Article: 288619 of talk.bizarre From: "David Low" <email@example.com> Newsgroups: talk.bizarre Subject: Pamela's Button Date: 1 Dec 1996 14:48:05 GMT Organization: Creative Cremations Lines: 732 Message-ID: <01bbdeb8$e10d13e0$331f1acb@alien> Pamela's Button by Emrick vA "What does this red button do?" she asks me, pouting just so. "You press that button and you make the Sun go nova." I reply She's teasing, that special way. The way she can that makes me go crazy. She's my secretary, you know. Well not my direct secretary, more an assistant secretary to my public engagement coordinator. Actually she only works part-time, but it's what she does the other part of the time that I find really interesting. I know it sounds a little extravagant, having an entire administrative section devoted just to managing one persons public appearances. But that's what it means to be President of the United States of America. I have to confess, I thought it a little exaggerated myself at first, until she came into my office to deliver the final update for a weekend public engagement plan. Well she didn't so much come as explode, into my office and into my life. Tall, leggy, blonde. You know the stereotype. But there was something about her that defied such labelling. A certain tangible yet indescribable quality. The way her features weren't just some aesthetically pleasing arrangement, but were a physical embodiment of her internal nature. An adventurous, experienced and seductive nature. She was the original type from which the mould was cast, and they never quite made the perfect copy. Okay, so maybe I exaggerate just a little. So maybe my first reaction was to think of calling security. I mean this gorgeous young dame comes slipping through the door into my office, all shy and looking like she knows she's not supposed to be there. And she's nervous as hell as she asks me if she can bother me 'Sir'! I mean what do you expect me to think. I know I stand by the appropriate show of deference in public, but everyone who works within my office knows me as Jack. Or Mr. President. Actually more likely Mr. President to tell the truth, but I don't mind being called Jack. Anyway that's all a million light years away at the moment. Right about now, I'm feeling on top of the world. Things couldn't be better. I've got the top job on the planet. I have a multi-billion surplus to budget with every year. The strongest domestic economy in the world is backing me up one hundred and ten percent. And I have the public adulation of over half a billion people. Well, maybe more like 56% of half a million people. But one of the people in that 56% is an assistant secretary to my public engagement coordinator, and that's all that matters to me. "Well I'm sure that couldn't be as hot as I feel right now." Of course my initial interest in Pamela was purely professional. Employees do good work when they're happy. You know, if they like you then they will like working for you. Make them feel like they're part of some team, rather than just some dumb sav' running errands. So that means a little informal conversation during less hectic periods at the grindstone. Pouring coffee and holding doors open. Expenses paid lunches at elegant yet discreet top dollar restaurants. Silk stockinged feet less than accidentally sliding up against tailored Italian trouser legs. Clandestine trips for two to secret Presidential nuclear bomb shelters. An interesting relic these old bomb shelters. I remember long ago, as a child, hearing the rhetoric about living under the shadow of the mushroom cloud. To my parents the threat of a nuclear winter had definitely been a part of their life. Things had been very different in their day, that was for sure. They had inhabited a world of strife and religious fanaticism and a paranoid fear of Armageddon. That had been the last millennium. I barely remembered it. So much had happened in the new one. It was certainly happening right now. "Are you hot Jack? Are you hot for me?" Pamela soothes, playing with the buttons on her blouse. She moves to the table in the center of the room, looking over her shoulder with that vixen- women sparkle in her eye. The table has a large map of the Earth over it's surface and there are little figurines on it. Planes, tanks, ships, submarines and missile silos. This was once the thermonuclear strategic command center. The monitors, terminals, buttons and telephones were once connected to the most powerful force of destructive on the planet. They say power is a turn on but as some invisible rope yanks me next to her I can't work out clearly who is supposed to be getting turned on by what. I remember one thing of the last millennium clearly. The 31st of December, 1999. New Years Eve. I think everyone who was old enough to understand the voice on radio or TV remembers the last day of the second millennium. Not really for what it brought, but rather what it didn't. It didn't bring the Second Coming. It didn't bring the renewed rise of the Simitar of Islam and the swarming spread of the Army of Darkness for the Final Battle. There was no Third World War or Total