Read an Excerpt
April Fool's Day, 1984
On April Fool's, a decade hence,
A hole appears within a fence.
I will be called to patch it.
The part which leaves is very great.
Then I will learn about my fate.
I must work hard to match it.
April Fool's Day, 1974
April Fool's Day seemed somehow appropriate as the day to report to my new military unit. No one had told me where it was. In spite of a very shallow and clandestine briefing at a Czech restaurant in Germany, I wasn't really sure of what the unit did, or for that matter what I would be doing in it. To top that off, I had been given two different sets of orders: one "official" set, printed on paper, and a totally different set, given verbally. The official orders said that I was to report to HHQ Co, 902 MIBn, INSCOM, Ft. Meade. Translated into human speech, that stands for Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 902nd Military Intelligence Battalion, Intelligence and Security Command, located at Fort Meade, Maryland.
But the verbal orders I had received said that I should not go anywhere near the 902nd. Upon reaching Fort Meade, Maryland, I was to check in at the military guest quarters and call a certain phone number to let a special agent know that I had arrived. Under no circumstances was I to report in to the 902nd, as my written orders stated. In effect, I had been instructed to go AWOL the first day of my new assignment.
My wife, Linda, my seven-year-old son, Lael, and I arrived at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport late in the evening of April 1, 1984. It is customary for a soldier and his family to call the unit to which he is reporting and have a staff driver pick them up. I couldn't do that, due to the verbal orders. We took a cab from the airport to the Fort Meade Guest House. The desk clerk asked for my orders and said that he would call the unit and let them know I was in. He was somewhat perplexed when I asked him not to.
In the room, I pulled out the napkin which had been given to me in the Czech restaurant in Germany. The hand-scrawled phone number on it was for a private residence in the Fort Meade area. A man's voice answered, and said that we should all wait in the parking lot in front of the guest house. He would come right by.
When we arrived in the parking lot, a dense, misty fog had rolled in, making the whole scene look like something out of a Hollywood spy movie. The guest house is far removed from the other base facilities, so the darkness was oppressive. All we could see through the swirling fog was the fuzzy, eerie glow of the guest house's neon sign at the edge of the parking lot. We stood quietly, feeling small drops of mist sweeping against our faces in the moist night breeze. With the fog, the world had gone deathly quiet, and nothing could be heard except our own breathing and the electric crackle of the neon sign's transformer. Even Lael, an active and impatient seven-year-old still on German time, was subdued by the surrounding mystery.
I looked at my wife and marveled at the courage of this woman who would accompany me anywhere in the world, on nothing more than faith that I would do the right thing. I wondered how she could keep that faith even at times like this, when she knew that I had absolutely no idea of what I was getting us into. She looked back at me and gave the slightest of smiles. The silent mist swirled and we shifted from one foot to the other and waited.
* * *
The events leading up to my new assignment at Fort Meade were, quite frankly, odd. I had been working at the U.S. Army Field Station in Augsburg, Germany, for a little over two years. I had originally been assigned there as a Russian linguist, but through some devious manipulation, had worked my way into the Computer Operations and Coordination section.
At that time, the coordination of the computers at the field station was a large task, since we had almost a hundred different computer systems with several different countries of origin. The computer systems did not "talk" to each other, and there was constant conflict among the data fields, the computers, and the people and countries who ran them.
I had been there almost a year when I received the order to design a program that would tie the field station's many computer systems together into a single reporting entity. Another sergeant I'll call him Doug felt that he should have gotten the job and was very hostile toward me for the selection. During the following two months, Doug repeatedly got into my programming code and placed "bombs" there, as his means of revenge. I confronted him several times, but it only fanned the flames. In frustration and as a total last resort, I reported him to his superiors, who threatened him with disciplinary action if he did it again. There were no more interruptions from Doug and in another month I had the program running and tested.
