Jebudiah Henderson gave a call to senator C. Wayland Brooks while he read the paper. The frontline article further elaborated on the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, even though it had been two days ago. Information on the sunken ships, lost men and women, total cost of damages and so forth were all over the paper and Jebudiah looked grim.
“Senator Brooks? Yes, hello my old friend, this is Jebudiah. Henderson, of course, yes. How are you senator? Oh that sounds wonderful. And your boy, I assume his schooling is going well? Yes, well you know how those young boys can be, senator, he just needs some focus, that’s all. Yes, my boy just got done with basic. Actually, senator, it’s my boy I wanted to talk about, if that’s all right with you.” Jebudiah looked at a picture of his son while he chatted on the phone, the news paper lying open on his desk. His room was opulent and he talked with a nonchalance characteristic of a man who has always had what he needed, and almost always what he wanted. There was little doubt in his mind that the senator would agree to his favor.
“Yes, see my boy just finished basic, as I said, and he is in top shape, very obedient… oh yes, you know how he is, of course! Now I heard from a few reputable sources that you boys up there in Washington were starting up some kind of operation… no, I don’t know anything about it senator. mm-hmm. Oh yes, I am the very soul of discretion, make no mistake. Of course. Now, what I was wondering is if you could pull a few strings for my boy and get him into this operation. Oh of course, senator, I’m sure he’ll do just fine, he just needs a little push and some direction. You will? Excellent, just call his commanding officer. And senator? Thank you very much.”
Jebudiah put the phone down and felt proud of himself and proud of his son. He could only dream of the limitless potential such a start to a military career would portend.
Issac Callahan was on a small shuttle on his back, sliding the stiff wooden board back and forth as he tinkered with the underbelly of his crop-duster. He was slick black in oil and looked a mess, but smiled as he turned a few gears and tried to make sure the old girl would fly well. There were few things he enjoyed more than flying, and though he wasn’t quite an engineer, he knew engines well enough to keep them running.
Issac was pretty sure he was finished and slid out from under the plane to see a man in a black suit approaching him. Unusual customer, especially out here… he thought to himself.
“Howdy! What can I do for you?” Issac stood up and grabbed a dirty looking hand towel, wiping the grease and oil off of his hands and forehead.
“Mr. Callahan? I’m Gary Smith with Washington. We have an opportunity for you to serve your country and defend it from the global threat that has now attacked our borders. Are you willing to serve?” Mr. Smith looked stone-faced and unassuming, waiting patiently for his response. Issac, however, just nodded and looked somewhat incredulous.
“Would I get to fly?”
River Daniels sat calmly in his house located comfortably in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains, enjoying the snow-covered landscape and thinking about how much he loves his land, and therefore how much he dislikes the Japanese for attacking it. River likes to maintain an awareness of his country and its turmoils, if for no other reason than to feel like a better American.
As River sat and drank a nice warm coffee, he watched as a man in a black suit walked up to his door and knocked. Curious, he stood up, straightened his shirt, and opened the door.
“Well good morning to you kind sir, and I do hope you aren’t trying to sell me something in my time of grief.” River spoke with a slow and distinguished Southern drawl; an inflection and style he has worked on over the years. The Suit shook his head and extended his hand.
“Mr. Daniels, my name is Albert Smith with Washington. We have an opportunity for you to serve your country and help fight back the global threat that has attacked our borders. Are you interested in defending America?” Mr. Smith looked stone-faced and unassuming, waiting patiently for a response. River, however, calmly finished his coffee and grabbed his coat.
“Well, mister Smith, I was fixing to go a piece to the grocery store, but since Uncle Sam seems to be a-calling, perhaps I’ll take you up on your offer. Some of those axis boys do need a good ass-kicking, yes sir they do.”
Daniel Lowsley had come to America from England not only to get away from the war and his somewhat sordid past, but also to investigate some supernatural possibilities in Massachusetts. It was late at night just two days after Pearl Harbor, though Daniel was completely unaware of such events. He was more interested in wandering around Sleepy Hollow Cemetery with a lantern, a journal, and a bag of pens and various chemicals.
