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COG Chapter 13

CogCoverSquare

#ContinuityOfGovernment, #WW3, #TEOTWAWKI

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 13

The workers trapped inside the bunker turned away from the blast doors and staggered silently back toward their workstations. They passed through gauntlets of gawking elites, some smugly sipping their iced coffees, others casting looks of contrived pity, but most just appearing perplexed by the dazed looks on the sulking Greys.

“Why do they look so glum, grandfather?” asked the little toe-headed Prince Edward William Charles Henry, while clasping the aged hand of his great grandfather, James Edward William George, the Duke of Watford Gap, who was also known as the Kingforebear as he was the grandfather of the future King of England, Prince Henry William Edward Philip, who himself was cursed with his maternal grandfather’s hairline and was already balding at thirteen years old. The Duke of Watford Gap patted the little Prince of Northumbria and Strath Clyde atop his blond head, between the boy’s two enormous, satellite-dish-shaped ears, while examining the throngs of stunned Greys shuffling past. The little prince grinned revealing two enormous central incisors separated by a large gap.

“Everybody is saying we must have more people brought down into the bunker,” the Duke pondered, “but the people that are here are looking so ghastly that they’re here.”

 

In Sub-sector 16, the French sector, the glum procession was observed by French President Magimel and his sultry, ivory-skinned mistress, from the balcony of his suite.

“Francoise?” she asked.

“Oui?”

“What is wrong with them?” she asked in French, her upturned, purple nipples visible through her sheer robe.

“Who, my dear?”

“The workers, the Greys.”

President Magimel, who stood draped behind the burgundy silk of his curtains wearing only his silver rolex, took a long drag on his electric cigarette. He exhaled the steam which dissolved into the recycled air. “Madame,” he answered as his eyes rolled up into his bushy Grey eyebrows evoking a state of deep introspection. “It is because hope is the source of all sadness and worry.”

“Hope is the source of sadness?” she asked, innocently. “How can that be? Hope is what carries us through.”

“Non, my child. Hope is the anchor that pulls them down into the abyss of despair.”

“I feel sad for them.”

“Don’t.”

“Why?”

“Because they are the fortunate ones.”

“But they are separated from their families.”

“My dear, this bunker— this soute— will soon be all that is left of the world.”

“But I still feel sad for them.”

“I said no! Their lives have been spared. What else can be done for them? We have done what we can. Without us, they would soon be gone.”

“Still, we must do something to cheer them.” She pondered behind the curtain fluttering in the air-conditioned breeze. “I think that perhaps… perhaps we should let them have a sherbet.”

 

In Section F, which was situated the farthest possible distance from the European and North American sectors, there were hostels of the former African colonies. Sub-sector 178 was the partition carved off by the United Nations for Zimbabwe, which was comprised of a single, baroque suite, floored in marble and fine finishes, constructed for the elites of that country that consisted of two human beings with PINs: one allotted for the Zimbabwe president and one for his special guest. The Greys who worked that section— almost entirely white, bourgeois-leftist, North American coeds— appeared even more sullen than the Greys who worked the other sections. Not knowing if nuclear war had begun but fearing the worst, they worried that there would be no empathy forthcoming from their potentially permanent African masters. They were trapped in a place that was culturally and linguistically and radically foreign to them. And they feared they would be forever separated from their cozy, Silicon Valley and East Coast suburban enclaves, deprived of the most fashionable technical gadgetry, estranged from their parental guardians who were supposed to support them into their mid-thirties, and severed from the trust fund accounts to which they were duly entitled. Their lofty idealism had been shattered by an alarm bell, crushed by a descending steel blast door, and exposed by the regret of signing up for a one-year secular mission to signal their high-minded virtue to potential employers on their otherwise empty resumes.

The president of Zimbabwe, himself nary distinguishable from a murderous gangster, bankrolled into power by Chinese industrialists, poured back his Cristal champagne, snorted a vile of cocaine, and bellowed a derisive, schadenfreude cackle at the caste of pasty-faced Greys lumbering past.

 

“Attention!” came the vaguely sultry voice over the loudspeakers once again. “Attention: all guest worker personnel! Please refer to lodging instructions on the SuperBunker intranet home page. You are required to report to your designated Protocol 4 accommodations within thirty minutes of the end of your shift.”

Nurse Baum walked toward her post, consumed with worry for her daughter and parents, siblings, and friends. She trudged along beneath the canvas sky illuminated in happy, pastel blue. She returned to the infirmary finding it in a state of dysfunction with many posts untended and the lobby filling with elite patients in need of treatment for migraines and sciatica and toenail fungus. The check-in desk was manned by an empty chair.

“Nurse Baum!”

She turned to the sound of the voice. It was Dr. Waters. He was walking a patient into an examination room.

“So glad to see you. What I mean is: I’m sorry you were not able to escape, but I’m glad you are here.”

She stared at him blankly.

“Would you mind running over to pharmacy and filling this prescription for me?”

Baum stood frozen.

“Don’t worry, Emma,” he assured her. “It’ll be all right.”

At that moment, the comfort of escape into routine took hold of her. She took the slip from the doctor and turned to make her way to the pharmacy. She approached the counter and rung the service bell. The station there was also un-manned. She glanced left and right and did not notice anyone. She rang the bell again to no avail. Finally, she reached over the counter and felt under the surface for the switch. She found it and toggled it over which unlocked the door. She walked around the counter and into the dispensary to fill Dr. Waters’ prescription. Aisle J-L… Aisle M-N… Aisle O-P. She turned and started reading the labels on the bins: Patinase… Pavacot… Paxil. She skipped a shelf. Pharmaflur… Phazyme… Phenadoz. She jumped down a few rows. Phernergan… Pheniramine… She stopped at one label. It grabbed her attention, popping out as if it were labeled in giant font. It read “Phenobarbital”.


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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 set 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 final 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 of the SuperBunker are closed and sealed and 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 with the surface cannot be re-established until the leaders of all five Security Council nations agree to deactivate.

Moments before the 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 Protocol 4 toggle switch. Surrounded by his closest advisors who nodded in encouragement, Hu Li carefully extended his index finger, just touching the tip of 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. The female voice spoke 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. Attention!  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 Greys reactively dug into their pockets and purses to retrieve their cell phones to check the news reports and to dial their loved ones. Their phones had no external reception.

 

“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 signal. But they too 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 no external reception, either. 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 or out. 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 drab gray worker uniforms. Baum was lucky. The nearest access portal was a mere 100 yards 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 workers 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 Greys 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 relentlessly 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 Grey bodies squirted through the closing gap, into the light and space and freedom and certain death 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. She 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 a 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.

 


Comments, likes, edits and suggestions are welcome. They help increase visibility.

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COG Chapter 11

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 11

Grave concern filled Tibbles’s face. Fricke’s eyes darted between Tibbles and the president and Buckminster. The entire COGCON cabinet had been hastily assembled. They sat around the conference table, eyes now fixed on the POTUS. Haberdash, sitting in a corner, scratched the inside of his ear canal with his little finger, then dislodged the wax from his fingertip with a flick. The president leaned back in his chair and rocked. The squeaking of the chair permeated the silence like the mating croaks of a swamp toad.

Squawk

Squawk

Squawk

Faucett, the POTUS’s Brown House butler, had recently been promoted to administrative assistant. He poked his head into the room. “Sir…”

The president stopped rocking. “Yes?”

“There’s still no answer from the president of China.”

“Fine.”

The president folded his hands and rocked again.

Squawk

Squawk

Squawk

Several minutes later, the Hades Level servants wheeled in carts delivering lunch: turkey clubs with Weinstein pickles and Plochman’s mustard, and tuna fish sandwiches with coleslaw. Side salads and potato chips were also available. The cabinet members ate in the stark UltraBunker while the giant screen projected a rectangular void with only an occasional photon of primordial light flickering within its boundaries of blackness.

After lunch, Faucett poked his face in again. “Mr. President?”

“Yes?”

“There’s still nothing to report, sir.”

“Fine.”

Squawk

Squawk

Squawk

Fricke leaned forward. “Maybe we should contact the Russians. Perhaps they’ve heard something.”

“Good idea. Bring Timmy up.”

Fricke picked up the conference phone and asked the operator to connect the UnderKremlin— which is what the president had dubbed the Russian equivalent of the UltraBunker.

…But the screens remained black.

Fricke held on the line. Tibbles’s eyes darted between Fricke and the president. Haberdash dug the eraser end of his pencil into his sock to scratch his arch.

“Well…?” asked the POTUS.

“No answer yet, sir,” replied Fricke as he held.

“I knew it.”

“Knew what, sir?” asked Tibbles.

“I knew them slav-commie bastards were in it with the Chinks.”

“Actually, I think only the Chinese are communist, sir,” replied the secretary of the interior.

“Who asked you?” the POTUS snapped at her before turning back to Fricke. “Anything yet?”

“Still nothing, sir.”

The POTUS scowled, punishing Fricke for his failure of an idea. Fricke relented and hung up.

“Turn on the game!” ordered the POTUS.

