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Magestic

Copyright © Geoff Wolak

Part 16
Plotting and scheming

From our mansion in Goma, we said goodbye to Shelly as she set off
on her travels, a kind of student gap year - only with four
bodyguards, one nominated as temporary guardian. Helen and I were
both a little saddened at our daughter’s departure, a little miffed at
the cheek of it and the lack of our input, but turned inward and
concentrated on young Liz.
Jimmy assured us that Shelly would be fine, but then qualified
that by saying that her antics should be ignored, and that we should
welcome her back when she was twenty-one. I questioned the
‘antics’, but just got a lot of shrugging out of Jimmy. I returned to
my routine of checking emails in the sun.
Two weeks after Shelly had left us, off to Singapore, Jimmy said
that it was time for me to be let in on a few secrets. We boarded a
Huey one morning, the Army bird cheekily picking us up in the park
at the end of our street, and set off for a mine. We actually set off for
the regional airstrip south of New Kinshasa, grabbing a Dash-7 for a
two-hour flight to the aforementioned mine.
For half an hour I sat up front, re-acquainting myself with the
controls and chatting away to the pilot. It turned out that he was
from Canada, and that his grandfather flew Mosquito aircraft for the
RAF during the war, which his great uncle had helped to design at
de Havilland. His wife was French, and her grandfather had been a
member of the French Resistance, and who had escaped a prison in
northern France bombed by Mosquito aircraft – something of a
paradox worthy of Jimmy himself. Landing at a small airstrip, we
were met by three Army Hueys.
After a pleasant ten-minute flight in the Huey, we landed at a
mine, fifty Rifles stood waiting for us since the mine was a bit out of
the way. Boarding jeeps, we made our way around to the mine shaft
itself. Hard hats were issued, lights switched on, and we descended
almost six hundred feet into the dark, clanking all the way down.
‘No music in the lift?’ I asked the lift operator, causing a
concerned and puzzled frown. ‘You know, elevator music – Girl
from Ipanema?’
At the end of our long descent the metal doors clanked open, a
group of managers keenly waiting for us and leading us onwards.
‘Welcome to Nhebou mine,’ the first man said.
‘What do you mine here?’ I asked, getting a lung full of warm
and pungent air.
They shot Jimmy a look, saying, ‘Gold, sir.’
‘A secret is for keeping,’ Jimmy told the managers as we
progressed along an uneven surface, a pearl-string of lights strung
out overhead, pipes running along the walls, one hissing water. We
stepped around the puddle it was creating.
A hundred yards in we took a left fork, halting at a seam that was
currently being worked on. At least it would have been worked on if
they had not downed-tools for us. It also looked like they had all
scrubbed-up for our visit, very clean miners stood smiling next to
very clean mining equipment.
Without any further assistance from the managers, or Jimmy, I
approached the wall and pointed at the shiny yellow seam. ‘Gold.’
‘Solid gold, sir. Not ore.’
‘Not … ore?’ I queried.
‘No, sir. It requires little processing. Smelting, yes, but not as
much processing as ore that contains little actual gold.’
I scanned the seam, which seemed to be around six feet high and
thirty yards long. ‘So how much is this bit worth?’ I asked, pointing
along its length.
‘Two thousand dollars an ounce,’ a man informed me. ‘And in
front of you, perhaps eighty or ninety tonnes.’
‘I hope your maths is better than mine,’ I told the man.
‘Roughly … six billion dollars right there,’ the man said.
I took a long moment, putting my hands in my pockets. ‘Oh.’ I
faced Jimmy, and waited.
‘They’ve been mining here for twenty years,’ Jimmy told me.
‘And I tucked away the gold for a rainy day. This seam would have
been discovered in 2024 with some clever equipment.’
‘So you got in here first,’ I noted.
‘It’s the world’s richest gold seam, sir,’ a man volunteered.
Jimmy led me back up to the surface after we thanked the very
clean managers, and the very clean miners.
‘So why keep it secret?’ I asked as we clanked slowly upwards,
still no music in the lift. ‘People know we have gold mines here.’
‘Price,’ Jimmy said.
I took a moment. ‘If people know that it’s not quite so precious
… it’ll lower the value, and if we sell too much … we’ll lower the
value ourselves,’ I figured.
‘Now that the world economy is suffering, people are switching
out of stocks and into gold, so I’m selling more – but discretely.’
‘And the total reserve?’ I nudged.
‘Is a paper figure, because if we tried to sell it … then it would be
worth a hell of a lot less,’ Jimmy told me.
At the surface, we gave back the hard hats and greeted a few
more of the mine team, and I could see now the extra security that
this place offered; there had to be a couple of hundred Rifles here,
pillboxes, machinegun towers, the works. I also noticed armoured
personnel carriers and armoured trucks for transporting the gold.
In the Huey, I placed on a headset and asked Jimmy, ‘What will
you do with it all?’
‘The next year or so will see the stock markets down, gold up, so
I’ll offload what I can and buy dollars for the region, but not from
the Fed. We should be able to keep gold prices stable, or even knock
them back a bit by selling. And I’ll use it to manipulate the US stock
markets.’
‘There’ve been many things that we could have used this for in
the past. But we sold stuff instead,’ I said through the headsets.
‘I had to play the role, and not let on what we really have to play
with. Besides, people already accuse me of profiting from my
knowledge of the future. At least this is ring-fenced, falling under
the region’s mining operations.’
‘If you use the gold to buy dollars from third parties, you’ll prop
up the dollar.’
‘Yes, that’s one aspect. And one that the Chinese and Russians
don’t need to know about yet.’ He held his look on me.
‘And if you don’t help to prop it up?’ I nudged.
‘OPEC gets twitchy next year, when Hawaii knocks the markets
down.’
‘I always figured they would try and drop the dollar because of
the surplus of dollars sloshing around.’
‘That’s a factor, the US economy is another; it’s a case of bad
timing and coincidence. When things go wrong around the world,
people typically buy dollars as a safe haven. But when the thing
going wrong is in America itself … it’s a different case.’
Landing at the airstrip, we reclaimed our Dash after an oddly
short visit, and returned to New Kinshasa. There, we boarded a
Huey, but headed to Forward Base, landing at the huge Congo Rifles
camp. A detail met us, jeeps taking us around to a part of the camp
that I had not visited before. We passed through several high fences,
all well manned, and to a large building that appeared to be just an
admin block. Inside, Jimmy led me down a few steps. Then down a
few more, security tight at each turn.
We eventually came to a vault door, open ready, bank staff
waiting for us. Jimmy greeted them and shook hands, stepping
inside. There we found a very long room, the central corridor
separated from the blocks of gold by strong metal grills, several
forklifts dotted about.
‘It’s a shit load of gold,’ I said to no one in particular, my words
echoing a little.
‘And if the British Prime Minister knew about it he might suggest
that we aid the UK economy.’
‘Why don’t we?’ I posed.
‘Because the UK is not the biggest kid in the classroom, or about
to throw a temper tantrum.’
I took in the gold ingots. ‘Do we have more money than God?’
‘Not far off it; this could make a serious dent into any project we
choose. But, as I said, knowledge of it would knock prices down
before we could sell.’
‘Like the diamonds,’ I noted.
‘Yep. And we have a shit load more of those than we declare.’
‘Was this the main reason for moving into the Congo?’
‘No, but a factor. My move here was to make money to fund the
Rifles, and to sustain them.’
‘Why show me now?’ I asked.
‘Because in the months ahead we’ll spend more than we seem to
have, and you would have asked questions.’
‘Will this lot be shipped out and sold?’
‘Some will, but most will sit in the main bank vault. The way it
works - the gold in that vault is used to get us dollars, so the
ownership of it changes hands in a computer, it doesn’t actually go
anywhere. People then buy oil and ore from us, or land and property,
and the ownership comes back to us.’
‘Do they check that it was there in the first place?’ I teased.
‘We get inspections, but they can only verify that the physical
gold that they own is there, and that its tagged; the bars have
numbers. And if they ask for it, we can ship it out. We also have a
declared and monitored reserve that they can inspect, and that’s
always more than enough to cover the gold that they lodge with us.’
‘Is this gold … in line with what you expected?’
Jimmy took a moment. ‘No, it’s more, and we can do more with
it. I could have helped various markets and economies in recent
years, but I didn’t on purpose. I want the US to feel the pinch so that
I can look good when we help, get the people on our side.’
I lifted my eyebrows. ‘Sure you’re not running for office?’
‘I am … kind of.’
Back at the mansion, he gave me a figure to spend, so long as it
was in the States. I asked for a hint as to what exactly I should buy,
to which he just shrugged and went for a swim.
I sat with Helen and grabbed a cold beer. ‘Got a slightly bigger
budget to buy things with, but from the States only. To both help
here, and there.’
Helen considered it. ‘Boeing is in Seattle, west coast, and they’re
bound to be hit by the tsunami. I mean, the region will be hit.’
I raised a finger. ‘Good idea.’ I called my contact in Boeing,
waking him. ‘It’s Paul Holton. How you doing, mate. Listen, how
quickly could you get me another ten 747s?’
‘Ten. New?’
‘Brand new, yes.’
‘They’d have to be slotted in and made. We could find you ten
surplus -’
‘No, no, I want them new. Consider this a firm order and … you
know, get the slide rule out and lathe working. What about 767s?’
‘Could let you have six that were cancelled…’
‘I’ll take them, send me the paperwork, thanks.’ I hung up and
faced Helen. ‘That’ll keep the locals around the lathe for a while.
What else does California and the west coast produce?’
‘Films.’
‘Can’t buy those.’
‘You can offer film finance,’ she posed.
‘Films … about things that we like; Africa, Rescue Force.’ I
called Oliver Standish at Pineapple Music, knowing that he lived
and worked in Los Angeles now. ‘Oliver, did I wake you?’
‘Yes!’
‘Sorry. Listen, do you know anyone in the movie business, you
know, movie funding.’
‘We do a little of that ourselves if our artists are involved. Katie
Joe just made a movie.’
‘She did?’
‘She starred in it.’
‘If I sent you some money, could you get me a list of films, you
know – scripts, and let me choose some to fund through you, to help
the local economy over there.’
‘Sure.’
‘Let people know that we’ve more money than sense, but are
interested in films about Africa, Rescue Force, stuff like that.’
‘There’s a pile in my office, and some of them are disaster
movies; they’re popular for writers these days thanks to you.’
Smiling, I said, ‘I want summaries, and I’d like them soon. We’re
going to loan your company a billion dollars to start with. What’s a
film cost?’
‘Anything up to two hundred million with special effects.’
‘In that case, make it five billion.’
‘You serious?’ Oliver asked in a hoarse whisper.
‘Very serious. Be a love and help out an old mate, eh?’ I hung up.
‘What else, babes?’
‘Electronics in Silicon Valley,’ she suggested.
I Googled the west coast’s exports, but found out that aircraft
made up the largest part of its exports. Sat there for an hour, I
ordered up sixty small aircraft from a variety of manufacturers, two-
dozen helicopters, and ten luxury jets. Hell, there were enough rich
people around New Kinshasa to utilize them.
But it still didn’t seem to add up to much, not compared with the
money I had to play with. Thinking about a recent air crash in
Russia, I called the boss of Boeing, pulling him out of a breakfast
meeting. ‘Listen, if I ordered up some aircraft for countries and
airlines other than ours, could you … well, make it look like they
paid for them instead of us.’
‘I … suppose we could if the State department helped. Why?’
‘Well, in simple terms – and just between us – we want to help
the aircraft industry there, but have enough aircraft for our own
airline.’
‘That’s … odd, but given that its you, not so odd.’
‘So, could we do it?’ I asked, puzzling his last statement.
‘Send you the bill, sure. Keep it quiet? I’m no secret agent, Paul.
The President may be able to help.’
‘Is there any way that you can think of to do it?’ I pressed.
‘Can’t you give the other people the money, and ask them to buy
from us?’
‘That ... may be an idea, actually. Keep this between us.’
‘How many aircraft are you figuring on sponsoring, Paul?’
‘Don’t know yet, we’ll see how it goes. Thirty, forty, maybe
more.’
‘My team will be with you in the morning. You still in Goma?’
‘Yep. I’ll get the kettle on.’ I hung up and dialled Han. ‘Han, you
awake?’
‘First, it is the same time here as Goma. Second, I have been
injected, and sleep three hours a night – as do many.’
‘Good. Listen, I want you to do me a favour. Ask your
government to nudge your state airline to buy ten new 747s from
Boeing, and ten 757s. We’ll pay you in gold down here.’
‘That is … most generous. And may I assume that you are
attempting to fill the order books of Boeing to assist the west coast
economy after the tsunami.’
‘You’re not daft are you. Will you do it?’
‘As I heard recently … I am not seeing the downside.’
I laughed and hung up, calling Yuri. ‘Yuri, you awake?’
‘I’m down the road. What time do you have in your house?’
‘I thought you might have been in Russia. Anyway, need a
favour. I want you to buy ten 747s off Boeing, and ten 757s, and
somehow donate them to a Russian carrier, and we’ll pay you in
gold down here.’
‘I was thinking of starting my own airline.’
‘Do it quickly, you’ll have twenty aircraft.’
‘And the reason for this very generous offer?’ Yuri asked.
‘The economy of the American west coast will be hit after the
tsunami, so we’re doing what we can … in our own small way.’
‘I see.’
‘Go start an airline, Yuri. But I want the planes ordered soon.’
I stripped off and took a cool dip, thinking on. Boeing made
planes, and the parts came from all around the west coast and the
States; there would be a knock on effect to suppliers down the chain.
President Samuels rang at 9pm that evening. ‘Paul, you’re
spending a lot in California, and with Boeing. Is the reason what I
think it is?’
‘It is. And … you’re welcome.’
‘Good of you, Paul. You’ve been buying dollars as well, so you
have deeper pockets that we realised.’
‘Something about gift horses comes to mind…’
‘Not complaining, just that the folks over here watch you like
hawks, and try and figure your every move.’
‘Well, we’re up to no good as usual … making money to buy
stuff from your west coast, and not just oranges.’
‘It was clever of you to have your own region and a friendly
government; you can do what you like without a government going
through your finances. You know, a lot of folk have tried to get
through Kimballa, but the man spouts the bible to them, and
mentions what will be on his statue after he’s dead.’
‘He’s thinking about his legacy. What will yours be?’
‘I’d hope it will be a good one; we’re on top of the disaster
planning.’
‘And the nice man running against you?’ I nudged.
‘We don’t attack each other in our speeches, too much. I still like
Sanchez, and we work well together. He has a passion for helping
the poor, and some of it is rubbing off on me.’
‘That’s an odd admission, from the man who represents all of the
American people.’
‘I didn’t mean it like that. I meant his socialist agenda.’
‘And your Republican Senate?’
‘Would like to see Sanchez strung up.’
‘Then I guess you’re a bigger man than your senators. And before
you ask, we don’t know who’ll win, because neither of you were
supposed to be in the running. It’s all new.’
‘Well, its neck and neck at the moment, mostly on Sanchez’s
strength of personality,’ Samuels admitted.
‘We love you both equally, you know that; equal presents at
Christmas!’
‘Senate is pressuring me to get you to address the new Time
Travel committee.’
‘They have a Time Travel committee?’
‘Yes. You’re not obliged to appear…’
‘But?’
‘But it may help if you answer a few questions.’
‘I’ll ask the big guy,’ I offered. ‘Anyway, off for a meal, and a
walk, and a drink in our glorious creation.’
‘Have a good evening, and thanks for Boeing.’

That following week, I thought of things to buy from California and


Washington State, ordering tens of thousands of copies of Microsoft
products; legitimately licensed copies. Africa tended to be five or ten
years behind the rest of the world, and in some areas this new
fangled Windows Operating System was still an idea. They were
looking forward to the delivery of Windows 3.11. On the news I saw
that Boeing had announced a full order book, and reassured many
workers about their employment for the next few years or so.
I had mentioned the Senate committee hearing to Jimmy, and he
just made a face, saying it was too soon. We returned to the UK in
September, Lucy off to school, and Liz toddling about quite happily.
Liz was talking ahead of her years, and we figured we had another
genius in the family, neither of us knowing where it came from.
Brad from The Ark kept me informed of everything he was
doing, and I urged him to spend more money. He then received a
little help from the American branch of our volunteer group, and the
two groups started to merge in places. I gave the volunteers a good
budget and sent them off to assist Brad, our own volunteers less
worried about wasting my money.
October saw the stock markets fall further, the price of gold
rising. Sat behind my screen, I said, ‘Fuck it.’ I called the bank in
Goma and told them to sell more gold and to buy US stocks,
figuring it would be a good investment anyway. In just a few days
we had knocked gold down sixty dollars and the markets up a few
points. I increased the gold sales, and took another fifty dollars off
the price of an ounce, firming US stocks.
Jimmy then popped up to my office. This time, I had biscuits.
He sat on the windowsill behind me. ‘You know what you’re
doing?’
It was not so much as question, as a ‘Do you realise what your
doing,’ type of statement.
‘Selling gold and buying stocks when every other fucker is
selling stocks and buying gold?’
‘You … we, are helping to prop-up the US stock markets; little
old us two. If I had mentioned that in 1986 -’
‘I would have thought you crazy. Yes, we have advanced along
the road a bit.’
‘Quite a bit,’ Jimmy emphasised. ‘And one of your abilities is to
see complex things in their simple forms, their basic elements.’
‘Maybe I’m just thick.’
‘You’re sarcastic, and that helps.’
‘I studied sarcasm in Kingston Polytechnic. It was supposed to
have been economics, but I slept in class. So, how much more
money can we throw at the US markets?’
‘It’s not the money, so much as the timing and application.
Choose a day when there’s bad news and the markets are falling, so
that the market makers are short, then buy heavily. It’ll catch them
out and cause a good upward move as they scramble around to cover
their short positions. You know the four banks we don’t like, so bust
them up. And never forget that America is a free country, and a
commercially minded country. Power is in money, not in the
government.’
I took receipt of a new bit of trading software from Jimmy, a
program written by the brain-trust kids, and it allowed me to place
bets across a thousand accounts, all open with the four US banks we
didn’t like. The money was routed through various offshore tax
havens, through Switzerland, and ultimately down to our bank. I
transferred five billion dollars and got to work. Since I wanted the
stock anyway, for the long term, I couldn’t lose.
That following week I watched the screens, buying a few stocks
that had tumbled and introducing a hell of a volatility spike to them.
The individual stocks would drop three percent before rallying ten
percent with my order, only to fall back a few days later.
When Samuels announced additional budget cuts, the tickers
turned red, and I was sat waiting. Around 6pm GMT, 2pm EST, I
stacked the deck and let rip with a cool three billion dollars worth of
small and medium sized orders. At first my trades were being
absorbed by the sellers in the market, but the market makers were
soon caught short, unable to fill my orders. Tickers started turning
blue for no reason other than a shortage of stock held by the market
makers, the traders that I was targeting wondering just who the hell
was buying. And buying so much.
I left the markets alone the following day, US financial
commentators scratching their heads at the previous day’s sudden
buying. Prices dropped back, and the next day dipped lower, so I
again ordered up two billion dollars worth of small and medium
sized blocks, guaranteed to annoy the pit traders – as well as keep
them busy.

