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Magestic

Copyright © Geoff Wolak

Part 17
Family. Goma, 2018.

Jimmy was happy enough for me to stay in Goma when he set off
around the world, and I spent my days working on all things
African. The cooperation group parliament, at the Pentagon
building, received more of my time and I sent fewer emails; I visited
people instead. Shelly’s young man visited the mansion when he
could, and Lucy enrolled at the University, surprising us. She passed
the entrance exam, which didn’t surprise us, and got stuck into a
degree course on economics and politics half way through a term.
In February, both Ngomo and Abdi ran for President in their
respective countries, and both received endorsements from Jimmy.
With the other candidates dropping out, the pair were simply named
President and got on with it. They would have won anyway, and
with good majorities, but an endorsement from Jimmy was gospel
around the region.
We attended both inaugurations, then sat the Presidents down and
told them what we wanted - and how we wanted it done. Rifles
officers took up posts in the new cabinets, and advisers were brought
down from Europe to help out. Abdi checked the Somali finances
straight away, and executed six people straight away. Ngomo
punched a junior minister within a day of taking office, but then
officially pardoned himself.
The President of Burundi was an ex-Rifles officer, as were most
of the Defence Ministers in Africa these days. The new Presidents of
Sierra Leone and Guinea were ex-Rifles, as were those of Malawi
and Mozambique. We had the continent sewn up.
As things improved in the States, money came back from shares
being sold, and the coffers filled. There was never a danger of us
being short of money, but Kimballa was happier to see the money
return for an African rainy day. Exports improved slowly, but much
of our raw material was still being used internally, or being sold to
the Saudis or Chinese as they built their enclaves.
Our international volunteers built their own factory to make
electric buses, the ones that never stopped, and more of the oddly
shaped buses could be seen on the roads of Africa. One young lad, a
brain-trust Congolese lad, then built a sailboat, but I figured they had
been invented already. His craft was a square boat, three hulls and
five computer controlled sails. On days that were suitable it sailed
the great rivers of the Congo, ferrying passengers in quiet efficiency.
Just to be a smart-arse, he programmed the boat to be captain
free, and it followed the water’s depths and currents. He put one on
the lake, and it passed back and forth to Rwanda automatically.
Albeit slowly.
I steadily bought dollars off any country other than the America,
and used them to pay people in our region, the US Dollar now the
official currency of the DRC. Seeing the size of the gold reserves
that we now declared, Kenya, Tanzania, Somali and Southern Sudan
switched to the US Dollar as their official currency. A dozen smaller
countries followed, and Hardon Chase finally achieved his dream.
We turned Haiti towards the dollar, that was easy enough, and the
Saudis agreed not to consider dropping the dollar, not now.
I advertised in the US papers, and tempted another ten thousand
Hawaiians to New Kinshasa, although most were non-ancestral.
That then gave me an idea. I ran it past Jimmy and he just shrugged,
making a face. I took that as a yes. Contacting the Madagascar
Government, I enquired about an isolated area on the northern coast,
and would they like to sell a strip to us - the corporation, a strip ten
miles wide and five miles deep.
They were happy to sell the land, getting used to the Saudis in the
south now, as well as used to the Saudi money. With the deal signed
I gave the corporation the details, and told them to fence the land
off, build a harbour and marina, and a small town. And quickly!
I then sent the Hawaiian elders in America a note to say that we
had coastal land in Madagascar, and that we could settle people
there, primarily ancestral Hawaiians. I asked if they could find
families willing to help clear the land till it became suitable for
further people.
Within a week I had six hundred families willing to give it a go,
mostly because it was us, but they had also heard of the success of
the Hawaiians in New Kinshasa. I paid their airfare and signed up
the families, most living in self-assembly cabins to start with. When
they asked what to build, I said ‘Anything you like, you design it.’ It
took a week for other Hawaiians to realise that they could build
anything they wanted, and more flocked to the area.
Things were going well around Africa, but al-Qa’eda reared its
head in March. Terrorists hijacked a passenger plane in Yemen, the
pilot managing to get out a distress call; that call being picked up by
the naval base in northern Somalia. Fighters took to the air.
Contact was lost with the pilot, the plane’s course, speed and
altitude erratic, but seemingly heading towards the naval base itself.
Ten miles short of the base the plane was being tracked by the
missile systems of no less than twenty ships and a dozen aircraft.
The order to shoot it down was given by the base commander, the
airliner crashing into the sea with the loss of eighty Yemeni citizens.
It was a disappointment, but also a good reminder of the dangers
out there. I went for a walk down to the park, finding crocs sunning
themselves and expecting a chicken or two. Staring at small fish
being chased by larger fish, I thought about the years ahead, and
about 2025.
The next day I tackled the African education problem, the
problem of adult education. Anna came over with the Education
Ministers of a dozen countries, and we reviewed both adult
education - and the teaching of basic English. I offered to try and get
more of the new American arrivals teaching English, and would
advertise for them. In our region, the thirst that local people had for
improving their English was amazing, and we now saw extra
colleges being built all over.
I asked Anna to move the educational emphasis away from the
villages till such time as the urban areas were satisfied, and arranged
teachers for the mine workers hostels. Factories would also now
offer classes after work.

In the months after New Year, 2018, Helen became more of a


secretary to me than Jimmy, and took on board some of her own
projects whilst scrutinising my diary and organising my time. Jimmy
spent a lot of time flying around and giving speeches, and Helen and
I enjoyed the mansion, many items requested from the old house and
flown down. When the “M” Group were in attendance in Goma,
poor old Cookie in the UK had little to do.
Family life was good, Liz a pleasure most of the time, her older
sisters willingly helping out with the babysitting. Shelly and Mali,
and Helen and myself, would often dine out together, Lucy having
met a friend of Mali’s and hooked up. He was another tall lad, also
studying in the university here, and at eighteen was not too old in
our eyes.
Lucy’s interest in flying waned, as Jimmy had predicted, and she
buried her nose in the books. She had caught up the half-term that
she had missed, and filled in the gaps in her knowledge very
quickly. The only thing she didn’t like about the university was the
armed guard sat behind her all the time, even in the canteen.
Helen and I enjoyed the party scene, and since Christmas we had
been out more than in the past ten years, often coming in late and
tipsy. I was putting on weight because of it.
When Jimmy next visited he asked me to assist the Turkish and
Jordanian economies, to help save any unrest there ahead of 2025. I
sent an oil tanker to Turkey and offered future subsidised oil. That
helped, and they were grateful for it, but I also struck a deal with a
few European carriers to subsidise their flights to Turkey during the
tourist season.
Considering 2025, and being a bit sneaky, I offered to fund two
new airports in the east of Turkey, my thinking being that they could
be used if necessary in any future conflict. I suggested they be
placed near the coast to assist with potential tourism, the Turks
delighted. I contacted the same French airport builders and
commissioned the company for the expensive projects.
For Jordan I also sent oil tankers, but had to send cheap oil to
Israel to stop them from complaining. Trying to be practical, rather
than just a donor, I sponsored several housing projects in Jordan, as
well as farm projects, and commissioned hotels for the Jordanian
Red Sea coast and the Dead Sea coast.
Knowing about Jordan’s uranium ore deposits, and the dangers of
leaving it in the ground after 2025, I offered to buy regular amounts
from the kingdom, the unprocessed ore to be stored at the Somali
nuclear plant. When the Israelis complained, I said that I was
removing the ore from use by The Brotherhood later on, to which
they couldn’t argue.
At the end of March, Helen and I returned to the UK, more for a
visit than to live, and reclaimed our old house. It felt odd, the house
oddly quiet even with Liz running around. We caught up with the
gossip around the main house, Keely soon to be a father - in his
sixties. My UK office team were still busy, but often produced
summaries for Jimmy now. They were based here, in the UK,
receiving information from the corporation in Africa, summarising it
and sending it down to me in Africa. It seemed inefficient, but I
couldn’t put my finger on why.
When we had arrived back in the UK, Jimmy had allocated Helen
and myself a few projects that were unrelated to Africa, and they
held our attention for two weeks. I asked Jimmy about our residency
in Africa, but he was happy enough to see me remain there – for
now.
I had to stop and consider if he was leaving me there for practical
purposes, or to save my marriage, a marriage that didn’t feel in any
danger of failing. I had to stop and consider if I was doing all I could
towards 2025, and not being selfish. The next day I confronted
Jimmy, and pressed the issue.
‘Paul, your … future usefulness is not being affected - and won’t
be affected - by a few years in Africa.’
‘But closer to 2025?’ I nudged.
‘Then things will change for you.’
‘So what can I be doing to … you know, help more?’
‘Building up our region is a great help; you’re already doing most
of what I need.’
‘But the other part?’
‘Start playing politician more - around the region, and include
some of the North African states and the Middle East. Go right
through Africa and make sure that all the various nations have the
same policing and military agendas. You could start on South
Africa, but they’re a pain to deal with at the best of times, and they
won’t play ball with us. I always figured that we’d work around
them.’
‘Botswana?’
‘Ask them nicely to join us; they already have a good society. Oh,
Pakistanis here tomorrow, you and Helen in on the meeting. And get
yourself some books: global economics, politics since the last war,
the UN structures. Read them all at least once.’
I’d been given some homework.