Ecological Breakdown or other global disaster. As a matter of fact the most remarkable thing about the whole show was that no one really cared anyway. The factories and cars kept spewing more carbon dioxide and acidic compounds into the air. The rainforests continued to disappear and the uninhabitable and toxic regions of the oceans and rivers continued to grow. More babies continued to be born and the wars and famines just got worse. Basically it seemed that everyone came to the conclusion that nothing really changed. Each new crisis always seemed more extreme and catastrophic than the last, but in the end progress in general continued. People recognised that the worlds problems seemed to get worse at a steady rate, and that this was relatively constant. So the problems themselves became taken for granted. Life continued appearing to get shittier, but life continued, so no one really cared any more. Maybe it was this that was the real beginning of the changes that were to come. For just a brief moment it seemed that everyone saw the bigger picture at the same time. It wasn't anything that was immediately obvious though. There just steadily stopped being anything worth noticing. The Islamic fundamentalist leaders slowly slipped out of the international spotlight. The Green Peace fleets failed to be noticed. The radical television preachers gradually disappeared one by one from their cable channels. It was nearly twenty years later before anything happened that made anyone sit up and notice. But it sure did happen. For me it just about turned my whole world upside down. I had never really considered myself a practicing catholic. But you can't grow up in a catholic family in a catholic home without it leaving some undeniable conditioning way down deep inside you. At the age of 33 I was made profoundly aware of this fact. It started out innocently enough. Poor old Pope John Paul the Second had held on until the beginning of the new millennium, in spite the affliction of serious bad health. Maybe it was just to thumb his nose at all the Nostradamus fanatics who were willing him to die. Anyway he survived New Years Day 2000, but he never made it into 2001. The next two popes were completely unmemorable, except that they were really old and couldn't seem to stay alive very long. The third replacement finally showed a bit more sign of life. Too much sign of life in fact for many people. Pope Michael made history by reversing the standing of the Church on contraception. He made even bigger history by allowing the ordination of women priests and attempting to open the channels of the Church's bureaucracy to their participation. Then he made even bigger history again by getting killed in what looked suspiciously like a Mafia hit. The next Pope, as you would expect, made a point of being somewhat less controversial. He made friends with everyone and preached the message of reconciliation all around the world. Pope John the Reconciler he was known as. Well this was all pretty immaterial to a hot blooded, non practicing catholic on the fast track to power and influence. If he had come up to me and kissed my own ass I probably wouldn't have noticed it. But then on the 6th of April, 2018, Pope John stepped out onto his balcony at St. Paul's and reconciled with the Muslims. In an eloquent speech he apologised for the atrocities committed against them during the holy Crusades and asked the Christian and Muslim people to put aside past differences and work together toward a peaceful future. To say this created a stir is like saying the assassination of President Kennedy made some people unhappy. All bets on the possible longevity of Pope John were off. He was alternately the right hand of the Devil himself and the greatest Saint since Jesus himself. For the first time in nearly ten years people actually showed a genuine interest in participating in the events unfolding around them. In a way this was really bad timing because at the same time this storm of public opinion was blowing through another event was steadily unfolding that was to have an even more profound effect on the future. It was so big that no one seemed to want to comprehend it at the time, but it was about to create a fundamental change to the shape of society beyond anyone's wildest imagination. With all that was going on already it was as though people just weren't capable of dealing with it. But not me. I'm a big fan of change. I like the adventure. I find it exciting to be trying something new, if you know what I mean. "I want to burn for you," whispers Pamela in my ear, cool breath causing spontaneous combustion between my eardrums. Then she leans back, kicking off her shoes, and slides back onto the table top. Million ton ships and billion dollar aircraft are brushed aside by her majesty as she crawls over oceans and continents. "Let me consume you. Let me set your world on fire." Some things never change. Like the allure of Presidential power to young and unattached part-time secretaries. Part-time staff in the White House is a little unusual, particularly staff likely to come into contact with the