As Thomas Veil walks along a street in Washington, DC, he reflects that when the people you love have betrayed you and you can no longer distinguish between what's real and what's not, you begin to see the entire world in a new light; even the simplest objects take on a new meaning. A derelict sitting against a wall asks if he has some spare change. Tom hands a dollar bill to the man, eyeing the bum speculatively as he thanks him, adding "God bless you, man." Entering a do-it-yourself photo developing shop, he recalls that just when he had began to accept the ultimate meaningless of Hidden Agenda, he found new meaning in the negatives. There was a small section of negative from the picture right before Hidden Agenda that he hadn't seen before in any printed photograph. He raises an enlargement up to the light in the darkroom. In the bottom left-hand corner, beneath the man standing in the door of the humvee, he sees the arm and shoulder of a man using a field radio. Tom continues to enlarge this section until he can read the frequency code: 79.885.
Sparky whistles when he sees the number on the slip of paper Tom has laid in front of him on the counter of his radio shop. He remarks that he thought Tom was an amateur and asks how he stumbled on to this. Tom tells him that these numbers appeared in a photograph he took and he had nothing better to do, so he just thought he would check it out. Sparky says that it's a restricted frequency--the FCC keeps it clear for strategic air-to-ground communications. Tom smilingly reminds him that he's a novice and Sparky clarifies this as referring to reconnaissance planes, Air Force One, generally things they don't want us to know about. Tom asks if he has any way of accessing this frequency.
Tom and Sparky sit with earphones listening to a jumble of thin, scattered voices intermittently heard over the humming radio equipment. Sparky complains that he told him that this frequency doesn't even exist; it's a buffer zone between other secure channels. He says that they could sit here for another four hours and not hear a thing. He turns a dial to fine-tune the frequency. Tom sits forward as suddenly a voice comes through clearly: "Alpha Minor. We're at 4000 feet, passing Ice Station 17." Sparky exclaims, "What the hell is this?," and punches a few keys on his computer. The voice reports that Heritage House is now viewed as a significant liability and orders its immediate downsizing, using extreme prejudice. Tom yanks off his earphones, exclaiming at a sudden painful burst of static. As the needle on the voltage meter oscillates wildly and warning lights flash, Sparky rapidly starts pulling wires, telling Tom that there's a trustbuster detection system built into this frequency; they must be using some kind of satellite jamming technology. He yells for Tom to pull any plug he can find--they have to shut the whole thing down. Sparks and smoke shoot from the equipment as the two men frantically yank the connecting wires.
There are two Heritage Houses in the greater DC area, one a furniture store, the other some kind of research company. Tom decided to check out the research company first, entering a red brick colonial-style building with Heritage House-Academic Research on the pillar outside. Jenny Tsu, the attractive receptionist, brushes back her hair and asks if she can help him. Tom says that he was just walking by outside and saw their sign. She guesses that he's from Georgetown, then explains that they get a lot of teachers and students who walk in there wondering what kind of research they do. Tom asks what that is and she replies that they do enrollment demographics--the sign should say academic placement research. She leans forward and confides that all in all, it's pretty dry stuff. She asks what his specialty is. Tom answers, "Behavioral disorders, disassociative states" and she gazes at him raptly, murmuring that it sounds fascinating. Tom laughs as he says it has its moments. He asks if it would be possible for him to use their bathroom. She reluctantly tells him that she's really not supposed to. Tom immediately assures her that it's OK, but she says that they're closing soon, so she'll just take him to the bathroom herself. Embarrassed, she corrects herself: "To the back" and Tom joins her laughter. She explains that they have all these time locks and codes and they're really a pain.
