COG Chapter 8

CogCoverSquare

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 8

Chung Wang was an only child. He spent most of his twelve years alone, filling his free time with social media, making videos, and playing air hockey. He was a lanky boy with an awkward grin and distant demeanor when in the company of adults. He drank cream soda by the liter and was occasionally seen kicking a soccer ball around. He was almost one full standard deviation above mean intelligence but was a B-minus student. He dreamed of one day being either a taikonaut[1] or a marine biologist.

Chung did not see his parents very often— his father, almost never. When he did see him, his father always brought a gift. On this most recent encounter, his father presented him a MontBlanc pen. Chung received it unenthusiastically. He felt its weight and examined the engraving.

“It has historicity,” said Chung’s father.

“Historicity?”

“Yes. It was used to sign a significant document.”

“Oh?” Chung removed the cap and scribbled a line on his forearm.

“This is the very pen used by the ministry of trade to sign a trade accord with diplomats from Bhutan.

Chung put the cap back on. “Thank you, father.”

“So how are you, my son?”

“I am well, father.”

“Are you improving at your studies?”

“I suppose so, father.”

“I want you to know that we are going to be seeing much more of each other for a while.”

Chung nodded and grinned, crookedly.

“I hear you have taken an interest in soccer.”

Chung shrugged.

“I am happy to hear that. Athletics are good for the body as well as the spirit.”

“Did you play soccer, father?”

“Not exactly.”

“Did you play basketball?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“How about golf?”

“Oh, once or twice.”

“Father, what sports did you play?”

Chung’s father grinned. “I tried many sports in my youth.”

“Which was your favorite?”

“My favorite was…” Chung’s father pondered. “My favorite sport was… Mah Jong.”

Chung looked perplexed. “Father, did you play any sports that used a ball and a goal?”

“Almost. I used to play tennis.”

“Really? On a grass court?”

“Umm, no. It was indoors.”

“So, a clay court?”

“No.”

“Was it on concrete?”

“Wood, actually. I played tennis on wood.”

“Wood? Like a basketball court configured for tennis?”

“It was table tennis, my son. Ping pong as it is also known.”

“Oh, I see.”

“But I was just a boy, probably about your age.”

“Were you any good? Did you win any tournaments?”

“Not that I recall.”

“Father?”

“Yes, my son?”

“Would you like to go kick the soccer ball around a little bit?”

“Hmm. That sounds like a wonderful idea. But let me check my work messages, first.”

“Of course, father.”

“You go ahead. Have the driver take you over to the athletic fields and I will meet you there in a half hour.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

Chung’s face beamed with a full-fledged grin. He hugged his father tightly who hugged him back with one arm while thumb-scrolling through his messages on his Mondo 9.0 smartphone. Chung broke loose, snatched his ball, and darted out of the sitting room towards the main hall. The doorman opened the elevator for him and Chung rode the lift up to the lobby. Before the doors could fully retract, he sliced through, darted across the marble floors, hurdled a large luggage trunk, sidestepped a decorative porcelain vase, and pushed through the revolving doors of greenish glass and bronze trim. He quickly found his driver and hopped into the back seat of the stretch golf cart.

“Where to, Master Chung?”

“To the athletic fields. My father and I are going to play soccer!”

“Should we wait for him, young sir?”

“No, he said he would meet me there in thirty minutes.”

“All right, sir.” The driver pushed the start button and pressed the accelerator. The limousine golf cart whirled to life and accelerated down the winding path between the ornate facades of residences and shops and cafes, passing the throngs of strolling pedestrians dressed in their designer, seersucker suits, neoprene, and satin dresses. Every elite wore sunglasses even though they were several hundred feet below ground, and the sky above was a suspended canvas, and the daylight was provided by defused backlight. There were six skies in the Super bunker, one for each section, each synchronized to distinct times of day. Daylight hours were broken into twelve periods of time. They transitioned from one period of lighting to the next over the span of thirty seconds.

