7 Days: The Christmas File

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Andrew Klavan’s new novel is The Homelanders: The Long Way Home. He is the author of such bestselling novels as True Crime, filmed by Clint Eastwood, and Don’t Say A Word, filmed starring Michael Douglas. He is a contributing editor to the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal and his essays on politics and culture have also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. You can visit him at www.AndrewKlavan.com.

Nick pressed hard against the office wall, just inside the door. He gripped the Sig Sauer in one damp hand, holding it high, at the level of his eyes. If Becktel stepped back across that threshold, Nick was going to drive the pistol’s butt into the side of his head. He didn’t much like the idea of assaulting a U.S. Senator—not to mention his father-in-law—but he didn’t see where he had much choice. The danger was too great, the loyalties too shady, the time too short. This could well be his last chance to get the answers.

"Let me look at you, let me look at you," the Senator’s words reached him from the hallway. He could hear his voice quiver as he spoke to the daughter who seemed to have come back from the dead. They were not more than three steps away. "Is it possible? Are you real? Are you alive? My God!"

"Yes," Nick heard Ashleigh answer coolly. "It’s really me. But there’s no time for this. We have to talk—right now."

"Yes…yes…" Nick could hear Becktel trying to overcome his shock and re-gather his wits. The man truly did love his daughter; that much was clear. He really was shocked to see her alive. Whatever else he’d done, Nick thought, he hadn’t been a part of her kidnapping. That was something. "Come in," the Senator said then. "Come into my office."

Nick saw Becktel’s back as he came into the doorway, drawing Ashleigh with him. Nick tensed, lifting the gun a little higher, ready to strike. A bead of sweat ran down the side of his face.

Then Ashleigh said, "No. No. We can’t talk in there. It isn’t safe."

Becktel paused, just inches away from Nick. "Not safe? But no one knows about this office except—"

"There’s no time to argue," Ashleigh said. "You have to trust me now. We can’t talk in your office. Close the door and let’s go."

The Senator hesitated another moment. Nick held his breath. Then Becktel moved out into the hallway with his daughter, closing the office door behind him. "All right," Nick heard him say. "All right."

Nick heard their footsteps fading down the marbled hallway. He breathed for the first time in what seemed like hours.

He shoved the gun into his belt and moved from the door. He went around the mahogany desk. There was the senator’s laptop case on the floor. He opened it swiftly, brought out the computer, set it on the desk and turned it on.

Still dazed, Becktel followed his daughter down the short hall to a small white doorway. She stepped through and he followed.

Now they were in a narrow well at the top of a spiral staircase. The stairs spun down to another hall that eventually led to the Senate floor itself. Ashleigh stopped on the landing and turned to him.

"This is good," she said. "No one will hear us here."

It seemed strange to the Senator. Less secure than his hideaway. But the look on his daughter’s face was so urgent, he didn’t dare question her. He simply said, "I still can’t get over it: you’re alive."

"I won’t be for long if you don’t tell me the truth," she said.

"The truth…"

"About the Christmas File."

Becktel felt as if a trap door had opened inside him and his heart had fallen through. He began a feeble protest, "The Christmas file? What do you…?"

But Ashleigh plowed on. "Don’t, Daddy. Please. Don’t lie to me. I saw it with my own eyes. I didn’t mean to.

I saw the name—Christmas—and I thought… Well, I thought it was something innocent. I peeked and…there were the pictures…your notes."

Becktel’s mind raced. She had seen the notes too! What a fool he’d been to pour out his feelings like that, leave them there for anyone to see. It was because he had thought it had ended with the fall of the Soviet Union, but now… What lie could he tell her?

What story would possibly make sense?

Of all the stupid ways to get burned! And by his own daughter!

"They’re your parents, aren’t they?" Ashleigh said.

He tried to smile at her. His mind raced. He couldn’t let this stand. He couldn’t let her walk away, knowing what she knew. "Yes," he answered softly. What else could he say? She had read the notes. "They’re my parents."

"Russian, I take it."

Somewhere below them a door opened and closed. Ashleigh looked around nervously. Becktel seized on it. "Look, I’ll tell you everything. But not here, not like this…"

But her beautiful face was set, fierce. "What was the Village? Where do you come from? Who are you? Or maybe I should ask: who are you working for?"

