Category Archives: COG

COG Chapter 15

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 15

President Manfred’s eyes opened. He lay still in his bed staring up at the ceiling. He always woke precisely thirty seconds before Faucett would knock on his door. He glanced out his window. The faint glow of simulated dawn was coloring the stretched canvas sky beyond his window.

Knock knock

“Come in.”

“Good morning Mr. President.”

The POTUS sprung up in bed, surprised by the sound of Tibbles’s voice. “Where’s Faucett? Why are you here?”

Dread filled Tibbles’s face as he started to speak.

“What is it?” asked the POTUS.

“Sir, I’m afraid there has been a development in the matter of the First Lady’s disappearance.”

Manfred rubbed the crust from his eyes. “Is she dead?” he sneered hopefully.

Tibbles didn’t immediately answer, being momentarily stunned by the president’s callousness.

“I said, is she dead?”

“No, sir,” Tibbles finally answered.

The POTUS sighed, then threw his covers off and swung his spindly, veiny, bluish legs out and placed his feet onto the floor.

“What is it, then?”

“We think we know where she is, sir.”

“Great.”

The POTUS got out of bed and walked, unabashedly nude, over to the closet where he retrieved his blue, chief executive’s robe, emblazoned with the presidential seal on the back. He draped it over his torso rendering him in the visage of some middle-aged, Irish palooka fighter.

“So, I suppose you want to talk about how we get her back,” he groaned.

Tibbles hung his head.

“You tell me, Frank. What’s our next move?”

Tibbles struggled to speak.

“Spit it out.”

“There’s more to it, sir.”

“What?”

“Sir, she… she…”

“Out with it!”

“We believe she’s defected to the Russians, sir.”

The president’s icy blue eyes flashed with anger, then dissolved into capitulation. He ran his fingers through his matted hair but it remained disheveled.

“Sir—”

Manfred raised his hand to silence Frank. He lumbered over to his bureau and retrieved his karaff of bourbon. He poured two glasses and offered one to Tibbles. Tibbles accepted it after being prodded. Manfred clinked Frank’s glass, then shuffled back to his bed and took a seat.

“I expected this.”

Tibbles gulped. “There’s more, sir.”

Manfred sighed. “What?”

Frank gulped down the bourbon, then sighed.

“What?”

“We believe the Russians have a video, sir.”

“A video?”

“Yes.”

“What has she done, Frank?” Manfred took a drink, then studied his flat, boney feet.

“You should probably watch it, sir.”

The glow of the president’s demeanor darkened further as if storm clouds had rolled into his bed chamber. He sat naked on the bed, bluish, spindly legs splayed, holding his drink between his knees. “One look at you, Frank, tells me it’s bad.”

“Should I, sir?”

“Play it!”

Tibbles nervously scanned the room, spotted the remote control on the nightstand, grabbed it and turned on the screen. He navigated to the POTUS’s top secret messaging account and opened the message from “Timmy”, which was the contact name President Manfred had given to the Russian president. He pressed play. The visage of the First Lady, bleary-eyed and mannequin cold appeared. Her silky, jet black hair was done up in meticulous fashion. Her eyebrows, which tended to grow into convergence when not shorn, had been expertly waxed into the shape of two narrow, angry brush strokes of calligraphy. Her heavy makeup was nevertheless flawless. When she started to speak, only her crystalline-white bottom teeth appeared. The president stared down at his glass.

“Arman, I am sorry it has come to this. I am not sorry for you, I am just sorry in general. I had nowhere else to turn. I just could not stand by and allow you to destroy the world. The lives of billions of human beings hang in the balance. I know how you regard them— a thousand times you described them as a horde of mindless, zombified fucktards— but they are still human beings, Arman. Nuclear war would result in their death… their murder… their genocide. I can’t let you end life as we know it because of some ridiculous political disagreement. I must stop this insanity. No office, no prince or kingdom is worth the end of the world.”

“I always knew that bitch was a communist. All Jews are commies, Frank. Remember that.” The president took another drink.

“I’m Jewish, sir,” Tibbles mumbled. The president didn’t acknowledge.

The First Lady continued: “You were wrong to throw that Chinese boy out. He is just a child, Arman. You threw him out so you could bring in that…” her face scrunched into a bitter scowl, “…that piece of shit Frank Tibbles. He is your undoing, Arman. He is an evil troll of a man. A sycophant bloodsucker. If you are listening to this, Frank, and I know you are, I want you to know that you are a slithering snake, and hardly a man at that. And that’s not because you are a homosexual, Frank, it’s because you just are what you are. You’d fellate Satan if it would advance your career…”

President Manfred glanced up at Tibbles who had moved to the karaff to pour another bourbon.

“And you…” she paused to gather momentum “you are Satan, Arman. I hate you. I hate you because you would incinerate the world over that… that… homsexual… not that there’s anything wrong with being gay.”

“She’s obviously upset that I didn’t get her entire family PINs to get down here.”

“Obviously, sir,” Frank affirmed.

“What was I gonna do, Frank?” Manfred continued. “If I brought her whole family in it would look bad… like I was taking advantage of my power.”

Frank acknowledged the president with his widened eyes, but grimly turned back to the video. “There’s more, sir.”

“So I want you to know, Arman,” the First Lady continued, “I want you to know that I know… that I know what you are. And I know the things you’ve done.”

The POTUS took another drink. Tibbles bowed his head and drifted backwards away from the screen as if increasing heat were being thrown off from it.

She continued: “I’ve seen you and Frank together, Arman.”

Concern strained the president’s face.

“I know why you kidnapped and deported that poor little Chinese boy…”

“What is she talking about, Frank?”

“I know about you and Frank. I’ve seen it, Arman. I’ve seen it on video.”

“What is she talking about?”

“I’ve seen him blowing your tiny little cock, Arman. I’ve seen you on top of him, pounding away in your throes…”

The POTUS’s eyes widened.

“…And don’t think I am making this up. Like I said, I have seen it. It’s on video and I have it. You are so stupid, Arman. You authorized all your spies and surveillance, but it never dawned on you that those same assholes would turn around and spy on you. You are an idiot. My father warned me about you. He said, ‘Princess, you are making a big mistake marrying the dipshit goy.’ And he was right. You’re nothing but an ignorant fool­—a fool with his finger on the nuke button.”

Tibbles eyes filled with tears.

“Don’t think I am going to let you get away with genocide, Arman. I have the video, and soon the Russians will have it too…”

The president closed his eyes and shook his head. “She has no idea what she’s done.”

“Now you listen carefully, Arman. You are going to make peace with the president of China. You are going to bring that Chinese boy back into the bunker and you will do it on Frank’s PIN if necessary. We are putting a stop to this insanity before it goes any further. Do you understand me?”

Manfred stared at Tibbles who looked back with his desperate, watering eyes, like a puppy expecting to be beaten.

“Turn the bitch off.”

Tibbles clicked off the monitor and the screen went black.

The president downed his bourbon, set his glass on the nightstand, and braced his hands on his thighs.

“Mr. President, if I may make a suggestion…”

“Shut the fuck up, Frank. I know what to do. But first, I am going to have a shit.”

The POTUS pushed himself up, shuffled over to the bathroom and took a seat. A moment later, his phone resting on the nightstand lit up.

“Get that, please.”

Tibbles grabbed the president’s cell and activated it.

“Who is it?”

Tibbles took the cell into the bathroom and handed over. “It’s Buckminster.”

“What is it Bucky?… What?… What?… Fine.”

The president handed the cell back to Tibbles.

“What is it?”

“The Russians. Timmy wants to meet.”

“He’s going to blackmail you, sir.”

“Do I look like an idiot? Of course he is.”

“I think you should let me make my suggestion?”

“What is it?”

“Don’t meet him.”

“What choice do I have?”

“You don’t have to.”

“Oh, that bitch has made a real mess of things, now.”

“Sir, no good can come of meeting.”

“But a lot of bad can if we don’t.”

“Maybe there’s a way out. Maybe we can spin this to our advantage.”

