(A serial book excerpt)
Previous installments: After Flight 93 crashes into the White House on 9/11/2001 killing President Bush as was originally planned, Dick Cheney, the Vice President, is made the leader of the country. He begins immediately to make changes.
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Sinchesi Yang waited in his pill box alone. The morning sun had just crested the mountains behind him sending a bright blaze of color and light across the sea stretching before him. Somewhere just beyond that blaze was the mainland of China. He watched the horizon carefully, knowing that somewhere over there were men who would kill him and any other soldier they came across on sight. He knew they would be ruthless. And they would come quickly. It was only a question of when. Taiwanese intelligence had briefed them on being extra vigilant these next few days. That and other preparations had tipped him off. He knew they were coming. All the higher officials were ill at ease and smoking more than they usually did. It was a sixth sense that he at times had since childhood.
The Reds were coming.
When the first planes appeared Yang had the chance to prove his valor by shooting back. This made him go into the death that came gladly. He had at least done something to slow the attack before the jets realized where the shooting was coming from and blasted the pillbox into eternity.
The battle for Taiwan raged on longer than anyone expected. For all of the Reds obvious military superiority, the Formosans raged back at them like panthers. The Reds had to dig in and grit their teeth. They were losing more men and planes than they thought they would. But that didn’t matter to a nation of 2 billion people. The loss of a few thousand soldiers would leave a little more breathing room for the rest. The worse for them was the embarrassment. A small island a fraction of the size of the nation claiming it was holding them off effectively. Impatience overwhelmed the massive land as 4 days after the start of the assault foreign news agencies began to mock them. Additional armaments were brought up to the front. In a couple more days what was left of Taipei surrendered. The lords of mainland China gloated over their triumph. They had returned the breakaway island back to their fold. Even more than that they had proved the United States to be a neutered beast, unable to aid a once important ally. The Chinese now knew that they could grab other baubles out in the Pacific with impunity.
Cheney picked up the secretaries buzz. “CIA Secretary Bonz is on the line, sir.”
“Ok, Margaret, I’ll take it. Good day, Bonz! How are you?”
“All well and good, thank you! Listen, I’ve got something big here. Of all things it looks like there has been a huge discovery of oil on the south side of Cuba. The underground field begins a couple hundred feet inland and runs quite a ways offshore. It looks to be a big thing. We’ve intercepted communiques between Castro and Moscow about it. It could be bigger than Prudhoe Bay from the sounds of it.”
“My God!” answered Cheney breathlessly. “This could be a God send. And it is close to the Louisiana refineries. Too bad it is Cuba and not Florida.”
“Indeed!” stated Bonz.
“We’ve got to get on this! We can’t let the Russkies get hold of it. We’ve got to change our whole policy towards the Cubans. Kiss their little asses.”
“We’re just lucky it is in our neighborhood. It will make it harder for the Chinese to get in on it.”
“You are so very right Bonz. That is, until they remember their Communist Brotherhood oaths to each other. How long have you known this for?”
“There were suspicions of it yesterday. Transmissions we’ve overheard today with satellite photos seem to confirm it.”
“Thanks for getting it to me so quickly. I’m going to let the big boys in on it. We’ve got to move fast on this one.”
“Gotcha. We’ve got to keep up with the Jones’s!”
“You got that right. Adios!”
Within an hour every major player in the American economy knew there was something big going on in Cuba. Something the American public would not know for weeks. And when they did learn about it, it would not be accurate.
Rumsfeld looked out the window at reflections of his own imaginings. “The Chinese are making great inroads into Sudan and a lot of the other African countries that interest them. If we hadn’t had such a bad history with Libya we would be in there too. And if Shell didn’t have Nigeria locked up they would be soaking their grubby paws there too.”
Cheney grunted in agreement and looked out the window not seeing the phantoms that his colleague saw. The old man was showing his age quite often, but he always knew what was going on in the world.
“The world is not an easy place. No one ever gets into politics without learning a lot about the negative side of his fellow human.” Cheney spoke in an odd, philosophical way.
Rumsfeld turned and had one of those half smiles on his face, but still seemed miles away from where they were. “No, indeed they are not.” After a pause he said “I am sure you learned a lot about that working with Nixon.”
