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It Scurries in Shadows

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Chapter 1:

Adam Zhukov stood blinking at the white morning star, his mostly bald head chilled by a slight wind; his body warmed by a suite and the bright sun. He pursed his lips, looking down on the shocking flashes of the photographers. The crowd of journalists was surrounded by tall grass and boulders. The field holding the stage and the press was ringed by trees; visible at all angles besides directly behind him, where on the stage a background had been erected for the purpose of the video cameras which were preparing to air live on television. A park was a strange place for a press conference, but he hadn't chosen the setting. 

Even the setting was important today. This may have been the most important speech of Adam's presidency. He had been a supremely popular politician before his election, preaching all the things the voters had wanted, but while his policies worked, terrorism, the rising costs of imported goods, and general international strife had sent the national economy into a tailspin. Adam received the blame and the prospect of reelection was hopeless. He stood now ready to propose a radical change to the country. It was the last hope to repair the damages that had occurred in the last two years. 

The wind picked up and Adam rubbed his hands together, nervous but resolute. He brought his hands to his face and breathed deeply. His fingers brushed against the wrinkles on his forehead, reminding Adam of how much he had aged during his presidency. A man short of forty shouldn't look like he did, but years of politics aged a man. Even Adam, who in childhood had been deemed "egghead" not for his studious nature, but for a naturally thin frame carrying an unnaturally large head, seemed strange, unusually tired and elderly all the time.  

The wind became stronger still, and a low chatter spread through the crowd. Adam steeled himself, and gripped the podium wearing a grim face. 

"The people of this nation face an ever troubling time," he began grimly, "We have seen disaster after disaster, from the New Jersey bombing to Hurricane William. If I were to describe this era of our country with one word, I would say, 'adversity'. And yet, even with such disturbing circumstances, these United States of America are the only states whose ability to rise above such circumstances I have confidence in." 

Adam turned around suddenly, following the rising faces of those who would be expected to pay attention to none other than him. As he turned, he heard the sound that had caught the attention of so much of the crowd. He heard a helicopter, and looked at the two body guards behind him expectantly. 

Dennis White, the more senior guard, looked into the sky as he whispered into his microphone. His crew cut stood strait up, and he wore the frown often seen alongside confusion as he began to whisper more frantically. Dennis started to rub his prickly hair, biting his lip he glanced quickly and repeatedly from the windy sky to Adam's face. 

Mathew Cameron, a younger and seemingly less professional boy stood to his right. The boy's hair was still relatively short, but significantly longer and shaggier than his partner's. He motioned for Adam to step backwards towards him, rather than moving to Adam's ear as would have been proper. Adam rolled his eyes and sighed, and stepped such that he could hear the boy.  

"There's some type of aircraft back there," The boy began in a hushed voice. 

"I know that. I can hear the helicopter myself," said Adam, frustrated that such a poorly trained guard would be put up on stage with him, "How did it get there?" 

I'm not sure sir," The boy replied, "We don't know if it's aggressive, though, so I'll need you to stay behind us if it gets too close. We're bringing in the guards who were assigned to hold the border for your conference." The guards protecting the park from intrusion should have warned him earlier. 

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