“What the hell are you talking about, Frank?”

“Hear me out for a second. Perhaps you could pull the pin on this grenade before it blows.”

“Before it blows?”

“I meant before it mushrooms.”

“How and why would I do that?”

“Think about this: You could come out, sir. You could tell the world that you’re gay. It would make you a pioneer. You would be the first gay president.”

The president’s face flushed with anger. “What are you talking about? I’m no homo, Frank.”

“Sir? But we…”

“That doesn’t make me gay. Being gay is…” the president stopped to ponder.

“Being gay is being attracted to people of the same sex, sir,” Frank said.

“No, no, no. Being gay is a lifestyle. It’s about being emotive and sensitive and wearing skinny jeans. I’m no queer, Frank.”

“Sir, but you have sex with men,” added Haberdash who had been lounging silently on the sofa the entire time.

“So what? Inmates have sex with each other too. That doesn’t make them homos. Would you dare call one of those inmates at Leavenworth a homo? Huh?”

“Well I…”

“You want gay? I’ll give you gay. Gay is like Elton John, and those hosts on those home decorating shows, and Bruce Jenner, and…”

“And Frank,” added Haberdash, smirking at Tibbles.

“And… and… that singer from Queen and Liberace and every newsman behind a desk on CNN. Now that’s gay. I’m not one of those people.”

“But—” Tibbles protested but was cut off.

“Just set up a meeting with my circle of trust. Get them over here immediately. Tell them it’s urgent.”

Tibbles surrendered and began dutifully tapping away at a message on his cell.

 

The president showered and shaved and dressed. When he was ready, Tibbles escorted him to the SuperBunker Oval Office where Fricke and Buckminster were waiting.

“Gentlemen.”

“Mr. President,” they replied as they stood up from the two opposable sofas in the middle of the room.

“Have you briefed them?” the POTUS asked Tibbles.

“No sir.”

“We came right over when we got the message from Frank,” Buckminster answered.

The POTUS ambled over to his desk and took a seat. He opened his top right drawer, reached in, and clicked off the recording device, then pulled out his gold-plated .44 magnum and set it on the desk. He closed the drawer and gathered himself.

“Gentlemen, we have a situation.”

“What is it?” Buckminster asked.

“Do you want me to explain it, sir?” Tibbles asked.

“No. Everyone have a seat.”

Buckminster, Fricke, and Tibbles sat down in the chairs facing the president’s desk. The president looked each of them directly in the eye in succession.

“It seems that the First Lady has defected to the Russians.”

“What?” Buckminster asked.

“It’s true. Fricke, you don’t look surprised.”

“I’m not, sir. But at least we know she’s alive. That’s good.”

“Normally, I would agree. But it seems that she is now working with them.”

“What’s she doing?” Buckminster asked.

“She said, in an encoded message to me, that she has some sensitive information that she will turn over to Timmy if we do not meet their demands.”

“How sensitive?” Buckminster asked.

“Very sensitive,” Tibbles answered. “So sensitive that it could undermine or even destroy the very legitimacy of the U.S. government.”

“Like how we lied about weapons of mass destruction?” Buckminster asked.

“More sensitive than that.”

“Like how we set the drug cartels up as a front for funding the Contras in Nicaragua?”

“Far worse.”

“Like how we had Kennedy assassinated?”

“Even worse than that.”

“Worse than faking the moon landing?”

Silent pause.

“Worse!”

The POTUS grabbed his gold-plated .44 magnum and started waiving it as he spoke. “We can’t allow her to give this compromising information to the Russians. We just can’t do it. The very survival of the office of the presidency depends on preventing that from happening.”

“What do you propose we do about it?” Fricke asked.

“We have to stop her.”

“What does she have?” Fricke asked.

“It’s so sensitive I can’t even divulge it to you.” The POTUS replied, pointing the barrel of the pistol at Fricke for extra emphasis. “She has to be stopped.”

“How?” Fricke asked, ducking slightly.

The POTUS got up from his desk, turned, and used the barrel of his gun to part the gold curtains and have a peek out the window. There was nothing to see. The window was frosted glass hiding a bank of lights simulating daylight just beyond it.

“We have to terminate the First Lady,” Buckminster advised, reading the president’s mind.

“Like assassinate her?” Fricke asked.

The president turned and looked at Buckminster without any expression.

Buckminster stood up. “Mr. President, you need say nothing. I will coordinate this operation without any direct order from you. Gentlemen, this mission does not exist, nor will it ever exist. The president did not order it. The president has no knowledge of it.” He saluted the president and left the Oval Office.

 


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COG Chapter 14

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 14

Deep in the Hades Level, within the confines of the UltraBunker, the POTUS sat on his thronelike chair contemplating the situation in the company of his closest confidants: Fricke, Buckminster, Tibbles and Haberdash. The conference was marked mostly by silence. Tibbles’s eyes rolled back into his head in deep thought. Buckminster stared at Fricke, waiting for him to make a suggestion that he could immediately shoot it down. Fricke checked the time on his cell. Haberdash doodled a pair of rotund breasts on his notepad. The POTUS sighed.

“What?” Fricke finally burst, sensing Buckminster’s glare.

“Are you ready?” he replied.

“Ready for what?”

“Ready to activate that thing…?” He glanced down at Fricke’s feet where the nuclear football rested.

“Let’s just hope it doesn’t come to that.”

“Let’s hope?” Buckminster mocked. “We don’t have the luxury of hope. We must be prepared to act. The survival of the U.S. federal government hangs in the balance.”

“Knock it off, you two,” barked the president. “What have you come up with, Frank?”

Tibbles scratched his head through his wispy hair, removed his glasses, rubbed his doe-eyes, then gulped. “I’m still working things out in my head, sir. If the Chinese have the First Lady, why aren’t they using her as leverage to get Chung back? Why are they holding that back? Using her as negotiating leverage would be a vastly better alternative to Protocol 4. I’m starting to think that she is not with them. Perhaps the Russians have her. But if they did, I’m certain they would have notified the Chinese of it. Maybe they already have and the Chinese are playing coy. I’m not sure. I believe that—”

Just then, Faucett poked his head into the room.

“What is it?” asked the POTUS.

“You have a call.”

“Is it Huli?”

“No Sir.”

“Who then?”

“It’s the Duke of Watford Gap, sir… the Kingforebear.”

“The who?”

“The grandfather of the future Lord Protector of England, Prince James Edward William George.”

“Oh, not that inbred old fart. Tell him to make an appointment.”

“I tried sir, but he’s very insistent.”

“Tell him to bugger off… isn’t that the expression they use? Do it with decorum, though.”

“All right. If you say so, sir.”

Tibbles raised an eyebrow and subtly shook his head at the POTUS.

“No. Wait!” The POTUS sighed. “Go ahead and put him through.” The POTUS glanced at Tibbles who nodded in affirmation.

“Yes sir.”

The Kingforebear’s long and pointy, bushy-eyebrowed face materialized on screen.

“What can I do for you, James Edward? Can I call you Jed for short?” asked the POTUS.

The Kingforebear started right in. “Good evening Mr. President. Thank you for speaking with me under such informal arrangements.”

“Always happy to make time for royalty. What can I do for you?”

“I do realize your time is extremely valuable so I’ll get right to it. I was inquiring as to the present situation and wondering how I could be of service. Perhaps I might be able to help mediate in the dispute with the Chinese.”

“I appreciate the offer Jed, but I don’t see how. There’s nothing to mediate. Those sneaky Chink bastards have exercised Protocol 4. “

“Yes, indeed they have. But perhaps we could enter into negotiations before…” the Kingforebear trailed off.

“Before what?”

“Well, before there is a global catastrophe.” The Kingforebear smiled awkwardly, but he always smiled awkwardly so nothing could be read from it.

Buckminster scowled.

“What is there to negotiate, Jed?”

“What I was thinking is that perhaps we could at least get together and draw up an agreement to set aside some countryside here and there to protect it from total destruction…” the Kingforebear smiled awkwardly-er. “…so that there might be a place for the future King to go riding upon once this is all over.”

