Excerpt from The Strand Prophecy
His dark cloak billowed in the evening wind as he waited.
“Soon they will be here,” he thought. “And then it will start. All I have wanted to keep secret will be exposed.”
Chapter 1: The Reluctant Harbinger
A throng of summer tourists streamed past the dark figure standing at the gates of the White House. Suddenly a large man in a Hawaiian shirt, his face buried in a map, collided with the cloaked figure. The map flew in the air as the man lost his balance and landed in the lap of an elderly woman resting on a nearby bench.
“Excuse me!” called out the tourist. But the cloaked figure did not respond. Indeed, he appeared unaffected, with any reaction covered by the shadow of the cloth. Just then a gust of wind exposed the figure’s face as the old woman glanced upward into the bright glow of his electric blue luminous eyes. She held up her hands, looked away, and cried out, “El Diablo, El Diablo!” before fainting and crumpling slowly to the ground.
Inside a White House security building, dozens of surveillance cameras were now trained on the cloaked figure. A supervisor with a headset barked orders to Secret Service agents on the scene, then sank back into his chair and turned to the monitor as several agents approached to assess the situation.
What the White House security cameras couldn’t see was the man behind the hood, black chrome exoskeleton and luminous eyes. They could not know the pain, guilt, and torment of a man consumed by his work at the expense of all else. Nor could they realize that the man was performing an act of utter selflessness. Perhaps seeking repentance, or perhaps to prove to himself that his work has meaning and that the death of his brother, Jack, had not been in vain.
But soon the entire world would know “Strand.”
A host of Secret Service agents and White House security guards approached, wearing beige trench coats, wired earpieces, and dark sunglasses. They stopped a few feet behind Strand.
“Sir, you must move along, please,” the lead agent, Carlisle, said.
Strand remained motionless.
“Sir, can you hear me? Do you speak English? Sir, you have to move along. Hello! Can you hear me?” He was shouting now.
Quickly, the agents began evacuating tourists from the scene before setting up a perimeter around Strand.
“Sir, you must move along,” Carlisle repeated, obviously following the strict protocol for handling uncooperative tourists.
Without looking back at them, Strand suddenly spoke. “I have a message for the president.”
Carlisle nodded to his colleagues. As innocuous as Strand’s sentence was, it constituted a threat. The men lunged at Strand and tried to forcibly move him. They struggled valiantly but were unable to move Strand from his position. Soon, others ran in to collectively try to tackle Strand to the ground. But no matter how many joined the struggle, pushing and shoving with all their might, Strand remained motionless.
The situation had escalated, and Strand was now considered a hostile threat. A horde of agents surrounded him.
“There’s metal under the cloak!” someone called out. “It must be some kind of armor!”
Carlisle held his hand to his earpiece. “Yes, sir. I understand,” he replied.
He drew his pistol and pointed it at Strand. Other Secret Service men and White House guards followed suit, slowly backing away to avoid being caught in the crossfire.
Carlisle shouted, “Get on the ground and put your hands behind your head. DO IT NOW!”
Strand remained motionless. “I have a message for the president,” he repeated in a low monotone.
Several police vehicles skidded into position, officers jumping out and taking cover behind the open doors. Showing cracks in his by-the-book demeanor, Carlisle shouted, “THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE. GET ON THE GROUND AND PUT YOUR HANDS BEHIND YOUR HEAD OR WE WILL OPEN FIRE.”