Category Archives: COG

COG Chapter 29, Epilogue

CogCoverSquare

#ContinuityOfGovernment, #WW3, #DeepState

With his office infiltrated by a traitor and hobbled by incompetence, an increasingly unstable POTUS attempts a ‘Hail Mary’ that might just save the office of the president… even if it destroys the world in the process.

 

 

 

 

Previous Chapter

 

Chapter 29, Epilogue

 

Blackness. Ominous music. Then a white flash. A ball of white flame floats upward on a column of glowing plasma.

 

COG

Based on the book

Continuity of Government:

An Insider’s Account from the Depths of the SuperBunker

by H. S. Haberdash

 

A deep, calm voice— Fricke’s voice— began to speak as the black and white mushroom cloud expanded, fed by the stem of rising fire fueling it from below. Fricke’s tone had grown raspy and even deeper over the ten years that had passed. “No one who was around in those days needs to be reminded of how close we came to ending the world…”

 

Dexter Fricke and Haberdash sat next to each other in armchairs on a theater stage. The opening scenes of Hab’s documentary film played on a giant screen behind them, fading out to black as the mushroom cloud’s fire cooled.

Applause.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to introduce to you: Former President of the United States, Dexter Fricke, and Pulitzer Prize Winning Author H. S. Haberdash.

A vigorous applause built into a standing ovation that lasted three minutes.

The interviewer, who had receding white hair and wore a blue suit, sat in an armchair opposite them. He asked his first question when the applause finally died. “So, gentlemen, how close did we come, really?”

Hab, who had grown a thick beard and put on seventy pounds glanced at Fricke.

“Well, the order had been given. We had minutes, hours perhaps,” Fricke answered.

“The situation was dire,” Hab added. “The president had to have his chief of staff, Frank Tibbles, euthanized in order to procure the authentication codes required for a nuclear launch. They were embedded in his carotid artery. Most people didn’t know that at the time. I certainly didn’t. It was a failsafe implemented before the bunker was even completed. As we all know, the president and Frank were very close, so it was pretty certain that the president had no intention of changing his mind at that point.”

“But the launch order couldn’t be transmitted?”

“No,” Hab continued. “Protocol 4 made contacting the surface impossible. The president ordered the construction of a escape vehicle to get a courier out with the nuclear football. But it took several weeks to construct.”

“Did the Chinese and the Russians know about it?”

“They did,” Fricke answered. “It was a race to the surface. Had the Chinese or Russians gotten there first, who knows what would have happened.”

“And what were the Chinese and the Russians doing during that period? Were they trying to avert war?”

“Russian President Timoshenko and Chinese President Hu Li, they were every bit as unwavering as Manfred,” Hab said. “It was insanity. There were no good guys.”

“But obviously, the Americans won the race to the surface.”

“Yes,” Fricke answered. “They sent me up with the football.”

“President Manfred trusted you to send the launch order?”

“I had Arman’s complete trust.”

“Tell me something. In your view, why couldn’t these men find compromise?”

“It’s hard for people on the surface to understand,” Hab continued. “It was hard for me to understand and I was right there in the middle of it. But I think it had a lot to do with the inertia of the system. Each leader bore the burden of their entire nation’s ego. They were the human manifestations of it. They were god kings, pharaohs in their mind.”

“Backing out of the war was politically impossible,” Fricke added. “Each side was completely entangled. If the U.S. tried to de-escalate by, let’s say, pulling out of Bulgaria, the banking system would collapse and there would be an economic crisis that would have likely led to government collapse. There was no feasible way out, really, not without destroying the system.”

“So you’re saying they’re not responsible?”

“Let me clarify. I’m saying that they were intertwined with the order as it was. They weren’t willing to let their world dissolve, even if that required destroying ours.”

“They were a product of that order,” Hab added. “And they took that order, that system underground with them. So in their minds, destroying our world wasn’t real to them in any way. It was just a price to pay for maintaining the order. Continuity of government was the core directive. It was the only thing that would never be surrendered. The government had to be preserved at all costs including blowing up the world.”

“Dexter, when you reached the surface, what was the first thing you did?”

“I called the White House operator.”

“From where?”

“From inside the Wal Mart. I actually had to buy a cellphone at the counter.”

Some laughter.

“Seriously, though. The ventilator shaft we used for the escape pod vented in a Wal Mart parking lot. Almost all of the SuperBunker ventilator shafts were in Wal Mart parking lots.”

“Why Wal Mart?”

“Their stores just seemed to align with the engineering of the bunker built beneath them. So Wal Mart was able to bid the maintenance contract way below everyone else. Target’s bid came in twice as high.”

“So what happened next, when you called the White House?”

“They put me on hold.”

Laughter. Smattering applause.

“But I finally cleared security. Vice President Yates had disappeared, and with the speaker of the house and the president of the senate down in the bunker, that left me as the acting chief executive.”

“What was your first official act as president?”

“I had the White House put me in touch with the acting leaders of China and Russia.

“So…” continued Reese, “you’re on a phone in a Wal Mart and the first leader you speak to is?”

“First it was a Russian admiral by the name of Serdyukov. He was stationed on a submarine deep in the Atlantic off the coast of Newfoundland.”

“What did you say?”

“I said, ‘hello, my name is Dexter Fricke. I am the secretary of state the United Sates. I have been sent at the behest of President Arman Manfred to order the destruction of the world. But I was hoping we could talk this over first?”

Laughter.

“What did he say?”

“He seemed a little apprehensive. I wasn’t sure if it was the language barrier or just mistrust. Probably both. He’s a career military man, obviously, and I think he believed it was my duty to carry out my orders and that my contacting him was some sort of feint or trick.”

“But he came around?”

“After I explained to him that since the president cannot communicate with the surface and because the vice president’s whereabouts was unknown, I was, by law, the chief executive of the United States. He warmed up after that. We talked for over an hour. He flew in to Akron and met me the next morning.”

“And the Chinese?”

“Similar situation. I spoke to a General Li. He flew in the next evening.”

“And the meeting would come to be known as the Ohio Summit.”

“Yes, and from that the Treaty of Akron.”

“What did you discuss first?”

“It started off like any diplomatic summit. Everyone was holding back. No one wanted to reveal their hand. But we agreed that we could not and would not go to war, even if that meant a permanent state of high tension. That was day one. Day two, things started to loosen up.”

“What happened?”

“Admiral Serdyukov received a call informing him that his daughter had given birth. He saw a picture of his newborn granddaughter. He was visibly moved by that picture. We all sat around that table in silence, watching him, not knowing what to say. He shared the picture with us. The tenor of the meeting changed after that. I think we began to come to the realization that everything we were fighting and negotiating and making sacrifices for was being done on the behalf of someone else… someone who, as far as we were concerned, was now completely separated from our reality.”

“You are referring to the people in the bunker?”

“The ones they left behind on the surface to represent their interests weren’t really all that vested in their interests after that. Maybe they had a bonus to look forward to or a career appointment or something. But what would all that matter if we destroyed the world? Who would we collect from? We found ourselves negotiating on the behalf of entities that, for all intents and purposes, no longer existed… on the surface, anyway. Negotiations became flexible. We became like kids swapping trading cards. We sorted the bulk of the mess out in a matter of a week. Whatever couldn’t be horse-traded was to be liquidated and the proceeds distributed to whatever shareholders remained on the surface. The rest went towards debt reduction, with the banks being made to understand that this was the best they were ever going to get.”

“How did you convince them of that? Why wouldn’t they just hold out until Protocol 4 was ended?”

“We had to convince them that Protocol 4 would never be ended. Ever.”

“How?”

Fricke glanced uncomfortably at Hab who grinned. “We permanently sealed the blast doors.”

“How?”

“By computer virus. There is only one person in this world that has the code to open them. It’s embedded in her.”

“You’ve got to remember that there were still tens of thousands of guest workers trapped down there,” Hab added. “They had nothing to do with it. Hell, I was still down there!”

“So you…?”

“So we put engineers together to figure out a way to start getting them out,” Fricke answered.

“The guest workers?”

“Right. It was difficult. We had to blast our way through layers of stone and steel and concrete shielding. I’m sure they heard the explosions down below. One could only imagine what they thought was happening down there when the detonators went off. It was a desperate, complicated operation, like rescuing trapped miners.”

“When we heard the blasting,” explained Haberdash, “President Manfred… everyone was convinced it was nukes going off on the surface.”

“Thankfully, it worked as designed. It took eighteen months but we got everyone out who wanted out.”

“And you sealed the rest in.”

“Yes. We filled the bore shafts with concrete and capped them with fifty-ton caissons.”

 

“And those in the bunker haven’t figured it out?”

“We don’t know anymore. We had to sever all communications. If you keep the information channel open, you run the risk that someone, some faction might be sympathetic to their plight. We cannot allow that to happen,” Fricke explained. “There was no indication they believed anything survived up here.”

“And all the missing workers? How do you think they reconcile that?”

“We managed their perceptions before cutting the communication lines. We planted rumors and evidence that the Greys have all been liquidated to preserve the bunker’s resources. We tell the Chinese that the Americans are did it. We tell the Russians that it was the Chinese. No one seemed to have a problem with it. They carried on as if it was done out of practical necessity.”

“Are they in a prison?”

“I suppose so, in reality. Not technically, though. Not legally because they don’t want to leave. You’ve got to understand them. In their minds, they think they’ve survived a nuclear holocaust holed up in an oasis. They think they have it pretty good and we intend to leave them thinking that way.”

“But it’s a prison. For what crime were they sentenced?”

Fricke’s eyes drifted away in thought for a moment. He cleared his throat before answering. “They are thieves. They stole our sovereignty. They stole our lives and wealth. And they attempted to steal our future.”

There was a long silence.

“What do you think life is like down there now?”

“They continue to govern and manipulate a computer simulation of the world,” Fricke summed. “They pretend that we exist and they move our virtual lives around like pieces on a chess board, just as they always have… with a deal here, a treaty there, a vote for this, a bomb for that. Machiavellian plots. Strategic alliances. Betrayals.

“I presume they continue believe we’ve been wiped out— rendered ashes and dust— but in some strange way, this knowledge gives strength to their illusion. They cling to their simulations even tighter. I suppose without their contrived reality, they would have nothing left to live for.”

“Do you think they are happy?”

“I’m convinced they are. When I think about it, I can’t help but come to the conclusion that we all got what we wanted in the end…”

 

When the interview was concluded, Dexter Fricke and Haberdash shook hands.

“You did well, Hab. You didn’t leave anything out. IT was all the truth.”

It was the last time they would speak to each other.

Dexter flew home to Boise that evening to tend his alpacas and write his memoirs. Haberdash flew direct to Las Vegas, rented the presidential suite and snorted cocaine off the nipples of hookers until dawn, regaling them with tales that began: “This one time, while I was down in the SuperBunker, I saw president Manfred…”

The maids found his body in the morning, lying naked on his bed, with a dusting of powder on his nose. His heart had stopped beating.

 

On the thirtieth anniversary of the Treaty of Akron, a great gathering was assembled in the parking lot of the Yao-Mart—which had previously been known as Wal-Mart—in Akron, Ohio. It was a festival marking the ending of the old new world order and marking the beginning of the new new world order… The world had managed to get along surprisingly well without aircraft carriers and the international monetary fund. Dexter Fricke was unable to attend the festivities due to a recent hip replacement. He sent a hologram of a short speech reminding everyone in attendance what the world was like before and to remain ever vigilant. When all the speeches were concluded, the crowd gathered around the concrete caisson marking the very spot where Fricke’s capsule had delivered him to the surface. Veruca Weinstein had made the trip. She shrugged off her aid and stepped toward towards the caisson to place a ceremonial burial stone upon it.