“What good would that do?” Buckminster chimed. “I’m sure it will all be irradiated.”

“Perhaps.” Smile. “But my advisors tell me the exponential decay of the individual radionuclides is… is… not very long… that after a short while the surface would have radiation levels that are less than life threatening. Perhaps our progeny could still go topside and enjoy a bit of mother nature now and then, even if wearing protective suits were necessary.” Smile.

“What areas did you have in mind, Jed?”

“Well, nothing much, really, just a million hectares of English countryside…” Smile. “Perhaps a small piece of the Scottish moors as well.”

“I’ll make a note of it and pass it on to missile command,” answered the POTUS. “Anything else?”

“That’s all, really.” Smile. “If we were to incinerate the greater portion of the world, at least we would be comforted in the knowledge that our descendants might one day enjoy a good fox hunt.” Smile.

“Thank you, Jed.”

“Thank you, Mr. President.” Smile.

Click.

No sooner had The Duke of Watford Gap’s smiling face dissolved from the screen when the face of the president of Japan appeared.

The POTUS grimaced.

“Mr. President? Am I connected? I wasn’t expecting to get through to you so quickly.”

Faucett stuck his face into the room again. “I apologize Mr. President. I seem to have patched the president of Japan through by mistake.

The POTUS shooed Faucett off. “Not now, Ticky Taki!” The president pressed a button. Taki’s face disappeared just as it was about to formulate a sentence. The screen finally went black.

“So what were you saying, Frank?” asked the POTUS.

“Sir, I do have some good news to report.”

“Spit it out.”

Faucett’s smug face appeared in the door once more. “You have another call, Mr. President.”

“Who is it now?”

“It’s Lucius von Rothschild, sir.”

“Who?”

“You met back him back in August, in Davos,” the page explained.

“He’s the richest person in the world, sir,” Tibbles added. “He donated a hundred million dollars to your campaign… in the form of two thousand separate donations from the individual branch banks he owns.”

“No shit? Put him through.”

A pointy, wart-nosed, balding visage appeared on screen. Rothschild’s skin was gray like worn out athletic socks and the bags under his eyes invoked the droopiness of a sleepy Saint Bernard.

“Good evening Mr. President.”

“Lucius! How the hell are you old friend?”

“I suppose well, all things considered.”

“What can I do for you?”

“I wanted to let you know that we fully support you and that we stand at the ready to unleash our financial reserves in the event they are needed for postwar reconstruction.”

“That’s good to know, Lucius. I pray it doesn’t come to that but if it does, and it probably will, you will be the first ones we call. Is there anything else?”

“Well, as a matter of fact there is. Although our banks are very well capitalized, we fear that a full-scale nuclear conflagration would severely denigrate global infrastructure and either vaporize or at least isolate a large portion of the global workforce. Reconstruction would be very costly from a labor shortage perspective.”

“That’s true. But why would that bother you? We’d have to borrow even more to cover the rising costs.”

“Yes, yes, that is true. But if the pool of labor were to drop below a certain critical mass, no amount of credit would suffice. You can’t rebuild a bridge without someone swinging a hammer.”

“What are you getting at?” asked the POTUS.

“I’m suggesting a consideration for military strategy to accommodate preserving a pool of labor… for reconstruction.”

“This is total industrial war, Lucius,” remarked the president. “We vaporize everything with scientific efficiency these days. Those barbaric days of antiquity, with armies maneuvering around on a pitch of battle are long gone.”

“Yes, yes, of course. Those primitive tactics belong to the bygone era.”

“So what are you proposing?”

“We were wondering if perhaps your military strategists might consider sparing viable pools of labor in Sub Saharan Africa, South America, and Southern Asia. There are billions of them. Billions of uneducated, hungry, and desperate Negroes and Orientals who have very reasonable expectations of living standards… if you know what I mean.”

“You mean cheap labor.”

“Yes, yes, of course. They could comprise a vast workforce which could be mobilized and imported for reconstruction. Once the rebuilding has begun, they would become a large populace from which to extract taxes that you can then use to repay your debts to us.” Lucius Rothschild, whose black eyes reflected no light, grinned in the manner of a jackal baring its teeth.

The POTUS glanced over at Tibbles whose eyebrows raised. “Can we plug that parameter into the doomsday algorithm?”

“I’m sure it’s in there, sir,” Tibbles answered.

“Thanks for calling Lucius. We’ll try to work your proposal into the war plans.”

The screen went dark.

“So,” the president turned to Tibbles, “You were saying?”

“Yes, sir. So I met with the lawyers earlier and we might have uncovered a possible remediation to this Protocol 4 situation.”

“Which is?”

“Sir…” Faucett’s face appeared in the doorway.

“No more calls!” barked the president.

“It’s not a call, sir. It’s your nurse. She’s come to take your readings and give you your vitamin shot.”

“Now?”

“She says the readings must be done now, sir, in order to get a consistent sampling for comparison.”

“Can she do it while we continue our discussion?” asked the POTUS.

“I don’t see why not,” Buckminster answered. “She’s vetted with security clearance level six.”

“Send her in, then.”

“Mr. President,” Tibbles continued, “I…”

The POTUS watched as Nurse Baum entered the room carrying her black medical bag. She walked over to him and placed it down on the floor next to his high back chair. The president redirected his attention to Tibbles.

“Mr. President,” Tibbles continued, “Protocol 4 seriously hampers our ability to govern. But I am happy to tell you that, after meeting with the attorneys, it seems we may still be able to send information to the surface legally.”

Nurse Baum wrapped the blood pressure cuff around the president’s arm and activated the pump.

“Explain…”

Tibbles shuffled through his notes. “It seems that Protocol 4 is quite specific in what it authorizes. It is very clear in wording that no information from the surface and no persons are to be allowed into the bunker for the duration of the situation but…”

Nurse Baum noted the president’s pressure readings on her notepad. Then she rolled up the president’s sleeve.

“But what?”

Nurse Baum wiped a spot on the president’s forearm and withdrew a syringe from her bag.

“But it does not say that all information and persons are precluded from leaving the bunker.”

Nurse Baum flicked the bubbles in the syringe and eyed the dosage.

“Go on…”

“In fact, in the fine print, there is a provision that arranges for persons to actually leave the bunker.”

Fricke’s eyes widened.

“How is that possible?” asked Buckminster. “Everyone is RFID tagged down here. The minute someone leaves, their blip will disappear. The server will alert the Chinese.”

“And what could they do about it?” asked Buckminster.

“Even so,” said the president, “how would we get someone out? The doors are sealed.”

Tibbles pondered. “We’d have to get the Chinese and the other security council members to agree to open the doors. I’m reasonably certain they would want someone to be allowed out as well.”

“They’ll never go for it. It defeats the purpose of Protocol 4,” Buckminster argued.

“How would we convince them to go along?” pondered the POTUS.

“Maybe they have someone they want to bring in,” suggested Fricke, looking as if he was suggesting the obvious. Chung, perhaps?”

“No,” snapped Buckminster. “No. Chung. It’s too risky, anyway. They would never agree to do that unless they could use it to their advantage.”

“What other options are there?” asked the POTUS.

The room fell silent. Fricke Finally looked up and started to speak. “Maybe we could—”

Buckminster rolled his eyes, then pounced. “Chung will not be a part of any deal, Fricke. Don’t even try to bring it up.”

Fricke fell silent.

“Hear me out for a second,” Buckminster continued. “We don’t want to do anything cooperatively with the Chinese. They’ll screw us for sure. Perhaps there’s a way we can go it alone.”

“How?” asked the POTUS.

“There have to be thousands of exhaust and air vents tunneled from the surface down into here. If we got the Corps of Engineers together, I’m sure they could devise a way of sending someone up to the surface through one of those, in secret.”

“Is putting a man on the surface of the earth even feasible?” asked Fricke.

Buckminster scowled. “There are grates and traps and fans and other obstacles, but it can’t be as difficult as putting a man on the moon. I’ll put the Corps on it right away. They’ll figure it out.”