She unlocks the door behind her desk by placing her hand against a palm reader. As Tom walks with her along a corridor where he can see similar locks next to closed doors, he comments that it's an interestingly-designed building. She tells him that it was like this when they moved in; she thinks it belonged to some kind of government agency. Tom hears the familiar scratchy hum of a radio receiver and glances into a small office filled with desks, the man nearest the door monitoring a radio. Jenny says that they're over here and leads him to the door marked Gentlemen. Catching sight of armed men dressed in black running past the end of the corridor, Tom suddenly grabs her and pulls her into the men's room, his hand over her mouth to stifle her startled cry. Running into the radio room, the men in black methodically rake the room with automatic weapon fire, assassinating the workers and destroying the equipment. One intruder smashes open the door to the men's room, kicking open each stall in turn. Tom is wedged against the wall in the last stall, his hand over Jenny's mouth to quiet her involuntary terrified cries, the young woman perched on the tank. As the man reaches that door, another assassin enters and tells him to come upstairs. He stoops down to check for feet under the stall door, then runs from the room. Tom asks the trembling woman if there's another way out of there besides the front and back door and she manages to tell him there's a way through the basement. They quietly slip out of the men's room after they hear the men run upstairs. Jenny freezes in terror when they hear another door smashed open, followed by shots. Tom shakes Jenny, reminding her: "The basement!" Exiting from the building, Tom tells Jenny to wait, seeing one of the armed men pass by the window directly overhead. Jenny starts to turn back, but Tom tells her she can't go in there. He says they have to get her out on the street where there's more people.
Tom walks with his arm around the trembling young woman as they move along a busy street. She asks where he's taking her and Tom says that he has to get her to the police, guiding her towards two mounted policemen. She pulls away from him and starts to hurry back the other direction, blurting that she can't go to the police. Tom asks why not and she replies that it's not procedure. She struggles to get away as Tom gently grabs her shoulders to stop her flight. He assures her that he's not going to hurt her and persuades her to sit down. He tells her that it's very important that she try to concentrate on what he's saying. She manages to nod and say OK. Tom asks what she meant when she said it's not procedure. She explains that Heritage House is really not an academic research house. Weeping, she says that it's an FBI operation; no one is supposed to know about it.
Tom waits until the police officers ride by before asking what exactly she does for the FBI. Jenny sobs that she's just a secretary. Tom gently tells her that she has to get a hold of herself; he wants to help her, but he can't do that unless she tells him what's going on. He asks what she's supposed to do when something like this happens--what's procedure? She says that she's supposed to make a phone call; there's a bureau number that she's supposed to remember for special emergencies. She tells him that it can't just be from anywhere; it has to be from a specific place. She says she'll take him there.
Tom and Jenny enter an apartment building. She explains that Brenda's her oldest friend, that they were roommates at George Washington. Tom remarks that it still doesn't mean it's safe here. Jenny says that it's part of the procedure: they're not supposed to back to their own place or to a husband, wife or blood relative. It also has to be within walking distance of the operation headquarters. As she pulls the gate across the old-fashioned elevator, Jenny comments that he's really not a college professor, is he? Jenny tells the young woman who answers the apartment door that she needs to use the phone; it's kind of an emergency. Brenda good-naturedly asks when it isn't an emergency with her, but tells her that all the phones are out in the building. She tells them that the super says the repair guy is going to be here any minute, adding that it would be great if they want to wait. Hurried because she's late for a date, she says there's beer and juice in the fridge and apologizes for not being a better host.
Jenny opens the refrigerator and chooses a bottle of water. Tom takes it from her trembling hands and removes the cap, encouraging her to sit down and catch her breath. Jenny sips the water and asks who he is, if he's not a college professor. Tom says that he's kind of a journalist, just investigating a story. Jenny asks what kind of story and Tom vaguely replies, "Oh, the usual kind. Corruption in high places. Conspiracy to cover up the truth." She asks with surprise if he thinks Heritage House has something to do with this and Tom quietly agrees that he does. He asks what kind of work was really being done at Heritage House. Jenny replies that she really doesn't know that much. She had to get special clearance for the job and everything, but she's just the secretary. She sobs that she wanted to work for the bureau because it would be a good way to meet cute guys. Tom asks her to think, pointing out that there must be a reason the FBI wanted whatever it was they were doing to be kept a secret. After some thought, Jenny says there was some paperwork that crossed her desk once, some special operation that they were monitoring. She says she has no idea what kind of operation, but she thinks it was called Project Marathon. Brenda stops again in the kitchen doorway before leaving and tells Tom it was nice to meet him, adding brightly that the repair guy is on his way up to fix the phone and if they can wait until he's done, it would be great.