Now I had to make the necessary demonstration briefing to the commanders of the various U.S. military branches and the military commanders of more than a dozen different NATO countries that had personnel at the field station. When the day came to make the demonstration, I arrived early, checked and rechecked the program for errors or flaws. There was none. I ran it through all the testing procedures and made certain the presentation would go smoothly. Everything checked out perfectly. Right before presentation time, I went to the bathroom to make certain my hair was well combed and there were no scuffs on my spit-shined shoes or wrinkles in my uniform. At the appointed time, the commanding officers of every military unit attached to the field station began to assemble for the briefing on the new computer program.
I went through the initial song and dance about the need for such a program, what problems it would solve, what benefits would be reaped, and so on. I then turned and hit the computer's enter key to begin the demonstration. The computer screen went blank. Something had gone wrong. I turned back to the chuckling audience and searched for something to say when I saw Doug standing in the doorway. He grinned menacingly and pointed a finger at me. "Gotcha!" he mouthed, and turned to leave.
Something welled up in me then, which had not happened in years: an uncontrollable rage. Earlier in life, I had been one of those "poltergeist" children. I had learned in my early teens that when I allow myself to get truly angry, things around me go crazy. As Doug turned to leave, things did exactly that.
When I was about twelve years old, odd things began to happen in the form of objects around me moving or bumping, or suddenly falling for no apparent reason. It was bothersome to others, but to me, it was odd and interesting. It felt as if it was something I was doing so I began trying to learn what it could be. I learned that I could sometimes cause a few small things to happen simple things at will. They were not enough to really impress anyone, but they were enough to spur me onward. I devised some mental exercises to help me "flex my mind muscles." I developed a "little voice" that would give the orders and help keep things organized. I understood completely that it was just a device of my own making, and not a real voice. It was not an entity of any kind, a spirit, or even an alter ego. I was not really hearing things. It was just a gimmick I had devised to separate my regular thoughts from those that were supposed to make the weird things happen. I was never afraid of it, and actually thought of it as a really neat plaything. I had complete control over it.
Through this and some other exercises that I devised, I learned to make bigger things happen, and could make the smaller things happen with little effort. But as I got better at it, the things that happened "by themselves" got stronger, too. I practiced and learned more control, so these spurious incidents became less frequent, but when they did happen, they were much more noticeable. A couple of times, the little voice had done something by itself to get me out of a fight or embarrassment, but for the most part, the unbidden incidents were just funny little things. In fact, they were usually harmless pranks, at the most. They happened without my volition, and I would often see the humor in them and appreciate the unexpected cleverness behind them.
Around age fourteen, though, with hormones rising, I began competing for the attention of young girls. One day I was showing off, trying to impress the cute redheaded girl who attracted me so. I succeeded by showing her one of the tricks I had learned to do with the little voice inside my head. It did impress her, all right. In fact, she was so impressed that she went home and told her father the Pentecostal minister. The following day, he and two of his deacons met me after school and asked for a demonstration. As soon as this demonstration succeeded, they all slammed their hands onto my head and pushed me down to the sidewalk, screaming to God to cast the Devil out of me.
I was brought up in "Deep East Texas," otherwise known as the Bible Belt. There, if the preacher said something, then God must have said it, too. They had suddenly and forcefully turned my little trick into a sin against God. They were trying to rid me of an evil which had not been there before they tried. I was scared to death and so shaken from the incident that I had nightmares for a month.
What had been nothing more than an amusing and interesting plaything now had its roots in ominous evil. It still didn't feel wrong, but what if the Devil had just been tricking me? What if he had just been preparing me for doing some great and sinfully evil deed? What if the Devil had dark and occult plans for me and I hadn't been Christian enough to know it? What a stupid and horrible Christian I had become! What a depraved sinner I had turned into! I decided that I would stop doing my neat things, and thanked God for warning me of my sins in time.
I now know that the subconscious mind, once given its freedom, doesn't give up that freedom without a fight. I didn't know that back then. At the time, to my guilt and horror, it seemed that the more I stopped doing my purposeful "neat things," the more the unbidden things increased. Of course, to my mind at the time, it was simply Satan fighting back. It had nothing to do with conscious and subconscious talents. To my fourteen-year-old mind, it meant only that God and Satan both were testing me. I was in a huge tug-of-war between them, and it required even more diligence of me, or my soul would burn forever in Hell.