Time Travel Committee

In early October, Jimmy said that it was time, time to face the Senate
committee as guests, since our foreign nationality and diplomatic
status prevented us being summoned. We flew over to Washington
without announcing the committee appearance to the press, but it
had leaked on the US side. We left the terminal from a side entrance.
We were soon ‘on the hill’, being shown to a waiting room till
being called, the Secret Service keeping us company. Once in the
Senate hearing room, they naturally asked us to swear to tell the
truth. We both refused right off, which caused a little head
scratching from the chairman. We sat without being invited to.
Jimmy began, ‘I do not … offer to answer all of your questions,
and I do intend to keep some things vague, since what I say may
have a direct bearing on the stock markets, and on people’s lives. If
that’s a problem, then we can call a halt to this right now.’
‘We’d like to proceed, since we may not get another chance at
this, Mister Silo,’ the chairman suggested.
‘We’re not going anywhere,’ I told him. ‘We’ll still be around
next year.’
‘We can only hope so,’ the chairman said with a false smile, and I
had to wonder what the committee was about. I decided to be bold.
‘May I ask you a question, under oath or not,’ I asked.
‘Well, that’s not normally how these hearings work.’
‘Yes or no?’ I pressed.
‘Ask your question,’ the chairman offered after a glance at his
colleagues.
‘What’s the remit of this committee, its stated function?’
‘This committee was set-up to explore and debate all things
temporal.’
‘Was it set-up to debunk … all things temporal, like Scully on the
X-Files?’
Jimmy gave me a look, a few sniggers coming from behind me.
‘We’re here to investigate, and then to draw conclusions and
make recommendations.’
‘Fire away,’ I said, easing back.
‘Well, let’s start at the beginning. Mister Silo, what was your
remit … in coming back through time?’
‘That’s an easy question for me to answer, but not so easy for you
to grasp the reality of. I came back thinking that you were all
doomed, and that anything I did could not make it worse, but could
only make things better. If, at any point during the past thirty years, I
had made a mistake, it may have been tragic, but it would not have
been such a catastrophic loss as you may think from where you’re
sat … since I come from a place in time with very little hope.
‘My remit, my objective, was to warn the various leaders about
what would happen, and then to try as best I could in steering the
world away from disaster.’
‘And you felt that the best way to do that was in secret?’ the
chairman asked.
‘Most definitely. I considered, most strongly, that if I made my
identity clear to any government other than the British, that I would
be locked up and used to the sole advantage of that nation, especially
you lot.’
‘Would you like to … expand upon that?’
‘I firmly believed that the CIA would try and identify me - and to
grab me, which they did over a great many years. Fortunately, I had
the assistance of the UK Government to stop such attempts. Thirty
years ago, the CIA were aware of my ability to predict the future,
and made efforts to grab me and to kill me.’
‘To kill you?’
‘Yes, numerous attempts were made to kill me, as well as
attempts to bribe me or to force me to work for the CIA, and to the
advantage of individuals – for their own financial gain – or to the
sole advantage of the States.’
‘You have admitted, publicly, that NASA and our military built
the time machine. Would you not have been obliged to debrief with
NASA?’
‘No, since you could never be trusted, and still can’t be trusted.’
That wrangled them a little. ‘We … could not be trusted?’
‘Those who built the time machine … knew that the people here
would probably not accept or understand the depth of destruction
and despair that led to the time machine being built. Although they
wished to warn you, they also knew that such information could be
used for the advantage of unscrupulous American politicians. Which
I guess covers most of you.’
I hid a smile, badly.
‘You don’t trust our government?’
‘I trust certain individuals, those whose pedigree I know for
definite. I trust the good man to your left, and the very good man on
your far right. I trust Samuels and Sanchez, and a few others.’
‘I see,’ the chairman said, his pride obviously hurt. He passed the
questioning to the second man. That man thanked the chairman – at
length, and changed tack. ‘The American people are being expected
to place a great deal of trust in you –’
‘They don’t have to. They can sit on the beach on the day of the
tsunami and tell themselves that I’m wrong.’
‘And would you allow people to die like that?’
‘Like what? Like fools? I’ll help those that want my help, and
those that need my help, and those that deserve my help. But I won’t
stand in the way of a fool that wishes to end his life. Besides, your
citizens are your concern. I notify your government, and they handle
their own people as they see fit. I’m not a politician.’
‘And are there things that you know, that you’ve not told the
President?’
‘A great many things.’
‘And if they affect us, do we not have a right to know?’
‘No, you don’t, because you’re bunch of children still trying to
figure it all out. You care more about your own ratings than saving
lives or doing what’s right.’
‘You see us as children? I’ve been in the Senate for more than
thirty years -’
‘And I’m a great deal older than you, a great deal wiser, and a
great deal more experienced. And then some.’
‘Well, that’s your opinion –’
‘His approval rating is higher as well!’ I put in with a grin.
A third man took over after a nod. ‘Mister Silo, we only have
your word as to who you really are … and your real motives,’ one of
the panel posed.
‘And it’s that scepticism that betrays both your youth, and your
lack of qualification to be sat there. Your government, and the
people of this world, have had thirty years to judge my motives. If
you haven’t got it all figured out by now then you have a problem,
not least in your own lack of abilities. But you’re under no
obligation to listen to me. Others … do.’
‘You have been accused of favouring the Chinese and Russians.’
‘I favour anyone who listens and acts. They listen, and they act -
you don’t. When I tell your people about the future, they sit back
and fold their arms, expecting me to try and prove what I say. Then
they see how they could use that information for the benefit of this
country.’
‘Since they work for this country, and are paid by this country,
they should be looking out for its best interests.’
Jimmy slowly nodded. ‘And there lies the problem at the heart of
this, and there lies the reason why I don’t trust you, nor will ever
give you a full picture. You are children, and you don’t understand,
so I’ll explain it for you. I’ll even go slow.
‘There are two concepts, both of which you still fail to
understand. First, it matters not to me, or to any truly enlightened
person, which country prospers or fails, survives or dies. It matters
… that mankind survives. But you will, I’m sure, find many people
in this country, and especially in your government, who are
determined to keep America on top – no matter what it takes, even if
you decide to fire your nukes at other nations. There are people in
this country who consider that America must survive, even if it’s to
the detriment of all other nations.
‘Second, the challenges ahead can only be tackled by everyone
pulling together. To give you an analogy, one mentioned recently,
we are all in a canoe together. If one nation gets up and rocks the
boat we all sink. Only through global cooperation will we succeed.
‘You, sir, don’t understand either concept, which is why I have
nothing but contempt for you, and for some of your colleagues. I’ve
told you before, and I’ll state it again: if the countries on this planet
fail to work together in the years ahead, they all fail. You’ve had
SARS, quakes, Lagos Fever, and now an economic downturn. But
that’s nothing compared to what lies ahead; that’s a stubbed toe.
What lies ahead will be like a house falling on you.
‘And the reason I work in secret, and the reason I work around
people like you, is that you don’t even accept the dangers, let alone
try to get the people of America ready for them. Russia and China
will fare well because they listen, and they’re preparing. You’re still
deciding if you believe me, when China is ten years ahead in
detailed planning. You haven’t even got off the drawing board yet.
America is so far behind in planning and changing that you’ll
probably never catch up.
‘You’re sat there with your stupid questions about my ability to
captain the boat, when the boat sailed ten years ago. You’re
discussing a Sunday afternoon stroll when you should be at home
building a shelter and stacking the tins and water. Do you think you
represent the American people? We’re in the last quarter, and you
haven’t even found the football field yet.’
They took a moment, the room deathly quiet.
‘You’re saying that President Samuels has not listened?’
‘He’s listening, but he can only do so much. The rest is down to
businesses, to the institutions, and the people. And it’s the people
who will ultimately change things. In Africa, in New Kinshasa, we
have thousands of American volunteers giving their time for food
and board, to work on projects I give them, research to tackle future
problems.
‘They’re prepared to sacrifice their homes and their careers to
help me. They’re not there to help their native America - their
homeland, they’re there to help the planet. And the first concept they
deal with when arriving … is that we’re all in this together, and that
no nation has more of a claim than another.
‘Whilst on that topic, we’ll be offering some of the people of
Hawaii and your west coast a new home and a job in New Kinshasa,
to do what we can to help them. People in the abandonment zones
can petition us for a place in Africa.’
‘In Africa?’
‘It’s a vibrant and modern city, with plenty of jobs. And if they’re
not happy they can always return home,’ I said. ‘We’ll also be
spending what money we can on helping the displaced.’
‘And that money, it came from your knowledge of the future?’
Jimmy said, ‘No, it came from our belief in Africa. But if you’re
not happy with that then we’ll not spend any money to help the
displaced people. What would you like us to do, Senator; help them
or not?’
‘I don’t think you should be profiting from your knowledge of the
future.’
‘If we’re profiting from the knowledge,’ I posed. ‘Then the
knowledge must be true. And if it’s true, then why are you still a
pain in the backside?’
Jimmy gave me a look as he stood. ‘We’re done wasting our time
with you. Do what you want, and we’ll help the displaced of
America whether you like it or not.’
We left, being snapped by the photographers. Samuels was on the
phone straight away, mad as hell; the hearing had gone out live. We
were summoned to the White House like naughty schoolboys.
Samuels and his team were waiting, and all a little sour faced.
‘You want to explain some of that attack on us!’ Samuels loudly
asked.
‘It’s not so much about you, as … those that may follow you,’
Jimmy said.
‘Follow me?’
‘Other Presidents and political leaders. Besides, I need the people
on my side to help you, just in a roundabout sort of way, and yes – I
move in mysterious ways – and no, I won’t explain why all the
time.’
‘You said we’re ten years behind the Chinese!’
‘You are. Their electric vehicle usage and coal-oil expansion
could push their GDP up twenty percent from the ten its at now. And
now that I’ve worried the people, you can try and enact more
austerity measures and get more bills passed, especially if the
Democrats take a few seats off you.’
‘You gave Sanchez ammunition!’
‘If he tries to use it I’ll stop him. And he will listen,’ Jimmy
insisted.
The Chief of Staff said, ‘You showed nothing but contempt for
the panel.’
‘Did they deserve otherwise?’ I asked.
Jimmy explained, ‘Today’s rant … puts me in tune with the little
guy in small town America, and will strike a chord after the tsunami,
because no matter what the federal government does to try and to
help people - they’ll not be appreciated. After the tsunami, people’s
trust in the federal government will fall, and there’s nothing you can
do. But, if I’m seen more as a people’s champion, I can give you a
good write up.
‘Nothing I do … is accidental, or emotional. There are things that
you guys can do, and there are things that require people power -
plus a change of attitude in the populace. My aim, was to install a
feeling of urgency, and that will help.’
I said, ‘And it’s still fucking ridiculous that your senators still
don’t trust us or know what we’re about.’
‘You’ve been buying dollars,’ a man noted, directing his
comment to me.
‘Yes. What’s your point?’ I curtly asked.
‘Just wondering … why?’
‘To prop up the dollar,’ I carefully mouthed.
‘And yet you just lambasted our political system on national
television.’
‘Which you obviously weren’t watching closely, or not paying
attention,’ Jimmy said. ‘It’s about saving everyone. You included!’
‘You have deeper pockets than we calculated,’ the same man
said.
‘The GDP of our region is higher than we report,’ I said. ‘Much
higher. We’re buying dollars off Europeans and others and paying
the staff in dollars – which helps you lot.’
‘And you just ordered enough planes to keep Boeing busy for a
decade,’ Samuels noted. ‘For which we’re grateful,’ he quickly
added.
‘We’re using spare cash to buy anything produced on the west
coast,’ I informed them. ‘It all helps.’
‘Not sure I understood … about offering our citizens homes and
jobs in Africa,’ Samuels began. ‘It makes us look … less powerful
in the world.’
‘For the next ten years, the name of the game is integration,’
Jimmy told him. ‘I’ll be pressuring you to accept more Chinese and
Russian tourists, and closer ties. Before 2025 you need to be closely
linked, because we don’t want any nation to say that they’re doing
more than another. That … tension, could cause a fatal split. And, in
case you bright gentlemen haven’t figured it out yet, New Kinshasa
is a melting pot for nations. From it, I expect new companies to
grow, with directors from many nations on the board, as with CAR.’
‘Could we get some warning about shows like that in future?’
Samuels asked. ‘Maybe some input?’
‘No. What I do is beyond your time in office, and beyond the life
spans of all of you,’ Jimmy stated, and I had to puzzle the odd
remark. So did the others. ‘There’s still a lot you don’t know. And,
when you understand … you’ll understand.’
They glanced at each other.
‘Might we know how much you intend to spend – as a private
individual – on helping after the tsunami?’ the Chief asked.
‘Why?’ I cut in with.
‘It may make us look bad.’
‘Again, why?’ I asked. ‘If we help … you waste less tax payer’s
money.’
‘And that makes you two look good,’ a man noted.
‘Which is part of the aim,’ Jimmy pointed out. ‘Unless you feel
that my task would be easier … if I were less popular?’
‘Should our efforts not be coordinated?’ the Chief asked.
‘They will be,’ Jimmy insisted. ‘But I can’t be seen to sit by when
people know that I have … deep pockets.’
‘Could you put a figure on it,’ the Chief nudged.
‘Approximately fifty billion dollars.’
That had an effect. They exchanged shocked looks.
‘And don’t you think that may make us look bad?’ Samuels
asked.
‘No. You’re trying to spend the appropriate amount, and trying
not to waste taxpayer’s money,’ Jimmy told them. ‘Besides, you’re
spending a hell of a lot more.’
‘Which will be lost in the detail,’ the Chief said.
‘Would you like us to spend less?’ I asked.
No one answered, they didn’t dare. We went around in circles for
a while, the ruling elite worried that we were up to something –
which we were – they just couldn’t figure it out. And, with an
election just weeks away, they were all twitchy, seeing our attack on
the senate committee as an attack on them.
We reassured the most powerful men in the world, and I felt a bit
odd, sat there watching how the most powerful men in the world
were reacting to us.
Jumping back aboard Silo One, we flew off to Seattle, landing at
Boeing’s own airfield. The last time we landed here we had to leave
US airspace and skirt around it, now I felt a little more welcome, if
only by Boeing. The senior executives met us as honoured guests,
even though it was now 8pm and dark, and drove us to the home of
one of the board members, a suitably large and secure estate. They
even had accommodation for some of our security detail, the rest
having to book into a motel just down the road.
Dinner was ready as soon as we had arrived, and we settled about
a large table, being waited on by three wives and two maids. It
wasn’t long before we got into talking aircraft sales; they certainly
weren’t bashful. They raised the issue of payment on account, since
we were ordering a great many aircraft. Our credit was good, very
good, but they wished to re-hire a few people they had laid off
recently, both in their own plants and in subsidiaries.
‘We can pay your Fed, but in our region, and they can pay you,’ I
suggested. ‘We’re trying to hang onto our dollars to pay the workers
in our region.’
‘How much would you like?’ Jimmy asked.
‘However much we can get away with,’ they joked. ‘And, we’d
sweeten the price for a good upfront payment.’
‘Again, how much would you like?’ Jimmy pressed.
They exchanged looks. ‘One point five?’
The man meant billions, each 747 topping out at one hundred and
eighty-five million dollars these days, without the extras.
‘Let’s call it two point five, to ease your cash flow,’ Jimmy
offered.
They exchanged looks. ‘You serious, Jimmy?’ the main man
asked.
Jimmy nodded. ‘The west coast will need jobs after the tsunami.
Hell, it needs jobs now. The money would be a zero percent loan,
and when you deliver the aircraft you can bill us and adjust it.’
‘Well, I wasn’t going to offer you the good desserts,’ the main
man joked. ‘But now you can have ice cream.’
After the lengthy meal we sat about an artificial log fire, many of
the men off to wives and families. We sat drinking, and chatting
about the development of Boeing aircraft. I mentioned Lucy’s flying
and they were impressed, offering her the use of their simulator if
she ever visited. I made a mental note not to tell her; she would have
probably asked me to fly her over straight away. And we had already
lost one daughter.
In my allocated guest room I fired up my laptop and loaded the
communications software, dialling Helen. The screen came to life a
few seconds later, a view of her elbow. ‘Can you hear me?’
‘Yes, just picking chocolate out of Liz’s hair,’ Helen informed
me.
A shrill cry suggested that a little more soap was needed, and a
little less tugging.
Exasperated, Helen lifted Liz to her knee and faced her laptop,
the backdrop being our lounge. I could now see brown chocolate in
Liz’s blonde hair.
‘Hey, baby. You been eating chocolate?’
‘No, it wasn’t me,’ came back, a shake of the head.
‘How’s it going?’ Helen asked.
‘Samuels was pissed at the way Jimmy spoke to the senate
committee, he’s worried about the election. Now we’re in the house
of one of the guys from Boeing; had a meal and a few drinks, just
settling down. How was your day, babes?’
‘I’ve been handling projects for the volunteers, for Jimmy. We’ve
got more volunteers now than projects, and more applying all the
time. The corporation are building more apartments for them all. Oh,
and Lucy has a boyfriend.’
‘Boyfriend, boyfriend?’
‘I saw them kissing out the window.’
‘How old is he?’ I asked.
‘Same age.’
‘Well, we’ve got that to be thankful for.’
‘She’s going for the intellectual type.’
‘Where are you, daddy?’ Liz asked, puzzling the laptop image.
‘I’m in another country, a place called America.’
‘Are you up in the airy-plane?’
‘No, babes, but I will be tomorrow.’
‘Down to L.A.?’ Helen asked.
‘Yep. See Oliver Standish about making a few films.’
‘Will you see Brad?’ Helen asked.
‘No, keeping a low profile as far as he’s concerned. For the
moment at least.’
‘Right, well I’ve got a shower to put this young lady under.’
‘Say hello to Lucy for me. By Liz.’
She shrieked and struggled before the screen went blank, and I
didn’t envy Helen’s task. Liz was a toddler, but she ran faster than
we did, and could get down the stairs on her bum in a flash and
outpace us.
I opened my emails and began at the top.
Our coal-oil refineries had grown to six facilities, output up thirty
percent. I marked it as read and moved on. Next, I discovered that
the various governments involved with the next generation nuclear
plant in Somalia were arguing about further funding. I simply
ordered the corporation to send money over.
My phone beeped. Lifting it, I could see Shelly’s cartoon image
waving. I touched the screen and a real image of Shelly appeared.
‘Hey, dad, you with Boeing?’
‘Just had a meal with them. Is it on the news?’
‘No, silly; I check your itinerary with Sharon at the house.’
‘Where are you?’
‘Los Angeles.’
‘We’re there tomorrow.’
‘Duh, I know,’ came back. ‘I’ll want a lift.’
‘A lift?’
‘To Hawaii and New Zealand.’
‘We’re going to New Zealand?’ I asked.
‘It’s suppose to be secret, but Sharon told me.’
‘You know more than me, babes.’
‘Always, daddy. Always.’
‘So … what you been up to?’
‘Had a look around three universities here.’
‘Any you like?’ I asked, knowing more than she did about her
future.
‘Yes, I like the marine biology course here. But I might try and
add microbiology to it.’
‘So, what do you want to be when you grow up?’
She smiled. ‘We’ll see. Oh, in case you see it, I’ve done some
modelling work; clothes, watches, jewellery.’
‘Making a buck?’
‘I made three million bucks actually.’
‘Well don’t forget me, I may be poor some day.’
‘Hah! Jimmy will never be poor. I’ll see you tomorrow at
Oliver’s house. Night.’
Her image disappeared, and I returned to my emails.

In the morning we flew down the coast, a coast that was soon to be
devastated. En route, I read a paper that one of the security guys had
brought with him, a story about a clever bit of software that worked
out which areas would be hit, and how badly. Some coastal towns
would be completely spared, others destroyed, and a few towns ten
miles inland would be badly hit after water had funnelled up their
estuaries.
At the bottom of the article was a picture of Brad, and I read on,
seeing that he was using the software to warn people, and to set-up
shelters for the homeless near the areas that would be affected, even
soups kitchens. It gave me an idea. I fired up my laptop and
composed an email for him.
‘Brad, don’t re-invent the wheel. Work a deal with McDonalds,
KFC, and others. Print up vouchers and give them to people already
on welfare as a test. After the tsunami, give vouchers to those that
lose their homes, one free meal a day at least. Thinking on, if you
can find some way of doing that - but in a little more low-fat and
healthy kind of way, that might be good as well. We’ll fund it, you
go talk to the companies.’
Returning to my paper, after staring out the window and down at
the coast in question for a while, I read an economic forecast for the
States that was all doom and gloom. Not only that, they seemed to
be constantly referring to “when” it happens and “after” it happens. I
had to wonder if they were paying attention.
At Oliver’s house, we informed our security detail that there were
no spare rooms, and they set-up a rota system, booking into a local
hotel. Oliver and his wife greeted us, Shelly giving me a kiss on the
cheek, but hugging Jimmy.
My dear daughter was now taller than me, and more like her
mother every day. With sunglasses on, I had to look twice. Settled
around the dinning room table, and tucking in to some tasty ribs, we
got down to business.
‘What’s the progress with the film scripts?’ I asked Oliver.
‘There are fifty-two in a box ready for you,’ he said with a smirk.
‘In addition to the ones I sent you.’
‘Fifty-two?’ I queried. ‘If they’re anything like the last lot, we’ll
be at this a while.’
‘No shortage of scripts around here,’ Oliver pointed out. ‘Every
waitress and limo driver has a script.’
‘And this batch … they’re all suitable?’ I asked.
‘Most are disaster movies, and most have Rescue Force in them.
Some are about Africa, some about time travel, and many about
future calamities.’
I faced Jimmy. ‘You’d best check the shortlist as well.’
Jimmy nodded. ‘Leave a box here for Shelly to go through. It’ll
give her something to do, and make her even more popular in movie
circles.’
I faced Shelly. ‘You’re popular in movie circles?’
‘I have friends in the business,’ she coyly admitted.
‘You make friends quickly,’ I quipped, getting a look from her.
‘But don’t they have strict rules over here about drinking and ID
cards?’
‘They do,’ Oliver said after Shelly sat staring back at me. ‘And,
thanks to the papers, all the bar staff know how old Shelly is.’
‘I only drink occasionally, and in private,’ Shelly stated.
‘Cutting down then,’ I noted.
‘You don’t need to worry about her,’ Jimmy told me. ‘Because
the first time she causes us any bad publicity I’ll have her returned to
the UK in handcuffs.’
Shelly now shot Jimmy a look. He slowly turned his head to her.
‘Toy with me, young lady, and I’ll take all of your toys off you.’
She lowered her gaze after being stared at, an awkward silence
created.
I faced Oliver. ‘I’ll go through the scripts on the plane, and tell
you which one’s I like – if any. Those that Shelly likes, send me
copies to have a nose at.’
‘There’s a script that I’ve brought,’ Jimmy told Oliver. ‘Which is
more like four scripts in one. It’s about the soldiers who went to
Afghanistan, to fight in the integrated units. That one is your
priority, and we’ll want it made in English, French, Russian and
Chinese. The military staff in Kenya will cooperate, and you can
shoot on location in the Somali or Ethiopian highlands.’
‘I’ve got all the studios chasing me,’ Oliver said with a smile.
‘Even had a few celebs drop by and ask for work.’
‘Quite a few,’ Oliver’s wife added.
‘Will L.A. be hit badly in January?’ Oliver asked a while later.
‘Some areas,’ Jimmy replied. ‘Fortunately, you have a built up
area that will act like a dam to the wave; the buildings will act like
breakers. The authorities will dig trenches in the sand, and that will
disrupt the wave, and they’ll place concrete blocks across streets.
The water will seep inland a fair way, but the brunt of the damage
will be taken by the first block or two.
‘The Venice Beach area will be less of a beach and more exposed
rock, the sand will be in-land in peoples bedrooms; six feet high.
The marinas will be flooded, but mostly undamaged. San Francisco
will miss most of it, but the towns further up the estuary will be
badly affected; tsunamis like shallow water and funnels. Then they
rear up and do the damage.’
I faced Shelly. ‘Are you planning on being here when the wave
hits?’
‘No, I wanted to have a look around the Caribbean this winter.’
‘And New Zealand?’ I added.
‘They have an oceanography course that I wanted to look at.’
‘Don’t they produce a prospectus?’ Oliver asked.
‘Yes, but I want to see the facilities and the local town.
Oceanography courses have a lot of practical elements.’
‘Time at sea aboard ship,’ I put in without looking up.

