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COG Chapter 5


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

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Chapter 5

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

“Yes sir,” Kilgore answered.

“You sleep with that bag?”

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

“And what all’s inside?”

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

“Instructions on scenarios?”

“That’s correct.”

“Such as…?”

Kilgore glanced at Buckminster again

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

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

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

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

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

“Pareto what?”

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

Hab bore a look of confusion so Buckminster continued.

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

“I still don’t understand.”

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

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

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

“What does that mean?”

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

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

“How so?” interrupted Buckminster.

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

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

“I see.”

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

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

“Well, yeah but—” Major Kilgore replied.

“Yeah but what?” Buckminster interrupted.

“I withdraw my last statement, sir.”

“No. Tell me what you meant.”

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

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

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

“Out with it, Major!”

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


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

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

“Oh, nothing,” Fricke replied.

“Oh, it was something,” Buckminster explained.

“What was it?” asked the president.

Buckminster’s eyes turned to Major Kilgore.

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

Kilgore gulped.

“Spit it out.”

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

“About what?”

“About the nuclear football, sir.”

“Like what kind of scenarios?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


“Just answer.”

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

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

“Sir, but I…”

“Major Kilgore…”

“Yes sir?”

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


“Yes sir?”

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

“Sir, I respectfully decline.”

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

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

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

“Sir, I…”

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

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

“Check it out.”

“Now, sir?”

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

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

“It’s here, sir.”

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

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

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

“What’s on the agenda?” asked Hab.

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

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

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

“I’m afraid not, sir.”


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

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

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

“Bullshit. I need my chief of staff.”

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

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

“I understand fully, sir.”

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

“I’m doing the best I can, sir.”

“Fricke, do you know what Tibbles is?”

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

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

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

“He’s the halfback!”

“The halfback, sir?”

“Bucky, fill him in.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How so?” asked Fricke.

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

Comments, likes, edits and suggestions are welcome.

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COG Chapter 4


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

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Chapter 4

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

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

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

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

“Thank you.”

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

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


“How was school?”


“What did you learn about, today?”

“We learned about World War I.”

“Oh really?”

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

“No, it didn’t, did it?”

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



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

“I wouldn’t worry about it, honey.”

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

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


“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 that, though, if I really expected world war 3 to happen. You wouldn’t want everyone coming to your cabin trying to get your supplies.”

“Do you think he would let us come?”

“I doubt it.”

“How come?”

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



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

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

“Do you ever see the president?”

“I’ve seen him a couple times.”

“What’s he like?”

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

“But isn’t he?”

“Well, he is the president.”

“Doesn’t that mean he’s the ruler?”

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

“I think he’s strange.”

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

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

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



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

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

“Why does everyone die?”

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

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

“Okay, honey.”

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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

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

Comments, likes, edits and suggestions are welcome.

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COG Chapter 3


An attempt to blackmail the POTUS with a salacious video, taken by his own security agency, forces President Arman “Our Man” Manfred into seclusion, deep within the depths of the UN SuperBunker. With the world on the brink of nuclear war and his office infiltrated by a traitor, the POTUS 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 3

“Good morning, Mr. President.” Nurse Baum clicked on the lights illuminating the president’s sprawling master suite. The president stirred awake under the silk sheets of his California king-sized bed, the posts of which rose nearly fifteen feet above the floor. Across the room, a muted and dimmed one-hundred-inch screen was set at an angle so it could be viewed comfortably from bed. It flashed pictures of various world leaders giving speeches. A ten-foot tall oil painting of FDR, cigarette holder between his teeth, swinging a cricket mallet while riding on a galloping horse adorned one wall and a ten-foot tall painting of Ronald Reagan losing his Stetson hat clinging to the reins of a bucking bronco adorned the other. Hab was fast asleep in an overstuffed chair next to a virtual fireplace.

Nurse Baum placed a blood pressure cuff on the president’s arm and pumped it up, then listened to the stethoscope as the air hissed out. “160 over 115.”

“That’s better than it was,” he remarked as she ripped the cuff loose and stowed it in her bag.

“Here, take your pills.” She presented a plastic container resembling a tray from a tackle box. He fished out twelve pills and swallowed them, three at a time, chasing them with the remains of a glass of scotch that was sitting on his nightstand. He finished and handed her the glass. As soon as she took it, he reached behind her and squeezed her on her ass.

“Really, Mr. President?” Nurse Baum turned and scowled at him.

“Oh, don’t get all worked up, honey. I just couldn’t help myself. You really are put together.”

“That’s totally inappropriate, Mr. President.”

“Not for the president.”

Nurse Baum passed Buckminster who just entered the room as she was leaving.

“And how are we feeling today, sir?”

“Splendid. I’m ready to get back to work.”

“Good to hear that. But we’re going to ease you back in.”