In the morning, the Pakistani President and his delegation arrived, a


convoy of limousines with police outriders. Jimmy welcomed them
at the front door, leading them into the dinning room, our guests
more reserved and businesslike than friendly. They were introduced
to the household “M” Group, who then sat off to one side. The
Pakistani delegation sat facing us, glances at the panel-like line up of
“M” Group representatives.
‘Mister President, thank you for agreeing to meet with us,’ Jimmy
offered.
‘We considered that it might be … important, having received the
invite without detail of the nature of the meeting.’
‘It’s the most important meeting any of you will ever attend,’
Jimmy told our guests. That got their attention.
‘I’m hoping that you’re not about to mention an earthquake in
Pakistan,’ the President said.
‘What you’ll face … is far worse than an earthquake.’
We had their attention; they looked horrified already.
Jimmy continued, ‘In the year 2025 there’ll be a problem, which
leads on to widespread financial problems, a global financial
collapse. As a direct result of that financial crash, many countries
will see civil unrest, protectionism in trade, the rise of nationalist
leaders, and the rise of separatist movements and terror groups.
‘The economies of the Middle East will be hit particularly hard,
leading to the rise of various terror groups based on existing
groupings. One such group will inspire the poor and downtrodden
Islamic masses to rise up. Unfortunately, their aim is not so much
political as religious, and they’ll advocate the abolition of all modern
technology. Such as … electricity, telephones, and especially the use
of oil.
‘They’ll desire a return to simpler times, and will massacre
anyone who holds onto such technology, or who doesn’t join them.
They will - at least they would have, found a willing audience in
Afghanistan, which is why our forces are there. Second, they will …
find a willing audience in your tribal regions. Unless the near future
is altered, gentlemen, then by 2027 you’ll be fighting a full-scale
war at a time when your economy is in tatters.
‘You will … lose that war, and anyone with an education will be
massacred. That in itself … should concern you enough. But you’re
a nuclear state and, as such, those around you - and in the wider
world - would not allow your nuclear arsenal to fall into the hands of
a terror group. If I was to hazard a guess, then I would say that as
soon as you start fighting this group, and start losing ground, that
you would be hit with a pre-emptive strike using advanced weapons
that I’ve designed using future technology.’
‘A strike … by The West?’ they asked, horrified by the idea.
‘A strike … by a coalition of forces, using advanced weapons.
Your nuclear facilities would be destroyed and irradiated so that
your nuclear arsenal could not fall into the hands of the terrorists,
something that I’m sure you don’t want any more than anyone else.
Now, gentlemen, I told the Americans about Hawaii, and they didn’t
really pay attention. If you fail to pay attention, you’ll lose
everything. You’ll lose your country.’
‘What exactly are you suggesting that we do about it?’ the
President loudly asked.
‘That you cooperate with us to prepare, obviously,’ Jimmy
replied.
‘Prepare … how?’
‘First, you must consider that a terrible global financial downturn
will strike in 2025. Take whatever measures you can up to that
point. And … re-organise your armed forces to consider the nature
of the threat from your tribal areas. Cooperate with us on disarming
or killing gunmen in your tribal regions, especially closer to 2025.
And cooperate with us and India by looking for cost savings, by
reducing the overall spend on your military.
‘If you’re willing to look effectively at reducing the size of your
military - in a treaty with India, then we’ll look at financial
assistance for you. You’ll save money on your military, and you’ll
gain financially from us.’
‘And what would be India’s role in 2025?’
‘When your tribal Taliban groups start to attack India, India will
attack you. You’ll have a war on two sides,’ Jimmy explained. ‘But
India already knows about this problem, and they’re not keen to see
you diminished since you’re an effective buffer for them – so long
as you’re still an effective functioning government. They’ll be happy
to see you throw away your soldiers holding the line for a year or so
and then - you might say - they’ll be happy to see you completely
destroyed. Unfortunately for India, they’ll be next in line. They
know that, so they’ll cooperate with you towards a common goal.’
‘You’re not painting a very good picture for our chances of
survival!’
‘You don’t have a good chance of survival. But I’m giving you
the courtesy of this warning, and giving you a way out. I don’t think
you’re smart enough to take it, but the offer is there anyway. As with
some of the Hawaiians, you’ll sit in your houses till they’re
destroyed, dying in ignorance.’
‘And this … way out?’
‘First, you have to believe my prediction. Second, you have to
consider future generations of Pakistanis, and put them ahead of
your own careers and popularity. Third, you should do what I say,
exactly what I say, and when I say it. If not, I’ll supply certain
armies with advanced weaponry and you’ll be hit hard. You won’t
see it coming, and you won’t be able to defend against my
weapons.’
‘We’re well aware of the attack on Tehran,’ they said, making it a
complaint.
‘That was a tap on the shoulder,’ Jimmy pointed out. ‘If the
Iranians succeed in developing a nuclear weapon, I’ll end their
existence in the blink of an eye.’
Our guests glanced at each other.
‘On the way here I was worried about an earthquake,’ the
President glumly noted. ‘Now I’d swap for the earthquake.’
‘You will be hit by a quake, the damage extensive,’ Jimmy added.
‘And at an inconvenient moment.’
‘The Saudis are worried, very worried,’ the President mentioned.
‘And they are nudging us to cooperate with you as well. These Saudi
locations in Africa -’
‘Enclaves to hold their people when they run like hell from the
terror groups. But that’s a private matter, so don’t mention it to
anyone. They … are listening and preparing.’
‘If the Saudis are worried, then so should we be,’ the President
thought out loud. ‘And if we cooperate … you can fix the problem?’
‘If you do everything I ask, you’ll have a fifty-fifty chance. Fail
to cooperate, and your chances are nil.’
The President again glanced at the “M” Group panel. ‘And can
we expect assistance from anyone?’
‘You can expect assistance from a great many countries,’ Jimmy
told him.
‘We’ll need time to think, and to discuss this.’
Jimmy took out a sand-timer, placing it on the desk. ‘Take a look
at the sand. In a few short years, you and your people will be
nothing but sand blowing in the wind, just a memory of a nation that
once was. Hawaii still has a peak above water, you won’t even have
that, gentlemen.’
With our shocked visitors gone, Jimmy held a household “M”
Group meeting. ‘If they don’t cooperate, then in January 2026 I’ll be
asking for an EMP strike followed by a nuclear strike, because what
the Pakistani Government doesn’t know, is that many of its people
will welcome The Brotherhood, and once that process has begun in
Pakistan they’ll be no stopping it. In Afghanistan, I’ll be ordering
the massacre of males eighteen to forty in many places.’
‘Jesus,’ Keely let out.
‘2025 is creeping closer, so don’t lose focus,’ Jimmy told them.
‘When the battle starts, we’ll all be in the fight of our lives.’

Splitting up

Helen and I returned to Goma, and we returned to the business of


growing African GDP, a task that seemed far simpler than dealing
with global politics.
That following week I watched as Northern Italy tried to break
away from the south, as Belgium effectively split into two nations,
and as parts of Spain discussed breaking away. The recession was
having an effect, the various regions figuring that they could do
better by themselves. They couldn’t. Jimmy knew that and waded in
with harsh comments, helping to sway many voters in referendums.
Mexico started to fall apart thanks to its drug cartels, and Jimmy
became involved. Despite America’s reservations, we put Rifles on
Mexico’s border with Guatemala, also in Panama, and in Colombia
itself. War had been declared on the drug trade, Rifles style.
The Colombians had been suffering greatly in recent years, and
the offer of financial assistance from us was readily accepted. We
by-passed a US delegation in Colombia, the US working on their
own ideas about how to stem the drug trade.
Colombia had been drilling oil since the Second World War and
offered numerous small oilfields, all subject to the odd attack by
FARC guerrillas. We had previously done a good job of wiping out
much of the FARC leadership in the east, but their members were
spread far and wide. We would now give it another go. We put a
thousand Rifles on the ground in Colombia, acting as independent
units to protect oil fields, and to set traps. Offshore, we placed
Russian, Chinese and European naval vessels to help create a picket
line.
As soon as the deal with Colombia had been struck, we
dispatched by ship a hundred thousand individual household wind
turbines, a thousand water turbines – each capable of powering four
hundred homes, and fifty thousand solar panels. When the TV news
in the region started to show housewives extolling the virtues of free
electricity, everyone wanted our toys.
We sent the modified German turbines over, fifty of them, and
they were soon providing small towns with free electricity. A
Bogotá factory was then selected and taken over, the Colombians
shown how to make the efficient household wind turbines for
themselves. From Zimbabwe, we exported grain to the coast and
across to Colombia in huge ships, thousands of tonnes delivered at
subsidised rates.
With the hearts and minds of the people won over, and the
government happy enough, Colombian police officers and soldiers
moved out of certain areas known for drug growing, and the Rifles
moved in. Where the Rifles found either marijuana or coca growing
the crops would be destroyed, traps set. Anyone returning to the
crops would disappear.
The Guatemalan and Panamanian borders were now sealed tight,
and both the people traffickers and drug traffickers were not happy,
gunmen sent to the border to attack the Rifles. It was not the best
thought out plan, and hundreds of gunmen were duly dispatched to
the local cemetery.
The American border unit had never gotten off the drawing
board, and we figured we’d work around President Blake. Soon
after, at the Mexican/Guatemalan border, a notorious drug gang
attacked a police station and killed several officers. Acting
independently, a Rifles office offered to assist. Everyone knew who
the drug lord was, but getting evidence - and then getting near him,
was the problem.
The Mexicans could not see how the Rifles could assist, and
refused the assistance. A week later, the local news station was
reporting that the drug baron had disappeared, along with fifty of his
men. No sign, no trace, prostitutes at the man’s villa claiming they
fell asleep, and when they woke everyone had gone.
On the opposite coast another drug lord disappeared, a little
future technology deployed, a special knockout gas developed by the
brain-trust kids, the same gas was being used with great effect in the
Colombian hills and mountains. Suspect villas would be targeted,
Rifles in respirators simply walking in after an hour and searching
around. If they found nothing they moved on, but if they found
something interesting they called the federal police, who made
televised arrests of confused people just waking up.
Boosted by that success, the Colombians allowed more Rifles in,
and we soon had eight thousand men on the ground, having been
only permitted to land just four thousand. Hell, they all looked alike.
In Afghanistan, Jimmy gave the order to eradicate all poppies,
and to hell with the locals. The Rifles got to work, and the street
price of heroin in Europe rocketed. In the States, marijuana was now
legal and they grew their own, something else that put pressure on
the drug barons of Central America. Jimmy approached Bolivia
next, the country ranked number three in the world for cocoa
growing after Myanmar in Asia. We offered financial assistance,
soldiers, and coal-oil technology – a deal too good to pass up.
As Bolivia received units of Rifles, we entered into talks with the
Myanmar regime who, despite maintaining a very large army,
seemed powerless to control the nation’s drugs trade. CAR already
operated oilrigs in two locations off the Myanmar coast, and we
enjoyed a limited working relationship with the paranoid regime.
We offered wheat and money, and they grudgingly allowed us to
invade a small corner of their country.
The locals fiercely defended their coca crops and were cut down
in large numbers, the crops destroyed. A chemical was utilised,
another invention of the New Kinshasa volunteers, and it would
prevent re-seeding. Global drug prices were soon rocketing.
We knew that the drug war was not a war we could ever win, and
that the farmers would move across borders and set-up elsewhere,
but we did have an effect. Meanwhile, on the Mexican border, the
drug lords were killing each other for an increasingly small share of
a shrinking drug trade. With revenues falling, the hired gunfighters
could not be paid, and sloped off to do other things.

As the months passed I watched remotely, but with keen interest, as


we tackled the drugs trade, but I was also watching with less-than-
keen interest as various nations tried to split apart. Separatists groups
sprung up in many places, claiming an ancestral right to various bits
of land in Asia, and fighting broke out.
A few regions were offered limited autonomy, but others just
sank into despair and anarchy, their previously lucrative tourist trade
ruined. Northern Italy now enjoyed limited powers, the rich
northerners wishing to break away from the poor south, not least
because of the crime rate in the south. The Ukraine started to split
along ethnic lines, Russian speaking or native Ukrainians. Problem
was, the Russian Black Sea fleet was still in Sebastopol in the
Crimea, the local population mixed. Part of that fleet had found a
happy home in Somalia, free fuel supplied by us, but Sebastopol
threatened to explode into civil unrest.
Macedonia struggled with its ethnic Albanians, and Hungary and
Bulgaria both faced a redrawing of their borders. The Russian
Caucuses were still smouldering, and Islamic extremists there
continued to set-off bombs on a regular basis. In the Baltic States,
Jimmy waded in heavily when ethnic Russians were discriminated
against, but also offered resettlement grants if those ethnic Russian
speakers wished to go and live in Russia itself. Since job prospects
were better in Russia than the Baltic States at the moment, many
took up the offer.

At home in Goma - and the mansion was now starting to feel like
home, things were great. Shelly and Lucy were close by, albeit
studying a great deal of the time, and I never thought I’d be annoyed
that my kids studied too much. Liz was growing rapidly and a real
handful, her favourite word being ‘no’.
Stateside, Brad was doing well, settled into the job, and things
were improving on the west coast. In reality, things were bad on the
west coast, but less bad than they had been before. Houses had been
cleared of sand in Los Angeles and people were moving back in,
thanks more to the volunteers than federal or state workers. Venice
Beach was indeed a beach again.
Overall, the US economy was flat, but that was better than where
it had been. Stocks were climbing slowly, gold below two thousand
dollars an ounce, and people power continued to grow. The Ark
expanded right across America, and volunteer groups continued to
give their time to renovate derelict houses. There was also a strange
reverse migration going on, recent African immigrants returning to
Africa for what they now saw as better job prospects, relatives
contacting them to ask them to return from America.
I became involved when I read an article about it, and offered
free flights and relocation grants back to certain countries, and more
than ten thousand took us up on the offer within weeks of the launch
of the project. ‘Exodus’, the American press were calling it, and
were also calling it a few choice names as well, since Africa was a
pull for jobs, homes and security these days – more so than the
States for some Africans. The opposition used it as a big stick with
which to beat the nice man in the White House.
I laid on extra planes for the returning children of Africa, the
human cargo filmed at the airports, and a wake-up call for the man
in the White House. In reality it was good for the States, because
homes were being freed up, the social burden on the various states
being eased – but it was not seen that way.