In the morning we reclaimed our aircraft, several of the security staff


having remained onboard overnight, and I started on the scripts as
we climbed away from Los Angeles, heading for Hawaii.
One of the scripts had a character called Paul Hilton, and he was
a bit of an effeminate sidekick to Ricky Stone, a time travelling
super-hero. It got a big red cross on the front page. Cheeky bastards.
En route, I sat and had a beer with Jimmy, Shelly reading a book
on microbiology opposite us. ‘The newspapers seem to think that the
tsunami will knock the US economy down.’
‘It will.’
‘So … why don’t they factor that in now?’
‘They have, to some degree, but there’s a big difference between
being diagnosed with cancer, and one day finding your hair in the
sink. They still think there’s hope, and no … they haven’t quite
grasped it. Oh, Sanchez will be meeting us there.’
‘Is he electioneering?’
‘No, we have to break some bad news to the islanders, a sizeable
number of who aim to remain and to take to the hills; there could be
a hundred and fifty thousand staying behind. But … but tomorrow
around noon they’ll get a wake up call, courtesy of Mother Nature.’
‘A quake?’ I asked, wide-eyed, Shelly looking up.
‘A modest one. It’s the timing signal, and it’ll fix the exact time
of the main quake, just in case my memory is not what it should be.
There’ll be three more between now and the big one.’
‘If Sanchez wins, he’ll be inheriting a crisis, since they don’t
seem to be prepared.’
‘Samuels is prepared, but I haven’t pushed him as much as I
should have.’
‘You want the people to bash the federal emergency package,’ I
noted.
‘Has to be done, I’m afraid. You see, no matter how hard we try,
we could never get the government to do what we want, because it’s
not a united government. You have a president, a congress, a senate,
powerful lobbyists, and a politically biased media. You also have the
Pentagon and other interested groups, and they all pull in different
directions, making it near impossible for the President to get
anything done.
‘Whoever wins next month their majority will be small, and so
far it looks fifty-fifty. So there could be a president will a small
majority in congress, and maybe a minority in the senate. It’ll be a
disaster; the main emergency bill will never get passed.’
‘And we’ll help in the meantime,’ I noted.
‘If the bill isn’t passed, Wall Street will crash, and financial
liquidity will be squeezed further, causing a genuine recession.’
‘How much of that gold will we use?’
‘A lot of it.’
‘If it was used to developed Africa…’ I posed.
‘Yes, it would be a super-power in itself. But if America
descends into a full-blown recession, then right-wing elements will
surface - strong nationalists leaders, and they’ll think about
aggressive moves – starting by not paying creditors like the
Chinese.’
‘They’ll default?’ I puzzled.
‘Deliberately. The Fed will print dollars and hyperinflation will
take over, because with a US recession comes global recession, and
oil sales dry up; those holding dollars would sell them.’
‘And the value of the dollar drops, the costs of imports rise and
makes the recession worse,’ I though out loud. ‘A double effect.’
‘It’s an integrated global economy,’ Jimmy said. ‘When the
biggest kid on the block falls, they all fall. That in turn makes the
biggest kid on the block a big hungry grizzly bear with an empty
belly - and sharp claws.’
‘Bring back Hardon Chase,’ I quipped.
‘Funny you should say that…’
‘What?’ I asked after a moment.
‘I’ve got him together with Brad.’
‘Chase can’t be the President again.’
‘No, but he can advise Brad,’ Jimmy said.
‘Brad…? President Brad?’ I glanced out the window. ‘You crafty
old sod.’
In Honolulu, security was tight, something of a protest going on
outside, a protest about our visit. That angered me greatly; we
weren’t about to cause the damn quake, we were just the
messengers.
We left the airport via a side entrance, an army escort provided
since there were tens of thousands of soldiers already on the island.
We met Sanchez at a hotel, a well-guarded hotel, and he joined us as
we travelled around to a meeting of the local politicians and
community representatives. The police had barricades out, soldiers
on duty, the crowds kept back. And this lot did not want our
autographs.
I struggled to understand their attitude. It was a natural disaster,
and they’d be alive afterwards, not dead. I could understand
complaints about compensation, but what could anyone do. Some of
the placards I noticed said ‘We will not give up our homes!’, and I
had to wonder what the hell was going through their minds.
Moving through the government offices, Jimmy checked his
watch, asking for a room where we could talk with Sanchez. They
found us a room, even cold drinks, and we sat with Sanchez and his
party, his disaster team, which included a number of senior military
officers.
Jimmy asked for a quick briefing on where we were with
preparations, and the military detailed their plans, some of which
shocked me. Jimmy indicated to Sanchez how we would help the
people after the quake, before leading us toward the arranged
meeting.
Entering a large room, we found a dozen desks pushed together,
fifty people sat around them, many being ancestral Hawaiians, only
two women present. Police stood off to one side, making me think
about how friendly this crowd was going to be. Jimmy checked his
phone, noting the time. We sat facing our inquisitors, most of them
offering us stony-glares or folded arms.
Jimmy then offered one particular man a long sentence in what I
presumed was a native tongue. The man stared back for a moment,
unfolded his arms and replied, he and Jimmy entering into
something of a conversation. Jimmy finally broke to English. ‘It
would be rude for us not to converse in English, since there are
many white folk here.’
He reached into his jacket pocket and produced a glass sand-
timer. Turning it so that the majority of the sand was at the top, he
placed it in the middle of the table, everyone focusing on it as the
sand started to run out.
‘First, let’s get the bad news out of the way,’ Jimmy said. He
faced Sanchez. ‘If I may?’ Sanchez nodded. Jimmy faced the men
arranged opposite us. ‘In a week’s time, all oil and fuel will be cut,
no more deliveries will be made.’
The assembled locals glanced at each other, shocked. And
angered.
‘On the 12th of December, the last food ship will arrive. After it,
no more will come. On the 6th of January, all power and phone lines
will be cut.’
A chorus of indignant comments rose up, which soon led to
raised voices and a few fists banging the table. Meanwhile, Jimmy
leant forwards and rested on his arms, studying the sand-timer, and
seemingly ignoring the melee around him. I focused on it as well, so
did a curious Sanchez.
With most of the sand out of the timer, and a few of the rowdy
locals also now focused on it, the building shook, ceiling panels and
dust falling. Everyone apart from Jimmy looked up, the police
wanting to evacuate us. Jimmy quietly told Sanchez that we were
safe, and Sanchez loudly told everyone to settle down as Jimmy
turned the sand-timer over.
When the overlapping conversations had eased a little, Jimmy
said, ‘Where were we? Ah, yes, you were about to tell me that you’ll
stay in your homes. Well, ladies and gentlemen, you can stay in your
homes if you wish. But I ask that your children be put aboard boats
and allowed to be a mile offshore. That, is not much to ask, and they
can return to your homes afterwards; after … nothing happens.’
He again focused on the sand-timer, and so did everyone else
now. ‘The sand runs out of the timer. It feels nothing; no pain, nor
joy, no sorrow. It simply runs out of the timer.’
With the sand just about out of the upper capsule, another quake
struck, louder this time, more dust falling from the ceiling. Jimmy
sat calmly, Sanchez and his party exchanging looks, and looking like
they wanted to be the hell outside.
Jimmy turned the sand-time on its side and broke it with the side
of a fist. Making eye contact with the indigenous man he had spoken
to previously, he said, ‘Only I can stop the timer. You, my friend,
will perish in ignorance.’
He eased back. ‘Your ancestors had a better appreciation of
Mother Nature, and of her fickle moods. I’m sure that there were
many times when your people felt the earth shake, and witnessed
volcanoes exploding. And, I’m sure, that those things had an effect
on their desire to get into a canoe and move on. You landed here
around the time of Christ, but now it’s time to move again, and some
of you will go back to Polynesia with my help and my money.
‘Some will go to America, to Los Angeles, and I will again help
with money. Some will also accept my invitation to come and live in
Africa, and to help my cause. Those that remain will become legend,
joining their ancestors a little too soon.’
He stood, the police still fussing and wanting to move us out.
Pointing at the timer, he said, ‘I can fix the timer, and I can make the
sand go back up. I … can wind back time, you … cannot. If you
think you can, the timer is there.’
He nodded at Sanchez and his party, and we led a relieved group
out. Oddly enough, the protestors outside had dispersed.
On the coach, Sanchez said, ‘That was a hell of a parlour trick.’
‘I knew the date and time of the quakes,’ Jimmy informed
Sanchez. ‘And I knew it would have more of an effect than just
words.’
At Sanchez’s hotel, we settled around the bar, the residents being
allowed back in, not least because Jimmy said there would be no
more quakes today.
‘Samuels is pissed at you,’ Sanchez noted, an invite to explain the
situation.
‘He saw my attack on the senate committee as an attack on the
government,’ Jimmy explained.
‘Was it?’ Sanchez asked.
‘No,’ Jimmy insisted. ‘Besides, you may be in that government
soon enough. Then you’ll see just how little power you really have,
especially with a small margin.’
‘And the economy?’ Sanchez nudged.
‘Whoever gets in will preside over a mess,’ Jimmy said.
‘I won’t be leaving the baby on the church steps,’ Sanchez
carefully mouthed. ‘I expect it to be hard, that’s why I’m doing it.’
‘You’ll have our support,’ Jimmy assured him. ‘But there’s no
quick fix.’
Sanchez eased back. ‘We’ve moved out a million people already.
The retirees were easy enough to move, the military, federal
employees. Businessmen and the rich have all gone.’
‘Leaving the poor … and the ancestral Hawaiians,’ Jimmy noted.
‘The poor are being offered accommodation across the States,
fifty thousand a week moving out. Money that we earmarked to
move the better-off is being used as incentives for the poor, grants
and loans.’
‘I think you’ll find them a little more willing to move after
today,’ I told Sanchez.
He lifted his eyebrows and nodded. ‘Biggest problems are the
smaller islands.’
‘Don’t be soft with them,’ Jimmy urged. ‘Use the military. Cut
power sooner; water and phones. Tear down schools and hospitals,
sports centres. Those homes that are empty, torch them. You have to
move them away from a normal and tranquil lifestyle and ram home
the reality.’
‘Cruel to be kind,’ I softly added. ‘And we’ll be offering money
for the displaced, a lot of money. That should help.’
‘I have people arriving here in a few days,’ Jimmy told Sanchez.
‘They’ll offer homes in Africa and other places. We’ll see if we
can’t move a few people out for you.’

Back on the plane, Shelly was still reading her book. ‘I thought the
quake was early for a minute there,’ she said, marking her page.
‘Just the foreshocks,’ I told her. ‘Jimmy just scared the crap out
of the locals. He timed the meeting.’
‘We off now?’ she asked.
‘Yes, Auckland, New Zealand.’
After take-off I opened the newspaper again and started to read.

Landing in Auckland after midnight, and worried that we seemed to


be landing on the water of the bay before finding the runway, we
found that there were no angry crowds to meet us, no crowds at all.
We elected to stay on the plane and catch some sleep.
At 8am we ventured out, a few reporters observing our coach
leave the airport, and made a very short journey to the New Zealand
Housing Association buildings, where the Prime Minister and his
colleagues awaited us. Shelly came along, wishing to meet the Prime
Minister. I had my suspicions as to why, and the man thought that
she was Helen. Shelly was not best pleased to be mistaken for her
mum, but it brought a smile to my face.
The Prime Minister walked us inside, chatting about the flight
and our specialised aircraft. I suspected he was a little jealous. In a
meeting room, we settled about an oval table, pictures on the walls
of Captain Cook, of old sail boats and indigenous peoples in
traditional dress, whaling boats with harpoons.
‘Something of a mystery, this meeting,’ the Prime Minister noted.
‘And we were asked to keep it quiet.’ He held his hands wide.
‘We’re all intrigued.’
‘Then I’ll get to the point,’ Jimmy said. ‘If you were given
financial assistance, would you take a few Hawaiian families?’
They glanced at each other.
‘Well, how many?’ the Prime Minister asked.
‘How much … would a house cost to build?’ Jimmy asked. ‘And
what would be the burden on social services in the years after their
arrival?’
‘Property around Auckland is high, cheaper further out. A three
bed house would be around a hundred and twenty thousand English
pounds, but cheaper further out.’
‘How much cheaper?’ Jimmy nudged.
‘Down to forty thousand for single story starter units,’ they
explained.
‘OK, I’ll make this simple. First, are you happy to accept
Hawaiians?’
‘We’ve already discussed it, and a few have settled here already,’
they explained. ‘So we have no particular objections about taking a
few, other than the cost - and the current state of our economy.’
‘And if I asked you to take more than just a few?’ Jimmy nudged.
‘It would have to be put to the people, but the social burden
would be the issue.’
‘And if I paid local companies to build new apartment blocks,
thereby helping with employment.’
‘That would be an incentive, yes.’
‘And if I gave you five billion pounds towards the social
burden?’
They blinked.
‘Well, we could take quite a few.’
‘Could you do something for me as we break for a cup of tea:
work out a unit cost to build a basic apartment, and factor in the
school, medical and welfare costs of a typical family. Then tell me
what ten thousand migrant families would cost you. And I would
appreciate a rough figure today.’
They blinked again, but got on it, paper and pens out as we stood
and looked at the pictures on the walls, Shelly introducing herself to
the Prime Minister and mentioning that she may wish to study here.
I shook my head, not knowing who she got the cheeky nature from.
They came back with a figure, little more than a hundred
thousand pounds per family, allowing for a social burden of six
years.
‘Fine,’ Jimmy told them. ‘I’ll be flying over five billion in gold,
and I’d like you to take on board as many families as you can – but
primarily ancestral Hawaiians. You’ll also be able to claim some
money from the American Government for the families – but that
will take a year or two.’
Back at the plane, I cornered the head of Shelly’s security detail.
‘So, what’s the little darling been up to?’
‘I’m under orders from Jimmy not to say, sorry, you’ll have to
ask him.’
I moved closer. ‘She’s my frigging daughter, not his!’
‘Yes, sir, but he pays my wages, and he’d pull my head out the
socket. Sorry, boss. But Jimmy does keep a careful eye on her, and
… interferes if he thinks it necessary.’
‘Such as?’ I probed.
‘One young actor, twenty-five, took a shine to her. Jimmy rang
him, and the lad stopped taking her calls.’
‘Oh,’ I said after a moment.
‘I speak to Jimmy about her almost every day,’ the man offered.
‘She’s quite sensible really, she studies and reads a lot, she’s never
falling down drunk or making a scene. And if the men get pushy she
decks them.’
‘She’s decked a few men?’
The man nodded.
‘Takes after her mum,’ I noted.
‘In Singapore she visited the hospitals, the children’s wards. Flies
the flag for you.’
‘She does?’
‘She visits the Rescue Force units as well. Embarrassed the
Chinese Premier though; he offered a hand to shake and she kissed
and hugged him.’
I smiled. ‘Take care of her.’
We left Shelly in New Zealand, with her security detail, the poor
young men of Auckland about to feel a right hook, and headed
towards Goma and a surprise meeting of certain world leaders. I
found out en route and was concerned, since the Russians, Chinese
and Japanese were involved, but not the British or Americans. It was
bound to get out, and our dear Prime Minister would be asking
questions.
He had recently stated that he would not serve another term, and
even hinted at stepping down sooner, possibly in the spring. I guess
he had enough. Finally.
Arriving at the mansion in Goma I found Helen and Liz, quite
expecting them to be there to surprise me, Lucy in school. I kissed
Helen and grabbed Liz, the little lady struggling to get away and get
back to some serious face stuffing. It was almost 5am, and I chose a
quick dip as a way of fixing the jetlag, the duty guards saying hello.
I was soon fresh and awake, and chasing Liz around the house. I
didn’t know about swimming, this little lady was a sprinter.
Catching her, I put her over my shoulder and carried her to the pool,
threatening to drop her in and waking the neighbours with her shrill
calls. When I placed her down she dived in anyway, surfacing and
giggling.
‘You change her!’ came from a window above me.
I dipped back in the pool, soon joined by Jimmy, a rare partaker
of early dips.
‘Can’t be bugged here,’ he said.
‘Problems?’ I asked, keeping an eye on Liz.
‘Not really, but we’re dealing with paranoid people, and in a
recession.’
‘Samuels will be on the phone as soon as he knows about the
others coming here.’
‘They’re here for the opening of their embassies.’
‘They’ve been open a while,’ I puzzled.
‘Official opening,’ Jimmy suggested, making a face.
‘And this meeting?’
‘A new world order,’ Jimmy enthusiastically stated. ‘I let Han
know how much gold we have, since it alters the playing field, and
the Russians have had a hint. They can also see the GDP of our
region growing faster than they have a graph to put it on. Some
analysts have our region becoming a super-power in its own right in
a decade.’
‘Will it?’
‘That’s not the plan. Plan is to prop-up the Americans.’
‘And Russia and China might like to see America diminished a
tad.’
‘Old ideas and prejudices are hard to remove. We’ve made a lot
of progress, but…’
‘We need Russia and China to be nice to the States for a few
years, and that means they take a few points off their chart. Should
be an interesting meeting; we’ll need our poker faces on.’
‘We can exaggerate the gold and diamonds a bit –’
‘Don’t frigging need to!’ I pointed out. ‘I’ve been checking on
national gold reserves, and we’ve enough to worry the IMF!’
‘Which is why we keep it quiet. There’s also the question of the
African people not wanting to share it, so we have to make it look
like we’re benefiting the African people as investors – more than
assisting the US. And that gold mine – I’ve wiped the records
several times, so no one quite knows how much was produced, and
the managers are all hand-picked men who believe that things like
our imports cost more than they do. They’ll also soon think that I’m
lodging gold overseas for African credit.’
I did change Liz myself, after she had run through the house wet
and left a soggy trail, and sat down to breakfast around the pool with
Helen and the toddler. Liz was, as her sisters had been, well behaved
and quietly attentive when there was food about. The arrival of
sustenance was reverently anticipated before being savagely
devoured.
I informed Helen of some of the gossip about Shelly, and
Jimmy’s interference, but she seemed to know. She certainly didn’t
react to it. We enjoyed a quiet day, Liz happy to slosh around the
pool with our African nanny, and we dined out at the Gotham City
marina that evening.
The next morning we met the Russians, Chinese and Japanese
delegations at the conference centre, in a room above the main hall,
familiar old faces greeted, a new Chinese Premier welcomed. The
former Chinese Finance Minister and Foreign Minister were in on
the meeting, as were Han and Ivan. When everyone finally settled,
and it took twenty minutes, Jimmy kicked off the meeting.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, communist dictators, hard-working
aides.’
I smiled, the new Chinese Premier not quite knowing how to take
the salutation.
‘We’ve asked you here today … for a private meeting about an
important topic, although I’m sure that the opening of your
embassies is more important than my ramblings.
‘In just a few short weeks we’ll have a new American president-
elect, who may well be the old president. Both men … are good
men, and I can work with either. But whoever wins will face a
greater problem than they realise. They have not prepared as well as
they should have for the Hawaiian quake, and the federal aid
package will take time to get through Congress.
‘The election will be a close-fought thing, and as such there will
be no clear majority in either house. That means … that the aid
package may take many months to agree to, longer to implement.
That will lead to … unrest, in some quarters. The American people
will also react badly to the damage caused by the tsunami - worse
than may be expected.
‘I expect the US markets to crash, and I expect the US banks to
deliberately try and make that crash worse to make themselves some
money. The markets will be volatile and down, and bank liquidity
will be affected. The knock-on effect will hit European bourses and
the other markets. Within three months, the global recession will
bite, and will affect us all. Well, it won’t affect Africa too much -
we’re internalising our markets and using our own mined products.
‘It is my aim, as far as Africa is concerned, to absorb excess
materials - and to use them internally for a year or two - returning to
a fuller export order book afterwards. I don’t anticipate a fall in
GDP, rather a rise of at least fifteen percent.
‘But we’re here to discuss America, and what we can do - and
will do, to assist the American economy, because great dangers lay
ahead. If the US economy falls to where I expect it to, we can expect
a global recession. If they fall just a few points lower we can expect
the rise of protectionism, and then national unrest leading to the rise
of nationalism; hard liners taking office is a definite possibility.’
‘They will become aggressive?’ the Chinese asked.
‘We have always known that they would, if a certain set of
factors was in place, conditions reached. If they do become
aggressive, then all is lost. Because if they do become aggressive,
then the global recession will become much worse, and unity at
2025 will be extremely unlikely. With no unity at 2025, the chances
of defeating The Brotherhood are slim.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, we started these meetings – many years
ago – with this detail before us. Since then we have all enjoyed
cordial relations, and we have all prospered. But we all knew this
day would come. Well, the day is here, and we need to make plans.
My plan, is to prop-up the US economy as much as I can over the
next one to two years, even if that is done to the detriment of others.
Doing nothing … is not an option.
‘There will now be a ten minute break for tea, and for questions
and proposals to be formulated. Thank you.’ Jimmy stood and led
me towards the refreshments, chatting innocuously about boats on
the lake.
When we reconvened, Jimmy began with, ‘It is my aim to
formally ask all of your three nations to do what you can to assist the
US economy in the short-term, whether you like the proposition or
not. I have, in years gone by, provided you with coal-oil technology
and the super-drug, which has boosted your economies. Kindly keep
that in mind. First, let’s take questions. China?’
Han asked, ‘Given your financial strength in Africa, and your
reserves, would not the development of Africa as a super-power
counterbalance The Brotherhood.’
‘A good question. What would happen, is that the Brotherhood
would find it difficult to attack Africa, and so would be inclined to
attack Europe and Russia instead. If there was no unity in place in
2025, I would leave the African armies here to defend their
homelands. They would not be deployed to work alone.
‘Now, given the situation in Africa – which is far better than I
had anticipated – Africa and South America would do well after the
rise of the Brotherhood. You … would not fare as well. Russia?’
‘If the three of us worked together, could we not quell the
Brotherhood?’
‘Yes, certainly, for a time at least. That would leave the three of
us exhausted and broke, America building up its strength and
separated by a nice big ocean. And, following the destruction of the
Middle East, America may consider it had more to gain by a fight
with you in your weakened states.’
They didn’t seem to like that scenario.
‘What say the Japanese?’ Jimmy asked.
‘You ask that we attempt to assist the US economy … out of fear
of bullying?’
‘Yes. And bullying is a good way to describe how your future
relationship with a hard-line American leader may go. Trust me, I
know.’
Han said, ‘You are asking that we assist economically the richest
nation.’
‘I’m asking that you assist the country with the largest army, a
willingness to use it, and nationalist leaders waiting in the wings. If
you don’t assist, and those nationalist leaders rise, you’ll be looking
at a global conflict in parallel to the fight against The Brotherhood. I
said it at the start, and I’ll say it again: taking on The Brotherhood
will require global cooperation, or failure is a certainty. Trust me, I
know for definite; as much as I know the detail of the quake about to
hit. But when the American political quake hits, it will do you all far
more damage.’
‘What did you have in mind?’ Han asked.
‘That you adjust your import/export ratios a few percent points in
favour of the US. If that’s successful, then I’ll try and redress the
balance afterwards. I will also provide you with additional
information and technology.’
‘You will use your reserves to assist the US economy?’ Han
asked.
‘If necessary, I’ll use all of my reserves, leaving Africa exhausted
and weakened.’
Han nudged, ‘That will leave the African armies with less of a
chance to fight The Brotherhood.’
‘If America sees the rise of nationalism, it won’t matter a damn.’
‘Do you have figures?’ the Chinese asked.
‘No,’ Jimmy told them. ‘I ask this: that you assist as much as is
practical, that you record the steps that you take, and – if successful
– we will try and square the books afterwards. And, if not
successful, you’ll all be dead anyway. I will leave the percentages up
to you, but they will colour the nature of my assistance to you in the
future. Fail to help, and we will have nothing much to say to each
other till 2025.
‘If, in the meantime, you enter into a conflict with America, I’ll
develop Africa as the world’s remaining super-power, and hold off
against the Brotherhood as long as possible. We’ll now take a two-
hour break. Thank you.’
Jimmy led Helen and myself back to the house for a bite to eat.
I nudged Jimmy towards the pool. ‘If a nationalistic leader gets
into the White House, he’ll have a hard time up against the blacks
and Hispanics in America.’
Jimmy nodded, and waited.
‘What, civil unrest? Civil war?’
‘Ninety-five percent of American power and wealth is in the
hands of less than five percent of the people, and they’re white folk.
In the last two decades, the rich have gotten much richer and the
poor have stood still. That gap will cause problems, but the police
will want their bellies filled by those who can pay. Poor Hispanics
can’t pay.’
‘If Sanchez wins –’
‘He’ll get the blame for the economic tumble, and be ousted
before his term is up. The big banks influence the Fed, and they’ll
make his policies look bad. They’ll trip him up.’
‘I sometimes wonder if the elite few know what they’re doing,’ I
grumbled.
‘You and me both. They’ll collect all the money in America and
live in gated complexes, the top one hundred richest people, unable
to venture into the wilderness outside. If they knew the world was
ending tomorrow, they’d raid their own banks and take the
customer’s cash home, just to be the richest at the end.’
‘We should bust them up a bit more.’
‘Unfortunately, the Fed would then step in and help. And most
people working in the Fed used to work in the big banks. They’re all
dinner buddies; poacher and gamekeeper at the same table.’
‘And Brad?’ I asked.
‘A rare thing; a man who cares more for his fellow man than
himself.’
‘Present company excepted.’
Jimmy smiled. ‘Maybe.’
‘So Brad will counter-balance the nationalists?’
‘And the banks.’
‘Could just hit them with an EMP,’ I suggested.
‘The thought had crossed my mind once or twice. But we’d hurt
the small investors. Still, two of the big banks will get a wake-up
call the day after the election; I have the autistic kids in there right
now, having a look around the bank’s computer systems.’
‘That’ll hurt.’
Back in the meeting, we gathered our thoughts and waited for
everyone to settle.
‘What say the Chinese?’ Jimmy asked.
‘We will work out a percentage and discuss it with you.’
‘That change, in your financial relationship with America, will
need to take effect in February. Long-term changes are of little use.
What say Russia?’
‘We will put together a package that may assist the dollar, but our
own economy is suffering already.’
‘It will suffer a great deal more in February, and you must move
quickly to lower the living costs of your own citizens. You have
coal-oil, and you have my farms. If you assist enough, I will show
you a way of producing coal-oil at ten dollars a barrel.’
That interested the Russians, the Chinese as well.
Jimmy began, ‘If we work together, we can dampen the worst
effects. And, if my strategy works well enough in the next month,
there’ll be less for us all to do. Kindly consider any additional
questions, and have your aides come to the house. Thank you all for
attending, and enjoy the facilities in New Kinshasa.
‘Oh, almost forgot. I’ve greatly extended the facilities at the naval
base in northern Somalia. There’s now a hostel, hotel and bars and
restaurants. I would like to see both Russian and Chinese ships
docking and using the facilities, the aim being to make friends with
your potential adversaries. And … let’s hope that drunken sailors
don’t start a war.’
Back at the house, I stripped off and dived into the pool to join
Liz, but my mind was on all things American; the biggest kid in the
classroom.
Spaghetti western