Hearing a door creak, Tom walks into the living room, calling Brenda's name and asking how long ago the phones went out. The repairman stands in the open doorway, his tool bag slung over his shoulder. He says that he's here to fix the phone and Tom uneasily tells him to come in. The man pushes the door closed and follows Tom to the telephone in the next room, letting his tool bag slide to the floor. Tom eyes flicker to the bag then meet the man's stare as he presses buttons on the phone. Tom glances at Jenny, who anxiously watches from the kitchen doorway, and the repairman lunges for the bag. Tom kicks the gun from his hand and dives to recover it, the repairman on top of him as he vainly struggles to reach the weapon. The repairman pulls him to his feet and hurls him into a wicker curio cabinet. Tom lands several punches to the man's face before he ducks under one and jabs Tom in the ribs, following up with a blow to the back of the head that slams him to the floor. He picks Tom up and flips him onto a table that splinters under his weight. Seizing the telephone cord in both hands, he wraps it around Tom's throat. Tom grabs the cord, desperately struggling to free himself until there's a silenced shot, followed by the man following heavily to the floor. Still gasping for air, Tom grabs the gun clenched in Jenny's hands and suggests that they get out of there. They cautiously slip out of the apartment building. Tom scrutinizes everyone on the dark street: a blind man tapping the sidewalk with his white cane, an older man wearing an overcoat and carrying a dark bag, a woman leaning over a baby carriage from which an infant's cries can be heard.
Still rubbing his throat, Tom guides Jenny to a bus seat. He asks if she has anything on her that they might be using to track them. He points out that they got to Brenda's almost the same time he and Jenny did, so either they knew ahead of time where she'd be going or they're tracking her, which means they've got a homing device planted on her. With horrified realization, Jenny pulls a beeper from her purse and explains that she's supposed to wear it at all times; everyone in the building has one. Tom pulls it apart. He winces with dismay before telling her that it's some sort of homing device. Jenny stammers that she doesn't understand. Tom says that they're probably monitoring everybody else in that building. She tremulously asks who they are. Tom replies that it's either the FBI themselves, letting his voice trail off. When Jenny presses him to continue, he says that he doesn't know--some other government agency, or maybe somebody who has nothing to do with the government. He drops the homing advice out the window. Jenny says they have to make that phone call. Draping his jacket around her shoulders, Tom says that before they do that he wants her to think really hard; is there anything else about Project Marathon that she can remember? She looks at him fearfully, but remains silent. Tom points out that someone just tried to kill her entire office today--the procedure that she's supposed to follow almost got both of them killed. He says he's not asking her to completely trust him, he's just asking her to trust them a little less. Jenny says that she can't be sure about this, but she thinks Marathon was monitoring another intelligence agency. When Tom asks if it was another government agency, Jenny says it wasn't one of theirs. She says there were all these codes that couldn't be broken. She dated one of the analysts for a while and he said that they discovered that there was this surveillance equipment that was more sophisticated than anything anybody in the entire world was using. A man in a black leather overcoat boards the bus. Tom tenses and starts to rise to his feet as the man reaches inside his coat, returning Tom's stare. He pulls out a paperback book and takes a seat on the other side of the aisle. Tom settles back into his seat with a sigh and suggests they make the call.
The operator presses a button on his computer keyboard and responds, "This is Fire Chief." Speaking into an outdoor pay phone, distress rushes Jenny's voice as she gives her name and reports that everyone's dead and that they just made a second attempt on her life. She says that she wants to speak to the assistant director in charge of Heritage House. She cries, "What?" when the operator requests her code name and section number, then searches her frazzled memory for the response: Code name Firebird, Section 12. The operator instructs her to hold the line and enters the data into his computer. On his monitor, "Alert Director" flashes beneath the section number and code name. He tells Jenny that he has orders to get her to a pickup area. Tom quickly covers the mouthpiece and insists that she's not coming in then; they either play it her way or not at all. He lets go of the receiver and Jenny informs the operator that she doesn't think so; she doesn't trust anyone anymore. She tells him that either he puts her through to the assistant director or she's not coming in. An executive with silver hair and mustache answers the phone on his desk and snaps that he said no interruptions. He listens for a moment, then says to patch her through. He introduces himself as Assistant Director Robman. Tom asks if he can prove that. Robman asks who he is and Tom replies that he's a friend--a friend of Jenny Tsu's right now, but he could be a friend of Robman's if he helps them. Robman asks to speak to her and Tom holds the phone out long enough for Jenny to say, "This is Jenny." Robman says he needs more verification than that and Tom exclaims that he'll get his verification when he brings them in. He angrily remarks that that's what this is supposed to be all about, or was the telephone repairman supposed to pave the way? Robman responds that he doesn't know anything about a telephone repairman. Tom informs him that he came for them at the first pickup spot and now he's dead. Robman says quietly that a lot of people are dead. Tom points out that they were his people, that he was the one responsible for them. Robman agrees that's right. Tom tells him to bring them in by himself, then; they're not going to trust anyone else. Robman flatly states that it's not procedure. Tom argues that procedure seems to be getting a lot of people killed. He tells Robman that there's a paper rack on the southwest corner of 5th and G Street. He's to take a paper from the bottom of the rack. Tom instructs him to come alone, saying that for all they know, one of his people could have sent the phone man. He tells him "7:00 tomorrow morning" and hangs up.