“Oh, please…”

“Doctor’s orders.”

“What’s on my agenda? Where’s Tibbles?”

“Fricke’s working on it. Here’s what I know: Tibbles is topside, but we can get him to a DOD[1] bunker within four hours of notice.”

“I don’t want Tibbles hiding out in some cave in Missouri, eating cheese and sleeping on a bunk bed. I need him down in here, with me.”

“I understand that. The issue is that the PIN ID he was issued was a duplicate of someone else’s, so he can’t enter this particular facility until that matter is resolved.”

“Well, issue him another.”

“It’s not so simple, sir. This is not a U.S. government-run facility. We don’t have carte blanche. The UN is the arbiter on these matters.”

“Bullshit! We paid for the god damn thing.”

“In truth, we paid for about forty percent of it, sir. Eighty percent of that was shadow budget.”

“So send Fricke to visit those UN twats and tell them there’s been a mistake.”

“He’s working those channels. The trouble is the process is very bureaucratic. It could take weeks to sort it all out.”

“Weeks? We’ll be in a nuclear war before that. Just make Tibbles a guest worker, then.”

“We tried that. The UN won’t approve a guest worker PIN for him. He’s too high level. The Russians and the Chinese blocked it.”

“Then have secret service sneak him in.”

“That’s very difficult to do. We could bribe the guards to let him through, but his mere presence will ping the security surveillance facial recognition system. It will be a diplomatic mess the instant he enters. They would probably invoke Protocol 4.”

“Bucky, this facility holds over a million people…”

“Yes sir. It’s huge, over three hundred miles of tunnels, sir.”

“You’re telling me we can’t hide one person in this giant worm hole?”

“We could prevent his arrest, but his detection would be virtually instantaneous.”

“For Christ’s sake…” The POTUS rubbed his chin stubble. “Okay, so there’s a million people down here…”

“At capacity, sir, with an additional 250,000 guest workers.”

“So, over a million people when filled, whatever… People are gonna die down here, Bucky. It’s just a mathematical reality given that many people. People die all the time. When somebody dies, just give Tibbles their ID.”

“It would have to be an American, sir, which narrows that list to 200,000, but even when that opportunity arises, and the Russians and Chinese approve, there are waiting lists for each of the PIN numbers of the deceased. The waiting lists are over a thousand deep.”

“Bucky, you are not understanding the gravity of the situation. Tibbles is a national security priority. He’s the halfback. He has the launch code password.”

“I fully understand the gravity of the situation, Mr. President. But the waiting lists have already been worked out. Billions of dollars have been invested by these people for their bunker access priority numbers. As nuclear war approaches, they are going to demand entry. And they aren’t going to give up their PIN to Tibbles.”

“God damn it, Bucky. I need a solution to this.”

“We’re working on it, sir. I think there is another angle.”

“What is it?”

“I had the UN provide a dossier on the person who was assigned Tibble’s ID.”


“It’s in your email.”

The president reached for his cell and brought up the message from Buckminster. He scrolled through the text and images.

“Chung Wang?”

“Yes sir.”

“He’s a Chinese national?”

“That’s correct, sir.”

“He’s just a boy.”

“He’s thirteen years old, the son of the founder of Li Chung construction of Beijing. They built the $4 billion People’s Tower in Hong Kong and laid the fiber for their social credit spying network.”

“Is that the building with the sickle and hammer footprint?”

“No, you’re thinking of the Revolution Center. I’m sure you’ve seen it. It’s the two hundred story building topped with a five-hundred-foot tall, gilded statue of a peasant charging towards Japan with a bayonet.”

“Oh, right.”

“The Chung family has very close ties to the party, there.”

“He’s a goofy-looking little Chinaman…” the president remarked. Bucky glanced at Hab who cringed. “This seems like a slam dunk to me. We go to the UN and tell them there’s been a mix up. We tell them that this Wang Chung kid got issued an ID by mistake.”

“The Chinese won’t surrender him, sir. But…”

“But what?”

“If you’re okay with deporting a thirteen-year old, we think we can make that happen. Although it will require rendition.”

“Don’t get soft on me, Bucky. We’re talking about the survival of the U.S. government, here. Tibbles is critical to the continuity of government. Like I said, he’s the halfback.”

“The Chinese will be very upset.”

“They’re already upset. Just do what must be done.”

[1] DOD: Department of Defense

Comments, likes, edits and suggestions are welcome.

