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.
“I know what they’re going to do, Mr. President…”
The POTUS, nestled in his burgundy recliner, burrowed deep within the subterranean SuperBunker Oval Office, watched DeForest Reese shepherd a panel of like-minded pundits working in unison to assuage the building public terror of eminent thermo-nuclear destruction. The pundits, without citation or named source, but with confident, easy smiles and affirming nods, parroted each other’s assurances that the benevolent, munificent, brilliant leaders and elites, down in the bunker, would manage to work things out and save the world. One only needed to remain calm and have faith. And if they weren’t able to work things out… well… democracy would at least survive the nuclear holocaust and emerge to rebuild a better world. This was at least something all the people on the surface could be proud of… at least up until the moment they were vaporized by super-heated plasma.
The president was sipping a scotch. It was 8 a.m.
“Who is going to do what?” the POTUS asked, his voice already slowed by the alcohol.
“The Sino-Russian Axis, sir,” Tibbles replied.
“They won’t do anything because of Chung.”
“But they can do something, sir.”
“They can do what?”
“They can do Protocol 4.”
“Protocol what?” the POTUS asked dismissively. “Have you seen the first lady?”
“Her schedule says she is visiting an orphanage today, sir.”
“An orphanage? There aren’t any orphans down here.”
“She’s visiting it virtually, sir.”
“Why wasn’t I told? Sounds like a good opportunity to press the flesh.”
“You were told, sir. But I imagine you have a lot on your mind with President Hu Li’s deadline looming. How are you holding up?”
“Nope. None at all.”
“Did you get any sleep last night?”
“I slept like a baby. Only took three Unisoms.”
“We need to have a conversation.”
The president scowled at Tibbles. “About what?”
“I think you know what about.”
“Not now, Frank. This is a big day.”
Tibbles tried to hide the disappointment that was dragging at his facial expression.
“We’ll talk later, after the deadline passes.”
Tibbles sighed. “Aren’t you worried about what the Axis will do?”
“I’m looking forward to the deadline. When it passes, my burdens will be transformed.”
“Sir? I’m certain Protocol 4 will be a difficult burden.”
“Don’t care. The fog of uncertainty will be lifted from my mind. My course will become crystal clear. Hey, did you and Fricke get together about the nuclear football?”
“And you have the authentication codes with you?”
“At all times sir.”
“Good. So, we’re all set? You’re ready to go?”
The president’s buck-toothed butler, Faucett, appeared. “Sir, the motorcade is ready.”
“Terrific. Frank, are you ready for some golf?”
“I’m not much of a golfer, sir.”
“You’ll have a great time. Hab will be your caddy.”
Haberdash, who was seated opposite the POTUS on another recliner, appeared startled as if he was just awakened.
The POTUS got up and walked to the foyer with Tibbles and Hab in tow. There, they met three secret service agents who escorted them out of the Brown House doors and into the hall where they were joined by three additional secret service agents, two of whom were dressed in pastel sweater vests, plaid pants, derby hats, sunglasses, and side arms. They entered the elevator where they were greeted by two more agents bringing the total to eight secret service agents, one chief of staff, one presidential hagiographer, and one POTUS.
“God damn it’s crowded in here,” grumbled the POTUS as the elevator doors closed. “Anyone farts and I’ll have you demoted to riding a Mo-Mo.”
One of the agents dressed in a black suit and black glasses whispered into his lapel. The elevator jolted upwards. Moments later, the doors opened to the lobby. They were greeted by five additional secret service agents in black who surrounded the presidential entourage as they strutted down the roped off red carpet, across the main lobby, through the glass doors and outside—which wasn’t really outside as they were several hundred feet underground. On the avenue they were met by eleven black, bullet-proof, presidential golf carts filled with additional agents and drivers all dressed in black. The president’s phalanx scrambled onto the backs of the executive carts. The president and his entourage boarded theirs and, once the appropriate hand signals were given and observed, and the right whispers were whispered into their collar radios, the giant, black secret service centipede whirled off down the subterranean avenue under the melon glow of a virtual dawn.
Within four minutes, they arrived at the Gerald R. Ford Memorial golf course— one of six underground golf courses of the SuperBunker. The president and his troupe hopped out and strolled into the clubhouse through a gauntlet of a hundred more security agents, several dozen media, and a smattering of perhaps eight or nine curious elite civilians— four of whom were golfers. Inside the clubhouse, the president greeted the prime ministers of Japan, Germany, and Tunisia. They all shook each other’s golf-gloved hands.