The secretary of transportation grabbed the remote and fumbled with the buttons. The black viewing screens filled with a menu and then gridiron action. It was the game of the week pitting the Saxons against the Normans. This elated the POTUS as he was the biggest fan of the Saxons and a close, personal friend of their coach, Vincent Fangbright. They had played football and roomed together at Yale and once chanted secret rites together with seven other fraternity pledges, each holding candles, buck naked, with a man dressed like Darth Vader walking around and whipping them in the ass with a ping pong paddle while they encircled and slurped jello shots off a stripper named Jennifer who was lying on a coffee table altar, portraying a corpse, totally nude except for a goat’s head mask on her face… which was the culmination of their secret fraternity initiation.

As the cabinet watched, the football game evolved into an intense defensive struggle. The teams mirrored each other’s conservative strategy, and each took turns punting, attempting to gain advantage by flipping the field and pinning their opponent in their end. The clock wound down and the teams withdrew into their lockers at halftime with the score tied at 10.

“Fangbright is the greatest coach of all time,” extolled the president over the din of an ad for testosterone supplements. He pressed the intercom to ping Faucett. “Any word from the Chinks?”

“Nothing yet, sir.”

A server brought more snacks and the members of the COGCON cabinet indulged in nacho chips and guacamole dip, and a giant cheese ball with crackers, and shrimp cocktail, and hot wings, and fudge brownies, and diet sodas to wash it all down.

The second half began and the president watched intently from his chair, snacking occasionally on chilled shrimp slathered in horse radish cocktail sauce. The third quarter action lumbered left and right and right and left on the screen without any scoring. Each team punted thrice. The tension built like a stalemate in a tug of war with neither side gaining advantage and timely defensive plays stifling the other’s posessions.

In the fourth quarter, the Saxons finally managed to sustain a drive taking them across midfield and close to field goal range. On first down, they connected on a short pass that netted seven yards. On second, they ran off tackle for four, gaining another first down, but the play was called back on an illegal formation penalty. On the replay of second down, the Saxon quarterback— the steely, gunslinger-eyed Brock McGuinn— threw a pass that was just knocked away at the last moment by the Norman defender. It was third and eight.

“This is where it will be won or lost,” remarked the POTUS. The Saxons broke the huddle. “C’mon McGuinn! You can do it!”

Brock “The Gun” McGuinn sauntered into position behind the center and called the signals. The short, white, slot receiver went into motion back across the formation. The defenders pointed and shifted their alignments with great urgency. The Saxon crowd went completely silent in anticipation. The center snapped the ball. The front lines collided in a crackle of brain trauma. The snap went dangerously high. McGuinn nonchalantly reached up to snatch it out of the air with one hand. He quickly planted his feet within the halo of blockers that was collapsing at his flanks. He stepped forward with his bow-legged chicken legs, into the salient of desperate, bulging, mud-stained, meshed polyester and neoprene. A receiver broke free in the middle of the field. McGuinn raised the ball to his ear. The pocket of protection was closing in on him like a garotte. The Gun coiled his arm. A defender extended his paw to swat the ball from behind him, just missing. McGuinn snapped his wrist forward. The ball rocketed out from the scrum and down the middle of the field in a brown, spheroid spiral. The receiver reached out his hands to receive it—

“Heh-roh Mr. Pwesident!”

The screen filled with the round, bespectacled face and nubby Grey teeth of the Chinese president.

“What the fuck is going on?” shouted the POTUS.

Faucett stuck his pubescent face into the room. “Mr. President, we have finally gotten through to the president of China.”

“I can see that. Couldn’t this wait five minutes?” The POTUS shooed Faucett away. Faucett withdrew his head and closed the door. Manfred feigned cordiality and greeted the president of China. “Huli!”

“Manfweed,” Hu Li replied. “Have you fine-ree come to yo senses?”

“I don’t know what you mean, Huli. Oh…,” the POTUS continued, snidely, “…do you mean that because of the first lady situation that I have somehow changed my mind and decided to acquiesce to your demands?”

“I don’t a-know anything about yo first ray-dee, Mr. Pwesident.”

“Don’t be coy, Huli.”

“I’m not a-being coy. I do not know anything about her.”

“Cut the crap, Huli. I know what this is. You are trying to maintain plausible denial.”

Tibbles pushed back from his seat, rushed over to the president, and cupped his hand over his ear to speak privately. “Maybe we should consider the possibility that he in fact doesn’t know that she is missing,” Tibbles whispered.

“Huh?”

“Just in case, sir. If he does have the first lady, then we need not remind him of it. But if he doesn’t, he need not know of it.”

“Oh, right.”

Tibbles withdrew.

“So, what do you want, Huli,” asked the POTUS.

“I’m returning yo call, Mr. Pwesident.”

The president glanced at Tibbles who faintly shook his head.

Hu Li Continued: “I thought you were ready to end this a-madness and arrow Master Chung to return to the bunker.”

“Why?”

“Why? Because your dead-rine is a-rapid-ree approaching.”

“And then what?” the POTUS asked.

“Then you will find out.”

“You’ll get nowhere with this, Huli. I am not budging on the Chung situation, regardless of what you threaten to do with the first la—”

Tibbles scowled.

“Er… uh… whatever you intend to do,” the POTUS finished.

“I know nothing of your first a-ray-dee.”

“I’m just putting it out there, Huli. I’m letting you know that whatever you intend to do, it isn’t going work. I’m not changing my position.”

“I fear that this situation may be deteriorating into world war three,” Hu Li observed.

“That’s on you.”

“You leave me no a-choice. We cannot arrow you to kidnap our citizens.”

“You’re one to talk, Huli.”

“I see there is nothing for us to discuss. This is a waste of time.”

“Fine.”

“Fine.”

Click

President Hu Li’s image vanished from the screens and was replaced by a television commercial for Dodge pickup trucks. The football game resumed. The Saxons had scored a touchdown during Hu Li’s interlude, but the Normans had scored as well and the game was tied at 17 with two minutes remaining. The Saxons broke the huddle and approached the line of scrimmage which was at their own twenty. The home crowd quieted once more. The first play was a pass that resulted in an eight-yard gain. The second play connected for ten yards. McGuinn signaled for a timeout. After commercials for lite beer, erection pills, and Chevy pickup trucks, the game returned. McGuinn ran four plays, connecting with his receivers on each, taking the Saxons down to the Norman forty-yard line. There were fifty seconds remaining in the game. The Gun rushed up to the line while the clock ticked away. Forty-nine… forty-eight… forty-seven… He took the snap and spiked the ball into the ground, stopping the clock at forty-four seconds. The camera cut to the pot-bellied Saxon place kicker who kneaded a pigskin, placed it on a tee, and with a look of furrowed seriousness, booted it into a practice net on the sideline. His longest-ever career field goal was fifty-four yards. From where the ball was placed, it would be a fifty-seven yard try. The Saxons knew they had to gain a few more yards to have a decent chance.

Coach Fangbright took off his headset. His lips formed inaudible words on the screen. McGuinn lifted his helmet and his lips started to move. Then Fangbright, noticing that a camera was zooming in on his face from two-hundred yards away, covered his mouth with his laminated play sheet that resembled a Denny’s menu— which was not unlike the nuclear football instructions. McGuinn stopped talking and just nodded every couple of seconds. Then The Gun turned and trotted out onto the field and into the Saxon huddle.

The huddle broke and the players assumed their positions. McGuinn took the snap on first sound and extended the ball to the halfback who cut towards the right side of the line… but it was a play action fake. McGuinn withdrew the ball and rolled in the other direction. The Norman linebacker pursuing from the back side discovered the ruse and cut towards McGuinn preparing to murder him. McGuinn was just able to get the pass off and turn his back before he was pile-driven into the ground, face first. The brown pigskin wobbled out, fluttering downfield about ten yards before it was intercepted by the Norman safety who was charging up fast…

The referee watching this play unfold could easily discern that the interception would be returned for an uncontested touchdown. He glanced at the flattened Brock McGuinn, then over to the charging Norman defender who plucked the fluttering ball out of the air and charged on, without breaking stride, towards the goal line.

Then the referee looked at McGuinn…

And as if he was perhaps overcome by some sense cognitive dissonance at the notion of the underdog Normans actually beating the Saxons…

Or perhaps because he was subtly informed by his supervisor before the game that it would be best for television ratings that Brock McGuinn continue playing in the post season for as long as possible…

Or perhaps because he was of Anglo-Saxon decent and ancient blood rivalries are sub-consciously passed on through genetic inheritance…

Or perhaps it was a legitimate, objective, unbiased assessment of the situation…

The referee reached into his pocket, withdrew his yellow hanker chief weighted by a roll of pennies and…

The Norman safety ran into the end zone and spiked the ball. His teammates followed him and embraced each other and celebrated the miracle play and good fortune virtually ensuring victory. But they soon heard the Saxon crowd begin to cheer and they knew something was amiss. They turned back toward the original line of scrimmage and their fears were realized when they spotted the yellow flag and they spotted the skinny-armed, villainous referee whom they now cursed, and they spotted their arch-nemesis Brock The Gun McGuinn, sitting up on his knees, tufts of mud and grass stuck in his facemask, and a shit-eating grin scrawled across his face.

