The Bluff Called

First Lieutenant Craig Garrison lowered his hand, the handset still cool, the conversation had been that brief. Gently he replaced it onto the cradle and sat staring off into space considering the words that had just transformed his future. His heart beat just a little faster, he would readily admit, albeit only to himself, that he was feeling a tinge of fear, anxiety and maybe just a little excitement. Life was about to go to hell in a hand basket and he was supposed to steer it.

Slowly he got to his feet, his body still a little achy from the last few days activity. Standing tall he took a deep breath and looked around. The room itself was not as large as some in the building but the high ceiling and the large windows gave the illusion of space. For a military instillation the ornate furnishing were distinctively out of place but they were a part of the building they were billeted in. If he stepped back from his military training he could admire the rich wood furnishings, the ornate frames and old school paintings. Some of the faces that stared back from the past were serene though he wondered what they would think if they saw who was living there now. In his mind he saw the look of shock and horror that would be there. He wondered if war had been discussed in this very room before. Certainly not in front of the ladies he thought as he smiled inwardly.

Moving to the door, his boots sounded loud on the bare floorboards, loud only because of the absolute silence. He gripped the handle, cool and solid in his hand, and turned it. Normally he kept the door open allowing him not only to hear what was going on but to make it plain that he was accessible to who ever need him. The heavy wooden door swung open easily and he stepped into the hall. The runner had been left in place and absorbed the sounds of his foot falls. He made his way to the grand entrance and turned to the wide staircase that swept up to the second floor. The beautiful polished wood appeared dark in the dim light and as he stepped up his hand automatically reached for the newel post. The home he had grown up in had had stairs but not as grand as these. Another step and his hand moved to the railing. It's smooth surface slid beneath his hand as he slowly mounted the steps. The runner had been left here as well so he made his way soundlessly toward the top. As he climbed he barely glanced at the paintings that hung along the wall. It was too dark to see the details but he remembered the scowling faces.

On reaching the landing he turned to survey the grand entrance. The word foyer came to mind. The large double doors were closed and draped as were the windows that flanked on either side. A very small light burned on a table at the bottom of the steps casting an eerie light suggesting a candle in a haunted mansion. He pushed that thought away. The building was old enough to have seen deaths but he was not a believer in such things. He turned back to the hall that led to the two wings. His room was to the right but he turned left. Quietly he made his way to the heavy wooden doors with their reinforcing studs. He grasped the handle on the right and turned it slowly. With the gentlest push it swung inward revealing a large long room illuminated by moon light. He surveyed the cots that were thankfully all occupied. Actor, the tallest, laying on his back, filled the bed from end to end. Casino lay on his stomach with his arm and half the blanket hanging over the side. Goniff was curled up with his blanket pulled right up to his face and Chief lay on his side one knee drawn up.

They were his men, his team. The phone call had turned his bluff into a reality. What had been a one shot mission was to be continued 'for the duration and six months'. Now all he had to do was keep them alive while pulling off the missions that were sure to come their way.