Robman parks his car near the paper rack and feeds some change into the box, removing the bottom copy of the Washington Dispatch. Written across the text is "Georgetown - Parking Structure -- N.W. 21st+M Street - Level B." He drives to the parking structure and as he enters its ramp, a man seated in a car pulled to the curb reports into a small radio that Robman is going into a garage on 21st Street. Robman parks the car facing the concrete wall and a White Star Rental van swiftly pulls across behind it. Tom gets out of the passenger seat pointing a gun at Robman, who stands beside his car and calls out, "I'm unarmed!" Tom orders, "Keys on the car!" and Robman quickly drops them on the roof of the car. When Tom demands his coat, Robman takes it off and hands it to him. Tom has him stand with his hands on the trunk of the car until the van door slides open. He then grabs Robman by the shoulder and pushes him towards the van. Robman calmly asks Jenny is she's all right and she replies, "Yes, sir." Tom shouts shrilly, "Get back!" and pushes him into the van.
Jenny drives the van out of the garage. Tom holds the gun on Robman who sits with his hands raised. He instructs him to tell him his name and then very slowly show him his ID. He says that he's Assistant Director Stanley Robman and hands Tom his ID. He asks who he's talking to and Tom answers, "Tom Veil." Robman complies with his orders to take off his jacket and pull up his shirt, saying that he'll do whatever he says, but he's not wearing a wire or any kind of homing device. Tom asks why he should believe him. Robman replies, "Because it's the truth." Tom says that the truth is whatever people like Robman say it is. He angrily points out that people were killed yesterday at Heritage House, yet there's no mention of it in the entire paper. Robman says that's because they're trying to keep a lid on it until they know what the hell is going on. Tom tells Robman to tell him about Project Marathon. Robman says that he can't do that; it's privileged information. Tom asks if that's what he's going to tell the families of those dead agents. He says he just needs to know enough to make him believe that Robman's real. When Robman remains silent, Tom informs him that the clock is ticking. He asks if he wants to drive over to the Washington Post and give them the address of Heritage House. Robman finally says that Marathon is about mind-control experiments. He asks if that means anything to Tom. Tom replies that as a matter of fact, it does. He asks who's conducting those experiments. Robman says that they don't know; that's the reason for the secrecy, the reason that Heritage House was set up in the first place. He tells Tom that it's his turn to answer questions, but Tom informs him that he's not getting what he knows that easily.
A bald man sits in a control room, chewing on the stem of his eyeglasses. The young operative seated beside him wearing a headset reports that they lost their tail on Robman. His superior suggests picking up on the FBI's own surveillance. The operative explains that they tried that, but even his own people aren't following him, which is extremely unusual. The older man remarks that maybe it's not so unusual; Robman probably thinks he's got a traitor in his ranks. The operative asks what they do now and he replies that they do absolutely nothing. "They'll be coming to us soon enough," he confidently states.