Politics

Following Jimmy’s advice I had bought a pile of books and set


about reading them; economics, world history, politics. And, when
stuck, I asked Lucy. Many an evening over a cold beer we would
argue about politics and economics, macro and micro.
Also in line with Jimmy’s advice, I travelled to the various
African capitals more often and made a point of getting involved
with local issues. Jordan and Turkey also became regular contacts,
and I even visited Saudi Arabia. But I kept getting gentle nudges
from Jimmy to improve Jordan’s economy, but to do so in secret. I
shipped the Jordanian authorities more oil than the Israelis believed I
shipped, and more wheat than I declared to Jordan’s inquisitive and
ever watchful neighbour.
Our UK property company had already built hotels on the
Jordanian stretch of Red Sea coast, and I subsidised a certain
number flights from Europe to Aqaba. The Jordanian desalination
process was going well, their uranium ore extraction increasing, and
their farms were expanding. After Jimmy had tapped a particular
region of a map for me, I secretly funded the building of almost
thirty new apartment blocks in Jordan, many more again in Egypt,
on Egypt’s northeast coast near Gaza.
The Red Cross, assisting Palestinians in that region of Egypt,
received anonymous funds, and less than anonymous grain
deliveries from Zimbabwe, plus food from our region. When the
news of that leaked I thought, “fuck it”, and shipped enough
subsidised food to Jordan to make them all fat.
The net effect was that the trickle of Palestinians that left the
occupied territories grew. It became more than a trickle because
homes and food were available across the borders, safe from Israeli
air strikes. The Israelis could see it, and must have been delighted,
but they were being oddly quiet about it. I didn’t know it at the time,
but they had asked Jimmy for a loan, and he was ‘considering it.’
When Egypt complained that Palestinians were crossing over in
larger numbers as a result of my efforts, I sent the Egyptians
themselves food, and a little money towards their Palestinian
refugees.
Now that I was actively involved in the region, I read up on the
history of the Middle East conflict, but it was not actually a Middle
East conflict; it was an Israeli-return conflict. But I couldn’t actually
find where the country known as Palestine had come from. It
seemed that the Romans coined the phrase, but to cover a wider area
than just the modern disputed land – occupied by the Israelis at the
time. The crusaders used the phrase, but at a time when the land was
mostly just frequented by nomads. I determined that the Philistines
were more Greek than Arab or Jew, but that the link was weak at
best, the Philistines being more accurately located in Lebanon, and
never having moved off the coast.
Other than during Roman or British rule, I could not see a time
when a nation state called Palestine ever existed; no defended
borders, no currency, no separate language. They spent most of their
time being occupied by either the Persians or the Ottomans, and
could not actually point to a time in history when the area was free
of invaders, one of the longest holders of the lands being the pre-
Christian era Israelis. After the Israelis, everyone had a go at the
land.
I could not find any references to the land ever being an
independent state under local rule after the Israeli Diaspora, and
started to wonder what the fuss was about. I did, however, like the
ancient Roman soldiers slogan for the region, loosely transcribed in
“that troublesome toilet of a region”. Seems that Roman soldiers
avoided postings there. It hadn’t changed much in two thousand
years, today’s peacekeepers not wanting to be there either.
Helen was good with history and politics and would help out
when I had a question, and the question of right of ownership was a
current hot topic, many countries trying to split apart because their
grandfathers had spoken a different language. In Africa, I was proud
that English was the norm, and we taught English wherever we
could. We were trying to melt the tribes and borders into one, the
rest of the world wanting to break itself apart into small regions. The
Flemish area of Belgium could be walked across in an afternoon, yet
they now exercised limited independence from the French speakers.
In Africa, I had a simple way of dealing with separatists; I’d have
them shot and buried. It cut short a long conversation.
India had long suffered Maoists separatists, and I had put
pressure on China to disown the guerrillas. It had been a long time
since the Chinese had tried to assist the Maoists, and the rebels could
be seen carrying weapons they pinched from the Japanese in Burma
at the end of the last war. A little nagging persuaded the Indians to
allow the Rifles in, and a unit of just two hundred Pathfinders landed
in the southeast of India, close to the Bangladesh border.
Twenty members of the Indian commando unit that we had
sponsored and trained tagged along, and would act as local guides.
The group’s remit was simple: shoot anyone with a rifle in their
hands, and the Indian government would deny all involvement. Or
they’d blame us!
Our soldiers split into smaller groups and strung out in a line
north to south, a giant spider’s web. And waited. They didn’t have to
sit quiet for long, soon noticing rebels walking brazenly along with
their dated weapons over their shoulders. Engaging and killing the
first half of a Maoist patrol, the Pathfinders allowed the remainder to
flee, hoping that they’d report the incident and its location.
Additional Pathfinder units moved closer, and a few days later a
larger rebel unit approached, almost two hundred men. Less than a
dozen escaped with their lives, the remainder buried, or simply
dumped into rivers and steams.
That resulted in the ideal scenario for us, a large mobilisation of
card-carrying book thumping Maoist rebels. The remaining
Pathfinders set traps, and deliberately chose a single hill from which
to fight. It gave the impression that it could be surrounded and laid
siege to.
The Sunday afternoon Maoists turned up as a rag-bag army, but
there were hundreds of them. They surrounded the hill and launched
their attack with dated weapons, only a handful surviving. That
night, under cover of darkness, the Pathfinders split in two and
moved north and south, looking for new trade, and planning on
staying a while.

Summer

Jimmy joined us in June, needing a rest from endless travelling. He


reviewed the deployments of Rifles around the world with Abdi and
Ngomo, and even agreed to place Rifles on the Yemen/Saudi border,
satisfying a request from the Saudis.
The Pakistanis had agreed to try and follow our route map, and
talks would go ahead with the Indians, the Americans and Saudis
present, the Africans hosting the talks. We agreed that the Pakistani
Army should not try to enter the tribal regions, and that the
combined force in Afghanistan would creep across the border and
“disarm fighters”. The Pakistanis knew what that meant, so did we;
but the Pakistanis also knew that our people did not get seen or
caught, and that no evidence would be left behind. But, most of all,
they knew that we’d get the blame, not the Pakistani authorities.
That deal had earned the Pakistanis several large oil tankers and
huge grain ships, and Big Paul received his coded orders. He also
received more men, many of them American, Russian and Chinese,
men trained in the combined units near Mawlini in Kenya, and in the
Somalia hills.
‘We suck the puss out the wound,’ President Ngomo had said
about the strategy.
Ngomo had, technically, less power than the Kenyan Prime
Minister and cabinet, but everyone knew who was really calling the
shoots. And these days, the new President of the cooperation group
often had the last word.

Jimmy would spend a lot of time with the volunteers in new


Kinshasa when he was around, either reviewing projects or issuing
new ones. Locally, we not only had the brain-trust kids to call upon -
all four hundred of them, but we had another twelve thousand people
behind them.
In Russia, a largely non-political self-help group had been
formed, and they sometimes met at the coffee shops. Their aim was
to help those Russians that qualified for food vouchers, but they also
took onboard research projects for Jimmy. Brad’s group was now
coast to coast in the States, and he maintained close links with it and
its international arms. With a massive army of volunteers, or low
paid helpers, a great deal was getting done on the cheap.
The displaced Hawaiians had created their own website, a kind of
Friends Re-united, but just for Hawaiians. That kept them in touch
with the Hawaiians in our region, their numbers having grown
considerably. It also kept them in touch with the new Hawaiian
colony in Madagascar, now home to an additional twenty thousand
people. A harbour had been built there, plus two marinas, both of
which started earning a small amount of money from sailboats
docking.
Inland, the Madagascar colony cut down trees and made log
cabins, they laid roads, and created small dams for water storage. I
sent them German turbines for electricity, plus thousands of the
small wind turbines. We had paid for an oil-fired power station, and
now shipped down the oil. That power station was wired up to the
nearby towns, and cheap electricity was soon being sold to the
locals, a surplus produced for the colony itself.
In a chat with a USAF General, I asked if he wanted a base on
Madagascar, and dropped a hint that it would create local jobs – for
Americans! Oh, and we’d pay for most of it. Since we were building
an airport anyway, we could kill two birds with one stone. He sent
the idea up the line.
President Blake finally approved the base, since it would cost
little and create jobs. It would also allow the USAF to dominate the
Mozambique Channel; we had a green light from the nice man in the
White House. I contacted the Hawaiians and sold them the idea,
since they were not a hundred percent keen on things military.
Northeast of Madagascar, the Chinese had built a deepwater port
in southern Sri Lanka, but had been asked by us to extend the port to
include a base for naval vessels of many nations, a smaller version
of the base in Somalia. With the new port in northern Madagascar,
the existing Somali base and the existing facilities on the island of
Diego Garcia, the India Ocean was sewn up.
Summer in New Kinshasa saw Dragon Boat racing on the lake, a
course some five miles long. Mali would take part when he had the
time, and Shelly was still at his side, something of a surprise for
Helen and myself. Another surprise, for Jimmy, was that Helen was
still at my side. When we chatted late at night over a beer, he said
that he couldn’t quite explain it. The arrival of Liz had been a factor,
the move down here another, and even Hardon Chase had assisted
my marriage – albeit indirectly. Instead of us going head to head
with the White House for eight years we had enjoyed a relatively
easy time.
All of these factors must have had an effect, and Jimmy and I
were both glad that they did. I didn’t wander, and I never felt like
wandering, I was happy with my home life. Many a late night would
be whiled around the patio under the stars, chatting away with
various people, Shelly and Lucy bringing their boyfriends back to
the house.
But Jimmy said an odd thing, something I had never considered,
in that Helen had never really developed any close friends. Well,
given the lifestyle, none of us could. We had been close to a few
other parents back in the UK, but never managed to maintain
friendships for long because of all the travel.
Jimmy suggested that Helen’s thoughts of leaving might have
been curtailed by a lack of outside support, or girlfriends to discuss
me - and my marital conduct - with. I wasn’t sure if I quite liked that
idea, the idea that she was here with me because being somewhere
else was too much of a hassle.
At bedtime that evening, I said to Helen, ‘Do you think we’ll stay
together? You know, when we’re old and grey?’
‘What’s brought this on?’ she puzzled.
‘Something Jimmy said.’ I decided to be bold. ‘He accidentally
let slip that he was surprised we were still together.’
‘I’m … surprised he doesn’t know what we’ll do.’
‘He has no knowledge beyond 2030 apparently,’ I reminded her.
‘No, but to say that now … he means now.’
‘Are you unhappy about anything?’ I nudged.
‘Well, off and on over the years.’
‘Like…?’
‘Well, when Jimmy first revealed who he was I felt like a
prisoner for a long time. Then, later, I realised that the intelligence
services wouldn’t leave me alone, even if Jimmy let me go. After the
kids were born, things were much better…’
‘But…?’
‘Well, as I said before, the press in the UK get me down; we’re
prisoners.’
‘Those are all outside things. What about us? You … and me.’
‘I’ve not thought of leaving you for anything you’ve done, if
that’s what you mean.’
‘Have you ever thought of leaving?’ I pressed.
‘Yes, but not in the way you think. I often used to think that I’d
like to run away and hide, to have a normal life, to be anonymous.’
‘That’s OK, I get those thoughts sometimes.’
‘So … Jimmy is surprised that we’re still together?’
‘Yep, but things are different, more has gone well for him. And
this house was never supposed to have been built.’
‘No?’
‘No, apparently.’
‘If we were still in the UK, and things had been worse, then I can
imagine wanting to be away, but that would be away from
everything, not just you,’ she said.
‘But don’t forget, the marriage license says you have to give me
thirty days notice,’ I joked.
‘I do kind of see us getting old together, assuming we survive.’
‘We could live to be three hundred, love. We might get on each
others nerves by then.’
‘God, that’s a long time. What would we talk about?’
‘Well, let’s review it after the first hundred years, then see, eh.’
We didn’t talk about it again, and I figured we’d review it - but
after 2025.
Lucy spent plenty of time with us during her summer break, Mali
and Shelly off to Somalia to join a research vessel. Our green
plankton slick was growing, and the Chinese had seeded their
coastal waters, keen to burn fossil fuels with less criticism. Both
ocean plumes could be seen from the International Space Station,
which was now dominated by Russia and China, no sign of a Space
Shuttle anywhere, not even on a drawing board.