I quickly learned that getting angry was almost certain to bring on an unbidden incident. These incidents were usually bad things, in hindsight, and I was always sorry for them later. Yet, at the time they happened, they seemed to save me from some bully or help someone else who was in need. The things that happened always gave me some instant satisfaction because I was suddenly able to take control of bad situations and turn them to good. But later I would see how the Devil had tricked me again and then the guilt would set in.
About two months after the incident with the minister and his deacons, the problem still weighed very heavily on me. Then, another incident happened, which was to make me spend the next thirty-one years fully dedicated to blocking these sinful abilities. I was riding my bicycle home from school one day when a kid who was always bullying everyone rode up behind me. As he sped past, he hit my handlebar, and I went spilling forward onto the ground. My face and arm went straight into some sharp gravel. The boy had nothing against me, personally. He only wanted the sport of hurting someone, and I happened to be handy. My dislike of the boy turned to instant hatred. I was hurt and my face and arm were bleeding. I looked up at him as he rode off laughing and heard the little voice in my mind say, "Die!" A sudden very heavy, tiring calmness spread over me. I watched spectator-like as he swept sideways off his bicycle, which continued a short ways down the sidewalk without him. He flew over the hood of a parked car and landed in the street. An oncoming car screeched to a stop with the boy's head already under its bumper and its front tire just inches from his face. If it had not stopped, he would have been killed. I would have been responsible. The minister had been right. Not only was my developing power evil, but now, I was evil, too. I vowed never to use this ability again.
That plan did not work, of course. Over the years, with some very notable exceptions, I controlled the uninvited occurrences by avoiding anger at all costs. Several spontaneous things did happen both with and without the anger, and of course, no one can go forever without getting upset over something. But I never again heard the voice say, "Die!"
Not for thirty-one years, anyway, until that day in Augsburg. Doug had ruined my program and made me look like an idiot before my commanders, their commanders, foreign commanders, everyone. I was instantly and uncontrollably furious. I heard the voice and quickly turned my attention back to the computer, but could not control the rage. For the second time in my life, it had said, "Die!" And for the first time since I was fourteen, I felt the very heavy, tiring calmness spread over me. Computers throughout the entire field station went dead.
During the days that followed (a length of time still classified for obvious reasons), the United States and the other NATO countries that had facilities at the field station had no electronic intelligence effort along the East German border. Field station personnel went to work on regular schedules and kept up the appearance that all was business as usual. We had to fool the Soviets' spy-in-the-sky satellites, which kept constant watch on us.
I knew inwardly that I had caused the problem, but I wasn't about to tell anyone. For one thing, everyone would have thought I was crazy and laughed at me. I quickly reasoned it all away and convinced myself that I had been wrong. After all, this kind of thing can't happen. I had believed things like that when I was a kid, but I was now an adult. Such thinking was spooky kid stuff. This was just coincidence. So I went to work like everyone else, played cards and worked crossword puzzles, caught up on my reading, and waited for the field station to get up and running again.
The software analysts checked to see whether my program had caused the computers to crash, but quickly determined that it had not. Except for the "bomb" which Doug had planted in my program, my code was squeaky clean. In fact, the final report of that investigation said that it was the computers crashing that had caused my program to fail. Further analysis showed that unattached and unassociated computer systems had been affected as well. Those systems were totally unconnected to my program. It seems that even stand-alone intelligence computers around Europe and all along the East German border had crashed at the same time. The cause had been something much bigger. The question of an act of terrorism using an electromotive pulse (EMP) arose. The analysts decided that no such EMP had been used, since nonintelligence computer systems sitting right beside the affected ones had remained intact. An EMP would have taken everything out. They checked for viruses and found none. To this day, the whole incident remains an awful one-time event without explanation.