As the van continues to move through the city, Robman asks Tom how he wound up at Heritage House. Tom explains that he intercepted a radio message on a restricted frequency. All it did was mention Heritage House; he had no idea what was going to happen there. He tells Robman that he needs him to tell him everything he knows about them. Robman says that other than what they've been able to stumble on to, they don't know very much. Tom raises the gun and ignores Robman's plea to put it down. Robman says that they seem to be some kind of private security operation with what seems to be unlimited funding and access to the most sophisticated intelligence equipment, and as far as they can tell, no ties to any government agency. Tom asks about foreign governments, but Robman says that the end of the Cold War changed all that; nobody has the resources these people have. Tom ask why nobody knows about them; why hasn't their existence been made public? Robman asks if he's serious, if he realizes what kind of panic and paranoia it would cause if the public learned that there's a super-secret intelligence agency out there that no government agency can penetrate, that may in fact be screwing with our lives. Tom maintains that by keeping it a secret, they're allowing them to flourish. Robman sighs and tells Tom first things first, he needs to debrief both of them on what happened yesterday at Heritage House. He says that Tom in particular has more information about these people then anybody they've encountered. When Tom doesn't respond, Robman asks, clearly enunciating his words, "What do you want?" Tom answers that he wants everything they've got about them, proof that what he just told him is true. Robman says that he can show him the proof, but he'll have to agree to come to one of their safe houses. Tom asks how safe is safe, and Robman acknowledges that after what happened yesterday, he can't make any guarantees and neither can anyone else.
Two FBI agents wheel a TV and VCR into the living room of the safe house. Robman inserts a tape and explains that it's a videocassette of one of their experiments, probably taken with hidden cameras. A black & white picture shows three men seated around a table playing cards. The phone rings and one of the men gets up to answer it, saying that it must be the pizza guy; they always get lost coming out there. He picks up the hall telephone, hearing a man's voice say with a curiously flat inflection, "Hi, Paul. Just thought I'd see how you are doing on such a rainy day." Paul's face goes blank as he hears once more, "Just thought I'd see how you are doing on such a rainy day." One of his friends calls from the other room, asking Paul to grab him another beer while he's up. Paul returns to the dining room. His friends barely have time to cry out before he shoots them. He then pulls out a chair at the end of the table and sits down. Robman turns off the VCR, explaining that he sits there for another ten minutes before he comes out of whatever state he's in and puts the gun in his mouth. He comments that it's a diabolical scheme; they're creating perfect assassins impossible to trace because the people themselves don't even know they're assassins. Tom asks why they killed all those people at Heritage House now. Robman says that they can only assume it's because they're getting close. He explains that they've had a house in the country under surveillance; they think that's where the videotapes came from. They were going to raid it last night, but the massacre at Heritage House forced them to postpone that. Tom tells Robman to take him with them. Robman immediately rejects the idea, arguing that for one thing, it's an extreme violation of protocol. Tom tells him to screw protocol; does he think the people they're up against pay any attention to protocol? Robman says that Tom's also too valuable to risk in a field operation. Tom maintains that he wants the same things that Robman wants; he can give him more than he ever dreamed of, names and places and dates. Robman agrees that he can come along, but he's to stick to him like glue.
A woman with a clipboard steps away from the table Jenny sits at, looking sad and distressed. Pulling on his coat, Tom tells her that he's just going to go out with Robman. He asks if she's going to be OK here. Jenny assures him that she will; she knows these people. Tom gently tells her that he'll just be a little while. As he turns to go, Jenny suddenly calls his name and jumps up to hug him tightly. She tearfully says that she never thanked him for saving her life. Tom smiles and says, "Hey, likewise." Jenny assures him that she never would have made it through this without him. Tom smiles gently and embraces her again.
Robman and Tom wait in the assistant director's car until word comes that the house is secured. As they enter, Tom remarks that it looks familiar and Robman agrees, saying that this is where they shot the video. Speaking into his radio, he orders a full forensics team to be sent out there immediately--blood, fiber, DNA, the works. He says that he wants the perimeter sealed off with additional security; nobody gets in without his approval. An agent tells him that there's something in the basement he should see. When he sees the equipment in the basement room, Robman says that it looks like this is where they processed the video. Tom tells him this isn't video, it's state-of-the-art photographic equipment, pointing out an enlarger and a digitized imager. He sighs and says that this is what they used to alter the photo. Robman asks if he means like the picture of Oswald smiling in his backyard with the rifle he used to shoot Kennedy. Tom tells him that's exactly what he means. Robman says that he gets the feeling that Tom suddenly knows something he doesn't know. Tom motions him aside and explains that this whole thing started with a photograph called Hidden Agenda. Robman asks if he can see it. Tom says that he can show him a print and Robman asks about the original negative. Tom says that he doesn't have it. Robman asks why he gets the feeling that he's not telling him the truth. Tom says he can show him a print that he made from the original; he just can't show him the negative itself. Robman grudgingly agrees that the print will have to do.
