COG Chapter 6

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Buried a thousand feet beneath Ohio, the ten trillion dollar, UN-constructed SuperBunker can shelter a million members of the global elite indefinitely, with all the comforts of the surface including simulated blue skies, boutique shopping, and three golf courses. The President of the United States, Arman “Our Man” Manfred, regains consciousness in one of the bunker’s six hospitals. Surrounded by his trusted advisors and his official hagiographer, his office becomes ensnared in the Machiavellian underworld of SuperBunker geo-politics. The situation worsens when the president’s Russian and Chinese counterparts execute Protocol 4, sealing the blast doors and severing all contact with the surface, relegating the world’s leaders to governing a mere computer simulation of the world above. An attempt to blackmail the POTUS with a salacious video taken by his own security agency forces President Manfred into seclusion. With his office infiltrated by a traitor and hobbled by incompetence, he attempts one final ‘Hail Mary’ that might just save the office of the president… even if it destroys the world in the process.

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Chapter 6

The First Lady rolled over in bed and reached for her pack of Virginia Slims cigarettes. She placed one on her lips and tossed the pack which landed flat on the nightstand. Her fingers fumbled around, finally retrieving her lighter. She struck an enormous flame— perhaps four inches tall— setting her stoic face aglow in warm light and filling the room with aromatic butane. She moved the very tip of the flame to the end of the cigarette and drew, setting the tobacco aflame. She released the igniter which extinguished the flame and tossed the lighter back onto the nightstand with an exhale of sweet smoke. Holding her cigarette aloft in her left hand, she reached out with her right to retrieve her bottle of OxyContin. She unscrewed the cap with the cigarette perched between two fingers. She tipped the bottle and shook once, and a single pill tumbled with a rattle out onto her tongue. She set the bottle on the nightstand. Next, she reached for her short glass tumbler, raised it to her lips and washed down the pill with a last swig of bourbon. She set the tumbler down and took another drag from her smoke.

“You know smoking is not allowed down here,” her partner advised in a deep whisper.

She sighed in the darkness. “Was it good for you?” she asked as she exhaled again.

“Sure,” answered Dexter Fricke.

“Did you actually just say ‘sure’?”

“What’s wrong, Veruca?”

“Right now? Everything.”

“Everything will work out. Try not to carry the weight of the world.”

“You always say that but what do you base that on?”

“Because it always works out.”

“It always does… until it doesn’t. I don’t think you understand him, Dex.”

“Arman is… complex.”

“Manfred’s an idiot who thinks he’s a genius.” She reached out and flicked on the lamp.

“It’s an act, Veruca. He uses it because it’s worked for him.”

“He’s insane.” She glanced at the satchel containing the nuclear football that rested on the arm chair in the corner of the suite.

“All presidents are insane, Veruca. You can’t go through life worrying about them. There are safeguards in place.”

“He’s getting more insane by the day. He’s twice as crazy now that his favorite aircraft carrier was sunk.”

Dexter chuckled. “He did have a thing for that boat.”

“The USS Henry Harrison: sunk to the bottom of the East China Sea by one solitary Chinese missile.”

“A hypersonic missile.”

“One missile nonetheless.”

“Carriers are relics, Veruca. They’re mostly for show. We learned a terrible lesson.”

“Manfred learns nothing. That boat was special to him because he saved it. He saved its funding.”

“That he did. It was going to be decommissioned.”

“It was his baby.” Veruca handed the cigarette to Dexter who took a half-hearted drag. “It’s because it was the biggest of them all. It was an expression of his manhood— like those short rednecks with tiny pricks who drive around in monster pickup trucks. He bragged about having all the foreign dignitaries and leaders visit it, especially Hu Li. He made him walk it with him from end to end. It was like a presidential cock-measuring contest.”

“Hu Li got the last laugh, I suppose.”

“We’ll just have to see about that.”

“Is Arman really compensating?” Fricke joked as he handed her back the cigarette.

“Do I really need to answer that?” the First Lady stubbed out the cigarette.

“Well, he can’t do anything too outrageous. Tibbles has the authentication codes.”

“And now you have the football.”

They both glanced at the satchel.

“Whatever happens, Dex, you can’t ever let him launch.”

“As long as Tibbles is topside it won’t matter.”

“He won’t be topside for long.”

“Relax. We took care of it. It’s impossible to get him in. The moment he crosses the threshold with his duplicate PIN, everyone will be alerted to the breech… the Chinese, the Russians. The allies would turn on us.”

“So what? You think Manfred gives a damn about them? Tibbles is coming. Trust me.”

“Even if he doesn’t give a damn, the moment a person with a duplicate PIN enters the SuperBunker, Protocol 3 will activate. The host country will have its power and water cut by the computers. Tibbles would be a poison pill.”

“Manfred will figure out a way. Don’t you think I know him? You think I don’t know how his psychotic little mind works? He got me, Dex. He got me to marry him. I’m such an idiot. My father warned me.”

“You’re not an idiot, Veruca. You’re the First Lady of the United States.”

“I am an idiot. This is all my fault. Without my family’s money[1] he never would have amounted to anything.”

“So divorce him.”

“What would that accomplish? I’d have even less power to stop him.” She reached over for her pack but thought better of it and threw it back down on the stand. “You have to do more, Dex. You may have to save the world.”

Fricke laughed. “What more can I really do?”

“Promise me you will keep Tibbles from getting down here as long as possible. Delay it, undermine it, do whatever you can, but make sure Manfred doesn’t have access to his authentication codes.”

“I’m doing everything I can.”

“You know he’s got Fuckminster working on something,” she added.

“I’m not too worried about Buckminster.”

“I can smell it. They’re always having their secret conversations. They get quiet when they see me come around. Fucky is Manfred’s lackey, Dex. I bet you anything he’s plotting some way to get Tibbles down here in case you fail. You have to be ready for that.”

 

 

 

[1] Veruca Weinstein’s family money originated from the Weinstein Dill Pickle corporate empire, founded by Frank David Weinstein in 1907. Throughout the following decades, The Weinstein Corp expanded into newspaper holdings, fast food restaurants, and contracting cafeteria services for the department of defense.


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1 thought on “COG Chapter 6

  1. Hello, Mr. Grice,

    One of those pesky “h”‘s got away:

    “Manfred will figure out a way. Don’t you think I know him? You think I don’t know how is psychotic little mind works?

    Liked by 1 person

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