A month later, Sanchez won the election by two states. Samuels


would soon be just a memory, my good buddy Sanchez in power.
But in the weeks that followed he rang less, which was
disappointing.
With the election out of the way, Jimmy let loose the dogs of war.
Money disappeared from a major bank, turning up in the Cayman
Islands in the name of one of its directors, the details leaked. The
FBI arrested the man at dawn one day, the news full of it.
An email then surfaced, allegedly from the outgoing chief of the
Fed. It stated that he would ‘work his magic’ and get the charges
dropped, but hinted at a good job for his efforts. He was fired
straight away, and I doubted that he would get a good job for his
efforts.
Our least favourite bank then lost a few hundred million on an
up-bet when the markets were falling. Thing was, no one in the bank
could remember making the trade. That was followed by the leaking
of a series of faked emails. Since the emails were in the bank’s own
system, they appeared completely genuine. They gave a damning
picture of what Jimmy knew would happen, but could not prove.
One email read:
‘When the tsunami hits, they’ll be a great opportunity to short the
market and sell the upside to our customers. We’ll blame the
tsunami, it’s not our fault.’
Another said: ‘If we shake the markets down enough, we’ll get
rid of that fucking spic immigrant Sanchez the day he takes office.’
And that was from the CEO of the bank we didn’t like.
Jimmy went public and condemned the men, suggesting that short
selling should be banned when the tsunami strikes. The media were
mixed, some still supporting the banks, who must have been
wondering what the hell was happening.
The next email suggested that the senior figures in three banks
were colluding to collapse the markets, both to make money and to
‘get rid’ of Sanchez. The detail was confirmed by two traders who
turned themselves in to the FBI and SEC, confessing all. They did,
however, confess to the New York Post first, and Jimmy confessed
to having bribed them; as well as having put the men in place twenty
years ago.
The banks were reeling, and the people were angry, Sanchez livid
before he even took office. Jimmy sent Samuels an email: ‘Take
swift action now, or I will. And you won’t like what I do.’
The Fed, the FBI and the SEC met with Samuels, and conspiracy
charges were brought, although Jimmy was doubtful if they would
stick. Samuels publicly condemned the banks in question, as did
Sanchez. Jimmy suggested to the media that no down bets be
allowed for a week either side of the tsunami, but no one stateside
was happy with it.
The banks professed their innocence, but a week later another
series of emails came out, traders confirming the intention to place
down bets overseas. The public and the media were now actively
debating the role of the banks and market makers, and a third trader
stood up to confess all, detailing down bets made overseas and ready
for the tsunami. He publicly stated that the banks aimed to wipe
twenty percent off stocks, and then to buy the shares for themselves
after the fall, to make a profit on the rebound.
Christmas approached, and Samuels was receiving more heat
than his entire term in office combined had produced. He would be
glad to be going. We enjoyed a family Christmas, Shelly flying back
in to join us, Bob Davies and his wife coming over as well.
Rescue Force was put on notice, to be ready on the second of
January, all leave cancelled and all training exercises cancelled. All
Rescuers were told to have a good Christmas, because they would be
away a long time. Cuba would lead the South American teams,
spreading out along Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, and the Central
American states up to Mexico. The Europeans would be spread
around the Pacific, New Guinea and the Australian coast.
The Chinese and Russians would be taking care of their own
coastlines, and the Africans would join the Europeans around
Polynesia, ships with temporary helicopter decks being utilised. That
left the considerable and capable US military to assist the west coast
of America, since foreign assistance would not look good for the
world’s greatest super-power.
Then there was Brad, and his own army, an army of volunteers
now some hundred thousand strong. In some small towns, just about
everyone had signed up, even some of those who would be flooded
themselves. Despite the US military build-up and planning, Jimmy
insisted that Brad would do a better job of it.
He said, ‘The military and civilians don’t mix, especially not in
America. For a soldier to tell a civilian to “move along there” is like
striking a match over petrol.’
Christmas went well, a few SARS cases noted, but no panic in the
media. For many, this would be the first peaceful Christmas for a
while. Shelly flew off on the 27th, heading to Barbados, and we flew
down to Goma for New Year’s Eve.
New Year’s Day, Jimmy called Bob at Mapley from beside the
pool. ‘Bob, you awake?’
‘Sat ready.’
‘Send to all Rescue Force units: recall, form up on the morning of
the 2nd. Expect earthquake at 06.25 on the 15th, tsunami to hit Pacific
Rim four hours later. Full kit check tomorrow, unit formations,
deployment the next day.’
‘Got that.’
‘Hueys?’
‘On their way already, aboard the ships they’ll operate from,’
Bob confirmed.
‘National civil defence readiness?’
‘All reporting ready.’
‘Passenger ships?’
‘If it floats, it’s heading to the Pacific.’
‘And Hawaii?’ Jimmy asked.
‘They reckon that there’s less than two hundred thousand left,
and the army goes in tomorrow.’
‘Any hiccups?’
‘More people on mountain tops than I’d like, a few killed trying
to get up the damn mountains.’
‘Thank you, Bob. And … good luck.’
‘We’ve had twenty five years, so we should know it by now!’
With the call ended, I asked, ‘Do we do anything now … to assist
the US economy? I mean, ahead of time?’
‘No, because the markets will fall, even without the manipulation.
Still, the Chinese have said that they’ll buy stock that day, the
Russians will buy some, and we’ll buy a shit load.’
‘There’s a gold audit at the bank by the IMF tomorrow,’ I pointed
out.
‘Yes, that should be … interesting,’ Jimmy said with a smile.

The next day, after the IMF had been to count our gold ingots, the
British Prime Minister called. ‘Jimmy, the IMF had you down as
having more gold than China.’
‘We mined up a bit more lately,’ Jimmy responded.
‘A bit more? You’ve increased your deposit ten fold!’
‘And we’ll need it to help the global economy in the years
ahead.’
‘And the British economy?’
‘You’re not about to fall apart. Others … are.’
‘Oh,’ the PM said after a moment. ‘Need a word as soon as
you’re back.’
‘You are always upper-most in my mind.’
‘Cut the crap.’
The French came on next, the Germans, and even the Indians. We
were popular for all the wrong reasons. I decided to be cheeky, and
offered substantial loans at great rates to various African
governments, so long as they bought US goods with the money. I
had six willing takers.
Another Wall Street bank trader gave himself up to the FBI the
next day, another Silo plant that had been paid off, and the US
disquiet with the banks grew. We were also seeing problems with
the residents of the abandonment zones, police and soldiers used to
move the people out - and to keep them out.
As with Hawaii, power and telephone lines were cut, roads
blocked; gentle nudges to get people to move. Brad had set-up
thousands of mobile homes with the money we had allocated him,
many more being rented for just a month or two. When Jimmy saw
the detail, he said that they’d still be in those mobile homes five
years from now.

