It was a dark and stormy night. If that were not such a terrible line to open a work of fiction, it would have been perfectly apt to describe the atmosphere around Senator Carlton’s house just after midnight on this night. Heavy clouds lowered over the house as the rain poured down in buckets. Thunder rumbled and lightning flashed across the sky. And from the security of her invisible plane, Wonder Woman watched the spectacular light show. The determined look on her face hid the doubts she felt about this expedition. With the darkened skies and, looking shining and wet amidst its security lights, the great house itself appeared threatening as her plane swept past.
Wonder Woman looked carefully for a possible place to land, but the hilly landscape made landing even an invisible plane impossible. On her third pass over the house, she realised that a landing was out of the question, if she was to approach the house unobserved. The glow from the security lights reached far out into the darkness. Beyond, there were hills and sharp drops, revealed to the Amazon Princess by her radar. And in this weather, attempting a landing in that environment would be… well, crazy.
She gave the plane a mental order to circle the house at a discrete distance. Then she dove from the plane. Carried by air currents toward the roof, well lit by security lanterns placed on the roof, and showing at least two skylights through which she might gain entrance to the house, the star-spangled form of Wonder Woman floated gracefully downward in the rain. Before landing, she circled the roof one time, looking for cameras and finding none, at least none that covered the roof itself. There was one on each side of the house pointing outward from the roof, covering the approaches to the entrances.
Dipping her powerful body, she landed gracefully on her feet, her three-inch heels making small clicking noises on the flat part of the roof, She then stood in the soaking rain, looking down toward one of the sky-lights, this one, lit from within. She slipped under the handrail at the edge of the glass, and then slid her body along the metal roof toward the glowing glass. Because the angle of the roof was not severe, she was able to slide under control and stop herself with little sound. Lying next to the latched frame, she peeked over the edge.
She saw the upstairs hall, lights shining brightly within. Doors on opposite sides of the hall gave way, she guessed, to family bedrooms. There was one black-uniformed figure standing at one end of the hall. If she were making an invasion of the house by force, this would be an appropriate way of entering.
But it wouldn’t do for the kind of entrance she was seeking tonight. Rolling away from the skylight, she scrambled quietly up the roof toward the peak, and crawled again under the handrail. She moved to the opposite end of the building. This end was in almost total darkness.
Again dipping beneath the rail, she slid toward the closed skylight. It was almost completely dark within, the only source of light coming from the opposite end of the hall, which so brightly illuminated the other window. Her sharp Amazon eyes discerned not even the movement of a shadow within. This would be the perfect access she was looking for. But she would have to be careful about the rain. She would have to dry herself and remove any trace of water that came in with her.
She gently tugged on the six-foot frame of metal and glass. It didn’t budge. Locked. That wasn’t a problem except for any loud noise breaking the lock would create.
Just then a roll of thunder passed over the house. Wonder Woman knew what she would do. She rolled over on her back and scanned the sky for the next lightning flash. It came moments later. As soon as it appeared, she rolled toward the skylight and grabbed the edge. As soon as the thunder began to peal, she pulled upward, tearing the locking mechanism up with the frame. She was luck. The thunder was so loud even she, so close, barely heard the tearing and straining sounds of the metal.
Extending her left arm fully out from her body, she grabbed the inside lip of the frame of the skylight and rolled into the house. Supporting her weight by her right arm, she lowered the frame back into place, pulling herself up to watch the lock fit into the torn space near her hand. She then dropped into the dark room beneath her. Looking around, she spotted a piece of unused furniture, covered in a white drop cloth. She yanked the cloth from the sofa, as it was revealed to be, dust flying upward. She could see it in the dim light entering from down the hall through the open door. She used the drop cloth to dry the floor beneath the skylight and to dry herself, particularly her boots.
Replacing the cloth over the sofa, she carefully checked to make sure that the wet portions were not too much in evidence. Most of them hung down the backside of the couch, though there was some evidence on the cushions. Well, that can’t be helped, she thought. She then made her way to the doorway, where she pressed herself against the wall directly adjacent to the doorjamb.
Listening intently, she could discern no sound on the floor. The powerful Amazon walked lightly to the nearest door on the hall. It was ajar, and she slid it open. It was a bathroom.
The Princess moved to the next door on the same side of the hall. This one was fully closed. Gingerly, she turned the knob and slowly opened the door. The instant it made a small squeak, when the door had opened to about two feet, she stopped. She listened again for any sign that someone had heard. There was none. She quickly entered the room.
