COG Chapter 12

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 12

Protocol 4 is triggered by flipping a toggle switch contained within a glass case mounted to the desk of each of the leaders of the nations that are permanent members of the UN Security Council. This switch, intended to be activated as a last failsafe against nuclear destruction, is not entirely dissimilar to the button that activates the launch of nuclear warheads. Each nuclear capable country has their own version of a launch button, but only China, Russia, The United Kingdom, France and the United States can trigger Protocol 4. Within minutes of activation, the exterior primary and secondary blast doors are closed and sealed. All forms of communication with the outside world are completely severed. The idea is that no one and no information gets in or out— such as nuclear launch orders, for instance. While in the Protocol 4 state, the blast doors cannot be opened and communications cannot be re-established until the leaders of all five Security Council nations agree to deactivate.

Moments before Saxon/Norman football game went dark, the president of China summoned his aide de camp who handed him a miniature, clawless, gold hammer. President Hu Li used the ceremonial hammer to smash a glass cloche enclosing the toggle switch. Surrounded by his closest advisors who nodded in encouragement, Hu Li carefully extended his index finger, touching the tip to the metal switch. He took a deep breath and, with mustered resolve, pressed it. Aside from a faint click, the Chinese assembly noticed nothing. They bowed to the president of China and filed silently out of his office.

Elsewhere, in the public spaces of the SuperBunker, a female voice— a voice that was pleasant, yet stern, and faintly sensual— emanated from the thousands of emergency loudspeakers positioned strategically around the enormous underground facility, speaking in the dominant language of the sector… except in the Middle Eastern section where the voice heard was male and grim.

 

“Attention! Protocol 4 has been activated. The bunker doors are closing. Please stand clear of the doors. Protocol 4 has been activated. The bunker doors are closing. Please stand clear of the doors. This is not a test.”

 

The hands of the bunker inhabitants reactively dug into their pockets and purses to retrieve their cell phones to check the news reports and to dial their loved ones.

 

“Attention! Protocol 4 has been activated. The bunker doors are closing. Please stand clear of the doors…”

 

With surprised looks, the elite inhabitants of the bunker reached for their devices as well and spilled out of their boutiques and cafes and salons and massage parlors and yoga studios in hopes of getting better reception. But they had forgotten that they were hundreds of feet underground and that cell phone signals were transmitted by a communication array wired into the very structures of the bunker. Their cell phones had reception. They could call each other and surf the numerous bunker hosted websites, but no connectivity to the surface could be made and no information from the surface was getting in. With a shrug of their shoulders, the elites wandered back into their boutiques and cafes and salons.

 

“Attention! Protocol 4 has been activated. The bunker doors are closing. Please stand clear…”

 

A spontaneous surge of frantic desperation gripped the hordes of the tens of thousands of Greys who simultaneously made a dash for the exit portals. The vast, vast majority did not want to be trapped inside. Their families and houses were on the surface and they would rather be in their own homes with their families if the world was to end.

 

“Attention! Protocol 4 has been activated. The bunker doors are closing. Please stand clear…”

 

With eyes filled with terror, Nurse Baum spilled out of a jammed elevator and sprinted out onto the subterranean avenue, joining a fray of thousands clad in their gray worker uniforms. Baum was lucky. The nearest access portal was a mere 1,000 feet away. Some workers were separated by miles of subway tunnel and had no chance to make it out, but they jammed into the subway cars nevertheless. Baum ran for it.

 

“Attention! Protocol 4 has been activated. The bunker doors are closing…”

 

Baum could see the ramp leading up to the secondary blast door. She sprinted with her forearm bracing against the back of the worker running in front of her. The tunnel narrowed. Someone tripped just ahead and Baum pushed to the side to avoid the scrum of tumbling Greys.

 

“Attention! Protocol 4 has been activated. The bunker doors are closing…”

 

Red lights began to flash. An alarm sounded, clanging like a deafening school bell. Baum’s heart raced. Ahead, she could now see the yellow-striped steel blast doors slowly slipping down out of the ceiling like a slow-motion cave-in.

 

“Attention! Protocol 4 has been activated. The bunker doors are closing…”

 

The Grays jammed together, shoulder to shoulder, chest to back, knee to calf, toe to heel, tighter and tighter. The red light flashed and blinded. The ringing alarm deafened. Baum was very close to escape. The yellow striped door cranked downward.

 

“Attention! Protocol 4 has been activated…”

 

She raised her hands so that they could be kept free of the constricting, tightening mob of desperate souls. Ahead, bodies extruded through the closing blast door and sprinted up the gangway towards the elevator banks. Frozen, expressionless soldiers bearing rifles and wearing sky-blue helmets flanked the blast door. Baum thought of her daughter. A terror took hold, fomenting her desperation that quickly built and released in a scream for help.

 

“Protocol 4 has been activated…”

 

The door was halfway down, but there was still enough room to hunch through it. She shoved forward as the mob pushed her from behind. The gray bodies squirted through the closing gap, into the light and space and freedom beyond.

 

“The bunker doors are closing…”

 

The guards, knowing that the doors had no safety mechanism to prevent them from crushing anyone stuck beneath, were pressed into action. They pushed into the mob with their rifle stocks and started shoving them back.

 

“Please stand clear…”

 

Baum was just feet away from freedom. She ducked down beneath the fray and crawled forward between the jostling legs, feet, and kneecaps, risking being crushed or suffocated, not by the doors but by the mass of flailing humanity. Her tears of desperation blinded her. She could make out the light, thirty inches of space between the door and the floor. She shot herself through, her body halfway under. The steel continued to fall but she was going to make it! Her head and shoulders poked through to the other side. The felt the cool air. But something took hold of her by the ankles and yanked her back.

 

“The bunker…

 

She clawed at the floor, screaming for someone darting up the ramp ahead to turn back and pull her through to safety but no one turned.

 

“Doors…”

 

The leading edge of the door pressed against her back. She clawed frantically, screaming her daughter’s name.

 

“Are…”

 

She felt powerful tug on her waistband and with a giant heave, she was yanked backwards into the clamoring chaos not a moment before the doors…

 

“Closed.”

 

There was a thunderous, reverberating thud, then complete silence.

 


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