His Outlook calendar chirped at him. Odd for a Thursday. He had a full day today and tomorrow. The Firm was reorganizing. They were besieged with work, but he and his fellow partners didn’t want to add to staff or expense. Everyone was being urged to do more with less. His niche was intra-government financing and non-governmental agreements. A boom area. They had several of the new nations admitted to the UN as clients as well as several new sub-departmets of the US Government — among which were Intrastate Medical Control Agency, Ethnic Rights Referent Agency, and his personal favorite Rubber Tyres Regulation / Bycycle Division which was required by the latest UN mandate. And spelled just that way! Any way, several meetings today and tomorrow with the Senior Partners were being automagically canceled. Strange!
He called his amigo in the IT section. “Hola, Don Juan.” (His friend was a fat old white guy nerd who fancied himself God’s gift to women. They joked about it.) “Hey, Lord of the RTR slash B, gotten your bicycle yet?” “No, but I’ll have time to shop tomorrow. Is Microsloth Lookout on the blink again? It’s canceling all my appointments.” “No way, I run a quality operation. Last month’s meltdown with the Adios Virus was a fluke. Let me look.” “OK, you look. BTW, I just hired a new admin in ERRA; she’s just your type.” “Hey, I saw her already. She’s gotta tip 300 without the proverbial bag.” “Well, you’re no Hollywood stud any more.” “I resent that. No, Outlook is fine. It appears that ALL the senior partners are on vacation for the rest of the day today and tomorrow.” “Are they meeting somewhere?” “No, not that I can tell. They all have different reasons and OOO messages posted. But, it all started at about 10AM and was all done by 1030. That’s odd. The last time these guys were all were off at the same time was during FDR’s bank holiday. Maybe I’ll do my DR backups tomorrow; No one that counts will be around tomorrow.” “Me either, if they can take off, I can too. Thanks.” He tapped out a quick message to his leads and and set his OOO. He smelled a rat.
The newspaper had mentioned a Presidential prime time address at 8PM tonight on the economy. Which was in the dumpster and going deeper. The unemployment rate was 22%. The commercial real estate market was swirling the drain. And, there was even some rioting in the inner cities about it. Something that Don Juan said stuck in his head. FDR! Maybe it was time to panic.
Was it better to be wrong again and have his family safe? Or was it better to be really wrong for the first time about the ball dropping and have everyone at risk. He formulated it this way. His family, he suspected, already thought he had a tin foil hat! Last year, he activated their plan when the Congress passed the new Port Security bill that was really a tariff in disguise. Nothing came of that, but they did spend a week unscheduled at the beach house. Everyone loved and hated it. He worked from home, but the kids had to make up their school work, and Frau had to find another job. Did he dare pull the pin again? Based on nothing but his senior partners surprise vacation. OODA. That’s what he’d learned in the military. OODA. It was too convenient. Like Don Juan said, FDR. He took out his personal Blackberry. Text message to List 9999: “Earth Abides. This is NOT a drill. Activate Plan 9. CUsoon. God help us all. Auth code Blueberry Orange” Send. He went to his office door and locked it. To the closet, striped out of his business suit, hung it back neatly, and donned some comfortable jeans ‘n’ tshirt. Old, non-descript, and a little worn. He unlocked the box on the floor and there was his BOB. Bug Out Bag. All the tin foil hats always had one in their hidey holes where ever they were. In the bag, a testament to the “victim*disarmament” laws was another locked box. In it was a 1911 hogleg. Loaded and ready. Dangerous? Yes. Loaded guns are dangerous. But, if you needed it. The box looked locked, but it too was deceiving. A squeeze like an accordion, and it would open like a banana. Allowing quick access to a “life saver”. But to a cop it would look padlocked. He put on sneakers and slung the pack. That looked like a golf bag. Unlock and out. His admin seated outside, he said: “Time for a quick nine. Everyone’s goofing off today and tomorrow. Why don’t you do the same!” “But we have all this work!”, she protested. “It’ll keep. This is the boss’ orders. GO home and stay home. See you on Monday.” And, he power walked out. He said to himself: “Maybe!”
