The Third Secret of Fatima

Washington Flees

10 Washington Flees

   In a bunker beneath the Appalachian mountains outside Winchester West Virginia, an operator was performing a series of activities to keep him brain active. His function was to wait and watch for an alarm that a nuclear device had gone off somewhere in the US. It happened every few days as part of a drill. The purpose was to keep him ready and to keep him composed in the event that the alarm went off. When an alert flashed, a klaxon sounded. He went through his drill and pressed a button which made a quick connect phone call. This time a real voice answered the phone. He read the script. A nuclear device has exploded in New York City. You are to take the president to a nearby underground bunker immediately. This is the real thing. Move Now. Go.   

    The security agent who answered the phone in Washington had answered one of three orange phones. From years of practice, he knew that the other orange phones would ring the next second. The voice on those phones would be computer generated and they would give the same message he just heard. According to plan, he pressed an alarm and jumped from his chair during the word immediately. The rest of the message he was never supposed to hear. They let him hear the whole message just once, during the first practice. They had timed him and everyone else who had ever sat in his chair. It was something of a tradition. He had exited his chair and was three feet away in 0.75 seconds, which put him in the top half. Once someone took two seconds. That person was not invited back.

    Into the earphone of every agent on duty, the computer said “Initiate Plan President to Bunker. The president is in the west conference room. This is not a drill.” Then the message repeated.  Halfway through the second message, two agents burst into the conference room. One said “Bunker Plan, Mr President.” They grabbed him by the arms and thighs and did what they called a carry run toward the door. They were not supposed to engage the president in conversation. They had practiced this many times. In the earlier days, they had sometimes injured the presidential stand-in. One had a dislocated shoulder. Another had a injured kneecap. They had developed something of an art in ejecting the president from a standing, sitting, or laying condition into high speed. 

Lifters

   The men who practiced this were called the lifters. The president had practiced too. Two administrations earlier, they had discovered that the president needed to learn how to allow himself to be lifted in order to avoid chiropractic adjustment. They called it the Clinton maneuver. Over time they had gotten very good at it. In the event that a warhead was inbound, every second counted.

   It took half a second for the explosion to register on the screen. Almost another half second to register on the brain of the watcher. At one second, the call was initiated. At 6.5 seconds, the orange phone man was out of his chair. At 7.25 seconds, the agents began hearing their message. At 12 seconds, they reached the president. At 16 seconds, they exited the room. It took ten seconds to get to the nearest down elevator. An agent had already removed the paneling, and was holding the door. This elevator only held room two people, one behind the other in a narrow space. It was the narrowest elevator in the world outside of a submarine. The president was pushed in face full against the wall to allow his attendant to make a full body press into the elevator to allow the outside agent to close the door. The elevator was so small that to do this he had to reach for the handle bars on the presidents side of the elevator, lower his hips below the presidents, and pull for ward. The president actually had to hold his breath. For this reason, it was an inside joke that they called themselves intimates of the president. 

   In the society of lifters, there were the bigs and the littles. The big group got their hips clipped upon door closing. The little group got a full closure without contact. There was a third group. The jumbos. who were sent to the gym until they could slim down to qualify for reentry into the big group. 

   When the lifter pushed the down button, the elevator shot down four stories in seconds. More that one lifter had gotten sick in the practice. For this reason, a separate wardrobe was kept in waiting. As soon as the down elevator hit the lowest floor, another agent yanked the door open and the race began again. The lifters rapidly scooted the president into a vehicle waiting a few away. This was a car different than anything on the highway. It looked like a big bullet with multiple axles. And they called it the bullet. An eight foot section of the side slide forward. The president was thrown sideways into a padded cocoon. A protective carriage rose to pull him into place. One of the lifters yelled ready and the eight foot wide panel slammed back in place. At the same time, the driver accelerated into full forward with the energy of two high powered engines. One forward, one aft. 

   There was no screeching of tires. The floor and the tires were built for maximum friction. All the energy went into rocketing the vehicle forward. Designed with an unlimited budget, there were two axles in the front and two in the back. There were two tires on each wheel. There were a total of sixteen modified wide pad wheels for maximum stability. A series of lasers guided the bullet. It was built to keep within one inch of center. 