It was as Daniel was kneeling on the cold ground, brushing snow off of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s tombstone and jotting down notes in the soft lantern light that he heard the noise of snow crunching. Quickly he turned and lifted the lantern, reaching into his bag and pulling out a strand of garlic. He put the garlic away with a tinge of embarrassment when he saw a man in a black suit approaching him.
“Look, if you’re here to tell me to leave, I already talked to the groundskeeper and he said it was fine for me to be here, as I’m conducting very serious work here. And if you’re here to try that ‘deportation’ nonsense again, I have a valid visa and I’m not just here to avoid the war, now please leave me to my work!” Daniel had a more refined British accent than most would after growing up on the streets of Manchester, and indeed his appearance didn’t suggest anything of the sort. The Suit stopped short of Daniel and clasped his hands behind his back.
“Mr. Lowsley, I’m not here to ask for identification. I am Benjamin Smith with Washington. A situation has arisen that requires your expertise as it pertains to the global war. Are you interested in finding out more about your work? Or would you prefer to return to petty theft and forgery?” Mr. Smith looked stone-faced and unassuming, waiting patiently for a response. Daniel, however, frowned and gathered his things.
“I expect this is be relevant, Mr. Smith. I dislike having my time wasted and I detest threats.”
Parker Henderson, Daniel Lowsley, River Daniels, and Issac Callahan all stood waiting in a nice room in Washington D.C. All four looked at each awkwardly. Parker was dressed in a clean and crimped military uniform, Daniel in a wool suit with a long overcoat bulging in every pocket, River in a fashionable suit and tie, and Issac in a less-than-fashionable suit while he spun a pencil in his fingers with incredible speed and control. Finally, River couldn’t take the silence.
“So I can tell what Turnip here is,” he began, gesturing to Parker absently, “but I’m a little confused as to who you gentlemen are. So allow me to introduce myself first. My name is River Daniels, just a simple Virginian here to serve his country with the finest distinction.” Daniel immediately nodded and cleared his throat as quietly as possible.
“My name is Daniel Lowsley. I’m a journalist of supernatural phenomenon, and I suspect I’m here for that very purpose.” The mood paused for a moment as River looked about with an aire of disbelief.
“I’m sorry, boy, I must have had a bee in my ear, because I could have sworn you said one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard in my life. Come again?” Daniel, quite used to incredulous behavior, took out a journal and flipped through the pages while he put on some reading spectacles. “Have you ever read H.P. Lovecraft? He wrote of demons and gods that have invaded our world—”
“All right, son, you are just down right sorry and I think we’ve heard enough from you. What about you, boy, what ridiculousness do you have to add to my already drink-inducing day?” River spoke directly to Issac who was suppressing a laugh at Daniel. Parker, meanwhile, stood tall and waited patiently for orders.
“Me? I’m the best damn pilot on the East coast!” River nodded his head with a soft “uh-huh.”
“Mr. Daniels, if you please, I have some notes here from interviews I’ve had with some men that have reportedly seen either Vampires or Werewolves, and the accounts are really quite interesting.”
“How about you, Turnip? What teat were you suckling that brought you here at so fresh an age, boy?” River didn’t bother to acknowledge Daniel and spoke to Parker instead, who looked River straight in the eye and responded with a rigid and practiced manner.
“Sir, my father is good friends with a senator, sir. But I believe it was my aptitude and basic training proficiency that got me assigned to this operation, sir!” River nodded in his slow and methodical manner. Daniel, meanwhile, took the opportunity to jump in.
“Have you perhaps heard of Nikola Tesla? He is a Serbian engineer, brilliant and capable, and some say his deeply religious father made a deal with the devil when Nikola contracted Cholera at the age of seventeen.”
“Boy, don’t you make me get a switch.” Just at that, the doors in front of them opened and a well-dressed woman walked out, beckoning them forward. “Gentlemen, if you could come this way, he’s ready for you.”
The four men walked into the large office with some trepidation. It was ostentatious, with a nice hickory desk at the center and a large swivel chair (currently facing away from them), behind which large windows looked out onto the Capital city. Books, papers, pens, a phone, and documents were well organized all over the room and the only thing it lacked was extra chairs.
