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Old 05-01-2017, 10:31 PM   #32
Join Date: Feb 2007
Default Re: The First Interbellum (1918-1939)


McCord had been very busy over the previous few weeks, and frantically worried about his 'collection'. It is difficult to explain to most people just how intense and consuming that particular sort of fixation can be. Relatively few people ever display it to its full degree. Still, McCord was one of those people, and almost from the moment the news had come of the initial explosion in his warehouse, McCord had thought of little else other than his collection.

His anxiety had only increased as the strange subsequent chain of events had unfolded. The narcoleptic sickness, the desecrated graves, the inexplicable presence of foreign agents of a dozen sorts in the area, and the still-unexplained attack on McCord himself and his men in their initial attempt to enter the caves and reach the tunnel, all had taken their toll.

This anxiety is mostly sufficient to explain why it required so much time for Henry McCord, who was in no sense of the word either foolish or careless, to think clearly about certain matters.

Now, though, perhaps because he had reassured himself that his collection was intact and safe, if not yet fully recovered, McCord found his thoughts moving in new directions. His thoughts continued to follow a chain of logic as he returned to his rented house in the city.

McCord watched as one of his security men unlocked the door to his temporary abode, and went inside first. As he followed the man inside, and told his personal chef to prepare dinner, or breakfast, depending on what one wanted to call the meal, his mind returned to the problem that had been worrying him throughout the trip back to the city.

Am I being paranoid? McCord asked himself, as he sat down to a long-delayed meal of steak and eggs, hash browns, and steaming hot coffee., I'm not being paranoid, it doesn't add up.

What did not add up was the claim recently made by his long-time employee and associate, 'James Davis', that he had installed a secret tunnel under the warehouse when they first constructed the hidden storehouse for the collection. Even when Davis had first told him about the tunnel, a few weeks before, something about the claim had bothered McCord.

At the time, he thought his doubts were simply because Davis had never told him about it. But that was not so huge a matter in itself, there were of course many details of his extensive activities that his employees took care of themselves, no one man could keep track of every detail of such enormous organizations as McCord Oil or his other employees and companies.

Now that he was thinking more clearly, though, and more calmly, it occurred to him that he really should have questioned another aspect of the tunnel, it was something he should have seen immediately.

Davis had told him that he had dug a three-hundred-meter long tunnel, in secret, under the streets of Harrystown, to connect the underground storehouse and the natural caves in the bluffs to the west. That tunnel was supposedly dug by a few men, in secret, as an emergency precaution.

Now that he was thinking clearly, though, it occurred to McCord that this made no sense. A three hundred meter tunnel, a bit over a meter across, was an enormous project for a small group of men, especially since they would have been forced to use mostly hand tools. Power equipment or explosives would have been out of the question, considering the need for secrecy, but digging out that tunnel by hand in a reasonable span of time, with only the small group of men Davis had available for such work...McCord suddenly knew that it did not add up.

McCord had made his fortune in the oil and construction businesses, among other things, and he had considerable first-hand experience in both. As he considered just how much material would have to have been moved, in quiet and secrecy, and he considered the disposal of that material, it suddenly looked to be totally impossible.

The tunnel certainly did exist, it had been dug somehow, but McCord was now quite sure that the explanation he had been given was nonsense. If he had been thinking straight, he would have realized it the moment he heard it, but his mind had never been far from his collection for weeks. Now, though, the falsehood was obvious in retrospect. As McCord finished his breakfast/dinner, he reached the grim conclusion that Davis was hiding something very important from him, though he did not know what it might be or what it might mean.

If Davis had lied to him, though, that meant he had to assume that Davis might have been lying about other things as well, and it also meant that he had to consider everything Davis was involved in as being potentially compromised. Which was disturbing, because Davis had been his right hand man in his most secret, delicate activities for many years.

In fact, McCord mused, Davis had been involved in hiring the very security guards who even now watched over rental house, and guarded the doors, and most of his other on-site personnel. Which meant that he could not assume that their first loyalty was to him.

McCord was a hard man, and a very smart one, when he was thinking straight. As he turned in for a long-delayed sleep, his mind was racing as he considered what his next move should be.

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