I was later to learn that major portions of the entire NATO intelligence network had gone silent at the same time our station had. Even parts of the intelligence network that were in no way connected to us electronically had blown out. Many years later I learned that the affected area had been from the North Sea down to Italy, though intelligence computers in Australia had been affected as well.
However, our lack of electronic eavesdropping capability had not really put the Free World in danger. It seems that the Communist Bloc countries, the East Germans, Bulgarians, Czechs, and Soviets had also lost their electronic eavesdropping equipment at the same moment. Just as we had been keeping up appearances to fool their spy-in-the-sky satellites, they had been doing the same in order to fool our spy-in-the-sky satellites as they scrambled to get their intelligence networks back on line again.
I kept quiet about my suspicions that I might have, in some way, caused some part of all this. But there was one aspect of the incident that I hadn't known about. The commanding general of the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (USAINSCOM) was a man named Maj. Gen. Albert N. Stubblebine. Because of the general's personal interest in mental phenomena, several of the officers in his command had been trained to spot such "human potentials." One of those officers had attended the ill-fated demonstration. He had only a passing interest in computers, but had attended mainly to see all that brass in one place at one time. He had seen the incident take place and recognized it for what it was.
About an hour after the incident occurred, General Stubblebine was called on the carpet by the commander of the U.S. Department of Defense, demanding an explanation. General Stubblebine had none to give. He vowed to get to the bottom of it. By the end of the business day, the officer who recognized the event had turned in a full report of what he had seen and suspected.
About two months after the event took place, General Stubblebine came to the field station to install a new field station commander. The necessary "GI parties" and white-glove inspections had taken place and the field station sparkled from stem to stern for the commanding general's visit and ceremony. I had no direct part in the ceremonies, so I arrived at work at my normal time. My department director met me at the door and told me to go back home, put on my class-A (dress) uniform, and report to the field station commander's office.
"Uh, sir," I said, "I'm a sergeant, now. Can't you get some private to serve doughnuts?"
"You're not serving doughnuts," he answered. "The commanding general wants to see you personally right after the installation ceremony." He added, "You must have really screwed up big time."
About one o'clock in the afternoon, I was still sitting in the field station commander's outer office when the general and the new commander walked in. We all snapped to attention, and the general, with the new commander following the proper number of steps behind him, proceeded past everyone. The general stopped directly in front of me, looked at my name tag, and said, "You're Sergeant Buchanan?"
"Yes, sir!" I responded automatically.
"Follow me!" he growled as he grabbed me by the arm and shoved me in front of him. I walked into the office in front of the general, aware of the breach in protocol, but helpless to do anything about it. As the new field station commander entered behind us, the general turned to him and said in a very officious tone, "I need to talk to Sergeant Buchanan. Wait outside." The new commander, forced now to end his grand entrance by standing idle in the hallway, gave me a look that very clearly said, "Whatever happens, soldier, your name is on my shit list in black, permanent ink!"
I stood at attention as the general closed the door, turned to me, got right up in my face like a drill sergeant, and with a deadly monotone voice asked, "Did you kill my field station with your mind?"
I knew I could lie my way out of this situation, but something within told me that he would not be asking the question if he didn't already know the answer. I knew I had better tell the truth. I was envisioning how long it would take to pay for a field station on a sergeant's salary when I heard myself answer very meekly, "Yes, sir. I did."
The general stood for what seemed like hours, staring me straight in the eyes. I tried to remain stone-faced and not to flinch in light of what I had just said. I had given them the scapegoat they needed. I was facing impending financial destruction for the rest of my life, and probably some serious jail time.
Finally, a broad grin spread across the general's face and he said, "Far fucking out!"
We talked for a few minutes about what I had felt and sensed during the incident. I have met and talked to many generals in my career, but this one was so open and friendly that I very quickly felt completely comfortable opening up to him. He asked what people called me, and I told him, "Lyn." From that point on, even through the following years, that is what he called me, and has never once called me by my rank or last name since. At the end of our conversation, he finally said, "Man, have I ever got a job for you!"
