The White House Briefing Room would have been empty if the remaining reporters had anywhere to go. It was the fourth scheduled press conference that had come and gone without so much as a knock on the barricaded door. Before the TVs went out, things seemed to be slowing down. But before the internet went out, there were rumors of infection in the West Wing. By the time the phones went out, there was no doubt.
Among the reporters and low-level aides stuck in this room was a young man. A writer. Others were worried and devastated. He seemed merely preoccupied, his brow furrowed as if he was working on a particularly difficult Christmas puzzle.
It was 15:05 EST, an hour and five minutes past briefing time. Nothing, again. Suddenly, the young man stood up. He tried to pull the wrinkles from his suit. He cleared his throat on the way up the dais, where he stood for a few seconds shuffling old papers. His colleagues looked up, tired and confused. He then spoke assertively into the dead mic, looking out over the dim room. “Everything… is good,” he explained. “Don’t panic.” He smiled. It was his time. The first thing to do is to calm down.”