 


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COG Chapter 28

CogCoverSquare

#ContinuityOfGovernment, #WW3, #DeepState

With his office infiltrated by a traitor and hobbled by incompetence, an increasingly unstable POTUS attempts a ‘Hail Mary’ that might just save the office of the president… even if it destroys the world in the process.

 

 

 

 

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Next Chapter

Chapter 28

Emma Baum opened her eyes to mottled ceiling tile. She sat up in her cot and stretched the sleep out of her limbs. She grabbed her overnight bag tucked beneath her and went to the locker room to shower and dress for her shift. She stowed her overnight bag in her locker and grabbed her handbag. Digging through it, she removed the small black case that Buckminster had given her when they spoke in the tinted golf cart. She tossed the case back into her locker and slammed it shut, but before she could walk away she returned, entered the swipe code, performed the iris scan, and re-opened the door. She looked around for witnesses, then reached in for a different item, a vial, the vial of Phenobarbital she had filched so many weeks before. She dropped it into her handbag and closed the locker door again.

Her path had become clear in her nadir of despair. Fricke, Quixote, and Buckminster offered nothing. She knew that. She had clung to the idea of them getting her to the surface but she finally succumbed to the acceptance of the lie. When she had completed her task, she would be given a pat on the head and sent away or perhaps disappeared like so many of the Greys. The SuperBunker would be her prison for the remainder of her life… however much longer that would be. The only thing she had control over was the length of her sentence.

She thought of her stint attending to a death row inmate when she was an intern and young and idealistic. She realized she could never know for sure if he had murdered that little girl, but she knew that he was longing for the hopelessness to end and would admit to anything if it would accelerate its arrival.

She wished that it would just end. The only question that remained was what would she do after she administered the lethal dose of Phenobarbital to the POTUS? If ever there was a human deserving execution, it was him. Here was a man every bit as deserving of death as any child murderer, for hadn’t he killed billions of children? But then what? Would she take her own life after? If so, would she turn off the security so that Buckminster’s gendarme could rush in and install a new sociopath?

She walked out onto the avenue. It was early so she took a more circuitous route to the Brown House. She passed many Greys on the walkways en route, all of them aping the undead, lumbering along, sullen and bent inward on themselves, immersed in their misery. Did any of them have any hope? She searched their downcast faces for a sign. Perhaps a sign would change her mind. But there were no glimmers or glints in any eyes she saw.

She parsed her dissonance, slicing away her doubts. The world was over. What benefit was there in trudging on for a few more months or years until the life support systems failed or the food ran out or the elites accelerated the culling of the heard of Greys to preserve their resource runway. Why live with that future? What reason was there to continue on? If she was somehow still alive, she was unreachable, and she would be suffering. Emma Baum would have to exist with that knowledge and the knowledge that she could never get to her to comfort her as the SuperBunker doors would never be opened. That was no life worth living.

Her walk wrapped around Hotel Americana and down Main Street which passed the entrance to the Brown House. She stepped into the queue for the microwave scanner when she was tapped lightly on the shoulder.

“Nurse Baum?”

She turned. “What?”

“It’s time.”

“I know. I’m ready,” she replied.

“Excellent. Here, take this.”

“What’s this?”

“Trust. Remember to trust.”

She felt a card being pressed into her hand. The source of the unrecognized voice drifted back into the walkway crowds. She wondered in confusion what it meant. Were they adding another task? Were they calling it off? Maybe there would be a delay. She looked at the card as the queue conveyor lurched forward into the Brown House.

 

Meet me where I gave you the note for Mr. Quixote. 1 PM.

 

Baum checked the time. 12:45. The queue staggered forward. She felt confusion and uncertainty. If she was late to her post they would try to contact her. If she didn’t respond, they would task someone with finding her. It wouldn’t take them long as she was GPS-tagged.

Another step forward.

What if they caught up to her and searched her handbag? They’d find the vial. She would be sent to prison— a prison within a prison. Perhaps that would be relief. No more worry. A fate determined.

Next in line for the microwave scanner.

Once passed through, it would be too late. Turning back after passing through the security checkpoint would surely raise suspicion. Then she remembered Fricke’s words: “Live in your hopes, not your fears.”

“Next!” barked the attendant.

Baum stood frozen.

“Next!”

“I’m sorry,” Baum explained. “I’ve forgotten something. I’ll have to come back.”

“Next!” barked the attendant, motioning the next zombie in line.

Baum stepped out of the queue and back onto the walkway heading counterclockwise along the avenue. The place she met Fricke was not far— perhaps a thousand feet away. She searched the faces of Greys coming her way but she dared not look over her shoulder. The gendarme on their two- wheeled Mo-Mos could be on her in a flash. She doubled her pace, passing guest-worker after guest worker. The golf carts, with their tinted glass, whizzed by. Images of BNN avatars played on numerous big screens affixed at every lamp post and atop the facades of apartments and shops and offices. The canvas sky was powder blue and featureless, casting pinwheel shadows on the SuperBunker avenues.

She turned right onto 115th Street, past the tofu bar and the yogasium, then left onto 4th Avenue. A gendarme rolled past in front, headed towards the turfed green space that lined the rail line. The crowds of Greys were thinning. The shift change was nearly complete. Soon, all that would be left animating the underworld would be the elites in their fleece leisure suits and augmented reality sunglasses… them and the ever present BNN talking faces.

She passed a modern art gallery and a coffee shop and a massage parlor and a nitrous bar, approaching her rendezvous. She checked the time. 12:53. She looked around, then thought better of doing that as it might make her conspicuous. She slowed her pace and drifted to the facade walls, intending to walk about a hundred meters, then turn and come back. In seven minutes, she would be reported as late. In 22 minutes, someone in a cubicle in a windowless room would receive a message to begin hunting for her on their screen using her tag and facial recognition.

“You’re early,” came a voice behind her.

Baum slowed.

“Keep walking. You’re headed in the right direction.”

The baritone voice was Fricke’s.

“When you get to the alley, turn right, just past the opiod vending machine. Wait there.”

“Where are you going?”

“I have one more person to get. Go on ahead. It’s not far.”

Baum walked on and turned at the alley. She found the vending machine and someone else.

“Hello,” he said.

“Hello.”

“Did Fricke send you?” he asked.

Baum stared without answering. “You look familiar,” she asked.

The man grinned. “Do you watch football?”

“Sometimes.”

“Well, then you might know me then.”

“Oh, you’re…”

“That’s right. Brock McGuinn. Quarterback for the Hartford Saxons.”

“You’re the one they brought into the bunker.” Baum tried hard not seem contemptuous.

“I was.”

“And you’re the president’s running mate.” A streak of fear slashed through her. Everything was all mixed up. What side was she with? Nothing was making any sense.

“I don’t want to talk about that,” he said, forcing a Cheshire grin. “That whole politicizing stuff ain’t for me.”

“Why am I here?” she asked. “Are they going to arrest me?”

“Who?”

“The security guys.”

“Why? Did you do something?”

“What’s happening?”

“Hey!”

The two turned toward the alley. Several meters off, at the end where it opens to the avenue, Fricke stood with another man. “Come this way! Hurry!”

“I guess we should go,” Brock advised.

They stared down the alley towards Fricke and the other man. Fricke started to sprint and Baum couldn’t keep up.

“Gendarme! Behind you!” Fricke shouted. “Run faster!”

Baum looked over her shoulder and saw a security guard gaining on his Mo-Mo. It was the portly and profusely sweating Chinansky, although she didn’t know him.

“Faster!”

She heard the rubber wheels humming on the concrete right at her heels. She looked ahead, noticing Brock had reached Fricke and the other. They waved her in but she had several yards of ground yet to cover. She wasn’t going to make it. The Mo-Mo engine hissed at her heels.

“Halt! Halt or I will subdue you!” Chinansky shouted.

Baum ran for her life. She felt a hand grasping at her back. She shouted out in terror. She looked over her shoulder just as the chubby, dripping security guard took hold of her forearm with his course, sausage-like fingers. He yanked her, halting her forward progress, and hopped off his Mo-Mo to properly detain her. The Mo-Mo rolled on, slowing to a stop just a few feet ahead.

“You are being detained, ma’am,” Chinansky wheezed between breaths. He released her arm to mumble something into his collar.

Baum looked around in a daze. She presumed she was finished, but then she heard footfalls approaching. She looked ahead and saw it was Brock McGuinn.

“You stand back!” Chinansky shouted at him as he neared.

“You let her go!” Brock demanded.

“She’s being detained.”

“For what?” he shouted as he closed.

“For suspiciousness.”

Brock stopped just before them. “Let her go,” he ordered again.

“Hey!” Chinansky’s eyes lit up. “You’re… you’re…”

Brock grinned. “Yeah, yeah, I’m him.”

“Seven-time champion!”

“Yep. College and pro.”

“All time yardage passer!”

“That too.”

“And four-time MVP!”

“Five-time MVP!” Brock, without breaking his smile, reared back with his right leg and let loose with a ferocious whip of a kick that landed the laces of his cross-trainers squarely upon Chinansky’s testicals. The fat gendarme instantly doubled over in howling agony.

“And I also led the Big Ten in net punting average,” Brock added. “Come on, let’s go Miss Baum.”

Brock and Baum jumped onto the Mo-Mo and sped towards Fricke and the other who had just gotten into a golf cart with tinted windows. Baum and Brock hopped off the Mo-Mo and climbed in and they pulled away before Chinansky had regained full consciousness.

No one spoke in the cart until they were safely cruising down the intersectional boulevard, counterclockwise towards Section E. The road left the facades of the North American section behind and coursed along a gentle curve carved out of the rough-hewn stone. The blue canvas sky ended and harsh lamps of white, halogen light replaced the gentle, diffuse back-lighting of the populated sections. To their left, the monorails streamed along, a pair of dull, smooth ropes of raw steel, following their massive arc, marking the orbits of the monorail cars forever turning in the SuperBunker ring in opposing directions.

When the tension eased, Baum finally recognized the other man with Fricke in the cart. It was Haberdash. He had grown a scraggly beard. His hair was greasy. His clothes were stained with sweat and grease.

“Where are we going?” she asked.

“It’s not far now,” Fricke answered with a sense of satisfaction about him. Hardly a moment later, their car slowed and exited the avenue. Down they went onto a service road that turned under the avenue and crossed under the rails. They stopped. “This is it. We have to walk from here.” They got out. Fricke pressed a button on the fob and tossed it back onto the driver’s seat. They closed the doors and the empty cart pulled away, back onto the boulevard.

Fricke felt along the surface of a steel wall for the catch. He found it and released it. The door parted. Brock helped swing the interior blast door open and they stepped into the darkness. “Follow me.” Fricke used his cell light to lead the way into a tunnel, hardly tall enough for Brock to walk upright in. It was pitch black save for Fricke’s dull, blue light. “Careful. It’s a little rocky through here. A few more steps. Keep coming.” They finally stopped and gathered around Fricke’s beacon.

“What is this place?” Haberdash asked.

“A way out,” Fricke turned and answered. He aimed his dull light illuminating a steel cage.

“A jail? You said I was going home,” Brock protested.

“It’s not a jail, Brock. It’s a safety grate.” Fricke lifted the grate and stepped through. “This way.”

“Are you sure?” Haberdash asked.

“Get in. I’m riding with you.”

“To where?” Baum asked, hopefully.

“Live in your hopes.”

They packed into the lift. Fricke reached between them and pulled the grate down. “Are you ready?” They all nodded in the blue glow. Fricke felt around and pushed a button. They heard a short buzz. The cage jolted upwards and they began to ascend. Fricke shut off his cell and it went completely dark. The dangling pullies above pinged as the slack tensed and they clanged together. The lift pulled them upwards.

“I know it’s cramped. It only takes about ten minutes so just try to relax.”

