05:30 EST – Washington, D.C.

White House Chief of Staff, Byron Withers, and National Security Advisor, Eleanor Holmes, make their quick walk together towards the Oval Office where they await the president’s arrival.  With only a few minutes to waste, they try to strategize on how they will inform the president of what is going on.

BYRON WITHERS: So how do you want to play this?

ELEANOR HOLMES: Play?  Unfortunately, we’re not playing anything right now except to inform the president of what is occurring over the South Pacific.

BYRON WITHERS: What you going to say to her when she comes in?

ELEANOR HOLMES: Okay, Byron.  What or how do you oppose we present this to madam president?  Please, educate me on how you plan on twisting the information of what is really going on?

BYRON WITHERS: I said nothing of twisting or even lying to her.  Just simply want to know your opening statements on the briefing (as he moves inches closer to her where he can just smell the scent of her body wash).

ELEANOR HOLMES: (Allows him to invade her space for only a brief second before shoving her leather portfolio into his crotch with firm pressure) not today and not ever Byron.

BYRON WITHERS: (Slowly backs up as he giggles and looks down at her aggressive gesture) you know you ain’t right Eleanor.  What’s the change of heart?

ELEANOR HOLMES: As I mentioned before and I’ll mention it again.  I’m married and that was a mistake that I do not intend to repeat.  Just let it go and let it remain in the past where it belongs.

Just as Eleanor finishes her lecture to Byron, Madam President, Nicole Black, enters the Oval Office with Eleanor and Byron being the first two staff members in her office.  She gives them a good morning as she walks passes them and immediately to her desk.  President Black takes a seat in her expensive leather chair and waits for the remainder of the participants of the national security briefing.  Eleanor and Byron take their seats as others begin to come into the office for the meeting.  Everyone was in place and the meeting began with Eleanor handing madam president a summary report of what is taking place around the world, including the South Pacific.

Like all other previous meetings, everyone speaks their professional opinion and attempt to come up with solutions as they make their way down the list, except for the last one.  When Nicole reaches the last topic of the meeting, she wrinkles her face and pauses for a minute.  A nervous silence comes over the meeting aura with everyone glancing at each other wondering what is going to be her first words.  Then silence breaks when madam president seemed to have gathered her thoughts and temperament.

MADAM PRESIDENT: Eleanor?  Are you trying to explain to me that a storm over the South Pacific could threaten our national security?

ELEANOR HOLMES: Yes, madam president.  You need to know that the International Weather Service has been monitoring this storm cell since about forty-five minutes ago.  They’re unable to determine how the storm was formed or where how big it will be, but you must know that the island of Kiribati can’t be seen on the map.

MADAM PRESIDENT: Okay, well maybe this storm is just that thick that satellites can’t see through to the earth’s surface.  That still doesn’t really explain to me how this storm is pertinent to us on the mainland, unless Hawaii is in some major danger?

BYRON WITHERS: The storm is growing and will be over parts of Australia and Antarctica.  From what we can gather at this time is that this storm is mostly electrical and all communication to that area has been severed, which means tracking the storm from the ocean will be much more difficult.

MADAM PRESIDENT: Well, keep me informed on the data and alert our forces in the region to be aware and prepare for hurricane style winds.

ELEANOR HOLMES: Yes, madam president.  I’ll get right on it and relay the message.  Anything else?

MADAM PRESIDENT: That should be all.  (Motions with her hands that everyone can leave except for Eleanor) Eleanor I need you to stay for another minute.  (Waits for the office door to close with just them behind.  She stands out of her chair and walks over to Eleanor).  How are you doing?

ELEANOR HOLMES: What do you mean?

MADAM PRESIDENT: You know exactly what I mean.  When I walked in I could sense the awkwardness or personal connection between you and Byron. (Eleanor just stares at her boss).  Your husband doesn’t know about you and Byron does he?

ELEANOR HOLMES: With all do respect madam president I’d like to keep it that way, and whatever happened between Byron and I in the past.

MADAM PRESIDENT: You don’t want to talk about it; I understand, but I need to make sure you two can work together without any hesitation.  This storm cell looming over the South Pacific can very well be a problem that we haven’t seen in our lifetime.  Tensions are rising in the Middle East where another conflict could be on the rise.  I need to make sure I can count on you and Byron to work through anything and put your personal feelings aside.

ELEANOR HOLMES: Yes, madam president.  You can count on me and know that I will be there when you need me and never let you down.

Nicole gives Eleanor a smile and makes a gesture that she can go and continue with her daily duties.  Eleanor walks out of the office and glances down the hallway and sees Byron standing there with his hands in his pockets.  Both of their eyes lock for a few seconds before Eleanor walks away and disappears around the corner.  Byron stands there in silence for another few seconds before turning around and heading to his office.  Just before he enters the privacy behind his dark cherry door, he stops and watches one of the televisions located just outside his office.  The scroll going across the bottom of the IWS channel alerts the citizens of Australia and Fiji to prepare for the incoming storm that will make landfall at 06:00.  Byron shakes his head, sucks his teeth and rubs his chin before going into his office and closes the door.  Byron just missed witnessing the reporter being blown overboard on one of the Australian naval ships and the news feed being disconnected.  Screen turns to snow and then to the color bars.

Henry Scott

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