Becktel’s stomach turned. She had almost guessed the whole thing. He stared at her, as if from a distance. Suddenly, he felt very far away, as if his mind belonged to someone else. His eyes flicked over his daughter’s shoulder. Distantly, coolly, he reflected that the spiral stairs were right behind her, a steep twisting fall to a marble floor. If he pushed her… If she stepped back… If she tumbled over the railing… A tragic accident and this problem would be solved.

The Senator stared at his daughter as if in a trance…

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

"Come on, come on," Nick muttered.

He had the USB drive plugged into the Senator’s laptop. The computer’s contents were copying themselves into it. It seemed to be taking forever. Nick glanced at the door. No noise outside. Ashleigh was doing her part well. He turned back to the laptop and watched the names of the files flashing past as they copied.

Then he saw it. One file. One word – there on the monitor for just a second: Christmas.

With another quick glance at the door, Nick called up the file and opened it. Ashleigh had told him what was inside: the photographs of Becktel’s parents; the anguished notes to himself. He knew this wasn’t the time to look at it. Becktel could come back in here any minute. He knew he should finish his copy and run for it.

But he had to look. He had to know.

As the files continued copying onto the drive, he scrolled quickly down through the notes. Quick half sentences, full of anguish.

What will they do to them?

What do they want?

Who is left to contact me now?

Down and down until he reached the final entry.

Nick’s lips parted. He stared at the words on the screen.

Time is running out. I’m caught in the middle. I can’t stall them any longer. Popov wants action. The Brethren want the apocalypse.

Putin wants Little Big Boy.

Nick looked up suddenly. He’d heard something. Out in the hall.

Footsteps…

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

His heart hammering in his chest, his palms sweating, Senator Becktel walked slowly away from the stairwell, back toward his hideaway. He felt as if his daughter’s stare had burned itself into his brain. The accusation in her eyes, the betrayal in her voice. Who are you? Who do you work for?

He opened the door to the outer hallway. He walked down the hall to his office door. He reached into his pocket, brought out a handkerchief and mopped the sweat off his face.

Then he opened the door and stepped inside.

The office was as he’d left it: empty. The White House press release on the desk, his laptop in its case on the floor.

Becktel went behind the desk and sank slowly into his chair. What was he going to do now?

What was he going to do?

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

"For a moment, I thought he was going to kill me," said Ashleigh as Nick rushed to her on the capitol steps. "The look in his eyes… It was as if he had become someone else, someone I never knew. For a moment, I really thought he was going to push me down the stairs. Then… I guess he couldn’t do it. He just turned and walked away."

"He nearly caught me in the office," Nick told her. "I had to get out of there in a big hurry."

"Did you copy the laptop?"

He nodded. He held up the USB drive. "It’s all here." He took hold of her hand and looked for a long moment into her frightened eyes. "There’s not much time. Let’s get back to the hotel."

 





<< Return to the September 2010

What is actually in Texas' new GOP-led voting bill? Nearly every Texas House Democrat fled the state to block its passage, calling it racist and oppressive, and President Joe Biden backed them as well.

But Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Friday to set the record straight and call out the lies: All of these claims are "completely false." He also explained his promise to "arrest" the Texas House Democrats when they return to the Lone Star State.

"What is in the bill is completely different than what they're saying, what Kamala Harris is saying, what President Biden is saying. What's in the bill actually increases the number of hours that people have to vote in the state of Texas. In the state of Texas, we have at least 12 days of early voting, and we are adding hours to those days. And on top of that, we are giving people time off from work to be able to vote. Bottom line, we're making it easier to vote in the state of Texas," Gov Abbott explained.

"In comparison, Delaware — the state that President Biden votes in — has exactly zero hours of early voting," he added. "That said, there is one thing that we're doing in the state of Texas, and that is we're making sure we tighten the reins on mail-in ballots that can lead to voter fraud. And it's not me saying that. It's a federal judge, appointed by Barack Obama, in Corpus Christi, Texas, who wrote in a legal opinion that voter fraud occurs, quote, in abundance as it concerns mail-in ballots. We know. Texans know. There is fraud in mail-in ballots in the state of Texas. It must be fixed. That's one thing we're trying to do. That being said, all these claims that we're denying people the right to vote and yada, yada, yada, are completely false."

Abbott went on to discuss the much-debated voter ID laws in Texas and to explain why Democrats insist on calling basic voter ID requirements "racist."