No one dared to ask what was left on the surface. What good would it do to know? They would know soon enough. Instead, they reveled in their hopes that could be silently enjoyed for the next few moments before being dashed by reality. Whatever was left of the world was going to greet them either way.

A faint din above changed into a glow and their eyes saw each other’s shapes, and then their faces, gazing upwards when not looking at each other. The cables and gears whined under the strain of the lift. The cage clanged against its guides. Fragments of stone and dirt broke loose and tumbled down into the abyss. The light grew bright, brighter, blinding. A shrill buzz. An abrupt stop.

“Welcome,” Fricke said as he slid the grate open.

They stepped out into the light and breathed in the true air. Their eyes adjusted. Figures came into focus. People were scurrying about dressed in lab coats and polo shirts and khaki pants. Some were taking readouts. Some were tending to others. Some were giving and taking instructions.

“Where are we?” Brock asked.

“You’re in the Wal Mart parking lot in Ashland, Ohio.”

“So the world’s still here?” Haberdash asked.

“It is. I’m under strict orders not to tell anyone until they are topside.”

Relieved smiles filled their faces.

“Wasn’t there a nuclear war?” Baum asked.

“Thankfully, it was averted.”

“How?”

“Well…” Fricke waxed, “when you remove all the lunatics from the discussion, the cooler heads prevail. Go ahead, go outside. I can’t promise you much of a view, but the sun is shining at least.

The trio walked toward the opening and out into the sun and the cool breeze of autumn. The leaves were beginning to turn.

Brock’s football coach was there waiting. Brock ran toward him and they embraced. “C’mon son, we can have you ready for the Baltimore game.” A silver Lincoln pulled up and they got in the back. Brock didn’t even bother to wave as they sped away.

“Hab,” Fricke called out as he approached from behind. Hab turned. “Don’t forget our deal.”

“I won’t,” Haberdash replied. “It was a pleasure working with you, Fricke, and you, Miss Baum.” He shook her hand briskly and jogged off towards the Walmart to buy himself a new sweat suit and a hot pocket.

Fricke stood at Baum’s side. “What are you feeling?” he asked her as she stared out at the glorious blue sky wrapping beyond the Wal Mart facade.

“Gratitude,” she answered.

 


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COG Chapter 27

CogCoverSquare

#ContinuityOfGovernment, #WW3, #DeepState

With his office infiltrated by a traitor and hobbled by incompetence, an increasingly unstable POTUS attempts a ‘Hail Mary’ that might just save the office of the president… even if it destroys the world in the process.

 

 

 

 

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Next Chapter

Chapter 27

The day after the election, SuperBunker life carried on as it always had. The massage parlors, hemoglobin cafes, and aromatherapy boutiques brimmed with plucked elites just as they had the day before. The monorails ran on time. The virtual sun rose according to its program. The ambient sounds of simulated chirping birds started on cue. At Ten O’clock Bunker Standard Time, the president’s face appeared on every screen in the North American Zone.

“My fellow Americans… The First Lady and I have been so touched by all the encouragement we’ve received over the past few weeks. Today, it’s my turn to give thanks. We’ve been through some difficult times together. Whether we have seen eye-to-eye or rarely agreed at all, the conversations I’ve had with you are what have kept me inspired and kept me going. You made me a better president, and you made me a better man.

“After four years as your leader, I still believe in the beating heart of our American ideal— our bold experiment in self-government. It’s the conviction that we are all created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s the insistence that these rights, while self-evident, have never been self-executing; that we, the people, through the instrument of our democracy, can form a more perfect union.

“This is what we mean when we say America is exceptional. Not that our nation’s been flawless from the start, but that we have shown the capacity to change, and make life better for those who follow. The work of democracy has always been hard; it’s always been contentious. Sometimes it’s been bloody. For every two steps forward, it often feels that we take one step back. But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion.

“Tomorrow, the world will witness a hallmark of our democracy. We will all bear witness to the system of checks and balances, as memorialized in our Constitution. These checks and balances, envisioned and implemented by our founding fathers, have ensured the continued existence of our exceptional nation for a quarter of a thousand years.

“Elections cannot be conducted in an atmosphere of rancor. Nor can they be simulated. Real men and women and transgendered… and the non-binary types must exercise their franchise. A true election involving human beings is good for this country. Anything else is anathema to freedom. The founding fathers were very clear— that true elections are to decide who our representatives shall be. So, let us continue to work together to anticipate the challenges and address those challenges because we have the capacity to do so.

“Therefore, after long deliberation, I have decided that I must continue to serve as your president until we can hold a true presidential election, one to be decided by the actual surviving voters of this nation. As president of the United States, it is my patriotic duty to suspend democracy in order to save democracy… until we can hold real elections.

“Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.”

All of this barely penetrated the consciousness of the elites who were sipping their designer coffees, performing their yoga poses, selecting untried bath salts, or engaged in their sessions of hair removal.

The Greys were too busy to take note of the machinations of the executive either. With so many of them missing from their posts, the work shifts of the remainders had been doubled out of necessity. Every day for them had become a sixteen-hour toil. But at least they were permitted to stay, or so thought the elites. The SuperBunker was life!

Nurse Baum was half-watching the speech on the ubiquitous BNN monitors while in transit between shifts. She was distracted by the sensation of being stared at from behind. The monorail decelerated into the station and Baum gathered herself to step out onto the platform. Once off, she glanced back over her shoulder, noting a man in a black jogging suit and sunglasses. This was the moment she was anticipating. What will I do? She asked herself. She held eye contact with him for a moment, then walked to an empty bench and took a seat. The man in black looked both directions, then walked over to her and took the seat beside her.

“Ms. Baum?” he whispered while watching the monorail fill with passengers.

“Yes?”

“I have someone who would like to speak to you.”

Baum had contemplated this moment many times, trying to imagine what was going to happen. If it were to be something sinister, Mr. Quixote surely wouldn’t have alerted her to it in advance. Her nervousness manifested in racing heartbeats. She tried to remain calm. “I… I’m ready,” she forced herself to reply.

“Don’t worry,” the man in black explained further. “You are not in any danger.”

“How do I know that for sure?”

“In a moment, a black golf cart with tinted windows will pull up. Please get up and walk over to the cart and get in.”

Baum searched the avenue over her shoulder.

“There’s nothing to worry about.”

“You already said that.”

The cart soon appeared and stopped at the curb just a few paces from their bench.

“Walk casually over to the cart and get in.”

Baum got up from the bench and walked to the cart. The plastic door opened. She looked inside. There was a driver and a man seated in the back seat who was hidden in the shadow cast by the tinted vinyl windows.

“Please, get in.”

Baum slipped into the back seat. The plastic door clicked shut and the cart whirled off down the avenue.

“Do you know who I am, Miss Baum?”

The voice was not the one she expected to hear; it wasn’t Fricke. She watched as he took off his sunglasses and recognized him.

“My name is General Buckminster. Do you know that name?”

“Yes. I’ve seen you with the president many times.”

“You look surprised.”

Baum pondered the situation. Matters had become uncertain. Fricke had exhibited nothing but contempt for Buckminster, so why would he send him in his stead?

“I was expecting someone else. That’s all.”

“Who?”

“Oh… someone else. Just not you.”

“Do you know why you’re here?”

“I don’t think so. Am I in trouble? Did I do something?”

“Not at all. No.”

The cart whizzed along the avenue, passing the boutiques and cafes.

“Are you a patriot, Miss Baum?”

“I… I suppose.”

Buckminster cleared his throat. “Your country is in dire need of patriots, Miss Baum. Are you sure you are a patriot?”

“I… I guess. I don’t know for sure…”

“Excellent. Did you vote in the past election?”

“For president?”

“Yes. Did you vote for president?”

“Actually, no. I had to work a double shift and I’m a nurse so it is difficult to break away.”

“But if you did vote, who would you have voted for?”

“I don’t usually share my political views.”

“That’s fine. That’s fine.” Buckminster repositioned himself so that he was facing more towards her in the backseat of the luxury golf cart. He extended his arm on the setback behind her shoulders. “What do you think of the election outcome?”

Wariness filled her. She had felt nothing for the POTUS short of resentment for not allowing her to reunite with her daughter… and for incinerating the surface of the planet, but Buckminster was the POTUS’s right hand man. She thought it best to play coy. “I don’t know. I saw that Cleveland won.”

“He didn’t just win, he won by a landslide, the biggest margin of victory in electoral college history. 531 to 7.”

“I didn’t realize that.”

“And yet…” Buckminster paused.

“And yet what?” Baum asked.

“And yet, President Elect Tex Cleveland’s victory was stolen from him.”

“How so?”

“Didn’t you watch the presidential address this morning?”

“I’m sorry, I was busy working.”

“The president of the United States suspended the results of the recent election and is refusing to hand over power”

“Wow. That seems audacious.”

“Audacious is an understatement, Miss Baum.”

“So why am I here?”

“You are here because you are a very special person.”

“How so?”

“You are special because you have access to the president.”

“What do you mean?”

“You are his nurse. You administer his medications and perform his health checks.”

“So?” Baum shrugged.

“Miss Baum, the president is holed up in that UltraBunker, running the government with total impunity, flouting the Constitution and rule of law. He intends to continue doing this despite losing the election. It is time for him to go, but none of us can get close enough to make that happen. He’s paranoid and delusional. He’s had my security clearance revoked and we have no one else on the inside who can get to him. We… your country desperately needs your help to get him removed so that we can restore the republic.”

Baum felt a sense of betrayal as if she had been belted in the ribs by it. She had expected something different after speaking with Fricke and Quixote. Now she saw that she was just being used.

“Will you do this patriotic duty for us, Miss Baum?”

“Do what?” she asked.

Buckminster reached into his breast pocket and handed her a small black case. He unzipped it revealing a small vial.

“What is it?” she asked, although she already immediately recognized the name scribed on the label.

“It’s a sedative. Once administered, it will put him under for several hours. When he is out, you will need to deactivate the security systems for the UltraBunker. The instructions are on this lanyard. Here, put it on. Once that’s done, we will send in the SEALs to extricate the president from the office of the presidency.”

“Then what?”

“Then we’ll install the duly elected President Tex Cleveland as the new president of the United States.”

“Yeah, but then what happens to me?”

Buckminster smiled. “You, my dear, become a hero to the republic.”

“That’s it?”

Buckminster scowled. “What do you mean?”
“I mean is that all? Do I get anything else?”

“Well, we can give you an honorary PIN and a priority number so you can become a permanent resident of the SuperBunker.”

Baum stared Buckminster in the eyes as a spirit of resistance welled up inside of her. Her gaze hardened.

“That’s not what I want.”

“What do you mean?”

“I want something else.”

“I’m sorry. Ms. Baum, but we are making a very generous offer.”

“To hell with your offer.”

“Ms. Baum…”

“You are going to meet my demands or you can find someone else.”

“Ms. Baum, there is no one else. You or going to do this for us or else.”

“Or else what? You’re going to disappear me like you have all those Greys that have gone missing lately? I don’t care anymore. Do what you have to do. Do it right now. Get it over with. I won’t do anything for you unless you give me what I want.”

Buckminster huffed. “All right. What is it?”

“I want out of this bunker. I want to go home.”

Buckminster laughed. “Why on earth would you want to do that?”

“To find my daughter.”

Buckminster sighed. “Oh, Ms. Baum, there’s nothing left up there. This is all that remains of the world.”

“I don’t care. I want to try to find her or die trying. I want you to let me go.”

“I don’t know how that is possible in lieu of Protocol 4. perhaps we could get you a luxury apartment and a job promotion. Would that be enough instead?”

“I said I want out of here! I don’t care if I am poisoned by radiation the moment I step on the surface. I want out of this hell.”

“I don’t see how…”

“That’s what I want or no deal.”