Autumn

As my computer calendar turned to September we were still at the


mansion, no thoughts of the UK. New Kinshasa had grown by
another quarter million people, and additional mono-rails were being
installed. I continued to be involved in all things African, and the
regions GDP continued to grow strongly.
Big Paul paid me a visit, on his way to some secret training base,
and gave me the low-down on Afghanistan. The international
soldiers had moved to the Pakistani border, then across, setting
ambushes - and basically just killing anyone carrying a weapon.
Bases were set-up in plain sight, traps set, the local fighters keen to
attack. The body count was high, which led to more fighters
attacking the tempting visible camps, only to be slaughtered by the
hidden snipers.
The aim in the Pakistani tribal regions was the same as for
Afghanistan: to remove any men keen for a fight. Those that held
down jobs or tilled the fields were left alone, those that picked up a
weapon and attacked a base were killed. We planned on staying
right up to 2025, absorbing any fighters. And, during 2025 itself,
making a big effort to cut a line from the Chinese border, through
Afghanistan and down the Iranian/Pakistani border to the Gulf.
Jimmy said that it would be an important line, and that it would be
held at any cost.
Winter approached, and we visited the UK as a family, returning
to our old house. Being there together felt odd, and Shelly decided
she didn’t like her cottage any more; she opted for one of the hotel-
style rooms in the main house. Liz hardly recognised the place and
wandered around looking at things that seemed oddly familiar
somehow.
We re-acquainted ourselves with Cookie and Sandra, Sharon and
her daughter, and the security staff. In some ways it was good to be
back, and I took a walk down to the first house with Jimmy. His
mother and aunt were both now dead, the house the sole domain of
the security staff. It seemed smaller than I remembered, much
smaller, but was a mansion when we had first arrived here from the
London apartment.
The security lads had built their own bar in a lounge and now
pulled us pints, and we sat staring at a familiar stone fireplace,
almost thirty years since I saw it first.
‘Where do the years go?’ I asked. ‘When I arrived here I hadn’t
even met Helen.’
‘When you arrived here you were with Judy, about to start seeing
Katie Joe.’
‘Fuck, that was a long time ago.’
‘Try being me.’
I took a moment, facing him. ‘Is it hard to keep going
sometimes?’
‘Very hard, sometimes. I felt like blowing my brains out a few
times, but never more than one or twice a week.’
I smiled. ‘Are we on track?’
‘We’re more than on track, and well placed, and the next few
years are not particularly difficult. I’m hoping that Brad will knock
President Blake out of the White House, and then we may have a
clean shot at 2025. Africa is doing much better than I expected, and
part of that is down to you. If the US economy turns up ahead of
time we could use the money to boost Africa significantly.’
‘So what headaches do we have ahead?’ I asked.
‘OPEC has been dealt a blow. They’re not thinking of dropping
the dollar, they’re thinking about snuggling up to us instead. And
getting the Saudis on board – I can see the sense in that now. It’s …
given me a few ideas, a few new directions. Hardon Chase was the
best bit of luck, his desire to carve his name in stone gave us a boost.
And his investments in Africa should never have been there.’
‘So we’re better positioned for 2025,’ I realised.
‘Better in many ways, but it’s a hell of a tangled web to undo. It
has many components, any one of which could go wrong, and I can’t
fix them till they do go wrong. Many of the world leaders think they
can surround the Middle East and bottle it up for decades – which is
crazy.’
‘And if we sent the Rifles in?’ I asked.
‘They’d have to kill every able-bodied male from seventeen to
fifty-five, and that massacre would obviously start wars outside the
region. No, first The Brotherhood need to rear up and get people
frightened, then we can act. But by then they’ll already be moving.
And that will happen at a time when the world economy has gone to
shit.
‘So, between now and then we need more clean coal-oil, more
electric cars and buses, and an expansion of oil fields outside of the
Middle East. Problem is, if we open those taps too early we cause
the Middle East states to fail ahead of time. We need to discover the
oil, tap it, and leave it under the ground ready. Oh, I’ll be floating
CAR in a few months.’
‘It’ll be a big player,’ I noted.
‘World’s largest company. We’ll probably keep the voting shares
as they are for now, issuing “B” shares that pay dividends –
probably at two dollars to start with. I’ll sell the Saudis three percent
of the voting shares, and give Cuba three percent.’
‘Why Cuba?’ I puzzled.
‘They have more oil than they realise, and it’ll be important after
2025. And I’m going to give CAR a development loan of fifty
billion, zero percent interest over a hundred years.’
‘It’s a gift then.’
‘CAR has a role to play, an important one.’
‘I figured that when you created it,’ I mentioned.
‘Didn’t figure the coffee shops.’
‘No, I was a bit slow there,’ I admitted. ‘Will you need to beat up
the Russian Government?’
‘On some issues, nothing major.’
‘Any problems in The West?’
‘Fraud will become a big issue, people less concerned about
living a long time; they’ll live for the moment and raid the bank’s
computer system. Especially now that people are focused on 2025 –
and rumours of impending doom.’
‘Yeah, I suppose. Why build up your savings if the frigging
world is coming to an end?’
We wandered slowly back up to the main house after our
nostalgic visit, chatting about the floatation of CAR.

Helen and I headed back down to our home in the sun, and I
reclaimed my seat by the pool, and my cold beer, another million
emails to go through.
But a week later bombs started to go off in Ethiopia and Somalia.
PACT were mobilised en masse and descended on the area, Jimmy
informing me that the bombers were the forerunner to The
Brotherhood. Concerned at that, I gave PACT a firm kick, and
visited their offices often. Money was used to recruit Ethiopian
double agents and sleeper agents, large bribes offered, and some
initial successes resulted in the capture of a few key players. The
men were duly interrogated by the Somali Rifles, and soon giving up
the names of others.
As winter neared, not that we noticed much of a change of season
in Goma, the Rifles were spread far and wide, engaged in conflicts
in many regions. The Maoist rebels in India were being thinned out
rapidly, the Myanmar drug lords were being shot to pieces - their
crops destroyed, and in Bolivia and Colombia drug growing was
becoming an even more dangerous horticultural pastime.
In Mexico, our Pathfinder units were now being supplemented by
Americans who had fought in Afghanistan. Drug lords would be
identified, knockout gas employed, the premises searched without a
shot being fired, the slumbering gunmen stepped over. Where
necessary, whole villages were hit with an EMP to stop people
warning of impending police raids.
Buoyed by these successes, the Mexicans agreed a wider
programme, and Jimmy sent more money. Our teams cleaned-up the
Mexican/Guatemalan border and moved north, soon the first unit of
Americans on their own border, but just on the Mexican side. In
some small towns, whole neighbourhoods were hit with EMPs
before being sent to sleep to enable searches.
The knockout gas took a few hours to take hold, making people
feel drowsy, and eventually knocking them out for eight hours
without side effects; deaths from the gas were rare. That gas was
also colourless and odourless, and if a villa was hit at 3pm then
everyone yawned and took a nap, but didn’t wake up when the
police battered down the doors.
The initial raids netted hundreds of assault rifles and large
amounts of the precious, and increasingly scarce drugs. The drugs
were destroyed on-site, cash removed, the weapons sent to Africa
for the Rifles to use or train with. President Blake claimed some of
the credit and we backed him up on it, America commandos now
being seen in Mexico.
North of the border, the price of cocaine had quadrupled, and that
was when you could find it. Addicts were going short. Since many
were being injected with the super-drug, their addictions were being
lessened anyway. The war on hard drugs had finally turned,
marijuana now the most popular recreational drug in the States, and
now both legal and licensed in many states - a one hundred billion
dollar annual trade. At least the dealers paid tax.
In the space of a few months the people of Mexico had become
jubilant, and with each new success we increased the number of
Rifles in the country. Suspect villas would be hit with EMPs, then
the gas, finally stormed by men who would have succeeded even if
the occupants had been awake.
Thailand had been watching Mexico closely, the nation suffering
a heavy social and financial burden at the hands of its addicts. They
accepted Rifles advisors, knockout gas and baby EMPs, and went to
work in their own border regions. But when the police officers
themselves tipped off the drug lords, the approach failed. We offered
units that were purely Rifles, and the Thai Government reluctantly
accepted them in its border regions.
The drug dividend in Europe and the States was huge, the money
being saved in police and social resources to deal with the drug
trade. In the UK, the estimated drug related cost was cut in half,
hopeless addicts given the super-drug and plenty to eat. Few
returned to their old ways.