“And then what?” asked Haberdash who had been sitting quietly in the corner the whole time, doodling his increasingly lewd cartoons. “What I mean is: so we get someone out, but they certainly won’t be able to get back in.”

“That’s correct,” Tibbles added. “Once you leave, you can never return. But if that person or persons carry the president’s orders, the president could at least continue to exercise the powers of the office.”

Fricke interrupted. “I think we should still make the offer to rescind Protocol 4 to the Chinese… even if we know it will be rejected.”

“Why?” asked Buckminster.

“Because it will serve as a diplomatic distraction and buy us some time… and it keeps all our options open. The sticking point will be Chung and we can draw the negotiations out indefinitely.”

“Fine. Write it up and I’ll sign off,” answered the POTUS just as Nurse Baum jabbed the needle into his arm.

 


Follows, comments, likes, edits and suggestions are greatly appreciated. 

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COG Chapter 13

CogCoverSquare

#ContinuityOfGovernment, #WW3, #TEOTWAWKI

Buried a thousand feet beneath Ohio, the ten trillion dollar, UN-constructed SuperBunker can shelter a million members of the global elite indefinitely, with all the comforts of the surface including simulated blue skies, boutique shopping, and three golf courses. The President of the United States, Arman “Our Man” Manfred, regains consciousness in one of the bunker’s six hospitals. Surrounded by his trusted advisors and his official hagiographer, his office becomes ensnared in the Machiavellian underworld of SuperBunker geo-politics. The situation worsens when the president’s Russian and Chinese counterparts execute Protocol 4, sealing the blast doors and severing all contact with the surface, relegating the world’s leaders to governing a mere computer simulation of the world above. An attempt to blackmail the POTUS with a salacious video taken by his own security agency forces President Manfred into seclusion. With his office infiltrated by a traitor and hobbled by incompetence, he attempts one final ‘Hail Mary’ that might just save the office of the president… even if it destroys the world in the process.

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Chapter 13

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

“Why do they look so glum, grandfather?” asked the little toe-headed Prince Edward William Charles Henry, while clasping the aged hand of his great grandfather, James Edward William George, the Duke of Watford Gap, who was also the grandfather of the second-in-succession to the future King of England, Prince Henry William Edward Philip, who was already balding at thirteen years old, and who himself would be crowned king in the unfortunate circumstance that his cousin, prince William George James Edward were to meet some unfortunate circumstance…

The Duke of Watford Gap patted the little prince of the top of his blond head, between the boy’s two enormous ears, while examining the throngs of stunned Greys shuffling past. “Everybody is saying we must have more people brought down into the bunker,” the Duke pondered, “But the people that are here are looking so ghastly that they’re here.”

 

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

“Francoise?” she asked.

“Oui?”

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

“Who, my dear?”

“The workers, the Greys.”

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

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

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

“I feel sad for them.”

“Don’t.”

“Why?”

“Because they are the fortunate ones.”

“But they are separated from their families.”

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

“But I still feel sad for them.”

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

“Nurse Baum!”

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

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

She stared at him blankly.

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

Baum stood frozen.

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

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

 


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COG Chapter 12

CogCoverSquare

Buried a thousand feet beneath Ohio, the ten trillion dollar, UN-constructed SuperBunker can shelter a million members of the global elite indefinitely, with all the comforts of the surface including simulated blue skies, boutique shopping, and three golf courses. The President of the United States, Arman “Our Man” Manfred, regains consciousness in one of the bunker’s six hospitals. Surrounded by his trusted advisors and his official hagiographer, his office becomes ensnared in the Machiavellian underworld of SuperBunker geo-politics. The situation worsens when the president’s Russian and Chinese counterparts execute Protocol 4, sealing the blast doors and severing all contact with the surface, relegating the world’s leaders to governing a mere computer simulation of the world above. An attempt to blackmail the POTUS with a salacious video taken by his own security agency forces President Manfred into seclusion. With his office infiltrated by a traitor and hobbled by incompetence, he attempts one final ‘Hail Mary’ that might just save the office of the president… even if it destroys the world in the process.

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Chapter 12

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“Attention! Protocol 4 has been activated…”

 

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

 

“Protocol 4 has been activated…”

 

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

 

“The bunker doors are closing…”

 

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

 

“Please stand clear…”

 

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

 

“The bunker…

 

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

 

“Doors…”

 

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

 

“Are…”

 

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

 

“Closed.”

 

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

 


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COG Chapter 11

CogCoverSquare

Buried a thousand feet beneath Ohio, the ten trillion dollar, UN-constructed SuperBunker can shelter a million members of the global elite indefinitely, with all the comforts of the surface including simulated blue skies, boutique shopping, and three golf courses. The President of the United States, Arman “Our Man” Manfred, regains consciousness in one of the bunker’s six hospitals. Surrounded by his trusted advisors and his official hagiographer, his office becomes ensnared in the Machiavellian underworld of SuperBunker geo-politics. The situation worsens when the president’s Russian and Chinese counterparts execute Protocol 4, sealing the blast doors and severing all contact with the surface, relegating the world’s leaders to governing a mere computer simulation of the world above. An attempt to blackmail the POTUS with a salacious video taken by his own security agency forces President Manfred into seclusion. With his office infiltrated by a traitor and hobbled by incompetence, he attempts one final ‘Hail Mary’ that might just save the office of the president… even if it destroys the world in the process.

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Chapter 11

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

Squawk

Squawk

Squawk

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

The president stopped squawking. “Yes?”

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

“Fine.”

The president folded his hands and rocked again.

Squawk

Squawk

Squawk

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

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

“Yes?”

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

“Fine.”

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

“Good idea. Bring Timmy up.”

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

…But the screens remained black.

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

“Well…?” asked the POTUS.

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

“I knew it.”

“Knew what, sir?” asked Tibbles.

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

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

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

“Still nothing, sir.”

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

“Turn on the game!” ordered the POTUS.

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

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

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

“Nothing yet, sir.”

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

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

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

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

“Heh-roh Mr. Pwesident!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Don’t be coy, Huli.”

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

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

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

“Huh?”

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

“Oh, right.”

Tibbles withdrew.

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

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

The president glanced at Tibbles who faintly shook his head.

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

“Why?”

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

“And then what?” the POTUS asked.

“Then you will find out.”

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

Tibbles scowled.

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

“I know nothing of your First a-Ray-dee.”

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

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

“That’s on you.”

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

“You’re one to talk, Huli.”

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

“Fine.”

“Fine.”

Click

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

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

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

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

Then the referee looked at McGuinn…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The screen went totally dark…

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

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

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

“What?”

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

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

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

“Hello?”

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

“What do you want now, Huli?”

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

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

“I’m afwaid you reft us no a-choice.”

“What did you do?”

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

“You didn’t!”

“Yes, we did.”

“Do you know what you’ve done?”

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

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

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

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

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

“Tibbles?”

“I’m afraid he’s right, sir,” Tibbles answered. “It was designed with the idea that if we have come down into the bunker, that the geopolitical situation on the surface is precariously close to Armageddon. The idea was that it is a failsafe; if we find ourselves cut off from contact the surface, we might be compelled to work out our differences before a worst case scenario. Didn’t you read the memo?”

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

“Mr. President?”

“Tell me we have a back door!”

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

 


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COG Chapter 10

CogCoverSquare

Buried a thousand feet beneath Ohio, the ten trillion dollar, UN-constructed SuperBunker can shelter a million members of the global elite indefinitely, with all the comforts of the surface including simulated blue skies, boutique shopping, and three golf courses. The President of the United States, Arman “Our Man” Manfred, regains consciousness in one of the bunker’s six hospitals. Surrounded by his trusted advisors and his official hagiographer, his office becomes ensnared in the Machiavellian underworld of SuperBunker geo-politics. The situation worsens when the president’s Russian and Chinese counterparts execute Protocol 4, sealing the blast doors and severing all contact with the surface, relegating the world’s leaders to governing a mere computer simulation of the world above. An attempt to blackmail the POTUS with a salacious video taken by his own security agency forces President Manfred into seclusion. With his office infiltrated by a traitor and hobbled by incompetence, he attempts one final ‘Hail Mary’ that might just save the office of the president… even if it destroys the world in the process.