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COG Chapter 2


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 2

The president was released from the Fletcher Memorial Medical Center on the fifth day after his episode. They dressed him up in a navy blue leisure suit, fuzzy slippers, and a U.S. flag pin. They hoisted him into a wheelchair nicknamed “Chair Force One” which was emblazoned with the presidential seal on the seatback and fashioned with bullet proof glass shields on the sides. It had an electric motor that helped move it along due to its weight– the built-in defensive counter-measures caused it to weigh over 800 pounds. Chair Force One was constructed by a defense contractor named Numenor Corp at the bargain price of twenty-five million dollars. Chair Force One had seven full time, year-round attendants who were paid $100 per hour. Numenor also collected an annual maintenance fee to service Chair Force One totaling forty million dollars per year. The medical staff anticipated that President Manfred would be in need of Chair Force One for a total of forty-eight hours.

The POTUS protested when they hoisted him in, but Buckminster and the president’s newly assigned personal nurse, Emma Baum, hoisted him onto his wheeled throne, nevertheless, being careful not to disturb the intravenous lines and other monitoring equipment connected to his veins and skin. The POTUS put on a brave and pleasant face as he wheeled out of the Fletcher Memorial infirmary by joystick control, and into the main hall where a throng of press corps reporters and videographers were waiting and shouting: “Mr. President! Mr. President! Mr. President!”

Manfred did not give a speech. He said only, “God bless America,” and “but for the grace of God go I,” and “your thoughts and prayers are greatly appreciated.” He gave a thumbs up as they loaded him into a black, bulletproof golf cart, also emblazoned with the presidential seal and decorated with presidential flags mounted on the front fenders. The U.S. federal government contracted for the construction and maintenance of the bullet-proof, executive golf carts with a defense contractor named Hegel-Strauss. Each one cost sixty seven million dollars. A procession of eighteen black, Hegel-Strauss, bullet-proof, executive golf carts whizzed off in procession into a white-tiled tunnel, led and trailed by a motorcade of SuperBunker security personnel riding two-wheeled mopeds with red and blue flashers known by their trademark name as “Mo-Mos.” Mo-Mos were not built by a defense contractor, per se, but by a firm coincidentally headquartered in the district of the Speaker of the House.

The procession snaked along the gently arcing motorway for three quarters of a mile until they reached the monorail station. From there, the POTUS and his entourage boarded a sleek, silver monorail car with tinted glass, bulletproof windows, and plush leather seats— hand-stitched by part time laborers in Arkansas, each of whom was working at their day jobs on the surface at that very moment, and feeling greatly distressed by the possibility of being vaporized by Sino-Russian nukes.

Secret service agents in black suits and black sunglasses and fade haircuts and constipated looks were posted on the platform of the station. They whispered secret codewords into their lapels. The presidential entourage boarded and the monorail car doors slid shut and the train launched into the cavernous tunnel. It accelerated to maximum velocity, whisking through the tube reaching speeds of over one hundred miles per hour. Orange marker lights embedded in the walls streaked past in the windows like tracer bullets in the night. But within a minute, they were decelerating out of the darkness into a massive, open chamber filled with building facades and wide walkways lined with plastic ficus trees beneath a canvas sky backlit in pastel blue. The monorail stopped at the platform of Section N Depot C. The depot and the adjacent Hotel Americana were crafted in the art deco style and brightly illuminated with lighting that evoked neon. A new squad of secret service agents in black suits and black sunglasses and fade haircuts and constipated looks scrambled into position and whispered codewords into their lapels. The doors of the train slid open and the president was wheeled out onto a long red carpet. Another throng of press corps, lying in ambush, sprung out from behind the dolphin fountains and the faux palm trees to capture the president’s arrival for posterity. “Mr. President!” “Mr. President!” “Mr. President!” they shouted, but he just smiled and waved. Chair Force One paused when it reached the front doors of the hotel, beneath a red awning—which was a purely non-functional design element as they were nearly a half mile underground and no rain-simulation lines had been installed at this particular location. The POTUS, seated on his wheeled throne, saluted the marine posted at the door with such crispness that he nearly tore his intravenous line loose from the greenish vein in the back of his hand. The flashes of the press cameras went off like silent firecrackers on Chinese New Year. “Mr. President! Mr. President! Mr. President!” But he still did not speak. Nurse Baum guided his rolling throne through the doors via supplemental joystick control and the presidential phalanx was swallowed up by the vertical spires and radiating patterns of the hotel facade.

They wheeled the POTUS through the lobby, past the gawking staff, around a koi lagoon and miniature tropical garden, past the doors to the entertainment and convention halls, and into an elevator. Only Buckminster, Haberdash, and Nurse Baum, and two secret service agents, entered the elevator with the president. Buckminster presented his cornea for security scan. After the ping of approval and clearance, he pressed the button labeled “62.” The elevator descended at about a third of freefall velocity, causing some vertigo like one feels when riding in a roller coaster and it begins to accelerate downwards from a crest. After a few moments it came to a stop and the doors opened. They were greeted by two more secret service agents who escorted them past another dolphin fountain and down to the end of a corridor carpeted in minimalist Mondrian motiffs. They stopped before two ornate double doors, finished in gold leaf, and waited for the agent standing guard there to open them. Chair Force One rolled in.