The big day

On the afternoon of the fourteenth we drove over to Mapley and


claimed the apartments, the time difference to Hawaii being eleven
hours.
The US military had collected what they claimed were the last
two hundred thousand residents, but Jimmy had his doubts. The TV
news was full of the boats around Hawaii, some quite small and
looking flimsy for the sea conditions; they were dwarfed by the few
remaining ocean liners, the medical ships and the US Naval vessels.
The cameras then focused on downtown Honolulu, fires raging in
many buildings, the towers set alight by people either remaining, or
by the last few to leave. Tall columns of black smoke rose high into
the sky, a clear sky laid on for this spectacle of Mother Nature.
CNN was now showing images from Los Angeles, of surfers in
the water, the coastguard trying to scoop them up. There were even
people on the sand being chased by the police. On the hills along the
Pacific west coast of America, millions stood waiting and watching,
something of a party atmosphere, more than a few barbeques going.
The clock counted down to 06.25 local Hawaiian time, remote
cameras having been placed on the hills of Hawaii and now feeding
back live images via expensive satellite links.
‘Hope I got the day right,’ Jimmy said.
‘We’ll be in trouble if there’s no quake,’ I quipped.
At 06.23, the cameras placed on the island all shook, and all
stopped working twenty seconds later, the TV stations switching
quickly to views from the nearby ships, or from 747s circling
overhead. I had to wonder about the aircraft, because they’d have
nowhere to land if they had a problem.
Images of the burning towers appeared, the towers crumbling and
collapsing. It was like a Charlton Heston disaster movie, only with
better special effects. The next shot was of a hill on the island, the
tallest hill. As we watched, it slid down into the water, the start of
the tsunami, a giant boiling mass of white water spreading outwards.
‘Is that the thing that causes the tsunami?’ I asked, pointing.
‘Part of it. Mostly, the underwater range collapses and creates the
main tsunami.’
Boats could be seen rising and falling sixty feet as a smooth and
rounded wave passed them, an ocean liner getting its lowest decks
damp. Jimmy walked out, and up to the roof, the rain holding off.
I followed him. ‘Don’t like the movie?’
‘Seen it, know how it ends,’ he said without turning, taking in the
airfield.
‘And the casualties?’
‘I reckon there’s at least thirty thousand still on the islands. Waste
of good life.’
Back inside, we sat and ate a meal, not much said, and returned to
the control room after. A wave had just slammed into an island,
sweeping people into the sea. Jimmy uttered a few rude words and
stepped out again. I sat watching as island after island was hit in
turn, quite a few people not high enough in their observation
platforms. One island was filmed from a hilltop, the wave sweeping
the houses below away as if they were toys. When the wave had
passed and the water level fallen, nothing remained, not a building
or a single tree.
Images of Rescue Force Hueys appeared, winching people from
the water or from trees and roofs. It was frustrating to say the least,
since everyone had been given plenty of warning. Still, people
remained with their homes and ended up being killed, or needing
rescuing.
I paced up and down for a while, but was always drawn back to
the news with a morbid fascination. When the wave hit Los Angeles
I was on my feet along with everyone else, witnessing an angry
boiling monster coming ashore, more sand than water. The
authorities had dug deep channels in the sand, and that seemed to be
slowing the monster, but also making it angrier. It slammed into the
houses and flattened them, aerial views showing the water slowly
advancing inland.
Inland, the damage was being done by the presence of the water,
not the force of the water, and the first block of houses seemed to
have taken the brunt. Rows of concrete blocks seemed to have
slowed the water, churning it. Problem was, it kept coming over the
tops of the barriers.
They switched to a town up the coast from L.A., a town on an
estuary, a wall of water over fifty feet high rearing up and smashing
houses aside. Japan was shown next, one area particularly badly hit.
Luckily, the first row of high apartment blocks took the brunt and
slowed the water. Auckland was hit, moderate damage caused, and
northern Australia suffered wide areas of flooding.
When the wave came ashore in Chile it found several estuaries
that had been perfectly unlucky in the shape and depth. One such
estuary head was filled from the side, a wall of water almost a
hundred feet high being squeezed from the sides as it advanced. It
enveloped a town of what appeared to be wooden houses, a view of
locals on a hill. As I watched, my hands to my cheeks, the brown
muddy water reached out and grabbed hundreds of people off the
hillside.
The Rescue Force managers were despondent, images of
spectators in many areas coming in, and hundreds being swept away.
What struck me most was the cost of the damage, not just the loss
of life and the human suffering. Everyone had been given a warning
and should have been evacuated, but you could not move their
houses, and around the Pacific Rim I figured on a trillion dollars of
damage.
When I had seen enough damage for one day, I checked the
DOW Jones, finding it falling sharply, already down four percent. I
shook my head, walking out to find Jimmy. Joining him in the
canteen, I mentioned the drop on the DOW.
He nodded absently for a moment. ‘I’ve arrange a few more
emails for the next few days. It’ll put the people at odds with the
banks. And I sent Brad another two billion dollars towards food. Oh,
and vouchers for MacDonalds – a good idea of yours.’
‘Sanchez will be sworn in in a couple of days,’ I mentioned. ‘Hell
of a start for him.’
‘He won’t have many people appointed, so the disaster plan will
suffer,’ Jimmy softly noted. He checked his watch, and lifted his
phone. ‘Begin,’ he told someone.
When he lowered his phone, I asked, ‘Stock buying?’
He nodded. ‘Catch the short sellers, because they’re shorting the
stock without holding any.’
After a cup of tea I went back to my laptop and focused on the
Dow Jones, starting to witness a few wild spikes, blue tickers
amongst the red. Within twenty minutes the index was showing
signs of recovering, blue squares across my screen, and within an
hour the DOW was above it’s opening, making me smile. The
market makers had tried to short the stocks, even with the exposure
they had received, and we’re now caught on the wrong side of the
action, scrambling around to cover the sales of stock that they never
had in the first place. Team Silo had just taught them a painful
lesson.
Driving back at midnight I was despondent, but I couldn’t quite
work out why. It wasn’t the loss of life – I was angry at the people
for staying in their homes. It wasn’t the damage either, not in itself,
it was just the waste of it all. I was so used to building things around
Africa, that destruction on this scale upset me.
Getting into bed, and cuddling up to Helen, I said, ‘What a
waste.’
‘Waste?’
‘All that damage.’
‘It was a act of nature.’
‘I think … I think I understand the big guy a bit better now. For
him to see things like this, or worse, to see it all washed away, and
knowing that the whole damn planet may be washed away – it must
affect him.’
‘He can picture 2025, we can’t, no matter how often he describes
it. It’s not real till it hits you in the face, till the water comes through
your lounge,’ Helen said.
‘And that’s the problem with the leaders; he gives the warning,
but how many really listen. I think we’ll get to 2025 … and people
will still be surprised by it. Crisis? What crisis?’
The next day, Jimmy occupied his mind with work and Africa,
and ignored the damage done around the Pacific Rim. He called me
down, and we video-linked to the Prime Minister.
‘How’s it going?’ the PM asked, meaning the efforts of Rescue
Force.
‘It’s not that I wanted to talk about,’ Jimmy bluntly told him,
sounding tired. ‘I need a favour, and saying no would upset me.’
‘Oh,’ the PM said with a quizzical frown.
‘I’d like Russian long-range bombers to land at our RAF bases in
Scotland, unarmed bombers of course, and I’d like Russian ships to
dock at Falmouth and Plymouth on a regular basis, your naval
vessels docking in Murmansk and Sebastopol, as well as in China. I
want your ships docking at the naval base in northern Somalia as
well. And the new docks in Liberia; I want Royal Navy ships there
on a regular basis when they’re passing.’
‘And the Russians and Chinese?’ the PM asked.
‘Will be happy to cooperate.’
‘And the reason for this show of friendliness?’
‘World peace. For which I expect you to play a large part, given
the calibre of man that you are. You can get the French to cooperate
as well.’
‘And in the grand scheme of things…?’ the PM asked.
‘We’ll have a recession to deal with for a while, then we start
work on global cohesion geared towards 2025,’ Jimmy told him.
‘That means that you’ll be at the front of those calling for closer ties
and greater cooperation, earning yourself a few extra pages in the
history of the planet.’
‘I’ll step down in a year, I promised my wife.’
‘Pipe and slippers?’ I asked.
‘A damned good rest,’ the PM stated.
‘And when do I rest?’ Jimmy asked him. He waited.
The PM took a moment. ‘I’m not you, Jimmy, and I have no idea
how you keep going; try not to judge others by your own high
standards. I’m quitting while I have a family left, and hoping to see
more of them.’
‘You’ve done enough,’ Jimmy told him. ‘Sorry if I sounded
ungrateful for your efforts; I must be getting old and cranky.’
With the video cut, Jimmy said, ‘States. Monday.’
Back in my office, I received an urgent email from the
corporation in Goma. Someone had told Kimballa that our African
reserves would be used to help America, and that he had asked about
it. I threw my hands up in the air and cursed. Not wanting to bother
Jimmy with it, I booked a Friday night flight down to Goma hub,
only to find Lucy tagging along; sat in the cockpit and tagging
along.
I settled down to a little light reading until I needed a nap,
catching four hours. We landed at 5am, and I took Lucy around to
the mansion, chatting about things aeronautical, and we enjoyed a
dip together as the sun put in an appearance. Waiting till 8am, I
called Kimballa, inviting him around to the house. He arrived at 9am
and found me on the patio, pancakes ready.
Once seated, I said to him, ‘Can we have a private talk?’
He dismissed his aides.
‘Mr President, you’ve been asking questions about our gold
reserves, and the idea that we’ll use them to help America.’
‘And was I not supposed to?’
‘It’s your country, Mister President, you are allowed to, but it
may have saved some time if you simply called us. We are, after all,
old friends.’
‘Indeed, yes. So why the secrecy surrounding this gold?’
Kimballa asked.
‘There’s secrecy around a lot of what we do, and justifiably so.
As for the gold, we’ve hidden it to keep gold prices up. If people
think it lays on the ground here, the price will fall.’
‘And that will be bad for our gold exports.’
‘It would,’ I confirmed.
‘And this talk of helping the Americans?’ Kimballa asked.
‘May I ask where that information came from?’
‘An officious looking letter arrived anonymously.’
I took a moment, sipping my drink. ‘Someone wishes a division
between us.’
‘Many have tried, but none successfully. Besides, the people
don’t love me as they love Jimmy. I am not about to offer a contest.’
‘Jimmy knows the future, and in the future – if we don’t act –
America may elect right wing leaders. Those leaders will wish to use
America’s strength to secure resources … such as oil and ore.’
‘Of which we have plenty,’ Kimballa noted. ‘They would be
aggressive?’
‘How do you treat a lion with an empty stomach?’
‘You throw it some food, and run like hell the other way! You are
saying, that we give the lion some food to stop it from eating us?’
‘I am. But it’s not us … that would be the first target, and any
aggressive move would destroy the world economy.’
‘No one would buy our oil and ore then,’ Kimballa noted.
‘Mr President, the Americans have been sending money to Africa
for fifty years, giving a little back is not so unjust.’
‘Indeed no, and it would make for a very strange newspaper
headline.’
‘Which is why we’ll make sure that it doesn’t reach the
newspaper headlines, unless to say that we are investing in America
for future generations of Africans.’
‘Future generations … who don’t want to be eaten by the lion. Do
not worry, Mister Paul. Before you came, this region was the devil’s
own playground. Now it is Eden, and how do you say – centre stage,
yes?’
‘Centre stage,’ I confirmed with a smile. ‘And you, sir, can see
the big picture I’m sure, and appreciate world politics.’
‘World politics is simply a larger version of Africa politics, and
my father was well used to neighbours with hungry bellies and sharp
claws. We were raped every day, but far enough away in Kinshasa
not to care.’ He sipped his drink. ‘Am I allowed to know – as a good
friend – what the future holds?’
‘Many of the worst problems have been dealt with,’ I told him.
‘The next big headache is America, and the global economy. That’s
a two-year problem. After that, we need a much greater integration
between the various nations, and some global cooperation, to face a
challenge in 2025. If that challenge isn’t dealt with, we lose the
planet. And all this, this will all be gone.’
‘This city will be destroyed?’ Kimballa asked, horrified.
‘Africa would be invaded and enslaved after 2025, that’s why we
built up the Rifles. If Jimmy can’t figure a way through, all of Africa
will be destroyed, and all the world.’
Kimballa gulped his drink. ‘I watched the TV when the
earthquake struck. When the clock said the time, I was both very
pleased that Mister Jimmy can say these things, but horrified at the
destruction. And now you say that in less than ten years we may lose
everything we have built.’ He shook his head. Facing me, he said,
‘Is there more that we can be doing?’
‘Just support us when we need it, and help us when we ask.
Throw a good party, Mister President, and get the nations
cooperating as much as you can around the city. And next time you
get an anonymous letter about us, just pick up the phone, day or
night.’
I enjoyed a day around the pool, Lucy sat reading, and we headed
to the airport around 9pm for the last flight out. Boarding the flight,
Lucy went back up to the flight deck and strapped in, helping with
the pre-flight checks.
On Monday morning we took Silo One across the pond to New
York, re-fuelling and heading straight on to San Francisco for a
series of TV interviews – and not down to the inauguration of
Sanchez. Booked in to our hotel, the first duty was the tour of a
neighbourhood that had suffered damage at the hands of the tsunami,
an unfortunate shape under the water causing a funnelling of the
tsunami as it neared. The tsunami had passed under the Golden Gate
Bridge as a twelve-inch high ripple, rearing up in a few places
before gathering height inland and causing a great deal of damage.
As we stepped down, well wrapped up against the cold, Brad
navigated his way through the local government officials, past fire
chiefs and army officers, and shook my hand.
‘I had almost forgotten what you look like,’ I told him.
‘A lot’s happened since that brief first meeting,’ he said with a
smile. He shook Jimmy’s hand. ‘No one is going to forget what you
look like.’
Brad introduced us to the dignitaries, fire chiefs and army
officers, all of who had a role to play in the disaster planning. That
led to individual fireman and police officers, all with a tale to tell of
dramatic rescues. Seems that a lot of people had collected on the
shore in the hope of seeing the tsunami, and saw a little too much of
it.
A few families were presented to us, people who had moved out
in advance of the wave and were now trying to dry-out their sodden
properties. Since those properties were constructed mostly of wood,
I had to puzzle how the hell the people would ever reclaim their
homes.
Jimmy then took the microphone, the assembled dignitaries
assembled behind him, a crowd of spectators in front, the press off
to one side. ‘People of San Francisco, thank you for inviting us here
today. The metropolitan area was unaffected by the tsunami, so now
you can’t complain about all those damn hills.’
People in the crowd laughed.
‘But a few areas were subjected to water damage, the damage
upstream being considerable. Brad here –’ He pointed. ‘- of The Ark
Christian charity group, and in conjunction with the Silo Foundation,
has been planning for this disaster for six months, and is well
prepared to help the homeless, and is already doing so with an army
of willing volunteers.
‘I would like to take this opportunity to thank Brad for his
leadership, and for his unswerving belief in the importance of his
task, as well as his faith in me. I would like to appeal to all of the
people of San Francisco who were unaffected, to spare a thought for
those who lost their homes, and to donate clothing, food or money to
The Ark, and other bodies working to help the displaced. If you live
in this city, and park at a steep angle, be glad – but then be generous.
‘Now, I’d like to take a moment to look at the bigger picture here.
I warned you, all of you, about the earthquake and the resulting
tsunami. I warned you … of the timing to the minute, yet many still
did not believe, some chose not to believe, and some did not wish to
believe. People died on the islands, and people died here.
‘You Americans have a saying: wake up and smell the coffee.
Here’s a Jimmy Silo saying for you: wake up and pay attention - or
you will die.
‘NASA, and your military, spent a great deal of time, effort and
money to build the time machine, and some of you just don’t get it.
It was made by you, for you, to help you – and you’re still not
paying attention.
‘The pandemics are mostly over, you’re all through the worst of
it, the worst quakes behind us – for the moment. The next three
years will see little in the way of disasters; it will be a period of
consolidation, but we have deep economic problems to face.
‘Those economic problems … are mostly to do with a simple lack
of confidence - and a lack of bank liquidity available for business
finance - because of the stupidity and greed of Wall Street bankers.
As the earthquake was destroying Hawaii, your bankers were trying
to crash the stock markets so that they could make a killing. As the
dying was going on out here, the scum of the earth were trying to
make a killing on the stock markets. If your bankers could sell the
dead bodies of the victims to make a buck, I’m sure they would try.
‘Write to your congressman, and your senator, and make your
voices heard: banking reform is needed. And it’s needed before your
banks bring down the whole damn country.
‘People of San Francisco, people of America: you are through the
worst of it. Go out and get on with your lives, hold your heads up
high, go to the bars and nightclubs, and celebrate what you have left,
not what you’ve lost. Put money back into the economy, start a new
business venture. President Sanchez is a good man, but he needs
your help, and he needs the congress behind him.
‘In the weeks and months ahead … I’ll be organising meetings of
the world leaders, and I’ll be more involved with things over here.
I’ve just appointed former President Hardon Chase to the Silo
Foundation; a man I can trust, and a man that you can all trust. He’ll
be working with Brad, and I’m sure that they’ll do a great job
together to help the victims.
‘And let me take this opportunity to point out to the people of
America, that most of Brad’s people are unpaid volunteers, willing
to help their fellow Americans – to help complete strangers. One of
the basic tenets of Christianity is missionary work, spreading the
word through good deeds and actions, leading by example.
‘Brad’s people are not judgemental, they’re not from the whites-
only churches of the Bible Belt - people who claim to be Christians
whilst holding right-wing political views. Brad’s people don’t wear
a badge that proclaims their faith, and they don’t try and sing loudest
in church in Sunday. They demonstrate their faith in actions, the
action of helping those less fortunate.
‘Brad’s Christians don’t need a merit badge or a pat on the back.
For them, it’s not about how others see them, or how others judge
them; it’s about how they see and judge themselves. In Africa, in
New Kinshasa, there are almost five thousand American volunteers.
They receive less than nine thousand dollars a year, food and
lodging, and they work on projects for me when they could be here
making two hundred thousand a year.
‘In the decade ahead, there will be great tests and trials for the
people of this planet. The best hope you have … is from people like
those volunteers, who will say that until the planet is safe, until the
disasters have been dealt with, they’ll put their lives on hold and
help out.
‘How do they compare to the bankers who bet the market would
fall? There are some very rich people in this country, but they make
less than nine thousand dollars a year, and they move unseen, and
mostly without thanks. But they know that I appreciate them, at least
I hope they do. Thank you for your time, it’s cold, so go home
please.’
Brad led us away. ‘Had you down as a non-believer, Jimmy.’
‘I am.’
‘You do a sermon better than any preacher I ever met.’
Back at the hotel, Hardon Chase was waiting. We had booked a
meeting room and now filled it with Brad’s people, Silo Foundation
staff and American volunteers from Africa. We hung up our warm
coats and sat around several tables pushed together, a group of hotel
waitresses serving us coffee.
Brad made use of a white board and map, outlining his operations
with military precision. I was handed food vouchers and examined
them, noting that “The Silo Foundation” was printed at the bottom.
Each voucher was valued at seven dollars.
When Brad was done, Jimmy stood up. ‘We’ve got Hardon Chase
on board, and he loves the sound of his own voice.’ They laughed.
‘So I want Mister Chase fronting the appeals, and to doing most of
the speeches. Town by town, Hardon, just like electioneering, but
please – don’t kiss any babies.’ They all laughed again.
‘We have the food vouchers, so start giving them out in
metropolitan areas. Brad, I’ve added an extra two billion to the
account, so use it.’
Brad’s people glanced at each other, seemingly shocked at the
amount. Brad said, ‘We’ve raised two hundred million already, and
we have clothes and shoes by the tonne.’
‘And mobile homes?’ I asked.
‘About twenty thousand,’ Brad responded. ‘But we have tensions
when the Hawaiian refugees take them.’
‘Where’re they settling?’ I asked.
‘All over, but mostly southern California.’
‘I’ll earmark an extra two billion just for the homes,’ Jimmy told
him. ‘So go out and buy some more mobile homes. Now, what’s
needed … is swiftness more than completeness. In order to stabilise
the population and the economy, we need the next six months to
count, not the next six years. And we need the next month to count
more than the next six months.
‘The longer the homeless struggle, the more disquiet, the more
unemployment. Brad, make a plan to try and spend as much as
possible in the near future; don’t even think of pacing yourself. Get
the food vouchers out there, the clothes, and the homes ordered.
‘Mister Chase, there are a great many run-down areas in
California, and those empty houses could be grabbed. Talk to the
governor, shout, and make him listen. You have the budget I gave
you, so use it to refurbish old properties and to move families in. If
you can employ local people to do the work then all the better.
‘Second, Mister Chase, employ those out off work on the clean-
up details. We want a great many people being paid low wages to
shift sand and debris. Brad, use money to pay local skilled workers
to clean up; it’ll put money back into the economy. And both of you,
get on the plane to Alaska and make them feel a part of this. OK,
where are we seeing problems?’
Hardon Chase began, ‘The Hawaiians are mostly trying to settle
in either Los Angeles or south towards San Diego. It’s causing
tensions in some neighbourhoods.’
‘Then you need to make a speech or two, Mister Chase, and point
out that Americans come in all shapes, sizes and colours. OK, what
else?’
Brad put in, ‘We get a lot of complaints from people unable to go
near their land because it’s still taped off, roads closed, soldiers
stood there doing nothing.’
‘Again, get Mister Chase on it,’ Jimmy said. ‘And let the press
know.’
‘How many have applied to come to Africa?’ I asked.
‘About four thousand,’ Brad replied.
‘Then your people are not selling the proposition well enough,’
Jimmy told him. ‘I want twenty thousand, and inside a month.’
‘It’s a small fraction of the homeless,’ Chase wondered.
‘Once they’re settled, they’ll attract more,’ Jimmy replied.
The group discussed strategies for forty minutes, and we left
them to it, heading to the restaurant. No sooner had we sat down
than Sanchez’s new housing chief walked over. He sat without being
asked, and took a moment to stare at us.
‘Problem?’ Jimmy asked, seeming none too concerned.
‘The President is concerned, and he’s been in office a day.’
‘I believe his concerns started long before he entered office,’
Jimmy responded. ‘How can we help?’
‘You seem to be undermining our efforts by helping directly, and
working around our people.’
‘Your people, are federal government people, and as such will
move slowly due to the constraints placed upon them,’ Jimmy told
the man. ‘And … and I think the bill your trying to pass will be
delayed and blocked.’
‘You think that, or you know that?’
‘I think it, since Sanchez was not supposed to be in that seat right
now. The Republicans will try and trip him up, and they won’t want
to spend so much on horrid poor people.’
‘We have a majority.’
‘A slim majority, and some of your east coast Democrats don’t
want the poor folk on the west coast benefiting too much.’
The man eased back. ‘You think it’ll be blocked till its lower.’
‘I think … that the longer its blocked, the more pressure on
Sanchez, the more disquiet and unrest, and that will help the
Republicans in the mid-terms. And, I think you know that as well.
So, in the meantime, I’ll try and help as best I can, so that the
disquiet is … quieter.’
‘The Chinese are suddenly very cooperative on trade deals and
quotas. Your doing?’
Jimmy nodded. ‘And … there’ll more like that to come, because
if the disquiet reaches a certain level, it will become civil unrest,
rioting, and state martial law, unscrupulous politicians using the
opportunity to their own benefits, which will just make it worse. Tip
over the edge, and you’ll drop a long way before you come back.’
‘Will you pop into Washington on your way back?’
‘Do you want us to?’ Jimmy posed.
‘Yes,’ the man said as he stood. ‘And some are saying you
snubbed the inauguration.’
I commented, ‘Whenever we go to inaugurations, we stand
around for hours in the cold and then only get to chat to the new
president for five minutes.’
‘Some things are more important than they appear,’ Jimmy
enigmatically told the man.
With our guest departed, I asked, ‘Are we really helping Sanchez
this way?’
‘I had expected a Republican administration, and that we’d be at
odds with them. I don’t want to upset Sanchez, but he has his hands
tied. Most powerful man in the world? Hah! He won’t even get a bill
passed. And that bill should have been passed months ago.’
‘You didn’t nudge them,’ I pointed out.
‘No, because I wanted to be at odds with the US Government, it’s
just unfortunate that Sanchez is in the hot seat.’
‘There another way?’ I pressed.
‘It’s not Sanchez, it’s the US system: President, Congress,
Senate, lobbyists and the media; plus a rigid two party system. A
good dictator is so much better than a weak democracy, and the US
system is weaker than the British system. No,’ he sighed.
‘Whichever way I look at it, paralysis is the name of the game.’
We gave a chat-show interview that evening, and again attacked
the people for not listening, whilst making it appear that the Federal
Government was not listening – but subtly. In the morning we
headed down to Los Angeles, Brad and Chase onboard, and were
whisked straight around to a housing development.
Using our money, Hawaiians were renovating an old apartment
block that they would then occupy. Jimmy greeted the lead builder
in a dialect, and we made like electioneering politicians again. They
showed us the progress, we asked questions, and outside made a
statement. Overnight, someone had leaked the amount of money we
had allocated to Brad, and a lady reporter asked about it.
‘We will spend as much money as we can afford to spend … to
help the homeless of Hawaii and the west coast,’ Jimmy told her.
‘America has been a great supporter of our efforts in Africa, and a
great investor in Africa. It’s only right that we try and spend some of
the money we’ve earned in Africa … on American taxpayers.’
Speech made, we led the team to the governor’s office, where a
planning session was held. Brad and Chase raised their voices, and
tables were thumped with fists in a heated session. Jimmy played the
role of honest broker and calmed all sides, but he himself had a go at
the governor for not emphasising enough the racial mix already in
place, or doing enough to integrate the newcomers.
Outside, the press were waiting, another speech planned. But
when a member of the press asked about investments made in
movies, Jimmy had the cue he wanted. ‘We’ve been trying to think
of ways of investing money in California to create jobs. One way is
to sponsor films, since the film industry employs a great many
people around here. We’ll be funding around twenty film projects in
the near future, and we hope that it will stimulate the local economy
and help with jobs.’
Leaving an exasperated governor behind, we rejoined the plane
with the team and headed down to San Diego, Jimmy giving Brad
plenty of his time, and plenty of advice on how to handle the support
mission. In San Diego, we again visited a housing project that we
had funded, made another speech – a very similar speech, before
retiring to a hotel near the airport.
After a working meal, we sat the team down and went through
strategy in great detail: who was going to do what. Chase had his
itinerary, and was revelling at in being back in the limelight. Brad
was more down to earth. He shunned the press and just wanted to
get on with it, Jimmy encouraging him to be more vocal, and to use
the press for his means.
Leaving the team in the morning, we flew direct to Washington,
to the chill weather, and to a chilly reception.
‘All moved in?’ I asked Sanchez in the oval office, shaking his
hand.
‘Just about,’ he responded, sounding tired.
Jimmy shook his hand. ‘Did Samuels leave you a “good luck”
note on the desk?’
Sanchez nodded, gesturing us to seats, his Chief of Staff in on the
meeting. ‘So, you think I’m a lame duck President already.’
We were off to a good start.
‘Prove otherwise,’ Jimmy challenged.
Sanchez stared back for several seconds. ‘I figured you’d be a bit
more supportive.’
‘Here’s how it works,’ Jimmy began. ‘Pay attention, and I’ll go
slow.’ Sanchez cocked an eyebrow. ‘You call and ask a question -
I’ll answer it. If you busy yourself playing at being President, I’ll
work around you. If you do something I don’t like … I’ll pull the
rug out from under you.’
The temperature in the room dropped a few degrees.
Jimmy continued, ‘The problems that you’ll face are mostly
down to the system, the fine system of American democracy – that is
anything other than democratic. You have a small majority, you
have the lobbyists up your backside already, and the banks are trying
to trip you up before you start. Your own east coast elected
representatives - those that there are, don’t want the added social
burden of extra homeless in their states, and will vote against
shifting people east from California – which is bursting at the seems
and collapsing under the weight. Get a bill passed inside six months
and I’ll run around this building naked.’
‘That could boost tourism to the capital,’ I quipped.
Jimmy told Sanchez, ‘You can start a war, nuke the world, but
you can’t get around a two-party system, and a two-house system,
neither of which really benefits the American people. So here’s what
I’ll do. I’ll fix the homeless as best as I can, so that the Republicans
can’t use them as a stick to beat you with. That will take some of the
pressure off. I’ll also make the speeches that back you up, and I’ll
condemn the east coast senators who don’t want Hawaiians in their
back gardens and garden states.
‘And, as you’re already aware, I’ve nudged the Chinese, Russians
and Japanese to assist the dollar and your economy. Take away all of
what I just said and you’d have a full-blown recession and civil
unrest in months, the rise of nationalistic leaders following soon
after. Right now, you have all the right conditions for the rise of
fascism.’
‘Fascism?’ the Chief repeated.
‘Hard line right wing politicians … who will want the land of the
free for the rich catholic white folk,’ Jimmy carefully mouthed.
‘They’ll even attack the Hawaiians as not being … proper
Americans – if you let them.’
‘You’re making me feel pretty damned useless,’ Sanchez noted.
‘It’s not you, it’s the system,’ I told him. ‘Ten different groups
pulling in ten different directions. If you want to make a difference,
put a sign on your desk: do what’s right, not what’s popular, and to
hell with being re-elected.’
Jimmy gave me an approving nod. ‘I think every politician
should have one of those.’ He faced Sanchez. ‘Problem is, you’ll
need to horse trade away your soul to get the aid package passed.
And, you’ve already spent money on bailing out certain banks, and
more will be needed to help liquidity. Passing the aid package that
you want will be a miracle. So, leave the homeless to me, and do
what you can – without selling your soul.’
Sanchez stood up and walked to the window. ‘I never figured I’d
be trying to swim upstream with my hands tied.’ He coughed out a
laugh. ‘No, that’s not true. I figured that a small majority would
cripple me.’ He turned. ‘And the banks and other institutions don’t
want a Democrat - or an Hispanic - in the White House.’
‘Realising that is half the problem,’ Jimmy said. ‘Getting angry
about it, and doing something about it, is the other half. Investigate
the banks, attack the banks, and break them up. Use the tools to
hand, such as the FBI and SEC. Shout at them, and employ a few
hard-asses.’
Sanchez sat. ‘OK, Mister Silo. I’m open to suggestions.’
‘First, have your navy dock its ships in Russia and China, and
allow those nation’s ships to visit here. Give the world a peace
dividend, and I’ll make sure that you’re seen as the peacemaker. Go
visit a coalmine and look at coal-oil, giving it a big push. The oil
industry won’t like that, but fuck ‘em. Increase your output of coal-
oil. Commit to it first, publicly, then do the paperwork afterwards.
‘Make the Chinese deal look like your own; the Chinese will
back that. Visit China and Russia, and come away with deals. Visit
Goma, and come away with deals, deals that mean jobs for
Americans – and shout it loudly. I’ll shout it loudly for you as well.
Be seen … to be doing all you can to sell brand America, whilst
leaving Congress to argue amongst themselves and look small.
‘Next, we’re going to expand upon G8 and G20 and create a body
called the World Financial Cooperation Group, with a permanent
staff. It will work in a similar way to the old “M” Group, and I’ll
have a hand in it. A kind of … hand out the sweets if you behave
kind of hand in it. The first meeting will be in a month, in New
York, and it will go some way to assisting the US economy and,
hopefully, the world economy. Pick a senior figure to represent you
on its permanent panel.
‘That meeting … will cover more than just bank interest rates and
currency levels, there’ll a whole host of other things that are
essential for the development of global cooperation between now
and 2025. This, is the start point of the endgame.’ Jimmy took a
sheet of paper from his pocket. ‘A speech for you to give today.’
‘I have a speechwriter,’ Sanchez quipped as he read it. We
waited. Sanchez finally lifted his head. ‘And the other nations will
back me on all this?’
‘They will, or they’ll feel my toe up their arses,’ Jimmy firmly
stated.
They made us lunch as Sanchez studied the speech, he even made
a few alterations. In the press briefing room, we stood behind
Sanchez as he delivered the speech, plenty of fire in his words. He
took questions about what he hoped to achieve from the meetings,
before inviting Jimmy forwards.
Jimmy held up his hands to stop questions. ‘First of all, let me
say how appalled I am … at some east coast politicians and
governors, who see the homeless of Hawaii as not being proper
Americans. The quake struck Hawaii, an American state that you all
loved well enough for a good holiday. Hawaii was destroyed, the
west coast damaged, and now America has decided that it’s not a
whole country, but divided by states, with some states wishing that
the homeless of the west coast - and the Hawaiians, are restricted to
California.
‘On the west coast, Brad and The Ark have raised a team of a
hundred thousand Christian volunteers to give their time to help in
their communities, to help those that lost their homes. Seems that the
people of the west coast are far better than the people here. So let me
be clear: I am ashamed of the so-called Christian communities of
America, and so should you all be. The Ark are carrying you all on
their backs, and they’re putting you all to shame.
‘Some east coast politicians have even doubted the right of the
Hawaiians to settle here in such large numbers. Well, your rich
white folk never had a problem retiring to Hawaii. The ancestral
Hawaiians didn’t like it when you tore down the countryside and
raised condos and hotels, but you did it anyway. You raped their
land, and now they ask for a home in return – which is only fair.
‘America was founded by immigrants, whether they be African
slaves or Jews escaping the Nazi in Europe. The Hawaiians are not
immigrants, they’re Americans, and they are Americans because
you took their lands in the first place, as you took this land from the
red Indians. Fail to make them welcome and it will be a stain on the
reputation of America for centuries to come. Thank you, and no
questions.’
Financial cooperation group