President. I found out she has the job through a family connection in one of the executive offices. It sounds like nepotism I know, but the executive staff are all top people and my opinion is that at least it shows good breeding. Anyway, what happened was fusion energy. There had been operational plasma fusion reactors for a long time already, but their phenomenal cost had seen them limited to purely research facilities. The government at the time wasn't serious about carrying the ball either. Just like the development of space any commitment had to be very long term and it wasn't really clear if there would ever be any real return anyway. So just like NASA research into Fusion Energy received comparatively smaller and smaller distribution of the budget. They did continue a token investment though and as it turns out, they got lucky. A bunch of scientists out in Pasadena stuck their head outside their white, metal clad doors and gave the world the term Subquantum Resonant Oscillating Magnetic Field. Not unexpectedly the world said, "Yeah, right. Just like Cold Fusion, only harder to say." But what do you know, this time they really had something. Finally, about the same time Pope John is at last allowed out of the Vatican again, the government gets it's mouth around SROMF and a year later the world gets its first break even fusion reactor power generator. What a peach. It took the world by storm. It couldn't have been any bigger if an alien ship had landed on the White House lawn and Elvis had stepped out. The idea was you put water in one end and added some high tech reagent catalyst whatever. A pulsed magnetic field ripped the molecules apart and the gas was pumped off into the main reaction chamber. This had another one of these high tech magnetic fields, a much bigger one which they had tuned in such a way that it sucked off the hydrogen and blasted out this superheated oxygen. It gave these reactors a fancy halo which certainly made for some good photo opportunities. The hydrogen meanwhile was whizzed around in some magneto-gravitational containment field before being fired into the sun. Not the Sun of course, but a tiny, miniature sun held stabilised in the middle of this thing. No moving parts. No pipes or valves or shielding rods. All these things were in there of course, in the form of the SROMF, but none of it actually existed. It was all just this giant, incredibly complex energy field with a sun at its center, which sucked in hydrogen and gave off heat, light and gamma radiation like crazy. You may be wondering why I concern myself with such details about these things. Now I'm no rocket scientist, but when you're a person in my situation you have to take it on yourself to learn a little about things this important. Little things like the fact that every now and then the sun gets too big and they have to reverse the field which then lets out this super radioactive concoction of carbon and helium. The carbon gets buried where it can safely decay over the next few hundred years. The helium decays a lot quicker so we let that off into the stratosphere. Well it gets stored in these tanks for a while first, and when it is deemed safe some of the less radioactive stuff is let off. There are these huge hundred meter plus tall stacks designed to prevent this stuff getting stuck in any smogs. It then floats off up into the upper atmosphere to continue decaying, hopefully never to be seen again. Apparently the radiation levels are within tolerable safety limits, but it's amazing to think that twenty before even the thought of freely letting off radioactive material would have caused riots. That's how much attitudes had changed. The catalyst process is a nasty one too. It eventually leaves this horrible little sludge at the bottom of the tanks which has to be removed, and just pray that no fish or farm animal ever drinks it. But there are some pretty good pluses for all this. Anyway, everyone knows that you can't get something for nothing. The risk of the occasional two headed fish and a stratosphere hot enough to make your teeth drop out quicker than you can smile in rational terms are quite reasonable in comparison to what is obtained. More power than a million tech metal rock bands could ever use and a bonus shot of fresh, breath easy O2 on the side. I know I'm happy. I'm feeling real happy right now. "Do I turn you on? Do I press your button?" She has slithered off the table now and has moved to another of the button and monitor decorated walls. As she walks she finishes unbuttoning her blouse, then looks back at me with that mischievous little girl charm and presses her hands against the control panel to punctuate her sentence. It lights up like a Christmas tree and she giggles with wicked delight as she presses more buttons. They flash and flicker and I stand there spellbound as I admire the interesting silhouette created against her open blouse. So why an old nuclear bomb shelter for a romantic rendezvous? Well need for privacy must be obvious. For a starter there's the chance that Pamela's Uncle got his very attractive niece a job within contact of the