“Welcome to the Brown House, Mr. President,” said the secret service agent who manned the door.

“The Brown House?” asked the president.

“Yes, sir.”

“Who in the hell thought of naming it that?”

“Uh, I believe it’s in lieu of it being underground, Mr. President. You know, brown… the color of earth.”

“It sounds like a place where you go to have a shit,” replied the POTUS.

“Then I won’t call it that again, sir.” He whispered something into his lapel.

The POTUS looked at Haberdash who was stroking his wiry goatee beard. “Make sure you put that in my hagiography, Hab. The people love that no nonsense command-and-control talk.”

“You got it, sir.”

The president scanned the foyer which was finished in fine marble. Corinthian columns flanked each of the three ten-foot tall doors before them.

“Where’s the media room?” asked the POTUS.

“This way, sir,” Buckminster answered. They wheeled him to the left, through one of the massive mahogany doors, down a long hall, past several smaller doors, until they reached a dark room with a five-hundred-inch television screen affixed to one wall. Baum pressed a button and Chair Force One’s seat lifted the POTUS up off the chair so that he could easily maneuver himself onto an adjacent recliner. The recliner had a touch panel built into the arm so that he could adjust its positioning as well as access all the telecommunications available without having to get up. It was constructed by a defense contractor named Longfort-McBurton at a cost of twelve-million dollars. It would have only cost eleven-million dollars but the federal government bought the extended warranty.

“You can control the network feed there, sir,” Buckminster advised as he showed the president the controls. “You can also alert security with that button there, and charge your cell phone wirelessly there. That button adjusts the lights, and this one sends the butler…”

“Thank you, Bucky. Where’s my bat phone?”

“Right here, sir.”

“Great. That will be all.”

Buckminster left, taking Nurse Baum and the secret service personnel with him. The president was alone with Haberdash and his five-hundred-inch television and six-foot-tall images of himself being released from the medical ward moments earlier on cable news. At the bottom of the screen, a line tracked changes in his public approval rating in real time with twelve pings per second. His popularity had never been higher at sixty two percent favorable—which was a record for presidents in the twenty first century. The looming global thermo nuclear Armageddon had bumped his numbers up twenty points and his hospitalization had knocked it up another ten.

“These god damn news reporters never say anything,” the president fumed as he ignored the television and watched the exact same video feed on his cell phone.

Haberdash, who was distracted by an itch inside his loafer, nodded in agreement. “No doubt, sir.”


“Yes, Mr. President?”

“Off the record…”

“Certainly, sir.”

“What the hell happened? I can’t remember a damn thing.”

“Oh, I don’t think I am a reliable conveyor of the facts, Mr. President?”

“What do you mean? You’re the executive hagiographer.”

“I think you should have Fricke fill you in on all those details… when you’re up to it, sir.”

“God knows these idiots on television won’t give me anything useful.”

The president reclined in his chair, reached over to his touch panel, and dimmed the lights. He watched news reports of himself for several hours while Haberdash futzed around on his notepad. When he finally tired of seeing himself, the POTUS pushed the comm button on his control panel. “Anyone there?”

“I’m here, sir.”

“Who’s this?”

“Faucett, sir. I’m the Brown House butler, sir.”

“Can you come in here, please?”

“Right away, sir.”

Faucett appeared five seconds later dressed in a black jacket with tails and a black bow tie. He was narrow-shouldered, with straight, reddish hair and pale skin.


“Yes, sir?”

“You’re the butler?”

“Yes sir.”

“You don’t look like a butler.”

“How is a butler supposed to look, sir?”

“I don’t know. More distinguished. Older. More like Michael Cain and less like Napoleon Dynamite, I guess?”

“I see.”

“Where’s the First Lady?”

“She hasn’t come in to see you yet, sir?”

“No. It’s just been me and Hab in here for a few hours.”

“I’m sorry, sir. Shall I send for her?”


“Right away, sir.”

Faucett turned and left.

The POTUS switched on a football game but left cable news on in the picture in picture. The Hartford Saxons were taking on Miami. An hour later, at halftime, with the game knotted at 17, First Lady Veruca Weinstein Manfred appeared. She was a petite woman with dark, narrow eyes set under scrawling, thin black eyebrows. She was dressed in all black— a short black dress, black hose, black heels, black gloves, black ribbon in her pulled up, silky black hair. Her monotone blackness was accented with a star-dusting of silver bracelets, silver earrings, and a delicate silver chain necklace.

“Where in the hell have you been?” barked the president.

“What do you mean?” she replied, unable to prevent her thin lips from curling as she spoke.

Haberdash swept his tawny waves aside and studied the terse exchange.

“Did I stutter?” The First Lady didn’t answer. The POTUS finally sighed. “Why in the hell are you wearing all black?”