“Unnecessary roughness!” shouted the president with unrestrained glee. “Fifteen-yard penalty! Fuck you Normans!”

The skinny-armed referee announced the call and the crowd went into a frenzy of approval. The chubby Norman coach protested and spiked his headset to no avail. The ball was moved to the twenty-five yard line. There were thirty-two seconds left in the game.

The Saxons called three halfback dives in succession, forcing the Normans to use their allotted timeouts. With twenty-one seconds left, the pot-bellied Saxon kicker pranced out onto the field in his spotless uniform. The teams took their pre-snap positions. The crowd fell silent, meditating on the field goal that would secure yet another victory. The long snapper snapped the ball. The holder snatched it from the air and set it on the ground, spinning the laces away toward the goal post. The kicker approached, planted his left foot and unleashed his coiled right leg. The ball launched toward the center of the uprights, over the outstretched hands of the desperate defense. The kick started out true. The crowd’s roar built. But then the ball started to fade. The crowd roared louder, as if they might will it through the uprights with their screams. The ball tumbled, hooking toward the left post it…

 

The screen went totally dark…

“What the hell is going on?” screamed the POTUS.

The cabinet members stared at each other and at the blackened screen in confusion. Faucett poked his head into the room.

“Mr. President, you have a call on the bat line.”

“What?”

“The bat line, sir,” answered Tibbles. “It’s a hard-wired communication network that serves the leaders in the SuperBunker.”

“I know what it is. Frank, give me the phone,” ordered the POTUS.

Frank Tibbles calmly stood up. Walked around the table. Carefully grabbed the bat phone with both hands. Walked around the table and set it in front of the president. The president and the members of the cabinet all focused on the red, archaic telephone handset, resting before the leader of the free world. The president reached out and grasped the clunky handset and slowly raised it to his ear.

“Hello?”

“He-roh, Mr. Pwesident,” came the voice of the president of China.

“What do you want now, Huli?”

“I am calling to inform you that yo a-dead-rine has a-passed.”

“What did you do, Huli?” asked the POTUS.

“I’m afwaid you reft us no a-choice.”

“What did you do?”

“Protocol 4 was our onree option,” answered the president of China.

“You didn’t!”

“Yes, we did.”

“Do you know what you’ve done?”

“Yes, we know ver-ree well. Ah communication rines have been severed. The brast doors are crose-ing as we speak. In moments, no one in the bunker can have any contact with the surface. No one can get in or out. We are toe-toe-ree ice-o-rated. Maybe now you will come to your a-senses and negotiate in good faith.”

“This is another act of war!” shouted the president into the red handset.

“No. It is an act of peace. It is onree war if you make it so. If we can work out our differences and make arrangements for the rightfur return of Master Chung to the bunker, we will revert the situation back COGCON 3.”

The POTUS covered the mouthpiece of the receiver. “Can he really do this?”

“I’m afraid he can, Mr. President,” Fricke answered. “It was a pre-condition of bunker construction that any member of the UN Security Council can unilaterally invoke Protocol 4.”

“Tibbles?”

“Sir, we discussed this,” Tibbles answered. “Protocol 4 was designed with the idea that if we have come down into the bunker, that the geopolitical situation on the surface is precariously close to Armageddon. It is a failsafe; if we find ourselves cut off from contact with the surface, we might be compelled to work out our differences before a worst case scenario.”

“Oh, holy hell!” The president plowed his hands up over his face and through his coal and gray hair. “Is there a back door? Tell me we have a back door…”

“Mr. President?”

“Tell me we have a back door!”

Fricke glanced at Tibbles. Tibbles sighed. The president waited for an answer, cupping his hand over the receiver.


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COG Chapter 10

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 10

“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?”

“I’m fine.”

“No concerns?”

“Nope. None at all.”

“Did you get any sleep last night?”

“I slept like a baby. Only took three Unisoms.”

“Mr. President…”

“Yes, Frank?”

“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?”

“We did.”

“And you have the authentication codes with you?”

“At all times sir.”

“Good. So, we’re all set? You’re ready to go?”

“Yes.”

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.

“Well, damn.”

“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.”

“Yes sir.”

The foursome and their caddies and their sixty-five secret service agents started off down the fairway.

“Sir?”

“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.”

“Why?”

“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.


Comments, likes, edits and suggestions are welcome. They help increase visibility.

Previous Chapter

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COG Chapter 9

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 9

The president held his cabinet meeting in a chamber of the Hades level which was the deepest level of the SuperBunker—almost one-half mile below the surface. This chamber was known as: the UltraBunker. One arrived at the Hades level via elevator that connected from the traditional SuperBunker Oval Office. The Hades level chamber was wrapped in a double-redundant steel faraday cage to make it extra-impregnable to disruption by radio flash. The cages were electrified to make them completely impervious to wireless surveillance transmission. One entered the UltraBunker through an eighteen-inch thick blast door that only opened after visitors passed through a particle imaging scanner— referred to jokingly by the POTUS as the “PIS test” — a retinal scan, and finally, an RFID chip validation. No electronic devices were permitted into the UltraBunker.

Inside, the interior walls were stark, smooth concrete, decorated with paintings by Romantics which were brought from the Louvre to be held for safekeeping in the event of its thermonuclear destruction. The drab, nine-foot walls were adorned in a flourish of Victorian crown molding. In the center of the room, a large, polished, steel table stood in the center. On one wall hung a large screen with a power cable running down, then up through a grommet in the table and into a power receptacle within arm’s reach of the president’s executive seat— which enabled the POTUS to completely kill the screen’s power and signal at his discretion. No other electronic devices were present, and if one was snuck in, it was totally erased by an electromagnetic pulse upon entering and exiting the room. The audio-visual data displayed on the screen was piped in via a dedicated fiber optic cable network that passed through seven fire walls. The dedicated audio visual system was built by a company called Fossen-Stein, headquartered in Virginia, at a cost of one hundred and fifty million dollars.

There was another steel door opposite the blast door entrance, behind the president’s high back, executive chair. It was smaller, standing perhaps four-foot tall. It led to an executive safe room just big enough for the president to stow away within in the event that the SuperBunker was somehow breached by invaders who managed to out-maneuver the thousands of security personnel, make their way down into the Hades level, and penetrate the UltraBunker blast door. The safe room was furnished with a twin-sized bed and a mini fridge and held two weeks of rations.

The POTUS sat upon his UltraBunker throne, facing the blast door entrance through which everyone entered. One by one, the special cabinet members entered and took their seats. The COGCON cabinet consisted of only seventeen members as five secretary positions were deemed non-essential; those being:

 

The Secretary of the Office of Management and Budget

The Administrator of the Small Business Administration

The Secretary of Commerce

The Attorney General

And The Secretary of Government Oversight

 

There were still not quite enough seats for everyone at the big table. Several secretaries were relegated to sitting on folding chairs against the wall. Secretaries relegated to these kiddie seats included:

 

The Secretary of the Interior

The Secretary of Health and Human Services

The Secretary of Education

The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

The Trade Representative

And the Secretary of Veterans Affairs

 

The POTUS did not greet anyone as they entered. He stared through them as they appeared in the doorway with their laptops clutched in hand. Haberdash sat on a folding chair against the wall, scribbling notes on his notepad. Within moments of the first arrival, every seat at the big table was filled except one. The POTUS was flanked on either side by Secretary of State Fricke and Secretary of Defense Buckminster. Next to them sat the secretary of the treasury and an empty chair for the White House chief of staff. Each member of the cabinet sat in silence, waiting for the POTUS to speak, but the POTUS just stared at the door. Haberdash’s eyes flitted from the president to the blast door to the empty chair at the big table. The members of the cabinet cast subtle, uneasy glances and shrugs at each other. The motions of shuffling papers and sounds of sniffles and gulps of sipped water subsided. The president continued staring at the door. It became very silent, palpably silent, so silent that everyone could hear their own breathing and stomach noises. It was so silent that a fart would have sounded like pulling the starting cord on a chainsaw… in a chapel… at midnight. And when it had become as absolutely silent as possibly imaginable, the sound of click clack click clack…

Footsteps approached from beyond the blast door.

Click clack click clack

The sounds grew in decibels until they stopped just beyond the bolts of the doorway.

Click clack

All eyes swung toward the sound. Haberdash scribbled away. The secretary of agriculture suppressed a cough. The POTUS remained motionless. Finally, the silhouette of a man with a briefcase appeared in the doorway. He was short, pear-shaped, with narrow shoulders. He took one step forward, into the light of the UltraBunker. His wispy silver and blond hair was combed over to one side. He wore thick, horn-rimmed glasses that magnified his doey, black eyes.

“Welcome home, Frank!” the POTUS bellowed. A wide grin filled his square face.

Frank Tibbles adjusted his glasses and grinned humbly in response, then nodded. All eyes tracked him as he walked around the table and took his place at the remaining empty seat, filling out the COGCON Cabinet.

