Red Hill Creek, Colorado – 1:00 am

What was expected to be an uneventful evening for Andrew Drummond has turned out to be anything but as he lays on the ground on his back patio squirming from a bullet wound in his left shoulder. Still in shock, he crawls towards the back door to grab his phone.

It was a clear and cold night as his backyard was lit up by the bright reflection of the moon. Silence ruled the cool crisp air as wind gusts came and went echoing off the trees with a howling sound that brought chills to the spine.

Bundled up and all alone, Andrew sat quietly on the bench on his back patio with a glass of Pinot Noir and a mind full of worries. Feeling trapped and under the weight of the world, he just sat in silence as the pain churned inside.  Scenario after scenario, there was no escape. The anxiety was too much. In the silence of night, all that could be heard was the rapidly beating of his heart.

Tomorrow was the day, he was as ready as he could be, or at least as much as can be when preparing for the end.

Bending forward to grab his glass of wine off the ground by his feet… simultaneous to his movement, an unexpected and loud explosion rang out through the air as his body uncontrollably flew backward. Moments later, he collapsed as he attempted to get up unknowingly using his now wounded arm. As his left arm gives way, he notices the blood and quickly realizes what had just happened.

With dogs barking, his neighbors backyard flood light from a couple hundred yards away pierced the darkness like an arrow reflecting through and above the fence separating the two properties. Collapsing forward face first onto the cold concrete patio, Andrew tries, but falls short of reaching the backdoor and the phone just beyond.

Located just outside of Denver, Colorado, Red Hill Creek is a small community where the local rich and famous call home. “Just enough outside the city and just close enough to the city” is the saying the locals use around these parts.

Andrew Drummond moved into his spacious house on a small 10 acre plot of land about 3 years ago. It was kind of weird at first, being all alone with such a large house. But, in time, he grew more comfortable with it.

Andrew had taken a position in a small but growing telecommunications business shortly after his marriage of 13 years dissolved after years of trying. It wasn’t pretty, especially with two children still in school. Andrew still feels guilty for not trying harder to make it work as well as his severe short comings and lapses of judgment. After the divorce, his wife got custody of the children and pretty much everything else.  A year later, he received an offer to come west from Vermont to take the position of VP of Operations at Global Contact.

Hating to leave his children, it was a fresh new start for the 43 year old that had never been outside of his home state of Vermont.

The company had recently struck pay-dirt with a pretty hefty contract signed with the US government to develop sophisticated new technology that would allow scud missiles, armed with nuclear warheads, to virtually be launched off the decks of civilian cargo ships unnoticed. They are to also have the set up and tear down capability to accomplish this in a matter of minutes.

The development of this would change everything. And, if this were ever to land in the wrong hands…virtually overnight both western and eastern seaboards would become targets. Major seaboards on either coast could be hit in minutes and there would be nothing anyone could do to stop it. Under the guise of a telecommunication focused business, they hoped to fall just under the radar.

As VP of Operations, Andrew was also in charge of screening all employees and working closely with security to ensure complete lockdown on this new technology. If word got out or if an employee sought to defect the operation, the whole project could be compromised and things could get disastrous real quick.

Andrew was also the main liaison for the communication with the government.

Based on his past experience working with the government, Andrew had built a good trust level with several of the key members of government behind this deal.

Over the past few months, things had seemed to grow extremely difficult as rumors began to surface around the top secret development. Security had heightened and the air around the place had grown intense. Often times cable news trucks would camp out and wait for someone to come or go in hopes of breaking a story. But not here…it was lockdown and to risk discussing this project was to risk a lot…not only personally, but also for the reputation of the United States of America.

It was Sunday morning and it had been nearly four days since Andrew was shot. Now lying in a hospital bed, Andrew struggled to understand how he got there. He had been in and out of an unconscious state since he arrived at the hospital. Still groggy from the meds they had been pumping into him through the IV; his blurry eyes begin to focus on the white board on the wall at the foot of the bed…

The phone rings. It’s 1pm in Shady Leaf, a small town in north eastern Vermont. Cindy Drummond answers, even though the number is not recognizable on the caller id.

Hanging up as quickly as she answered the phone, Cindy is momentarily in shock as she struggles to manage her feelings. It had been nearly four years since her and Andrew divorced. Deep inside, there was still love there, but she still couldn’t seem to find forgiveness to what he did to both her and the children. But for now, this was not the time to let those feelings rule.

The father of her children was shot and laid in and out of a conscious state in a hospital on the other side of the country.

What should she do? Should she tell the children now or later? Should they catch the next flight to Colorado? The questions raced through her mind at an overwhelming rate. It was almost too much to bear.

“R.U.I.N. IF NOT” was written neatly across the top of the white board at the foot of Andrew’s bead. Still completely out of it, Andrew struggles to find meaning as he lies alone in the hospital room. “RUIN, IF NOT…” He said quietly to himself. “That makes no sense at all.” With this, he also begins to realize that there were no signs of any visitors other than the doctors and nurses that have been monitoring him around the clock since his arrival nearly three days earlier.

Maybe this was a message from one of the nurses on duty to the next shift?

He thought. But what in the world does it mean? Slightly paranoid and in shock from what actually happened, Andrew begins to fade again as his eyes grew increasingly heavy eventually closing shut as he slips back to unconsciousness.

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