The White House Files Excerpt
Sweat dripped down her brow, urged on by the relentless sun that beat down. She rubbed her hand across her forehead, depositing a trail of dirt in its wake.
“Zoom in,” the director said, shoving yet another camera in her face. “Excellent, Roslin excellent. Serious face, just like you are working.”
She wanted to scream that she was working, but she had learned the hard way that any outbursts were seen as viewer bait. Last time she had said something her face had played across every feed for a week. She had endeavored to be as boring as possible since. Maybe then they would take that camera and shove it where the sun didn’t shine. Or at least aim it at her face a little less.
So far it hadn’t been working.
Picking up the trowel she resumed scrapping away at the layers of sediment. She had been digging down inch by inch for days, trapped in her own personal roped off box. It was an archeological dig of utmost importance, one that she had only ever dreamed of being a part of. To be here, now, in the shadow of one of the most influential and iconic buildings in American history, was one of the greatest moments of her career. One that was only slightly marred by the cameras that were now tracking every move she made and broadcasting it across the world.
“Again Roslin, be one with the dirt, feel the dirt,” the director exclaimed excitedly.
If that had been the most aggravating thing that he had ever said, she would have had more patience for it. But it wasn’t, not even close.
Roslin still found the idea that anyone would want to watch her work strange and unnerving. Never mind the fact that for being billed as a reality feed, it was anything but realistic. She would never normally wear make-up, have her hair done, or be wearing an outfit this constricting and uncomfortable on a dig. They had taken something that she had loved to do and instead turned it into some sadistic form of torture.
She drew the trowel across the scarred earth again, more aggressively this time than she had intended. A sharp screech reverberated as the metal from the trowel came in contact with something just below the surface. She instinctively drew her hand back as a rush of adrenaline poured through her.
This was it, this was the moment she lived for. Around her a flutter of activity commenced as cameras zoomed and lighting was adjusted. An eerie silence fell over the site, even the director who hadn’t stopped talking since he arrived was quiet.
“Just dig Roslin,” Martin finally said breaking the silence.
She looked up, her eyes burning, there would be no mistaking how she felt about his suggestion that she just dig.
“We need to photograph the site,” she protested, “record the position so we can reference it later.”
“It’s being recorded, what more do you want?” he said pointing at the cameras.
“It’s not the same,” she protested.
Roslin may be smarter, more experienced, and more knowledgeable than Martin, but he was the boss, and he was used to getting his way. Martin was also several years Roslins’ senior. As a result he frequently reprimanded Roslin, convinced that only he knew best.
Roslin on the other hand regarded him as a pretentious sleaze who was at best lazy and at worst a tyrant. He had the appearance of someone who had once been deeply handsome with dark tan and chiseled features. If the stories were to be believed, with it had come the partying and philandering across town, a different girl every week, sometimes every night.
The years of excess now showed in the perpetually puffy and just slightly droopy look of his face and body. Much to Roslin’s disgust and surprise, the womanizing hadn’t slowed down with his changing physique. If anything it had accelerated in the years that she had known him.
“To follow protocol,” she said evenly refusing to move, “we need to do this right.”
“It’s an order Roslin, not a suggestion.”
“No,” she responded flatly.
“Fine, I’ll do it myself,” he said as he stepped forward.
“What are you doing?” she exclaimed. “You’ll destroy the site.”
She looked around for a sign that anyone was going to do or say something.
“Anyone?” she asked, desperately looking around in vain.
She had known before she had even asked that no one would step in to intervene.
Martin puffed his chest out as he moved in to continue. He had won, and he was going to make sure she knew.
She felt helpless as she watched Martin scrape the trowel aggressively through the layers, pushing the dirt back haphazardly.
As angry as she was, she couldn’t help but to push forward with everyone else, craning to get the best vantage point. She was as excited as anyone else to see what was going to be uncovered. The air hung with a palpable anticipation. Even though they had been digging for weeks, they had discovered absolutely nothing until now. It was the dig of the century. To be given access to the site where the White House had once stood was the kind of thing that made careers.
She gasped as the final layers of dirt were swept aside and an image came into view. Around her echoed the surprise of others
“It can’t be-”
It was though, she was sure of it. The circular impression, the border of stars, the eagle depicted in the middle clutching arrows and olive branches.
“It’s the presidential seal,” she said definitely.
Not only was it a presidential seal, it was one of the best preserved presidential seals that she had ever seen. Not many had survived.
“What is it on?” a voice asked.
Roslin peered in closer, looking past the image for the first time to the surface below.
“It’s a door,” she said, breathlessly.
“Well then let’s open it,” Martin said as he grasped the handle and pulled.