“All right. Let’s get started,” ordered the POTUS. “Who’s up first?”

Just then, the red light in the center of the table began to flash. “Urgent Call from the President of China!” blazed in blood read on the screen.

“Should I clear the room, sir?” asked Fricke.

“No,” answered the POTUS. “Let’s all hear what Huli has to say. Put him through.”

The face of the president of China appeared, six feet tall on screen from hairline to chin. He looked displeased.

“Huli! How the hell are you?” the POTUS asked.

“I’m a-no good, Manfweed.”

“You look upset. What’s wrong?” the POTUS mocked.

“You know vewee well what’s wong.”

“I thought our relations were improving.”

“You are foo of boo-shit, Manfweed.”

“What is it now, Huli? Is it the boy? Are you mad about Wang Chung?”

“Removing him from the bunker was an act of war, Mr. Pwesident.”

“Yeah, and so was sinking the USS Henry Harrison.”

The eyes of the cabinet members dashed back and forth between the presidents as if they were watching the volleys of a tennis match.

“C’mon, Huli. He’s just one kid. You got a billion more of them. I’m sure we can work this out. I’ll make some concessions at our next summit. We’re still meeting Thursday?”

“He is a not just some a-kid. He is the son of a high-wanking party offisho.”

“We’ve all had to make sacrifices, Huli. We all have loved ones back on the surface. No one kid is worth escalating global tensions.”

“This is vewee serious matter. You must a-bwing him back into the bunker.”

“I can’t do that, Huli. His PIN is not valid.”

“His a PIN is a-perfecwee vawid.”

“No. His PIN belongs to my chief of staff and newly appointed Secretary of Superbunker Operations, Frank Tibbles. Say hello, Frank.”

“You ir-reegeree entered our sovereign tewitory and kidnap Master Chung.”

“No. No. That’s incorrect. We detained Master Chung for his own safety after exposure to fungicide, and once it was discovered that he was here illegally, he was deported. It’s all legal, by the book.”

“I’m not going to argue with you, Manfweed. You have twenty-four hour to bwing Chung back in or there will be consequences.”

“Consequences? Like what?”

“You will see, Mr. Pwesident.”

“You don’t want to escalate, Huli. We are already at the brink of Armageddon. Chung will be safe so long as we continue to work things out down here.”

“Consequences, Mr. Pwesident. There will be dire consequences for you,” Hu Li repeated.

“Like what?”

“The dire kind!” Hu Li’s lenses flashed.

“Like sinking another aircraft carrier?”

“More dire than that.”

“Like nuking a major metropolitan area?”

“Even worse than a-that.”

“Huli, how do you expect me to take you seriously? You’re bluffing, and badly at that.”

“We are not a-bruffing. Twenty four ow-ah!”

Click.

The monitor went dark.

Everyone’s glance pivoted, locking on to the POTUS.

The president, suddenly aware that he might look uncomfortable, rolled his eyes and chuckled to diffuse the tension.

“Relax. It’s Huli. He’s all talk. His English seems to be getting worse, though. Don’t you think?”

There was a smattering of uncomfortable chuckles.

“Huli’s not crazy. He won’t blow up the world over one twelve-year-old China boy.”

“Nah.” “No way.” “Not likely,” responded various members of the cabinet. “He’s all talk like you say.” “Yeah, all talk. Except for the time he sunk the Harrison…”

“It wouldn’t make any sense,” assured the secretary of agriculture. “He wants the boy down here in the bunker so that he is safe. But escalating to a nuclear war over him not being down here is the most unsafe thing he could possibly do for the boy.”

“I think you’re on to something, Mr. President,” observed the secretary of education.

“It’s 3-D chess, Mr. President. Pure Genius.”

“Hell, its 4-D chess!”

“It’s all part of the plan,” replied the POTUS, whose eyes darted around the room searching for additional affirmations and to ferret out dissenters.

“I think it’s brilliant, sir!” said the secretary of transportation.

“Yes, absolutely brilliant,” added the secretary of homeland security.

“You got him by the short and curlies, Mr. President,” barked Secretary of Defense Buckminster. “Very Sun Tzu, sir.”

“Yeah, you’ve managed to use the Chung boy as leverage for peace! It’s… it’s… Rooseveltian!”

“Rooseveltian?” Haberdash pondered, under his breath.

A look of satisfaction flushed the president’s face.

“No, better than Rooseveltian. It’s Churchilian!”

“No, better than that. You’ve the integrity and tenacity of a modern-day Cato, sir!” commented the attorney general.

“Cato?” asked the president who looked at Tibbles. “Who the hell is that? Is he talking about that guy who did O.J. Simpson’s laundry?”

“Cato the Younger,” answered the attorney general. “The Roman statesman who battled the corruption of the Senate. You know… Cato?”

The president stared blankly.

“Cato…the man who opposed Caesar.”

“The man who opposed Caesar? What the fuck are you talking about? I’m Caesar!”

The attorney general’s shoulders curled and slumped and his eyes dropped in the realization that he had likely just ended his career and would probably now be audited by the IRS… if the IRS survived the nuclear holocaust.

“How about, Reaganesque!” suggested the secretary of the treasury.

“I like that,” answered the POTUS. “Reaganesque!”

“Reagan had the Star Wars defense initiative that brought an end to the Cold War,” the secretary continued, “and you, Mr. President, you have your Chung initiative. You’ve probably saved the world, sir.”


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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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COG Chapter 7

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 7

When the vast majority of the world’s leaders and elites had made their way into the SuperBunker, it was decided that the leaders of the primary world powers should hold a summit as a last-ditch effort to prevent world war 3. Motorcades of black, bullet proof golf carts brought the leaders of Russia, China, and the United States, along with their assistants, advisors, translators, massage therapists, and security personnel to a rendezvous in the event center of Section L— the Latin American section of the SuperBunker.

After a formal contest of pick-a-number, overseen by forty-seven accountants, six international judges, and the secretary general of the UN, the prestigious advantage of arriving last was awarded to the U.S. delegation.

The presidential golf carts ambled up to the curb in front of the center facade fashioned to resemble the Royal Palace of Madrid. Security agents scurried into position. When each of those sixty agents indicated to central command that the situation was safe, the footman of Golf Cart One opened the door and President Arman Manfred stepped stiffly out onto the curb. The POTUS gathered himself up, straightened his navy-blue suit, and peacock-strutted his way down the red carpet, which was flanked by polished, armored pikemen and stone cauldrons bearing virtual flames. Manfred passed under a technicolor awning and through the glass and bronze doors held ajar by two African guest workers adorned as Aztec warriors.

The president passed from the main hall decorated in an Incan, stone-block style filled with press, security, and mid-level diplomats, and into a large chamber with walls of golden, ceiling-to-floor curtains. The chamber was populated by smug ambassadors and pasty-faced elites with bulbous noses, and thin lips, adorned with bow ties, strings of pearl, ruby rings, and thinning hairlines. The POTUS carved his way through the gazing herd, through a parting in the gold drapes at the far end, and into an antechamber with a low ceiling and plaster walls. He was greeted there by his emergency cabinet members Dexter Fricke and Fitzmaurice Buckminster, and also Haberdash who looked frumpy even when wearing a suit. Fricke and Buckminster briefed the POTUS then Buckminster opened an inlaid oak door at the opposite end that lead to the destination meeting room. The POTUS passed through the doorway but stopped Buckminster from following him.

“Wait here. No advisors are allowed,” the POTUS ordered. “Hab… you follow me.”

Haberdash squeezed past the astonished-looking Buckminster and the POTUS shut the door in his gaping face.

The cozy conference room was adorned in the colonial Spanish style of hand-troweled, white plaster and ceramic tile flooring. A cold hearth stood on one end and centered within each of the other three walls stood an inlaid oak door. Three upholstered chairs were set facing each other in the middle of the room.

In one high back armchair sat the president of Russia, Dmitry Timfimovich Timoshenko. He wore a navy-blue suit with a sky-blue tie. His thin silver hair was receding, slicked back behind his rubbery ears that stuck out from his head like opened doors on a delivery van. His bushy eyebrows were as black as the smoke from burning tires. His thick glasses were held up by a beakish, pink nose that formed a descending point that drooped down past his upper lip.

In the other chair sat the president of China, Hu Li Jinkun. He was also dressed in a navy-blue suit but wore a mauve tie. He had an oval face mounted atop a vaguely defined neck. His jet-black hair was also badly receding. He too wore glasses with coke bottle thick lenses that hooked onto a tiny, flat nose vented by two enormous, perfectly round, portal nostrils.

The POTUS huffed before taking the empty seat. “I was supposed to have the middle chair,” he protested. The president of China and the president of Russia looked at each other befuddled.

“Mr. President,” spoke the president of Russia in his Dracula dialect, “these seats are aligned in a circle. There is no middle.”

“Why is he a-here?” asked the president of China in his best attempt at English. He gestured to Haberdash who was lounging in a side chair adjacent to the door that he and the POTUS had entered through.