A month later we were back, many of the world leaders gathered in


the UN building. The G20 countries gathered, along with the IMF,
our African finance minister and us. And, as ever, the coffee was
lukewarm and from a plastic urn. The UN’s catering had not
improved any.
Helen sat behind me, Sanchez and his team to my right, Jimmy to
my left.
Jimmy began, ‘Thank you all for attending here today, the first
meeting of a group that will become very important in the years
ahead. As most of you know, a problem will strike in 2025, and that
problem will need a great deal of cooperation from the various
nations if it is to be dealt with.
‘First, let me state that the problems between now and 2025 are
mostly economic and political. That means, in simple terms, that war
is still a possibility, but only if economic hardship leads to civil
unrest followed by political miscalculations, protectionism and
nationalism.
‘As we sit here today, the world is far more interconnected than
at any time in history. The financial markets are connected and,
unfortunately, when one sneezes they all catch a cold. America leads
those financial markets, and it now has a head cold. Without going
into detail, let me explain the consequences of an American
recession.
‘First, it would lead to civil unrest in America because of the
displaced peoples of Hawaii and the west coast. Second, it would
lead to the rise of nationalistic politicians and the idea of economic
protectionism. That will have a knock on effect around the world.
‘The place to discuss trade tariffs and currency rates is here, not
in the media, and not shouting at each other. And let me also be
clear that I will reward those nations that cooperate, and deliberately
fail to assist those that do not cooperate. If you think that a threat,
you’d be correct, and you can have it in writing if you like.
‘There are twenty nations assembled here today, the world’s
largest economies. If I see twenty building blocks on the table, I can
build a solution to the 2025 problem. If I see only seventeen, I still
have a chance. If there are ten, we have no chance … and you all
face a global catastrophe. The people around this table will need to
put in the building blocks pro-rata, but that is an over-simplification.
If one nation here is suffering, the others should compensate through
larger building blocks. That may reverse itself a year later, or five
years later – and we will keep score.
‘This group is about fairness, it’s not about rewarding lazy
countries or tolerating idiotic spending plans. If someone here
ignores the advice of the group, then I expect the group to act to
economically punish that nation, to bring them back into line. That
may sound harsh, but we’re talking about the future of the planet, so
I don’t care.
‘Now, some nations here will wish to go over old ground, and say
that the developed nations have the advantage, and that the
developing nations have the right to grow. You do have the right to
grow, you also have the danger of being completely wiped out in
2025. So give some consideration to the fact that assisting your
economies between now and then may be in vain. Your countries
may be completely destroyed.
‘India, Saudi Arabia, Turkey – you would be destroyed early on
during troubles in 2025. All of you would have your economies
ruined in a day, followed by civil unrest and martial law. South
America, you would fair better than most, and Africa would do well
to start with.
‘If the nations here are not cooperating – to my satisfaction - in
2025, the complete destruction of our civilisation is assured, just as
the destruction of Hawaii was assured.
‘Now, leaving aside the doom and gloom, let’s get onto a few
practical steps. First, I would like the finance ministers of each of
the nations and groups represented here today, to meet every three
months, right here. Second, we all have the chance at a peace
dividend, and as such I want all of you to look at cooperating in the
reduction of certain types of weapons. India, I will be asking all
nations here to put pressure on you to sit down with Pakistan and
reduce your military expenditures. There will be incentives offered,
penalties for dragging your feet.
‘American, Russian and China, you know what weapons systems
will be of no use in 2025, and can adjust accordingly; give the
people of the world a peace dividend, and some hope. Europe, you
need to be less mechanised and more mobile. Think infantry. South
America, you need to develop your naval power more than land-
based forces.
‘Next, economics. You all need to draw a line from here to 2025,
and make a seven-year financial plan, the aim being to avoid the
boom and bust cycles and bubbles. America and Europe, you need to
rein in the banks and restructure them, or they will drag you down.
Russia, you need to loosen your banking regulations and provide
more loans to entrepreneurs. You also need to consider breaking up
some of the larger privately owned companies, especially if they
have a monopoly. Be tough with them; the profits sat in western
banks belonging to rich Russians benefits no one.
‘Next. Mexico and Brazil: I will offer to assist you to set-up
police and army special units to help deal with crime and drugs.
Mexico, you’re one step away from disaster, so kindly take-up my
offer. Brazil, as the most responsible country in South America, I
offer to help you raise a Rifles regiment. After 2025 you’ll need
them.
‘Saudi Arabia - I don’t like you very much.’ They blinked. ‘So
how you conduct yourself here may help that prejudice. I would like
to see you cut back production, and to coordinate that production not
just with OPEC, but with those nations producing coal-oil.
‘OK, there’ll now be a one hour break as private side meetings
are held. Thank you all.’
Sanchez led his team to a room, joined by the Chinese for a
bargaining session. The Brazilians wanted a private chat to Jimmy,
and the Saudis wanted to talk with me. I led the Saudi team to a side
room, the same Prince I had met in Goma shaking my hand. We
ended up with just myself facing eight of them.
‘Mister Holton,’ the Prince began. ‘We are asking questions
about 2025, but are not finding answers.’
‘Will you cut production?’ I immediately tabled.
‘We will cut production soon … because it is prudent to do so. If
you require a few extra percentage points, I’m sure that it could be
arranged.’
‘Good,’ I said, offering my best attempts at a diplomatic smile.
‘There has been mention that we would be completely destroyed,
something that is not good for business –’
‘Should we have lied to Hawaii?’
‘No,’ the man said after a moment. ‘And we fear a similar fate.’
‘Who would take your people?’ I asked, but I should not have.
‘That, is something of a taboo subject, and one which causes us
great pains.’
My mouth was moving faster than my brain. I was about to say
something that I didn’t think through. But, looking back, maybe I
was thinking clearer than I had ever done before. ‘Perhaps, it would
have been wise for the Hawaiians to find a new home years earlier.
Perhaps, you should buy a few villas around the world ready.’
‘Such a … Diaspora, would mean life for the people, but not life
for the nation. The nation would have no centre or soul.’
I eased back. ‘Africa has a great many wide open spaces, with no
people. Perhaps you could buy a small country,’ I joked.
‘Perhaps we could.’
I stopped smiling. ‘Listen, guys. You drill oil using foreign
labour, you don’t like getting your own hands dirty. What would you
do in a region with no oil?’
‘Perhaps we could be more involved in a region with oil. We
have the money to invest in rigs, refineries and infrastructure.’
‘Such regions are in the north, and those regions would be … the
front line after 2025. Your new happy home would not last long.’
‘If Mister Silo is aware of … shall we say, untapped oil in a
suitable location, then we could come to an agreement.’
I stared back. ‘You serious?’
‘We all sat up late at night and watched Hawaii disappear. It had
… an effect. We are now very serious.’
‘Stay there,’ I said as I stood. I found Jimmy and dragged him out
to the corridor, relaying the Saudi request, and trying to sell the idea.
He stood staring down the corridor, hands in pockets. ‘I had
planned on just letting them go. Because even if they relocate, some
of their people will always want to set off bombs.’
‘Surely they could be ring-fenced somewhere? Look, you said
they’d be destroyed, all the time and money wasted. If they relocate,
then that working capital could be used now, this frigging year!’
‘Wherever they go, they risk the Brotherhood rising from within
their own people.’
‘If they’re in Africa, they’ll be stopped very damn quickly!’ I
insisted. ‘We’ll ring-fence them.’
‘They could live on an island,’ Jimmy thought out loud. ‘And the
investment capital would be useful.’ He sighed, informing his group
that he would be back in five minutes, leading me to the Saudis.
Sitting, we faced the Saudi team. ‘How many people would you
wish relocate, of your twenty million?’ Jimmy asked.
‘An overseas colony would have no more than a million people,
but … room for rapid expansion,’ the Prince told us.
‘There’s an untapped oilfield off Mozambique, another off
Madagascar,’ Jimmy informed them. ‘But persuading the countries
would be tricky.’
‘Not for you, we suspect.’
‘You’d have a fenced-off colony, a formal border, a port built for
your needs?’ Jimmy asked.
‘A self-sufficient unit, yes, but with purchases of local food,’ the
Prince explained. ‘And, perhaps, a skyscraper or two in New
Kinshasa, a hotel or two. A tower in Nairobi.’
Jimmy slowly nodded. ‘Make your peace with the Somalis, and
quickly.’ He stood. ‘I’ll discuss your proposal with the Africans.
And I’d like to see you more involved with Pakistan. Help their
economy, help them fight extremism, help with peace towards
India.’
With Jimmy gone, the Prince commented, ‘He is suddenly being
… very accommodating?’
‘Maybe you asked the right question,’ I told them. ‘And, he may
not like you, but he has no desire to see you all killed.’
Back in the formal meeting, America announced a deal with
China, Russia making concessions, the Saudis cutting production.
That cut in oil was not to keep oil prices high especially, as to make
coal-oil more attractive to certain nations. And a collapse in oil
prices would affect the dollar.
After thirty minutes, a number of deals had been outlined and
discussed, a break for lunch called, time to let the aides scurry
around and work more deals, especially arms reductions. We joined
Sanchez and his team for a bite to eat, discussing the Saudis, the
Americans amazed by the Saudi suggestion.
In the afternoon session, Brazil rejected the idea of an Africa
style Rifles regiment, for now, but agreed to look at increasing the
size of its navy. The Mexicans agreed to the training of its soldiers
and paramilitary units, but then surprised us with a request to place
African Rifles on their America border as a trial. Sanchez, of all
people, was not so keen about that. Not because he wanted
immigrants to cross the border unhindered, but because it made the
US look bad; unable to police its own border.
We declined the Rifles for Mexico, to appease Sanchez – he had
enough problems on his plate, but suggested that a specialised
American unit could be made up, and part funded by us to skirt
around the federal budget constraints, and the budget constraints of
individual states. It would also employ quite a few people, up to ten
thousand. Sanchez asked to discuss it later, and we moved on.
A communiqué was produced for the people of the world,
deliberately upbeat language, and detailed several agreements,
hinting at others. A new three-way disarmament conference would
take place, NATO, Russia and China to sit down and discuss ways
of saving money.
With Sanchez delivering the joint communiqué, we met with the
Russian team.
‘Your economy is suffering because of the US and global
economy, unemployment rising,’ Jimmy began. ‘I would like to
make use of the farm profits, and the coffee shops.’
I was suddenly all ears.
Jimmy continued, ‘If it is OK with you, then all profits for this
year, and accumulated profits from last year, will go towards a
voucher system and free meals for the unemployed, free meals at our
burger bars and coffee shops. They are part owned by you, so it will
make you look like a kind and caring government.’
They collectively shrugged, no particular objections, a verbal
agreement made.
Leaving the building, I asked, ‘Did the Russian Government just
make a mistake?’
‘They did.’
‘And the vouchers, people will think them from us?’
‘They will.’
‘And we’ll add some money to the pot to make sure this is
extended and widely published.’
‘We will. And now, we’ll see what the news is saying about
certain banks, members of the Fed, and certain Republican
Senators.’
‘Should be interesting, but I guess you already know.’
He did already know, he had scripted it. Rather, he had the brain
trust kids hack the email accounts of certain people and send
realistic emails back and forth before leaking them to CNN and the
New York Post.
At our hotel, we sat in the bar under a TV screen, beer and
burgers ordered, the news not pretty. Two senior members of the
Fed, three Republican Senators and two large banks were under the
spotlight, suggestion of nothing short of a conspiracy to unseat
Sanchez and block the aid package for the homeless. Even the men
of our security detail were vocal in their condemnation of the
conspirators.
After we had munched on the burgers, we drove straight around
to the CNN offices and offered an interview. We labelled the leaked
emails as a plot that deserved investigation by the FBI, as a threat to
national security – nothing short of terrorism – and encouraged the
people of America not to use the banks in question. This was our
strongest attack yet on the two banks, and we labelled the Senators
as traitors to democracy, and as terrorists, the members of the Fed
labelled as being part of organised crime.
The FBI moved before Sanchez had even nudged them, all of the
Fed staff in question and the bank CEO’s picked up for questioning.
Unfortunately, they could not touch the Senators, because such
conspiracy was normal everyday plotting and scheming for them.
Flying out that evening, we left behind good news and bad news.
The good news was the America-China deal, arms reductions and
other agreed pieces of cooperation. The bad news was the
conspiracy, because it took three percent off the DOW.

Land grab

The Mozambique President had flown up to London with the leaders


of Madagascar, and I had to admit that a few million would have
bought-off either of them. When we told them our suggestion, they
just stared back, stunned.
‘We would sell a part of our land?’ they repeated.
‘Yes, and it would become sovereign Saudi territory for all time,’
Jimmy told them. ‘It would be fenced off, but they would buy things
from you, as well as move oil across your lands.’
‘They … will pay for oil exploration near our coast?’
‘They would,’ Jimmy confirmed. ‘Plus a down payment of many
billions of dollars for the land. Both of your countries would be
significantly boosted.’
‘And … do you think it is a good idea, something we are
supposed to do?’ they asked.
‘I think it will boost your economies greatly. How else will you
get so much money for just barren land? You will also get a cut of
the oil revenue if they find oil, but they are not doing this to search
for oil. They are doing this because their country may suffer a
disaster in the future, a … lack of water and natural resources,’
Jimmy lied. ‘They wish to have small colonies outside of Saudi
Arabia.’
‘How much land?’
‘A coastal strip, twenty miles long and five miles deep, little
more,’ Jimmy told them. ‘They would build port facilities, and you
would benefit from them.’
‘The land is nothing,’ they pointed out, shrugging. ‘Maybe to
move some villages.’
They were finally in agreement, offering to discuss it with their
cabinets and parliaments straight away, and to get back to us. I
figured it was a done deal then, the money too good to refuse for a
strip of mosquito infested marsh coastline where no one lived. I
emailed the Prince and gave him the news.
Back at the house, Big Paul had returned from Afghanistan, now
more soldier than bodyguard. He had lost weight, and appeared
more weather-beaten, but was enjoying the Afghan campaign.
‘Had a large group of Arabs come over the border from Pakistan
the other week, maybe eighty in total. Gave us something to do,
people falling over themselves to be the ones to get in and mix it
up.’
‘And the Iranians?’
‘Quiet now, not a peep out of them. We allowed them in to
collect their dead, we even helped them. Only problem we had was
with some of the drug lords.’
‘How so?’ I probed.
‘We have outposts on the borders, and they see and stop the drug
mules in case they’re Taliban drugs. Drug lords didn’t like that, so
they all met up to discuss kicking us out. Two hundred of them met
in a house in the central region, and … boom! Wiped them all out in
one go.
‘The survivors got pissy, so we bombed the hell out of the poppy
fields, and sprayed them with a chemical. Fuck all growing there
now that we can see.’
‘And the Northern Alliance?’
‘Useless bunch of corrupt fuckers; we killed a few. They can’t be
trusted, and you can’t work with them. You give them money, make
a deal to repair a road, but they go home, get drugged up, have sex
with young boys and fall asleep. And that’s on a good day.’
With Big Paul off to his seldom-used house, Han joined me. ‘Do
you have a moment?’
‘For you, always.’
‘May I enquire … as to the Saudi role in things?’ Han asked.
I shrugged and made a face. ‘The original plan, Jimmy’s plan,
was to just ignore them and let them be destroyed.’
‘He has no love for them. And now?’
‘Well, they want land in Africa – sovereign Saudi land, and
they’ll pay a lot for it. So, if their capital can be used up before
they’re destroyed, all the better.’
‘And if my government wished a port and inland area for
ourselves, as sovereign territory?’
‘I’d see no problem with that. You’re already in New Kinshasa.
Where were you thinking?’
‘On the Kenyan coast, close to the Somali border.’
‘I’ll chat to Jimmy and the Kenyans for you.’
‘Thank you, Paul.’
When I told Jimmy, he said it was few years ahead of schedule,
but anticipated, and that it was my deal. That Friday I joined Lucy
on a flight down, Helen and Liz along, and flew over to Nairobi as
the ladies of the family enjoyed the mansion. The Kenyans were
intrigued, as well as bemused.
‘Sovereign land?’
‘Listen, I worked the deal your way, or the Somalis would have
got it,’ I lied. ‘You sell a strip of land, three miles long and five
miles deep. It would be fenced off; passports shown at the border.
Inside, the Chinese build a colony like Hong Kong, and it greatly
boosts the local area. They’ll build a port facility, an airport, and
employ local people.
‘But if you have any concerns, that’s not a problem, Somali has a
lot of spare coastal land, so too Tanzania -’
‘We did not say that we were not interested, we just need a little
time to discuss it.’
‘Of course.’
‘And … they would pay for the land.’
I nodded. ‘An agreed sum. But the main advantage would be the
increased trade.’
‘If you say that this is good for us –’
‘It’s a piece of dry and dusty land where no one lives. What’s
there to lose?’ I held my hands wide, then pulled out a map. I
showed them a spot I though might be good, and drew the enclave to
scale. It looked tiny compared to the overall country. ‘Have a think,
but don’t take took long; others are interested.’
I flew back to Goma and joined the ladies, a meal at the house
that evening, Yuri and Po around. Well, they didn’t have far to walk.
Po was now just about the richest man in Hong Kong. His family
had been wealthy to start with, and the trading advice we had
furnished him with had boosted that wealth. His oil and ore interests,
those which we had handed him, had made him an extra fortune on
top of his other two fortunes. Jimmy had said that Po would be one
of the richest men in China, and now I was sure that our little
chubby friend was just that.
When I told him about the Chinese Government’s interest in
coastal land, he went quiet, his grey matter firing up. I mentioned the
Saudis, and he was not just fired up, he was down right put out by it.
If it was a good deal, why was he not in on it?
‘The Saudis want new land because they risk being destroyed in
2025,’ I explained. ‘It’s not about money, they just need a place to
live. And as for your government, you’d best ask them. I don’t know
why they want a port and land, unless they just wish to create an
export hub. There’s no oil or ore on the land, just swamp.’
‘Maybe for a naval port in Africa,’ Po suggested. Now it was
Yuri’s turn to be put out, and I wondered how long it would be till
they were asking difficult questions of Jimmy – and then he’d be put
out.
Yuri had created his own airline by purchasing an existing airline,
and would accept our 747s and 757s as soon as they were delivered.
I offered him a slot from Moscow to Goma hub, which he readily
accepted. Two hours later, Po and Yuri walked off arguing about
coastal land and its benefits, so I figured I best call the boss man.
‘Jimmy, Po and Yuri know about the Saudi land down here, and
now the Chinese land down here, and I suspect they’re plotting and
scheming.’
‘It’s a few years ahead of schedule. We’re in a recession, so it’s
not a good time to be expanding facilities, but it would have
happened anyway – that was the idea with New Kinshasa. You’re
doing it arse about face. We should have had them all cooperating
around new Kinshasa first, then buying more African land.’
‘Do the Chinese want a naval presence here?’
‘Yes.’
‘That’ll please the Americans,’ I quipped.
‘It was the Americans that suggested that Russian and China take
more of a lead in the fight against The Brotherhood! Including naval
firepower. So they can’t argue the point.’
‘And the Russians?’ I asked.
‘Might be feeling a little left out, and want their own warm-water
port down there. I’ve expanded the facility in northern Somalia, and
there’s a new pier just for them, one for the Chinese.’
‘So what are the Chinese up to?’ I puzzled.
‘The same as for New Kinshasa: proximity and influence,
commerce and trade. The key decision makers can be closer at hand.
Oh, while you’re down there, go see the volunteers and thank them
all, look over the projects and make them all feel appreciated.’
The next day I sat down with an A3 iPad and launched a bit of
software that allowed me to draw with a special pen, and to have the
drawings turned into diagrams with square edges. I drew an oblong
and dimensioned it as five miles by three. The port was easy enough
to position, but then I consider a marina, and so moved the port.
Behind the port I positioned a container yard, a railway marshalling
yard, and track leading off towards the northwest.
At the far left of the oblong, the northwest, I positioned the
airport, also with cargo facilities, but repositioned it to be next to the
port. The idea was that the nice houses would be inland, all the noise
and pollutants close to the coast. I figured that an industrial area
would come next, behind the container port, followed by the
business district, which led to the shopping and nightlife district,
residential apartments, smaller apartments, then houses and
mansions towards the rear.
I based the marina on Shelly’s design, added restaurants and bars,
and a government quarter. That done, I attached it to an email and
send it to Shelly: “see what you can do with this”.
The next day, Helen and I dressed smart, Lucy deciding to come
along with us and to skip school. We drove into the city, and west to
the volunteer’s compounds and research facilities, two large
university-like compounds either side of a main road.
The chief of the volunteers was a former head of the International
Red Cross, his deputy a former Mayor of Philadelphia – an unlikely
couple. They greeted us off the coach and showed us around, a
thousand handshakes given, microscopes peered down, computer
simulations observed. Two hours in and my hand was sore, being led
now to a closely guarded area. I cocked an eyebrow at the armed
guards, exchanging a look with Helen. This place was guarded better
than our bank.
Inside, we found laboratories leading to huge water tanks, all
filled with seawater.
‘What goes on here?’ I asked.
‘It’s a project to assist with global warming,’ they explained.
‘Global warming?’ I puzzled.
‘The world’s oceans are the greatest carbon sink. Plankton absorb
carbon, and when they die it falls to the ocean floor; from gaseous
form to a harmless solid. The dream of many scientists has been to
develop short-lived plankton in a laboratory that could be seeded in
the oceans, thereby controlling the spread of them. Problem is, they
use up the ocean’s oxygen and produce methane, so we’re trying to
breed those characteristics away, or at least to minimise them.’
They led us to a large vat, VAT14 stencilled on its side. I faced
Helen and pointed at it, her eyes now wide.
‘VAT14, JDI,’ Helen whispered.
‘What’s so special about this vat?’ I asked.
‘It’s our best hope, and shows great potential,’ they enthused.
I stared at the green liquid. ‘But this is not good enough to help?’
‘No, unfortunately; it’s below the threshold that Jimmy set. We
think we can possibly extract some of the DNA and alter it, add a
protein marker or two.’
‘What would the protein marker for algae have to do with this?’ I
asked, still staring at the green water.
‘You know your stuff, obviously. We’ve been theorising that it
could alter the metabolic process; less methane.’
I slowly nodded to myself. Turning, I said, ‘When Jimmy stepped
back through time he came with the protein marker for an algae in
his blood.’
Our hosts looked like they had seen a ghost. Or two.
‘Do you have a sample of his blood?’ I asked.
‘Yes.’
‘Then I guess your mad scientists know where to find the
marker.’
Two men rushed off without a word.
‘Do you know what this means?’ the chief asked, looking like he
was about to explode.
‘Not a clue,’ I offered.
‘If it works, we can seed the oceans and grab the carbon!’
‘Will that stop global warming?’ Helen asked.
‘We don’t know, we’re still trying to calculate the effects.’
‘When will you have the result –’
‘In a few hours; I’ll call you.’ He turned and walked quickly
away.
‘I guess we’d best leave the mad scientists to it. Which is the way
out?’
On the way out, I called Jimmy and gave him the story. He said,
‘You have a bad habit of doing things a few years early, young man.
Learn some patience.’
‘So I was right then?’
‘Yes. And by tomorrow they’ll have reached my threshold, and
ten minutes later they’ll tell everyone in the world.’
‘You want me to slow them down?’
‘Slow them down? Right now they’re all having brain-sex. No,
let it run its course. But give them a good budget to build a facility
on the coast of Somalia, a ship or two – research vessels.’
‘Will it stop global warming?’
‘Not completely, but it will give everyone an excuse to keep their
economies going at full pelt, which is what the Americans and
Chinese want anyway. With this news, they’ll increase their carbon
footprints and negate the benefits.’
Two days later the news hit, every TV channel showing the same
thing: Silo fixes global warming. Hell, at least we were popular. But
that next week came cautionary tales from various scientists who
suggested that the release of the plankton could harm the oceans
ecosystems, and a sometimes violent debate broke out amongst the
world’s academics.
‘JDI,’ I told Helen. ‘Just do it. Jimmy will seed the oceans
regardless.’