"When Democrats do not have truth on their side, they resort to one single word and that is 'racism' ... Texas implemented voter ID almost a decade ago, and when we went through that fight, what word did they use? Racism," he said. "Guess what? After Texas imposed voter ID requirements in the state of Texas, there have been more people voting and more people of color who went to vote. Voting didn't get harder. It got easier and more abundant in the state of Texas. And so, once again, Democrats have absolutely no legal standing, other than to say, 'racism.'"

Glenn asked Gov. Abbott to explain his pledge to "arrest" the Democratic lawmakers that fled once they return to Texas.

"Let me explain how this works. So, whenever there is a break of quorum, which is what is happening now — meaning there is not a sufficient number of people who are showing up to the Texas House of Representatives for the Texas House to engage in business. Whenever there's a quorum break like that, the House issues what's called a 'call on the House.' And when that happens, the sergeant-at-arms is authorized to work with the Texas Department of Public Safety, to — you can call it arrest, apprehend, whatever you want to call it — any of the members who are not in the Texas House of Representatives and bring them to the Texas House where they will be 'cabined' with no ability to leave the Texas House chamber, without a permission slip from the speaker."

Watch the video clip below for more details:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution, and live the American dream.

Our Fourth Amendment, which protects our right to privacy, has never been in more danger. Journalist Lara Logan joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Thursday to explain how the digital world has given leaders — both in government and corporations — the ability to not only spy on Americans, but to track their patterns of behavior, too.

Lara explained why, even if you think you have nothing to hide, you should be very concerned. Because these digital "human terrain maps" could be used to manipulate you in any way those in control see fit.

"The purpose of your privacy is much more than just being out of public view," Lara said. "There is really nothing that's more central to our democracy than the right to privacy. I mean, all of the rights in the Constitution have a real purpose, and a real value, and if we allow people to take them away from us, we voluntarily are surrendering that. We are lambs to the slaughter.

"They're not just looking at what you have to hide. They're looking to manipulate you into doing what they want. These are control systems. That's what they are," Lara explained. "What they do with the information is they create a 'human terrain map' for every single person on the planet, anyone within a digital signature or within their reach. They are creating a human terrain map that can be used against you, by anyone."

Watch the video clip below for more details:


Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution, and live the American dream.

Who were the people and groups involved with coronavirus research, and what really went down before and after the pandemic began? On "Glenn TV" this week, Glenn Beck heads to the chalkboard to outline a tale of negligence and then, coverup. The elites of the world - the people calling themselves experts - trusted the Chinese Communist Party with one of the most dangerous weapons we can imagine on this planet--a virus.

Glenn reveals who was involved in a definitive timeline, and argues: If proof of a lab leak does come out, the worlds needs to know EVERYONE that was involved. We must expose the coverup and attempt to control the narrative of the pandemic origins. Everyone from Big Tech, the media, the Chinese and even our own government have been involved. What lies behind the coverup could reveal the dirty secret that, in order to cut corners, the academic elites and government entrusted Communist China with a civilization-killing virus.

Watch the full episode below:

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BlazeTV host Mark Levin said his new book, "American Marxism," provides proof that we're not just facing a coming Marxist revolution — it's already here.

Many Americans remain unconvinced, believing recent moves from the far left and the Democratic Party are just passing phases. But this is not a "fad," Levin told Glenn Beck on the radio program Tuesday.

"This isn't progressivism, or social activism, or democratic socialism. This is Marxism. Now, it may not be Marxism in every particular. But it's an Americanized form of Marxism," Levin explained.

"You need to pay attention to what's taking place ... You've seen it with your own two eyes. You saw the riots all summer long. You saw Black Lives Matter, which is headed by an openly proud Marxist. You see Antifa, which is a Marxist anarchist organization. You see the media, that you have been watching and reading, endorse every single one of these movements," he added.

"People have been brainwashed, or ... haven't been paying attention. They view this as a passing fad," Levin went on to say. "It's not. We all need to wake up to this. And if we have little differences, moderate Democrats, Libertarians and so forth, you better put them aside right now. Because we have a common enemy. I say enemy, not opponent. Not adversary. Enemy. And we need to be focused on defeating that enemy, rather than fighting among ourselves."

Watch the video clip below to hear Mark Levin explain how our individual freedoms are in serious jeopardy:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.