The limo-cart arrived at the edge of the athletic field and Chung darted out onto the green faux grass with his ball in hand. The driver watched him from his seat in the cart between glances at his handheld devices. A half minute later, Chung, by then a hundred yards off, dropped his ball onto the turf and kicked it up into the calm, subterranean air.

 

#

 

Earlier that same morning, Hank Chinansky rolled out of bed, had a shit, showered, dressed in his black, polyester security uniform, cursed his disgusting appearance in the mirror, and made himself toast and a pot of Folgers. He scrolled through the news on his cracked Mondo 4.0 cell phone reading the reports of the hundreds of flights arriving from remote capitols of the world, all descending upon Akron, Ohio, which was a primary entry point for the SuperBunker.

Chinansky recalled how— for over the past twenty years— wild conspiracies abounded regarding how this contractor saw that and that contractor saw this… and how there was a giant tunnel being dug in secret… and how seventy thousand Mexicans were brought in on United Airlines 757s, in the dead of night, and whisked away by Greyhound buses down into a secret netherworld to lay tile and hang drywall… and how Chinese muckety-mucks were spotted eating surf and turf at the local Kosar’s, which was an Akron steak house… and how silver-haired twits with flaring nostrils and European accents were booking all the deluxe hotel rooms, smoking filter-less cigarettes, and ordering chateau le fete…

Hank took a gulp of his muddy, morning coffee and a bite of his buttered jelly toast, recalling the prior evening’s listening and the muffled, monotone voices who said “uh” a lot, and who would drone on and on, on radio talk-shows and podcasts. There were sasquatch hunters, and planet Nibiru astronomers, UFOlogists, time travelers, and JFK assassination experts, flat earthers, Hadron Collider doomsayers. There used to be eye-witness accounts of a supposed super bunker being built where the world’s elite were going to gather and ride out an apocalypse designed to cull the human herd of useless eaters. Those guests weren’t invited on anymore.

For years and years, Hank was entertained by the titillating tales. His enjoyment was heightened in that he knew one, and possibly two of the conspiracies to be more or less true. For not only did Hank know that the bunker reports were a fact, long before it was revealed to the world, he had also seen a UFO when he was seven— although he often wondered if might have been a dream.

Hank had worked his way up from the ranks of forklift driver to special security agent during his tenure working on the construction of the SuperBunker. By the time its existence had become public knowledge, he had already earned his pension, which was a good thing for Hank because the instant the shadowy conspiracy became public knowledge, his mystique of having inside knowledge of its existence melted away, returning him to the status of a mere mundane civil servant.

When the bunker was still legend, people wanted to get to know Hank— and any other insider who authentically purported to know what was going on underground— even if they just cleaned the toilets. Hank, a flabby, pock-marked, stringy-haired man with beady eyes, man boobs, and a drunkard’s nose, leveraged his secret knowledge to conquer otherwise unattainable bar-wenches at the local taverns.

Prior to the SuperBunker’s public reveal, one might have expected an awakening in proletarian consciousness immediately following the outing of the truth. There would surely be a public outcry at the trillions of dollars diverted from schools, and bridges, and healthcare, and directed to the construction an absurdly luxurious bunker built to house and spare the world’s elites while the rest of us die. But there was no public outrage when the SuperBunker reveal occurred. There wasn’t even a specific date or moment or event one could point to. No one could say: “I remember exactly what I was doing that very moment when I found out that the SuperBunker was real­,” which is how people anchor and personalize grand, societal events. No one could say that when they found out the SuperBunker was for real, they were “standing in line behind some fatass at 7-11 trying to buy a bag of Doritos and a Mountain Dew…” or “I was on a 737 halfway to Albuquerque, reading an article about the Duke of Watford Gap…” or “I was doing Cuervo shots with my brother’s ex at the bar of Three Amigos Restaurante…” Instead, the governments of the world rolled out the reality of the SuperBunker’s existence a single, barely noticeable degree at a time… preventing the proverbial frogs from hopping out of the pot. The public rollout occurred over the course of about five years.