“Because I’m in mourning.”

“What are you in mourning for? I’m not dead.”

“Does he really have to be here?” she asked, pointing to Haberdash who averted his eyes.

“Yes. He’s always with me.”


“Because he’s capturing my life.”

“Capturing your life for what?”

“For all posterity.”


“For history. For future generations. He’s going to write the story of my life.”

Her eyes narrowed into slits and a crease formed in her brow. “What sane person would want to read about your idiotic life?”

“Millions of people. I’m the president, the ruler of the free world.”

“You’re the ruler, all right.”

“Yes I am.”

The first lady rolled her eyes.

“I asked you why you’re dressed like you’re going to a funeral when I’m obviously not dead.”

“Why does it always have to be about you?”

“What do you mean by that?”

“I meant exactly what I asked.”

“Of course it’s always about me, Veruca. I’m the fucking president of the United States.”

The First Lady groaned. “I hate you,” she snapped. “Everyone hates you. Everyone wishes you were dead.”

“That’s ridiculous. They don’t hate me. My approval ratings are over sixty percent. That’s a record approval rating for this century.”

“You are unbelievable.”

“Are you getting all this, Hab?” asked the president.

Haberdash stopped picking his nose and started scribbling notes.

“What do you need him around all the time for?” she asked. “Just record every second of your pathetic life on a meCam. You could put the camera on a giant gold necklace and wrap it around your neck. Maybe you’d do us all a favor and hang yourself with it.”

“I already record everything. But a writer still has to put my life into prose. MeCam doesn’t write prose, Veruca. An author has to put it all together. It’ll go into my presidential library.”

“Your library? Who in the hell would visit it?”

“Lots of folks.”

“The only people who will ever visit it are psychiatrists studying megalomaniacs.”

“It’s for the academics and historians.”

“Historians study Hitler, too.”

“Are you comparing me to Hitler?”

“I hate you.”

“You already said that. Why are you in mourning?”

“I hate you because you don’t know why I’m in mourning.”

“How in the hell would I know? I’ve been unconscious.”

“I’m in mourning because billions of people are going to die as a direct result of your ego.”

“War is inevitable, Veruca. People die in war. I doubt it will be billions.”

“It’s not inevitable.” She went to the liquor cabinet and poured herself a scotch, neat.

“Pour me one of those.”

“Pour it your fucking self.”

“Hab, do you mind?”

Hab lumbered up from his seat on the sofa and went over to the liquor cabinet. He reached toward the First Lady to take the carafe from her but she set it down rather than handing it to him.

“Look, if war wasn’t necessary, we wouldn’t have to wage it.”

“It’s a war you started.”

“It was unavoidable, Veruca. We have alliances and obligations.”

“You can still stop it but you won’t.”

“I have no choice. It’s complicated.”

“Maybe,” Hab interrupted, “…everyone being down in this bunker together will help us to work things out before, you know…” He broke off as he was pouring the president’s scotch.

“Mind your own damn business,” snapped the First Lady.

Hab walked over to the president and handed him his glass, then sat back down on the sofa and returned to picking his nose.

“Oh, how I hate you,” said the First Lady.

“You’ve already said that three times. Jesus.”

The president took the bat phone from its charger and activated it. “Fricke!” he shouted.

“Yes, Mr. President?” came the baritone voice in the tinny speaker.

“Where in the hell is Tibbles?”


“What happened to Tibbles? Where is he? I need my halfback.”

“We spoke about this earlier, sir. There was a mix up. His PIN is invalid. UN Security wouldn’t let him into the bunker.”

“I don’t give a god damn about any mix ups, Fricke. I want solutions. Solution this. I need my chief of staff. I need him down here with me.”

The first lady downed her scotch, shook her head, and stomped out of the room in disgust.

The president touched the control screen. “Faucett!”

“Yes, sir.”

“Can you come in here, please?”

“Right away, sir.”


Hab glanced up.

“Stop picking your nose and look at that television.”

“Mr. President?”

“I said look at that television.”

“I’m looking at it, sir .”

“What do you see?”

“I see DeForest Reese.”

“No, you don’t.”

“I don’t?”


“Then what do I see, sir?”

“What you see is the most powerful man in the universe.”

“I thought you were the most powerful man in the universe.”

“Off the record, Hab?”

“Sure.” Hab set his notepad down.

“You know he’s gay, right?”

“Of course, sir. Everyone knows DeForest Reese is gay.”

“And you also know that he’s black.”

“Obviously, sir.”

“Hab, that gay Negro is the number one cable news anchor.”

“That sounds somewhat bigoted, Mr. President.”

“Why, because I called him Negro?”

“It could be interpreted as racist, sir, especially in this day and age.”

“Oh bloody hell, Hab. You know I’m no racist. I’m a god damn democrat for Christ’s sake!”