A dark day

I kept in touch with Brad, and he seemed to be making a difference,


he certainly seemed to be making a name for himself. He had spent
most of the allocated money, had fixed tens of thousand of
properties, and was to be glimpsed on the west coast news most
every night.
Sanchez’s bill failed on its first attempt, and Jimmy waded in,
criticising Congress. The FBI had dropped its conspiracy charges,
since the email senders could not be proven to be sat at their desks at
the time, and the mood stateside soured.
Unknown to me, Sanchez had been invited to Israel, never having
visited. Also unknown to me, was a demand by Sanchez that Israel
halt its settlement building, and that they assist with the West Bank
water pipe - still awaiting planning permission. Sanchez then cut the
US aid package to Israeli by ten percent, referring Israel’s aid
package back to Congress to be ratified.
We flew over a month later for another meeting at the UN
building, a dark and rainy day. Arriving, the area outside the UN
building was a sea of flashing blue lights. Our security detail got
jumpy and sped off, taking us back around to our hotel. There, on
the news, they were reporting that a junior Israeli diplomat had shot
dead Sanchez.
Jimmy and I slumped into chairs, devastated. From the look on
Jimmy’s face, I could tell this was totally unexpected; as well as a
serious setback. After a minute of saying nothing, Jimmy mentioned,
‘The UN don’t check diplomats for guns.’
The TV news kept our attention for fifteen minutes. When the
phone went, it was the Vice President, Harvey Blake, a fifty-eight
year old veteran Democrat, and now in the hot seat.
‘Jimmy, it’s Harvey Blake. Sanchez didn’t make it. And right
now I could do with some god damn advice about what to do.’
‘I don’t think the Israeli Government had a hand in it, no matter
how much Sanchez upset them. Blame the individual, not the
country, call for calm. I’ll be around for a few days, call me
anytime.’
The next call was Ben Ares. ‘Jimmy, how the hell did you not see
this!’ he barked.
‘It wasn’t supposed to happen, and Sanchez was never supposed
to be President. We’ve altered a lot. Quakes don’t change, but
people and politics do.’
‘Is there anything you can do?’ Ben asked, sounding terrified.
‘Make a statement, Ben, blame the individual and condemn it.
Wave diplomatic rights and allow him to be tried here. After that,
well … after that it’s a disaster for you either way. I’ll do what I can,
which will not be much in this case.’
After hanging up, Jimmy faced me. And waited.
‘Does this alter the build-up to 2025?’ I asked.
‘Only as far as Israel goes, and they were never key. Key to the
start of the trouble by physical location, key to American aims to
defend them, but not key to global cohesion.’
‘Will the Arabs try and make use of this?’
‘There was a time when they would, but Iran is not in the mood,
Iraq is quiet, Jordan timid, and Hezzbolah have lost a lot of men. So,
no, I don’t think the Arabs will try and use it. But there’ll be dancing
in the streets of the Gaza Strip tonight.’
‘Will the Israeli-US relationship hold?’
‘Yes, because that’s done at a political level, behind closed doors;
the American people don’t get to see the money spent – which is
way more than that declared. But the American people are the
problem, in that they’ll be the ones upset, not the establishment. And
right now I don’t want to say anything to help the Israelis if it puts
me at odds with the people. The voters.’
‘Ben will expect you to support him –’
‘How can I? How can we defend this? The politicians will blame
the individual, the people will blame the Israelis, and the press are
largely Jewish-controlled … so they’ll try and play it down.’
That evening we avoided the press, watching events unfold on the
TV, Harvey Blake sworn-in the next morning in a quick ceremony. I
was amazed to find comments from Israelis like “Sanchez was no
friend of Israel”. Jesus, I thought. How much worse did they wish to
make it?
Ben Ares then shocked me by demanding that the diplomat be
returned to stand trial in Israel, because he would not get a fair trial
in America. What was there to debate in a court? He shot the
President dead in front of fifty witnesses. Were they going to call for
proof, for forensics, CCTV images? For an autopsy of the President
and the slugs matched to the gun?
This was a low point, after things had started to look better. We
flew down to Washington, avoiding the press, no press aboard the
plane, and met with President Harvey Blake. He struck me as a good
man, but he seemed to be a Samuels mark two. He was no
charismatic leader, and he had no energy or passion, not like
Sanchez. We went around in circles for an hour and got nowhere, no
firm movement backwards or forwards, Blake in favour of sending
the diplomat home rather than a public trial in the US.
A call then came in, a prison guard having killed the diplomat.
That closed that debate, and was probably a good outcome. Either
way, a trial would have dragged it out and made it worse.
Both mentally exhausted, we chose to fly straight back without
even issuing a press statement. Before we took off I scanned the US
news, finding that the media were condemning verbal attacks on
Israel. The anger of the people would never be heard through the
media, as Jimmy had suggested. I wasn’t in favour of attacking
Israel, but I was also disappointed that the American media had
closed ranks. Truth was indeed the first casualty in this small war.
In London, we held a press conference. Jimmy said, ‘Israel is a
friend, America is a friend, it’s a terrible business, and a terrible
waste of a human life. Sanchez was a great leader, and would have
gone on to do well, I’m sure of it. The people of America should not
blame Israel, since the Israeli Government did not ask the diplomat
to shoot the President - it was the depraved act of a lone individual,
who may have had problems and issues.
‘We have all achieved a great deal in the past few months, and I
hope that we can move on from this unfortunate incident, and
continue building – not moving backwards.’
The journey home in the coach was sombre, emails checked and
replied to. At the house, we found Shelly, a pleasant surprise, and
she had some drawings for me, drawings of the planned Chinese
enclave in Kenya. Han had already received a copy.
We tried to talk about anything other than Sanchez, and caught up
on where Shelly had been, what she had been up to. She had become
very interested in the plankton, and was heading down to Goma to
spend a month or two working on it. We’d see a bit more of her.
Brad sent me an email a few days later; he was going to run for
Congress during the mid-terms, as an independent. I emailed back,
‘Good. You’ll do a good job. We can’t be seen to endorse you – too
much. And its almost two years away!’
When I mentioned it to Jimmy, he sent Brad an email suggesting
that he go for Governor of California in two years; a firm hint about
destiny.
In the weeks that followed, very few US commentators were
lamenting the loss of Sanchez, and that angered me. They were
sweeping it under the carpet, and it was business as usual. As for the
aid package, I was starting to wonder if new President Blake was
awake and on the job. I totalled up what we had spent so far,
dispatched another three point five billion dollars, and told Brad to
leak the figures. I was angry, and it was time to shake the tree.
The news hit the next day, west coast commentators mentioning
the sum of ten billion dollars having been spent on the homeless.
Jimmy made no comment, and I didn’t care, my blood was boiling.
Twenty-four hours later, the commentator asked why more money
had come from us than so far released through the federal aid
package. Minor protests took place in northern California.
Blake called me, unable to reach Jimmy. ‘Paul, I was after
Jimmy. Just … wondered if there was a way to channel your …
generous support, through federal outlets. A … unified approach.’
‘If those federal outlets will be feeding the homeless tomorrow,
yes we could. Any delay would not be acceptable; people are cold
and hungry now.’
‘Well, we’re doing what we can –’
‘No, you’re not. You should have tried to pass the bill before the
quake, and now the Republicans are stonewalling it. If we wait till
you get a bill passed it’ll be next fucking spring!’
I hung up, and stood staring out of my office window. With my
hands in my pockets I watched the trees swaying in the wind, the
poor old squirrels probably somewhere nice and warm. I called
Brad.
‘Paul? You woke me.’
‘Sorry. Look, the President is asking that we fund you through his
office.’
‘What? We’d never get anything done.’
‘Exactly, so I want you to squeeze his balls. Get angry Brad, and
get vocal. I know you’re a Christian, but fight the good fight, eh.
And loudly!’
Brad went too far, and Jimmy shook his head at me the next day.
Brad had openly stated that President Blake had tried to stop our
payments to the poor and homeless. That led to more protests on the
streets, placard-waving volunteers from The Ark taking to the
streets, many of them white middle-class Republicans. They were
joined by those they were trying to help; the poor and displaced.
Even the Hawaiians took to the streets.
A poll in California then put the Governor as having a less than
ten percent confidence rating from the people. Since there was just
about a million new people in the state, it was not surprising. Those
with homes were unhappy at the newcomers, and those without
proper homes were unhappy at everyone else.
The Governor made a speech, saying that his hands were tied by
the lack of federal support, but was booed by a crowd. The next day
he tried to visit a housing project, but was smashed about the head
by a worker, the governor ending up comatose and on life support.
His deputy took over, but did the wise thing and called an election,
the man wisely not wishing to remain in office.
There was some debate as to the legal status of the old governor,
since he may have survived. The doctors said he could be back in
work in two months, or comatose for two years. The unconscious
man’s wife then came forwards and suggested that he was thinking
of stepping down, and that sealed it; there’d be an election in
California.
A week later, Brad put his name forwards and announced that he
would be running, very few of the serious contenders wanting the
job, not at the moment. Jimmy explained to me that people he knew
in California would arrange cash for Brad’s campaign. I rang our
media mogul in the States, the Blake Carrington look-a-like, and
dropped a big hint: we like Brad for governor. Or else!
Oliver at Pineapple Music came out in favour of Brad straight
away, as did many of the musicians and actors, even without my
prompting. Jimmy arranged a bunch of experts, and they flew over
to see Brad, training him on the Q&A, and how to handle interviews.
I asked Jimmy if we would be seen as interfering, and he said,
‘Fuck it. Book the plane.’ We were on the campaign trail, and on the
warpath.
First stop, New York. Jimmy told the press, ‘If the aid package is
not passed, then America will spiral out of control and descend into
civil unrest. Your recession will become a crash, and you’ll take
years to recover. This should have all been planned for a year before
the Hawaii quake, when your government first knew about it. Now
you’re running the risk of falling into chaos.’
‘Are you endorsing Brad Sullivan?’ they asked.
‘That’s a very difficult question. In a previous time, Brad was a
national leader of America after a great disaster. I knew him then.
This time around, he’s applying for office when there’s no disaster,
at least not an apocalypse. It’s never been my aim to interfere in
politics, but I can’t help liking Brad, and knowing that he’s a great
leader in a time of crisis. I can’t unwind what I witnessed in the
future.’
I hid a smile. Just who the hell was going to stand against Brad
now?
Flying down to Washington, I caught the news on my laptop, a
million reporters camped outside Brad’s house. President Blake was
not happy, but he also seemed to be a weakling and incapable of
expressing his feelings well.
‘You just gave the Governorship of California to Brad,’ Blake
noted as we sat in the Oval Office.
‘As I spoke the truth about the tsunami, so I spoke the truth about
Brad,’ Jimmy carefully mouthed. ‘I didn’t make the world the way it
is, or the past.’
‘You’ve got everyone worried about passing this bill,’ Blake
mentioned, a glance at his team.
‘Obviously not,’ I said. ‘Or they might have passed it by now.’
‘You need to start planning for civil unrest,’ Jimmy told Blake.
‘Because I’m just not sure if you’re going to tip over the edge or not.
Unemployment is still rising, confidence is falling, and bank
liquidity is still poor. One good push and the Republicans will get
their wish; chaos. They’ll try and unseat your government, and that
will be followed by hardliners taking office. When that happens, you
can kiss your arse goodbye, because I’ll be gone - and not back till
2025.’
‘And Chinese support with it, no doubt,’ Blake suggested.
‘Chinese? Every nation in the world will turn against you,’
Jimmy informed the President. ‘Your economy will go to shit,
unemployment at sixty percent. After a year or two, militias will rise
up and Texas will try and declare independence. Middle America
will be like Somalia used to be, only worse.’
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs was in on the meeting, and sat
looking sour faced.
Jimmy added, ‘If that happens, and the man who I think will get
in – gets in, then he’ll think up a reason to go to war with China.
Then you’re looking at a global nuclear conflict, followed by the rise
of The Brotherhood within a year. I gave you the tsunami to the
minute, and I can map this out for you blow by blow. Screw this up,
and you lose the planet.’
Blake looked lost, and I was sure that we had the wrong man in
the seat again. He promised faithfully to try and push the bill
through.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs then said, ‘There’s emergency
military funds that could be used without Congress’s approval. But it
would need a State of Emergency, at least in California.’
‘That’s a paper exercise,’ Jimmy said. ‘The Governor can call
one of those when there’s a bush fire. It just releases certain federal
funds.’
‘How much?’ Blake asked the general.
‘We could find you sixty billion dollars straight away,’ the
general stated. ‘Probably twice that. Hardon Chase set-up the fund
after Hurricane Katrina and kept it quiet.’
‘And I could add another twenty, plus fifty Chinese. That’s
probably enough to turn the corner. And, the bill being asked to pass
… would be to back-up the US military and replenish their
emergency funds.’
‘The people won’t like us leaving the military short,’ Blake
noted.
‘I’ll deal with the people,’ Jimmy offered.
‘And the military will back you,’ the general told Jimmy, getting
a look from Blake.
We were making progress.
‘When the money is released, don’t spend it all on California,’
Jimmy told Blake. ‘Use around seventy-five percent on the west
coast, the rest going to other states that need it. Don’t tell anyone,
just allocate it, and let history judge you.’
Blake took a breath, and lifted the phone. ‘Get me the Lieutenant
Governor of California, wake him if you have to.’
Ten minutes later we had a state of emergency, and we headed
towards that emergency in the plane. Landing, the news of the
release of the money broke. Jimmy had transferred twenty billion
directly to the fund, the Chinese waiting ready – on the
understanding that it was a loan. We headed straight for a press
conference as the sun set.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, people of California, people of America.
Today, a State of Emergency was declared in California, simply to
enable the President to release additional emergency funding from a
military reserve. That was done with the full support of the Joint
Chiefs. I have added an additional twenty billion dollars to the fund,
and loans from overseas have also been made.
‘I now believe that there are sufficient funds to help the homeless,
to rebuild, and to stave off recession in California. Some of that
money will be used here, some in other states. This move has come
about … as a need to circumvent those conspirators in the Congress
and the Senate who wish to see a nationwide collapse and a state of
emergency for their own aims. They are playing with the future of
America … and the world.
‘There are people in the Senate today who wish to see riots on the
streets, people going hungry, martial law declared – all so that they
can unseat this democratically elected government. They would like
to see a right-wing government in place, power in the hands of the
few, and the poor kept down.
‘I have sat back and tried not to get involved in internal American
politics, but you are risking the very future of this planet with your
greed and stupidity. I will now take a more active role, but so long
as the American people back me –and so long as they wish me to
help. I can tell you what the future holds, or I can lead you along the
right path.
‘People of America, you stand on the edge of disaster, and for no
reason other than your own unscrupulous politicians. To save
yourselves, you need only decide to vote for decent politicians, not
the snakes that you seem to like electing. The people who voted
against the aid package are known to you, they are listed. If one of
those congressmen or senators is your congressmen or senator, tell
them what you think about it.
‘And I would like to appeal to every US citizen that has an ounce
of dignity left, to stop using B.N.K. Banking Group. They are acting
against the interests of your own democracy, profiting from your
suffering and sneering down at you.
‘People of America, I warned you about the tsunami, and some
did not listen. I warn you again now of an even greater risk. If the
aid package for the homeless is not secured, if the people are left
adrift, then you’ll face the disintegration of America. You will all
lose your jobs, your savings, and your pensions. Don’t let that
happen; stand up and be counted!
‘And to the well-off and to the rich, I say this. You cannot live
behind high walls with guards and dogs, you have to drive to work.
And if that drive to work is littered with the desperate and hungry,
you’ll need an armoured car. No one can live in isolation. Those of
you with millions in the banks, and millions in shares: your paper
money will lose ninety percent of its value. Then you won’t be able
to afford those high walls and guard dogs.
‘There will be a vote in congress in a week, and that week will be
a long time for some. For the country that used to be called the land
of the free, it may be the last week some of you ever enjoy. Give
some thought to what you’ll do when you can’t feed your children.’
He turned and led me away, the press a bit stunned. So was I.
‘Jesus, you laid that on thick. You trying to scare them to death?
The markets will drop like a stone.’
‘And investors will switch to gold,’ Jimmy mentioned as we
walked.
‘Which we have a bit of,’ I realised as we headed back into the
vans.

In the days that followed, the emergency money was released. The
Joint Chiefs then took the very unusual step of publicly stating their
backing for Jimmy. Five Congressmen and three Senators stood
down straight away, one was shot and wounded – by his wife of all
people. B.N.K. went into freefall, and Blake refused to bail them
out; there was nothing left to bail out.
Gold topped twenty-six hundred dollars an ounce within days,
and we sold heavily, moving gold out of our region by 747 cargo
plane, twelve tonnes or more on each flight. Jimmy had warned just
about everyone, apart from the Americans, not to buy gold, and they
heeded the warning.
‘Redistribution of wealth,’ Jimmy had commented. ‘Those
buying gold have the spare cash; they’re the rich. We’ll sell a lot of
gold, make a lot of money, and use it to help the homeless in
America through direct loans to the various states - and at great
rates. Gold will fall back to around eighteen hundred afterwards, and
the rich will have a dent in their savings.
‘I’m going to take a trillion off the top earners and spread it
around. A … modern day Robin Hood; not because I’m a socialist,
but because if the process had continued then the rich-poor gap in
the states would have widened to the point where it could never have
been closed. The elite would have controlled everything, and they
would have gotten away with murder.’
Brad went on to win the election by the largest recorded margin
in US history, and congress voted to pass the aid package. We
loaned the state of California an extra hundred and twenty billion, in
gold, and at a good rate of interest.
When US stocks had plummeted, our friends in places high and
low were waiting, and all bought stock, the DOW recovering in
days. The rich of America had been ‘shaken out’, as the market
makers had done to so many others so many times before; the Top
500 rich list having to be adjusted. Jimmy and I were number one
and two, with an ‘Unknown, but estimated two hundred billion
dollars’ tag. It was way too low.
By the spring, things had turned around; the markets up, jobless
totals down, homeless totals down. American had undergone a
change, and it had needed the pressure cooker to do so. It also
needed us, and our gold, and good timing afforded by a time
traveller.
Brad benefited by many visits from us, and benefited from
Jimmy’s guidance – and detailed knowledge of the finances of
California. We sponsored films, we bought Boeings, and we rallied
an army of some two hundred thousand volunteers. And to top it all,
the ocean was a terrible green colour off Somalia, a huge plume of
plankton photosynthesising, a few research ships monitoring the
carbon biological pump. Initial research was promising, Shelly
aboard one of the research vessels.
When she came off ship, and to the mansion in June, Jimmy
slapped her hard.
‘What the hell did you do that for!’ she protested, rubbing her
head. We wanted to know that as well, figuring Shelly had done
something terribly wrong.
‘That’s for stabbing me in the arse,’ Jimmy told her.
‘I never!’
‘You stabbed him in arse?’ I repeated.
‘I didn’t!’ she protested.
‘You did, just before I jumped through time. With a syringe.’
‘I stabbed you … in the future?’ she puzzled.
‘What did you stab him in the future for?’ I asked her.
‘How the hell would I know!’ she protested.
‘You injected me in the arse with algae protein,’ Jimmy told her.
‘I did?’ she puzzled.
‘You discovered it just before I left,’ Jimmy told her.
‘I hope it bloody hurt!’ she said.
‘It did. I had a sore bum for days.’
I wagged a finger at Shelly. ‘Don’t stab people in the arse with
algae. How many times have me and your mother told you about
that.’
She put her fists on her hips and gave me a look. Since I got those
from Helen, I cowed away, and returned to my beer and my never-
ending emails.
Based in the mansion, I travelled around to the volunteers often,
Shelly to be seen in a white lab coat when not on a ship. The
weekends were busy, because that was when the grown-up brain-
trust kids came in. They mostly held down proper jobs during the
week, and they all had families, but gave up time on the weekends to
help out.
That help translated into some amazing projects. One group had
taken the German hydroelectric turbines and modified them. Using
some of the electricity produced by the turbine, they had created
filters in the feeder pipe itself, zapping bacteria somehow. When the
water emerged from the turbine it could be drunk safely by the
locals.
Another group had spent a lot of money on a new type of electric
motor. It looked like a giant metal disk, a leaden grey colour,
surrounded by thick metal walls. Peering down at it, they invited me
to step onto the metal disk, ten yards in diameter. I stepped onto it
and wobbled, the heavy disk floating on magnets and not making
contact with either the floor or the sides. Stepping off, they set it
spinning by a fan underneath, turned by a water turbine.
The disk eventually reached a good speed and the instrumentation
to one side gave readouts as to the electricity generated, generated
by the interaction of magnets in the edge of the disk on the coils in
the surrounding walls. Friction for the disk was just about zero, and
its own weight and momentum both helped to stabilise it and keep it
going.
They were planning a much larger version, and planning on
powering a small town with it. That led to an electric bus that just
took the piss out of the laws of physics. It was also a bit ugly. The
bus, a standard electric bus, held advanced solar panels on the roof,
capturing enough energy to partly recharge the bus as it drove
around. Above the solar panels sat two small wind turbines,
technology similar to the free-floating disk, and they collected extra
energy, but not from forwards motion – that would have created
drag.
They explained, ‘When the wind is from the side or rear, the wind
turbines collect a significant amount of energy. This bus can travel
two thousand miles on a single charge. On a clear day with a stiff
side breeze, it can replenish seventy-five percent of its power usage
in four hours.’
Next, they took me to a large driving circuit, where standard
electric taxis were simply going around and around in circles. They
pointed. ‘Under the road surface are two parallel sets of coils,
powered by the city’s electricity grid. Under the car are magnets and
coils. One side of the vehicle interacts with coils on the left, one on
the right. You have to drive in the right lane for it to work.’
‘So it gets energy as it drives?’
‘It gets seventy-five percent of the energy as it drives, but you
must drive over twenty miles per hour and less than forty. When not
on a road with coils, the battery is used as normal.’
‘Cool,’ I said.
Next came a windmill farm, miniature windmills that sat atop a
house and would power the house so long as it was breezy. Keen to
show me a live example, we journeyed north to Spiral Five and to a
house where some of the team lived. From the outside, I could see
three small wind turbines and a mass of solar panels.
Inside, they ran the hot and cold water taps. The hot water was
boiling hot, and the cold was well below normal temperature.
‘This house costs nothing to heat, or to power, or to keep cool.
It’s not even connected to the local grid any more. The only cost is
the capital cost of the equipment.’
‘I’ve seen this technology before, so what’s the angle?’ I puzzled.
‘We are looking at greater power for a smaller footprint and
lower costs. It’s a never-ending battle to shave a few dollars off the
cost, or to boost the power. The wind turbines, they are sixty dollars
each, the solar panels – they are two hundred and fifty dollars for a
six foot panel. The trick … is to try and get those figures down.’
‘How many turbines have you sold?’ I asked.
‘We’ve made more than a hundred thousand of the latest
specification. They mostly go to remote villages where you have
built schools, but here in the Spirals we have them on every roof.
They also power pool filters. My pool, you could drink the water.’
We didn’t test the theory.
That evening, we all dressed smart to attend a function, Lucy and
Shelly looking gorgeous, and virtually no difference now between
them and their mum. In New Kinshasa, at a hotel, we stepped into
the function, the local business leaders charitable ball. Many familiar
faces greeted us, and I found Steffan Silo in an ill-fitting tuxedo,
looking a little lost.
‘You enjoying yourself?’ I asked, stood with a drink in my hand.
He shrugged. ‘Part of the work, chat to people about projects.’
‘How’s the Angolan route?’
‘Very efficient; road and rail. And that port is doubling in size
every six months.’
‘You involved in Southern Sudan?’
‘I designed a re-work of their rail links and yards. It’s almost
finished.’
‘Did I read that the link to Zimbabwe is better?’
He nodded. ‘From here, the main highway goes south, and it just
kept going. We couldn’t see a good place to end it, so kept the
company on it. There’re electric buses that go all the way up and
down, eighteen hours.’
‘So what’s your next big project?’
‘Mozambique. They want road and rail links improved, links into
the Saudi enclaves. And a new highway from Nairobi north, and
through Somali to the north.’
‘I had a hand in the design of the Chinese enclave for the Kenyan
coast.’
He nodded. ‘I’m laying road and rail links for it; a short stretch to
hit the main routes into Sudan. Chinese are talking to the Angolans
about an enclave near the port we use.’
‘Oh, I hadn’t heard.’
‘Jimmy’s dealing with it. Russians want a warm water port in
northern Somalia, so the existing naval base is being extended again.
They’re going to put some of the Sebastopol fleet there.’
‘What was Jimmy like, growing up?’
Steffan took a moment. ‘Normal, I suppose. He changed when I
was in university. Well, went and came back I guess, he doesn’t talk
about it.’
‘You had the full drug?’ I enquired.
He nodded. ‘I do some exercise.’
I left the tall and not-so-charismatic gent, and mingled, soon
finding Kimballa.
With a smile, he said, ‘I try to throw a good party, but your
Mister Po and Mister Yuri - they dominate the party scene. They
throw all the good parties and control it with a ruthlessness.’
‘Fine, let them. Your job is to throw the political parties, and to
oversee the nations. If they all get along, then great.’
‘There are twenty thousand Americans here now, including the
strange large men with the tattooed face.’
‘Hawaiians, yes.’
‘And many Chinese and Europeans. It is truly a cosmopolitan
city, of one point four million people.’
‘What about old Kinshasa?’ I asked.
‘We convert the government buildings to offices or apartments,
and make new industrial areas for jobs. It has not become a ghost
town - as we feared.’
‘Good.’
‘May I ask, Mister Paul, how much the Americans owe us? Truly
… owe us?
I took a moment. ‘If you included the shares we bought, over a
trillion dollars.’
‘And those stocks, I watch them every day now. I check the
DOW Jones each evening, and have charting software on my
computer. We are ahead, are we not?’
‘The stocks are recovering, and we’re doing well.’
‘And this money will come back to us?’ he nudged.
‘It will,’ I assured him with a warm smile.
‘You were secretive about the amount of gold, Mister Paul, and
you have shocked many people far and wide. The Democratic
Republic of Congo is now considered a player, a major player, much
to the consternation of Nigeria and South Africa, since we dwarfed
them in one move.’
‘Timing … is everything, Mister President. We waited for the
right moment for maximum impact.’
‘Mister Jimmy tried to explain to me why the gold could not be
used here.’
‘The Saudis take oil out of the ground, they have nothing else. If
we took just gold out of the ground we’d be tied to gold prices, and
when the gold ran out we’d collapse in a day. We need genuine jobs,
genuine industries, internalised markets, and diversification. Or
we’ll have no future when the ore runs out.’
‘Indeed a wise strategy,’ Kimballa noted.