The usual gang of family and friends gathered in Goma for New
Year, 2019, and Jimmy handed me an odd assignment.
‘The cooperation group President, he’s up for re-election in
January,’ Jimmy reminded me. ‘Why don’t you run?’
‘Me?’ I frowned at him. ‘If I ran … no one would stand against
me.’
He waited.
‘Me, for President of the group?’
‘In effect, you would be President of Africa,’ Jimmy pointed out.
‘Oh. And … was I supposed to go that route?’
‘No.’
‘I’d be … fully tied up, and tied to a desk.’
‘You could set your own agenda. And, Helen would be First
Lady. And, you’d have your own aircraft, Africa One.’
‘My own plane,’ I considered. ‘Cool.’
‘Think about it, but … you know, do it because I say so,’ Jimmy
said with a smile.
I went and told Helen.
‘We’d be based down here permanently if you took the job,’ she
noted, without sounding too concerned.
‘You’d be First Lady, and we’d have our own plane.’
‘First Lady?’ she considered. ‘Oh.’
‘You’d have to buy a few more ball gowns,’ I told her with a
mock-serious frown.
‘We wouldn’t have to move, would we?’
‘The current President lives four doors down, love, so no.’
With thoughts of jobs to come I got back to work. Jimmy had told
me to off-load more diamonds, which I did, but that brought
complaints from the Amsterdam Diamond Merchants Association.
They nagged Ben Ares in Israel, and he nagged me. I gave it some
thought, but it was Lucy who came up with the answer.
She said, ‘Why not cut the diamonds down here, local labour –
which is cheap, and sell to Africans.’
I wagged a finger. ‘That may be a solution.’ I called the
Amsterdam merchants, and told them that I wanted them to set-up
shop down here, to cut diamonds down here and sell down here – or
I’d drop ten tonnes of diamonds onto the market. They flew straight
down, a delegation of twelve of men, all in their black suits and
looking very Jewish.
At the mansion, I said, ‘Guys, we have the diamonds, we have
more gold then we know what to do with, and we have cheap labour,
so I want you to create a jewellery factory down here. I’ll get you
good rates on property, and then we’ll sell to the Africans. If you
don’t do it – I’ll find someone who will.’
They set off to tour the city and to look at premises. The next
morning they were back, happy to give it a go. I offered to create a
company with a fifty-fifty split and they agreed, drawing up a rough
paper agreement. A week later, thirty skilled diamond cutters
arrived, another twenty from Israel, forty from America. I had an
office suite waiting, the place very secure, the guards already hired.
Part of my condition was that local workers be trained, and I had
found fifty Africans already skilled in making gold jewellery, some
experienced in diamond cutting. The Dutch merchants were
staggered at the low cost of food, the low cost of labour, and the tax
breaks that they could get. They got to work, two shop units in the
main shopping centre grabbed.
Their first shop targeted the city’s rich, and stocked the kinds of
jewellery found in Europe. It was an immediate hit with the
Russians, who all bought expensive items just to show off. Po
visited and bought items, and the African leaders purchased items
for their wives and mistresses.
As Christmas neared, a second shop was opened, this one for
Africans. The jewellery was modestly priced, but still with a good
mark-up over cost, and the trinkets sold quickly.
I toured the shop with the main Dutch operator. ‘Fine,’ I said.
‘Now I want a shop like this is every African town, a hundred in the
first six months.’
He was shocked, but pleasantly shocked. He grabbed additional
office space, and I allowed in ninety Israelis, allocating work
permits for ten years. We’d soon have a Jewish quarter.

End of year, 2019

A week before Christmas the US stock markets picked up and


climbed, but I held off selling our stock; I was hoping to see a good
year-end posted. California was still struggling, but extra federal aid
had been granted, more of the displaced moving on to other States.
At the house, we made ready for Christmas, the decorations up,
Liz as excited as a kid at Christmas. We’d all be here for Christmas,
the whole family, and I was excited as well. Mali’s grandmother
came around to stay for a few days, a nurse allocated to her, and we
saw more of Shelly and her young man. Liz was now attending a
local kindergarten for rich kids and making friends, a few of the
children and their parents invited over.
Jimmy arrived back from a world tour on the 24th, bags full of
presents from places afar, and another new woman. She was Swiss
and a countess; a quality bird, as I referred to her.
On Christmas Eve we enjoyed a meal around the main dining
room table, Helen having cooked, and found ourselves on the patio
under the stars at midnight. There was trouble ahead, but for now I
was happy. New Year’s Eve, 2019, we again journeyed to the casino
roof and met familiar faces, team and family, politicians and staff.
After the fireworks, I asked Jimmy what the new year would
bring.
‘Fireworks,’ he said. ‘In a few areas, but nothing that a man of
your calibre couldn’t handle.’
‘No clues?’ I pressed.
‘At the right time, young man. Besides, it would be dull if you
knew what would happen.’
‘Helen is still at my side,’ I pointed out. I waited.
‘You’re nowhere near as smart as we’d both like you to be. What
I told you about Helen – I made it up.’
I stared at him. ‘Why?’
‘Why do you think?’
‘If she wasn’t planning on leaving, then why say so, numb nuts!’
‘To keep you keen on her. And the birth control that I fixed …
that was wasn’t for her benefit.’
‘Her pregnancy … was for me?’
He nodded. And waited.
‘I … I would have wandered?’
‘In another time, and another place, you begged me to stop you
from wandering.’
I took a moment, shocked. ‘I would have wandered,’ I said to
myself.
‘Without Liz, and with a quiet house, you would have wandered,’
Jimmy informed me. ‘I gave you Africa to keep you busy. And
Helen - all she ever wanted was security, and you gave her that.
She’ll never leave you unless...’
‘Unless I wander. Bloody hell.’
‘You met a model in New York and made a mistake, but I
covered it up. After you got away with that there were others. If you
want it, you have a married life for the next hundred years – unless
the world goes to shit of course.’
‘Bloody hell,’ I repeated. I needed a drink, and swapped my beer
for a short.
‘OK, daddy?’ Lucy asked.
‘Apparently, yes.’
The next day I gave much thought to what Jimmy had said, and
hugged my grown daughters a lot, certain that I would not swap this
for anything. That same day I announced that I was running for
President of the cooperation group, and it made the news.
It took the African leaders a day to digest the detail, and to puzzle
over it, since I already had more authority than all of them
combined, but then they started to send in their backings. Since they
were the ones who’d vote on it I was already half way there.
At the cooperation group conference in mid January I made my
nomination formal and they took a vote, a hundred percent in my
favour. I was now the President of sub-Saharan Africa, and my
inauguration saw the majority of the world’s leaders pop over, even
President Blake. We organised a fly-by of military jets, and a march
past of thousands of soldiers and Rescue Force staff.
At the reception afterwards, I found Ngomo, Abdi and Kimballa
chatting. ‘Mr President, Mr President, and … Mister President,’ I
offered, making them laugh.
‘Mr President,’ they returned.
‘You are the King of Africa now,’ Kimballa noted.
‘It’s a ceremonial job, no real power,’ I suggested.
They all gave me looks.
Ngomo said, ‘You run the group, the corporation and CAR. That
makes you a very powerful man, Paul.’
‘I still can’t get my daughters home at a reasonable hour,’ I
complained, making them laugh.
‘You can set a curfew in law,’ Kimballa suggested. ‘Have them
arrested.’
‘The Queen of Africa wouldn’t like that,’ I said.
‘You will work from the Pentagon building?’ Ngomo asked.
I nodded. ‘I’ll be a nine to five worker, lunch in the canteen.’
President Blake tipped his head, catching my attention. ‘Excuse
me, gentlemen, but the world’s most powerful man wants a word.’
‘Where is Jimmy?’ Ngomo asked, a glint in his eye.
I stepped across to President Blake, still smiling. ‘Mister
President.’ We shook.
‘You’ll be running a continent, with a GDP growth the envy of
the world,’ Blake noted.
‘Are you after a loan?’ I teased.
‘We’re out of the nosedive, but it’s an odd time. Drugs and crime
are right down, Africans are leaving us to come here, and
congressmen actually listen to their constituents these days.’
‘Carry on like that, and you may end up with a democracy,’ I
quipped.
‘That group, The Ark, they have five million members on paper.
And when they don’t like something they fill the streets and change
policy.’
‘People power,’ I said. ‘Nothing wrong with that. What’s wrong,
is that they think they need to do that, rather than just voting for their
representatives.’
‘Well, maybe. Housing is better; if anything, we’re freeing up
homes for people that weren’t displaced.’
‘Unemployment?’
‘Still way too high in some areas.’
‘We’ve kept gold prices down so that people switch to stocks,
and we’ve eased off on selling US stocks to keep the markets up.’
‘I saw that.’
‘How long you down here?’ I asked.
‘Going to visit an airbase here tomorrow, then home.’
‘How about … you go visit that naval base in Somalia, as a
favour to me.’
Blake took a moment to study me. ‘Might be time for it.’
‘Rumour has it the Russian leader will meet US naval ratings
there,’ I said with a wink.
I found the Russian leader, and suggested that Blake will make
good capital out of the visit, and how about he just turn up. The
Chinese also got a nudge, Abdi asked to put in an appearance.
Mac approached me with Coup, both men dressed smart. ‘Mister
President,’ Mac offered with a mock salute.
‘You know, Mac, the first time I saw you in a suit – at my
wedding – I thought you looked like a dog turd in flannel.’
Coup laughed. ‘Nothings changed since then.’
‘I’m a military man and field commander, not a desk poofter,’
Mac pointed out.
‘How’s the sprog?’ I asked.
‘Growing quickly,’ Mac grumbled. ‘Food in one end, crap out the
other.’
‘She may inherit your good looks,’ I teased. ‘What happened to
Hal’s girl?’
‘In college in America somewhere,’ Coup replied. ‘Near where
Hal retired.’
‘Is he OK?’
‘Good for ninety!’ Coup noted.
‘He was sixty-five when he joined us,’ Mac put in.
‘The years do go by,’ I noted. ‘And I miss my Huey.’
‘You’re the boss, you can do what you like,’ Mac suggested.
‘Helen has a mean right hook, so I’ll not be taking risks in Hueys.
Those days are gone forever.’