It was dark, but the light from the security lamps outside gave enough of a glow so that she could see enough. The bed was unmade and sitting on a table near the door was a Gladstone bag. The room was heavily carpeted, so Wonder Woman moved freely about. She went to the closet, a walk-in, and turned on the light.
It looked like a theatrical costume shop. Odds and ends of clothing styles, high-button shoes, long skirts, cardigans, and other apparel were hung on hangers or scattered about on the floor. As Wonder Woman drew near to the area where all these garments were kept, she noticed that they probably hadn’t been washed too recently.
In another corner, she saw an odd cast iron pot. Next to it was a leather-and-cloth pouch. She was about to open the pouch she heard sounds coming from the hall.
All she could hear was mumbling. Even Wonder Woman’s acute Amazon hearing could only make out an occasional word in the deep guttural voice she heard approaching the room. The Amazon quickly doused the light as the voice came closer. Whoever it was, she was dissatisfied about something. And it was clearly a woman, despite the unnatural deepness of her voice. The woman stopped at the entrance to the room, and continued her complainings
Then, ‘Olga! Come down here!’ It was the Senator’s voice, ringing from the first floor.
The mumbling continued. Then the voice receded down the hall, ‘Al right, all right! I’m coming!’
Wonder Woman fled the closet and made her way into the hall. A she crossed the dark passage, she noticed in the shadows at the end of the building a stairwell going downward.
‘This might be the easiest way to wherever it is I want to be,’ she thought. She went down the carpeted stairs, emerging on the living room level. That part of the Senator’s house was dark again, and out of the darkness she saw much activity, particularly for this hour of the night. Several men wearing black uniforms were carrying large boxes around. Who are these men? What’s behind all this activity? What’s going on?
The Amazon Princess went down to the next level. She peered out into the living quarters of the house where the activity continued. Four of the uniformed men carried two large boxes to the top of the stairs and stacked them there. As they moved on, the abandoned boxes tempted the Princess, a temptation she could not resist. Quietly she sneaked back up the stairs, and then hid behind the boxes. When all movement on the floor ceased, she rose and pried open one of the container.
Inside were a dozen of the Army’s new rifles for fighting the war in Vietnam, the M-16.
Wonder Woman stared at the weapons. No private citizen, not even a Senator, was supposed to have access to own these weapons, she thought. What is Carlton doing with these?
She sneaked back down the stairs, taking advantage of the dark shroud as activity resumed. Looking further into the bowels beneath the house, Wonder Woman pushed further downward, moving toward the first sub-basement.
Because so many of the Senator’s guards were busy in the living areas of the house, the first sub-level, which housed their sleeping quarters, rec room, and storage areas, was almost empty. The Amazon Princess freely investigated several rooms on that level, finding more wooden crates containing some of the Army’s newest weaponry. On the bulleting board in many of the rooms, she found copies of her photographs from the recent issue of the Star. It seemed these men were particularly interested in her recent encounter with the well-armed, black-garbed men in front of the Air and Space Museum.
But the stairs continued downward beneath the great house.
The Amazon had free access to all of the storerooms on the second sub-level. The kinds of weaponry and explosives shocked her. It looks like the Senator is preparing for a world war, or at least an invasion of Virginia, she thought to herself. There were enough weapons and supplies for a force of at least dozens of fully armed troopers. She had seen more than a dozen moving around upstairs. How many men does he have around here?
She walked uncomprehendingly through 002 and saw the bitchbender. She saw the room where she had been attacked by guards with cattle prods. None of this registered any familiarity. But this time she noted their locations, their proximity to other rooms.
The one important thing here that doesn’t make any sense is the reason for all of this equipment, she puzzled. What is it all for?
The answer to that question had to be somewhere in the Senator’s offices within the house. And going to those areas would be dangerous. The fearless Amazon made her way back upstairs, determined to get that information.
She stood in the darkened stairwell, staring out past the indoor garden at the men moving quickly and with purpose about the main floor. Through an open door she saw the library. She did not remember meeting the Senator there during her first visit.
For a moment, there was quiet on the floor. All the black-uniformed men had moved elsewhere in the house. Wonder Woman leapt up the last flight of stairs, moved to her left along the dark walls, looking for--? Who knew what? The front door opened and the sound of the guards returning spurred her to a decision. A door, invisible from the front entrance because of the shrubbery of the garden met her searching hands. Unlocked. She pushed it open and stepped inside.
