Chapter 8 Part 2
Click here to read Chapter 8 Part 1
The Senator stood in the wings, listening to the cheers of the audience as Jeff Clancy was introduced. Jeff addressed the crowd briefly, and then they turned their attention to the stage. It was decked with bright red curtains against which hung long blue banners. Lines of white stars ran along the banners from floor to ceiling. Two podiums on the stage were decorated in a similar motif.
Senator Stevens could see the crowd behind the bright lights. A few butterflies bounced around his stomach, but he pushed the feeling aside.
This is it, he thought, can’t get nervous now.
Jeff Clancy first gave the introduction of Stevens’ challenger, the Liberal Party candidate Moira Kelly. She was quite popular and had run a good campaign. But Stevens knew even her great successes couldn’t stand up to his plan.
“I would like to welcome Senator Wendell Stevens to the stage,” announced Jeff Clancy.
There was applause, but not quite the same energy as when his opponent was introduced.
Senator Stevens walked across the stage and waved to the crowd, smiling. He made his way over to Moira Kelly and shook her hand.
“Good luck, Senator,” she offered politely.
“Good luck to you as well,” he replied, thinking she would need it more than him.
The debate began as the others had. Jeff Clancy provided the questions, giving Stevens and Kelly their last opportunities before the election to express their positions. There were questions on welfare, the environment, healthcare, and the economy.
At last it came.
“Our next question deals with our national security. Senator Stevens and Ms. Kelly, in light of the seemingly uncontrollable terrorist attacks across the nation, the public would like to hear what solutions you offer for this problem. Ms. Kelly, you may answer first.”
“Terrorism is something we have been dealing with on a daily basis and it has touched everyone’s lives. I myself lost my dear cousin Georgie in the Starbucks bombing this past June in Boston. He left behind a wife and three small children.” She paused as her voice caught in her throat. Taking a deep breath, she pressed her hand to her heart and closed her eyes. A tear rolled down her cheek.
It was everything Senator Stevens could do to refrain from rolling his eyes. Moira Kelly had used cousin Georgie’s demise to win herself countless points in the polls. He put a solemn look on his face in order to appear sympathetic as she continued.
She quickly regained her composure.
“I feel that the only way we are going to get anywhere is if we set up peace talks with the Righteous Front, or the RF. For years we have been fighting violence with more violence, and what victories have any of the monies spent on defense and intelligence gotten us? Just more innocent citizens killed. Terrorist attacks didn’t stop, even after we destroyed one of their main camps in Montana. The terror continues everyday. It’s time to go in a different direction and make an effort to end the violence once and for all. I have already secured a meeting with RF commander, Malcolm Davis, on December 1st.”
The applause in the auditorium was not as loud as when she was introduced. Many people were still quite nervous that Moira Kelly’s plan was not vigorous enough and doubted it could or would stop the terrorists.
“If you would, please, give us your response, Senator Stevens,” asked Jeff Clancy as the applause died down.
“Thank you, Mr. Clancy. For a long time, the United States has been dealing with the scourge of terrorism. In the beginning, the attacks were on a grand scale, hitting major targets to make a point, and did not happen very often. After the formation of the Righteous Front, the attacks have become increasingly more regular and employ tactics that have been used by Hamas in Israel, the IRA in Great Britain and ETA in Spain. Now, every grocery store and every shopping mall are targets. We can’t even keep our schools safe, as we saw in the Lincoln Elementary School bombing.”
People in the audience lowered their eyes, somber at the thought of the loss of so many lives. The attack had occurred almost a year ago, when a group of terrorists overran and elementary school, and blew up not only the children inside, but had car bombs rigged in the parking lot that killed numerous parents as they flocked to the school to find out if their children were okay. 863 lives were lost that day in Topeka, Kansas.
“However, I propose a different path. Ms. Kelly may choose to negotiate with terrorists. I, on the other hand, refuse to negotiate with people whose only way to get a point across is to blow up innocent children.”
The crowd roared to life. Members of the audience jumped to their feet, applauding, screaming. Some were even in tears.
So far, so good, he thought. He could feel the energy in the room.
This will be mine.
“In the past few weeks, I have been working with some very reliable intelligence informants. I have received some valuable information, which will help in our fight against these terrorists. The intelligence suggests that there are people in these United States, our own citizens, who knew about these terrorist attacks, and have knowledge of future attacks. And yet they have chosen to keep this information to themselves. They have chosen not to speak, allowing innocent men, women and children, people like Ms. Kelly’s own cousin George, to die horrible deaths which could have been prevented.”
Join me here on Friday for the conclusion of Chapter 8!