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Chapter 10

“I know what they’re going to do, Mr. President…”

The POTUS, nestled in his burgundy recliner, borrowed within the subterranean SuperBunker Oval Office, watched DeForest Reese shepherd a panel of like-minded pundits working in unison to assuage the building public terror of eminent thermo-nuclear destruction. The pundits, without citation or named source, but with confident, easy smiles and affirming nods, parroted each other’s assurances that the benevolent, munificent, brilliant leaders and elites down in the bunker would manage to work things out and save the world— one only needed to remain calm and have faith. And if they weren’t able to work things out… well… democracy would at least survive the nuclear holocaust and emerge to rebuild a better world. This was at least something all the people on the surface could be proud of… at least up until the moment they were vaporized by super-heated plasma.

The president was sipping a scotch. It was 8 a.m.

“Who is going to do what?” the POTUS asked, his voice already slowed by the alcohol.

“The Sino-Russian Axis, sir,” Tibbles replied.

“They won’t do anything because of Chung.”

“But they can do something, sir.”

“They can do what?”

“Protocol 4.”

“Protocol what?” the POTUS asked dismissively. “Have you seen the First Lady?”

“Her schedule says she is visiting an orphanage today, sir.”

“An orphanage? There aren’t any orphans down here.”

“She’s visiting it virtually, sir.”

“Why wasn’t I told? Sounds like a good opportunity to press the flesh.”

“You were told, sir. But I imagine you have a lot on your mind with President Hu Li’s deadline looming. How are you holding up?”

“I’m doing fine.”

“No concerns?”

“Nope. None at all.”

“Did you get any sleep last night?”

“Slept like a baby. Only took three Unisoms.”

“Mr. President…”

“Yes, Frank?”

“We need to have a conversation.”

The president scowled at Tibbles. “About what?”

“I think you know what about.”

“Not now, Frank. This is a big day.”

Tibbles tried to hide the disappointment that was dragging at his facial expression.

“We’ll talk later, after the deadline passes.”

Tibbles sighed. “Aren’t you worried about what the Sino-Russian Axis will do?”

“Nope. I’m looking forward to the deadline. When it passes, my burdens will be transformed.”

“Sir? I’m certain Protocol 4 will be a difficult burden.”

“Don’t care. The fog of uncertainty will be lifted from my mind. My course will become crystal clear. Hey, did you and Fricke get together about the nuclear football?”

“We did.”

“And you have the authentication codes with you?”

“At all times sir.”

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

“Yes.”

The president’s buck-toothed butler, Faucett, appeared. “Sir, the motorcade is ready.”

“Terrific. Frank, are you ready for some golf?”

“I’m not much of a golfer, sir.”

“You’ll have a great time. Hab will be your caddy.” Haberdash, who was seated opposite the POTUS on another recliner, appeared startled as if he was just awakened.

The POTUS got up and walked to the foyer with Tibbles and Hab in tow. There, they met three secret service agents who escorted them out of the Brown House doors and into the hall where they were joined by three additional secret service agents, two of whom were dressed in pastel sweater vests, plaid pants, derby hats, sunglasses and side arms. They entered the elevator where they were greeted by two more agents bringing the total to eight secret service agents, one chief of staff, one presidential hagiographer, and one POTUS.

“God damn it’s crowded in here,” grumbled the POTUS as the elevator doors closed. “Anyone farts and I’ll have you demoted to riding a Mo-Mo.”

One of the agents dressed in a black suit and black glasses whispered into his lapel. The elevator jolted upwards. Moments later, the doors opened to the lobby. They were greeted by five additional secret service agents in black who surrounded the presidential entourage as they strutted down the roped off red carpet, across the main lobby, through the glass doors and outside—which wasn’t really outside as they were several hundred feet underground. On the avenue they were met by eleven black, bullet-proof, presidential golf carts filled with additional agents and drivers all dressed in black. The president’s phalanx scrambled onto the backs of the executive carts. The president and his entourage boarded theirs and, once the appropriate hand signals were given and observed, and the right whispers were whispered into their collar radios, the giant, black secret service centipede whirled off down the subterranean avenue under the melon glow of a virtual dawn.

Within four minutes, they arrived at the Gerald R. Ford Memorial golf course— one of six underground golf courses of the SuperBunker. The president and his troupe hopped out and strolled into the clubhouse through a gauntlet of a hundred more security agents, several dozen media, and a smattering of perhaps eight or nine curious elite civilians— four of whom were golfers. Inside the clubhouse, the president greeted the prime ministers of Japan, Germany, and Tunisia. They all shook each other’s golf-gloved hands.

The POTUS was the second-best golfer of the lot. Taki Takishima, the prime minister of Japan, was the best— a scratch golfer. He had an exceptional short game, good enough to get him a tour card if he wanted it. Schumpert, the PM of Germany was next. A tall, husky woman with broad shoulders and considerable breasts, could absolutely crush it off the T box, but the Gerald R. Ford course was, obviously, built indoors and only designed as a par three in lieu of space constraints. Schumpert’s long ball would not help her much. Faisal, the Tunisian, was short and pencil thin, and had never played golf. When his caddy handed him a club to take some practice swings, he clasped it with two spaced hands, ritualistically, like he was being presented a royal scepter.

“Hmm, we have a dilemma,” remarked the POTUS. “We seem to have a five-some instead of a four-some.”

“Oh, that’s okay Mr. President, I will drop out,” Tibbles remarked.

“No, no. Nonsense. You’re my guest. We can fix this. Perhaps we can play with two foursomes. Are there any other prime ministers in the clubhouse?”

The faces of the secret service agents swiveled as they scanned the bar and the pro shop but no other national leaders were spotted. The security detail was, in fact, the only occupants of the clubhouse other than the five-some and their caddies.

“Well, damn.”

“Maybe a five-some is not a big deal?” Taki remarked.

No, no. It’s bad form and rude. Maybe we can play as a two-some and a three-some. We’ll all T-off together. You two can hole out, then Tibbles and Faisal and I will come up after.”

“That defeats the purpose of this golf summit if we are not playing together,” remarked Schumpert.

“Well, I suppose that leaves only one option,” the POTUS turned slowly to the Japanese prime minister. “Taki, would you mind sitting this round out?”

“I will drop out,” offered Faisal. “I’ve never played before and I’m afraid I’ll be making a fool of myself.”

“No. We have important matters to discuss regarding your little trade predicament with Algeria. Ticky-Taki’s just here for show. We’re already working through the East China Sea negotiations. Ain’t that right, Taki?”

The prime minister of Japan, who had just had his spikes sharpened, stared blankly at the POTUS.

“Taki, you okay?”

After a faint nod evoking suppressed contempt, Taki bowed out. The prime minister of Japan stomped back to his golf cart while the remaining caddies, sixty-five security personnel, and four journalists made their way to the T-box. They stood on the elevated mound of plastic turf, looking out at the plush fairway lined by artificial trees, the swath running down and then up to a patch of lighter plastic green flanked by sand bunkers. They heard songbirds, but didn’t see any as the ambient nature sounds emanated from well-hidden speakers.

“You first, Faisal.”

Faisal’s caddy showed him how to place the ball on the embedded tee. Then he handed him a seven wood and corrected his grip. Then he got down on the ground and set Faisal’s feet. Then he stepped back and demonstrated for Faisal how to swing.

“You might want to lay up… avoid the bunker!” joked the POTUS.

Faisal took a deep breath, reared back, and swung… missing the ball entirely by almost a foot. By some inexplicable physics, one of his shoes had come loose and flew several yards down the fairway.

“We’ll give you a mulligan on that,” the POTUS remarked. “Try again.”