Quickly closing the door behind her, she turned to look around. The room was brightly lit from the security lights outside. It was cramped, with a desk and several filing cabinets. Papers were strewn about the desk, though not haphazardly. Above the desk and along the wall opposite were more bookshelves. There were no books here, however, but studies, pamphlets, dossiers, files, and government publications. She looked over the ones most evident on the desk. FBI reports on the Weathermen (Maybe I should keep this for my report to Steve.), the SDS, the Black Panthers, and other groups. Another stack had CIA reports on domestic groups (This is odd: The CIA is forbidden to engage in any domestic activity.) and military intelligence assessments of even more groups. On the cover of one folder Wonder Woman saw the Senator’s own handwriting: COINTELPRO. What was that?
Wonder Woman turned to the filing cabinets behind her. She saw that they were organized alphabetically. She tugged at the ‘C’ drawer. Locked. Well, if COINTELPRO was something the Senator was involved in, it might give her some information she would need. The rain had stopped temporarily and any thunder was too far away to cover any noise she might make. Nevertheless, she had to risk it. She took hold of the locking mechanism at the top of the cabinet, punched her fingers through the thin metal surrounding it, and pulled it from the cabinet. The whole operation took only seconds and there was hardly any sound to register her action.
She reached down and opened the drawer. There was only one file inside. By the light coming from the windows, she read, boldly stamped on the outside, COINTELPRO.
What she read horrified her. Here was the President’s plan to use FBI, CIA, military Intelligence, DIA, and other agencies of the federal government to investigate, infiltrate, and in some cases direct the actions of various groups, including such legitimate and nonviolent organisations as the ACLU, the ADA, and even college organisations. It even hinted darkly at some of the things which had been told her when she was in the Senator’s power about how the White House would control and direct public opinion.
Wonder Woman decided that this file was necessary evidence in her investigation. She had friends in the media, especially at the Washington Post; they would know what to do with it. Before she did anything else, she needed to get this to her invisible plane. She checked the windows. One was unlocked. The ground outside was soaked from the rain, and it was drizzling again. She knew her plane was circling the house at a safe altitude, but she needed to get to it.
From the ground outside, she leaped to the roof, taking advantage of the darkness at the corner of the house. Once on the roof, she used the stronger winds to glide on air currents while calling her plane to her.
She returned to the great house after depositing the COINTELPRO file in her plane. Like a moth drawn to a flame, Wonder Woman sought the danger of the house, hoping to gather further information on the activities of the conspirators. She returned to the study from which she had taken the file, entering through the open window on the ground floor. She continued to search through the drawers of the cabinets, the loose files on the desk, and the drawers of the desk. Everything else she turned up would be expected in a Senator’s private study. Any further information would have to be found in another part of the house.
The library. Looking out across the hallway, she saw no one at all moving about on the first floor. Creeping into the dark, she raced to the indoor garden, using its cover to approach the library. As she came to the double doors, she entered the brightly lit part of the house. But, again, there seemed to be no activity at all on the first floor.
Slipping into the library, she closed the door behind her. She looked over the shelves of books rising to the ceiling. In the centre of the room was a highly polished, very ornate desk. The sleek Amazon moved directly to it and searched the drawers until she found a thick file marked ‘Chappaquiddick.’ The file had the official stamp of the FBI on it. Why would the FBI be investigating Senator Kennedy’s auto accident? Glancing quickly through the file, she saw that it included interviews with local police and media, people who had been at the party with the Senator, and others. Attached to the last page, a letter from J. Edgar Hoover ordering that the investigation remain secret and top priority, was a note handwritten by Senator Carlton, indicating that President Nixon wanted this investigation continued. What was going on at the White House?
Returning the file to the desk, the Amazon Princess continued to search the drawers, looking for further information to answer all the questions forming around these unexplainable events.
In the bottom drawer of the desk, she found a dew file boxes. One was marked ‘Papers, H of R.’ Another, ‘Papers, Second Term.’ She removed the box marked ‘Pres.’s letters.’
Opening the box, she discovered several compartments, each with the name of a President providing the filing system: ‘LBJ, 1967-8,’ ‘LBJ, 1968-9,’ RMN, 1969-70.’ From the backmost file, Wonder Woman pulled out a handful of the most recent letters. She sat down at the desk and began to read. What she uncovered devastated her. The President was undertaking an effort to sabotage the Presidential campaigns of his Democratic rivals, to use agencies of the Federal Government like the IRS to harass those who opposed him, and was even considering establishing a secret police unit in the White House. And these letters had no machine-generated signature. Each had a personal note from the President thanking the Senator for his work and the genuinely friendly signature, ‘Dick.’
The Princess of the Amazons took two of these most incriminating pieces of evidence, folded them carefully and placed them inside her golden belt. They were not visible as she rose from the desk. This was all that she needed. All she need do now was get out of the house. But as she stood by the desk, an unfamiliar sickness passed over her.