“Democrats can’t be racist?”

“What I’m trying to explain to you, Hab, is that DeForest Reese is the most powerful man in the universe.”

“Because he’s a news anchor.”

“Partly, but not entirely.”


“He has the ultimate toolset, Hab.”

“Sir, no one watches network news anymore.”

“Says who?”

“The statistics show declining viewership at a—”

“He has the screen, Hab,” interrupted the POTUS. “He has the screen and an audience of millions. That gives him the power to shape public opinion.”

“I suppose he—”

“But there’s more to it. Just look at him. Look! He’s handsome. He’s a sharp dresser. He obviously works out. He’s got that effeminate, coifed look about him so that women and those whiny, pussified, liberal men don’t feel threatened. He’s black, but he’s light-skinned without that Negro dialect that scares the suburban white folk. He’s a good-looking, well-spoken, non-threatening, gay, black man. He appeals to everyone.”

“Everyone except for rednecks, I suppose,” Hab interjected.

The president continued. “You know why women have gay man-friends, don’t you?”

“Do they?”

“It’s true. Women love gay men. Ask the first bitch yourself. She’s surrounded by a dozen of them: her hair dresser, her chef, her life coach, her queer trainer…”

“Why is that?” Hab readied his pen.

“Because women are subconsciously intelligent enough to know what they need. Women want a rational male mind around to keep them grounded… you know, when they get all hormonal and crazy like the first bitch does every god damn second of every god damn day. You know what, I’m starting to think she might be menopausal. “


“She’s over fifty.”

“No, I mean about needing the rational male mind.”

“Women like gay men because they need a man’s rational faculty but while feeling self-assured that he isn’t putting on an act.”

“An act?” Hab asked as he scribbled away.

“Like he’s shining her on just so he can bang her. Women don’t have to worry about authenticity with gay men.”

“I suppose that makes sense.”

“Hab, in case you weren’t aware, women make up more than half the voting population.”

“Is that so?”

“It is. And that makes DeForest Reese half of the electorate’s gay best friend.”

“That’s an excellent point, sir.”

“…And because he’s gay and black no one can ever question his objectivity or criticize him. If they do, they are instantly censured as homophobic racists. That’s a double whammy. Bad news.”

“I see.”

“Put all that in my book. Wordsmith it, though. Make it read like the statesman genius that it is. Add a few lines about my admiration for gay, black men so no one takes it the wrong way.”

“Of course. Hagiography is my forte, Mr. President.”

The president watched DeForest Reese on the five-hundred-inch video screen as if he were transfixed. “I’m so jealous of him. He has the ultimate power.”

“Yeah but can he push the button, sir?”

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COG Chapter 1


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, the POTUS attempts one final ‘Hail Mary’ that might just save the office of the president… even if it destroys the world in the process.

Next Chapter

Chapter 1

“Will he live?”

A gloved hand reached in and pried an eyelid open. A beam of white light illuminated a pale blue cornea causing the tiny muscles of the iris to constrict the black portal into the president’s soul. The fingers released and the eyelid sprung shut.

“Mr. President, can you hear me?”


Specialists in white lab coats, and nurses in teal scrubs converged. The throng of suited, presidential staff pushed their way into the scrum.

“President Manfred, can you hear me?”

More groans.

A nurse placed a blood pressure cuff on the president’s upper arm. Her nametag read “Baum”. She was thin, with shoulder length, toasted blond hair. Plain-looking, with thin lips and wounded-looking eyes, she performed her task with stolid efficiency. She removed the cuff and injected medication into his IV line.

The president began to open his eyes.. “Whu… Whu…” he mumbled.

Everyone dressed in suits drew back and sighed in relief. Many had heard the rumor that he was brain dead. Some still weren’t convinced he wasn’t.

“You’re safe, Mr. President.,” answered the doctor.

“Whu… where am I?”

“You’re at Fletcher Memorial ICU.”

The president struggled to sit up. His coal and gray hair, long matted against the pillow, splayed outwards from his beady-eyed, puffy Irish face as he pulled himself upright. “Fletcher Memorial? I’m in the SuperBunker?”

“That’s correct.”

“In… in the bunker?

“That’s correct.”

“I’ve got to get… get up… back to White House.”

A broad-shouldered man dressed in a black suit jacket and unbuttoned collar stepped forward. His dark eyes probed from under his thick, hooded eyelids. His black hair was closely cropped. When he spoke, his baritone voice filled the room like the rumble of a diesel train engine. His name was Dexter Fricke. He was the secretary of state.

“I’m afraid that’s not possible, Mr. President,” he rumbled.

“Wh… why??” the POTUS asked as he tried plowed his fingers through his hair.

“We’re in COGCON 2, Mr. President,” Fricke announced.

“Di… did we win?”

“Win what, Mr. President?” Fricke asked.

