The Bedford Project - Session 1a
Atwood and Dempsey had gone their separate ways. While Dempsey returned home, Atwood called in a couple weeks of leave and remained in Vermont to test a few theories on the disc and ley lines. The rest of the summer passed quickly, but not quite a week into autumn, both agents were activated again. They were to report to Federal Office Building 10A in Washington D.C. for an operational briefing on Friday, September 27th.
Neither agent was an accountant, but even they knew the governmental bean counters were easily stressed this time of year. The federal fiscal year ended on the 30th, and that translated into deadlines for reimbursement requests and added scrutiny on expense accounts. If travel and unusual financial activity could be put off for a month or so, everyone would calm down, but that’s not how Delta Green worked. Fortunately, a Delta Green taskforce typically had black budget funding, and that meant fewer questions if any.
The sky over the nation’s capital was a beautiful and endless blue. Standing in rather stark contrast, the designated meeting place was a dull and endless tan with nine floors of identical windows. The U.S. flag outside Federal Office Building 10A snapped rhythmically in the wind as each agent arrived in turn.
The interior of the ground floor was split with a post office to the right and the familiar metal detectors and security checkpoint of the Federal Building to the left. Once through security, the agents had been directed to a large meeting room on the third floor.
Standing outside the door was a tall, thin Hispanic man in a dark suit. As each agent arrived, he matched them to a photograph and name on his clipboard before standing aside to allow them to enter.
The meeting room was large but otherwise identical to a thousand others in Washington alone. There was a long wooden table with several chairs designed to be just uncomfortable enough for a person to remain awake through an all-morning meeting. On the table was a round speaker connected to a desk phone for conference calls. One wall had maps of the U.S. and its territories, while the opposite wall had whiteboards, a clock, and a large flat screen monitor. The wall with the door had photographs of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Homeland Security Rand Beers, and FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate. The opposite wall had several windows overlooking C Street and Hancock Park.
Dempsey arrived first and had his choice of seating. When Atwood entered, he was a little disappointed yet unsurprised to see the Irishman. It wasn’t long after Atwood’s arrival before the third and final member of their taskforce showed up. Mark Porter was a man in his 60s who radiated experience. Just what sort of experience wasn’t clear, but it didn’t matter. If it could happen, this guy had either seen it, done it, or caused it at least once.
As Porter entered and took a seat, the Hispanic man from the hall followed and closed the door behind him. He paused for a moment before placing his briefcase on the table, rolling the combination locks, and opening it with a click.
“Good morning, everyone. I am Supervisory Special Agent Gomez. I trust you’re all quite interested to know just why you were selected for activation, so I’ll get right down to it. A number of federal personnel have died after spending some time in Bedford, Iowa.”
Atwood said something about being sure to never go there, but Gomez ignored it.
“Following the possibly questionable death in Bedford of Neil Badagian, an FCC investigator, our computers turned up the long-forgotten suicide of Jerry Heathcliff, after publishing an article on Bedford in 2004."
Agent Gomez produced a sheet of paper with an excerpt from the article and allowed the agents to pass it around.
Bedford, Iowa: The New Muncie?
by Jerry Heathcliff (Iowa State University)
American Demographer Summer 2004 pp. 961-977
Excerpt: At the turn of the century, sociologists studied Muncie, Indiana as an “ideal type” of the American mentality. Demographically speaking, Bedford, Iowa is an even more accurate picture of modern America. Bedford’s breakdown of income, age, gender, and employment groups is identical to that given by U.S. Census data for the nation as a whole. Bedford’s demographics have matched national trends for 25 years. This should make Bedford an ideal subject for follow-up studies. Only in racial breakdown does Bedford not match national averages, since it is nearly all-white.
"Heathcliff was a sociology professor at the Iowa State University in Ames. On July 15, 2004, nearly two months after his article appeared in print, he committed suicide rather than be fired from the University; evidence of his obsession with deviant pornography was found in his home. Nobody knew how his unsavory interests had become known to the University, as the whole matter seems to have been hushed up.
“Heathcliff had served in Vietnam as a State Department analyst from 1971 to 1973. The coincidence raised a red flag and triggered a subroutine in the computer; it cross-checked all federal government files for deaths following overnight stays in Bedford, Iowa as determined from itemized expense accounts. Two more deaths turned up, bringing the total to four in nine years, far above statistical norms.