President just hoping that something might happen. There's also the First Lady too. You may think that there isn't really much a Presidents wife can do about anything without hurting herself just as badly, but don't be mistaken. In the halls of power there are always ways and opportunities for a hurt and jealous First Lady to get back at an unfaithful husband and make him pay, and pay, and just keep on paying. I may be making it sound now as if I'm just deliberately sticking my head in a cannon and daring it to fire, and in a way I guess I am. It's the danger you know that keeps me on my toes. But then that's were the bomb shelter comes in. It's security. Ten thousand tons of concrete worth of security, buried half a mile under a mountain. Of course you know about Murphies zeroth law. Whenever you have something good going, some fool has to come along or something has to happen to ruin it. With the promise of religious peace and fusion power I mean. These Islamic fundamentalists got their hands on a fully functional, designed to destroy thermonuclear device you see. A little internet hacking here, a little carefully planned purchasing there, and without anyone even knowing it they put together their own personal atomic bomb. So anyway, they must have been feeling really put out by the difficulty they were having in getting world attention because they then decided to blow up Kuwait. They declared a war against America, and all its money worshiping co-conspirators, and announced that they would never end their struggle until the Islamic lands were once again possessed by their rightful owners. You might say this created something of a crisis. There were a few attempts at self indulgent pontification about the real rationale behind this move, but the fact was that everyone saw the terrorists had nukes, and that they weren't afraid to use them. There was universal worldwide panic. In the blink of an eye the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf were so full of warships that you couldn't have even got your rubber duck wet. There probably wasn't a single person on the entire planet who didn't believe they were probably looking down the barrel at the end of the world. Arabia blamed Iran. Iran blamed Jordan. Israel blamed everyone and started shooting. America attempted to annex the entire Middle East while France obsessed about people trying to get their hands on oilfields and threatened a nuclear strike of their own. Everybody else didn't seem to know what the hell they wanted, but they damn well made sure they were there to be in the spotlight anyway. Things looked just about as bad as they could possibly get when suddenly the Russians came along, completely out of left field, with exactly the last thing anyone expected. It was the time for their annual grand military parade in Red Square, and this time all the countries that had been part of the old Eastern Bloc were invited. But this was to be a parade like none there had ever been before. No show of lethal hardware or proud bluster of mindless drill. There wasn't a single goose stepping teenager or oil spilling tank in sight. Just row after row of trucks rumbling through with the piles remnants of dismantled missiles and nuclear warheads. And after it was done the leaders all finally stood up and made a joint declaration of their decision to abandon the technology of nuclear weapons and completely dispose of their entire nuclear arsenal. They then went on and announced their lack of desire to see the world destroyed for the sake of a momentary conflict and so on, in a speech that would have had JFK turning in his grave, and then pleaded with the rest of the world to follow their example. But you know what the strangest thing was? It worked. So that's how these bunkers come to be the most private place Presidential influence can obtain. Out in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico, dug deep into the Rocky Mountains. The nearest highway is fifty miles and the nearest sign of life another hundred past that. There's only one way in or out, and once inside no way of anyone bugging or tapping or spying. No one is on site at the Army facility with the exception of some token guards. Nice and quiet, so no one notices the difference when the President pays another visit to check up on government property. "Hi there Sergeant. Seen anything worth reporting today?" "No sir. Nothing to see out here today but desert." "Well it's been good not being seen by you today Sergeant." "It's been good not seeing you too Mr President." They're good men. Not even a second glance at my new passenger. Discretion is such a valuable commodity when you can find it. That's why I like the military so much, they know how to put service first and themselves second. I feel sorry for these guys, being stuck out in the middle of nowhere, but I've already made arrangements for them to be taken care of. Inside the bunker it's like the world outside suddenly ceases to exist. The interior is like stepping into the abandoned halls of some ancient, alien civilisation. Nothing ever moves anywhere and footsteps boom