The POTUS was the third-best golfer of the lot. Taki Takishima, the prime minister of Japan, was the best— a scratch golfer. He had an exceptional short game, good enough to get him a tour card if he wanted it. Schumpert, the PM of Germany was next. A tall, husky woman with broad shoulders and considerable breasts, she could absolutely crush it off the T box. But the Gerald R. Ford course was, obviously, built indoors and only designed as a par three in lieu of space constraints. Schumpert’s long ball would not help her much. Faisal, the Tunisian, was short and pencil thin, and had never played golf. When his caddy handed him a club to take some practice swings, he clasped it with two spaced-apart hands, ritualistically, like he was being presented a royal scepter.
“Hmm, we have a dilemma,” remarked the POTUS. “We seem to have a five-some instead of a four-some.”
“Oh, that’s okay Mr. President, I will drop out,” Tibbles remarked.
“No, no. Nonsense. You’re my guest. We can fix this. Perhaps we can play with two foursomes. Are there any other prime ministers in the clubhouse?”
The faces of the secret service agents swiveled as they scanned the bar and the pro shop but no other national leaders were spotted. The security detail was, in fact, the only occupants of the clubhouse other than the five-some and their caddies.
“Maybe a five-some is not a big deal?” Taki remarked.
No, no. It’s bad form and rude. Maybe we can play as a two-some and a three-some. We’ll all T-off together. You two can hole out, then Tibbles and Faisal and I will come up after.”
“That defeats the purpose of this golf summit if we are not playing together,” remarked Schumpert.
“Well, I suppose that leaves only one option,” the POTUS turned slowly to the Japanese prime minister. “Taki, would you mind sitting this round out?”
“I will drop out,” offered Faisal. “I’ve never played before and I’m afraid I’ll be making a fool of myself.”
“No. We have important matters to discuss regarding your little trade predicament with Algeria. Ticky-Taki’s just here for show. We’re already working through the East China Sea negotiations. Ain’t that right, Taki?”
The prime minister of Japan, who had just had his spikes sharpened, stared blankly at the POTUS.
“Taki, you okay?”
After a faint nod evoking suppressed contempt, Taki bowed out. The prime minister of Japan stomped back to his golf cart while the remaining caddies, sixty-five security personnel, and four journalists made their way to the T-box.
They stood on the elevated mound of plastic turf, looking out at the plush fairway lined by artificial trees, the swath running down and then up to a patch of lighter plastic green flanked by sand bunkers. They heard songbirds, but didn’t see any as the ambient nature sounds emanated from well-hidden speakers.
“You first, Faisal.”
Faisal’s caddy showed him how to place the ball on the embedded tee. Then he handed him a seven wood and corrected his grip. Then he got down on the ground and set Faisal’s feet. Then he stepped back and demonstrated for Faisal how to swing.
“You might want to lay up… avoid the bunker!” joked the POTUS.
Faisal took a deep breath, reared back, and swung… missing the ball entirely by almost a foot. By some inexplicable physics, one of his shoes had come loose and flew several yards down the fairway.
“We’ll give you a mulligan on that,” the POTUS remarked. “Try again.”
Faisal sighed. His caddy demonstrated once more. Faisal, now wearing one shoe, took another deep breath and swung. He connected, albeit imperfectly, and the ball ripped downhill through the plastic grass some twenty yards, passing his shoe on the way.
Next up was Marjorie Brunhilda Schumpert, chancellor of Germany, affectionately known as “Large Marge” to President Manfred. She approached the tee box with her three wood. She addressed the ball.
“Do you think you have enough club to reach the green?” asked the POTUS.
Marge pretended not to hear him. She cantilevered into her backswing and uncoiled, her downswing cut the air with a woosh, the torque bending the club as it arced downward, splicing the din of songbird chirps with a ting of perfect contact of the club face onto the ball. She followed through with a beastly grunt, giant breasts heaving, eyes locked on to the tiny white bullet rocketing upwards into orbit, dangerously close to the canvas sky. She exhaled as the ball carried out like a tracer round, high above the center of the plastic fairway.
“What a drive…” remarked the POTUS. “Uh oh. Trouble.”
The ball sailed on, and on, over the faux green, over the artificial shrubbery on the far edge, slamming against the backlit blue, concrete wall of the bunker. It ricocheted downward and bounced into the silk foliage.
“I got it I think,” exclaimed the president. “You’ll probably have to drop.”
Schumpert snarled in response.
Tibbles was next. As was his custom, he applied an unassuming, smooth swing with his four iron, laying it up about thirty yards short of the green on the left edge of the fairway.
“Nice safe shot, Frank!” exclaimed the POTUS while patting him on the shoulder. The president gestured to Haberdash who selected a five wood and handed it to him. The POTUS stepped onto the tee. He placed his ball and adjusted his feet. He exhaled and drew his club into his backswing—
“Mr. President!” shouted one of the sixty-five secret service agents standing by.