“This was all agreed to in advance, Huli,” explained the POTUS. “He’s my hagiographer. What are you afraid of? That he might put the details of this meeting up on his blog?”

“Perhaps he might,” answered Timfimvovich in his molasses tenor.

“And I suppose you expect me to believe you aren’t recording this conversation for your own purposes, Timmy?” the POTUS asked. Timoshenko demurred. “Relax, gentlemen. Hab’s sworn to secrecy. He knows I’d have him suicided if he betrayed my confidence.”

Hab’s eyebrows raised in concern at the threat.

Timoshenko and Hu Li exchanged a glance of acquiescence.

“So…” Hu Li began, “why are we a-here?”

A long, tense silence followed.

The president of the United States sighed.

The president of Russia scratched his temple.

The president of China forced a grin.

The president of the United States forced a grin.

The president of Russia tapped his thumb on the arm of his chair.

The president of the United States interlocked his fingers.

The president of China cracked his knuckles.

The president of Russia rubbed his chin.

The president of China stopped smiling.

The president of the U.S. cleared his throat.

The president of Russia adjusted his glasses.

The president of China removed his glasses and cleaned the gigantic lenses with his handkerchief.

The president of the United States rubbed the inside corner of his eye with his index finger. Then he looked around the room, resting his sight on a painting by Goya: Saturn Devouring His Children…

 

Many of the world’s finest works of art had been hastened into the bunker for safe keeping. Even the curators of the world’s great museums feared the inevitability of nuclear holocaust. Michelangelo’s David, for instance, was flown in, along with other sculptures from antiquity, on a C5 Galaxy transport plane. It had to be sawed into five pieces so that it could be brought down into the bunker safely. It was reassembled in the Lucius L. Rothschild Hall in Section E. Everyone marveled at the excellent job of reassembly. One could hardly notice the linear, diamond saw cuts used to sever the limbs…

 

After a few minutes of icy silence, the president of Russia re-crossed his legs.

Then the president of China smiled again, forcibly peeling back his lips and exposing two rows of pill-shaped teeth.

One of the presidents examined his cuticles.

Another licked his lips.

The third rubbed his nose.

Another nearly picked his nose, then, realizing he was in a semi-public setting, settled for a mere brush of the end of it.

Another stuck his finger in his ear.

Another re-crossed his legs.

One of them sniffed.

Another coughed to cover up a belch…

It went on like this for over an hour. None would dare initiate a dialogue. No one wanted to be the first. Being the first to speak was regarded as an expression of weakness and submission. In the realm of geopolitics, a leader must never evoke weakness.

Finally, Timfimovich relented, albeit off topic. “I noticed that the diesel smell has abated,” he slurred.

“Yes,” answered the POTUS. “The nuclear reactor has been brought online.” The POTUS stood and went to the liquor cabinet to pour himself a scotch. He carried his glass over to the Goya painting to study it. “It’s horrible. The ugliest thing I’ve seen,” he remarked before taking a gulp.

The other two presidents watched him.

“Huli,” the POTUS said to the president of China.

“Yes?”

“I can’t forgive you.”

“Forgive me for a-what?”

“Don’t be coy, Huli.”

“Your aircraft carrier was in our territori-oh water. We were wesponding to your act of a-war.”

“The Henry Harrison was performing routine naval exercises.”

“It was well within the [1]seven-dash rine and far too crose to Grasshopper Island.”

“…Ah, that pile of rocks from where your hypersonic missile was launched,” commented the POTUS before finishing his scotch.

“It was to crose,” Hu Li reaffirmed.

“You have no right to occupy that island, Huli.”

“It is inside the seven dash rine. Check your a-map.”

“So you want to go to nuclear war over a rock in middle of the East China Sea?”

“I ask you the same a-question, Manfweed.”

“We have no interest in that rock, Huli.”

“Then why was your freet sai-ring around it, huh?”

“Because it’s Ticky-Taki’s rock, Huli, not yours.”

“So let us work it out with Japan’s government.”

“You know very well we have an LSA[2] with Japan. There are severe consequences if we do not honor our alliance.”

“Your a-riance is your prob-rem, not a-mine.” Hu Li grinned, mockingly.

“You know damn well that if I do not respond to your sinking of my aircraft carrier, American prestige will be irrevocably damaged.”

“Not my a-prob-rem.”

“God damnit, Huli. Do you know how much that boat cost?”

“You should have taken better care.”

“It’s Japan’s rock!”

“It’s not Japan’s rock, Manfweed. It be-rongs to the peop-uhr of China!” snapped the Chinese president with emphasis on “China”.

“It’s just a rock, Huli.”

“Tell that to Taki[3].”

“Gentlemen, we’ve been over and over this countless times,” the President of Russia interrupted. “Manfred, I could easily raise the same concerns regarding Bolshevistan.”

“Oh, good Lord. We’re not getting anywhere.” The POTUS sat down, lowered his face and massaged his temples between his thumb and middle finger in frustration. “Bolshevistan,” he continued, “is a trial member of NATO, Timmy. We are bound by treaty to defend their sovereignty.”

“It’s not even a real country, Manfred. Brezhnev drew it on a map in 1969.”

“It’s a real country if we say it is, Timmy. And UN agrees with us.”

“Not unanimous-uh-ree,” chimed Hu Li.

“You can’t just go around annexing your neighbors, Timmy.”

“What business is it of yours?”

“What business is it? Really?” Manfred glared. “Let me tell you something, Timmy, I know how it feels to be Bolshevistani. Believe me, I know.” The POTUS pointed at himself for added emphasis. “My great, great grandfather was Estonian. I understand the pain he felt in his soul when that bastard Stalin went in and took over his country. Now, my great great grandaddy died before I was born, but I still know his pain. I inherited it. It’s in my DNA. For all those years, great great grand dad was a man without a country. And he passed the torch of liberty to my grandfather— because my great grandfather died in a lumberjacking accident. So my grandfather passed it to my father and he passed the torch of liberty to me. And now…” The POTUS placed his hand over his heart. “And now that torch is me.”

“But Estonia is a free nation, now,” Timoshenko rebutted.

“You know the point I’m trying to make. I can’t let you subjugate the Bolshevistani people like Stalin did to people like my great great granddad. I will not allow it!” The POTUS’s eyes began to well up. “It is my sincere belief that deep, deep down inside every Bolshevistani, there is an American, yearning for full privilege membership in the EU.”

“Sewenty nine percent of Bolshewistani identify as Russian, Manfred.”

The POTUS’s face hardened. Grinding his teeth in frustration, he said: “Look, even if I wanted to, I couldn’t turn my back on them. If we allow you to take it over, Romania will demand NATO defense buildup. Who do you think is going to be asked to supply the mechanized infantry for Romania’s defense? Germany? Don’t make me laugh. It will be the U.S., Timmy. Do you really want U.S. forces massing in Romania?”

“Of course not.”

“Well that’s what you’re gonna get.”

“You can choose not to do that, Mr. President.”

“No, I can’t. If NATO doesn’t honor its defense obligations, Romania will default on their debt payments. I don’t have to remind you what that would do to Deutsche bank. It would require a massive bailout from the EU. Do you think the French are going to bail out a German bank, Timmy? No way. They’ll leave the EU. The dominoes start falling and poof, financial Armageddon.”

“Those are Europe’s problems, not ours.” Timoshenko got up and went to the liquor cabinet to pour himself a vodka. “If we withdraw from Bolshewistan, you will have tactical nuclear missiles and mechanized infantries right on our border. We cannot accept that. Bolshewistan cannot be allowed to be member of NATO. It must remain a buffer between Mother Russia and western imperialism.”

“And we cannot allow them not to be in NATO,” answered the POTUS.

“So we are at an impasse.”

“We have to find some way to trust, Timmy. Isn’t that what Gorbachev said?”

Timoshenko spat. “Trust? You tried to have me assassinated.”

“That wasn’t me, Timmy. That was the CIA.”

Timoshenko cursed. “Stay out of Bolshewistan.”

“No. You stay out. And you too, Huli.”

“You first, Mr. President.”

“No, you first.”

“After you.”

“You go, then I go.”

“I’m right behind you.”

“No, I’m right behind you.”

The POTUS huffed. “You sunk one of our aircraft carriers, Huli. We’re at least going to need to even the score before we can even begin to consider any formal concession. If I retreat without reprisal, the American people will skewer me as a gutless coward. I’d be another Jimmy Carter or Neville Chamberlain.”

“If we go to fuhr scare war, no one would be reft to skewer you.”

“You are lucky we didn’t retaliate right then and there.”

“Oh, prease. You were given twenty-three warning before we fire.”

“The USS William Henry Harrison refurbishment cost twenty billion dollars, Huli. That’s a lot of coin that we had to borrow from you. It’s only fair that I get to blow up twenty billion of your shit. Then we can talk about peace.”

“Do you a-want another carrier resting on the bottom of the East China Sea? Don’t forget, we gracious-ree arrowed the remainder of your freet to escape.”

The POTUS went to the cabinet and poured another drink. “Look, neither of you can win a war with the United States. Even without the Henry Harrison, our navy is still twice the size of both of your so-called navies put together.”

