Life Imitates Art (Again)

North Korea threatened to launch a preemptive nuclear strike on its “aggressors,” including the U.S., ahead of a United Nations vote on tougher sanctions against the totalitarian state for last month’s atomic test. - Bloomberg News, March 7, 2013

Excerpt from The Alexandria Project Chapter 30: The Death Defying, Incredibly Exciting, Final Chapter!

“Do not underestimate the military, my friend. You must leave this in my charge and trust that it will be as I have promised. As soon as the missiles are ready, they will be fired. Approximately twenty minutes later, Washington and another city that will surprise you will be destroyed. There will be utter chaos in the enemy’s ranks, and in that chaos, I will give the order for our troops to attack across the border. Seoul will be ours before nightfall.”

The driver turned off the road and stopped in front of what appeared to be a shepherd’s stone cottage perched on the steep side of the mountain. The driver opened their door, and then rapped on the door of the cottage. A red light shone on them briefly as a peep slot in the door opened and closed, and then the door itself swung open.

They stepped into a darkened chamber, and then were shown by a guard through a second door. In the well-lit room beyond, they found the Dear Leader and all of his sons sitting around a table. Behind them, a half dozen heavily armed men stood at attention. These were members not of the military, but of Kim Jong-Il’s intensely loyal corps of personal bodyguards. Each had been born and raised in the same humble village where the Dear Leader himself had grown up, as had his father before him. General Bach Choy always felt uneasy around them. He wasn’t used to men that couldn’t be bought or blackmailed.

As soon as they entered the room, Jong-Il spoke. “Is all in readiness, General?”

“Indeed it is, Dear Leader. The fueling process is proceeding perfectly. It will be complete in fifteen minutes, and then the flight readiness tests will commence. When complete, the ten minute countdown will begin.”

“Thank you, General.” Jong-Il looked uncertain, as if waiting for someone to tell him what should happen next.

The General cleared his throat. “Perhaps you should give the launch order now, Dear Leader, to fire as soon as the missiles are ready. That way you can make your way down into the bunker without further delay. Despite all our precautions, we can never know for sure that the enemy has not discovered your location. It would be best if you were safely underground well before the missiles are launched.”

“Yes,” Jong-Il agreed. “Yes, that would be wise.”

“If I may, sir?” Jong-Il nodded, and General Bach Choy stepped forward. He picked up the telephone that lay on the table in front of the Dear Leader, pressed a button, and spoke a few words.

“Lieutenant Grid-lee, I will hand the phone now to the Dear Leader, who will give you the final order.”

Bach Choy handed the phone to Kim Jong-Il. In a surprisingly strong voice, he spoke into the phone: “You may fire when ready, Grid-lee.”

The General nodded approvingly. “That was very memorable, sir.”

– 0000 – 0001 – 0010 – 0011 0100 0011 – 0010 – 0001 – 0000 – 

“General Hayes, sir.”

Acting President Chaseman looked at his intercom, and then up at Ken Sanford, his Chief of Staff.

“What the hell does he want?”

“I expect he’s come to escort you to the War Room, sir. I understand it’s going to take close to half an hour before we arrive and get settled in, and things may start happening very quickly not long after that.”

“Why not the Secret Service?”

“In time of war, sir, the military assumes equal responsibility for the President’s safety.”

Chaseman was beginning to sweat profusely. The North Koreans had decided not to play the role that he had assigned to them. And the President was still unconscious, recovering from his quadruple bypass operation.

“Okay, show him in.”  

Brigadier General Fletcher Hayes wasted no time. He began speaking respectfully but forcefully from the doorway to the Oval Office.

“Good morning, sir. I’ve come to escort you to the War Room. Would you please follow me?”

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Chaseman and Sanford followed silently down the hall of the West Wing, and then down the stairs that led to the White House kitchen.

The Acting President tried a joke to mask his anxiety. “I suppose you’ll be taking us next through a secret door in the back of the meat freezer?”

Hayes didn’t laugh. “Hardly necessary, sir. Placing the entrance in the kitchen was a matter of necessity. The White House doesn’t always lend itself well to modern modifications. Would you please press your right thumb on this pad please, sir?”

Chaseman did as requested.

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Hayes swung the steel door open, and then led them down several more flights of stairs. At the bottom they found a golf cart with an enlisted man sitting stiffly in the driver’s seat. Hayes joined the driver up front while Chaseman and Sanford climbed in behind. Ahead, a cramped tunnel barely six feet high and periodically lit by single, bare light bulbs extended off into the distance as far as they could see.

“Sorry for the musty smell, sir. This tunnel was opened in 1950, not long after the first Soviet nuclear test. Except for occasional maintenance inspections, it’s been closed up since the Cold War ended.”

My God, Chaseman thought as the cart accelerated into the void ahead. What have I gotten myself into?

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