    At 48 seconds, the car was speeding away at an alarming rate of acceleration.   Most of the residents of DC did not know that they city was honeycombed by underground tunnels. In four seconds, the bullet reached 100 mph. In ten seconds it reached maximum speed of 220 mph. They shot through what they called the long tunnel. Side lights mounted on the wall sped by at a dizzying rate of speed. It happened that most presidents had never traveled at more than 120 and that was in open ground. The tunnel was only wide enough for a car and a walkway. At close quarters, 220 seemed more 300 mph. It was off the charts. The president was advised to lay still in order not to distort the steering system. Lying still also kept the president from looking out and avoided the certainty of the president having motion sickness. The visual effect was too much information for a human being to digest. It was instant vertigo. Even the practicers had to build up to it. More than one presidential stand-in had gotten sick during the drill. 

    It was no wonder that presidents lost touch with the average person. They were privy to so many secrets of which the average citizen had no idea. At 4.5 minutes, they passed below the beltway into Virginia. No small amount of construction had been facilitated to mask the construction of such a special tunnel. No one noticed that the truckloads of excavation far exceeded the amount of earth moved by the digging of a basement and subbasement. 

    In five more minutes, they were beneath the Manassas National Battlefield.  Adjacent to it was the Northern Virginia Community College which had served as a fine disguise for the construction. At one point, they pulled off the tunnel into a garage. The tunnel went twenty miles further. There were some war games in which the area was faced with a cluster of incoming devices. In that scenario, the president was moved further outside the target area. 

   The president was met by military personnel and quickly escorted down a stairway into a hallway past a series of offices into a plush conference room. 

  At 9.6 minutes, the president was saluted and asked to sit down. He dropped into a large chair and was offered a glass of water.  The officer in charge began to tell the president what had happened in the last ten minutes. The officer had practiced this script many times before. He had twenty main scenarios and one hundred secondary scenarios. He just needed the information to fill in the blanks. A program had already read the location and the kiloton information, windspeed and affected areas. He explained that a nuclear device had leveled New York City. A large main wall screen lit up with live pictures of what remained of Manhattan. Several smaller screens showed different views. He was shown the mushroom cloud. At eleven minutes, the crest had risen to an altitude of 36,000 ft. At fifteen minutes, it would breach the stratosphere at 60,000 ft.  Then it would level off and begin to disperse.

     He reported that a majority of the working team believed the bombing was the work of a lone radical group which acquired a stolen russian weapon from Chechen rebels who had received some assistance from North Korea. But a minority took the position that it was a false flag operation conducted by Iran with significant help from Russia and that it had been in the making for several years. 

    The initial loss of life was estimated to be 500,000. Within a week it would rise to 1.5 million and within two years to 3 million. The information officer had the statistics for every major city dependent on the blast size. They just had to crunch the numbers.

    The world stock markets had dropped their limit and been closed. The american market had been blown away. The comex had been shut down. When the next wall street was resurrected from the ashes, it was expected that there would initially be a ninety percent drop. It was expected to recover slowly to fifty percent. . 

    Two million people were stranded on Long Island without power, fuel or water. 

    They planned and practiced this presentation many times. They had run drills with a presidential appointee. All aircraft in the vicinity of DC had been instructed to land immediately at Richmond or Baltimore or points more distant. All flights were grounded. A squadron of fighters combed the airspace. If anything moved, they were to shot it down. If there were a concern that more warheads were coming, the president would be transferred to headquarters deep beneath the West Virginian mountains. 

    The president needed to make a statement soon to restore confidence. 

They had prepared a couple short statements earlier in consultation with his appointee. “My Fellow Americans, today we have been assaulted by a lone terrorist group .... Justice will be done.”     

    They had prepared a little White House for him. His people would be arriving soon. Even his cook. The Officer took out a briefing folder and handed it to the president. It read “In the event of a Nuclear Explosion in NY.”

    Centuries earlier, after the great earthquake in Lisbon Portugal, the Marquis of Pombol had instructed his officers, “Bury the dead and feed the living.” The sheaf that was handed the president had the same core idea. After Katrina, the Office of Emergency Preparedness had realized that in the event of a nuke, the pentagon would need to swing into action on the ground. A permanent office had been established in the Pentagon. Already military personnel all over the world had been sent the plan and were told to expect that it would be approved in the next few minutes. The president was asked to approve the rescue plan. It would tap the full resources of the military. Hospital ships, Tankers, Air Transports, police support and thousands of soldiers on the ground. 

