Secret Service does not possess a key, and that includes even the bathrooms in the residence. The lives of presidents are not private lives—they are protected lives. The difference is profound, and tests men to their core. Weak men succumb to the disease that the presidency can so easily become. Anything you request is yours, and at once. President wants a Coke, it’s there. An omelet, it’s there. An attractive intern, nine or ten of them are there. Life in the beautiful trap.
The door to the wunderkind’s office was about to be opened, and when it was, William Robert E. Lee Greene was going to be subjected to a great test.
The agents who popped the door did three things: They stepped in, they sucked in their shock when they saw the boy, then they forced themselves to do the work they were trained to do.
They sent the emergency medical team that was waiting outside away, and called for a collection crew from the D.C. Medical Examiner’s Office.
There was an immediate response from the Joint Operations Center: “Nix that. Get all nonessentials out of that corridor and nobody comes in.”
Outside, somebody—a fireman—began vomiting from the reek of blood, which with the door open now filled the hall.
“Get ’em out,” Jim Allendale said over his shoulder. He had been in the Secret Service for twelve years, White House detail for four. With him was Elizabeth Cruze, also twelve years in, five in the White House.
“What are you looking at,” the chief crisis officer asked over the secure phone.
“Albert Doxy was beheaded, sir. His head is on his desk.”
The response was a cry, instantly choked off.
Nobody at the scene had ever encountered anything like this. Not a single person involved had ever seen a severed head. There had never been a murder in the White House, nor any violence that came close to this, not even an accident.
The firemen were escorted out, along with the White House uniforms. This was Secret Service officers only, and the fewer the better. From long experience, they all understood that, while their first job was to control this crime scene, a close second was to keep the president’s options open, and that meant slamming the lid down hard and fast.
They worked silently, carefully, almost robotically, each member of each team trying to avoid vomiting, fainting, or doing anything except the best job they could.
The forensics team photographed the scene, with special attention to the neck, its severing incision so neat that, now that the blood had drained, it looked like the work of a surgeon or a skilled anatomist.
It would later be determined that the cut had been done with a blade less than a centimeter wide, and that would remain a mystery to all now working in this room, because none of them had a security clearance high enough to know the probable source of such a remarkable tool—or, in this case, weapon.
At Secret Service Headquarters on Murray Drive, something close to a riot was unfolding. But it was a controlled riot, as agents moved quickly to do what they could to contain the threat.
The first order of business was to locate and identify the perpetrator. As the White House corridors are all covered by surveillance cameras, this should not have been difficult.
But it was. The only person seen to have entered Doxy’s office was Doxy himself. His movements were traced back to a point when he had been picked up returning to the White House on foot, which in and of itself was highly unusual.
He’d left empty-handed, but come back with a file.
The surveillance system was ultrahigh-resolution, precisely so that details like type could be read, and this file was from the National Security Council Historical Record. The tongue of the folder said, NSC 13220-543 CL 14. It was not a standard designator, and the agent placed on the detail determined within minutes that it was either highly classified or a fake.
The Greenes remained under guard at 716 Jackson Place. Chief of Staff Matthew Finch was the only outsider with them when Bill finally accepted the fact that he had to call Bob Doxy despite having no explanation for what had happened to young Al.
First he made another call to the director of the Secret Service, Simon Forde. “Sim, is there anything I can tell Bob Doxy? Anything at all?”
“Mr. President, we have moved the body to cold storage.”
“That wasn’t my question.”
“He died due to criminal activity and his body will be returned to the family as soon as possible.”
“Where is it?”
“Sir, at the moment it’s in the meat locker.”
“Our meat locker? The White House meat locker?”
“Yes sir, I’m sorry. We’ll move it as soon as possible.”
“I want to ask about sanitation here. And legality. Don’t we have legal obligations?”
“It’s in a sealed body bag.”
“That’s not something I can tell him! I want information I can use. What in hell happened? Tell me exactly.”
“Mr. President, he was—”
“Yes, he was beheaded. But that’s damn well classified, you hear me? National security. That gets leaked—well, it can’t. Flat out cannot.”
There was a silence. It extended.
“All right, Sim, do your work.” He hung up. “Lorna, what do I do? What do I say to him?”
“You’re the president, you figure it out.”
Cissy said, “Just tell him. What else is there?”
“So I call and go, ‘Hiya, Bob! Al got his head cut off in his office.’ Is that your suggestion?”
“Come on, Dad! You tell him what you have to tell him. Al’s been killed, it’s a national security matter, he died in service to his country; you can’t say more.”
“And the public is going to be told it was an accident,” Lorna added.
“Then in a few days I pick up the Post and read that he was beheaded by an outraged lover or some damn thing like that.”
“He didn’t have any lovers,” Cissy said.
“You can guarantee this?”
“Dad, I can’t guarantee anything. Nobody can. But he was arrogant and fat and oily and not social. His thing was, he was brilliant.”
Lorna said, “An accident. Fell downstairs, whatever.”
The president, from his seat at the end of the long mahogany dining table, looked at each of them. “So what in hell really did happen to him?”
Lorna looked down into her lap. Matthew Finch took out his phone and began texting. Cissy got up and left the table.
“Where are you going?”
She stopped. She turned back. The pain in her was so great that it was like being burned alive from within. “Daddy,” she said, “if you must know, I am going to the bathroom.”
Copyright © 2016 Whitley Strieber.
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Whitley Strieber is the bestselling author of more than twenty-five books, including the legendary Warday, Nature's End, and Superstorm, the basis of the movieThe Day After Tomorrow. His books, The Grays and 2012: The War for Souls, are both being made into films.