like thunder through the corridors. Everything is packed away or locked down or covered in protective sheeting. There's a faint odour of sterilisation, but that's the only real sense of, anything, in the entire building. The place hasn't seen a regular staff for nearly two decades now. Not since everyone signed the treaty to abandon nuclear weapons technology. Well, everyone except the Chinese that is. To tell the truth they did actually sign the treaty. For all that was worth. Yeah, the stony faced little assholes looked everyone else in the eye and then ceremoniously signed their piece of paper. They even paraded nearly twice as many dismantled warheads than anyone had ever suspected they might have once had. Then five years later they promptly marched across into Russia to claim room and resources to cope with their continuous growth. After the prolonged series of economic, environmental and ethnic disasters the East Russians are almost happy to be invaded. The tragic remnants of the Russian Army did finally mobilise and drew up outside the new border to stoically defend the rest of the country, but the Chinese seemed happy with what they had and stayed put. The Japanese meanwhile went ballistic. They ran around in circles high and low trying to get everyone as worked up as they were and organising a united South East Asian opposition. First it's just in the form of economic sanctions. China however makes a point of showing total indifference which just gets the Japanese worked up into even more of a lather. They push and cajole and they finally manage to convince the Taiwanese and Hong Kong Republics to split away from China and join their economic bloc. The response was swift and brutal as China forcefully reasserted it's mastery over the errant territories. Like a screaming killer Chihauhau from Hell the Japanese came racing to their aid and suddenly it was on for young and old. There was considerable assistance from the US of course, and naturally the Chinese started getting some serious butt kicked. Then suddenly Okanawa disappears under a mushroom cloud. Before anyone has time for a double take China calmly announces Tokyo is next if Japan doesn't immediately surrender. By the time the smoke finally settles there's hardly anything of Japan worth having anyway, and every second corner in California is a sushi bar. On the up side of all this we at least regained a functioning space agency again, courtesy of the Japanese. So while the Chinese continued their conquest of greater Asia we took control of space. Knowing that it was only a matter of time before the Chinese turned their vengeful eyes across the Pacific the Japanese lab coats put their heads together with our lab coats and temporarily made the Sun a binary system. They packed enough hydrogen into a fusion rocket powered subquantum resonator to create an unstable reaction within the Sun's corona. With precision telemetry that NASA would never have dreamed of, the baby sun ripped around the Sun twice before blowing itself apart and sending out a flare in perfect profile. It was the most spectacular show anyone had ever seen as it eventually floated out past the orbit of Mercury. Everyone admires a good show, especially me. Yes sir, I really love a good show. "Let me press your button Jack." she says as moves to a nearby terminal. She sits on the table edge, leaning back and posing seductively as raises her legs on the mobile chair. Such lovely, long, perfect legs. There's that invisible rope again and without knowing it I've been pulled toward her yet again. Her knee is right there under my hand as I steady myself with my own knee on the chair. The touch of her skin will bring on the rush like a wave of electric fire. Then it moves. She kicks the chair from beneath me and I sprawl across the floor as reality comes rushing back up at me and hits me in the face. I can hear her giggling and I zero in on the sound. The thing that I like about this so much is the pure release. She's only in it for the thrills, no attachments, nothing permanent. I can just totally give myself up to the sensation of the moment and nothing else really matters. And at this moment I'm chasing after her as she squeals and runs away. Around the table and then up some stairs. She reaches another console and turns around toward me with a purely wicked look in her eye. You may be asking yourself at this point, 'Why?' Why drop a bomb on the Sun? The fact was that the incident with Kuwait got everyone so shit scared of their inability to control the nuclear weapons technology and information that they actually did abandon it. That's why no one could believe it when China revealed it was still making them. You have to appreciate the situation here. When it started becoming commonly available knowledge exactly what was needed to build a nuclear bomb, and where and how to get it, suddenly any bad wired crazy with access to a decent line of credit could make one for themselves. Policing who had them and who didn't was no longer a matter of international cloak and dagger and large scale military intelligence operations. The guy down