The following evening, President Paul Holton, and First Lady Helen
Holton, sat with their daughters and watched their own TV channel
report the news, images of the American, Russian and Chinese
leaders being greeted by Abdi at the naval base, a fly-by organised.
‘Progress,’ I sighed.
The next morning I formally claimed my desk. My team in the
UK now reported to Jimmy, two now working down here, and I
organised my new staff, just in time for the start of a potential war. I
was in a crisis meeting by 11am on my first full day in the job.
The Nile River started its life in tributaries in Rwanda, Uganda
and Kenya – the White Nile, flowing north through Southern Sudan
and then Sudan itself before reaching Egypt. Uganda had built a few
dams, and the Egyptians were very unhappy – on the point of war
unhappy.
The river’s level had not fallen, but Egypt’s need for water had
grown over the years. Now, additional upstream dams were planned,
and Egypt was threatening military action against Sudan, and
unspecified others. No one thought that the Egyptians would be daft
enough to attack the Rifles, but the Egyptians possessed a reasonable
air force. I put our own air forces on alert and set-up air patrols, just
in case.
Looking at the problem, and listening to the various experts, there
seemed to be no solution. Uganda had the right to create dams, as
did other nations, and the Egyptians could not justifiably claim that
it needed all of the water - since it was not their water to start with.
First, I asked the Ugandans if they wanted cheap coal-oil and a
power station or two – and would that stop them from building
dams? They accepted the offer, but only to stop two out of four
dams. Sudan was beyond my control, but not my influence, so I
considered offering them coal-oil and power plants. But that could
have seen a lot of money being spent on a country that was destined
to turn against us in a few years.
Maybe they would turn against us because of their water and
power shortages, I considered, now in a quandary. I considered
desalination plants for Egypt, but much of the water they needed
was for farming. In our region, we had more food than we knew
what to do with, and so I offered a great package of cheap food to
Egypt, in the hope that they’d grow less of their own. The Egyptians
were happy with the food, and that eased part of the problem. I
sweetened the deal with a hundred electric buses, the ones with the
solar panels, since Egypt offered plenty of sunshine.
The population of Egypt was growing quickly, however, and that
was a growing problem. We already had a pipe that grabbed fresh
water before it entered the Mediterranean Sea, and a plant that
cleaned it. I sent the Egyptians a proposal, the building of another
plant, but west of the Nile, and one that would supply drinking water
to Cairo. It would be financed by a thirty-year loan at zero percent
interest.
A week later they accepted, and the plant was commissioned.
That turned my attention towards Kenya, and I commissioned a
desalination plant next to the Chinese enclave. In the future,
drinking water would go west by pipe, and Kenya’s precious river
water could be used for farming.
The annoying thing was, that the Congo had too much water. A
pipeline would have been costly, but was considered. Through our
own water bottling plants, I increased deliveries to Southern Sudan.
Jimmy then sent me a note. ‘If we get beyond 2027, that region
will dry up, and wars will break out.’
Well, that sealed it. I went to see the volunteers and the brain-
trust kids, handing them the problem. I asked about the cheapest
type of pipe that could be made, and they immediately suggested a
type of reinforced plastic. If buried, and out of the sun, it would last.
I had it priced up, realising that it was less than a tenth of the cost of
steel. But could I build a six hundred mile pipeline across mountains
and deserts?
Lucy popped up to the office one day, and looked at the map on
my desk. ‘You don’t need a pipe, use nature.’
‘Huh?’
‘Pipe the water to the Nile head and let it trickle down. You lose
on evaporation on the way, but the waterway is already there.’
‘Good idea, babes. Just have to work out how much we’d lose en
route.’
First, I picked a valley in western Uganda that received a lot of
rain, but could not be argued to feed the Nile. I commissioned a
large dam, but not a high dam, a pipe running east towards Lake
Victoria. On paper, it appeared that the water would add to the Nile,
since Lake Victoria drained into the Nile. My agreement with the
parties stated that the amount of water we pumped into the lake
could then be taken out by the Kenyans, on the other side, and pro
rata.
With the agreement sealed, I then commissioned plastic pipes
from three dams that we had created in the north of our region, and
down to Goma’s own lake, Lake Kivu. On the Rwandan side, I
commissioned a plastic pipe to head towards Lake Victoria, the
Rwandan’s being able to take some of the water as it travelled east.
That done, I commissioned additional plastic pipes from a point west
of Forward Base, where rain fell almost every day.
The new pipeline scheme had many benefits. It created jobs in
our region, it would keep our lake topped up with fresh water, it
helped Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya, but then – downstream –
helped Southern Sudan, Sudan, and ultimately Egypt.
When Jimmy saw the plan he simply nodded, asking me not to
forget Chad. I went back to the map, and eventually commissioned
another pipe, from the wet north of the Central African Republic and
towards Chad.
Calling in the Egyptians, who were now happy enough, I pointed
to the Blue Nile in Ethiopia and suggested a dam. They were no
longer happy enough. I explained that when the Blue Nile flooded it
lost water to the surrounding parched soil, and evaporated, and that
such a dam would only stop floodwater. Then, when necessary, it
could release that water to increase levels downstream. They were
back to being happy enough, and went off as I commissioned a high
dam in tight gorges, actually a series of them. Hopefully, war would
be averted in years to come.
Jimmy popped in a week later. ‘What you’re doing here - it has
parallels to Iraq, and we’re seeing tensions with Turkey and Syria –
since Turkey and Syria both have hydroelectric dams upstream on
the Euphrates River. And if those countries go at each other, The
Brotherhood are a step or two behind.’
I was back to staring at maps.
General Masood, the long running dictator of Iraq, had handed
over to a son a few years back, and the new dictator had undergone
something of a programme to attract western investment - more of a
playboy than his father and educated in England. I sent him a note
straight away, asking him if he would like desalination technology.
He flew over, and I entertained his party, striking a deal on the
desalination plant.
It would be a large plant, and would provide bottled water to
Basra and Baghdad. They had oil to make the plastic containers, and
the oil to power the desalination plant. It begged the question as to
why they had not gone that route up to now, but I didn’t press the
issue. I offered them a loan at zero percent interest over twenty
years.
Jimmy then dropped a hint. ‘One of the things that helps to give
rise to The Brotherhood in the refugee camps, is a lack of water.
Those particular camps will be north and west of Basra.’
Jesus, I thought. We were actually doing it; we were planning for
the rise of The Brotherhood.
I asked my guests if we could experiment with reclaiming the
waters of the Shatt al Arab waterway as it reached the Gulf. They
had no objections, and I immediately commissioned a team to work
on reclaiming fresh water before it became too salty, and a plant to
clean it up. A very large plant.
Jimmy did, however, request that the plant be upstream, at the
end of a long pipe, and closer to the workforce of Basra. They
puzzled it, but since we were paying for it all - and creating jobs for
locals, they had no particular objections. It made sense to me as
well.
Sat drinking around the patio, one of the Iraqis mentioned the
poor employment rate of the Basra region, and Jimmy offered to
assist. This new move was odd, because he had always told me that
he wouldn’t assist those countries where The Brotherhood may rise,
but now we were trying to assist in the very place that they would
rise. I could see the logic, but puzzled Jimmy’s change of direction.
With our guests gone in the morning, Jimmy asked me to assist
Basra. ‘Turn it into the fucking Garden of Eden,’ he said.
‘And … won’t the money be wasted when The Brotherhood
rise?’
‘If they rise, yes. But if it delays the rise by a few years, then …
well, it may help.’ He took out a map and tapped it. ‘The refugees
will collect all around the Middle East –’
‘From the disaster that you still haven’t explained to me.’
‘Yes, from that disaster, and some will gather in Iraq; around
Basra and south of Baghdad. The camps are filthy, and that helps to
give rise to the terror groups.’
‘Young men with hungry bellies and nothing to do,’ I noted.
‘Very much so.’
‘And the attitude of The West?’ I nudged.
‘They won’t want any of them, and that adds to the tension.’
‘Leave them to fester … and the terror groups rise,’ I noted. ‘And
it’s no frigging wonder.’
‘Ten million refugees,’ he carefully mouthed.
‘Ah, well I can’t see The West wanting to take them. Had enough
of a problem with Hawaiians in America.’
‘When you build the pipelines, make them deep and strong so
that they can’t be blown up too easily, and make the plant strong and
durable as well.’

The CAR floatation was fully subscribed, if not over-subscribed,


despite Jimmy’s warning that the company would not make
extraordinary profits, and that funds would be used for charitable
actions.
With the voting shares also floated, but allocated, it instantly
became the world’s largest capitalised company, its board truly
international. Each previous shareowner was asked to sell a small
amount of their holdings, just to meet the rules of the stock
exchanges.
A week later our property business was floated, again becoming a
huge listed company, its principle shareowners being the Chinese.
Two extra tickers appeared on the world’s stock market screens, and
both climbed steadily after floatation.

