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.
When Nurse Baum finished her shift, she swiped out at a kiosk manned by a secret service agent posted at the doorway of presidential suite. She passed through a microwave particle scanner, then was escorted into an elevator which she took up 62 floors to the lobby level. She walked out the front doors with her secret service escort and across a pedestrian bridge over the outer train line— which ran counter-clockwise round the SuperBunker— and down onto the platform of the inner line which ran clockwise. The trains arrived every twelve minutes and her escort silently waited with her until it arrived, ensuring that she boarded, according to routine. She was unable to find a seat as it was in the middle of shift change and the monorail cars were loaded with “Greys”— as the guest workers were known by those who had bunker IDs. Some seventy-thousand maintenance staff members, servants, clerks, therapists, delivery drivers, gardeners, sanitation crew, janitors, security personnel and nurses, among many others, were going top side, heading home to their families on the surface.
The monorail whisked southeast, arching slightly to the right for a couple minutes before slowing and stopping at Baum’s topside station. She de-boarded, along with a good portion of the remaining Greys. They passed through a security checkpoint with revolving steel turnstiles and then rode up five lengthy escalators until reaching a wide tunnel. They walked through two blast door archways. The first dropped from the ceiling. The second swung and was so large it looked as though it was designed to hold back King Kong. The imposing door hung on hinges with steel bolts larger than a man. The Greys passed through a final chain link gate before reaching the breeze and evening sunlight of the surface world. Shuttle busses stood by to gobble them up and whisk them away to their homes in the world.
Emma Baum was relieved at finally being outside the suffocating tomb of the SuperBunker but she also felt a nakedness in that she was now unprotected from a potential nuclear annihilation. She took a bus home, got off at her park-and-ride lot, drove her ten-year-old crossover SUV to her apartment, and climbed the stairs up to her third-floor apartment. She unlocked the deadbolt on the door and slipped in, relieved, as she always was, to find her daughter and the sitter on the sofa, watching videos.
“Oh, hello, Emma. Didn’t hear you come in.” The sitter got up and collected her things. “Sophie had pizza rolls and mixed veggies for supper. Her homework is all finished.”
“Thank you, Lisa.”
“See you tomorrow.” Lisa slipped out the door. Emma Baum watched her descend the stairs and bolted the door behind her.
“How are you, Nora?” Nurse Baum asked as she took a seat next to her on the sofa.
“How was school?”
“What did you learn about, today?”
“We learned about World War I.”
“Mrs. Tewksberry said that it was called the war to end all wars. But it didn’t end all wars.”
“No, it didn’t.”
Nora leaned over into her mother’s lap while the videos of precocious house cats played on.
“Tommy Mueller says that we’re going to have world war 3. Is that true?”
“I wouldn’t worry about it, honey.”
“Tommy Mueller says that we’re going to get vaporized.”
“How did Tommy Mueller express his feelings about being vaporized?”
“Did he sound worried or was he just trying to scare you?”
“He said it like he was trying to make me mad or scared.”
“Don’t you think that if he really believed that then he would sound a little worried?”
“He says his family is going to their cabin.”
“Yeah. Tommy Mueller says his dad has enough supplies to last them a year.”
“Well that’s good for them. I don’t know that I would be bragging about it though, if I really expected world war 3 to happen. You wouldn’t want everyone coming to your cabin if it did.”
“Do you think he would let us come?”
“I doubt it.”
“There probably wouldn’t be enough room. I hope the Chinese or the Russians give them two or three days advance notice so they can get to their cabin in time.”
“Is it true that you work in the SuperBunker?”
“I do, Nora. It’s temporary, though, until the crisis is over.”
“Do you ever see the president?”
“I’ve seen him a couple times so far.”
“What’s he like?”
“Well…” Emma Baum sighed to buy time to formulate her answer. “He’s always going around talking about being the ruler.”
“But isn’t he?”
“He’s the president.”
“Doesn’t that mean he’s the ruler?”
“President’s certainly seem to think so. Let me tell yu a little secret…” Emma hugged her daughter tightly on the sofa. “Someone who has to go around reminding everyone that he is the ruler probably isn’t much of a ruler.”
“I think he’s strange.”
“Well, he certainly is a character. But I imagine you have to be a bit of a character to become president to begin with.”