His car was in the garage and he stowed the golf clubs. The plan recognized that the tunnels out of the city and public transport were choke points. He wasn’t going to risk it. He drove the 30 minutes to the sea side club and golf course very carefully. Observing all the speed limits. When he wanted to do 100. It felt longer than it was. It was a mid day Thursday so the place was relatively vacant. Not like, “Medicine Man Wednesday” when there was no hope of getting in a round or a doctor’s appointment. He parked at the end of the lot and muscled a heavy square bundle from the trunk. And a small gas tank, religious rotated every week, when he filled up after Church. It had a frame with wheels and looked like a coffin as he wheeled it towards the beach. Right to the waters edge. No one was in sight, so he pulled the rip cord. With a loud pop, it began to inflate. So some unknown WW2 factory worker had done their job. The rescue craft, or crew’s survival boat, inflated. Unlike the commercial ones, this was green. Designed to be hidden. Not orange or red. He paddled out a short distance then deployed the motor. It fired up, (he tested that every month), and away he went at a sprightly pace.
Two hours later, he took on passengers. Two kids at a riverfront park near school. Frau met them at a fishing dock close to her work. There was no conversation. He knew they all thought his was out of his mind. But they humored him. One of the kids had a radio. At the half way point in their journey, as he swung out to the island. (As a safety measure, he always kept land in sight.) His son said: “There are riots starting. Something about a rumor. Welfare benefits are being cut. The governor has declared martial law.” He just looked at them: “It’s starting. We’ll be home shortly.” He resisted the temptation to crank up the motor. Their lives were held by the strand of a lame little motor that was struggling under the added load. About an hour later, they could see “their beach”. The closed amusement park (It went broke.) They heard an explosion. Huge. And could see the smoke rising from the other side of the island. Then, another from the North side. “Some one” had blown the two bridges to the mainland. Some patriots. They were now the, often joked about at meetings, island nation of Oceania Island. Cut off from the world. No golden horde would come their way. Some one else was reading the tea leaves and had taken a very big step. Those were a multi-million bridges being “incapacitated”. Hope there was a repair plan.
He angled thru the surf. It was a gentle chop. And, onto the beach. He lit a flare a signaled “54 40”. Somewhere there was a watcher with a rifle. He did it five times then extinguished the flare, the kids had deflated the boat, and Mom was folding it back up. She was good at that. She was always able to get it back in shape. They’d need a new gas cylinder and get the used one refilled. He’d been wrong once before. But the family knew how serious he was about this, so there was no griping. They were not so stupid as to not be scared by the events of the day. Today, it seemed, as evidenced by the bridges, that others were scared too. Trudge over the fifty foot beach, up to the boardwalk, and down to the house. All seemed in order. A sleepy summer village that had not had Prince Charming’s kiss of sunny warm weather to burst into wakeful activity. Dormant. The key code door admitted them. Handy for going swimming or admitting winter workmen. He “found” a hidden real key inside the porch, inserted it in the security terminal, and turned. The key in the security system notified the security response team that they were active. The local government would be aware of them as a resource. Main power breaker was thrown to on. The lights worked. The TV went on. The news was grim. Riots everywhere. Panic at the banks. Sob stories galore. All by word of mouth.
If the bridges were blown, this was the time. With everyone helping they moved the beds out of the First Bedroom. The carpet was peeled back. A suction floor tile lifter opened up the end. Swung by big hinges. Two sticks propped it open. Trunks and luggage were pulled up. A clothes bag for each person. Supplies. Totes. And, a footlocker. He was most anxious to get to that. Open and distribute arms. Each person now got a side arm, utility belt with a bowie knife, a rifle, and sawed off shotgun. There was also four hunting bows with nasty arrows. Each of the family was qualified to use their tools.
The cistern was full of rain water. The hidden pantry below held the “Mormon diet plan”. The underground LP tanks were full. The regular pantry had the winter stocks; accessible from above or below. It wasn’t gourmet, but they’d survive. Mom was closing the inner metal slide shutters that were hidden in the walls by each window. (Bullet proof.) He armed the various intrusion devices.
They all gathered around the computer as Drudge chronicled the end of America.
Later on the TV, the President spoke: “My fellow Americans: Be calm. All is well. Tomorrow and over the weekend, we will have a bank holiday as we reorganize our finances. Peace will again … …” the TV went out. A mushroom cloud rose over his Wall Street office. The lights blinked out.
Quickly items were moved back down. The family buttoned up into their shelter. Things had just gotten much worse. Did the Chinese not want their Five Trillion Dollars “reorganized”? Wonder what the end of that Presidential statement said to them: “Screw You?” They’d have several weeks to figure that out.
Wonder if the DVR would survive, he mused in the faint glow of a six volt light.
Time for some shut eye. Tomorrow was another day.
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