Africa One

After more than a month in office, the First Lady and I boarded our
plane, a converted 747SP, and finally toured our domain. Every
country in turn was visited, the two of us greeting the politicians and
the people, always seen to be visiting an orphanage or opening a
new factory somewhere. We reminded ourselves of Prince Charles
and Lady Diana, only we’d been married longer, we didn’t cheat,
and we made a real difference.
We visited the Chinese enclave with Han, inspecting roads and
buildings under construction, the Chinese pleased with its progress.
The port facility was already working, trains full of ore arriving
from Southern Sudan or even from the DRC. Flying down the coast
from Kenya, we landed at the part-finished airport in the Saudi
enclave, meeting many senior Saudi figures. The enclave was
coming along quickly, my teams assisting – and now experienced at
building cities.
Flying on, we crossed the Mozambique Channel to the second
Saudi enclave, landing at an airport that was no more complete than
the previous. We again met Saudi officials, studied maps and
drawings, and asked if there was anything we would do to assist. We
spent the night on the plane, entertaining a few of the Saudis, and in
the morning flew up to the US airbase in the Hawaiian enclave.
The US airbase was not strictly a base, since they shared a
runway with the civilian airport the opposite side. After touching
down, the USAF drove us around to their facility, a quick look
around buildings being finished off, before driving us around to the
small town that the Hawaiians had built. The Hawaiian community
in New Kinshasa was only a third ancestral Hawaiian, but here they
were in the majority, around seventy percent of the twenty thousand
populace.
The marina was now complete and open to passing sailboats, the
cafes and bars plying a modest trade. But from the marina I could
see many large boats in the nearby harbour, and I enquired whose
they were.
‘Jimmy bought them,’ a man informed me. ‘Fishing boats. We
have a fishing trade, and sell some in the cities.’
‘With your Air Force here, and various ships visiting, you should
have a few jobs created.’
They agreed, optimistic about their small and isolated
community. They also hoped to create a small tourist industry:
beaches to sit on and jungles to visit, scuba diving and Dragon Boat
races. Jimmy, it seems, had also promised them a few hotels, one
under construction for visiting sailors to use. It would be a large
hotel, some six hundred rooms, and would offer a soccer field,
tennis courts, pools and bars. I was certain that it would be a repeat
of the integration process at the Somali naval base.
Back in Goma, I reclaimed my desk and listened to the petitions of
the various governments for things they thought they needed, but my
mind was on Iraq and The Brotherhood. How the hell could we deal
with ten million refugees? When the First Lady popped in for lunch
I discussed it with her.
‘Housing will be at a premium. The longer they’re in tents, the
worse it will become,’ she noted. ‘And they’re short of water now.’
‘No country will want to take them - the burden would be huge,
not to mention the fear of terrorism.’
‘We produce a lot of food and water, so we can help,’ she
suggested.
‘They’d still be living in tents.’
‘So we need to build apartments ahead of time.’
I raised my eyebrows. ‘That’s a lot of money, and when The
Brotherhood rise, a lot of wasted money.’
‘It’ll cost just as much to try and ring-fence the region with
soldiers.’
The next day the Kuwaiti’s came to see me, accompanied by my
Saudi contact. They were, however, all dressed in western suits, not
in robes. I had a bad feeling where the conversation would go.
They began, ‘We have been most puzzled by the Saudi desire for
enclaves in Africa, and our Saudi friends have been … less than full
in their disclosures, but agreed to try and assist us. Hence our visit to
your good self.’
I responded, ‘Jimmy believes … that in 2025 a … disaster of
sorts will strike the earth, and that widespread financial collapse is
certain. As far as you’re concerned, you won’t be selling much oil –
if any. That financial collapse will lead to unrest and conflict in the
Middle East, hence the Saudi desire to have business interests and
friendly locations outside of the region.’
‘We would, naturally, offer a good price for … accurate
information.’
I shook my head. ‘Such information won’t help you, since the
situation is fluid, and Jimmy is trying to fix it. That may result in
complete success, or total failure.’
‘Or somewhere in the middle,’ they stated. ‘So, we would like to
be more prepared than we are now, since we’re a small nation
surrounded by large neighbours. You gave our Saudi friends
enclaves with oil, and seem to be greatly assisting in construction.
As such, we would like you to consider a similar, yet ultimately
smaller deal, for ourselves.’
‘I would have to ask Jimmy where the undiscovered oil is,
gentlemen, since I don’t know.’
‘But you’re not averse to the idea,’ they nudged.
‘The Saudi deal means that Mozambique and Madagascar get
financial aid, and we get a cut of the oil revenue.’ I held my hands
wide. ‘Everyone gets something.’
My secretary stepped in. ‘Sorry, sir. Mister Silo. Line two.’
I lifted my phone. ‘Jimmy?’
‘Kuwaitis with you?’
‘They are indeed, plus our Saudi friend.’
‘Grab a map of Namibia,’ he told me.
I called up a map on my computer. ‘OK, got it.’
‘Look at the coast, below the border with Angola, Angra Fria.
See it?’
‘Yep.’
‘Offer them an enclave there, if you can work a deal with the
Namibian Government, which shouldn’t be so hard. That place has
oilfields offshore. Talk later.’
I placed the phone down. ‘He anticipated your visit.’ They were
impressed. ‘There is a possible enclave in West Africa, the dry and
dusty part, if I can work the deal. Leave it with me.’
‘We could ask for little more.’ They stood. ‘And now we’ll tour
your city and enjoy the facilities.’
Two days later, Jimmy popped down from Europe. Sat around the
pool, he said, ‘I wasn’t planning on the enclaves but … but it would
be cruel and unreasonable not to try and help them. If I didn’t help,
then history would judge me harshly.’
‘If the rich folk pull out, either now or at the time, won’t that
make the economy of the region even worse?’ I pondered.
‘No, not really, certainly not for Kuwait. It’s the economies of
Iraq, Syria and Jordan that will make a difference when the time
comes.’
‘And … should we be assisting them more?’ I nudged.
‘Boost all the nations around Israel … and leave the Israelis out?’
he scoffed. ‘We’ll have Israeli diplomats trying to shoot us then.’
‘I can see why you struggle with this one. We could spend the
money here, we could develop the Rifles, or we could try and house
ten million refugees in the hope that they don’t bite us on the arse.’
‘There’s not enough money on the planet to help the region that
will be affected. And, I’ll have to persuade those refugees to move
out a month or two before the disaster, warn them a year before. If I
don’t, it helps The West by reducing the population of the Middle
East by ten million or so, but then gives rise to anger – a lot of
anger, because we didn’t warn them.’
‘You’d … leave ten million people in place?’ I asked, horrified at
the idea.
He looked away. ‘Those ... people, the displaced, are The
Brotherhood, and I’ve seen what they’ll do close up. They’re
capable of great atrocities, whether they’re moved out in time or not.
But no, I won’t leave them there to die, and that may sign a death
warrant for the planet. I’m damned if I do, and damned if I don’t.’
‘And presumably, no country will want too many refugees,
especially if the world’s economy goes to fuck.’
Jimmy nodded. ‘No one will want to take them; even their own
capital cities won’t want to take them. They’ll be the … internally
displaced.’
‘No enclaves for them anywhere?’ I asked, sighing.
‘Wherever they went they’d be feared, and they have a culture
very different to any outside of the Middle East.’
‘Could the Middle East economy be rebuilt?’ I asked.
‘Sure, over twenty years and with a shit load of money. Problem
is, it’s a fragile global economy; a two percent hit causes a
depression, but this will be ten percent in a day - banks and
businesses folding within hours. I do have an idea, I have several –
all variations on a theme, but I don’t know if the Americans would
like it, and the Israelis certainly wouldn’t like it. And, when I tell the
world what will happen, certain countries will be upset with us.’
‘Why?’ I puzzled.
‘For not warning them sooner, and stopping them spending
money on developments.’
‘How much warning will you give?’
‘As soon as I give the warning, the economy of the region suffers,
the people suffer, and The Brotherhood rises from the unemployed
and hungry masses.’
I sighed. ‘We’re going around in circles.’
‘Welcome to my life,’ he carefully mouthed.
Getting into bed that night, I said, ‘I’m not just the President, I’m
becoming Jimmy.’
‘How do you mean?’ Helen queried. ‘Wider shoulders?’
I gave her a look. ‘No. He revealed more about 2025, and it’s a
puzzle wrapped around a problem inside a paradox. It’s doing my
head in.’
‘You … don’t think there’s a solution?’
‘It’s a like a long balloon that you want to flatten out. Press down
on one end and the other goes up. Press down on both ends at the
same time and the middle goes up. I need more hands.’
I didn’t sleep well that night, and I had to wonder how Jimmy
slept at all. Sitting up in bed in the morning, I said, ‘I need more
hands.’ Getting into the office early, I ordered a meeting for the next
day, a war council. I requested Ngomo, Abdi and quite a few others.
The next day, fifty people sat in one of the conference rooms in
the Pentagon building. On my left I had Abdi, Ngomo and a few
Defence Ministers, PACT, the head of the corporation and his
deputy, the senior volunteers, the leaders of the brain-trust kids –
who were all now adults in their thirties and forties, and a few of my
ministers.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all for attending this meeting.
First of all, this meeting is confidential. The subject matter and the
individual topics are to be kept secret from outsiders and from the
press. If anyone asks … we’re simply discussing routine political
matters.’
I took a moment. ‘Jimmy has revealed to me a little more about
problems we’ll face in 2025, and … to tell you the truth, they scare
the hell out of me.’ I took a big breath. ‘So, we’re going to make
some plans, and we’re going to try and figure out solutions to a few
problems. It’s a long list!
‘First, a summary. In 2025, a disaster will strike, resulting in a
global economic crash. Countries in the Middle East will suffer a
sharp economic downturn, their populations suffering, and that will
lead to the rise of terror groups, one of which will rally the
downtrodden masses into an army, an army with sights on taking
over the world. Part of their aim will be to invade Africa.
‘Now, we could – obviously – just sit and wait for that to happen,
and defend our borders as best as we can in the hope that we can
fend them off, and for decades to come. Unfortunately, when the
economics problems hit we wouldn’t be selling ore and oil around
the world, and our own economies would suffer.
‘So first I want an economic study group created with our best
minds. I want a plan of action … so that if necessary, in 2025, we
could make our markets totally internal and self-sufficient. If that
plan calls for changes to be made now, then we need to start making
those changes now.
‘Second. We need a plan of action for a combined African army
defending our borders, especially the northern border. Abdi, you’ll
be in the front line, and as such will receive most of the military
budget. I want to work on the assumption that Sudan, Egypt and
Libya will not be allies, but may become enemies. I want a plan for
neutralising Ethiopia’s military if we need to. Ngomo, I want a plan
for neutralising the armies of North Africa if we need to.
‘I also want the borders strengthened, and plans made of how we
would hold them. I want plans for a call-up of reserves, and of police
officers that are not ex-Rifles to be trained as soldiers part-time. I
want all former members of the Rifles who have retired to be given
two weeks training a year to keep them fresh.
‘OK, water sources. We’re already seeing problems in many
areas because of a shortage of water, and that shortage may lead to
unrest and conflict. I want a team set-up to monitor the water
availability of North Africa and the Middle East, and to see where
the problem areas may be in the future. I want those plastic pipes
that we produce to be researched so that we can produce more, and
faster, and cheaper – and I want that a priority.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, simply piping water to an arid region may
prevent a war. If we can spend money on a pipeline and stop a war,
it’ll be a great indirect cost saving for us. I want to look at additional
dams in the Congo, and pipelines running towards the Nile. But first,
I want to invent ways of cheaply producing the pipes – pipes that are
hundreds of miles long. Since Southern Sudan is central to this
problem, let’s have a factory there that makes the pipes - and ideas
on cheap ways to dig trenches and bury pipes!
‘OK, food. We produce more than enough food, so I want to look
at increasing the supply of cheap food to the North African states
and the Middle East. In particular, I want cheap food sent to Iraq,
Syria and Jordan by boat.
‘Next, electric buses and cars. I want the small factory that we
have here increased in size, and I want to be able to produce our
electric cars. Open factories with the Chinese; one for cars, one for
buses. To start, we only need to produce a few hundred a year, but –
if necessary after 2025 – we want to produce all cars and buses
internally. Those buses with the solar panels, I could do with a
thousand this year alone.
‘OK, munitions. I want a research facility and munitions factory
created within the year. After 2025, I want us to produce our own
ammunition, and if necessary our own rifles, grenades or even
artillery pieces. I want a stockpile of ammunition created in 2024,
enough to last us five years or more, and I want to be able to mass-
produce our own weapons if necessary.
‘Next, electronics. I want a factory set-up with the Chinese, one
to produce radios and TVs, telephones, things like that. I want
another set-up with Nokia to produce mobile phones. Basically, if
the outside world goes to shit after 2025, we make our own.
‘Next, we have a long coastline, and that coastline will need to be
defended. I’ll be buying more maritime patrol aircraft and creating a
coastal patrol force. We’ll buy more ships to enhance that force.
Whilst on ships, Africa has very little in the way of ship-builders,
except South Africa, and they’re a pain to deal with. We’ll be
commissioning a few coastal patrol craft from them, as well as
fishing vessels.
‘But I want to see a shipbuilding yard near Mombassa. When it’s
ready, we’ll keep its order books full. And whilst on the fishing
vessels, we see many other nations fishing off African waters, so I
want us in there first; if they’re our fish, then we’ll catch them.
Again, after 2025 we may need to be self-sufficient.
‘Now, before today the cooperation group was about boosting the
economies of sub-Saharan Africa. In the future, this cooperation
group will be about the survival of Africa. It will be become more
important, and will take on greater responsibilities. We will … need
to see more power in the group, and less with regional governments.
‘To that end I’ll be creating a central bank for the group, the
lender of first choice. Our other bank will loan that central bank a
large part of our reserves, and the central bank will then set interest
rates. It will also look at the 2025 problem, and what may happen if
the world economy collapses; we may need to issue our own internal
currency - and quickly. I want emergency plans in place for just such
an eventuality.
‘We have just over five years, people, and we have a lot of work
to do between now and then. One of the first tasks is to see what we
import that we could make ourselves. To those of you who are
overseas volunteers, know this: Jimmy chose to build-up this region
in particular, and Africa in general, to assist with 2025. That may
mean that we shoulder the burden, and that may mean that our
people are unhappy at others not shouldering the burden with us.
‘The answer is simple: we can rely on ourselves, we may not be
able to rely on others. If everyone sits back and says that it’s not
their problem, then we lose the planet. If we step forward and
shoulder the burden, then we may end up greatly diminished
afterwards, but the planet will be safe.
‘You’re here … because you stepped forwards to shoulder the
burden, and this new task is no different. If the other nations can’t
decide what to do, or to cooperate, then Africa will act – and we’ll
worry about recriminations afterwards. First, we save the planet,
then our own lives, then worry about the rest of the world later.’
‘I think we’ll all need sleeping pills after this,’ Ngomo noted.
‘It is a war,’ Kimballa put in. ‘A fight to the finish. And if Africa
leads where others follow, so be it; I will die fighting with my last
breath.’
‘Somalia will be ready,’ Abdi faithfully promised.
‘These meetings will take place every month or so,’ I said. ‘So go
and makes some plans, and deal with each other without going
through me every time.’
We broke for coffee and a chat, the brain-trust kids already in a
heated debate about the production levels of various things.
Back at my desk, I glanced at income and reserves, and ordered
four hundred electric buses from China to be delivered to Iraq,
another hundred for Jordan and two hundred for Syria. When I
looked at the cost, and the cost of failure in 2025, I doubled the
numbers of buses.
We already had permission from the Iraqis to assist in the Basra
region, so I ordered fifty thousand solar panels and fifty thousand of
the small wind turbines to sit on rooftops, to be installed free all over
Basra. Since the items were made locally it would create jobs in
Africa.
I checked with the Chinese, and many Middle Eastern countries
were still low on the uptake of the super-drug. I asked the Chinese to
send more anyway and to bill it to us, hoping that the region would
receive a health dividend.

Practical solutions

I visited a factory a week later, one that made plastic pipes. They
showed me the yellow pipes, tall enough to stand up in, and how
they were made. They used heat-bonded layers, and wove in a kind
of carbon fibre, making the pipes resistant to outward pressure.
Huge machines moulded the initial plastic, others weaving the fine
threads around the outside in layers.
It seemed like a quick enough process, but we were after
hundreds of miles of pipe. A team of sixty scientists had been put on
the task, the task of saving costs, and of speeding up the processes
whilst making the pipes strong and durable. The cost of the oil was
negligible, the labour was cheap – volunteers now working at the
plant, and the research was free. The cost per mile was not much,
but was falling further.
Aboard Africa One, I flew over several sites where dams were
being constructed. They would be of a simple construction, and not
high, each placed where water would accumulate backwards for a
few miles. They would also have an effect on the localised flooding
that came each year, since they could help to regulate water levels.
Back in Goma, I met with the Chinese, who were falling over
themselves to build electronics factories. Ten factories were agreed,
the land free and the basic factory costs paid by us. It wasn’t a
difficult deal to work.
The American Ambassador to the DRC then came to see me with
military officers, a list of second hand kit for sale. I bought six old
P3 Orions straight away, and four coastguard cutters. They had three
oddly shaped maritime Hercules aircraft, so I took those with
suitable training staff. As for the rest of the list, I told them to ask
Ngomo what he wanted and to get back to me.