The POTUS aborted his swing and stepped back from his ball looking perturbed. “Not now!”
“But Mr. President, I have an urgent message for you.”
“I said not now!” President Manfred re-addressed the ball, took a breath, exhaled and swung. His shot was no golfing masterpiece. He hit it hard but not square and it launched out low and fast, in worm-burner fashion. It strafed along a few feet off the ground for a hundred and fifty yards or so, then skidded down the grass and into the rough, stopping in the vicinity of Tibbles’s layup.
“Nice ball, Mr. President!” Tibbles remarked.
“Now, Mr. President?” asked the agent.
“Forward it to Fricke. He’ll handle it.”
The foursome and their caddies and their sixty-five secret service agents started off down the fairway.
“What is it, Frank?”
“What if it’s the Chinese?”
“I already assume it is. So what?”
“Don’t you want to speak to them?”
“Nope. Not yet, anyway. I’m going to make them sweat a little.”
“It’s called ‘the art of the deal’, Frank. By ignoring them Chink bastards, we are asserting that we are in the superior position. It will make them more amenable to our demands once they capitulate.”
“Are you sure about that, sir?”
“Of course, I am.”
Faisal hit his ball, then hit again, and once more before Tibbles and the POTUS reached the president’s ball.
“What the hell?” snapped the POTUS, stopping cold.
“What is it, Mr. President?”
“Is that a gofer hole?”
“I doubt it, sir. This course is artificial.”
“Yeah, but maybe they burrowed in?”
“We’re a thousand feet below the surface, sir.”
“Maybe some gophers found a ride down here.”
“I doubt it, sir.”
“How am I supposed to hit my ball out of that hole?”
“I assume you will need to take a drop… and a one stroke penalty.”
The president winced at Tibbles. Tibbles turned to the secret service agents and Haberdash who responded by turning their backs to the president. President Manfred then scooped the ball out of the hole with his foot and fluffed it atop the plastic grass. When he looked up, he noticed that the German chancellor was watching him from the far side of the green. She shook her head in contempt.
The president pretended not to notice and chipped on, followed by Tibbles. Faisal was on the green in six and Schumpert was on in three with her penalty stroke. A secret service agent pulled the pin and held it just off the fringe of the green. Faisal putted first leaving it so short he had to putt again, this time sending it well past the hole. The POTUS putted, leaving it about two feet away. Schumpert, still looking disgusted, putted but left it a few inches short.
“Good enough, Marge,” the POTUS remarked. She picked up her ball in a huff. Tibbles put his ball within a foot. He marked it and stepped back. Faisal putted twice more, finally putting it in the hole.
“Now you’re getting the hang of it, Faisal!” encouraged the POTUS. “What is that, a nine?” He turned to Schumpert. “You’re taking a five?”
She rolled her eyes.
The president studied his lie. He turned to Schumpert. “Is this a gimme, Marge?” he asked.
She didn’t respond.
“I’ll say it is,” answered Tibbles.
The POTUS handed his putter back to Haberdash and grabbed his ball. “Par,” he muttered as he scribbled three on his card.
Tibbles, whose ball was only twelve inches from the cup, was hitting for par as well. He re-placed his ball and snapped his marker back onto the backhand of his glove. He aligned his feet and club face. He drew back and in the mechanical manner of a silent pendulum, his putter clicked the ball. It rolled forward to the hole, onto the lip where it bent around the edge and rolled out. His face filled with contrived disappointment.
“Oh, too bad, Frank,” remarked the POTUS.
Tibbles tapped in for bogey.
Just then, a careening golf cart alerted the sixty-five secret service agents. Half scrambled towards it and the other half placed themselves between the cart and the three world leaders.
“It’s the secretary of state!” Tibbles announced. “He just pinged me. Everyone stand down!”
The golf cart rolled to a stop and Fricke got out and scrambled up to the foursome.
“What is it?” asked the president.
“It’s…” Fricke paused to catch his breath, “it’s the First Lady.”
“What happened?” asked the president.
“She’s missing. She disappeared just after her appearance with the orphans.”
“How is that possible?” asked Tibbles.
“Secret Service is still trying to figure that out.”
Tibbles glanced desperately at the POTUS.
The president pondered with pursed his lips. “Those sneaky Chinks,” he muttered.
“We’ll need to get you to the UltraBunker, immediately, sir” barked one of the agents who nudged the president in the direction of his golf cart.
The entourage piled back into their rides and the procession sped back up the plastic fairway to the club house. They circled around and parked and the president’s entourage hopped out of the white country club golf carts and hopped into the black secret service golf carts and sped back to the Brown House. In a matter of minutes, the POTUS was hustled into the Oval Office elevator and taken into the depths of the UltraBunker.
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