I had no idea what the job could be, and he did not tell me. I stood in silence, knowing that, having admitted such a thing, my future could never again be the same. He told me that someone would contact me soon. He then reopened the door, ushered me out, and allowed the field station's new commander to have his office back.
For the month that followed, I found myself on every "shit list" imaginable. The new commanding officer remembered my name and my face quite vividly. Everyone in my office wanted to know what had happened with the general, but I would not tell. Some accepted my silence, but my section's director was offended by it, and let me know in no uncertain terms that keeping him out of the loop was not an option. My name became indelibly printed at the top of his list, too. In time, he learned what the meeting with the general had been about, made it public within the office, and I quickly became the butt of every pointed joke and jab you can imagine.
But the whole thing seemed to just quietly blow over. I did not hear from the general again, so I figured that I was not to be selected for anything special. We all got back to work, and life returned to normal.
A month or so later, I received a call at home from a man who identified himself as "Joe." He said that he and another man, "Brian," would be coming through Augsburg and would like to meet with me. They had instructions from the general to talk to me about "something." They wanted to meet with Linda and me at a local restaurant where we could talk in a noisy, public place, away from any other military people. I gave them directions to a favorite restaurant of ours, a Czech restaurant located fairly distant from the American sectors, and not often frequented by American military.
During the meal, Brian revealed, right in front of Linda, that he was the director of a special, highly classified project that "collected intelligence by mental means." He and Joe explained the concept of "remote viewing" to us. Seeing my consternation that Linda was being exposed to secrets, Brian explained that the process of remote viewing changes people. If I became involved, I would change. The wives of his soldiers could not understand the reasons for those changes because of the security, and therefore his unit had been plagued by constant marital problems.
"I don't want another divorce in my unit," he said, "so this time, your wife gets to know what is going on. If she doesn't approve, you won't be involved." He asked Linda whether she had any problems with my doing that kind of work. To my surprise, she said that she had always known I had talents in that area and thought I would be good at it. In fact, she seemed eager for my involvement.
Joe wrote a phone number on a napkin and handed it to me. "If you ever absolutely have to get in touch with us, call this number." I tore off the number and put it into my wallet for safekeeping.
Brian and Joe said that General Stubblebine wanted me to go to a special course. He would get in touch with me when things were set up. The general's words had been, "Let's send him to that course, and then we can talk further about any possible assignment." I realized that I would have to somehow prove myself before the assignment would be granted. I had no idea how to do that.
Then, more weeks went by and I did not hear a thing. I wasn't about to fire off mail, nagging the general for information. So, I waited.
About a month after meeting with Brian and Joe, a message came into the station saying that I would be attending a special training course. The message did not say what kind of course it was, nor did it ask permission for my release from the unit or from duty to attend. It was signed by the commanding general of INSCOM, and the only questions asked by my immediate command were asked to me. I did not know what the course was about, and if I had known, I probably could not have told them. They thought I was keeping secrets from them, and there I was, back on the shit lists again.
On the appointed date, I drove to the Munich airport and waited for the plane. As I was going through the boarding gate, I heard my name being paged over the intercom. I started to go back for it, but an overpowering feeling kept me from doing so. I was afraid that I would miss the plane and wind up being AWOL at the course. I boarded, and imagined and worried all the way to the States, ran over every possible scenario in my mind. What could the call have been about? Had Linda or one of the kids been in an accident? What could have gone wrong? When I got to the States, I called home and learned that Linda knew nothing of the call. It was only after returning to Germany that I learned the answer. The field station commander had learned what the school was all about and decided not to grant me permission to go. He had tried to track me down and even had me paged at the Munich airport, to stop me from leaving.
I arrived in Washington and met one of the other people who was coming from overseas to attend the course. His name was Bob (not his real name, but close enough). He was an intelligence field office interrogator, working in one of the field offices in Europe. He would not tell me his rank, but I would later find out he was a warrant officer. He knew the D.C. area, so we rented a car and drove to Arlington Hall Station, where the INSCOM commander's office was located. We found about twenty people preparing to board a bus. We reported to the office and the general's secretary was surprised to see us.
