In the monitor section that tracks the rovers on Mars, suddenly, a scream grabs everyone’s attention. Sam Adam stands, his hear-gear flopping from his neck. Others in the section watch, dismayed, in horror, as he pounds the sides of his head with both fists, then he slumps to the floor, unconscious.
The agency director, John Williams, reads Sam Adam’s agency’s medical history, shown on the desk top computer screen. Standing behind him, assistant director, Charles Browne, reads over John’s shoulder, the same information.
“Nothing here to be an indicator of what caused his collapse,” John says.
“Maybe, drugs or alcohol?” Charles asks.
“There’s no suggestion of that here,” John says then asks. “What did the infirmary doctor say?”
“He is in some type of catatonic state that he is not familiar with,” Charles says.
“I’ll call Harriet,” John says. Harriet is the agency’s think tank, trouble-shooter, for all situations not involving explorations in outer space.
“What event was Adam involved in?” Charles asks.
“The rover found an area with frost on the surface; the team was retrieving information about it.” John says.
“Did any other team member behave in a similar manner?” Charles asks.
“No,” John says.
Minutes later, Harriet sits in the director’s office. “I stopped by the infirmary before I came here, and they’re puzzled about Adam’s condition, so I’m suggesting that our army medical triage unit be dispatched here,” she says.
In a skeptical manner Charles asks. “Will that be necessary?”
“Listen, it’s not, at the moment medical, nor can we say it is mental, so we can probably say that it is an intruder,” Harriet says.
“Oh, hell no, we’re definitely not going there,” Charles says.
John interjects. “She said probably and that is what we are going on, for now. Harriet make the call. And, I’ll give O’Connor a call and update him.” Jack O’Connor is a retired Senior Chief Petty Officer from the U S Navy with experience and expertise in security.
After Harriet walks out of the office, Charles says. “Give me time and I could come up with something better than an intruder, I mean it could have been an aneurysm that wasn’t diagnosed.”
“The infirmary doctor didn’t find evidence of that happening because according to the medical report, it was the first thing that they checked for,” John says.
Charles didn’t read that. “We need more testing to be sure,” he says.
“That’s what the army’s triage will do,” John says.
Jack joins John and Charles in the office. “I went straight to the infirmary after your call; I’m glad that I did because the doctor was about to call the hospital for an ambulance. I stopped him, told him about the army’s triage on the way,” Jack says.
“Shit. Good thinking,” John says.
“What was so good about that?” Charles asks.
“We need to be sure,” John says.
“Do we really need to be that sure,” Charles asks.
“Yes,” John says.
“I had the doctor isolate Adam,” Jack says.
In a sarcastic manner Charles asks. “Did you swear everyone in the infirmary to secrecy?”
“No, there is no need for that just now,” Jack says.
“Damn,” Charles says in an annoyed manner.
The telephone rings. John answers it. Harriet tells him that the Army triage arrived.
“I’ll meet Harriet and the army unit,” Jack says.
“Okay,” John says.
After Jack is out of the room, Charles asks. “What about the media pool?”
“Oh, hell, I forgot about them,” John says.
“I’ll handle them,” Charles says.
“No. Let O’Connor do it; we’re needed, to control this situation,” John says.
Harriet and O’Connor sit on folding chairs outside the triage tent. An army medical Colonel and his staff are busy inside the tent examining Sam Adam.
“That assistant director, kind of gets on my nerves,” Jack says.
“You haven’t been here long; you’ll get used to him.”
“If I do, it’ll be by accident,” Harriet says.
“Charles is academically smart but not operational wise; you’ll have to remember that,” Harriet says.
“Sounds like a few Ensigns that I crossed paths with,” Jack says.
The Colonel steps out of the tent; his facial expression tells Harriet and Jack that Sam Adam’s condition is beyond known medical explanations. Minutes later in John’s office.
“Essentially, our patient is brain dead but not from a disease or injury. (He pauses.) There is frost on his brain that stopped all brain functions,” Colonel says.
The office is silence for a moment.
“Then, we can say for sure that we have an intruder from Mars of some kind,” Harriet says.
“Why Mars?” Colonel asks.
“That was the project that he was working on,” John says.
“No one else was affected?” Colonel asks.
“No one else, so we can believe that it is a single intruder,” Harriet says.
“We have to go to the top of the chain,” Charles says.
“I have executive privilege to act for the welfare of the country in such an event, like this, so it stops here for now,” John says.
“The president has to know,” Charles says.
“He will but right now I need to know what we have, avoid a media circus and not to cause a public panic,” John says then asks. “Suggestions?”
“Since I cannot tell you what we’ll find if we open him up, I suggest putting him in a place where he can be monitored,” Colonel says.
“Leave a Pandora’s box closed,” Harriet says.
“His official cause of death then would be an aneurysm,” Jack says.
“Is he married?” Harriet asks.
“Yes, with two children,” John says.
“Does he follow a religion?” Harriet asks.
John taps buttons on the computer. “He’s a non-believer,” he says.
“I’ll talk to his wife,” Harriet says.
“This is a need-to-know situation, so let’s keep it to a bare minimum,” John says.
“Well, then, I have a suggestion, but I would like to, first, talk to the Colonel about it,” Harriet says.
“Okay,” John says.
Harriet signals for the Colonel to follow her out of the office.
The funeral for Sam Adam is a solemn event from the viewing to the burial; carried out before the funeral, Sam Adam’s body is laid in a lead container; the container is sealed then placed in a secret place to be monitored by the army.
The intruder waits in the darkness, in the frost that it secreted, for the sun rays to melt the frost so that it can frolic in the waves.