“O.k. I’ll see what I can do. Perhaps President Elect Cleveland can make an overture to the Chinese and Russians to address Protocol 4 again. That’s all I can promise for now.” Buckminster stuck out his hand. “Do we have a deal?”

“No. I want you to guarantee me passage to the surface– in one of those missiles if necessary– or no deal.”

“All right. All right.”

They shook hands and the golf cart stopped.

“Tomorrow morning, Ms. Baum. It has to happen tomorrow morning.”

 


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COG Chapter 26

CogCoverSquare

#ContinuityOfGovernment, #WW3, #DeepState

With his office infiltrated by a traitor and hobbled by incompetence, an increasingly unstable POTUS attempts a ‘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 26

“Thank you. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.” President Manfred waved at the crowd of summoned Greys from behind his teleprompter. A Manfred/McGuinn campaign banner formed a backdrop. The “u” in “McGuinn” was fashioned into a goal post. “Tonight, America goes to the polls to exercise their unalienable right to choose their rulers. It’s been a long, hard fought campaign. And these have been trying times. We have battled an opponent in this race hardened by decades of corporate profiteering and pillaging of the environment, but we know our message of ‘staying the course and rebuilding America’ is a winning message.”

Applause.

“America loves a winner. My running mate, Brock McGuinn, is the embodiment of a winner— the winningest quarterback in football history! He brings the spirit of a champion to the Brown House, for now, and to the White House after we rebuild it!”

Brock McGuinn grinned.

Smattering applause.

“My fellow Americans, we had to make some tough choices. Leadership is never easy. But we are firm believers that America should always stand by her convictions and never, never surrender. Americans do not stand on the sidelines. They get into the game. So do your patriotic duty and go to the polls and exercise your unalienable right. Due your patriotic duty and remember to vote for your champions.”

Slightly more vigorous applause.

The POTUS held up Brock McGuinn’s fist and smiled and nodded. A Cheshire grin remained frozen into McGuinn’s face. His chin dimple was made especially prominent by the makeup team and lighting. The POTUS released Brock’s fist then gestured for him to take center stage. Buckminster, dressed in his military dress uniform, entered the frame and crouched down over a red white and blue football. Brock got behind him, placed his hands between Buckminster’s legs, under his crotch, and barked out the signals. “Red eighty-eight! Red eighty-eight! Ohio! Ohio! Hu-hut!” Brock took the snap, dropped back, planted his back foot, and threw a bullet pass that rifled just over the heads of the crowd, hitting a bespectacled Grey in the face some fifty yards away, dislodging his glasses upon impact. The crowd went bananas. Brock raised his hands to signify a touchdown. The crowd cheered even louder. Brock pumped his fist. The crowd started jumping up and down, some started to weep. A few wetted themselves in the excitement. Then the loudspeakers began the opening chords of the Saxon football team fight song and when concluded, the crowd broke off into a fevered chorus of “Don’t Stop Believin.”

The surveillance cameras captured everything that happened, converted it to binary code, and fed it into the supercomputer election algorithm.

POTUS and Brock and Buckminster shook a few more hands and retreated into the UltraBunker to watch the election returns. Buckminster turned on BNN. Haberdash poured everyone a brandy. Brock stood with his hands on his hips, leering at the screen.

“How’re we looking?” Haberdash asked.

“It’s early,” Buckminster replied. “The polls haven’t closed on the East Coast.”

“Can someone explain why this whole process isn’t just instantaneous? Can’t they just push a button and have it over with?” asked the POTUS.

“Sir,” Buckminster explained. “An authentic, reliable modeling of the voting decisions of every single potential voter from a voter population of over two hundred million requires a very complex computer simulation. Every conceivable voter parameter has been included. Unemployment rates. Price levels. foreign policy decisions. The stock market indices. Consumer confidence. The time of day. The results of other states. The results of the past Super Bowl…”

“I was MVP!” shouted Brock McGuinn.

“…The simulated eastern time zone results, as reported by BNN, impact voters in the west. That parameter has to be applied sequentially. There really is no way to get the most accurate simulation without processing it in real time.”

The POTUS downed his brandy and watched the television avatars break down the results.

“…and here is Wolford with the latest results in Florida where polls have just closed. Wolford…

“Thank’s DeForest. We are getting simulated results in from the panhandle precincts. President Manfred has a strong lead in Broward country, which is strongly democrat, but is it strong enough? Let’s have a look. If Tex Cleveland can win these seven counties, all historically republican counties, he will probably have enough to win Florida.”

“Shit!” cursed the POTUS. “Why did we only get 55% in Broward county? Bucky?”

“I don’t know what’s happening there, sir. I’ll call my people in the IT department.”

“Tell them we should be getting 65% in Broward. Those damn Mexicans and Jews all vote democrat. This is wrong. The simulation is broken.”

“I think they’re Cubans, sir, not Mexican. They tend to be more conservative.”

“I don’t care what you want to call them. They should be voting for democrats. What the hell is going on?”

Buckminster made a call on his cell.

Brock tossed the red white and blue football to himself.

Haberdash, who was already on his second brandy, began watching BNN intently.

A faint knock came from behind the UltraBunker blast door.

“Who is it?” the POTUS asked.

“It’s Nurse Baum, sir.”

“Yes, yes. I’m sorry there is no one there to let you in. My assistant has not been reporting for duty. Hab, will you let her in please?”

“Sure.” Haberdash got up from his chair and backstepped to the blast door without taking his eyes off the screen or spilling his snifter.

“Oh, for the love of Christ!” shouted the POTUS. The returns from Virginia were flashing on the screen. Tex Cleveland was the projected winner. “What in the hell is going on?”

Haberdash opened the door and Nurse Baum rolled her cart in. The POTUS stood up to curse the screen, but took a seat when Baum pulled up next to him. She took his vitals while he fumed.

Brock raised the red white and blue ball to his ear and feigned a throwing motion.

Buckminster made more calls on his cell.

“Bucky!” the POTUS shouted.

Nurse Baum wiped a vein on the president’s arm with an alcohol swipe.

“Bucky! What the hell?”

“I don’t have any information yet, sir.”

Nurse Baum removed a needle from a plastic package and flicked loose the tiny air bubbles.

The avatars on the monitor discussed the surprising victories for Cleveland. “It’s going to make things interesting,” one remarked.

“Bucky!”

“Just a moment, Mr. President.”

The POTUS leaned back in his chair, trying to calm himself while awaiting his injection.

Haberdash picked over the adjacent buffet tray.

Nurse Baum reached in to administer the amphetamine shot.

“BNN is now projecting republican Tex Cleveland as the winner of North Carolina.”

“What the fuck, Bucky?! Who are you talking to? Here, give me that goddamn phone.”

Bucky handed his cell to the POTUS.

“Hello. Who the fuck is this? Chester? Chester who? You listen to me, Chester, you go find out what the hell is going on or it’s your ass. Do you hear me?” He handed the phone back to Buckminster.

“What do you want me to do, Mr. President?”

“What do you want me to do?” the POTUS mocked, then glanced over at Brock who carefully laid his ball down on the conference table, then crossed his arms and glared at Buckminster. “You’re my campaign manager, Bucky. Start managing things.”

“I don’t know what I am supposed to do, Mr. President. I’m hopeful things will turn around in New York. New York is always blue.”

“I don’t want any excuses,” the POTUS replied. “Brock, do you like excuses?”

“We don’t make excuses,” Brock answered. “Champions don’t make them. One time, we got down by 21 points to Denver due to some really bad calls and a bunch of guys on I.R. But did we make excuses? Hell no. We sucked it up and started making plays… came back and won that one in overtime.”

“Yeah, yeah!” the POTUS interrupted. “Do you hear that Bucky? No excuses.”

“What should I do then?” Buckminster asked.

“You get on the phone to that Broward County and make sure they find some missing ballots.”

“Some missing ballots, sir?”

Some missing ballots, sir?” the POTUS mocked again. “Yeah. Missing ballots. Like they missed an entire truckload of them or something. Get them tabulated. We gotta have Florida.”

“Sir, this is a computer simulated election.”

“No excuses!” Brock barked.

“Find a way, Bucky,” added the POTUS.

“But sir,” Buckminster continued. “How do I engineer a truckload of ballots to show up in a computer simulation?”

“Not my problem. Figure it out.” The POTUS fell back into his chair and presented his vein to Nurse Baum who promptly injected him. He exhaled and relaxed and barely stirred when it was announced minutes later that New York had gone to Cleveland.

“We still have Texas and California,” Haberdash offered.

 

…But by 9 PM standard bunker time, it was all over. BNN called the race in Texas for Cleveland which put him over the top. Manfred had lost. Not only had he lost, but he had lost every single state except one— Connecticut— which is where Brock McGuinn’s Saxons played their home games.

“I don’t understand,” lamented Buckminster. “You’re a war time president. War time presidents never lose.”

“Now you’re just a one-and-done,” Brock pined. “Like those losers Bush and Carter and the Eagles.”

“I just don’t get it,” Buckminster moaned as he paced the room. The POTUS reclined in his chair, barely lucid. Buckminster shuffled over to the president’s side. “Mr. President,” he asked in a timid tone. “I think we may need to make the call to President Elect Cleveland.”

“What the hell for?”

“To concede.”

“Why?”

“Well, because it’s what the losers do, sir. They call and concede. It’s a gesture that promotes national unity. It helps us to move forward as one republic.” Buckminster presented his phone to the POTUS as if he was a waiter presenting the check. The POTUS stared at it, his expression darkening.

“Buck…”

“Yes sir?”

“You can take that phone of yours and shove it straight up your ass.”

“Sir?”

“You heard me.”

“But…”

“I’m not conceding anything.”

Just then, Buckminster’s phone rang.

“Who is it?” asked the POTUS.

“Uh, it’s Tex Cleveland, sir.”

The POTUS stared at Buckminster lost in his thoughts.

The phone rang again.

Brock stared at the POTUS.

Haberdash piled caviar onto a cracker.

“Should I answer, sir?”

The POTUS broke from his trance. “Sure. Put him on speaker… Hello! Who is it?”

“I have President Elect Brandeis Cleveland on the line. Are we speaking to the president?”

“You are.”

Ruffling sounds.

“Hello, hello Mr. President.”

“Tex. What do you want?”

“I was expecting a call from you.”

“Were you?”

“Oklahoma just came in. I’m over 270 electoral votes.”

“Congratulations.”

“Are you going to concede?”

“Sure. Congratulations for winning a rigged computer simulation.”

“Sore loser. Hey, is Brock there?” Cleveland asked.

“He’s here. You’re on speaker.”

“Hey Brock…”

“Yeah. What do you want?”

“What did you think about that ass-whoopin we put on you tonight? I can’t recall any presidential election ever being a shutout.”

“It wasn’t a shutout,” Brock snapped in a shrill voice that sounded as if he was choking back tears.

“Oh, right. You guys won Connecticut. Still, 531 to 7, that’s an ass-kicking for the record books.”

“You don’t have 531. We still have a chance to win the west coast and make a game of it.”

“No way, Brock. We’re running up the score. We’re gonna rub your face in shit. We want all the votes. 531 to 7. Hell, we might even contest Connecticut. You only won that by half a percent.”

Brock tried to speak but stopped when his voice came out as a squeak.

“You all have a pleasant evening.” Cleveland signed off.

“That bastard!” The POTUS slammed his fist.

Brock massaged his eyelids to prevent his tears from rolling down his face.

Bucky slouched in dejection. “Sir, what should we do?”

“Shut up, Bucky! I’m not conceding that I lost an election that didn’t even happen.”

“But sir, that would be an abuse of power.”

“I said I’m not conceding. I demand a real election, with real voters and ballots, where most of the rules are enforced.”

Buckminster looked dumbfounded.

“Get that stupid look off your face, Bucky. Now listen to me…”

“Yes sir?”