Faisal sighed. His caddy demonstrated once more. Faisal, now wearing one shoe, took another deep breath and swung. He connected, albeit imperfectly, and the ball ripped downhill through the plastic grass some twenty yards, passing his shoe on the way.

Next up was Marjorie Brunhilda Schumpert, Chancellor of Germany, affectionately known as “Large Marge” to President Manfred. She approached the tee box with her three wood. She addressed the ball.

“Do you think you have enough club to reach the green?” asked the POTUS.

Marge pretended not to hear him. She cantilevered into her backswing and uncoiled, her downswing cut the air with a woosh, the torque bending the club as it arced downward, splicing the din of songbird chirps with a ting of perfect contact of the club face onto the ball. She followed through with a beastly grunt, giant breasts heaving, eyes locked on to the tiny white bullet rocketing upwards into orbit, dangerously close to the canvas sky. She exhaled as the ball carried out like a tracer round, high above the center of the plastic fairway.

“What a drive…” remarked the POTUS. “Uh oh. Trouble.”

The ball sailed on, and on, over the faux green, over the artificial shrubbery on the far edge, slamming against the backlit blue, concrete wall of the bunker. It ricocheted downward and bounced into the silk foliage.

“I got it I think,” exclaimed the president. “You’ll probably have to drop.”

Schumpert snarled in response.

Tibbles was next. As was his custom, he applied an unassuming, smooth swing with his four iron, laying it up about thirty yards short of the green on the left edge of the fairway.

“Nice safe shot, Frank!” exclaimed the POTUS while patting him on the shoulder. The president gestured to Haberdash who selected a five wood and handed it to him. The POTUS stepped onto the tee. He placed his ball and adjusted his feet. He exhaled and drew his club into his backswing—.

“Mr. President!” shouted one of the sixty-five secret service agents standing by.

The POTUS aborted his swing and stepped back from his ball looking perturbed. “Not now!”

“But Mr. President, I have an urgent message for you.”

“I said not now!” President Manfred re-addressed the ball, took a breath, exhaled, and swung. His shot was no golfing masterpiece. He hit it hard but not square and it launched out in worm-burner fashion. It strafed along a few feet off the ground for a hundred and fifty yards or so, then skidded down the grass and into the rough, stopping in the vicinity of Tibbles’ conservatively placed shot.

“Nice ball, Mr. President!” Tibbles remarked.

“Now, Mr. President?” asked the agent.

“Forward it to Fricke. He’ll handle it.”

“Yes sir.”

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

“Sir?”

“What is it, Frank?”

“What if it’s the Chinese, sir?”

“I assume it is. So what?”

“Don’t you want to speak to them?”

“Nope. Not yet, anyway. I’m going to make them sweat a little.”

“Why?”

“It’s called ‘the art of the deal’, Frank. By ignoring Huli, we are asserting that we are in the superior position. It will make them more amenable to our demands once they capitulate.”

“Are you sure about that, sir?”

“Of course I am.”

Faisal hit his ball, then hit again, and once more before Tibbles and the POTUS reached the president’s ball.

“What the hell?” snapped the POTUS, stopping cold.

“What is it, Mr. President?”

“Is that a gofer hole?”

“I doubt it, sir. This course is artificial.”

“Yeah, but maybe they burrowed in?”

“We’re a thousand feet below the surface, sir.”

“Maybe some gophers found a ride down here.”

“I really don’t think so, sir.”

“How am I supposed to hit my ball out of that hole?”

“I assume you will need to take a drop… and a one stroke penalty.”

The president winced at Tibbles. Tibbles turned to the secret service agents and Haberdash who responded by turning their backs to the president. President Manfred then scooped the ball out of the hole with his foot and fluffed it atop the plastic grass. When he looked up, he noticed that the German Chancellor was watching him from the far side of the green. She shook her head in contempt.

The president pretended not to notice and chipped on, followed by Tibbles. Faisal was on the green in six and Schumpert was on in three with her penalty stroke. A secret service agent pulled the pin and held it just off the fringe of the green. Faisal putted first leaving it so short he had to putt again, this time sending it well past the hole. The POTUS putted, leaving it about two feet away. Schumpert, still looking disgusted, putted but left it a few inches short.

“Good enough, Marge,” the POTUS remarked. She picked up her ball in a huff. Tibbles put his ball within a foot. He marked it and stepped back. Faisal putted twice more, finally putting it in the hole.

“Now you’re getting the hang of it, Faisal!” encouraged the POTUS. “What is that, a nine?” He turned to Schumpert. “You’re taking a five?”

She rolled her eyes.

The president studied his lie. He turned to Schumpert. “Is this a gimme, Marge?” he asked.

She didn’t respond.

“I’ll say it is,” answered Tibbles.

The POTUS handed his putter back to Haberdash and grabbed his ball. “Par,” he muttered as he scribbled three on his card.

Tibbles, whose ball was only twelve inches from the cup, was hitting for par as well. He re-placed his ball and snapped his marker back onto the backhand of his glove. He aligned his feet and club face. He drew back and in the mechanical manner of a silent pendulum, his putter clicked the ball. It rolled forward to the hole, onto the lip where it bent around the edge and rolled out. His face filled with contrived disappointment.

“Oh, too bad, Frank,” remarked the POTUS.

Tibbles tapped in for bogey.

Just then a careening golf cart alerted the sixty-five secret service agents. Half scrambled towards it and the other half placed themselves between the cart and the three world leaders.

“It’s the secretary of state!” Tibbles announced. “He just pinged me. Everyone stand down!”

The golf cart rolled to a stop and Fricke got out and scrambled up to the foursome.

“What is it?” asked the president.

“It’s…” Fricke paused to catch his breath, “it’s the First Lady.”

“What happened?” asked the president.

“She’s missing. She disappeared just after her appearance with the orphans.”

“How is that possible?” asked Tibbles.

“Secret Service is still trying to figure that out.”

Tibbles glanced desperately at the POTUS.

The president pondered with pursed his lips. “Those sneaky Chinks,” he muttered.

“We’ll need to get you to the UltraBunker, immediately, sir” barked one of the agents who nudged the president in the direction of his golf cart.

The entourage piled back into their rides and the procession sped back up the plastic fairway to the club house. They circled around and parked and the president’s entourage hopped out of the white country club golf carts and hopped into the black secret service golf carts and sped back to the Brown House. In a matter of minutes, the POTUS was hustled into the Oval Office elevator and taken into the depths of the UltraBunker.


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

Previous Chapter

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COG Chapter 9

CogCoverSquare

Buried a thousand feet beneath Ohio, the ten trillion dollar, UN-constructed SuperBunker can shelter a million members of the global elite indefinitely, with all the comforts of the surface including simulated blue skies, boutique shopping, and three golf courses. The President of the United States, Arman “Our Man” Manfred, regains consciousness in one of the bunker’s six hospitals. Surrounded by his trusted advisors and his official hagiographer, his office becomes ensnared in the Machiavellian underworld of SuperBunker geo-politics. The situation worsens when the president’s Russian and Chinese counterparts execute Protocol 4, sealing the blast doors and severing all contact with the surface, relegating the world’s leaders to governing a mere computer simulation of the world above. An attempt to blackmail the POTUS with a salacious video taken by his own security agency forces President Manfred into seclusion. With his office infiltrated by a traitor and hobbled by incompetence, he attempts one final ‘Hail Mary’ that might just save the office of the president… even if it destroys the world in the process.

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Chapter 9

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

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

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

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

 

The Secretary of the Office of Management and Budget

The Administrator of the Small Business Administration

The Secretary of Commerce

The Attorney General

And The Secretary of Government Oversight

 

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

 

The Secretary of the Interior

The Secretary of Health and Human Services

The Secretary of Education

The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

The Trade Representative

And the Secretary of Veterans Affairs

 

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

Footsteps approached from beyond the blast door.

Click clack click clack.

