The Book

Moira left the front door open and slumped down on the steps to President Carlton’s private residence. He was in Geneva with the others. The Secret Service sequestered his family in a ‘safe place’. Like there was any place anywhere that was safe. The Enemy already controlled half the world.

A warm breeze carried the scent of flowers from the north side of the house. Nothing mattered now. She knew exactly where Carlton and the other leaders of the free world were. Though it would be fruitless, she still wanted to go to them. Her friends in the diplomatic corps would welcome her, she’d be among friends.

It would solve nothing, though.

No use feeling sorry for herself. Just to make sure, she looked at the book Carlton sent her to retrieve. “You’ll know it when you see it,” he said with a sad smile then gave her the combination to the safe. It took ten hours, one flight on Air Force Two, one car from the Secret Service and she opened the safe and found the object of her quest.

Unbelievable. Of course she knew it as soon as she saw it. Its improbable title, 3 Steps To World Peace, astounded her. So simple. It was a slim book with no author. The hard covers were thicker than the paper they bounded. Moira opened it to the first page. She’d already read it inside the house but she felt the need to be sure she hadn’t missed anything.

Snapping the book closed, Moira looked up at the maples. Just turning, the thick leaves hid a couple of jays talking to one another. No crying, she told herself. You don’t know who’s watching.

Her phone buzzed. She let it go three times before answering. “It’s no use,” she said without waiting for a greeting or even giving one.

“No, I’m not kidding. It’s no use at all.”

The line went dead. Whether by design of the caller or luck of an attack by the Enemy, Moira didn’t know. Tears welled up at the corners of her eyes. She held up the book, ran her fingertips over the gold embossed letters on the front. Her hand spasmed and it dropped, bounced away, landing two steps below. The book was Carlton’s hope for peace. 3 Steps To World Peace was the last, best chance to overcome centuries of animosity between nations who didn’t understand one another.

The pages were blank. No easy recourse existed to unite cultures against a common threat. Now it was too late. The Enemy would decimate the human race, destroy the Earth and move on as they did endlessly. Making their way across the galaxy.

Moira tapped her temple. A screen appeared in front of her, projected from a button on her jacket. The leader of the Enemy appeared, stoic, implacable.

“They have nothing,” she said. “I wanted them to. I hoped they did, but the humans have nothing. Operations should progress as normal.”

“Well done, Agent. Your commendation is assured. Proceed to the rendezvous.”

The screen disappeared.

Moira stood, looked back at the open door to Carlton’s house.

“I liked them,” she said to no one. “I did. I hoped they would beat the odds.”



Jason Arnett is a storyteller living in Kansas and writing in the plains of the fantastic. Some of his work can be found at

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