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The Right Decision (Original, written by my friend)

By , Milford, VA
Another sharp spike of pain lances into the back of my head against the hard concrete wall behind me. I take a sip of the sad excuse for instant coffee they had in the break room. I’m in a massive fallout shelter underneath the Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia. It was constructed to allow the government to continue functioning in the event of nuclear war. Which if you haven’t already guessed, has happened. Thermo-Nuclear war, Armageddon, Mutually Assured Destruction, whatever you want to call it has happened. Ok, now pick your jaws up off the floor and stick them back on before any bugs fly in. I close my eyes and my mind drifts back to how I got here…



It had been just like any other day. Filing papers, waiting on the senator’s every whim, and trying to find time to eat and sleep. You’ll never realize how comfortable a desk can be after working for the last 24 hours straight and you just crashed harder than a nuclear reentry weapon from the biggest caffeine high of your life. Anyway back to something less related to my personal life. My co-workers and I, who acted pretty much as slaves in the office, were begrudgingly doing our daily tasks just like we did every other day. That’s when the sirens started. I knew a whole lot of stuff was going down in Cuba and everybody was freaking out about it, but I never thought it would actually come to anything. Guess I was wrong.



We had all been drilled on this a thousand times so we all knew exactly what to do. We all ran out of the building like there was no tomorrow (which there was none for some of us). Then all of us piled into the senator’s limo and got packed in like a can of sardines. I ended up getting stuck uncomfortably close to a graying man wearing a sweater and cowboy boots who I assumed was one of the senator’s relatives (He was from Texas after all). We raced through the streets as chaos unfolded around us. Looters were running amok smashing in windows and running off with whatever they could carry as the cops that should be arresting them fled into the fallout shelters. A few minutes later we were out of the city speeding into the mountains. Bright arcs of light rose into the sky in the distance.



I’m not sure exactly how long we had driven before it happened. A blinding flash erupted behind us accompanied by a massive shockwave a few seconds later that lifted the limo several feet into the air. All eyes turned to look at the city in the distance, as a massive mushroom cloud of dust, fire, and debris rose into the sky. Land for miles around us was completely flattened and a few of the limo’s windows had been shattered.



At first it just seemed like regular rain. Then we noticed tiny particles of glass and an aide near one of the broken windows began sustaining severe burns. A gas mask was produced from somewhere in the limo and offered to the senator, but suprisingly, he refused. I was the youngest in the group and it always seemed like the senator liked me the most but his next action still surprised me. He pushed the mask toward me. In the beginning stages of shock, I could not refuse.



Several hours later we arrived at the Greenbrier Hotel. Many of us were confused at first, but realized why we were here when a soldier clothed in a full hazmat suit directed us into what appeared (on the outside) to be a delivery entrance at the back of the hotel. We then all got out and followed a large group of survivors down the road deeper into the complex. Some were crying for friends and loved ones and also from the sheer extremity of what had just happened, but most wore the same empty stare of shock that I’m sure I did. It was then that we were separated into two groups of men and women. We all were ordered to strip by soldiers who then took our clothes and shoveled them into a massive furnace. We then were marched through a long hallway with sprayers on the walls. The water that shot out of them was ice cold and some harsh chemical burned my eyes, but I felt no pain. I dried myself off and pulled on some cool, lightweight clothing, before walking off to join the others.



So here I am now, still sitting on the table in the break room. Still trying to give myself a concussion. If you’re wondering about everybody else, well, they’re dead. All of them. It was almost as painful to watch as I’m sure it was to experience. One by one I had stayed with them all, in some cases holding their hand, until they expired. They asked many different things of me. Mostly to share a few final messages and apologies for a lover or a croaky request for water. They even told me a few things they had said about me behind my back that they could not hide from me before death. The last one of them to die, for reasons I do not understand, was the senator. He told me, before he died, that I had to take his place in the postwar Senate, and decide what actions to take involving the world. I was baffled by the request, but I could not refuse the dying man. Now I’m sure you see my dilemma. I finish off the last gulp of coffee and jump back off the table I’ve been sitting on for the last hour.



A pretty young aide pins a tiny American flag on the lapel of my suit and whispers “Good Luck.” In my ear. I take a deep breath and step out into the makeshift Senate chamber as a few balding heads turn to greet me.





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