Listen carefully.”

“I’m listening, sir.”

“You’re fired! Now get the hell out of here and don’t come back.”

“Sir?”

“Get lost!”

Buckminster stared at the president, then glanced at Haberdash who shrugged before shoving a cracker into his mouth. With nothing left to say, he stormed out.

“Brock…”

“Yes sir?”

“I’m promoting you to chief of staff. Can you handle that?”

“Why not? I was a walk-on at Michigan.”

 


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COG Chapter 25

CogCoverSquare

#ContinuityOfGovernment, #WW3, #DeepState

With his office infiltrated by a traitor and hobbled by incompetence, an increasingly unstable POTUS attempts a ‘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 25

To V.

C/O Quixote

1569 Section L

 

Emma Baum stared at the note, careful not to appear conspicuous as she did. She had stared at it many times over the previous three days. She was riding the monorail, whirling through the SuperBunker towards the Latin America section of the SuperBunker— Section L. She found an open seat which was unusual as the trains were perpetually standing room only.

The Asia section flew past outside the windows. Billboards covered every surface, picturing glamorous, symmetrical, flawless faces, layered over vistas of aquamarine surf and sugar sand beaches and mountain pinnacles framing airbrushed, luminescent melon sunsets. Words flashed and scrolled in Asian characters, sentences each punctuated with national flags. The elites were out and about upon the avenues, sipping their tea and snorting their powders, bathing in the pristine, climate-controlled, bug-free, ersatz world of the SuperBunker… in their prescribed opiate-induced fogs.

The Greys served them dutifully if not enthusiastically. In the Asian section, the workers stood apart with their pasty skin and fair hair—when it wasn’t died blue or green or some such. European guest workers were assigned to the Asian section. The race of the guest worker caste did not match that of the host elites. This was by design. The sociologists had determined that elites would feel less dissonance and discomfort when their servants were not of the same racial heritage. In Section N, the North America section, the Greys were of brown skin and dark hair and round faces and short stature. In Section E, the prole class was comprised of sinewy North Africans and big-nosed Middle Easterners. When the monorail stopped at the border between Section A and Section L, whites boarded and the blacks got off. The Greys that worked the Latin American facilities and serviced the Latin American elites were entirely Sub Saharan African or Aboriginal.

Baum stepped off with the crowd of uniformed passengers who quickly dispersed in the directions of their myriad destinations. She passed through an RFID tracking gate, down an escalator, and onto the colorful avenues of Imperium Hispanicum. She passed under the gaze of Simon Bolivar and Che Guevara and soon found avenue 1000, then block 500 and unit 69 without trouble. She entered a cozy, terra cotta cafe and sat at a small round table surfaced in bright tiles facing the pedestrian avenue. An image of President Manfred giving a campaign speech with scrolling Spanish subtitles filled the television monitor behind the coffee bar. His strained grin and bagged, drooping eyes divulged the wear and tear of an intense campaign. The simulated election was going to be close. Baum was greeted moments later.

“Buenos dias,” chimed a Nubian server topped in a wreath of interwoven braids.

“Hello,” Baum replied.

“Inglais?”

“Yes please.”

“What will you to order?” she asked in shaky English.

“I’m only here to make a delivery.”

“Oh?”

Baum reached into her bag and withdrew the envelope. “I have something I am to deliver to a Mr. Quixote. Is he here?”

The server’s lips pursed in confusion. “Who do you say?”

“I’m looking for a Mr. Quixote. Is he here?”

The server pondered. “I know no any Senior Quixote.”

“Are you sure? My instructions say I am to give him this card here.”

“May I see?”

Baum was apprehensive but relinquished the envelope after regarding the simple, cryptic note it contained. The server examined it. Then she examined Baum. She handed the card back. “One moment, please,” she said in faultless English, and she went off behind the counter and through a door into the back.

Baum turned to watch the passersby as she waited, noticing it looked like a typical sunny midday on the surface, betrayed only by the soft multiple shadows cast by the diffused overhead lighting rather than the hard edged shade made by a true sun The server returned within two minutes.

“Mr. Quixote will see you now,” she remarked before drifting into a back room.

Baum tried to call after her but instead sat silently at the table.

“Hello, Ms. Baum,” came a voice from behind.

She turned to find a Chinese face stretched up from behind his laptop screen.

“How did you know my name?”

“You were expected.”

“You’re Mr. Quixote, then?”

“For our purposes, yes.”

“I am supposed to give you something.”

“That card you’re holding, I presume?”

“Yes. But how do I know you really are Mr. Quixote?”

Quixote grinned. “Is your note addressed to V?”

Baum nodded.

“Have you read the note inside?”

“I admit that I have.”

“Does it say ‘Guacamole’ or ‘Habenero’?”

Now convinced of Quixote’s authenticity, she handed the card over. “See for yourself.” He reached out to retrieve it and opened it up, read it, nodded, and tucked it in his shirt pocket.

“Do you have any idea about what’s happening?” he asked, probing her mind with his intense gaze.

“Not really,” Baum answered. “Are you going to tell me?”

“No. It’s too dangerous for you to know right at this moment. You wouldn’t want to know, anyway. It would be hard to get through your days with that knowledge, unable to share it. But you’ll know everything soon enough. I promise you that. I’ll say that big changes are coming soon.”

“Should I be worried?”

“No. You should be hopeful.”

“What reason is there for hope? Hasn’t the world been destroyed?”

“Live in your hopes, Ms. Baum, not your fears.”

“When will I find out?”

“Days. A week or two at the most. Just be ready.”

“Ready for what?”

“Be ready to trust.”

 


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COG Chapter 24

CogCoverSquare

#ContinuityOfGovernment, #WW3, #DeepState

With his office infiltrated by a traitor and hobbled by incompetence, an increasingly unstable POTUS attempts a ‘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 24

Nurse Baum had barely slept for a week. The fate of her daughter drew her thoughts inwards, consuming her with despair. Most of the Greys felt this way, having been separated from their loved ones up on the surface and presuming them to be incinerated or dispersed by the destruction. Yet Emma Baum and the thousands of other guest workers carried on with their duties, imprisoned in the SuperBunker, subject to the perplexed or often indignant stares of their underworld masters. The elites just couldn’t comprehend why the Greys weren’t more grateful for being spared.

Emma opened her eyes and turned to the cot next to her. It was vacant and had been so for the last three nights. She got up from her cot, grabbed her duffle, slid her slippers on, and navigated the maze of snoring, staring, weeping, coughing co-workers to make her way to the changing stalls. Once dressed, she went to the lockers where she fixed up her hair. She no longer wore makeup in hopes of currying the president’s favor as a rumor had spread that the POTUS had gone insane, having murdered his gay lover in an apocalyptic rage deep in the inner catacombs. This was dismissed as wild conspiracy theory, of course, so the subject was not broached in superficial conversation.

Baum stowed her duffel bag and removed her handbag from her locker and walked out of the dorm and onto the avenue. The canvas sky, high above, was clear blue, and the simulating orb lights were soft and yellow. She strolled past the boutiques that were preparing to open for business: the designer barista, the fine clothier, the waxing salon, the cigar shop, the cosmetics emporium— each manned by glum-faced Greys. She forced herself to keep her eyes focused directly ahead as she walked.

“Psst,” hissed a voice from behind.

Emma Baum dismissed it and continued to walk.

“Wait!”

She redoubled her pace, catching a glimpse of a figure stepping out from the alley she had passed. She pressed on hoping whoever it was would relent but the footsteps gained. She turned to see who was pursuing her. Behind, chased a shadowy man with a high collar coat, sunglasses, and a Gatsby hat pulled down low on his forehead. She still had a few hundred meters to go to the safety and security of the medical center security queue. Surely he wouldn’t attempt anything out in the open.

“Hold up!”

Baum broke into a trot. Her mind raced. “What did I do?” She immediately thought of the phenobarbital she had swiped from pharmacy some time back. Busted.

“Emma Baum,” the voice called.

She recognized the voice and stopped.

“Nurse Baum, I have something for you.”

They were both standing in the avenue, passed in both directions by a steady stream of elites dressed down in designer fleece sweatpants, exotic sneakers, highlighted hair pulled or slicked back, faces masked in thousand-dollar sunglasses.

“Nurse Baum, it’s me.”

“Mr. Fricke?”

“Yes.”

She started to turn.

“No don’t!” he ordered. “The camera AI will catch it as a suspicious gesture and hone in.”

“What are you doing here?” she whispered.

Just then, a portly security guard on a Mo-mo rolled up. She pretended to check her screen until the gendarme was safely past.

“No time for that. I have a very important favor to ask.”

“What is it? I don’t want any to get involved in anything.”

“I just need you to deliver a message. A piece of paper.”

“Why me?”

“Because you’re the only Grey I can trust.”

“What makes you think that?”

“Because we have something you what in return.”

Baum immediately thought of her daughter. “And what would that be?”

“I can get you out of here.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Out of the bunker.”

That was all Baum needed to hear, even if her instincts told her it was most likely a bureaucrat’s bullshit. Regardless, she had nothing to lose and a fleeting hope rooted in bullshit was better than total despair.

“Who am I delivering it to?”

“It’ll say on the message.”

“What is the message?”

“I’ll walk past you and place a card in your handbag. It has instructions written on it.”

“Is it top secret? What if I read it?”

“It doesn’t matter if you read it. Just deliver it. Do that and I will come for you.”

Baum nodded her head in agreement. Fricke walked past her and slipped the card into her bag with an imperceptible sweep of his hand.

“I’ll find you after,” he whispered as he walked past. “Be ready to leave at any moment. And don’t speak of this to anyone.” He kept walking ahead, turning left into a vegan confectionary.

Baum walked on to the hospital. She turned off the mall avenue and passed through the automatic sliding glass doors, past the desk, and into the security queue. Once through the imaging detector manned by another sullen Grey, she boarded an elevator. She ran her thumb along the ridge of the heavy paper card as the lift carried her down, not daring to remove it as there were cameras recording every movement. She waited until the door opened and she poured out onto the fourteenth-floor hallway. There, she finally plucked the card from her bag as she walked. Holding it at her waist, she glanced down to read it. The face of the card was addressed:

 

To: V

C/O Mr. Quixote

1569 Section L

 

She unfolded the white cardstock paper card. Inside was a note written in a flourish of blue fountain pen ink… a note consisting of one word:

 

Guacamole

 


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COG Chapter 23

CogCoverSquare

#ContinuityOfGovernment, #WW3, #DeepState

With his office infiltrated by a traitor and hobbled by incompetence, an increasingly unstable POTUS attempts a ‘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 23

“Mr. President…”

Buckminster knelt and knocked on the saferoom door located at the back of the UltraBunker. He listened as the locks turned. The steel door opened and the stubbled face of President Manfred peered out. “You have an urgent call on the bat line, sir.” The POTUS crawled out into the conference room and took a seat on his presidential chair. He combed his greasy black and gray hair back with his fingers and cleared his throat, then nodded to Buckminster who patched the call through to the wall mount monitor. The First Lady’s image appeared.

“Veruca… This is a surprise.”

“Hello, Arman.”

“To what do I owe this pleasure?”

“I’m calling to say goodbye, Arman.”

“Goodbye? You’ve been gone for weeks already.”

“This time it’s for good. You’ll never see me again. Ever.”

“We’re in a bunker, Veruca. There aren’t that many places to hide. Our paths are sure to cross.”

“This is it.”

“Should I expect a call from your attorney at some point?”

“No.”

“So you don’t want a divorce?”

“What would be the point?”

“To protect your inheritance.”

“Thanks to you, it no longer exists.”

“Are you going to kill yourself?”

The First Lady cackled.

“I’ll understand if you do, Veruca. But I want you to know something… I’ll carry on just fine.”

“Still making it all about you, Arman. I must thank you.”