In the control room, the superior freezes the image of Robman and Tom. The younger operative says that they're getting closer. The older man remarks that he thinks it's time that they made a phone call.
A technician shows Tom and Robman a computer scan of Hidden Agenda, pointing out the palm trees to the side of the gallows. He says that they were digitally added after the original photograph was shot. Tom tells him that he's seen altered photos before--he's looked at this particular photo a thousand times. The technician explains that unless he was using the same kind of equipment they're using now, there's no way he could have known. He moves the cursor to rest on the foliage above the humvee, drawing their attention to the shadows there. He says that he's enlarged it 80 percent and even the smallest background shadow matches up with the rest of the elements. Robman asks exactly how much of the photograph has been altered. The technician says that it's going to take hours to tell that; he'll have to do several generations of blow-ups and then scan every line and shadow in each generation.
Tom looks out at the illuminated Capitol building from the window of Robman's office. Robman tells him that he's pretty much laid his cards on the table: he's got a videotape of mind-control experiments, an empty house where these experiments or tests were supposed to have taken place, and now he has this photograph, Hidden Agenda, where he claims it all started. Tom says that it's where it all started for him. Robman asks why he doesn't tell him the whole story, because he may never have a more captive audience. Tom explains that these people, the same ones who killed his agents, want the negative. Basically, they've taken his life away from him trying to get it. In the process, they've forced him to question everything and everyone that he ever thought was real. Robman asks about the photo itself, asking where it was taken. Tom says that he thought he had taken it in South America, but about a month ago, a defector from the security organization, as Robman calls them, gave him directions to a place about five miles from the Capitol building, a wooded bluff on the other side of the Potomac. The same gallows was standing in the middle of a clearing there, and except for the people and the palm trees, it was the exact same place where he thought he had taken the picture. Robman concludes that he wasn't surprised when their technician said the photo had been altered. Tom says that it just confirmed what he's been suspecting for some time; he's tried to blow the photo up himself, but obviously he doesn't have the equipment that they do. Robman asks if Tom can take him to the site where he took the photo.
An agent tells Robman that Agent Stafford in photo analysis has found something. At the lab, Stafford highlights a small section surrounding the second victim from the left. He says that long sleeves were digitally added to this man's shirt. He shows what he found underneath on the original, clarifying a blurred area on his arm until a sequence of numbers can be identified. Robman rubs his forehead as Stafford says that it looks to be similar to the numbers used in concentration camps by the Nazis. Tom asks Robman what this means to him. When Robman fails to answer, Tom heatedly tells him not to back out on him now; what does this mean? Robman responds that all it means that this man may or may not have been in a concentration camp. Tom exclaims that that's impossible; he may be confused about where the picture was taken, but he's not going to forget what he saw. He insists that the men who were hung weren't even alive during World War II. Robman barks that no one is questioning what he saw; they agree that the picture has been doctored, right? Tom struggles with his emotions as he remembers the scene from Hidden Agenda seen through the viewfinder of his camera: the ropes thrown over the gallows, hoods placed over the men's heads, an eagle tattoo on the biceps of a soldier binding a victim's hands. He finally bursts out that they agree that the photo has been doctored, but they don't agree on anything else. He accuses Robman of holding something back. Robman turns to instruct Stafford to try to verify those numbers. Tom persists, "Talk to me!" Robman shouts that he'll talk to him in the car; he needs Tom to take him to the site where this photo was taken. An agent excuses the interruption, but tells Robman that they're having a problem with Jenny Tsu. He says that she's starting to freak out; she says the only person she trusts is Tom. Robman impatiently tells him to call in a doctor and tell him to give her Haldol if he has to. After the agent closes the door, Tom asks, "What the hell is going on?" Robman informs him that the debriefing and ultimate care of Jenny Tsu is none of his business. Tom says that he's making it his business; he wants to take her with them. Robman shouts that it's totally out of the question. Tom tells him to break out the Haldol for him, too, then; he's not taking him anywhere.