The doctor motioned Fricke back. “He sounds a bit confused,” he suggested. “We don’t know the cause or after-effects of his episode.” He turned to the POTUS. “Tell me, Mr. President, what is the last thing you remember?”

“D… Did we win?” he demanded.

“War has been averted for now, Mr. President,” Fricke answered.

“No. No… Not the war… the… the…”

The what, sir?”

“The f… The ffff…”

“He’s lost his ability to speak!” someone moaned.

Everyone leaned in for a closer look, to judge for themselves.

“The fff… The fff…”

A man in full military uniform pushed his way in and next to the president. He held his officer’s cap under his arm. He was sixtyish, with a pinkish complexion, and receding, cropped, ashy-blond hair. His crystal blue eyes were set narrowly under bushy, ginger eyebrows that punctuated a puffy, weathered face that invoked the image of an unmade bed. He was Fitzmaurice Buckminster, the secretary of defense. He bent down and spoke softly in the president’s ear, as if he was talking to a child.

“We’ll win, sir. I’ve no doubt.”

“No!” grumbled the POTUS.

“Sir, we’ve gone through this a dozen times. Stick to the plan.”

“Not… not the war!” the president bristled. “The game.”

“The game, sir?”

“I think he means the football game,” Fricke resonated.

“Oh, yes,” Buckminster affirmed. “Yes, the football game. Right. Well sir, you’ll be happy to know that your Saxons beat Pittsburgh 24 to 18.”

The president grinned behind the green plastic oxygen tubes hooked into his nostrils.

“Sir, that game was Monday. Do you know what day today is?” asked the doctor.

“Not sure. Tuesday?”

“Today is Thursday.”

“Thursday? I was to meet with the Prime Minister.”

“Do you remember what day that was?”

“Wednesday… Wednesday morning.”

The doctor turned to the president’s nurse. “Nurse Baum, make a note.”

She marked it in her pad.

“What’s happening? Why am I here?” asked the president.

The doctor nodded at Fricke and Fricke stepped forward, shoulder to shoulder with Buckminster who refused to yield even an inch. “Mr. President, it seems as though you’ve suffered some sort of physical breakdown.”

“Breakdown? What do you mean?”

“You became very agitated when being briefed on the U.S.S. Henry Harrison situation. You collapsed and lost consciousness. They think it was a seizure or possibly a small stroke.”

“A stroke?”

“We don’t know. We’re still running tests. The amount of stress you’re under has been tremendous. The burden of nuclear war would be an unimaginable weight for anyone to bear…”

“But you are bearing it well, sir,” Buckminster interjected.

“But the war hasn’t started?”

“No sir.”

“Where’s my fullback?”

Fricke pointed towards the door of the room. The throng parted to reveal a thin, gray man in his seventies, also in dress uniform, clutching a large leather satchel.

“I’m right here, sir,” replied Major Kilgore in a voice that sounded like sandpaper scraping a rusty pipe.

The president breathed a relieved sigh. Kilgore nodded, his gentle gaze, set within his leathery, hardened face.

“We’ll make sure he is always nearby,” Buckminster advised. “Perhaps we should clear the room and…”

The president started pawing at his intravenous lines and monitor cables.

“Please, Mr. President,” begged the doctor. “Try to relax. You need rest.”

“Your country needs their leader well, now more than ever,” added Buckminster.

“Mr. President,” Fricke interrupted. “We still have a window of opportunity. We can work this out with Timoshenko and Hu Li.”

The president stopped his struggling and took a deep breath, then fell back into his pillow knocking strands of his black and Grey hair loose over his forehead as he relaxed. Nurse Baum rushed in to reattach his wires and hoses.

“Where’s Tibbles?” the president asked. “I need to speak to him.”

The executive staff all looked at each other and shrugged.”

“I said, where in the fuck is Tibbles?”

“Mr. President,” said Fricke with reluctance. “It appears that Tibbles was not issued a valid bunker access PIN.”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“We believe it was a clerical error, sir. We could not get the appropriate UN validations, so his entry into SuperBunker was denied.”

“Oh, to hell with that. Get him down here.”

“We are doing everything we can, sir.”

“What about Yates?”

Buckminster answered, “the protocol is for the vice president to be relocated to an independent bunker. That location is classified.”

“What about Peters?”

“He made it in, sir.”

“We’ll send for them in a couple hours,” said the doctor. “Right now, you need some rest.”

“What about Norris?” the POTUS continued, unabated.

“She is unaccounted for at the moment.”


Fricke’s eyes flashed with contempt.

“He’s just outside the door, Mr. President,” Buckminster explained. “I’m sure he’s listening in on everything we say.”

“You will be pleased to know that the first lady is safe in the bunker as well,” Fricke added.

“Oh, swell.”

“She’s resting comfortably in the presidential quarters.”