“For what?”

“For reminding me of why I know there’s no hope for changing you.”

“Why would I want to change? I’m the President of the United States.”

The First Lady winced.

“But I do need to ask about something before you go…” the POTUS continued.

“I figured you would.”

“Not that it matters. We’re going to spin it to our advantage.”

“You don’t have to worry, Arman. Your little video is safe with me.”

“You mean you didn’t give it to the Russians?”

“I showed it to them, but they don’t have it.”

“So you kept it as a bargaining chip?”

“I did. I’m not as stupid as you think.”

The POTUS glanced at Buckminster who could hardly contain his bubbling glee. “May I ask what prompted you to change your mind about releasing it?”

“What would be the point? To embarrass you? You’ve already ordered the destruction of the world. I don’t think anything could be done to worsen your reputation as a psychopath. If anything, seeing you in your throes of passion with that fat little Frank Tibbles might actually humanize you in people’s eyes.”

“I suppose you want me to thank you, now?”

“You’re welcome, asshole. Goodbye.”

The screen went dark.

“This is great news, sir!” Buckminster shouted enthusiastically with a pumped fist.

“Indeed it is. Pour me a brandy. I feel like I’ve just cut a giant millstone loose. What a relief.”

Buckminster filled a snifter and set it next to the POTUS. “I’ve brought doughnuts too if you’re hungry.”

Manfred glanced at the box. “We might as well keep it going. What’s on the agenda?”

“Did you get a chance to review my force redeployment directive? If you would sign off, I can issue the order to—”

“Issue the order to whom?” Manfred asked. “No orders are getting out and the nukes have already been launched.”

“Sir, conditions are constantly evolving. I think that in the event Protocol 4 is lifted, we should remain fully prepared to implement our strategy.”

“Strategy for what? You heard the explosion last night. There’s nothing left to strategify.”

“If the surface has been vaporized then it is what it is, but we don’t have confirmation of that. I believe we need to continue to act as if there is still a nation to govern up above. Just in case…”

“Fine. I’ll sign it. There.”

A sinister energy pumped through the president’s veins. He pushed himself upright in his chair and coughed a bit to dislodge some phlegm. Then he rubbed his stubble. Haberdash, whom the POTUS had not even noticed, reached his hand across the conference table and grabbed a strudel.

“Bucky…”

“Yes, Mr. President?”

“How can we get some intelligence on what is happening on the surface?”

“Sir, the only way I know of would be for you and Hu Li and Dmitriy to get together and agree to end Protocol 4 again.”

“Again?” Manfred laughed. “That’s never happening again. That’s exactly what they want me to do, anyway, to come groveling over to them and beg them to open the doors. The POTUS never grovels, Bucky. Groveling is defeatism and America is never defeated.”

“What about Vietnam?” Haberdash asked, ejecting crumbs of sweet bread as he spoke.

“America never surrenders… without dignity.” The POTUS slouched back into his chair. “We always end everything on our terms.”

There was a faint knock at the door, after which Nurse Baum entered pushing in a cart.

“It’s time for your vitamin shot, Mr. President,” she said.

“I don’t think I need it, today. I’m feeling good.”

“It will help you get through the day, sir,” Buckminster added.

Baum wheeled the cart next to the president. She gazed down at him like a robot while mechanically pulling on two latex gloves that she released with a snap. She rolled up the president’s right sleeve. Then she tore open a foil packet containing an alcohol swab and wiped the surface of his bicep. Next she grabbed a plastic pouch off the cart and tore it open with her teeth, producing a needle with an orange safety cap. She clamped down on the cap with her incisors and pulled the needle loose. With the orange cap still lodged between her teeth, she aimed the needle at the president’s arm. She plunged it in and withdrew it, re-affixed the cap, and dropped it in a plastic jug. Fricke watched as the president’s expression and posture brightening while Baum took his pulse.

“How are you feeling now, sir?” she asked.

“Even better.”

“I’m sure you have a long, busy day ahead.”

“Every day is long and busy, my dear.” He turned to Buckminster. “What else do we have on the agenda?”

“Ag Secretary Roseman.”

“Is he here already?”

“He’s been waiting patiently for three hours.”

“Oh, send him in.”

“Mr. President,” Baum asked.

“What?”

“I was wondering if I might make a request.”

“This is not the appropriate time,” Buckminster scolded.

“Go ahead, my dear. But make it quick.”

“Do you need any volunteers to go up in one of those missiles you built to deliver your orders. I would definitely go if asked.”

“Why would you want to go? You’d die.”

“It’s my daughter, sir. I’d like to go be with my daughter, if she’s still alive.”

The president reached up and gently clasped Nurse Baum’s forearm, his face beaming contrived sympathy. It appeared as if tears were welling up in his eyes and his chin faintly quivered. Baum looked down at him hopefully.

“I’m afraid that’s impossible, honey,” he answered.

The secretary of agriculture entered the room. Baum withdrew he arm and pushed her cart past him on her way out.

“What can I do for you, Rosey?”

“Sir, thank you for seeing me. It’s the god damn Canadians, again. They refuse to curb their illegal dumping genetically modified sorghum flour surplus on our markets. This is in total violation of the Fair Agricultural Research and Trade agreement.”

“How do you know?”

“Because the Canadian Department of Agriculture just published their quarterly report and it shows no reduction in their exports.”

“Where are they getting their data?”

“It’s from their regression-based statistical inference… a computer simulation, sir.”

“What do you suggest we do about it?” asked the POTUS.

“Tariffs, sir. Slap some tariffs on those motherfuckers. That’ll teach them.”

“Do you have the executive order drafted for my review?”

“Right here, sir.”

The president signed it with a flourish. “Let me know how it goes, Rosey.”

“Will do, sir.”

“Is there anyone else?” the POTUS asked.

“Secretary of Education, sir,” Buckminster replied.

“Send her in.”

“Good morning Mr. President.”

“Good morning, Mrs. Lebsock.”

“I trust you are feeling better, sir?”

“Much improved. Much improved. What have you got for me?”

“Well, I need to brief you on a little situation brewing in Alabama.”

“What of it?”

“Well, I am hearing rumblings that their state legislature intends to vote to nullify the federal No Education Resource Denied program and spend their grant money on alternative special education programs.”

“What?”

“We don’t even know that Alabama exists,” Haberdash remarked as he reached for a second strudel.

“Sir,” Mrs. Lebsock continued, “I heard it directly from the governor himself… last night, during the Save The Earth Gala.”

“Those damn hillbilly republicans. You tell Governor Hogge that if he signs that legislation I will get his transportation funding slashed.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Who’s next?”

“Housing and Urban Development.”

“Send Cumberland in. Tom, how the hell are ya?”

“Great, sir.”

“What can I do for you?”

“The Orange County project… we talked about it last week.”

“Ah yes. You need funding.”

“I do.”

“Have you talked to Stu?”

“I have. He said that if you gave a verbal, he would earmark it in the budget committee meeting coming up.”

“Tell him I’m on board. Are they still going to build that petting zoo in the courtyard?”

“They are, sir.”

“Excellent. Those poor black kids need exposure to wildlife. It’s good for them.”

“I am well aware that the petting zoo is your pet project, if you would excuse the pun. We all love the idea. And at one hundred and seventy million dollars, the zoo’s cost is practically nothing.”

“Indeed it is. Thank you, Tom.”

“Thank you, sir. Oh, and when this is all over, we’d like to invite you and the First Lady to spend a couple nights in our little cabin in Aspen. It has a helipad so you can get in and out pretty easy.”

“Tom, If Aspen is still there, we’ll be there.”

 

The meetings continued in this manner for ninety minutes. Finally, the subject of Manfred’s re-election campaign was broached.

“What are the simulated polling numbers saying, Bucky?”

“We’re where we need to be, sir.”

“What does that mean?”

“We’re within striking distance of the lead. We’ll hit Iowa hard with an ad blitz before the caucuses.”

“What’s the theme?”

“Wartime president, sir. We can’t afford to change leadership during an existential crisis.”

“Can I see the ad?”

“Certainly.”

Buckminster thumbed the buttons on a remote control and the monitor came to life.

 

Ominous music. A grim female voice.

 

“In an increasingly dangerous world…”

 

A first-person view of someone stumbling through a murky forest.

 

“Before the nuclear attack on America…”

 

A stalking wolf.

 

“Senator Mordimer voted to slash military spending…”

 

A montage of newspaper headlines touting spending cuts.

 

“…and weakened America’s defenses.”

 

An unflattering picture of a smirking Senator Mordimer riding in the turret of a tank with an oversized helmet tilting on his head.

 

Cut to a pack of wolves.

 

“And weakness encouraged our enemies to attack…”

 

Happy music.

 

President Manfred appears, talking on the phone, looking presidential.

 

America needs proven leadership. Stay the course.

 

“I’m Arman Manfred and I approve this message.”

 

“What do you think, sir?”

“I love it.”

“We’re uploading it into the campaign computer simulation today. And with Brock on the ticket as your Veep and the whole gay thing out of the way, we can really take the offensive now.”

“What did you say?”

“The gay thing, sir? I’m sorry, I should have—”

“What are you talking about?”

“You, Frank, the gay thing.”

“I’m not gay, Bucky. There is no gay thing.”

“Absolutely. Understood, sir. Hang on, I have a call.”

“Who is it?”

“It’s Tex Cleveland.”

“Excellent. He’s finally ready to sign for CANAMCO. Put him on the monitor.”

A still of Cleveland’s face appeared on screen.

“Tex, how’ve you been?” asked the POTUS.

“Is this Buck?”

“No, it’s the POTUS. Bucky put you on the monitor.”

“I see.”

“What can I do for you, Tex? I probably shouldn’t tell you this but I’m having a great day so far. I’m feeling generous.”

“Sir, I am just calling to let you know that the CANAMCO board has declined your proposal.”

“What the hell are you talking about.”

“I’m sorry, but the CANAMCO board simply can’t agree to the terms, Mr. President.”

“Who’s we, Tex? You’re the only board member left.”

“Regardless, we’ve decided to decline your proposal.”

“We had a deal, Tex. What the hell is going on?”

“Well, after talking it over with my wife, I’ve decided to go in another direction.”

“What does that mean?”

“I’m throwing my hat in the ring.”

“Throwing your hat in the ring for what?”

“I’m running for president, Arman.”

“As a republican?”

“Afraid so. We’ve got great backing. Millions in the bank. It seems there are a lot of corporate boards that are really pissed off about you nuking their balance sheets.”

“What are you talking about?”

“It took some effort convincing them. Them board member types don’t like uncertainty. But they’ve finally decided to back someone other than the man who blew up the world.”

“Tex, don’t do this. You’re wasting everyone’s time. Throw your support to me and I’ll get you a cabinet position.”

“No can do, Arman. It’s already in motion. We announce today.”

“Why are you doing this? This makes no sense.”

“It has to be done, Arman. You must be defeated. You and that smug punk of a quarterback you call a running mate. I’m gonna bury you two bastards and love every minute of it.”

The POTUS was speechless.

“Hook ‘em Horns.” Tex gestured and disconnected.

 


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COG Chapter 22

CogCoverSquare

#ContinuityOfGovernment, #WW3, #DeepState

With his office infiltrated by a traitor and hobbled by incompetence, an increasingly unstable POTUS attempts a ‘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 22

The Save the Earth Gala was scheduled for the evening. Widespread gossip suggested that it might be canceled in lieu of nuclear Armageddon, but it was decided by the bunker superpowers that snubbing the environmentalist movement would be bad politics.

