Book Excerpt –
Code of Darkness
by Chris Lindberg
Deep within the Pentagon, Edward Armstrong was making edits to a border defense plan when his secretary buzzed him.
“What is it, Marlene,” he exhaled, setting down the red-ink pen.
“A General Dunlap here to see you, sir,” the voice replied through the speakerphone.
“Hmm,” Armstrong paused, stroking his chin. “All right then, send him in,” he finally said, stacking the papers strewn across his desk and setting them in his inbox.
The heavy steel door opened, ushering in the tall, broad frame of General Jack Dunlap. He was dressed in full uniform as always, presenting the many service marks and medals packed tightly across his lapels. His clean-shaven, bald head and neatly trimmed mustache belied his gray, bushy eyebrows. A thirty-year Marine veteran and decorated war hero, Dunlap had been Armstrong’s acquaintance since the Somalian missions they’d worked on together some fifteen years before, when Armstrong had been a military strategist, and Dunlap a Lieutenant. Now heading up the Pentagon’s special task forces unit, Dunlap was viewed by many as next in line for promotion to Joint Chiefs.
Armstrong rose to greet him, then motioned for him to have a seat.
“Edward,” Dunlap said, nodding as he sat down.
“Jack,” Armstrong replied. “Haven’t seen you since the North Korea debrief in December. How’s the family?”
“Good, Edward, good,” Dunlap said, a look on his face Armstrong couldn’t identify. He appeared ready to speak when Armstrong cut in.
“So, what can I do for you?” he said curiously.
“Edward,” Dunlap began. “One of the men under my command was recently tapped for a top-secret operation within our borders. Colonel Nolan Hayes. I was wondering if you knew anything about it.”
Armstrong paused, leaning back in his chair.
“I might,” he answered carefully, folding his hands together.
“Don’t play games,” Dunlap said sharply. “You either know or you don’t.”
“I do,” Armstrong admitted.
“What are you doing running an operation within the homeland?” Dunlap questioned. “Is this in a civilian environment?”
“Jack, as you’ve already said,” Armstrong replied. “It’s top secret. I’m prohibited from speaking about it.”
“But Hayes,” Dunlap pressed. “He’s one of my men. Why didn’t you come to me first? At least for a POV? Do you understand the implications of deploying him inside our borders?”
“We’ve read the file on him, yes,” Armstrong answered. “He’s the perfect fit for this mission.”
“He’s also extremely dangerous,” Dunlap shot back, leaning forward. “Placing him in a civilian atmosphere puts us at incredible risk.”
“We know what we’re doing,” Armstrong said flatly. “His skills make him the only one who can carry out the operation the way it needs to be done.”
“Edward, listen to me,” Dunlap said, his tone urgent. “If it’s not too late already, you need to pull the plug, now. Hayes should only be deployed in hot zones, deep behind enemy borders, on the other side of the world. There are plenty of those missions to keep him busy. Under no circumstances should he be anywhere near U.S. civilians, innocents, or even cameras, for that matter.”
“Jack, I don’t understand,” Armstrong said, flabbergasted. “He’s the best soldier this country has; a decorated war hero, just like yourself.”
“He’s the best soldier we have,” Dunlap said. “Because he is a killing machine. Yes, he’s killed a lot of our most dangerous enemies. Hundreds, maybe a thousand. But there have also been scores of civilian casualties, even American soldiers.”
“That’s part of war,” Armstrong said. “You know that.”
“Not this way,” Dunlap countered. “He has no regard for human life. Any human life. If you could only see what I’ve seen, you’d understand.”
“Jack,” Armstrong said, “I hate to put this argument to bed. But it’s a moot point. The field leg of the mission began several days ago, without incident, I might add. The SRC created an antidote to his condition. To control these … urges he has.”
“Antidote?” Dunlap asked curiously.
“Yes,” Armstrong answered. “There’s a shot; he injects himself twice a day.”
Dunlap paused, an almost hopeful expression on his face, as if he wanted nothing more than to be wrong about what he’d said. “Has the field leg concluded?” he asked.
“No,” Armstrong answered. “But we’re halfway there.”
“Then I hope you’re right; that he’s taking the meds as you say he is,” Dunlap said, standing up to leave. “And if for any reason he stops … God help us all.”
Chris Lindberg’s first novel, Code of Darkness, was released in August 2011. You can find out more by visiting www.codeofdarkness.com, or visiting Facebook and searching on “code of darkness.”
To purchase Code of Darkness in paperback or e-book edition, please search “code of darkness” on Amazon, iTunes, or BN.com.
You can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org – he’d love to hear from you.