The first step in the process of slow acclimatization was that public officials, whose custom was to previously ridicule and mock whoever brought any conspiracy up, stopped scoffing whenever they were questioned about events pertaining to its existence. It went something like this: “Mr. Mayor, Mr. Mayor, does your office have any information regarding the two-hundred caterpillar end loaders that were seen by multiple witnesses driving into Akron last night at two a.m.?”

The answer to such curiosities was initially an incredulous snort or shrug followed by: “I don’t know what the hell you are talking about.”

But after a while, the government response to such questions became: “This is the first I’ve heard of that.”

Which then changed into: “I don’t have any details about that.”

Which later evolved into: “That’s interesting. I’ll have my office look into that.”

Which subsequently became: “You are not the first person to bring this up. Someone from my office will get back to you on that.”

Which then morphed into: “We are not prepared to comment on that at this time.”

Which then became: “I’ve been instructed that the purpose of those machines is being kept classified in order to protect national security interests.”

Which then transformed into: “All I can say is that those assets are being deployed for use in a classified project that has to do with national defense.”

Which emerged as: “All I know at this time is that the federal government, in conjunction with the United Nations, is upgrading security assets located in the area.”

Which evolved to: “I’ve been instructed to inform the public that the UN is expanding its continuity of government bunker system to ensure the world’s governments can survive any conceivable, global, existential threat.”

Which ripened as: “What I can say, at this time, is that they are building a bunker system to preserve democracy in the event of nuclear war.”

And then to: “We are pleased to announce that the City of Akron has won the contract to be the site of a major nodal entry point for the UN SuperBunker. This will have a tremendous financial impact on our local economy!”

And finally as: “Akron welcomes our global friends and contractors! Our goal is to make you feel at home in our fine city while you continue the patriotic construction of the UN SuperBunker!”

…By the time it had gotten to that point, Hank’s knowledge was no longer esoteric and he had lost his allure to those of the opposite sex. He was just another flabby, government-employed security guard— one faceless face of a hundred thousand— who worked in a gigantic government facility, like those people who punch a clock at the Mint or the Department of Agriculture. Hank Chinansky, deprived of his brief dalliance with mysterious allure, poured himself into his security guard work and cheap vodka to fill his void of loneliness.

One day, while Chinansky was rolling around his sector on his two-wheeled, single axel, Mo-Mo scooter— basically a motorized hand truck— he was stopped and approached by a gentleman dressed in a white polo shirt and wearing sunglasses.

“Agent Chinansky?”

“Yes sir. Can I help you, sir?”

The gentleman showed his special agent identification. Chinansky scanned it with his phone.

“You’re NSA[2]?”

The agent nodded. “I’ve been instructed to deliver this…”

He handed Chinansky a nine-by-six-inch, manilla envelope. Chinansky opened it and withdrew a glossy photograph.

“Who is this?” he asked.

“All the details are included in the dossier.”

“What am I supposed to do?” Chinansky asked.

“Follow the instructions to the letter. Your nation needs you, Agent Chinansky. This mission is of the utmost importance. The continuity of the U.S. government is at stake.”

“But I technically work for the UN.”

“Not for long, should you fail or be discovered. You are now a special secret agent for the U.S. government.”

“Like a spy?”

“Yes. Like a spy.”

 

Chinansky relished his new secret agent role. It restored his sense of power. He was partnered up with two phony maintenance crew members known to him only as Bill and Carl. Together, the trio surreptitiously surveilled their target, notating and transmitting their daily observations back to their NSA contact, waiting for the signal to proceed with their mission objective.

One morning, Chinansky wheeled up for his daily rendezvous with Bill and Carl who were pretending to be busy going through the motions of faux ventilation inspectors. Bill and Carl were both Deep State assets— as far as Chinansky could discern— judging by their complete lack of knowledge of ventilation conduit. He listened briefly as they made up mock jargon to sound authentic.

“Carl, can you please give me a transducer readout on that PH?”

