Our vampire hero and Doctor Benjamin Franklin talk in a basement level sitting room at the townhouse.
Franklin - They just came in. They just appeared. They had the right pass codes. They had the right cards. All 'special ops.' To me they looked like all special ops. But I don't know the difference. You know the type. Hard faces. They all have the same expression. I was three levels down. Somebody activated an alert. But by that point they already took hostages... five genetic biologists from Penn. Well, that's their cover. They do research at Penn. But what they really do is underground with us. And it was all so subtle. Were they not hostages, or were they? But what would you call it? They were surrounded by twelve God damned bastards with guns. Everybody else just hid... in closets... in storage rooms... in offices. No one wanted to be taken in a lab. No one wanted to be forced to share information. This is insane. We've always, more or less, cooperated with the government. They don't officially recognize us. We don't officially recognize ourselves. And that's it. It's always worked. For two hundred and twenty seven years, that's how it is. They didn't even mess with us during the Manhattan Project. Only one time... ONE TIME! And that was The Philadelphia Experiment, because no one else knew as much about harmonics as we did. Even then, they never came in with guns. I had to meet with them. I had to. There was this 'person.' I don't even know who he is. I don't know his name. I don't know anything.
JONATHON - What did he want?
FRANKLIN - Everything! He wanted it all. I said - Who wants it?... He smirked at me. Oh, I hate when they do that. I'm Benjamin Franklin, for God's sake! Without me THIS would all be 'Canada!'....
JONATHON - I thought you like Canadians?
FRANKLIN - I DO! But you know what I mean. Look, when it comes to 'America,' I'm the J.K. Rowling. I WROTE the God damned script! And that brainless tool, that soulless piece of machinery smirks at me?
JONATHON - What did you do?
FRANKLIN - I gave him the codes. You know the last time I did that? When the British came in eighteen twelve. Then it was on paper. Then it was the key to a written code. Now it accesses everything. Their guns were pointed right at me.
JONATHON - Did they know who you were?
FRANKLIN - No... I didn't tell them. They don't know I'm still around... 'Preserved by harmonics' - that's just a legend. Even F.D.R. didn't know. They think every Director here just takes the name 'Benjamin Franklin.'
JONATHON - So, there was no shooting?
FRANKLIN - No, there was... a little.
JONATHON - Who?
FRANKLIN - One of Luna's aides. He ran and locked himself in a closet. I know what he wanted to do. He wanted to call in the planes and have the place bombed. We got 'tacticals' you know. We have bombs that would take out the complex and maybe a block or two all around. God knows what it'd do to the river. Probably send a tsunami into Jersey. So they shot through the door and killed him. He was twenty seven years old. Just got married. I was there, The Downtown Club, right across the street from 'headquarters.' (Franklin always calls Independence Hall 'headquarters') And now he's dead.... They're all over the complex. More than just the initial twelve. I don't know how many. I didn't even see it. But the people up by the entrance said they came in vans... big black vans... a whole lot of vans. Mitzi heard. You know Mitzi, the girl from the welcome desk?
FRANKLIN - She heard them say something. They whispered. They tried to be quiet. But she's had her hearing artificially enhanced. She went deaf. We had to. Thought she'd wind up normal, but she's better than normal, much better.
JONATHON - What did she hear?
FRANKLIN - Russian...
JONATHON - Yo no lo creo.
FRANKLIN - Now don't you go all Spanish on me. Don't you go reverting back to all that crap. Not now!... Please.
JONATHON - I'm sorry. (ponders things for a few moments) I don't believe it.
FRANKLIN - The insignias were all American. The equipment. All of it.
JONATHON - How high do you think it goes?
FRANKLIN - My dear 'boy,' are you serious???
Neither one said anything for quite a while.
FRANKLIN - (pours himself a bit more vodka and continues) The whole place is in lock down. They're already accessing the computers. (exhales)
JONATHON - (quietly) Do they know about the 'annex?' Do they know about the Poconos?
FRANKLIN - I don't think so. The system up there doesn't interface with here. It's all independent... Thank God... Unless they start torturing people. Look, they've said that publicly. They believe in it.... You know, they're installing a lead room in Washington?
JONATHON - A vampire proof room?
FRANKLIN - Yes.... What world leader doesn't know about night-folk? They all know.... And the crowd roars. They can do no wrong.
JONATHON - What 'crowd?'
FRANKLIN - Not everybody, just all those 'concerned' and worried people who thought this was such a good idea.
JONATHON - Let me ask you something. How did you get out?
FRANKLIN - This is Philadelphia, dear boy. You know how many Franklin impersonators there are around here? I'm Mickey Mouse in the Old Quarter. A few are really good. I always keep an impersonator on hand... just in case... and today it came true... Our uninvited guests don't know everything. It's so easy to throw people off. I slip into the next room. They rush in to find me. But I'm not there... well, not the real me. The 'Bureau' has so many 'ins and outs'... a regular labyrinth... (he starts to sing This Land Is Your Land. This Land Is Your Land... then he stops)... Can you get me out of here? Can you get me to The Pines? I know you have people in the Jersey Pine Barrens.
JONATHON - (nods) I'll sublimate as soon as it gets dark.
FRANKLIN - And you're sure your aura will 'sublimate' me too?
JONATHON - If I carry you in tight. There's a harness... a canvas harness we can wear... like for tandem skydiving. It'll be cold, but you'll be all bundled up. If heights bother you, keep your eyes closed. I can give you smoked goggles if you like?
FRANKLIN - I want the goggles.
JONATHON - All right.
And so they sit there, waiting for the Earth to turn... a more than three hundred 'preserved by harmonics' year old scientist and patriot and a more or less thousand year old rather dashing, 'young' Spaniard, born into the physical world in The Caliphate of Cordoba.
'The world is so full of so many fine things,
I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings'
... by Robert Louis Stevenson...
<more next time>
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