Now it was Cheney who had the half-smile on his face. “That I did. One did indeed learn a lot about the negative side of humanity being around Tricky Dicky.”
“Ah, ah, ah! Republicans never refer to Nixon as Tricky Dicky! That would be a sign of admission. One of the first no-no’s we have to learn in combat with the Democrats.”
Cheney chuckled. “That is true. So true.”
Rumsfeld’s voice turned serious, deathly serious. “We’ve got to make sure we win the next election.” He said nothing thereafter. Instead he turned his head and gazed at Cheney intently. His normally half blank eyes were lit as though by a dark light behind them. They were strangely intense for an old man.
“I may be no longer in your Cabinet, but I still am a Republican now and forever, so I feel I must say something. We can’t afford to lose our gains to anyone.” Again there was a great silence where he ended. It seemed to Cheney as though a great chasm lay between them.
“This election has to be won. We have too much at stake.” He came over and stared Cheney direct in the eyes. “Not only for us but for the whole nation. What we have set up will pull everyone else down if it goes wrong.”
“Too big to fail, eh?” smirked Cheney
Rumsfeld didn’t find it too funny. “Yes, President Cheney, it is too big to fail. We are too big to fail. If we fail now millions go with us. And we won’t be getting back up again. Not in our lifetimes.”
Cheney turned and gazed at the globe in its stand. He unconsciously noticed that against the backdrop of the whole rest of the world the United States wasn’t all that big. Why, Canada, with its tiny population beat out the US land wise.
Cheney counted the seconds before he asked the question he knew he had to ask. “Do you mean fixing the elections?”
There was a small delay in Rumsfeld answer, but he used the force he put into his words to over ride that. “We need to win the election. What ever it takes. We can’t let the Democrats get it again. They by sheer ignorance will dismantle our net that we have built and that sustains all of us. Right now the United States is in sync with our business aspirations, the military is in compliance and the Americans believe in us and, most importantly, whatever we tell them. We can’t afford to lose that. Not now. Not ever.”
Cheney looked up from the globe and his thoughts, but looked to a corner of the room, not at him.
“This is a big risk. It is really asking a lot.” he said distantly.
“If you aren’t up to it someone else can be worked in who is.” came the answer, hot with a streak of spit in it.
The venom hit its mark. Cheney’s eyes flashed. “I can handle this. And I can handle it without you if you so like. I didn’t get this far by playing patty cake.”
Rumsfeld had gotten the reaction he wanted. He knew it would sting the proud man to say that. He also knew that he would go along with it. The President had no other choice. He waited the appropriate time and said. “The wheels are already there. They are already in motion. All we have to do is grease them up.”
Cheney looked out the window again. His reply was the most delayed of all. “Then that we must do.”
He didn’t turn his attention from whatever phantom he gazed so intently at outside the window as Rumsfeld quietly left and shut the door softly behind him.
Bolton barged into the Oval Office, waving papers in his hand.
“Chavez has gotten the Cuba contract!”
Bolton leaned across the table and poured the twenty-three page report upon it. “While we were busy congratulating ourselves over making Cuba the unofficial 51st state Chavez snuck in and reminded the Castros of their Communist roots. He has now agreed to put forth the financing and development.”
Cheney, still astounded, retorted. “They will never do it as well as us.”
“No, but they will do it none the less. Maybe not as good, but they will do it. And I’m sure the Russians are not below giving them a helping hand even if there is no profit, just to keep us at bay. Nobody in Cuba will know the difference any way. They’ll just get one more thing to be proud about and a little extra sugar for their coffee. Either way it is a big step up for them.”
“God damn it!” Cheney pounded his fist on the chair arm repeatedly. “God damn it!” He pushed himself up and went to the window to throw his anger outside. He stood staring out.
“And here we thought the Cold War was over! It just keeps coming back in other forms! Just like a type of malaria!” Again he fell silent. Now his fist pounded down into the sill. “Just when things were going good. We pampered those bastards. We schmoozled and cuddled them. Now we get the dirty diaper thrown in our face!”