“Sure, Bill. Mind handing me that eleven-seventy mil spigot wrench…”

“Hang on, dispatch is calling…” Bill put his phone to his ear. “Yeah Boss? Yes… Understood… Yes sir… Ten four!” Bill turned to Carl and Chinansky, who was idling silently on his Mo-Mo. “It’s go-time, fellas!”

Carl quickly packed up their tools and stowed them on the back of their maintenance golf cart. Bill hopped into the driver’s seat.

“Position yourself there, by the gate,” he ordered Chinansky. “Then wait for my signal.”

Chinansky twisted the throttle thrusting his Mo-Mo forward down the pedestrian avenue, carving through the throng of elite pedestrians flouncing about between the boutiques and plastic chestnut trees. In that moment, with his heart pumping blood and adrenaline through his sclerotic arteries, with the rush of recycled air rippling his plumpish, blotchy face, Chinansky felt a sense of intense purpose and meaning that he had never experienced once over the course of the entirety of his life. He wheeled himself into position. In just two minutes, he obtained visual confirmation of the target.

“Yes,” Chinansky answered into his cell. “Yeah, I have visual confirmation… I see him… Yes, I see the limo-cart, over there by the Mao statue… Understood… Yes… Got it. Wait for Carl to distract him, then proceed.”

Chinansky waited and watched, heart racing, as Carl drove over to the limo-cart. Carl parked in a manner that blocked the limo in, hopped out, and began digging through his toolbox. The driver immediately got out and confronted him. Chinansky watched as the confrontation escalated. Chinansky’s phone pinged. That was his signal. He twisted the throttle and the Mo-Mo sped out onto the athletic field. He was upon his target in seconds.

“Excuse me,” Chinansky shouted as he closed in. “Excuse me!”

The target paid no attention.

“Hey you! Hey kid!”

The kid turned.

“Hey, is your name Chung?”

Chung let his soccer ball drop onto the plastic turf. He turned and stared at Hank incredulously.

“I said are you Chung Wang?”

Chung shrugged. “Who wants to know?” he answered in impeccable English.

“Do you see this badge?” Chinansky exclaimed as he came to a stop beside him.

“Yeah? So?”

“Are you Chung Wang?”

“Maybe. Who the hell are you?”

“Show some respect for authority.”

Chung smirked before reaching down for his ball.

“I need you to come with me,” Chinansky ordered.

“Why?”

“We are concerned that you may have been infected with fungicide. Apparently you didn’t notice the signs posted indicating that this field has just been sprayed for mold.”

“Why aren’t you telling everyone else to come with you?” Chung asked. “Look, there’s a dozen other people out here.”

“We’ll get to them soon enough. You need to come with me so that you can be tested for carcinogens.” Chinansky reached out to grab the boy’s wrist but Chung pulled back.

“How do you know my name?” Chung asked.

“Please come with me. It’s for your own good.” Hank grabbed at him again but the boy stepped further back. Hank wheeled forward on his Mo-Mo and reached down for his zip-tie handcuffs. Chung saw this and started to run.

Chinansky twisted the throttle and sped off in pursuit.

Chung, with his ball tucked under one arm and other arm flailing at the air with each stride, glanced back over his shoulder.

Chinansky was gaining.

Chung’s gangly, pubescent gait evoked the gallop of a newborn foal.

Chinansky’s rippling face was riveted with purplish determination.

Chung galloped across the plastic turf, kicking up black, rubberized pellets with each footfall.

Chinansky leaned into the Mo-Mo, compelling his two-wheeled scooter even faster.

Chung reached the turnstile gate accessing the park. He extended his wrist to activate the scanner that controlled the gate. Chinansky’s thumb furiously swiped at his heads-up display as he closed in, attempting to override the turnstile… but he was too late. The gate opened.

“Damn!” Chinansky cursed.

