28.Top Secret

On the Tuesday after the party, Mike Levering was in his office reading the latest copy of Science when Annabelle entered: "Dr. Zabalka is on line one, and I can smell the smoke coming out of his ears."

"Sounds angry, does he? That's not too unusual for him. Why do some of these geniuses have to be such goddamn prima donnas?" he sighed, and picked up the phone.

"Good morning, Arthur, how goes it?"

" I got a phone call this morning from a Colonel Blakesly. He said that he would like a culture of the EE virus. Now how the hell does he know about it?"

"I hope that you don't think that I would tell him. Those military people have ways of finding out what goes on in Washington. Be thankful that it wasn't a Soviet colonel."

"Never mind the jokes, Mike. It's not funny! Besides, that's not the worst of it. I asked him what he wanted it for and he said that he couldn't tell me that. So I told him that I would have to talk to you first; but in any case, I wouldn't release it until our findings have been published, which would be in a few months. He said that we couldn't publish our findings because they've been classified as top secret."

Levering was silent for about five seconds, then he said, "You're right Arthur, this is serious. I never expected anything like this to happen. I'll get back to you as soon as I check it out."

Mike Levering sat back and stared at the ceiling. He was still staring when Annabelle opened the door and looked in. One look told her that this was not the time to ask the boss anything, so she quietly closed the door and returned to her office. He could sign the requisition for office supplies later.

Levering picked up the phone and dialed Sam's number.

"Sam, what did you tell Andy O'Connor about what we found?"

"Why do want to know?"

"Never mind why I want to know; what the hell did you tell him?"

It was obvious to Sam that Mike wasn't in any mood to be questioned. "I told him everything that we had discussed at the meeting."

"Did you tell him about Zabalka's findings?"

"Sure; I thought that it was O.K. What's going on?"

"The goddamn army got into the act. I'll tell you all about it later. In the mean time, how can I reach O'Connor?"

"I can find him for you."

"Please do that, Sam, and have him call me as soon as possible."

Levering told Annabelle that when Major Andrew O'Connor called, to put him right through. If anybody else called, except his wife, to tell them that he was in conference and would call them back. Then he returned to staring at the ceiling.

Ten minutes later Andy O'Connor called.

"Do you know a Colonel Blakesly, Andy?" Levering asked.

"Sure, he's my boss."

"What did you tell him about Epidemic E?"

"Everything that I know about it."

"Why the hell did you do that?"

"The army pays my salary, that's why. If you didn't want it to get out to the army, you shouldn't have told me anything."

"Well, it's too damn late now!"

"What's happened?"

"Those assholes have gone and declared Epidemic E top secret."

There was the sound of a muffled chuckle: "The hell, you say! That means that you can't publish. I'm very sorry about that."

"Is there anything that you can do about it?"

"If I thought that they were wrong, I might plead your case for you, but the truth of the matter is that I think that he has a good case for secrecy."

"For heavens sake, why?"

"One bottle of EE virus dumped into the water supply could disable a whole city or a whole army."

"Is there any way that we can work around it and get this stuff published?"

"No way, unless it happens to get into the newspapers. Then it's no longer secret. Just don't tell anybody who told you. Remember that once you know that it's secret and you leak it, that's treason."

Levering put on his jacket and walked to Annabelle's office.

"I'm going out to lunch. I'll be back at one."

He drove to a hamburger stand and bought a hamburger and a chocolate shake which he consumed in his car. Then he stopped at a pay phone.

Andy O'Connor walked into Sam's office.

"It isn't that I don't love you, Sam old buddy, but I have to leave -duty calls and all that."

"Meaning what?"

"Meaning that the army wants me back in Washington."

"Not before you tell me what the hell is going on with Levering and the army."

"I can't, Sam, it's top secret. Everything you and I and the whole group has done is now top secret. I can't discuss it with you because you don't have the proper security clearance."

"But I did the work."

"That makes no difference! As far as the army is concerned, you're not supposed to know about it since you're not cleared for top secret information."

"What about when we publishing the results?"

"You can't publish military secrets!" he said smiling, and walked out the door.

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