The POTUS had his wardrobe brought down into the UltraBunker. Haberdash helped him dress, helping him with his buttons and his cummerbund. The presidential nurse was summoned and a stoic Ms. Baum appeared within moments, toting her bag. She removed a syringe, drew medicine from a vial, and plunged the needle into Arman Manfred’s upper arm. The president’s posture immediately stiffened and his eyes brightened as the amphetamine took hold. The POTUS finished dressing himself as Haberdash stood by. The expressionless Nurse Baum left. Haberdash swept the lint from the back of the president’s baroque tuxedo and escorted him out of the UltraBunker, up the elevator shaft, and helped to load him into his bullet proof, executive golf cart.

The black motorcade spun along the gently arcing arterial roadway flanked by the monorail line on the left and a wall of roughly hewn stone on the right. The passed beneath a succession of white orb lights that cast everything in lunar harshness. After several minutes, the motorcade entered the facades beneath the canvas skies of Section F, stopping before the Ballroom Africana

The host delegation of African leadership met the POTUS as he arrived. Manfred greeted each of them and their escorts with a forced grin and a handshake. The gauntlet of festooned, propped dictators, muti-national puppets, and media-contrived statesmen terminated at the President of Zimbabwe. He had grown quite fat since they had last met.

“Where is your… your significant other?” The POTUS asked.

The president of Zimbabwe was patting his belly when asked. He forced a toothy grin and nodded but didn’t answer.

The POTUS continued up the steps and into the Ballroom foyer where he found a Napoleonic Buckminster in waiting. They were instructed to wait behind a red curtain. The Mozart music soon faded and was replaced with Hail to The Chief. The curtain was pulled aside and the POTUS, with Haberdash in his muted navy coat and pantaloons, and Buckminster Bonaparte in tow, he stepped into the cavernous, ornamented ballroom. The crowd— women adorned in shimmering, sack back gowns and petticoats and men with long, gold-fringed waist coats and knee breeches exposing silk stockings— turned their gaze to soak in the grand entrance and assess the festiveness and presence of the American contingent. With the elite American’s arrival, the Rococo-themed Save The Earth Gala had achieved validation.

The POTUS shook a dozen more hands on his way down the aisle, stopping before a priest-like figure dressed in head-to-toe, blood red robes with a hood that covered his face. Suspended in the air above, heavily feathered trapeze artists swung and flipped like exotic birds. Jugglers dressed as court jesters tossed ivory bones and skulls into the air. A massive, faceted disco ball fired multi-colored laser beams across the domed ceiling.

Buckminster stepped forward, bowed, and handed a decorated box to the POTUS who, in turn, presented it to the priest. The priest bowed and turned, slowly walking up the dais behind him. He placed the box upon a glass altar shaped in the form of two feminine hands emerging from the earth. The priest raised both his hands and muttered something in Latin. He reached down and lifted the lid on the box, releasing a white dove that flew upwards into the dome to the vigorous applause of the guests. The bird circled the disco ball three times until it was blinded by a laser beam at which point it fluttered outwards, crashing headfirst into the molding and dropping motionless onto a high ledge. The Mozart re-started and the POTUS was escorted off the ballroom floor and up to his box that overlooked the festivities.

The costumed patrons mingled and bowed and curtsied, weaving around a formation of twelve-foot tall guide stones set in a Stonehenge pattern in the center of the floor. Acrobats in flesh-toned spandex twisted and spun and flung themselves through the air. At exactly eight o’clock, an army of tuxedoed staff infiltrated the maze of round tables carrying silver trays. They set them before the famished guests and lifted the cloches revealing the gourmet courses. The meals were carved and sliced with utensils that glimmered in the reflected laser beam light. They filled their mouths and chewed and swallowed and washed it down with vintage wine, spilling crimson droplets on their silk jabots. They smudged their lipstick with embroidered linen napkins and washed the grease off their fingers in crystal finger bowls. Occasionally, one gave pause and pondered what piss the survivors on the surface might be drinking once the war began.

During this feast, the order of what was soon to be a post war world was being arranged. Who would be doing the rebuilding? What would be rebuilt? Who was going to pay for it? Who was going to be left out and what would it take to buy their complicity. The New New World Order metastasized with handshakes, nods, and toasts.

The final courses were devoured and the army of tuxedoed servants infiltrated the maze of tables once again, like coiffed black lab rats, and snatched up all the trays and cleared all the tables and then scurried out through the walls.

Seated in their balcony loft, the POTUS gestured to Buckminster who handed him his miniature field glasses. The POTUS put them to his eyes and scanned the crowd, searching for the president of China. With some difficulty, he found him seated in his box, barely recognizable in his powdered white wig, but identifiable by his thick eyeglass frames. He searched for Timoshenko and found him as well, dressed like a Romanov, with a blue silk sash draped over his shoulder and a saber sheathed in his belt.

The Mozart music stopped, replaced with an eerie baritone— the low groan of a waking dragon. A spotlight shined within the guide stones and all eyes drew towards it and the discussions, that had turned toward the frivolous as the alcohol and opiates had taken hold and the window for deal-making had closed, ceased with a hush. The disco ball stopped spinning and the lasers went dark. The floor within the guide stones opened. The baritone grew louder. The patrons rose from their tables and gathered around the standing stones and the widening window into the abyss, with some still clutching their cutlery.

The servants appeared once again, encircling the patrons like a shadow as a platform rose from the depths. A jeweled crown appeared first, rising up from the floor, then the priest in the red hood beneath it, then another altar, then upon the altar, a naked man and woman, entangled in thorns. The platform rose up past the floor-level forming another dais. It stopped and the groan of the dragon ceased with it. The priest motioned as if a form of genuflection, then he withdrew a blade from his hilt and with two gentle strokes, he cut through the necks of the naked man and the woman to the gasps of the audience. The servants stepped into the circle and handed the guests fine china plates and the patrons formed into a queue that passed by the dais where they received a slice of the marzipan man and woman.

A servant appeared in the presidential balcony to deliver their desert. Haberdash took his piece which contained a confectionary eyeball that stared up at him with unblinking courage as he sectioned it with his silver fork and delivered it to his tongue.

Finally, the last guest received their portion—Adam’s groin, served to the president of Cambodia– and all that was left of the edible Adam and Eve was a bit of frosting vines and a section of Adam’s right heel. The priest in the red robes and crown descended with the dais back down into the abyss within the floor.

Just as the well closed back up, a booming thunder shook the ballroom, so powerful that it knocked the inanimate dove loose from the ceiling and downwards where it plunked onto the table where the English royals were seated, splattering the Duke of Watford Gap’s face with cream.

“What do you think that noise was?” asked Haberdash.

“Sounds like Fricke’s mission was a success,” answered Buckminster.

After a momentary pause of grim reflection, concerning the end of the world as it was known, the party resumed, carrying on into the wee hours.

 


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COG Chapter 21

CogCoverSquare

#ContinuityOfGovernment, #WW3, #DeepState

With his office infiltrated by a traitor and hobbled by incompetence, an increasingly unstable POTUS attempts a ‘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 21

Due to his declining health, the POTUS began conducting all his briefings and meetings in the UltraBunker. He stopped returning to the Brown House at night and slept in the eight-foot by eight-foot safe room accessible by a reinforced steel door located on the wall directly behind his UltraBunker seat. It had been three days since launching Fricke to the surface. The POTUS appointed Brock McGuinn to a newly created COG cabinet position titled Special Advisor/Presidential Life Coach. The oath of office was administered by Buckminster at the UltraBunker conference table.

“Raise your right hand… No Brock, your other right hand. There you go. Now repeat after me: I, Anheuser Brock McGuinn…”

Brock grinned, eyes glazed.

“Repeat after me, Brock: I, Anheuser Brock McGuinn…”

“I, Anheuser Brock McGuinn.”

“Do solemnly swear…”

“Do solemnly swear.”

“That I will faithfully advise the President of the United States…”

“That I will faithfully advise the POTUS.”

“According to the best of my abilities and my understanding…”

“According to my best capabilities and understandments.”

“Agreeably to the Constitution, and laws of the United States.”

“Agreeing with the Constitution and the United States.”

“So help me God.”

“So help me God. Amen.”

“You can put your hand down now, Brock.”

Brock grinned.

“I have big plans for you, Brock,” said the POTUS after congratulating him with a pat of his shaky hand. “Come. Have a seat here, next to me.” The POTUS pointed at the cushion of the leather high back chair placed next to his. Brock complied.

“So,” continued the POTUS to his COGCON Council of three plus Haberdash, seated at the conference table with places for twenty. “What’s on the agenda today?”

“World War Three, sir,” Buckminster answered.

The POTUS yawned. “All right. What’s the latest report?”

“Well, we obviously cannot obtain any real information due to Protocol 4, so we have to rely entirely upon computer simulations. Our models are telling us that there is a 97% likelihood of widespread gasoline shortages occurring nationwide.”

“I thought we enacted price controls.”

“We did. But the models say that the price controls only exacerbated the problem.”

“Who programmed these god damn models?”

“The program was written by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, sir.”

“Can I fire them?”

“You could, sir, if we could contact them. But even if we could send the order, there is no guarantee that they are still alive. Either way, it would not be possible for them to re-program them.”

“Well, what am I supposed to do about it, then?”

“I think we need to implement rationing.”

“How would we implement it?”

“We can plug it into the simulation, but we’re going to need to enlist the oil companies, sir. They have the logistical wherewithal to actualize your directive.”

“Is there anyone from Big Oil we can reach out to that’s down here in the bunker?”

“There is, sir. I have just the man. Do you know Brandeis Tex Cleveland?”

“The CEO of CANAMCO? The billionaire who donates to that natural gas PAC?”

“That’s him. He’s waiting outside. Should I bring him in?”

“What do you think, Brock?”

Brock shrugged, eyes still glazed, smirk etched within the frame of his chiseled jaw line.

“Have the new admin send him in.”

“Sorry, sir, she didn’t come in to work today. She emailed saying she was ill. Hab, would you please go and bring in Mr. Cleveland.

Hab stopped doodling and set down his notepad. He pushed back from his seat, straightened his Bermuda shorts, and strode over to the door, opened it. Tex Cleveland, a balding, barrel-chested man in his mid-sixties was seated in a chair in the concrete corridor. He stood. He wore a navy suit with a pinstriped shirt and a belt clasped with a massive silver buckle emblazoned with a five-pointed star surrounded by an outline of the border-shape of Texas. He held a white, ten-gallon hat in his hands. He entered the UltraBunker and the POTUS stood and shook his hand from across the table. They both took their seats opposite each other.

“Thanks for coming, Mr. Cleveland.”

“My pleasure, Mr. President. Please, call me Tex,” he said with a grin that revealed one golden-capped canine tooth.

“You already know Bucky, and I’m not sure if you’ve met my new special advisor, Brock McGuinn.”

“Although I’ve never met Brock in person, I’ve been a big fan of his over the years… so long as he wasn’t playing against Dallas.”

Brock was still smirking.

“To what do I owe this honor?” Tex asked in his beefy drawl.

“Well, we need your help, Tex—”

“Let’s not forget about your beloved Longhorns, either,” Brock interrupted.

“Ah yes,” Tex replied, with a tone of reluctant deference. “You must be referring to your big game against us. That was a few years back. What’s it been, twenty years now? I must admit it took some time to get over that one.”

“Which game are we talking about?” Buckminster asked.

“I’m sure Brock is referring to the Raytheon-Boeing Fiesta Bowl. Michigan certainly got the best of us that day,” Tex demurred.

“I’d say ‘got the best of you’ is a little bit of an understatement,” Brock clarified.

“Yeah, I guess it wasn’t much of a game now, was it.”

“67 to 2, as I recall.”

“Well…” Tex replied, “…at least we scored.”

“Yeah, you only scored because we fumbled the second half kickoff and the ball rolled out the back of our own end zone.”

“I forgot all about that game,” the POTUS remarked. “Brock, how many passing yards did you have?”

“I was 31 of 38 for 534 yards and 7 TDs. And they took me out at halftime.”