Chung darted through and banked right down the avenue, losing a sneaker in the process. Chinansky couldn’t risk losing any more ground on his objective. His thumb flicked through the park access user interface as the Mo-Mo raced along. He swiped at the image of the red turnstile so that it would open and allow him to pass through without slowing his pursuit, but the icon wouldn’t change from red to green. A second later, Chinansky rammed the closed gate, breaking the graphite steering mast of the Mo-Mo and bending Chinansky in half at the waste. Not to be denied, Chinansky presented his wrist. The gate opened and he staggered through, turning right down the mall in pursuit.

“Bill,” he shouted into his wrist as he chased.

“You’re losing him, Chinansky.”

“I’m in pursuit.”

“Failure is not an option, Chinansky. Your country needs you.”

“Where are you? He’s headed towards the Terra Cotta statues. Can you cut him off?”

Chinansky observed a sashaying hoard of elites just ahead. How was he going to find Chung among this mass of humanity? He stomped on, now oozing sweat, searching for a sign of the cunning fugitive. Exhausted and in pain, he turned off the main walkway into a quiet alley and called Bill again. Bill didn’t answer. Chinansky tried to gather his breath with a series of deep wheezes. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his flask. He unscrewed the cap and took a drink but just as he was tipping it back, he noticed a socked foot under a recycle bin not ten feet away. Chinansky tucked his flask back into his pocket and took out his taser. He approached the bin, silently, carefully. He heard panting, then shuffling. Chinansky extended his taser and stopped just on the other side, gathering himself. He drew a deep breath and lunged forward, cutting off the escape. “Aha! Got you!” he shouted.

Terror filled Chung’s face beneath his swooping bangs. He glanced left, then right, then up. He was trapped. Chinansky pointed his taser. “I’m going to need you to come with me, Chung Wang. Put the ball down.”

Chung glanced left, again.

“You are endangering me,” Chinansky shouted. “Put the ball down or I will taser you!”

Chung, not knowing what else to do, extended the soccer ball forward with both hands.

“Don’t be a fool, boy,” Chinansky pled. “You’ll only make trouble for yourself.”

Chung glanced left again.

Chinansky furrowed his brow. “Nobody will hurt you, kid,” he urged as he took a step closer.

Chung bared his teeth.

“Easy, there.”

Chung planted his right foot back.

“Don’t do it!”

Chung glanced left again.

“Whoa…”

Chung bit his lower lip.

Chinansky extended his taser.

Chung’s arms tensed.

Chinansky reached down for his handcuffs.

Chung released the ball.

Chinansky followed the ball down with his eyes.

Chung’s back leg swept forward.

Chinansky’s hands moved reflexively.

Chung’s foot swung, connecting with the ball in a perfect transference of kinetic energy. The ball launched forward, rocketing through the short distance separating assailant and pursuer. Chinansky, lowered his hands to shield his loins from the ball careening towards his groin, but in this act, he also accidentally depressed the taser button which resulted in the overwhelming of his neural circuitry with two million volts of electricity at precisely the instant the soccer ball careened into his testicals. Chinansky fell onto the ground in a howl of agony. Chung seized the opportunity and fled… to his left.

After five minutes of incapacitation, Chinansky managed to prop himself up onto the side of the plastic bin. He was drenched in sweat and had also pissed his pants.

His cell beeped.

“Chinansky, Bill here. Do you copy?”

“Go ahead,” Chinansky groaned.

“We got him!”

“Got who? Over.”

“Chung! We got Chung!”

Chinansky staggered up onto his feet. “Where? How?”

“We snared him as he darted out of the alley. We’re holding him at the Jade Formosa Massage Parlor and are awaiting extraction. Nice work, Chinansky. Your nation thanks you for your service.”

[1] Taikonaut: English word for a Chinese astronaut

[2] NSA: National Security Agency


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4 thoughts on “COG Chapter 8

  1. I believe seersucker is one word.

    Odd verbs:
    “By the time its existence had become public knowledge, he was already earned his pension, which …”

    “Chung bore his teeth…” Bared?

    Liked by 1 person

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