the street could have one in his basement, and unless the police could show just cause for a search warrant, no one would be the wiser. Until one day, Boom!. And that scared the hell out of everyone. So maybe you can get a feeling for the sort of commitment everyone had to eliminating every last trace of documentation and hardware in existence for making nuclear bombs. Of course they couldn't eliminate the people who already had this information inside their head. Well they could, but no one was willing to consider that as a real option. Certainly not in public. Anyway, about the time Japan became the worlds first glow in the dark country, it wasn't unreasonable to consider trying to rebuild the technology and mount a nuclear counter strike. But who wanted that? Everyone knew that China already had the upper hand and would attempt to nuke anything looking suspiciously like a new weapons facility. And nobody had any particular desire to provoke an angry response from someone who had just shown so well their complete willingness to reduce any armed opposition to a smudge on the sidewalk. So on the one hand it wasn't feasible to consider reinventing the atomic bomb, but on the other hand we already had an even more powerful technology which could possibly be turned to a tactical application. So the President called a meeting of all his strategic experts and all the fusion experts and all the rocket experts and all the electronics experts and told them to work out how to show China just who was really boss. It was a do or die effort. Everyone knew they would have only one shot to stop the Han, and if it didn't work the US was looking at a significant slump in the real estate sector for the next few thousand years. So the result was the worlds first nova bomb. But not the last. They built two of these suckers, and the first one was only the baby brother of the second. The whole philosophy was that if the US of A. couldn't have it's own little corner of the world then no one was going to have any corner. A pure unilateral deterrent to armed aggression. That was the angle they used in their very well crafted political rhetoric anyway. Personally I think the whole thing was one giant stellar sized screw up. They should have just taken their one shot right slap bang in the middle of Beijing, and screw the consequences. So it would have messed up the weather and ecological patterns all over the planet Hey big deal, so what. It's not as if we couldn't have fixed the damage later. Things might have been bad for a few years but at least the situation would have been resolved much quicker. And anyway, you need to have a serious shake up every now and then, just to keep progress alive and kicking. But the self righteous moralistic procrastinators had to have their way. There was no way they could allow this new technology to become simply just another standard weapon of war. Not when an arms race in fusion technology could see the development of weapons that could vaporise the entire planet in one shot. Now excuse me if I sound just a little cynical here, but I personally fail to see how they could have such righteous views and then turn around and threaten to blow up the whole damn solar system if China doesn't back off. Maybe it was just one of those things that sounded good at the time. The most amazing thing though is that they actually managed to pull it off. No big surprise really when you consider. It's not as if that was the first time someone has made a totally lame idea work despite obvious flaws. As a matter of fact I guess you could say that the government is a master at this sort of thing. You could call it plain and simple stubbornness, but in politics we like to call it pragmatism. There was also another reason why it was made to work, though you won't catch anyone speaking about it seriously. The fact was that the US got the chance to prove once more, in the full glare of the world spotlight, that it truly had a bigger penis than everyone else. The American philosophy has always been to have a bigger gun than the opposition, and the rest of the world has come to expect this. President Jackson made more political mileage out of this righteous display of kick ass power than the Italians make miles of pasta. I can't really blame him for his motives. Power is such a strong euphoric, and it certainly hooks the babes. He must have had the gorgeous women killing each other for the chance to get with him. But then he never got with Pamela. "Do it for me." I say. As I approach her I can feel myself trembling so much it's as though at any moment I may be flung out of my own body. I can feel all control and restraint slipping away as I push myself closer to the fire that I know will consume me. The whole universe coalesces around Pamela as I disappear into her eyes. And then she kisses me and my head just explodes and the earth beneath me shakes. Almost as much as it shook for the Chinese. The Chinese backed off from their veiled threats toward the US and settled down to consolidating their Asian holdings. Then started a long, protracted period of intense military, political