The sounds grew in decibels until they stopped just beyond the bolts of the doorway. All eyes swung toward the sound. Haberdash scribbled away. The Secretary of Agriculture suppressed a cough. The POTUS remained motionless. Finally, the silhouette of a man with a briefcase appeared in the doorway. He was short, pear-shaped, with narrow shoulders. His wispy silver and blond hair was combed over to one side. He wore thick, horn-rimmed glasses that magnified his gentle, black eyes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m a-no good, Manfweed.”

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

“You know vewee well what’s wong.”

“I thought our relations were improving.”

“You are foo of boo-shit, Manfweed.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“His a PIN is a perfecwee vawid.”

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

“You ir-reegeree entered our sovereign territory and kidnapped Master Chung.”

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

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

“Consequences? Like what?”

“You will see, Mr. Pwesident.”

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

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

“Like what?”

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

“Like sinking another aircraft carrier?”

“More dire than that.”

“Like nuking a city?”

“Worse than that.”

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

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

Click.

The monitor went dark.

Everyone’s glance pivoted and locked on to the POTUS.

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

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

There was a smattering of uncomfortable laughs.

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

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

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

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

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

“Hell, its 4-D chess!”

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

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

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

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

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

“Rooseveltian?” Haberdash pondered, under his breath.

A look of satisfaction flushed the president’s face.

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

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

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

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

The president stared blankly.

“Cato…the man who opposed Caesar.”

“The man who opposed Caesar? What the hell? I am Caesar!”

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

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

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

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


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

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COG Chapter 8

CogCoverSquare

Buried a thousand feet beneath Ohio, the ten trillion dollar, UN-constructed SuperBunker can shelter a million members of the global elite indefinitely, with all the comforts of the surface including simulated blue skies, boutique shopping, and three golf courses. The President of the United States, Arman “Our Man” Manfred, regains consciousness in one of the bunker’s six hospitals. Surrounded by his trusted advisors and his official hagiographer, his office becomes ensnared in the Machiavellian underworld of SuperBunker geo-politics. The situation worsens when the president’s Russian and Chinese counterparts execute Protocol 4, sealing the blast doors and severing all contact with the surface, relegating the world’s leaders to governing a mere computer simulation of the world above. An attempt to blackmail the POTUS with a salacious video taken by his own security agency forces President Manfred into seclusion. With his office infiltrated by a traitor and hobbled by incompetence, he attempts one final ‘Hail Mary’ that might just save the office of the president… even if it destroys the world in the process.

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Chapter 8

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

Chung did not see his parents very often— his father, almost never. When he did see him, his father always brought a gift. On this most recent encounter, his father brought him a MontBlanc pen which was supposedly used by the ministry of trade to sign an accord with diplomats from Bhutan.

“Thank you, father,” Chung said in Mandarin upon receiving it.

“So how are you, my son?”

“I am well, father.”

“Are you improving at your studies?”

“I suppose so, father.”

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

Chung nodded and grinned, crookedly.

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

Chung shrugged.

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

“Did you play soccer, father?”

“Not exactly.”

“Did you play basketball?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“How about golf?”

“Once or twice.”

“Father, what sports did you play?”

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

“Which was your favorite?”

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

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

“Almost. I used to play tennis.”

“On a grass court?”

“Umm, no. It was indoors.”

“So a clay court?”

“No.”

“Was it on concrete?”

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

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

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

“Oh, I see.”

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

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

“Not that I recall.”

“Father?”

“Yes, my son?”

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

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

“Of course, father.”

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

“Really?”

“Really.”

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

“Where to, Master Chung?”

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

“Should we wait for him, young sir?”

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

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

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

 

#

 

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

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

Hank took a gulp of his muddy, morning coffee and a bite of his buttered jelly toast, recalling the prior evening’s listening and the muffled, monotone voices who said “uh” a lot, and who would drone on and on, on radio talkshows and podcasts. There were sasquatch hunters, and planet Nibiru astronomers, UFOlogists, and time travelers, and JFK assassination experts, flat earthers, and Hadron Collider doomsayers, and the accounts of a supposed bunker being built where the world’s elite were going to gather and ride out an apocalypse designed to cull the human herd of useless eaters. All the titillating tales were very entertaining to Hank. Even more so because he knew one, and possibly two of them to be more or less true. For not only did Hank know that the bunker reports were a fact, he had also seen a UFO when he was seven— although he often wondered if might have been a dream. Hank relished having confirmation of the bunker conspiracy and he relished having that inside information.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Agent Chinasky?”

“Yes sir. Can I help you, sir?”

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

“You’re NSA[2]?”

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

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

“Who is this?” he asked.

“All the details are included in the dossier.”

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

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

“But I technically work for the UN.”

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

“Like a spy?”

“Yes. Like a spy.”

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Position yourself there, by the gate,” he ordered Chinasky, “Wait for my signal.”

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

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

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

“Excuse me,” Chinasky shouted. “Excuse me!”

The target paid no attention.

“Hey you! Hey kid!”

The kid turned.

“Hey, is your name Chung?”

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

“I said are you Chung Wang?”

Chung shrugged. “Who wants to know?”

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

“Yeah, so?”

“Are you Chung Wang?”

“Maybe. Who the hell are you?”

“Show some respect for authority.”

Chung smirked before reaching down for his ball.

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

“Why?”

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

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

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

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

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

Chinasky twisted the throttle and sped off in pursuit.

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

Chinasky was gaining.

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

Chinasky’s rippling face was riveted with determination.

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

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

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

“Damn!” Chinasky cursed.

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

“Bill,” he shouted as he chased.

“You’re losing him, Chinasky.”

“I’m in pursuit.”

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

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

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

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

Chung glanced left, again.

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

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

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

Chung glanced left again.

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

Chung bared his teeth.

“Easy, there.”

Chung planted his right foot back.

“Don’t do it!”

Chung glanced left again.

“Easy, there.”

Chung bit his lower lip.

Chinasky extended his taser.

Chung’s arms tensed.

Chinasky reached down for his handcuffs.

Chung released the ball.

Chinasky followed the ball down with his eyes.

Chung’s back leg swept forward.

Chinasky’s hands moved reflexively.

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

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

His cell beeped.

“Chinasky, Bill here. Do you copy?”

“Go ahead,” Chinasky groaned.

“We got him!”

“Got who? Over.”

“Chung! We got Chung!”

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

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

[1] Taikonaut: Contrived English word for a Chinese astronaut

[2] NSA: National Security Agency


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COG Chapter 7

CogCoverSquare

Buried a thousand feet beneath Ohio, the ten trillion dollar, UN-constructed SuperBunker can shelter a million members of the global elite indefinitely, with all the comforts of the surface including simulated blue skies, boutique shopping, and three golf courses. The President of the United States, Arman “Our Man” Manfred, regains consciousness in one of the bunker’s six hospitals. Surrounded by his trusted advisors and his official hagiographer, his office becomes ensnared in the Machiavellian underworld of SuperBunker geo-politics. The situation worsens when the president’s Russian and Chinese counterparts execute Protocol 4, sealing the blast doors and severing all contact with the surface, relegating the world’s leaders to governing a mere computer simulation of the world above. An attempt to blackmail the POTUS with a salacious video taken by his own security agency forces President Manfred into seclusion. With his office infiltrated by a traitor and hobbled by incompetence, he attempts one final ‘Hail Mary’ that might just save the office of the president… even if it destroys the world in the process.

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Chapter 7

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

After a formal contest of pick-a-number, overseen by forty-seven accountants, six international judges, and the secretary general of the UN, the prestigious advantage of arriving last was awarded to the U.S. delegation. The presidential golf carts ambled up to the curb. Security agents scurried into position. When each of the sixty secret service agents indicated to central command that the situation was safe, the footman of Golf Cart One opened the door and President Arman Manfred stepped stiffly out onto the curb. The POTUS gathered himself up, straightened his navy-blue suit, and peacock-strutted his way down the red carpet which was flanked by stone cauldrons bearing virtual flames. He passed under a technicolor awning and through the glass and bronze doors held ajar by two men adorned as Aztec warriors.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The POTUS huffed before taking the empty seat. “I was supposed to have the middle chair,” he protested. The president of China and the president of Russia looked at each other befuddled. “This was all decided during the official coin flip,” continued the POTUS.