The president of Russia and the president of China glanced at each other.

“So, what are we having a dick measuring contest now?” asked Hu Li.

“Call it what you want,” replied the POTUS, “but our dick is the biggest. It ain’t much of a contest.”

“A-maybe your dick is the biggest,” continued Hu Li with a grin, “but two dick a-better than one.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” asked the POTUS.

“Alone, our dick is too small, we cannot a-win,” answered Hu Li., looking at Timoshenko for affirmation.

“…But if we put our dicks together, we can ensure that you cannot win, either,” answered Timoshenko.

“What in the hell is that supposed to mean?” asked the POTUS.

“Hu Li and I have a gentleman’s agreement,” answered Timoshenko.

“About what?”

“We have a mu-chu-rer defense a-pact,” answered Hu Li.

“A what?”

“I think he said they have a ‘mutual defense pact’,” answered Haberdash from his seat.

“Oh, splendid. So a new axis of evil.”

“We have pejoratives for you and your allies as well,” answered Timoshenko.

“Are you sure you want to do this, Timmy?” asked the POTUS. “Once you go public with it, there is no turning back. An alliance between you two will make it impossible to unwind this situation.”

“No one wants a-war,” answered Hu Li. “But hope-fu-ree our combined dick will read you to the understanding that you cannot push us around. You will not be able to knock us off one at a time.”

The POTUS turned back to the painting depicting the wild-eyed Saturn chewing the arm off a headless child. “If we can’t resolve this, think of all the things that will be lost. Think of all the pieces of art and architecture, the great cities, it will be such an historic tragedy.”

“The world as we know it will be destroyed,” added the president of China, “but there will be many investment opportunities for rebuilding.”

“Well, at least we have this bunker,” the POTUS replied, “so that the governments will be spared to emerge one day to rebuild.”

“Gentlemen, things appear to be in a deadlock,” said the president of Russia. “Let’s at least agree to meet again and keep the lines of communication open. There are still hundreds of flights arri-wing daily, deli-wering VIPs and supplies and artworks.”

The POTUS added: “I agree. Let us try to delay war as long as possible, at least so that we can save what we can.”

[1] The Seven-Dash Line refers to the undefined, vaguely located, demarcation line referenced by the People’s Republic of China for their territorial claims of the major part of the East China Sea.

[2] LSA refers to a Leveraged Security Alliance whereby the United States promises military defense of a nation and in return, the partner nation promises not to liquidate their holding of U.S. government debt which would trigger a default.

[3] Taki Takiyama. The Japanese prime minister. Referred to as Ticky-Taki by President Manfred.


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COG Chapter 6

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 6

First Lady Veruca Weinstein rolled over in bed and reached for her pack of Virginia Slims cigarettes. She placed one on her lips and tossed the pack back where it landed flat on the nightstand with a smack. Her fingers fumbled around in the dark, finally retrieving her lighter. She struck an enormous flame with the slender silver lighter— nearly four inches tall— setting her stoic face aglow in warm golden light and filling the room with sweet, aromatic butane. She moved the very tip of the flame, where the fire dissolves into wisps of black smoke, to the end of the cigarette and drew in, setting the tobacco ablaze. She released the igniter which extinguished the flame and tossed the lighter back onto the nightstand while exhaling. 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 remaining perched between her two fore fingers. She tipped the bottle and shook once, and a single pill tumbled with a rattle out onto her tongue. She set the bottle back 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.”

“It will all work itself out. Try not to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders.”

“He’s still the president. Plan A failed.”

“Then we’ll come up with a plan B.”

“You always say that things will work out 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 as completely as I do, Dex.”

“Arman is… complex.”

“Arman’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 armchair in the corner of the suite.

“All presidents are insane, Veruca. You have to be to become one. 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, single, solitary, Chinese missile.”

“To be fair, it was a hypersonic missile.”

“One missile nonetheless.”

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

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

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

“It was his baby, like a sports car or a Harley.”

Veruca handed the cigarette to Dexter who took a half-hearted drag.

“I can see that.”

“It’s because it was the biggest of them all. It was an expression of his manhood— like those short, bald rednecks with tiny dicks 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 have to wait and see.”

“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.”

“We’ve taken 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.”

“You really 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. I know him. You think I don’t know how is 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 tossed 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?”

“For now, just 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 already 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 the stench of their plots. 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 mayostard and 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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COG Chapter 5

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 5

Retired Major George Russell Kilgore had been a professional soldier for over half a century. He was just shy of seventy-three years old. Every morning, at four a.m., he would get out of his bunk , relieve himself, drink sixteen ounces of chocolate whey powder spiked with two raw eggs and two shots of Smirnoff, and then go for a seven-mile run… shirtless… even in January.

A graduate of West Point, Kilgore had the distinction of being the only member of the U.S. armed forces to have seen combat in twelve conflicts, those being in: Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Iraq War I, Somalia, Iraq War II, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Niger, and Operation Restore Democracy in Puerto Rico. He was wounded six times and had a metal plate installed in his head to replace a chunk of his skull blasted away in a firing range accident. He was also kidnapped once, while in Pakistan, but managed to steal one of his captor’s cell phones and order a cruise missile strike directly onto his exact location using the phone’s active GPS. He was the only survivor of the blast. At fifty years old, he snuck into the West Point football locker room, put on a uniform, and inserted himself onto the kickoff team in a game against the hated rivals from Navy. He forced a fumble on his first special teams play and recorded two more unassisted tackles before the staff finally figured out who in the hell he was and took him out. The NCAA considered making Army forfeit the game for using an ineligible player, but the penalty was waved when the hated rivals of Navy protested the ruling out of their respect for the major.

Widely admired and revered, everyone, including his wife, children, and grandchildren, addressed him as “Sir” or “Major”…

 

…Everyone, that is, except for the POTUS who referred to Major George Russell Kilgore as “Krusty”.

 

Although retired, Kilgore continued to serve his country in a position known as “The Fullback”— not because of his football exploits, but rather because he carried the nuclear football— the leather satchel containing a mobile satellite telecommunications system, a dedicated, hardened laptop computer, and a laminated manual resembling a Denny’s menu that instructed the POTUS on how to go about blowing up the earth.

Currently, Major George Russell Kilgore was seated in a leather recliner in the situation room of the Brown House, looking terribly uncomfortable in his stretched, full dress uniform. He preferred to be standing. He considered sitting to be a self-indulgent. There were seven recliners in the sitrep room, arranged in a circle. Fricke was there, as well as Haberdash, who sat with his legs crossed scratching the arch of his foot with his pen. Buckminster, the Secretary of Defense, was present, as was Secretary of State Dexter Fricke. Two of the recliners were empty. One belonged to White House Chief of Staff Frank Tibbles. The other empty recliner was raised onto a dais and was slightly larger than the others. The executive chair had the presidential seal emblazoned onto the headrest which formed a halo around the POTUS’s head whenever he sat there.

“So…” Hab started in, looking at Kilgore. “Do you carry that thing around twenty-four hours a day?”

“Yes sir,” Kilgore answered.

“You sleep with that bag?”

“I have it beside my bunk, handcuffed to my wrist, sir.”

“And what all’s inside?”

Kilgore glanced over at Buckminster before answering. Buckminster nodded. “The satchel contains a nuclear battery-powered, satellite communications array. The electronics are hardened to withstand disruption by EMP. In addition to the array, there is a voice activated laptop computer with a video touch screen that provides the president with instructions on how to handle various thermonuclear scenarios. It is better known as a SAM device.”

“Instructions on scenarios?”

“That’s correct.”

“Such as…?”

Kilgore glanced at Buckminster again

“I can explain,” Buckminster interrupted. “It gives instructions on the optimal way to handle various scenarios such as: Is this a retaliatory scenario or a first strike? Is this a full-scale attack? Where is the enemy launch originating? What is the status of our allies? Things like that.”

“So, the president enters those parameters and the screen tells him what to do?”

“Basically, yes,” Buckminster continued. “The computer will make three suggestions: a good, a better, and a best solution.”

“Why wouldn’t the president just choose the ‘best’ solution?”

“I suppose it’s done that way to provide for lack of Pareto Optimality.”

“Pareto what?”

“Pareto optimality. Although the processor has been loaded with tens of thousands of scenarios, it is possible that there is no single, optimal, ultimate, perfect solution. The top three solutions, ranked by projected risk and projected return, are suggested as ‘good’, ‘better’, and ‘best’.”

Hab bore a look of confusion so Buckminster continued.

“…For example, let’s say that a ‘good’ solution might be to shock-and-awe one or two civilian population centers with a 1 megaton airburst. There might be drawbacks to that such as what is the likelihood that the enemy will retaliate four-for-one. Maybe the ‘better’ solution might be to target a handful of enemy industrial centers with ten megaton nuclear assets. This might dampen their military resolve but may harden them, politically. Perhaps The ‘best’ solution might be to launch a full scale, pre-emptive attack, and knock them out completely.”

“I still don’t understand.”