and economic posturing as China continued to slowly attempt to muscle in on as much of the remaining Asia, Middle East, Europe and the pacific as possible. And as the tedious War of Shadows dragged on America continued to extend it's control of space with the cooperation of the Japanese technology. Then, with the use of advanced surveillance and stealth technology, we started targeting and eliminating the Chinese weapon making and launching facilities. To say this ticked the Chinese off would be a fair statement. They finally tired of their willingness to shadow box with the US and called our bluff with a missile attack.. It would have caused a worldwide panic too if American orbital EMP installations hadn't fried their circuits before they cleared the Pacific Rim. As it was no one was much aware of anything beyond a few hundred airlines suddenly flying the wrong direction. An upshot of the manoeuvre was that it completely blacked out a large part of China and killed every electronic device, including all the military ones, in the vicinity. The follow up was swift and organised and by the time everyone was figuring out that there had actually finally been an exchange of fire, America had won another war. And this time the boys didn't even have to leave home. Not until the surrender negotiations anyway. The first thing of course was to guarantee that this time the Chinese nuclear disarmament was for real. Then the US became self appointed receiver for China as the Japanese and everyone else pursued damages against them for temporary loss of production. It actually caught everyone quite by surprise how quickly and easily everyone was made happy. Amid all the speculation of what might be done and what should be done to establish a lasting peace in the region, it was the last thing anyone expected when the Japanese government, and various businesses, gate crashed the surrender negotiations with a truckload of accounting. You see the deal was that the Japanese banks and financial institutions had lent the Chinese a phenomenal amount of money and all they wanted was to foreclose on a loan they considered reneged. It was a world first, putting an entire country into receivership, but as soon as the accountants and lawyers got into gear it seemed strange to wonder what all fuss had been about. And then two terms of office later here we all are, living in a scene out of the Jetsons. We have electric cars and holographic video and hypersonic airliners and orbital factories. We have huge hydroponic biofarms and cloned vat meat that can feed more people using less space than could ever be needed. We have machines that can travel within human arteries and can travel to foreign stars. Our technology is so mind blowingly brilliant, it makes the last century positively look like Mesopotamia. The space age has certainly come of age. As I finally come down out of orbit in my own personal extension of the space age I realise that Pamela has slipped away again. She's running around the railing back to where we first came in. That's okay. If she wants to play hard to get, then I'll just play the hard getter. I catch her half way and now my blood is really pumping. Her shirt falls on the railing as she backs toward the stairs, taking off my tie as she leads me by it. Then she unbuckles my belt and undoes my trousers as she goes down the stairs in front of me. It surprises me when they fall to my ankles and I suddenly can't keep my balance. As I fall she's giving me that little girl giggle again and running away. I'm trying to decide whether to pull my trousers back up or pull them right off before chasing her when I notice that she's standing next to the console where the red button still radiates its beckoning light. Her finger inches over it. "Let's do it. Let's blow up the sun." A chill claw suddenly envelopes me in an immobilising embrace of terror. The blaring of the klaxon is no longer adding excitement with a hint of danger to the atmosphere, but is hammering my head like a semi-trailer and ramming my heart down through my bowels. The heady thrill of seduction is blown clear out of my mind in much the same way a butterfly is blown away by a shotgun as I recall in crystal clarity the circumstances of my presence here. The real reason why I took Pamela down here was not really for it's atmospheric qualities, or because it might impress her. No, the real reason why we are in the Presidential Global Warfare Strategic Command Centre is because there is no room where I can be more private. Only I can get in here, or authorise other people to enter. It requires a retinal scan as well as passing a dermal DNA check lockout. Sounds maybe like a lot of hassle, but I had other things to keep life interesting in the meantime, if you know what I mean. And then, once I'm inside, no one can bug me, spy on me, or even get in contact with me if I don't want them to. Another thing that happens once I'm inside is that the strategic deployment control system automatically re-initialises itself. This includes, among other things, arming the big brother of the Nova Bomb. I hadn't been