DontLookDownFrom the top of the mountain near Bad Kreuznach, you could see the outlying village nestled in the valley far below. Most villages in Germany are postcard, cookie-perfect and interchangeable with other villages. It was a spectacular view, but at the moment my friend Gregg Powell was too busy to appreciate it. He was caught halfway up a sheer ten-story rock cliff, clinging there, unable to move. Stuck.

“Don’t look down!” I cautioned.

Scaling rocks, I don’t do free climbing. We were roped in, which meant the most we suffered was a few bangs and bruises if we lost grip and fell. That didn’t seem to mollify poor Gregg much. He looked terrified.

Gregg and I met in the Army. He was Company Commander for a Military Police company pulling a law and order mission with the 8th Infantry Division out of Rose Kaserne in Bad Kreuznach; I was his Company First Sergeant. We had a lot in common other than the military. He was a black New Orleans cop. I had been a cop in Miami, Florida, and in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We even had a double wedding together in Denmark and did our honeymoons together in Paris. (That was my third wife, Nita).

But right now, nothing mattered to Gregg but getting off the side of that cliff without falling. I was teaching him some of the finer points of scaling rocks.

“I’m stuck,” he complained.

“Don’t panic. We’ll get you out of here.”

“How’d I ever let you talk me into this?” he lamented. “This is worse than the bicycle.”

I had talked him into a weekend bicycle tour of the German hillside previously. From then on, he brought a pillow along to pad his seat whenever we went biking.

I looked over at him, not two feet away, hugging the rock like he was glued to it. I laughed.

“Gregg, you look like a big black fly stuck to a window pane.”

That did it. “Top, I swear I’m going to kill you if we ever get off this mountain.”

“You got to get off it first.”

He growled at me. “Let’s go.

“Do you really believe that?” Trout challenged.

Senator Wiedersham shrugged, the old pragmatic politician. “What difference does it make? We’ll be a part of it. The next month leading up to elections are the most critical period in our history. Candidates like you, Dennis, will pack Congress prepared to carry The Plan forward. From now until the elections, insiders will be attending a series of seminars and summits to prepare us to take over and govern the United States as part of a coalition with the rest of the world. We all must make tough decisions and act decisively in the days and weeks ahead.”

This was sounding more and more like the plot for a James Bond movie. . .

From A Thousand Years of Darkness by Charles W. Sasser