“It’s against the Moscow Treaty of 1963 to fire thermonuclear weapons above ground,” says the Cabinet Secretary. “The Russians will have to be privately informed we’re going to cauterize the area – – then they’ll ask a flock of questions.”
“Some, we don’t want answered, ” adds Ed, the Secretary’s assistant.
“That’ll take hours!” says Robertson. “God knows how far the infection will spread in that time.”
The white phone on the desk rings. All the men look at it. Grimes picks up the phone.
“Yes, Chief?” says Grimes. “Yes, sir. Yes, Mister President.” He hangs up the phone.
Turning to the men, Grimes says, “The President’s decided to postpone Directive Seven Twelve, for twenty-four to forty-eight hours.”
“But did he–” stammers Robertson. Grimes rips a blank sheet out of the typewriter.
“Instead,” says Grimes, “he’ll send out the National Guard to cordon off the area around Piedmont. That’s your department, Ed.”
“Safe and sound!” replies Ed, leaving the conference room.
“It should have been left up to the scientists,” says Robertson. “It’s a colossal mistake! Tell the President I said so!”
Grimes reaches into his pocket.
“No,” says Grimes.