In the early morning hours, Turkey invaded Greece as the Taliban overran UN forces in Kabul. Losses were heavy. It was particularly significant for the United States in that the UN forces were mainly comprised of French and American units. When the Turkish commanders announced their success, the Italian government released a surprising statement in which they aligned themselves with Turkey. The French responded by sending troops to the Italian border. US Marines launched a series of counterattacks against the Taliban but were ordered to stand down by the President after Iranian Scud missiles were launched en masse to destinations in Israel and Iraq. By mid-morning, the United States found itself in the middle of a rapidly expanding global war.

Carter didn't hear the news until he got to the office. As he walked in, he was greeted by worried expressions from the secretaries.

"What's up? Somebody die?"

"Worse," Marge said gravely, "we're at war."

Unbelieving, Carter smiled. "At war? With who?"

"Iran, Afghanistan... it's complicated. Listen for yourself." She turned up the volume on her desk radio.

Carter listened to an excited broadcaster. "...already over three dozen sorties launched from the aircraft carriers. Eisenhower and Intrepid. Israeli intelligence reports massive civilian casualties and fires raging out of control in Haifa. Missile attacks on US Marine bases near Kabul have fallen short and caused little to no damage on those installations. I've just received another report stating that the Israelis have responded with missile attacks on Baghdad as well as selected Iranian military sites."

There was a pause and after a moment the announcer stated that the President was about to issue a brief statement. "We'll be switching to the White House press room in just a moment. Oh. We're ready to go? Ladies and gentlemen, the presi..." He was cut short and his voice was replaced with that of the President.

"...fellow Americans, this morning at approximately six-thirty a.m., Washington time, Taliban forces attacked and destroyed United Nations' troop positions in Afghanistan. Among those units were fifteen hundred American men and women. At this time, we have no word on survivors. As a result of this action and the devastating attack on Israel by the Iranians, I have informed congress of my decision to invoke the war powers act."

Marge glanced at her boss. He listened intently to the radio broadcast, disbelief showing in his expression.

"I have instructed members of the Sixth Fleet to conduct a protracted air campaign against selected Iranian targets. I have also mobilized marine reactionary forces to make preparations for an expedition into Taliban held territory in Afghanistan."

Carter shook his head and muttered to one in particular. "Insanity," he said.

One of the ladies in the office asked how the country was going to pay for more war. No one answered.

The President continued. "In active participation with the Israeli military, we will share intelligence gathered by satellite and other sources in an effort to identify and destroy Iranian missile positions. That's all I have for the moment. We will keep the American people notified as more information becomes available. God bless you all."

Carter looked at the faces gathered around him. More people had drifted into the office and they all looked to him for guidance. The words fell out of his mouth. "Let's get back to work." He turned and strode into his office.

The women looked at one another.

"The world's falling apart and all he can say is get back to work."

"Sometimes I wonder if he cares about anything."

From his desk, Carter plainly heard what they said. He sighed and rose and went back to face them.

"Ladies, there's nothing we can do. It's out of our hands. Let's just get back to work and try to do our best under the circumstances."

Shirley, the file clerk, took the opportunity to announce that she had a doctor's appointment and had to leave. "I prob'ly won't be back today," she said as she hefted her purse and walked out.

She walked past Carter. He wanted to ask why she hadn't arranged for the time off, but he held his tongue. Instead, he went to the coffee machine and drew himself a cup. He looked around the office. The property agents were at their desks, but everyone was listening to their desk radios and reading internet news. Not much work was going to get done.

Back at his desk, Carter dialed his home. A sleepy voice answered. "Hello?"

"Did you hear the news."

Recognizing his voice, an edge crept into her reply. "What news?"

"War in the Middle East. Sounds like the President is going to send in the marines."


"Well, I thought you might like to know."

"Why should I care?"

"I just thought..."

"You just thought my social awareness needed raising," she interrupted. "Believe me Carter, I couldn't care less. And you shouldn't either as long as it doesn't affect property rates in the city. Have you talked to my father this morning?"


"Well, when you do, he'll tell you what to think about it. Was there anything else?"

"No, I guess not."

"All right. I'm having my hair done this afternoon so don't try to chase me down in order to give me a political commentary." She hung up without saying good-bye.

Carter gently replaced the receiver and leaned back in his chair. As he did so, he felt the revolver in his pocket and realized he'd carried the weapon into the office.

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