“Listen, 1899, Nikola made a receiver that he later got strange radio signals he believed to be originating from outer space! 1901, they were covered up by suggesting it was from Marconi’s experiments. Preposterous!” Daniel was trying to show the other three men some notes from his journal, but all three were uninterested in looking. River looked calmly down at Daniel.
“Boy, all I hear coming out of your mouth is wind, you understand me?” It was at that moment that the chair swiveled and the door shut. Before the four of them sat vice president Harry Truman. The three Americans all stood tall (Parker immediately saluted), but Daniel simply looked unimpressed.
“Gentlemen, as most of you seem to be aware, I am vice president Truman. You are all formerly requested to join Division Seven, a special operation that goes above and beyond the call of duty to respond to unusual and unnatural threats to global peace. It is not commonly known, and I don’t suggest trying to inform the public, but there are supernatural forces at work in this world, guiding and infiltrating other nations with a pervasive and malevolent intent. Division Seven exists as the American response to these threats, and your mission will be to counter the forces that are working with the German armies, eliminate them, and ultimately bring about the fall of the Nazi Regime. Do you have any questions?” Daniel quietly cleared his throat again.
“Not for you at this time, Mr. vice president, but rather from my colleague here. Are you going to apologize?” Daniel said to River. River looked somewhat dangerously over at Daniel and then back at Truman.
“Boy, if I have to say it one more time… Now, mister vice presi-dent, I apologize for my ignorance, I’m just a Virginian-grown man, but I believe I must have heard you incorrectly. Did you say supernatural?” Truman nodded and leaned forward on his desk.
“I understand this may come as a shock. I hardly believed it myself. But I assure you, all the myths and stories are real to some degree. For more information, you should ask Mr. Lowsley, who is one of the leading experts on the occult, and in fact, the main reason why he is on our American-based special operations team.”
“All right, quick question. Who all in this room believes in fairy tales, raise your hand?” River sounded almost to the point of cracking, but maintained a coolness brought on by years of practice. Truman and Daniel raised their hands.
“To be precise, however, the fairy tales themselves are incorrect, but they are based on truth. Take vampires, for example. There are many legends of vampires, from the vrykolakas in Greece to the stigoi in Romania, or from the origin of a Christian-based legend, cursed by God, to the Chinese belief that if a dog jumps over a corpse it can become undead. These things are real, though they might not look or act like we think of them, Mister Daniels.” Daniel spoke with a sense of wonder and fascination, holding his journal close to his heart and each time he swayed in place, a soft clink clink sound could be heard, as though from small vials bumping into each other. River closed his eyes and breathed deeply.
“All right, mister vice presi-dent, you tell me to go kill Nazi boogeymen, I’ll go kill Nazi boogeymen. I’m not misunderstanding you, am I? Because right now I’m not sure whether to scratch my watch or wind my butt, you understand.”
Truman smiled and nodded, pulling out a file marked Confidential. “I understand, and the answer is yes, your mission is to engage our enemy forces on every theater of war they open up. You simply specialize in eliminating unusual foes. Now, for your assignment.” Truman gave the file to River and looked at Parker, who had his hand raised like a schoolboy, and he looked about as green as one too. Truman nodded at Parker.
“My apologies, Mr. Truman sir, but I don’t think I’m in the right room.” Truman looked looked at his dossiers and took out one labelled Henderson, Parker.
“You are private Parker Henderson, recently finished from bootcamp, son of Jebudiah Henderson?” Parker nodded. “Then, yes, you’re supposed to be here. I understand senator Wayland Brooks requested you specifically at the behest of an old friend.” Parker looked even more green than before, but nodded and stood straight and tall.
“All right, your plane leaves in thirty minutes. I suggest gathering your things.” Parker once again raised his hand and was nodded at. “Can… can I make a phone call?”
“Parker, my boy, how’s that new assignment?”
“Dad, why did you put me on this? I don’t think I’m the right man for this operation!” Parker sounded frantic and high-pitched as he held himself back from shouting into the phone.
“Nonsense, you’re an army man! You’ll do great, my boy.”
“Dad, I don’t think I can even put this on my resume!”
“Resume? Parker Mason Henderson, you’re a military man now, and that’s the only resume you’ll need! Just remember that and go defend your country with pride!”
River walked up and flashed the confidential mission report at Parker. “Come on now, Turnip, time to go.”