“Rock Willis is a character. Do you think he could be president?”
“Rock Willis is an actor. But I’m pretty sure he could probably be at least as good a president as the one we have now.”
Nora paused to gather herself. “Are we gonna die?”
“Everyone dies, honey. But hopefully not for a long, long time.”
“Why does everyone die?”
“That’s a good question. I think it’s partly because if we didn’t die, we wouldn’t really appreciate being alive.”
Nora pondered for a moment, then stood up. “I’m going to get some pretzels.”
Nora went to the kitchen. While she was rummaging around, Emma Baum flicked through the channels, stopping briefly on the grim visage of DeForest Reese in a split screen with a picture of an airport…
“And there,” Reese commented, “stopped on the tarmac, Air China flight 0628. Aboard that plane sits the president of China and his family, as well as several high-ranking Chinese party members and industrialists. If you were wondering how our enemies can land a jumbo jet in the middle of our country, their flight into our airspace was guaranteed by international treaty and by what is referred to as ‘Protocol 4′. Any member nation of the security council can permanently seal the doors to the SuperBunker and lock everyone in and everyone else out. This protocol ensures cooperation between nations who have deteriorating relations.
“Once they deplane, they will board those buses you see lining up there and will be taken to Entrance 12 of the Continuity of Government Bunker— or the SuperBunker as it is commonly called. I don’t know about you but I can feel the tension…”
The image of Reese was replaced with a female analyst wearing heavy eyeliner and pancake makeup.
“I just can’t believe my eyes. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined this tyrant— this Chinese Hitler, as some have labeled him— being permitted to land on our soil. This is a man who, with the aid of the Russians, has driven the world to the brink of nuclear holocaust…”
Far across the world, in Beijing, a similar television newscast was being broadcast in which a male analyst with tinted glasses was commenting in Mandarin.
“…I just can’t believe my eyes. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined our great leader risking his life to travel into the heartland of the American empire on this last chance mission of peace. Let us all hope that the American Stalin can be convinced to come to his senses…”
And far across the world, in the opposite direction, a similar newscast was being broadcast into households in Moscow.
“…I just can’t believe my eyes. The president of China has just landed deep within the borders of America. Soon, the father of the Russian Federation will be joining him, alongside other rulers of the world. The Americans must be made to understand that Mother Russia will not except the imperialist provocations of the Americans…”
The steady stream of oligarchs and cronies, apparatchiks and bureaucrats, elites and nobles arrived at one of three Oho international airports over the course of the following days. By terms of the UN accord and SuperBunker protocols, anyone who possessed a valid PIN was whisked away by bus or luxury limousine and driven down into one of the twelve bunker access points. They were ferried through the enormous, steel blast doors, photographed, DNA profiled, and GPS micro-chipped. After an interactive video orientation, they were then driven by monorail and golf cart to their apartment in their designated section arranged within the circular bunker according to their country and continent of origin.
Each day, two hundred thousand civilians, with special access PINs, commuted into the SuperBunker to deliver the food and goods, to make the repairs, maintain the equipment, cut the hair and manicure the nails, cook the meals, mop the floors, and do whatever other manual functions that could not be performed by machines or the elites themselves. They each signed a contract that stipulated that, in the event that the doors had to be closed, they would remain inside the bunker and continue performing their assigned tasks as well as any others as may be required. Six barracks nodes were established along the three-hundred-mile, circular monorail route, where the workers would be quartered in the event of a worst-case scenario. The conditions were Spartan and dorm-like, but to be locked inside the bunker was considered a perk, at least by the elites who had written the provisions. Little consideration was given for the heartache that would be felt by the Greys who would be separated from their families back on the surface.
The workers were divided into three eight-hour shifts— the first starting at 8:00 A.M, which was Nurse Baum’s shift. Her routine was quite typical. In the morning, she would get Nora ready for school, then drive her to the bus stop, then drive to the park-and-ride where she would catch the bus that took her to her SuperBunker entrance. She had seniority, so her shift ran Monday to Friday, which was a good thing for workers who didn’t wish to be trapped in the bunker. History had shown that whenever the U.S. government intended to unleash global havoc— which presumably included a potential nuclear first strike— it would most likely do so on a Friday afternoon so as not to disrupt the stock markets.
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