Kimballa was right, we had become players in our own right, and
everyone knew if. We had told former President Samuels that we’d
help with forty billion dollars, and he had been shocked by that
amount. Now, President Blake knew we had very deep pockets, and
many were quietly concerned; our pockets were deep enough to
change the political map. The British Prime Minister had been
staggered by the amount of money we employed, the Europeans
concerned.
They also knew, they all knew, that people power had arrived,
and it was firmly behind us. Any thoughts that any world leader may
have had about undermining us were washed away. They were wary
of us now, and afraid. Power had shifted, it had shifted towards
Team Silo.
In Russia, their economy still suffering, we made the news with
large-scale voucher use, some two million distributed per day during
the winter and spring, now down to around half a million a day. The
Russian people had known us before, we’d been popular, but now
they were grateful as well. And we had targeted the poorer voters,
not the rich few; we had addressed ourselves to the masses.
Jimmy had said, ‘The thing that the rich people of the world most
dislike, is that they only have one vote, and the unemployed guy has
the same one vote. Democracy very inconveniently levels the
playing field for them.’
Well, we had targeted the poor masses, gaining a great many
votes – if we needed them. B.N.K. shareholders and former
employees were trying to sue us, but we held enough of the old
shares to block most moves against us. Besides, our US lawyers
were arguing that we were foreign diplomats. It would drag on for
years.
That summer was a good one, optimism high, and my family life
reached a point of happiness and contentedness that I thought I had
lost long ago. Shelly and Lucy came out with us often, and charmed
everyone with their keen intellects. Helen and I enjoyed the partying
and meeting people, and people loved meeting us. We welcomed
new residents to the area each week, a resident’s party always on
somewhere, and Gotham City became exclusive. It became Beverly
Hills, many rich Americans and Europeans moving across.
President Blake struggled along, on the phone to us often, but
became more popular as the US economy started to turn around.
Hardon Chase was being nudged by Jimmy to run for office again,
especially in California, and he received ringing endorsements from
Jimmy in public. Chase worked well with Brad, despite their
differing political backgrounds, and California slowly dealt with the
social burden of the displaced.
Bit by bit, Brad moved families to other states, thousands every
week, and the social burden was eased. As US stocks climbed,
Kimballa carefully watching the charts, we sold stock in small
blocks, often using the money to buy things we needed – but also
trying buy them from California where possible. I bought two
hundred Jetranger helicopters and allocated them to various police
forces.
The development of the two Saudi enclaves and the Chinese
enclaves boosted jobs globally, skilled workers brought in,
international contracts allocated. Russia developed its naval base in
Somalia, next to our original base, and drunken sailors of many
nations frequented the bars on shore.
Jimmy dedicated a lot of his time to the base, having restaurants
and bars built; Chinese, Indian, Thai and even Russian. A marina
was built, complete with pontoons for sailboats, many a naval
officer keen to be aboard a smaller vessel. Races were organised
along national levels.
As autumn reached us, and I watched the leaves fall from the
trees through my office window, the naval base in Somali grew as
fast as New Kinshasa; naval ratings would now ask to be assigned
there. A scuba centre was opened, firing ranges, assault courses and
barracks.
The airfield inland had always been a military airfield, but now
accepted planes off carriers on a regular basis. A Russian squadron
of Migs turned up, at Jimmy’s invite, a training squadron that made
use of the Somalia ranges and its wide-open spaces. Fitted with
cameras instead of guns and missiles, they would fly out and attack
US F14s off carriers in simulated dogfights.
The British and French then complained, so an additional apron
and dispersal was installed, more hangars, and European training
squadrons moved in. When the airfield was increased in size again,
the US Air Force put in two squadrons of its new, and much
awaited, Joint Strike Fighters, the F35. Those aircraft sat in a
dominant position in the Yemen Straits, and pleased the Joint Chiefs
no end.
The Joint Chiefs then approached us and asked about a second
base, a little further inland, and for B2 bombers that could reach
around the Middle East.
‘It’ll be ready in a month,’ Jimmy told them. He handed them a
file, the new airbase having been constructed in secret in an isolated
area over the past year. It already offered a suitable runway, all the
concrete aprons and dispersals that they could desire, but hangars
would be down to them. Barrack blocks had been built, a control
tower, an officer’s mess, the works. The fence was already up and
secure, Somali Rifles patrolling around the outside.

Splice the main brace

In November, we flew out to the joint naval base in Silo One, a


direct flight. I’d never seen so many ships in one place, grey naval
vessels from a dozen countries hugging a dozen concrete jetties. And
their fuel, that came from us, from CAR wells near the Ethiopian
border.
Whisked around to the joint naval command headquarters, we
found offices labelled up by nationality, some of them common. In
the common command centre, responsible for operations to catch
small al-Qa’eda launches crossing the straits, we greeted the
assembled officers in turn, a variety of languages used.
Jimmy then called a meeting. He tapped the table map, at the
Sinai, with a pointer. ‘Gentlemen. When 2025 arrives, we will
consider the Sinai as critical. Here, there are two airfields; Sharm-el-
sheik and Taba. I’d like plans made to seize them, soldiers in
Hercules landing. But the problem is this: despite the very deep
waters of the Red Sea, there is no suitable deepwater port available
to your ships for re-supply – unless Eilat or Aqaba are used.
‘Overland supply is out of the question, supply by air expensive.
Building a deepwater port is out of the question, because a hundred
yards offshore the water is a hundred metres deep. You, gentlemen,
are the experts, so figure it out. Put an international working team
together and … be clever.
‘Now, this base, and the nearby airbases, are isolated, and can be
re-supplied by sea. There should be no future circumstances that I
can think of … where this base would be compromised. In the years
ahead I would like to see the storage facilities improved, taking the
view that this base would be important – and important for many
years.
‘It would also be a staging area for African soldiers … if they
were to be deployed into the Middle East for any future crisis. A
handful of troop transporters should be here at all times. Now,
around the coast is an area that I’m setting up as training range.
You’ll be able to pound it from your ships, bomb it in your planes,
and assault it in amphibious craft to your heart’s content.
‘We’re kindly supplying your ships with fuel, also your aircraft,
so make the most of the free fuel and train your people in
manoeuvres that involve typically Middle Eastern coastlines and
deserts in the years ahead.’
The officers showed us around the command centre before
buying us lunch at a nearby restaurant for officers only, the base
now something of a small town. There were very few black faces
here, most of the bases facilities organised by the various
contributing nations. The idea was simple; if there are no locals
working here, they couldn’t smuggle in a bomb.
After lunch, we strolled down to the marina, the off-duty sailors
enjoying all modern conveniences here, including a Thai brothel and
an Africa brothel, hidden away around the back. Since there was no
risk of disease, attitudes had changed, and the “don’t ask, don’t tell”
policy was applying to many things around here. Squash courts were
being constructed, tennis courts, a swimming pool. We noticed a
small shopping area leading into the marina, the harbour side itself
rammed with off-duty sailors sat enjoying the sun and the beer.
As soon as they saw us they stood, many walking over for a chat.
We shook hands with those who extended a hand first, and I asked
young Russian sailors about life on the ocean wave.
Finding a group of Brits, I said, ‘You lot are spoiled here.’
‘Fuck, aye,’ they said. ‘Shops, cafes, bars, sports, hookers, the
fucking works, aye. This is the place most of us try and get a posting
to.’
‘How’s the integration with the others?’ I asked.
‘Some keep to themselves, some like to chat. Not many speak the
lingo, but there’s a few translators that wander around,’ a second
rating informed me. ‘Besides, for football you don’t need the lingo.
We play American football.’
‘Here?’
‘Well, we dress up in the kit, but use a round ball, beating the
crap out of each other,’ they said with smiles.
I pointed at the sailboats. ‘Do you sail?’
‘Aye, had a go. Done a bit of diving as well. And you get some
civvys coming in; they’re allowed to berth here for one day, unless
they have a fault. Some stupid civvy had a problem the other week,
and was towed in by a frigate!’
Another young sailor said, ‘All the officers go crazy over the
sailboats; any excuse to be helping out the civvys.’
I greeted a group of Chinese and made them feel very welcome, a
few French, and a loud bunch of US Marines. Seemed like every
which way I turned a t-shirt proclaimed a military unit of some kind.
Wandering on, we tripped across the scuba centre and popped in,
finding some odd equipment lying around.
‘Navy divers and navy SEALS come in regular,’ the British
manager said, a PADI instructor.
‘How did you end up here?’ I puzzled.
‘I’m ex-Navy, and one of the command staff knew me, so asked
if I would run the dive centre. We don’t charge much for the lads,
but there’re lots of them wanting to dive, so it ticks over. And I get
free food and board, live above the centre.’
‘Sounds like the life for a young man,’ I noted.
‘Well, maybe. But I’m divorced, and I doubt her solicitors could
make it past the Somali Rifles.’
‘No,’ I agreed with a smile.
‘You mind if I ask a question?’
‘You can ask,’ I told him.
‘Any wars or problems going to affect a ten yard radius of where
you’re standing in the next few years?’
‘No, none,’ I said with a smile. ‘But be gone by 2025.’
‘I won’t be here that long,’ he told me.
Jimmy stepped over. ‘Wife still chasing you, Rob. Best not tell
her about the house you own in Somerset.’
The man stood rigid, wide-eyed and stunned. ‘Well I’ll be
rogered sideways. How the hell do you know that?’
‘He’s a time traveller,’ I pointed out. ‘You figure it out.’
The various ship’s captains were keen to show us around their
tubs, and we made a point of visiting one vessel from each nation.
We eventually left at 2am, a little worse for the alcohol, and I made
a note to ban Shelly from visiting the place.

End of year

The approach of 2018 saw a renewed optimism in many places, and


Shelly had surprised us by not starting university this year. She was
entrenched in her work in New Kinshasa and absorbed by the
plankton. She also figured that she would learn little more in
university.
Jimmy was surprised by the move, since he had been certain that
she’d opt for a course in California. Well, there was always next
year. For the moment, we saw more of her when we flew down, and
it was very hard to think of her as a teenage girl. She had her own
circle of friends down here, a regular TV news slot, a dozen
modelling assignments and her own security detail. But her room at
the mansion still had the original sign pinned to it, a teenage girl’s
notice to her parents: Shelly’s room.
We flew down before Christmas, the household “M” Group and
my office team joining us, my team in a hotel. A review of my
projects produced a few problems, in that we seemed to be
producing way too much of everything. Agricultural production was
so high that we exported it just to keep the prices here stable, North
African states now benefiting from it. Zimbabwe had returned to
being the breadbasket of Africa, and cereal crop production was
astounding.
Population growth was a factor, with the supply of the drug and
bountiful food, but we had hoped for a spike in population curve
anyway. Africa no longer received either food aid or financial aid
from overseas, and we began exporting surpluses to India and the
Middle East.
In our own region, the bar charts and graphs relating to New
Kinshasa were not a problem, they were just unexpected. One point
four million people now lived in the city, and the current rate of
building and immigration would put the city at two million within
eight months. That immigration was being tightly controlled, and
people could not just turn up. Still, it was growing quickly.
Looking at the map of the area, I ordered that the road to Forward
Base be dotted with small towns to ease the pressure, and that a
large suburb be built at the next highway roundabout below the
southern airport, including shops and business offices. That gave me
an idea, and I followed on by ordering a town to be built at each
major junction, some six miles apart. Since there were mines to the
south, I decided to extend that process, the towns being centres for
workers.
With Goma International Airport getting busy, I ordered the
southern airport expanded - for our regional aircraft to be located
there; 737s and A320s. In future, if someone wanted to fly to
Nairobi, they’d use the southern airport.
On the outskirts of new Kinshasa, I ordered tall office blocks
built, aiming to have people work close to where they lived. The
Saudis had proposed a number of buildings and hotels, and I agreed
them all, but I moved the towers further southwest than they had
asked for. Their planned five star hotel, however, would be just a
half mile south of the marina.
Our influx of Hawaiians and Americans, including Americans
unaffected by the tsunami, was having an effect on business. They
had been offered loans at great rates, and most established
businesses along the lines of those they had lost. They opened
garages, computer businesses, and repair centres of all sorts. Many
had been absorbed into teaching, especially the ladies, and young
Africans were leaning English with a Hawaiian accent.
Kimballa found the Hawaiian culture fascinating, and ordered a
social centre and church built for the community. Learning of the
famous boat races and sea faring traditions, he had a large pond dug
into a park, fifty yards wide and five hundred yards long. We flew
over outrigger canoes and Dragon Boats, and local Congolese
children could watch as the Hawaiians raced each other.
The Rifles officers noticed the races, and the odd wager was
placed on Rifles soldier teams. Within weeks the races were being
taken seriously, nations and units competing fiercely. Kimballa
extended the course, now almost eight hundred yards long, roads
preventing further expansion. The park’s land was invaded in favour
of this new spectator sport, the pond widened to accommodate four
or six boats, depending on the type.
Hawaiian restaurants popped up, and imported pineapples and
exotic fruits were soon being sampled by Congolese housewives,
waitresses in grass skirts and coconut bras to be glimpsed in a few
establishments.
Christmas went well, way too many presents bought by everyone
and dished out, a series of parties thrown. French Michelle was still
with us, but Jimmy appeared with a new squeeze on Christmas Eve,
a leggy model. Shelly found her to be a kindred spirit straight away,
and chatted at length about modelling assignments.
For New Year we lost many of the “M” Group as they headed
home, and invited the Mawlini gang over. Mac’s new young lady
was six months pregnant, Mac set to be a father at seventy-three. He
didn’t look it. In fact, he had hardly changed in thirty years; still
short, bald, tanned and ugly.
Anton and Cassie popped in with a tall daughter, the girl having
grown around five feet since I saw her last. No sooner had they set-
off to explore the city, than Anna, Cosy and Rudd turned up, but
without their kids in tow. It was just the parents, the kids now adults
and having their own lives, and in some cases – their own families.
Jimmy popped around to the TV station to deliver a rousing
speech of hope at 8pm, New Year’s Eve, and we all moved to the
roof of the casino afterwards. It had been converted to a quality
rooftop bar, and would offer us a great view of the fireworks. Yuri
and Po played host, the two men having been invited to some fifty
parties.
‘We say Jimmy ask us come here,’ Po explained. ‘We can no be
fifty places.’
‘So you’re saying … that you’re here to avoid them, rather than
to see us?’ I teased.
‘No, no, you family. But business important too.’
I wasn’t sure how to take that, but was distracted by Shelly’s new
young man, a Hawaiian biochemist volunteer, a great combination
for her. He was over six foot, well built, and caught Helen’s eye.
I asked the lad, ‘Are you the reason my daughter is not going to
university?’
‘I hope not, sir,’ he replied.
‘How long have you been dating?’
‘I was seeing someone else when I met Shelly, but broke-up with
that girl a month ago.’
‘You were unavailable. Well, bound to attract a girl that way; it
drives them nuts.’
‘I keep thinking Shelly is older than me, way older.’
I lifted my eyebrows and nodded. ‘Don’t worry, I get that feeling
as well. She still bosses me about. So, how did you end up here?’
‘My family was originally looking at New Zealand or Samoa, but
we read about this place and saw the pictures, and decided to give it
a go. We were allocated an apartment, and a basic welfare allowance
– which goes a long way around here, and I wandered into the
research centre one day. They made me welcome, made me a meal,
and refused to let me leave.’
I laughed. ‘Press-ganged were you?’
‘Well, kinda given a large dose of motherly love and asked to
stay on. Besides, I’m heading up projects here that I would never get
to touch elsewhere. I even have a staff, and I’m twenty-two.’
‘Do you work with Shelly?’
‘Sometimes, but she can be a bit competitive. If I know
something more in certain areas, she’ll sit up all night till she knows
as much.’
‘So why haven’t we seen you around the house?’
‘I have an elderly gran to look after, and I work a lot.’
‘I would have figured that my daughter would have hired you a
nurse for your grandmother.’
‘She did, but my gran prefers me.’
‘Well, I’m surprised Shelly tolerates your lack of time.’
‘Me too, sir.’
‘Mali,’ Jimmy offered the young man. I had not even asked the
lad his name. They shook. ‘How’s your gran?’
‘Fine, sir.’
‘How did you know?’ I asked Jimmy.
‘I keep tabs on your daughters,’ Jimmy replied.
‘It’s a great honour to finally meet you,’ Mali offered Jimmy.
‘What about me?’ I teased.
‘Well, Shelly told me all about you, so I feel that I know you
better, sir. Mister Silo is … well, unique.’
‘So what does Shelly say about me?’ I pressed.
‘She’s quite proud of your work here, especially of the city.’
‘Oh.’ I glanced at Jimmy. ‘She’s never told me that.’
‘Fathers and daughters, sir; you can’t be a father and a friend.’
‘Very true,’ Jimmy put in.
Shelly stepped up.
I said, ‘I was just telling your young man here about the time you
crashed your Hannah Montana golf buggy.’
‘Golf buggy?’ Mali repeated.
‘It’s a big estate,’ Shelly explained. ‘And I was ten.’
‘She rammed into the Deputy Director of British Intelligence,’ I
pointed out. ‘Didn’t even leave her insurance details.’
Mali smiled. ‘I don’t get to hear much about your childhood,’ he
told Shelly.
‘Well your gran tells me all about yours. Including the wearing of
you mum’s earrings.’
‘Let’s agree not to discuss our childhoods,’ Mali suggested,
Shelly leading him away.
Watching her go, I said, ‘She’ll be seventeen in a few weeks.’
‘Going on thirty,’ Jimmy added.
‘Should we be concerned that she’s not gone off to university?’
‘She’ll never need a formal qualification for what she’ll end up
doing.’
‘Which is … oceanography, yes?’
‘To start with, then other things. And no, I won’t tell you.’
The fireworks sounded the arrival of the New Year, and beyond
them I could see the bright lights of New Kinshasa. To Helen, I said,
‘Shelly told her young man that she was proud of my work down
here.’
‘I’m sure that she is,’ Helen responded. ‘You’ve achieved a lot.
Even Jimmy says you’ve done a good job.’
‘What about you, babes. Are you proud of me?’
‘You’ve never let me down, or wandered.’
‘How do you know I’ve never wandered?’ I teased.
‘Jimmy promised to let me kill you if you did.’
I laughed. ‘No, he wouldn’t let you kill me - I’m part of his grand
scheme. He has a role for me to play sometime later. But times like
this, its easy to forget 2025.’
‘Nothing wrong with that, we’ve done enough; a quiet year will
do us all some good.’
‘I think about Sanchez often, still pissed about that. He was a
good man, a hell of a passion for helping people.’
‘Jimmy says that next year will be better,’ Helen told me. ‘And
I’d like to spend more time down here.’
‘Fine by me, love. Does Jimmy want you back following him
around?’
‘He said no.’
‘Oh. Well, this is where my work is. I’ll talk to him about it, but
Lucy would -’
‘She’s asked about enrolling in a high school down here.’
‘Really?’
‘Besides, she knows more than the teachers.’
‘And she could fly more often,’ I noted. ‘Are you … unhappy
with the house in the UK?’
‘No, its just that we’re prisoners a lot of the time in the UK.
Down here we can leave the house without being followed.’
‘Let’s chat to the oracle tomorrow. If my work’s the same, then
here’s better than the UK, especially in the winter. And, both the
girls would be close.’
I didn’t wait till the morning, I cornered Jimmy when Helen
wasn’t looking. ‘Helen wants to live down here, at least be here
more often.’
He nodded. ‘I had expected her to make that choice last year.’ He
straightened and sighed. ‘If you don’t stay down here with her, then
you’ll drift apart. Absence, will not … make the heart grow fonder.
You’re already on borrowed time.’
‘Things seem the same.’
‘They always do, till they change.’
‘And if we are down here more often?’ I nudged.
‘Then I’d guess that you would have a couple of years, unless
you can come up with some miracle formula. And if you can do that,
bottle it and sell it.’
‘I hadn’t thought about what you said, not for a long time.’ I
lifted my gaze to the stars and sighed. ‘Best adjust my mindset a
little.’
‘You’ve had a good run, more than most. More than me.
Anyway, next year is an easy enough year. Stay down here, enjoy it
while you can.’

K2 Book 7 is available from www.geoffwolak-writing.com