“Can we get down to the business at hand, gentlemen?” asked Buckminster.

“Sure. Sure. Go ahead, Bucky. Tell the CEO what we have in mind.”

“So, as we are currently on the verge of global thermal nuclear war, we are encountering special circumstances and situations that will require a shared sacrifice by our corporate partners.”

“Shared sacrifice?” Tex asked.

“We are getting reports of widespread, nationwide fuel shortages.”

Tex winced with skepticism. “How can you know that? No one is supposed to have any contact with the surface. Do you have spies? Special communications equipment? Oh, the CIA must have laid some secret fiber during construction… I knew it.”

“Actually, none of that,” Buckminster explained. “This is what our computer simulations are telling us. They are pretty good at predicting socio-economic behavior. The Bureau of Stats has been using them for years, long before this place was even built. Hell, the BLS and the Treasury Department haven’t published any real data in a decade. Everything they report is simulation based.”

“Hey, coach uses those computers too,” Brock added. “He says he can predict what the other coach will call on every play. Some say that’s how we won the last three Super Bowls.”

“I see,” added Tex. “So what do you want from me?”

“We are asking you to cooperate with FEMA in the allocation of fuel and implementation of price controls.”

“Oh boy. Now that’s a tall order there.”

“Why so?”

“Well, for one, I can’t communicate with the surface.”

“We are aware of that,” Buckminster replied. “We are asking you to comply virtually, so we can plug that into our computer models.”

“Oh.”

“We just need your signoff.”

Tex just stared, blankly.

“Your signoff so we can proceed,” Buckminster repeated.

Tex sighed.

“Do you have any questions?”

“What’s this fixin’ to cost me?”

“Nothing, Tex. All your costs and lost income will be reimbursed.”

“Yeah, but at what premium?”

“Premium?”

“Reimbursed at what percent margin? Fellas, CANAMCO ain’t in the business of doing your dirty work for nothin.”

“How’s ten percent?” Buckminster answered.

“Ten?”

“Okay, fifteen,” declared the POTUS.

“Hmm. So we get fifteen percent plus pocket any enhanced margins.”

The POTUS glared at Buckminster as if to ask, ‘why did you bring this asshole in here?’

“Just to be clear,” Buckminster answered, “you’ll have to implement our regulatory and price controls. That’s part of the deal.”

“Why wouldn’t I just raise our prices. That’s sure enough a means of rationing… and CANMCO keeps the profit.”

“Tex,” Buckminster remarked, “if you were to raise prices to market levels, that would seriously jeopardize the president’s re-election chances in the Midwest. Ohio soccer moms won’t vote for Our Man Manfred if they can’t afford to fill up their minivans.”

“Does Ohio even exist anymore?” Haberdash asked.

“Twenty percent!” the POTUS snapped. “That’s all I can do. It’s more than fair. If you don’t like it, I’ll talk to the boys over at Alabraskalasco.”

Tex pondered in stoic silence for a moment. He scratched his bald head, then rubbed the rim of his hat with his thumbs. Then his face brightened with a southern smile. “Gentlemen, CANAMCO is always happy to help America in her time of dire need. Where and when do we work out the details?” Tex began flipping through the pages of the agreement ling on the table. “The cost of implementing some of these logistical controls could get quite exorbitant. I’ll need to make sure our shareholders are protected.”

“You’ll be reimbursed fully. I guarantee it,” the POTUS affirmed.

“The costs are all outlined in the proposal. Those numbers come from our most detailed and accurate spreadsheet models,” Buckminster explained.

“Well, you have your spreadsheets and we have ours.”

“What else do you need, Tex?” asked the POTUS. “How can we get this done right now?”

“Frankly, I want signoff on my new refinery in Panama City.”

“Impossible. The greens would revolt. I’d lose Oregon and Hawaii in the general.”

“Yeah, but you’d win Florida, sir,” Buckminster advised. “We’ll feed the jobs number statistics to the simulated cable news networks.”

“One Florida is worth way more than Oregon and Hawaii,” Tex added.

“Well, we think we can win Florida even without a jobs bump.”

“I still think it’s a tossup, sir.” Buckminster explained.

The POTUS scowled at Buckminster who was proving to be terrible at negotiation. “Brock, do you have any thoughts?”

Brock, who had had never ceased smirking, replied. “All I know is we crushed Florida in the Lockheed Martin-General Dynamics Cotton Bowl my junior year!”

Tex forced a smile to cover up his building annoyance at McGuinn. “Maybe we could discuss this in greater detail… in private, Mr. President?”

 


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COG Chapter 20

CogCoverSquare

#ContinuityOfGovernment, #WW3, #Deep State

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 20

And so the race to put a man on the surface of the earth ensued­. Originally deemed the “race to the ‘face,” it ultimately came to be known by academics and historians as the “face race.” The Chinese and Russians pooled their resources and technology into this endeavor, for the first state to put an agent on the surface would be the first to be able to order its obliteration or at least prevent the other from doing so.

The Americans and the Sino-Russian Alliance did a great deal of spying on each other’s progress over the twenty-one days during which the face race raged. The Chinese and Russians struggled with cooperation as the Chinese regarded their Russian counterparts as troglodyte drunkards and the Russians regarded the Chinese as backwardized Mongoloids, but they nevertheless caught the Americans, beating them to the surface. The first terranaut was not a human agent, mind you, but was instead a Jack Russell terrier who was latched into a fabricated steel capsule and exploded upwards through a ventilator shaft. Igor could be heard, via microphone, vigorously and healthily panting until the very moment his capsule burst through the embedded, metallic Faraday latticework that protected the SuperBunker from electro-magnetic pulse, but also prevented the transmission of radio signals.

The Sino-Russian face program had beaten the Americans to the surface. President Manfred, now exhibiting tremors and looking ill, understood that the situation was beyond desperate. If the Russians and Chinese were first to reach the surface with a human being, not only could they order a nuclear first strike, but they could stifle any American response by destroying the ventilator shaft that the Americans were intending to use for their mission. This meant that there was no time for the Americans to send a test dog, or other suitable mammal. The survival of the American government required bold urgency.

“You should be safe,” Buckminster assured as he stood before the coffin-sized steel tube. He opened the door.

Fricke, who was dressed in a spandex suit, holding his helmet and clutching the Nuclear Football, didn’t appear convinced. “Why does it look like a cruise missile with a window?” he asked.

“Because that’s what it basically is,” Buckminster explained.

“I was expecting an elevator type of thing. Why a missile?”

“Fricke, when you work for the Pentagon, the solution to every problem ends up looking like a missile. Isn’t it a thing of beauty? Look at the head. It’s made of solid titanium, strong enough to smash through ventilator fans, steel grates, backflow traps and flanges. It’s the toughest material we could find. Beneath your feet will be a foot of ceramic insulation protecting you from the searing heat generated by the combustion of the solid fuel rocket boosters.”

“And you put a window in.”

“Yes, although there won’t be much to see until and if you reach the surface.”

The door to the situation room opened and in walked the frail POTUS, flanked on either side by a secret service agent, and trailed by Haberdash clad in Bermuda shorts and polo shirt.

“Mr. President!” Buckminster greeted with a salute.

The POTUS approached Fricke and patted him on the shoulder. “Are you ready to be a hero, Dexter?” he asked in his weakened voice.

“I don’t believe I have a choice, sir.”

“Excellent. You’re the next Neil Armstrong. A pioneer.”

“I’m just hoping I’m not the next the next Gus Grissom.”

“I see you have the Football.”

“Right here, sir.”

“Good. Now, when you get to the surface, open the laptop and make sure you have good connectivity. Then plug in the red button thing and press it. There’s nothing to it.”

“Are you sure that will launch the nukes, sir?”

“That will do it.” The POTUS turned to the technician seated at the computer. “Are we ready for launch?”

“Sir, we are nearing completion of our pre-checks.”

The POTUS turned back to Fricke. “Dexter, do you have any apprehensions or doubts about you mission?”

“What do you mean, sir?”

“Do you harbor any second thoughts about pressing the button?”

“No sir,” Fricke answered.

“Dexter, do you love democracy?”

“I love my country, sir.”

“Excellent,” the POTUS replied while patting Fricke on the shoulder with his trembling hand.

“Dex, you’re going to be the hero of the republic. You are saving democracy.”

“By destroying the world.”

“Indeed. Here, let me help you with that.” The POTUS took the helmet from under Fricke’s arm. Fricke bowed and the POTUS slid it onto his head with a trembling grip. A technician rushed in to check that it was properly fit. The POTUS shook Fricke’s hand and patted him on the helmet. Fricke turned and stepped into the capsule, clutching the Nuclear Football at his breast. Buckminster approached to give final instructions. “Don’t be alarmed if you hear an explosion once you reach the surface. The capsule is equipped with a C4 activated parachute. If you break through with too much speed, it will deploy and hopefully soften your landing.”

Fricke nodded.

“Let’s review one more time. What is your mission?” Buckminster continued.

“First I need to find WIFI. Once a connection is obtained, activate the PAL and push the red button. Then I have to maneuver to the air duct located behind the Wal Mart on 2887 S Arlington Rd in Akron Ohio.”

Buckminster nodded. “Exactly. Guard that shaft and make sure no Sino-Russian terranaut breaks through. If one does, you’ll have to neutralize him. Contact local law enforcement and have them assist you.”

Buckminster closed the capsule door and saluted. Fricke gave a thumbs up sign in the portal. The technician made a few last-minute checks, then he Buckminster joined the POTUS and the other lab coats behind the protective glass of the control room.

“Can you hear us, Dexter?” one of them asked.

“Loud and clear,” Fricke shouted between pants.

“Are you ready?”

“Ready as I’ll ever be.”

“Do you know what to do when you reach the surface?” asked POTUS.

“Bucky and I just went over it.”

“Don’t forget. Wal Mart. Akron, Ohio.”

“I have the address in my pocket.”

“Failure is not an option, Dexter,” the POTUS advised.

“Understood.”

“God bless.”

Buckminster turned to the technician seated at the computer terminal. “Are we a go?”

“Roger. All systems are go.”

Buckminster turned to the POTUS. The POTUS nodded. Buckminster gave a thumbs up to the technician.

“…Five… Four… Three… Two… One…”

The tech seated at the computer depressed the enter key. The crudely fashioned rocket fuel stored in the base of Fricke’s capsule ignited. The launch chamber filled with white smoke. The chamber’s air vents whined as waves of oxygen rich air was exchanged for carbon dioxide. Fricke looked out helplessly from his portal window. His capsule thrusted upwards, slowly at first, then building momentum, up, up, up into the vertical air shaft. In moments, it was accelerating into the ductwork, its titanium- shielded nose puncturing the screens and fans and grates that barred the way. Up, up, up. The capsule dubbed The Victory climbed from its subterranean Hades, through the steel tube carved like an artery that coursed through the geological strata. Up, up, up. The capsule began to rifle, spun by the patterned welds in the cylindrical shaft.

Buckminster, Haberdash, the POTUS, and the technicians in white lab coats watched the capsule cam of Dexter Fricke’s face. His cheeks rippled with vibrations. His irises rolled back into his skull. Drool ran drawn down his chin and ran across his face, drawn out by the rifling action and the G forces generated in a roar of breaking covalent bonds. Up, up, up. The Victory spun towards the surface, rotating once per second. Fricke’s eyes rolled to the right. His foaming spittle ran horizontally across his right cheek. The technicians could not discern if he was still conscious. Up, up, up.

Then nothing. The feed went black.

The POTUS stared at the floor. Haberdash stared at Buckminster. Buckminster stared at the men in white lab coats.

“Did he make it? Haberdash asked.

“The Victory has passed through the Faraday barrier,” explained a technician. “Radio communication is no longer possible.”

 


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