He turned forward and stared hard at Bolton. I could bomb those bastards!” He was raging mad now. “I could wipe out that whole island!” He paced. He turned at a thought and pointed at Bolton. “And then deliver a couple to that nutcase Chavez too!”
Bolton felt he had to say something. “Well, the game isn’t over yet. There are still some cards we could play. We’ll have to wait a bit so that they don’t know that we are on to them. I’ll get Rice to sidle up to them some more and see if I can get the big boys to tempt them. Maybe that will loosen things up.”
Cheney had his bad face on and his hands deep in his pockets. Not a good sign. “Yeah, maybe!” he spat out. “Yeah let her schmoozle away! See if it does any good.’” He sat down heavily.”I doubt it will.”
Bolton knew he wouldn’t be able to pull him out of his funk. “I’ll do my best.” he said, knowing he could say nothing more and left.
Cheney leaned forward in his chair, his thoughts a heated chain through his mind. He looked over at the bronze statue of an oil well on his desk. A second later he sent it flying with a swipe from his fist.
The high level oil baron meeting was an important one. These few men held far more sway over the western world events than the politicians did. What they decided behind their closed doors would influence the lives of millions for better or for worse, but definitely for the betterment of themselves. Always for the betterment of themselves.
Crucial decisions would have to be made in the following few days and hours, crucial for their survival as an operational corporation and for the constant inflow of money that they needed to keep themselves in riches and on the top echelon of their world. It was unthinkable to fall from that height. One would never get up there again.
“Gentlemen, we have reached a point where radical departures from what we have done before are needed. Oil levels in all countries are diminishing. A new plan of endeavor is needed to sustain ourselves. We need to convince the public that we have the situation in hand and to soothe their fears. We now have two answers to that.” He hit the button on the computer and a visual show began. The camera pans a huge denuded forest area. In the distance one can make out spruce trees bordering it. The camera comes to a multi-storied machine. Extending from it is a huge boom that stretches out indefinitely.
“This is the first of the two God sent answers to our dilemma. The tar sands of Alberta Canada. Thank God it is in a country that we get along with. They have immense deposits of oil locked in the sand beneath the surface. Enough to keep us going for years if we can keep the Canadians from selling it to someone else. It costs more to get a gallon of gas from it, but those costs can slowly be passed on to the consumer. And, our little secret at least for the time being, it destroys the landscape. But this is Alberta where there is lots of land and not so many people so there aren’t so many environmentalists and they are getting away with it for the time being. It doesn’t hurt too that they have so much land to pollute. Very few people ever see it.”
A photo appears of a near flat, monotonous plain, its surface marred by the constant movement of heavy machinery. In the distance forests can be seen that seem like a green embroidery to the torn ground. The immensely long arm can be seen stretching across the shot longer than the screen can capture. It is the conveyor belt for the apparatus, an ungodly monstrosity in what was supposed to be God’s country.
“This is the second surprise, central North Dakota, the site of immense gas and oil depositories that are now more readily available to us through the use of fracking. Fracking is the injection of water mixed with chemicals into the earth where oil and natural gas are known to be and thereby forcing them to the surface. Using this method we can dramatically increase the amount of product removed and thereby increase our profits as well.
He mock hushed his voice- “Now for the part of our discussion that never leaves this room- We are going to use fracking as our ticket out of our predicament. We make fracking seem like the tooth fairies answer to all our problems. If we can convince the American people that it is the miracle cure to this countries energy problems, then we become the heroes of our nation. And we get our second homes in Grand Cayman.”
“Our plan is to so push the idea of fracking upon the American public so that they forget this nonsense of alternative energy solutions and electric cars and believe once again in the eternal abundance of oil. The fracking will give us a good couple of years of extra oil, but the smoke and mirrors that we put in place will extend it to twice that length.
“This, my friends, is the way to our future. Fracking will become as common and recognizable a phrase as drilling; and as acceptable. We will again claim a portion of the American psyche and the American billfold as ours, and they will be no wiser for it.”
The applause was deafening.
TO BE CONTINUED. Next: The Very Bitter End
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The complete book of 9/12/2001 is available from lulu.com under that exact title for $10.00 plus shipping. Now available as an e-book on lulu as well.