thinking of this at the time, but I'm thinking about it now. You can be as sure as Jesus was a Christian that right now I thinking about nothing else. "Don't press that button. I'm serious, just step away from it." Now there's me, standing there with my trousers down in a very uncomfortable circumstance. This is not really the best way to be doing this. I certainly can't blame Pamela for not thinking I look like the most serious guy on Earth. Her eyes widen a little and a smile slowly lights up her face. In that moment I see my life, and the lives of billions of others, flash through my consciousness. All the marvels of the last four decades race through my head like a holo-screener stuck on fast forward and breaking out of it's projection zone. All the great achievements of mind and body. The glorious sporting victories. The successes of medical science. The unveiling of awe inspiring monuments to American majesty and the planting of the US flag on Mars. I become singularly aware in that instant of the tremendous accomplishments of the collective quest of the human race. A quest which to date has stretched even beyond our own solar system with the launch of the Orion Mission towards Barnards Star. So anyway, she presses the button. She giggles her little girlie giggle and then presses it. And then it's game over. All of the recorded history of humankind comes to a single coalescence at that point. All the good and all the bad, all the suffering and all the achievement, becomes as meaningless as a putrid puddle of assorted organic compounds and acids bubbling eternally under a harsh ozoneless sky. Nothing happens within the shelter itself. It's much too well protected and shielded to give any indication of the horror now unfolding outside. Outside however everyone has just noticed the effect of an encircling chain of orbital EMP installations being fired. Following this, just to make certain, all the non US military satellites and space installations are eradicated. Now that all electronic activity on and around Earth is safely under single jurisdiction, at the gravitationally neutral point between the Earth and the Moon a giant, dusty, fusion reaction propelled monolith is reawaken. The coils and resonators warm up for a brief period and then the stealth cloaking is blown free as a brilliant incandescence flares up and streaks a luminescent arc across the sky, headed straight toward the Sun. It won't be an immediate end though. No doubt millions of hours of media coverage will be devoted to minute by minute updates of the Nova Bombs position. Then, just as it has all but disappeared into the enormous scale of the Sun, it will erupt in a terrible radiance on every holo-field around the world. Though the unaided observer will not be able to tell any different, the Sun will turn and twist in violent eruptions of unimaginable ferocity. Streams of gas will be flung out in all directions for millions of kilometres as the aftershocks of the Nova Bomb draw the reaction zone of the Sun further and further to the surface. The temperature of the Earth will jump 3 or 4 degrees in the first year and short wave radio isn't going to work anywhere for a few months. The Sun will then slowly swell and just keep getting fatter like thousand of couch potatoes watching the latest game and drinking beer. The now unstable reaction zone will continue to oscillate in and out, expanding gradually further from the Suns core the whole time, until in a few decades the Earth will have become uninhabitably hot. Within the century almost all life on the planet as it exists will be wiped out. Maybe some lucky evolutionary mutations may permit some form of ecosystem to continue for a while longer, but the human race won't be a part of it. Not unless you know of some way to drop the temperature of a whole planet by 100 degrees. And that will be it. No going out in a cataclysmic blaze of glory. No Hellfire and Brimstone. Just a slow suffocation as the oceans boil off and the plants die and everything else silently disappears under the sand. Finally, many centuries later, the unstable reactions within the Sun will have burnt themselves out to such an extent that the Sun will finally blow itself apart. The shock wave of its expansion will smash the Earth like it was a rotten tomato, along with half the other planets in the Solar system. Finally the fusion reaction wave front will use up all the fuel it can and all that remains will be a giant cloud of gas and dust. So there it is, Armageddon is finally coming. The quest is finally over. The final hooter has gone and you can all now sit back and count how many points you racked up. The only problem is, with this sort of game you can't really have a winner. It doesn't matter how well you do or how far you go, as soon as it's over, everyone loses. And Pamela is laughing at my expression like there is no tomorrow. -- ___ _ ___ + David Low - <firstname.lastname@example.org> - agent for: __\__~ \__/__ | Creative Cremations & Van Helsing Appreciation Soc. -----\ /----- | Pseudoscientifictechnobabblebuzzwordbullshit " /_\ " + "Sounds like the battery sun."