“When the parameters are entered, the SAM computer runs tens of thousands of simulations called Monte Carlo experiments by tweaking the parameters and plotting the risk return vector trade-offs of each. It then ranks the solutions by units of return per unit of risk. The ‘good’ solution, in the crude example I gave, is very sub-optimal in that there is a percentage risk that our enemy may respond with a full-scale retaliation that incapacitates our government. The return per unit of risk for that option would be very low. On the other hand, the ‘best’ solution, a full-scale, pre-emptive attack, would be very low in terms of risk.”

“Very low risk? How could a full-scale attack be considered very low risk? Wouldn’t that mean the end of the world?”

“Essentially yes, it would, but you’re making a subjective value judgment. The computer does not make value judgements. It is only evaluating objective, quantifiable performance indicators.”

“What does that mean?”

“Quantifiable measures such as: what is the statistical likelihood that the objective will be achieved or not? In a full-scale attack, the objective measure of risk would be the statistical likelihood of preserving the government in lieu of obliterating all the enemy’s cities. Those odds are actually very high in a full scale, pre-emptive attack, now that we have the SuperBunker. The risk of failure is very low, thus the return to risk ratio is quite positive.”

“That’s a pretty heavy burden you’re carrying there,” Fricke remarked to Major Kilgore.

“How so?” interrupted Buckminster.

“Well,” Fricke answered, “he’s carrying the computer that can launch doomsday. That seems like a heavy burden to me.”

“The major isn’t burdened at all,” Buckminster snorted. “All he has to do is open the briefcase and turn the god damn thing on. The president or one of his advisors can do almost everything else.”

“I see.”

“If I may, sir,” interjected Major Kilgore in his gravelly voice, “I do see it as quite a responsibility. I mean, I do have to make it available to be used.”

“But that doesn’t require any decision on your part,” Buckminster declared. “When the president asks, you turn it on. There’s nothing more to it.”

“Well, yeah but—” Major Kilgore replied.

“Yeah but what?” Buckminster interrupted.

“I withdraw my last statement, sir.”

“No. Tell me what you meant.”

“I apologize, sir. I was speaking out of turn.”

“No. Tell me what you were going to say.”

All eyes focused on Major Kilgore who began to turn pale.”

“Out with it, Major!”

“Well, sir, what I was going to say was, what if the president is… what if he is incapacitated or somehow unable?”

“Unable?”

Just then, the door to the situation room opened and the president entered. Everyone stood as he walked past and took a seat his seat in his executive recliner with the halo of the presidential seal wrapping behind his head in the headrest. Hab took out a notepad from his shirt pocket and reclined. The others sat back down together.

“What were you guys talking about?” asked the president.

“Oh, nothing,” Fricke replied.

“Oh, it was something,” Buckminster explained.

“What was it?” asked the president.

Buckminster’s eyes turned to Major Kilgore.

“What is it, Krusty?” the president asked.

Kilgore gulped.

“Spit it out.”

“We were discussing what-if scenarios, sir.”

“About what?”

“About the nuclear football, sir.”

“Like what kind of scenarios?”

“Buckminster interrupted: “The Major was wondering if there could be a situation where he would be compelled to refuse the president access to the nuclear football, sir.”

“What?” the POTUS asked Buckminster. He turned to Kilgore. “Is that true?”

“Sir,” Major Kilgore explained, “I was not implying any specific situation.”

“What kind of situation were you implying?” asked the POTUS.

“Sir, I was merely suggesting that if the president was unable to make a rational decision regarding nuclear war, due to incapacity or some extraordinary circumstance like a medical issue, that perhaps my duty to my country might require me to question granting him access until we were certain he was capable.”

“By he, I assume you’re referring to me.”

“I need to reiterate that I was not referring to anyone specifically, sir. I was considering the possibility in general. I have no reason to question your capability, sir.”

“But you were questioning the capability of the president— the commander in chief.”

“Well…”

“Just answer.”

“Well, sir, given a very extreme set of circumstances. But I don’t foresee…”

“So you were questioning the authority of the commander in chief.”

“Sir, but I…”

“Major Kilgore…”

“Yes sir?”

“I am relieving you of your duty. You’re fired!”

“Sir?”

“You are dismissed. You are no longer the fullback. Please turn in your badge to secret service on your way out.”

Fricke tried to intervene. “Sir, do you think—”

“Quiet,” the POTUS snapped. “Major Kilgore, we thank you for your service. My decision is final.”

Major Kilgore glanced right towards an astonished Dexter Fricke then left towards a disgusted Fitzmaurice Buckminster. Then he glanced briefly at Haberdash who just shrugged. Then he stared with piercing gray eyes directly at the president.

“That will be all, Major Kilgore,” said the POTUS.

Kilgore stood up, clicked his heels together and saluted. “Yes sir.”

“You can leave the football right there,” the POTUS advised.

Kilgore entered a code into his handcuffs, releasing his wrist, then set the satchel on the table where he was seated. He made a crisp turn and exited the situation room.

Fricke’s eyes darted between the president and Buckminster. Haberdash was scribbling in his notepad as if he was trying to disappear entirely within it. A faint smirk formed on the president’s face, one so faint that anyone who wasn’t dialed in to the entire exchange would have missed it. Manfred waited until the door closed.

“Fricke!”

“Yes sir?”

“I’m appointing you as the new fullback.”

“Sir, I respectfully decline.”

“Bullshit. It’s you. You’re only one of maybe three people in this world I trust.”

Buckminster leaned in and raised a hand to object. “Sir, I don’t want that responsibility.”

“It’s a direct god damn order!” The POTUS’s tone softened. “Oh, don’t get all nutty on me. Look, there’s nothing to it. It’s just for while we’re down here. I’ll appoint someone else on the surface if this all blows over. You just carry that bag around at all times. If I give the command, you open it, take out the computer, and boot it up. It’s on Windows. What could possibly be so difficult?”

“Sir, I…”

“I won’t accept ‘no’.” The president turned to Buckminster. “You don’t think Kilgore keeps the Denny’s menu somewhere else, do you?”

“I think that is highly unlikely, Mr. President.

“Check it out.”

“Now, sir?”

“No, next Tuesday when Kilgore’s sipping a mojito on a beach in Naples using it as a sunshade. Of course, now!”

Buckminster got up out of his recliner and went over to the satchel. All eyes locked on as he unlatched it. He reached into the pocket. The president’s eyes widened. Fricke stared, unblinking. Haberdash’s thumb found its way into his left nostril— which was what it tended to do when he found himself in tense situations.

“It’s here, sir.”

“Good. Give it to Fricke.” The president pointed. “Fricke, study that thing. Memorize it. Keep it on your person or with the satchel at all times.”

Buckminster slid the tri-fold, laminated instructions across the table to Fricke who looked like he was battling indigestion.

“Now…,” continued the POTUS as he waited for Buckminster to take his seat. “Now we can finally get down to business.”

“What’s on the agenda?” asked Hab.

“Only one thing… Frank Tibbles,” answered the president. “Fricke, what’s the latest report on your progress?”

“What? Oh, right,” Fricke gathered himself. “I just came from the UN bunker office. I would have texted you their answer but I’m not comfortable sending these communications over SuperBunker WiFi.”

“Of course. Of course. What did they say? Are they gonna tell that Wang kid to pack his bags?”

“I’m afraid not, sir.”

“What!?”

“I’m sorry, Mr. President. They said that, according to their interpretation of the codex, a person is granted permanent residence upon entry and that status is irrevocable. The PIN Tibbles holds belongs to Chung Wang, now.”

“This is unacceptable. What the hell am I supposed to do without my chief of staff? How many UN chinks were party to that decision?”

“Sir? I don’t know that any Chinese nationals were—”

“Bullshit. I need my chief of staff.”

“Perhaps you should consider appointing a new one, sir?” Buckminster suggested.

“Who asked you, Bucky?” bristled the president. “This is a big problem, Fricke.”

“I understand fully, sir.”

“No, I don’t think you do. If you did you would have found a solution by now.”

“I’m doing the best I can, sir.”

“Fricke, do you know what Tibbles is?”

“I think he’s in Maryland at the moment.”

“Not where he is, Fricke. What is he? Do you know what Tibbles is?”

He’s the white house chief of staff, sir?”

“He’s the halfback!”

“The halfback, sir?”

“Bucky, fill him in.”

Buckminster cleared his throat. “Dexter, Tibbles is what we call the ‘halfback’. He is the carrier of the launch authentication codes.”

“That’s for redundancy, I thought,” Fricke answered.

“This is not for civilian ears, Dexter,” Buckminster advised. “It’s not done for redundancy. It’s done for what is known as the ‘Two Man’ system. The president must have both the halfback and the fullback present in order to launch nuclear weapons— to instigate the process otherwise known as ‘The Hail Mary’.”

“So, have the president appoint someone else,” Fricke suggested.

“It’s not that simple. The halfback has the codes on his person. In order to appoint a new halfback, he must be present to hand over the codes. In order to hand over the codes, he must be down here, in the bunker.”

“So why don’t we just send someone up to the surface, do the switch, then bring them back down?” Fricke asked.