"You're here! I thought you weren't going to make it."
We followed instructions and loaded our overnight bags onto the bus for a trip to the Monroe Institute, about a half-hour ride south of Charlottesville, Virginia. Other than Bob, myself, and one other sergeant, everyone to whom we were introduced was a major, lieutenant colonel, colonel, or of such high rank. The other nonbrass person was a female sergeant named Dawn, who was stationed in Greece, and who had also been "gleaned from the ranks" by General Stubblebine.
The general's secretary had handed me a copy of a magazine article about the Monroe Institute. This was to be an out-of-body training course. My reaction to that was one of virtual disbelief. I had read of such things years before, but to think that there was a school that taught it? No way! What would we do? Chant? Call to the spirits? Use tarot cards? Sit in a circle and cast bones?
The first day of the course, we received the orientation lecture. We would be using a sound system called "hemisync," which had been developed by Bob Monroe, the founder of the institute. The sounds played into each ear were of a slightly different frequency. As your mind tried to make sense of the two, it would have to create a "beat frequency" within itself. The main frequencies were computed in such a way that the beat frequency thus set up in the brain was the brain's normal frequency for the out-of-body experience.
They had tapes causing other beat frequencies, such things as those for concentrating very deeply, playing better golf, staying more energetic, not being hungry (so you can lose weight), and a myriad of other very practical uses. But we were to use it to go out of body? "You've got to be kidding me," I thought.
Then there was the follow-on thought: "Uh, oh! My success in this course determines whether or not I get the assignment." I had to pass a test. I was not prepared for this kind of stuff.
The first afternoon, we all went into the "chec units," which are simple enclosed cubicles the size of a bed. There were speakers on the walls and earphone jacks, so you could listen to special sounds being played as you lay there. Four or five times a day, we would lie down in darkness in the chec unit and listen to tapes of these special sounds for an hour or so. Afterwards, we met in the big room downstairs and sat in a circle, so we could discuss with the group what had transpired within our minds as we listened. Since I could not think of anything earth shattering that had transpired in my mind, I kept quiet. Keeping quiet was no way to pass a test in the military, but to open my mouth would have proven that I had failed.
That night, more tones were played to us as we slept. The following morning, we had breakfast, went to our chec units, and listened to more tones. Nothing happened again. Later, in the group, the others were making quite a fuss about their experiences. Again, I kept quiet.
That afternoon, after lunch, we returned to our chec units for more tones. I was restless and bothered and, frankly, worried that I had already failed whatever test there was. I lay in the bed, lights off, listening to the tones, and told myself to relax. I didn't relax. Nothing worked. Finally, I decided that no matter how uncomfortable I got, and no matter how nervous, I was going to just be still and listen to the sounds. Then my chin began to itch.
"I will not scratch," I thought, knowing that if I did, I would be in motion all over again.
It itched again.
"No!" I thought.
Finally, in desperation, I allowed myself one single scratch. I raised my hand to scratch my chin and felt the oddest sensation: it felt as if my hand had a glove on it. The feeling was so odd that I opened my eyes and looked at my hand. My hand, right near my face, had a slight glow to it. I then looked farther down and saw in the semidarkness the same arm, still lying at my side.
"This is an out-of-body experience!" I thought. A flood of relief swept over me. Such a thing was possible, after all...and it was possible for me! I would have something to talk about later in the group. I might pass the general's test. I might even get the assignment.
I had heard that in the out-of-body state, you can put your hands through walls and things like that. I decided to put my hand through the bed. To my total surprise, it worked. I could even feel my hand going into the bed as it passed through. I tried putting it through the wall. It worked. I tried passing it through the earphone cord and through the volume control panel on the wall. I could actually feel the back of the volume knob mechanism.