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

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

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

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

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

Hab’s eyebrows raised indicating this was the first he’d heard of this.

Timoshenko and Hu Li exchanged a glance of acquiescence.

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

A long, tense silence followed.

The president of the United States sighed.

The president of Russia scratched his temple.

The president of China forced a grin.

The president of the United States forced a grin.

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

The president of the United States interlocked his fingers.

The president of China cracked his knuckles.

The president of Russia rubbed his chin.

The president of China stopped smiling.

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

The president of Russia adjusted his glasses.

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

One of the presidents examined his cuticles.

Another licked his lips.

The third rubbed his nose.

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

Another stuck his finger in his ear.

Another re-crossed his legs.

One of them sniffed.

Another coughed to cover up a belch…

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

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

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

The other two presidents watched him.

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

“Yes?”

“I can’t forgive you.”

“Forgive me for a-what?”

“Don’t be coy, Huli.”

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

“The Henry Harrison was performing routine naval exercises.”

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

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

“It was to crose,” Hu Li reaffirmed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Not my a-prob-rem.”

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

“You should have taken better care.”

“It’s Japan’s rock!”

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

“It’s just a rock, Huli.”

“Tell that to Taki[3].”

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

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

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

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

“Not unanimous-uh-ree,” chimed Hu Li.

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

“What business is it of yours?”

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

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

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

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

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

“Of course not.”

“Well that’s what you’re gonna get.”

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

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

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

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

“So we are at an impasse.”

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

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

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

Timoshenko cursed. “Stay out of Bolshevistan.”

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

“You first, Mr. President.”

“No, you first.”

“After you.”

“You go, I go.”

“I’m right behind you.”

“No, I’m right behind you.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Alone, our dick is too small, we a-cannot win,” answered Hu Li.

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

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

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

“About what?”

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

“A what?”

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

“Oh, splendid. A new axis of evil.”

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

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

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

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

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

“At least we have this bunker,” the POTUS replied, “so that the governments can emerge one day to rebuild it all.”

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

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

 

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

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

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


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COG Chapter 6

CogCoverSquare

Buried a thousand feet beneath Ohio, the ten trillion dollar, UN-constructed SuperBunker can shelter a million members of the global elite indefinitely, with all the comforts of the surface including simulated blue skies, boutique shopping, and three golf courses. The President of the United States, Arman “Our Man” Manfred, regains consciousness in one of the bunker’s six hospitals. Surrounded by his trusted advisors and his official hagiographer, his office becomes ensnared in the Machiavellian underworld of SuperBunker geo-politics. The situation worsens when the president’s Russian and Chinese counterparts execute Protocol 4, sealing the blast doors and severing all contact with the surface, relegating the world’s leaders to governing a mere computer simulation of the world above. An attempt to blackmail the POTUS with a salacious video taken by his own security agency forces President Manfred into seclusion. With his office infiltrated by a traitor and hobbled by incompetence, he attempts one final ‘Hail Mary’ that might just save the office of the president… even if it destroys the world in the process.

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Chapter 6

The First Lady rolled over in bed and reached for her pack of Virginia Slims cigarettes. She placed one on her lips and tossed the pack which landed flat on the nightstand. Her fingers fumbled around, finally retrieving her lighter. She struck an enormous flame— perhaps four inches tall— setting her stoic face aglow in warm light and filling the room with aromatic butane. She moved the very tip of the flame to the end of the cigarette and drew, setting the tobacco aflame. She released the igniter which extinguished the flame and tossed the lighter back onto the nightstand with an exhale of sweet smoke. Holding her cigarette aloft in her left hand, she reached out with her right to retrieve her bottle of OxyContin. She unscrewed the cap with the cigarette perched between two fingers. She tipped the bottle and shook once, and a single pill tumbled with a rattle out onto her tongue. She set the bottle on the nightstand. Next, she reached for her short glass tumbler, raised it to her lips and washed down the pill with a last swig of bourbon. She set the tumbler down and took another drag from her smoke.

“You know smoking is not allowed down here,” her partner advised in a deep whisper.

She sighed in the darkness. “Was it good for you?” she asked as she exhaled again.

“Sure,” answered Dexter Fricke.

“Did you actually just say ‘sure’?”

“What’s wrong, Veruca?”

“Right now? Everything.”

“Everything will work out. Try not to carry the weight of the world.”

“You always say that but what do you base that on?”

“Because it always works out.”

“It always does… until it doesn’t. I don’t think you understand him, Dex.”

“Arman is… complex.”

“Manfred’s an idiot who thinks he’s a genius.” She reached out and flicked on the lamp.

“It’s an act, Veruca. He uses it because it’s worked for him.”

“He’s insane.” She glanced at the satchel containing the nuclear football that rested on the arm chair in the corner of the suite.

“All presidents are insane, Veruca. You can’t go through life worrying about them. There are safeguards in place.”

“He’s getting more insane by the day. He’s twice as crazy now that his favorite aircraft carrier was sunk.”

Dexter chuckled. “He did have a thing for that boat.”

“The USS Henry Harrison: sunk to the bottom of the East China Sea by one solitary Chinese missile.”

“A hypersonic missile.”

“One missile nonetheless.”

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

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

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

“It was his baby.” Veruca handed the cigarette to Dexter who took a half-hearted drag. “It’s because it was the biggest of them all. It was an expression of his manhood— like those short rednecks with tiny pricks who drive around in monster pickup trucks. He bragged about having all the foreign dignitaries and leaders visit it, especially Hu Li. He made him walk it with him from end to end. It was like a presidential cock-measuring contest.”

“Hu Li got the last laugh, I suppose.”

“We’ll just have to see about that.”

“Is Arman really compensating?” Fricke joked as he handed her back the cigarette.

“Do I really need to answer that?” the First Lady stubbed out the cigarette.

“Well, he can’t do anything too outrageous. Tibbles has the authentication codes.”

“And now you have the football.”

They both glanced at the satchel.

“Whatever happens, Dex, you can’t ever let him launch.”

“As long as Tibbles is topside it won’t matter.”

“He won’t be topside for long.”

“Relax. We took care of it. It’s impossible to get him in. The moment he crosses the threshold with his duplicate PIN, everyone will be alerted to the breech… the Chinese, the Russians. The allies would turn on us.”

“So what? You think Manfred gives a damn about them? Tibbles is coming. Trust me.”

“Even if he doesn’t give a damn, the moment a person with a duplicate PIN enters the SuperBunker, Protocol 3 will activate. The host country will have its power and water cut by the computers. Tibbles would be a poison pill.”

“Manfred will figure out a way. Don’t you think I know him? You think I don’t know how his psychotic little mind works? He got me, Dex. He got me to marry him. I’m such an idiot. My father warned me.”

“You’re not an idiot, Veruca. You’re the First Lady of the United States.”

“I am an idiot. This is all my fault. Without my family’s money[1] he never would have amounted to anything.”

“So divorce him.”

“What would that accomplish? I’d have even less power to stop him.” She reached over for her pack but thought better of it and threw it back down on the stand. “You have to do more, Dex. You may have to save the world.”

Fricke laughed. “What more can I really do?”

“Promise me you will keep Tibbles from getting down here as long as possible. Delay it, undermine it, do whatever you can, but make sure Manfred doesn’t have access to his authentication codes.”

“I’m doing everything I can.”

“You know he’s got Fuckminster working on something,” she added.

“I’m not too worried about Buckminster.”

“I can smell it. They’re always having their secret conversations. They get quiet when they see me come around. Fucky is Manfred’s lackey, Dex. I bet you anything he’s plotting some way to get Tibbles down here in case you fail. You have to be ready for that.”

 

 

 

[1] Veruca Weinstein’s family money originated from the Weinstein Dill Pickle corporate empire, founded by Frank David Weinstein in 1907. Throughout the following decades, The Weinstein Corp expanded into newspaper holdings, fast food restaurants, and contracting cafeteria services for the department of defense.


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