    On the economic side, the military had insisted that the appointee sign on to a plan in the event that a single city or a number of cities were attached by nuclear explosions. They had staff who would help him. Fifty years earlier, Eisenhower had anticipated that new administrations would not have the expertise or inclination to war game the economic aspects of a nuclear strike. They assembled a team that sharpened their skills with every administration. They had counterparts in every member of the G7. They were widely recognized as having the best team by far. 

    The president began reading. Expecting that the president would be overwhelmed, there were actions he needed to take immediately. Actions within the first hour, within the first six hours, within the first day, within the first week, and as soon as possible thereafter. He began calling his advisors. Some would never answer.

    In the meantime, at the opposite end of the spectrum of power, were the ordinary workers and inhabitants of the metropolitan area. 

    Annie Dillion was a billing clerk in the general accountants office of the pentagon. She had long supposed that such a day would come. She and a few of her office workers had joked that when the day came that Washington was attached, they wanted to be FOFO. It was a play on the accounting terms FIFO and LIFO. To her and her friends, it meant First out the door and First out of town. On that day she got a call from her husband who was on duty at a military base nearby. By prior arrangement, she would pick up the kids and head out of town. There were no small number of washingtonians who kept two gallons of gas and two months of supplies in their trunk. They called themselves full tankers. Once she had been stopped by the police on a routine check. The officer said “Lady, what are you expecting?” She answered “the worst.”

   She quickly said “I love you” and calmly cradled the phone. She walked past her closest friend and said “I am leaving. New York nuked.” Her friend had agreed if that day came, she would say nothing for fear of encountering a lock down. Annie skampered toward her car and raced out of the parking lot. She telephoned ahead to the school and asked her two kids to meet her at the door. She sped away and headed up the highway. 

   Once out of DC she sighed in relief. She was headed to a small collection of vacation A frames south of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. They had food and water stocked there. There was plenty of woods around them for fuel. Two hours later, she pulled into the development. An old guy stepped out of the dilapidated gate house and greeted her by name. He had heard. He said he expected that they would have a full house by night fall if everybody made it. When she pulled in the driveway, she was reassured by the familiar sound of the gravel beneath her wheels. She opened the door and smelled the cottage smell that was associated with so many good weekend memories. She took a drink of water. An occasional drip had left a small blue stain on the white porcelain sink. The little town had been called Bath a couple centuries earlier when George Washington had stopped there to partake of the mineral properties of the water. People still came for the Baths. After a glass of water, she took the kids on a walk through the woods and around the lake to restore a sense of normality.

   She recalled that she and her husband had figured that it would take about five minutes for the news to get thru the media. That it might even get locked down. Then most would suffer a form of negative panic. They would stay in place. But some would run.

    During a sudden snow storm a couple years earlier, a lot of people had poured onto the streets at the same time. Traffic had suffered gridlock. Some intersections were blocked for two hours without moving an inch. Many people did not get home till five am. They figured that DC would suffer the same kind of gridlock in a voluntary evacuation. It was important to get out in the first ten minutes. After that, the highways would act like a funnel. Many would hit the roads, only a few would pass. Going northwest, the main exit highway was 270. Near Fredrick, it narrowed to two lanes which accommodated 100 cars per minute at maximum, if all went well. At that rate, it would take a couple months to evacuate their quadrant of the metro area. So success depended on being one of the first one per cent to leave town.

   That night Annie and the kids sat on the porch and watched the headlights as cars pulled off the main road. Finally one of them had just one headlight. Her heart leaped because her husband was driving a motor cycle. A moment later she recognized the sound of his engine. It sounded so good as it headed toward them in the woods. She ran to greet him and sobbed on his shoulder. He carried her to the front porch. He smiled at the kids and said “Will someone please give me a drink of that delicious water.” His daughter hurried back from the sink. Then they all sat down on the front porch and watched the western ridge where the last light of day slowly disappeared from the sky. They named the familiar stars as they appeared in the clear air. And they wondered what would happen next.

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