"I've got to learn how to do this at will," I thought. "I'll put my hand back into my hand and then take it out again over and over. That'll teach me how to get out of body any time I want." I put my glowing, ethereal hand back into my real, dull, boring, lying-there-in-the-darkness hand. The tape ended at that moment, and I have not been able to get out of body again since that day. I have tried and tried, but can't seem to make it happen.
In the discussion group that followed, I related the incident. At one point, I said something about my physical hand, which had been lying at my side, and "my real hand," which was passing through walls and the bed. As I related the experience, a startling realization welled up within me. All the stuff I had learned in Sunday school about having a spirit within me suddenly became real. For the first time ever, I honestly realized that the "body me" was not the "real me."
I returned to Augsburg and waited for news of a new assignment to arrive. The wait was long. My direct command wanted to know what was going on. I didn't know, but they did not believe that.
Two months went by. Finally, I got a call from the Military Personnel Center (MILPERCEN). A colonel told me he had orders from somewhere that he was not able to determine, assigning me to a clandestine organization. He strongly advised against it. It would be bad for my career progression.
"So, I'm going to transcend these orders," he said. " We're assigning you to Fort Riley, Kansas, to a tactical battalion. I see you haven't had any tactical time so far. That's what you need."
I protested, but the colonel very forcibly told me that he knew what was best for me, and that I would be assigned to Fort Riley.
I realized that if I did nothing, the whole assignment would fall apart. I phoned the number on the napkin and told the unidentified man on the other end what had transpired. He said he would take care of it.
The next evening, the colonel from MILPERCEN called again. He told me that he had had a personal visit from the commanding general of INSCOM, who had come into his office and "chewed him out." He told me that I would be assigned to the clandestine unit. "And from now on, Sergeant, don't you ever send another general to our office. Please."
The orders came through about three weeks later. They gave me two months to transfer out of the old unit, set up transportation of household goods, and get all the other logistics taken care of for a permanent change of station.
Just as a way of saying, "You don't do that to me," two days before my final workday at Augsburg, I arrived about six A.M., and was greeted at my desk by a military policeman.
"Are you Sergeant Buchanan? Leonard Buchanan?" he asked.
"Well, I have a warrant for your arrest. It says here that you're AWOL."
I was caught off guard by that one. "Uh, Sergeant," I replied, "I don't know how to explain this, but people don't go AWOL by getting into uniform and reporting for military duty at six A.M."
"No," he answered, looking at his instructions. "It says here that you didn't show up for your duty assignment at Fort Riley. The commander there put out the order to have you arrested."
The Augsburg Field Station commander delighted in toying with me before finally sending a message that those orders had been rescinded and that I was not AWOL. He gave me a stern scowl and said, "I could have let you go to jail, you know."
So Linda and I stood in the guest house parking lot, watching the fog and mist swirl around the neon sign, waiting for a mysterious someone to appear. A large car drove in, drove past us, and pulled into a parking slot. Since it had passed us by, we ignored it, and were somewhat surprised when a very tall, slender man walked up from behind us and stuck out his hand in greeting.
"Hi," he said, and grinned. "My name's Bill."
Bill had planned to take us to dinner, but since it was very late and we were tired from the trip, he postponed it for another evening. He took a copy of my printed orders and said that they would be taken care of. He checked again to be certain that I hadn't notified the 902nd of my arrival and cautioned me not to do so. "As of tomorrow," he said, "you will completely disappear from the U.S. military system. Pack your uniforms away and don't go anywhere near your assigned unit."
I asked what I should do next. "Well, you've met Joe. He's probably our best remote viewer, and runs the computers, too. He's retiring from service, and it's going to leave a big hole in the unit. You're going to be filling it. You've got a real job cut out for you. But we'll worry about that tomorrow." He pointed in a direction away from the guest house. "If you walk across that field, the first pair of buildings you come to is where we work. They look like they're abandoned, but knock on the door, anyway, and we'll let you in. Come there in the morning and we'll talk about what you do next."
As Bill drove off into the fog, Linda and I looked at each other. We then quietly turned and went into the guest house for a night of uneasy sleep.
Copyright © 2003 by Lyn Buchanan