“It’s complicated,” Buckminster explained to Fricke. “Any ‘handoff’ of authentication codes requires the presence of the president.”

“How so?” asked Fricke.

“I don’t want someone else, I want Tibbles!” shouted the president, impatiently, as he pounded his fist on the table.


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COG Chapter 4

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 4

When Nurse Baum finished her shift, she swiped out at a kiosk manned by a secret service agent posted at the doorway of the presidential suite. She passed through a microwave particle scanner, then a micro-EMP gate– procured from a Tel Aviv security firm at a cost of seventy million dollars– which was designed to erase any media she might be attempting to ferret out. Then she was escorted into an elevator which she took up 62 floors to the lobby level. She walked out the front doors with her secret service escort and across a pedestrian bridge, over the outer train line— which ran counter-clockwise round the SuperBunker— and down onto the platform of the inner line which ran clockwise. The trains arrived every twelve minutes and her escort silently waited with her until it arrived, ensuring that she boarded according to routine. Once aboard, she was unable to find a seat as it was in the middle of shift change and the monorail cars were loaded with “Greys”—as the guest workers were known by the elites. Some seventy-thousand maintenance staff members, servants, clerks, therapists, delivery drivers, gardeners, sanitation crew, janitors, security personnel and nurses, among many others, were all going top side, heading home to their families on the surface.

The monorail whisked southeast, arching slightly to the right for a couple minutes before slowing and stopping at Baum’s topside station. She de-boarded along with a good portion of the remaining Greys. They all passed through a security checkpoint with revolving steel turnstiles and then up a ramp finally reaching a wide tunnel. They walked through the blast door archway. The door would close by descending from the ceiling. Once up the ramp, the Greys passed through a final chain link gate before reaching the breeze and evening sunlight of the surface world. Shuttle busses stood by to gobble them up and whisk them away to their homes.

Emma Baum was relieved to be outside the suffocating tomb of the SuperBunker, but she also felt a nakedness in that she was now unprotected from nuclear annihilation. She took a bus home, got off at her park-and-ride lot, drove her ten-year-old crossover SUV to her apartment, and climbed the stairs to her third-floor condominium. She unlocked the deadbolt on the door and went in, relieved, as she always was, to find her daughter and the sitter on the sofa, watching videos.

“Oh, hello Emma. Didn’t hear you come in.” The sitter got up and collected her things. “Nora had pizza rolls and mixed veggies for supper. Her homework is all finished.”

“Thank you.”

“See you tomorrow.” The sitter slipped out the door. Emma Baum watched her descend the stairs and bolted the door behind her.

“How are you, Nora?” Emma asked as she took a seat next to her on the sofa.

“Fine.”

“How was school?”

“Fine.”

“What did you learn about, today?”

“We learned about World War I.”

“Oh really?”

“Mrs. Tewksberry said that it was called the war to end all wars… but it didn’t end all wars.”

“No, it didn’t, did it?”

Nora leaned over into her mother’s lap while the videos of precocious house cats played on the widescreen.

“Mom?”

“Yes?”

“Tommy Mueller says that we’re going to have world war 3. Is that true?”

“I wouldn’t worry about it, honey.”

“Tommy Mueller says that we’re going to get vaporized.”

“Did Tommy Mueller express his feelings about being vaporized?”

“Huh?”

“Did he sound worried or was he just trying to scare you?”

“He said it like he was trying to make me mad or scared.”

“Don’t you think that if he really believed that then he would sound a little worried?”

“He says his family is going to their cabin.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah. Tommy Mueller says his dad has enough supplies to last them a year.”

“Well that’s good for them. I don’t know that I would be bragging about that, though, if I really expected world war 3 to happen. You wouldn’t want everyone coming to your cabin trying to get your supplies.”

“Do you think he would let us come?”

“I doubt it.”

“How come?”

“There probably wouldn’t be enough room. But I do hope the Chinese or the Russians give them two or three days advance notice so they can get to their cabin in time.”

“Mom?”

“Yeah?”

“Is it true that you work in the SuperBunker?”

“It’s true. But it’s temporary, though, until the crisis is over.”

“Do you ever see the president?”

“I’ve seen him a couple times.”

“What’s he like?”

“Well…” Emma Baum sighed to buy time to formulate her answer. “He’s always going around talking about being the ruler.”

“But isn’t he?”

“Well, he is the president.”

“Doesn’t that mean he’s the ruler?”

“Presidents certainly seem to think so. Let me tell you a little secret…” Emma hugged her daughter tightly on the sofa. “Someone who has to go around reminding everyone that he is the ruler probably isn’t much of a ruler.”

“I think he’s strange.”

“He certainly is a character. But I imagine you have to be a bit of a character to become president to begin with.”

“Rock Willis is a character. Do you think he could be president?”

“Rock Willis is an actor. But I’m pretty sure he could probably be at least as good a president as the one we have now.”

“Mom?”

“Yes?”

Nora paused to gather herself. “Are we gonna die?”

Emma paused, then forced a smile. “Everyone dies, honey. But hopefully not for a long, long time.”

“Why does everyone die?”

“That’s a good question. I’m not sure. I think it’s partly because if we didn’t die, we wouldn’t really appreciate being alive.”

Nora pondered for a moment, then stood up. “I’m going to get some pretzels.”

“Okay, honey.”

Nora went to the kitchen. While she was rummaging around, Emma Baum flicked through the channels, stopping briefly on the grim visage of DeForest Reese in a split screen with a picture of an airport…

 

“And there,” Reese commented, “stopped on the tarmac, Air China flight 0628. Aboard that plane sits the president of China and his family, as well as several high-ranking Chinese party members and industrialists. If you were wondering how our enemies can land a jumbo jet in the middle of our country, their flight into our airspace was guaranteed by international treaty and by what is referred to as ‘Protocol 4′. Any member nation of the security council can permanently seal the doors to the SuperBunker and lock everyone in and everyone else out. This protocol was designed to ensure cooperation between nations who have deteriorating relations.

“Once they deplane, they will board those buses you see lining up there and will be taken to Entrance 12 of the Continuity of Government Bunker— or the SuperBunker as it is commonly called. I don’t know about you, but I can feel the tension…”

The image of Reese was replaced with a female analyst wearing heavy eyeliner and pancake makeup.

“I just can’t believe my eyes. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined this tyrant— this Chinese Hitler, as some have labeled him— being permitted to land on our soil. This is a man who, with the aid of the Russians, has driven the world to the brink of nuclear holocaust…”

…Far across the world, in Beijing, a similar television newscast was being broadcast in which a male analyst with tinted glasses was commenting in Mandarin.

 

“…I just can’t believe my eyes. I could not have imagined our great leader risking his life to travel deep into the heartland of the American empire on this last chance mission of peace. Let us all hope that the American Hitler can be convinced to come to his senses…”

 

…And far across the world, in the opposite direction, a similar newscast was being broadcast into households in Moscow.

 

“…I just can’t believe my eyes. The president of China has just landed deep within the borders of America. Soon, the father of the Russian Federation will be joining him, alongside other rulers of the world. The American Hitler must be made to understand that Mother Russia will not except their imperialist provocations…”

 

The steady stream of oligarchs and cronies, apparatchiks and bureaucrats, elites and nobles arrived at one of three Oho international airports over the course of the following days. By terms of the UN accord and SuperBunker protocols, anyone who possessed a valid PIN was taken, by bus or luxury limousine, and driven down into one of the twelve bunker access points. They were ferried through the enormous, steel blast doors, photographed, DNA profiled, and GPS micro-chipped. After an interactive video orientation, they were then driven by monorail and golf cart to their apartment in their designated section arranged within the circular bunker according to their country and continent of origin.

While the elites settled in, each day, two hundred thousand civilians with special access PINs commuted into the SuperBunker to deliver their food and goods, maintain their equipment, cut their hair and manicure their nails, cook their meals, mop their floors, and do whatever other manual functions that could not be performed by machines or the elites themselves. They each signed a contract that stipulated that, in the event that the doors had to be closed, they would remain inside the bunker and continue performing their assigned tasks as well as any others as may be required. Six barracks nodes were established along the three-hundred-mile, circular, monorail route, where the workers would be quartered in the event of a worst-case scenario. The conditions were Spartan and dorm-like, but to be locked inside the bunker was considered a perk, at least by the elites who had written the provisions. Little consideration was given for the heartache that would be felt by the Greys who would be separated from their families facing doom on the surface.

The workers were divided into three eight-hour shifts— the first starting at 8:00 A.M, which was Nurse Baum’s shift. Her routine was quite typical. In the morning, she would get Nora ready for school, then drive her to the bus stop, then drive to the park-and-ride where she would catch the bus that took her to her SuperBunker entrance. She had seniority, so her shift ran Monday to Friday which was a good thing for workers who didn’t wish to be trapped in the bunker. History had shown that whenever the U.S. government intended to unleash global havoc— which presumably included a potential nuclear first strike— it would most likely do so on a Friday afternoon so as not to disrupt the stock markets.


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