Robman drives the car along a wooded parkway, Tom beside him, Jenny in back. The phone rings and Robman picks it up. He says, "Well, if you're certain about that, you better notify the director immediately ... No, that's the way it has to be. From now on, everything is on the record." After he hangs up the phone, Tom asks if he wants to tell him what that phone call just confirmed. Robman answers that he can't. Tom complains that he thought they had a deal, that they were going to share what they knew equally. Robman tells him that there are some things that would endanger his life even more if he knew about them. Tom insists that he knows more about them than he's telling him and reminds him that that was the deal. Robman tells him to just take him to the gallows and after that, he'll tell him the rest.
Robman turns off the road and parks at the edge of the woods. Tom gently tells Jenny that he thinks it would probably be better if she stayed with the car; they're just going to be gone a couple minutes. Robman tells her that there's a 9-millimeter in the glove compartment of the car, but he's sure she won't need it. Jenny gives Tom a little smile and he promises that they'll be right back. As they make their way through the brush, Tom sees Robman put a clip into his handgun. He surmises that he's expecting trouble, but Robman claims that it's just been a while since he's worked in the field and he want to be prepared. Tom's face shows his disbelief as he says it's just up ahead.
Time and neglect have taken their toll on the clearing. The gallows has fallen, its pole lying across one of the ruined crates. Robman asks if this is the place. Tom relives again details of the execution: the ropes thrown over the gallows, the men having their hands tied and hoods lowered over their heads, the crates and barrels kicked from beneath their feet, the inert swinging bodies. Finally, he sees himself, raising his camera to his face. He answers softly, "This is it." Robman immediately turns to his radio and orders Hudson to match the GPS coordinates off his car--they're about 150 yards northwest of it. He says he wants a full forensics team out here and NSA authorization to use satellite photographs of this area over the last three years. He tells Tom, "Let's go back to the car." Tom asks him who the man with the numbers on his wrist is. Robman says he can't tell him that. Tom blocks his path and demands, "Who was he?" Robman says that is name is Matthew Balkan; he's a United States senator who disappeared mysteriously about nine months ago. He was in a concentration camp when he was ten years old; the numbers on his arm were the only reason they were able to track his identity so quickly off the picture. Tom vehemently insists that he wasn't in the picture; he'll never forget the faces of those men. They're etched permanently in his mind. Robman points out that at one time he thought the location was permanently etched in his mind--he thought the picture was taken in South America. He says that these people can do whatever they want; they can even mess with your memory. Pain flickers across Tom's face as he looks away. Robman tells him that there is something he can give him; it's in his car. He says it will tell him everything he knows, but after that, he won't be able to help him.
When they reach the car, Robman says that it's in the trunk and opens it. Puzzled, Tom looks in the car windows, searching for Jenny. He opens the front door and hears a flat voice from the phone lying on the front seat: "Just thought I'd see how you are doing on such a rainy day." The door to the empty glove compartment hangs open. Tom shouts "Robman!" and looks up see Jenny with her feet planted slightly apart, the gun trained on the assistant director. Tom yells, "Jenny, don't!" just before she fires, hitting Robman in the shoulder. She steps forward, intent on finishing the job, but Tom dives and knocks her to the ground. He struggles to pry the handgun from her hand and tosses it away. He picks her up and pulls her to the car, where she sits in the backseat, looking straight ahead. Tom asks Robman if he's OK. Robman replies that it hurts like hell, but the bullet went right through him. He assures Tom that he'll take care of Jenny; she's his responsibility. He says that she's a victim of one of their experiments, not one of them. He tells Tom to get a black-handled screwdriver from the trunk of the car. Following Robman's instructions, Tom unscrews the bottom of the handle and a key falls into his palm. Robman explains that there's a safety deposit box at the National Bank in Silver Springs; everything he knows about them and about Senator Balkan is in that box. He tells Tom that there's also something about him in there. He then tells him to get the hell out of there.
They can hear sirens drawing near and Robman shouts at him to go, get the hell out of there; doesn't he realize that he can't trust his own people? Tom takes one last look at Jenny and runs into the woods. Robman watches him leave and says softly, "May God help you, Tom."
Synopsis © 1996 Marge Brashier
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Used by permission.
May 20, 1996