She had been seen. It was only a momentary glimpse by a guard entering the stairwell from the second floor, but her costume was unmistakable. The Senator had been notified and he called Olga. ‘Bring what’s left of your brew,’ he ordered her.
It took a few minutes for the witch to arrive, during which time the Princess found the documents from the President. Olga was carrying her cast iron pot and several small vessels each containing a small amount of a greenish gelatin.
‘She’s in the house. Stop her. Hurt her.’
‘In what condition would you like her, sir?’ Olga’s eyes were shining.
‘Alive. But in excruciating pain.’
‘That spell may use up the last of her essence. You’ll have to find some other way to control her,’ Olga said quietly.
‘That contingency is already well known,’ the Senator replied, thinking of Wonder Woman’s golden lasso.
The witch sat down with the pot before her. She removed the three pieces of green substance from the coloured bowls she had brought with her. She placed one in the pot, then set another next to her. The third she held in her hand as she began chanting. She swayed as she chanted, the words, in some unknown tongue, becoming less and less distinct. She brought her hands together over the green piece of gelatin, then rubbed them and continued chanting. Instead of falling to pieces, the gelatin seemed to become hard and formed into a stick under her rubbing. She placed it in the iron pot and did the same with the second piece.
Taking the two green sticks, she began a new chant, rubbing them together and against the third piece in the pot. Soon a green flame appeared.
The pain was almost unnoticeable when it first seized her, a vague discomfort. Gripped by the reading, she did not notice the growing intensity within until she stood up. She stumbled against the desk. She took a single step forward, then staggered. Before long, she doubled up in pain, trying to walk. Finally all she could do was rock back and forth, resting her hip against the large, heavy desk. She squeezed her eyes shut, gritted her teeth and pressed her lips together. Her arms wrapped around her body and the pain made her dizzy.
Unable to move forward or back, she no longer thought about her next step. All Wonder Woman could focus on was the inferno raging inside her body. She fell to her knees, and as she did so, the intensity of the pain ravaging her sharply increased again. The powerful Princess from Paradise Island shot upright and, in doing so, lost her balance. She tumbled onto her back, without failing to hit the chair first. It too tumbled to the floor.
The sound of the chair crashing to the floor of the library caught the attention of one of the guards standing near the indoor garden. He raced to the closed door, threw it open, and was shocked at the sight of the beautiful Amazon writhing on the floor, her knees drawing up to her chin, then her body straightening and rolling over on its back and from side to side.
‘Senator! Captain Lauer! She’s here!’ he called.
Instantly the hallway was filled with the sound of men running toward the library. More footfalls were heard on the stairs, and soon two dozen black-uniformed security men were gathered around the helpless heroine, who had absolutely no idea of their presence. All Wonder Woman could feel was her insides on fire, the sense that every internal organ was being devoured by a relentless and unquenchable blaze. She continued to roll on the floor, a sight many of the men watching regarded as sensual, and even erotic. Her long naked legs, from the tops of her leather boots to the hem of her satin tights shone with perspiration. Her bare upper chest and beautiful face were likewise soaked with sweat, tears streaming from her tightly clamped eyes. But despite her obvious pain, no sound escaped her lips.
‘Well, well,’ the Senator chuckled. ‘Looks like we’ve got ourselves an intruder. Get Olga here!’
One of the guards stepped into the doorway and called the witch. It took a few minutes for her to arrive. When she did so, Senator Carlton noticed that the three green pieces of essence were still burning, and then shot a glance at the writhing superheroine before him. He reached down and removed the Amazon’s magic lasso from her hip. He stooped and wrapped the loop of the lasso around Wonder Woman’s neck and pulled it tight.
‘Olga, you can put the fire out. Save the bit that you have left for later. Do you have enough to kill her?’
‘Killing is easy,’ Olga replied. ‘Any small amount will do for that.’
‘Stand her up!’ he ordered the guards.
Wonder Woman was pulled roughly to her feet by two of the guards. As they stood on either side of her, each one firmly holding one of her arms, the Amazon Princess slowly recovered from her trial by magic. The pain slowly subsided, and she gradually stood more erect. Her face was still a mask of pain, but her eyes soon fluttered open and began to focus on the men surrounding her.
She stood slightly bent at the waist, her shoulders rounded, her head hanging. Her knees were together and the toe of her right boot sat on top of the toe of her left. Although she was the most powerful woman in the world, she looked exceedingly weak and helpless at the moment. The fire inside was dying and it would be a few minutes more before she would recognise the danger of her situation. Slowly her mind cleared. And the first thing it felt was the control of her golden lasso.
End of Chapter 8