“Okay, okay,” the doctor intervened. “I want all non-essential personnel out. The president needs rest so that he can get back to ruling the world. Let’s go. Out! Out!”

The staff all took their turns smiling and patting the president on the forearm or lower leg, careful so as not to disturb his intravenous lines and cabling before shuffling out of the ward. Only the doctor, Fricke, Buckminster, and Major Kilgore remained. Haberdash, a husky dude with wavy, greasy, blond hair and a graying goatee stepped into the doorway.

“Is everyone out?” the POTUS asked.

Fricke poked his head out past Haberdash, then came back in and nodded to affirm everyone was indeed out of earshot.


“Yes Mr. President.”

“Come closer.”

“Yes sir.”



The president stared at him with a look that was something of a cross between furious anger and desperate anguish.


“Yes. What is it, sir?”

The doctor studied the charts on his pad.

“Fricke…” The president said, reaching out his hand suspended by his wavering arm.

Nurse Baum typed notes into her pad.

“I’m right here, sir. What is it?”

The POTUS lost consciousness as the sedative took hold.


Next Chapter

Trump Wiretaps Presaged in Come and Take It

While watching the DC wiretapping drama unfold, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a passage in Come and Take It where the president is informed that all the executive acts empowering the security industrial complex have come back to haunt him and destroy the republic.

“Patriot” acts, secret courts, secret warrants, gathering of metadata, recording everyone’s calls and texts and pings, building back door access points, and relaxed judicial interpretations of the Fourth Amendment have nothing to do with keeping us proles safe and EVERYTHING to do with accumulating political leverage.

Surveillance is being used to build a massive blackmail database, a strategy taken directly from the J. Edgar Hoover playbook.


From Come and Take It, Chapter 24:

“You can’t do this,” said the president.

“Of course we can. And we have all the presidents, yourself included, to thank for it. The joint chiefs, they simply used the mechanisms that you and your predecessors put into place. We weren’t the ones who cited national security as pretext to suspend habeas corpus. We didn’t pack the courts with authoritarian-friendly judges. We weren’t the ones who turned the intelligence agencies loose to gather up the necessary blackmail data on every person in the country. We weren’t the ones who muscled those impotent imbeciles in congress into funding our black ops and secret prisons. You did that, Mr. President. You did that. You and your predecessors. And you sit there and look so astonished. We’ve simply decided that it’s time to stop fucking around.”

“It won’t work. The secretary of state will intervene. The senate, the house, they’ll impeach you.”

“No. I’m afraid not, Mr. President. The secretary of state is dead. I heard it on my way in here. Apparently she just died in a car crash…most unfortunate. She was burned alive. Congress? Don’t make me laugh. They’re puppets. We have access to everything the NSA collects. We know it all. We’ve got the goods on all of them. We know the names of their mistresses and whores. We know how much they received in kickbacks and how much they spend on porn and cocaine and booze. We know the front companies where they hide their wealth from the IRS. We know their portfolios and the untoward things done by the companies they own shares in. We know about their off-color jokes, homosexual escapades, and the shocking manifestos they wrote in their youth. Every time they, or their family members have slighted anyone on record, we have it. Every vice they bragged about, every depravity or petty crime or crude behavior or moment of human weakness. We know everything about their donors as well, and the companies they own and invested in and everything they’ve done. Guilt by association, Mr. President. It doesn’t matter if they haven’t done anything significant or even if they’ve been model citizens. We can take the most innocuous thing and spin it up in the media—the media that we control; the propaganda machine you created by throwing the real journalists out and packing the press corps with sycophants. And if that doesn’t work, we’ve partnered with the banks. We can yank anyone’s campaign funding and turn them out at the next election. And the people, they’re so damn dumb they’ll fall for it. The populace is a horde of mindless millions. You know that. All politicians know that. If you didn’t know that and use that knowledge, then you couldn’t have gotten elected in the first place. The people will fall for anything. Get ready for the show. The indictments and arrests are coming.”

“For what?”

“Does it really matter? Insider trading. Embezzlement. Tax evasion. Structuring. Campaign finance violations. Fraud. Drugs. Prostitution. Corruption. Racketeering. Drunk driving. Cruelty to animals. Jaywalking…whatever. Do you really think the population is going to oppose the incarceration of the very scoundrels who wrecked the economy? They don’t give a damn about the validity of any charges. They just want to see them in handcuffs doing the perp walk. Well, we’re going to give it to them, and we’re going to deliver it right into America’s living rooms on their big screen TVs.

“We can get to anyone, Mr. President. But we probably won’t have to go that far. Do you think any of those whores in congress would tolerate even a moment behind bars or a moment of financial insolvency or the humiliation of a perp walk if they could avoid it? Hell no. They’ll follow our orders.”

Read Come and Take It for free, in its entirety.