In the months that followed I made sure everyone was working with
a sense of urgency, and I increased the staff at the Pentagon
building. I was soon known as a slave driver, and seen to be always
encouraging people to work faster and be cheaper. Behind my back I
was known as ‘President Faster and Cheaper!’
I would arrive at my office in the mornings when just the security
guards were around, and I would leave late, glad to be home. Helen
would pop up to my office often since she had her own office a floor
below, and her own list of tasks as First Lady. We’d sit and have
lunch together, talking about production quotas and new inventions.
Shelly split her time between New Kinshasa and the research
vessels, our green stretch of ocean growing, a side effect being rising
fish stocks. The Chinese had turned their coastal waters green, as
had Australia, and one of our ships was mid Pacific, leaving a green
trail behind.
Shelly and Mali remained an item, and an odd period of calm had
descended over my family. The work that we were all doing had
become the focus, and people were supportive of each other. Despite
the stems, we were often tired at the end of the day, mentally tired.
Lucy spent a day a week at our finance ministry – a kind of work
experience programme, but was too bright to just do chores. She sat
in on meetings and offered comments on macro-economic solutions.
Jimmy left me to get on with it, but said that time was drawing
near, the time to debate a solution to 2025, or to reveal it to the
world. I could see him struggling with it, struggling with both a
solution - and the timing.

June saw Jimmy call a special meeting of selected world leaders in


Goma; the Americans, Russians, Chinese and British leaders
present, our British PM stepping down in just a month. Abdi and
Ngomo were in on the meeting, as was the head of the corporation
and the CEO of CAR, Ben Ares attending for Israel.
‘Gentlemen,’ Jimmy called. ‘The Chinese have known for some
time what will happen in 2025, as does the British PM. Former
President Harvey knew, and now you - Mister Blake, and the rest of
you, need to know what will happen. It goes without saying … that a
breach of security could cost the world greatly. What you learn here
today … you do not discuss outside the group.’
A map of the Middle East was laid out. Jimmy began, ‘In March,
2025, an earthquake will strike through Northern India, Northern
Pakistan, through Afghanistan, and along Southern Iran. That quake
will be devastating, damage done to houses as far away as Israel.
‘But in addition to the quake and its damage, the land on the
Iranian side will rise by five metres, and the land on the Dubai side
will fall by five metres. The resulting tsunami will slam into the
south coast of the Gulf, a wall of water a hundred feet high, the
wave five miles deep. Qatar, Dubai, Kuwait and a large part of Saudi
Arabia will be destroyed. When the wave rebounds it will destroy
southern Iran, then flood up the Shatt al Arab waterway to Basra. In
a single stroke, most of the world’s oil production will stop.’
‘Jesus,’ Blake let out, the CAR chief staring wide-eyed at the
map.
Jimmy continued, ‘If not evacuated, ten million people will die. If
evacuated - and when evacuated, they’ll create a refugee crisis, and
those refugee camps will see the right conditions for the rise of The
Brotherhood, a terror group that will rally the masses, raise an army
of a million willing suicide bombers, and start by attacking your
attempts to rebuild the oil industry in Southern Iraq. Their second
target will be Baghdad, then Damascus, then Israel.
‘Their aim is a simple one - a return to a simpler life, their belief
being that God washed away the evil oil industry in a stroke. They’ll
behave like communist Wahabists, destroying modern technology,
killing educated people, intent on taking over the world.’
The CAR chief asked, ‘Is there sufficient oil outside of the Gulf
to cope?’
‘A good question. If the oilfields that I know about are tapped,
and held waiting, and electric cars are widely used – then yes. With
some very careful planning we could just throw a switch on the day
in question. But to do that would require widespread cooperation,
including people like the Cubans and the Venezuelans. Russia, your
oil sales would be very profitable, and in much demand, in 2025.’
‘Could the Gulf oil be drilled later, years later?’ Blake asked.
‘Yes, it could,’ Jimmy confirmed. ‘Providing The Brotherhood
are not rampaging around the area. But the one question we have to
ask today is … when do we tell the world about it? And when do we
tell the governments that would be affected.’
‘How much of Dubai would survive?’ Ben Ares asked.
‘Not a single building,’ Jimmy said. ‘But warning them twenty
years ago would have achieved little; they would not have listened.’
‘A lot of western companies have invested in the region,’ Blake
noted.
‘Your people knew about this twenty years ago,’ Jimmy pointed
out. ‘But yes, they’ll be a lot of unhappy campers about, and people
will go bust when the news leaks. Problem was, if I had revealed it
earlier the world economy could have crashed, a depression caused,
and wars would have broken out. And, the Middle East countries
would have seen it as a trick, and ignored it, attacking the west – as
well as little old me.’
‘The Saudis seem to have an idea about what’ll happen,’ Blake
noted.
‘Yes, and they could be better prepared if we warn them fully
now, so too the others,’ Jimmy agreed. ‘But the release of the
information could spark a financial crash, and we’re still in a
recession. Besides, if the world plans to live without Saudi oil, how
will the Saudis rebuild afterwards?’
‘There’ll always be a market for oil,’ the CAR man put in. ‘If it
takes five years to get to the Gulf oil then it may be needed at the
time.’
Jimmy agreed. ‘I will – one year before the quake – give a full
warning. The question … is how much we reveal to people like the
Saudis, and when?’
‘Well, what do you think?’ Blake asked.
‘Let’s have a show of hands for those that believe a disclosure
now to the governments affected is the right thing to do.’
I raised my hand, as did the corporation. I was joined by Ngomo,
Blake and CAR. And that was it. Russia, China, Britain and Abdi
were not in favour of disclosure now. Or Jimmy.’
‘Well, not a clear mandate,’ Jimmy noted. ‘But, since the Saudis
are the largest players, and they’re willing to cooperate with us, a
show of hands on just the Saudis knowing now.’
Most raised their hands.
‘OK,’ Jimmy added. ‘Let’s talk about the refugees. Any nation
here willing to take a few million Arabs?’
No one raised a hand, surprisingly enough.
‘So, they’ll be internally displaced in various nations. Iran will
have a great many, so too Iraq. Syria will take Iraqis, Jordan will
take some, and Saudi Arabia need only evacuate the coast. People
from the smaller Gulf states would wish to flee to Saudi Arabia,
many to Europe – those with money.’
‘How many in the enclaves?’ Blake asked.
‘A million in advance of the quake, perhaps four million
afterwards,’ Jimmy responded.
‘Well, it reduces the numbers,’ Blake noted.
‘The enclaves would not be sustainable,’ Jimmy pointed out. ‘Not
for those numbers.’
‘So we help the internally displaced in camps,’ Blake suggested.
‘Since The Brotherhood rise up from poverty, no doubt, we assist
where we can.’
‘Assuming that you have the money, and the American people
behind you - willing to back the move,’ Jimmy firmly pointed out.
I asked, ‘If conditions for the refugees were good enough, would
The Brotherhood still rise?’
‘Rise, yes, get enough support – maybe not. It would delay the
rise.’
‘How much of a delay?’ the Russians asked.
‘Years,’ Jimmy answered.
‘Enough time to re-drill oil and make some money,’ Blake
suggested. ‘And that money could help the people.’
‘Since when has oil money helped the people of the Middle
East?’ Jimmy scoffed. ‘The poor stay poor, and the rich leaders stay
billionaires! Do you expect the Kuwaitis and others to help the poor
of Iraq? Do you expect the Iraqi regime to help the poor of Basra?
They never have, so why would they bother afterwards? And what
message are you trying to send, Mister President? How many rich
folk in America go down to the soup kitchens to help out?’
‘Becoming a socialist, are we?’ I asked Blake. ‘You had a hard
enough time with your own refugees!’
‘I think this will be different,’ he said defensively. ‘Especially
given what’s at stake.’
‘You’ll persuade Congress that a rag-bag bunch of terrorists will
take over the world?’ I asked.
‘They’ll accept it if Jimmy goes public,’ Blake assured me.
‘Which will be a year before the event,’ Jimmy pointed out. ‘In
American terms … just enough time to get a bill passed!’
‘What else can we be doing?’ Abdi asked.
I faced him. ‘We can build apartments in certain areas of the
Middle East, and try and boost their economies a little. And we can
build desalination plants where they won’t be destroyed in 2025.’
‘The Gulf states are rich,’ the PM put in. ‘Surely they should be
doing more in preparation, financial or otherwise.’
‘As soon as this news hit, they become less rich,’ Jimmy pointed
out.
‘Given the oil situation,’ the PM began, ‘could we not agree to
make the most use of Gulf oil before the disaster, and switch to
outside sources afterwards?’
‘A good and practical approach,’ Jimmy commended. ‘But it
would require fuller disclosure to the world.’
‘But it would mean the Arabs pay for their own preparations,’ the
PM insisted. ‘As part of a deal that we all buy more oil from them
beforehand.’
‘Hands up those seeing sense in that approach,’ Jimmy called. He
raised his own hand, as did most everyone else. ‘Which brings us
right back around to disclosure. I suggest, since Saudi Arabia and
Kuwait are concerned enough to build enclaves outside the region,
that we brief them in a month. In the meantime, I will expand CAR’s
exploration and drilling, only to cap off the wells till 2025.
‘And, this year, I’ll talk with Cuba. Since oil production is a
factor of demand, America and China should try and buy more from
the Gulf before 2025, switching afterwards.’
‘On condition of cooperation,’ the Chinese insisted.
‘Yes, of course,’ Jimmy agreed. ‘With at least the Saudis.’

I had been tasked with breaking the news to the Saudis, and a month
later invited them over, not looking forward to the meeting.
Welcoming them to my patio, they could see that something was
wrong, not least because I was being very polite.
When they had settled, drinks arranged, I began, ‘Jimmy has
revealed to me, and others, the exact nature of the 2025 problem.
We’ll now reveal that to you, since it affects you more than most.’
They were all ears. ‘There is, as they say, good news and bad news.
Well, there’s moderate news and dire news. In early 2025, an
earthquake will devastate Iran, the resulting tsunami destroying your
northern coastline – and inland ten miles.’
‘The oil producing regions,’ they sombrely noted.
‘Your offshore fields will be affected, rigs, and port facilities,’ I
mentioned.
‘How affected?’
‘Complete destruction; a tidal wave a hundred feet high and a few
miles deep. The water will reach miles inland.’
‘And Qatar, Dubai, Kuwait?’
‘All gone.’
‘The Iranian side?’
‘Destroyed by the quake, then a tsunami,’ I said.
They took a long moment, glancing at each other. ‘You said good
news?’
‘Before the quake – if we have an agreement – the world will buy
up as much of your oil as it can, and there’s the chance that years
later you can drill for it again on the coast, and repair your ports.’
They sipped their drinks. ‘We have many oilfields inland, more
than twenty miles,’ the Prince thought out loud. ‘And the offshore
rigs, they could be uncoupled to float free, re-attached after.’
‘It’s a good approach,’ I commended. ‘But there’s another
problem. The mass movement of the populace, and the resulting
refugee camps, will give rise to a terrorist group, and they’ll do a
good job at destroying the planet. It’s the reason Jimmy came back
through time.’
‘A terrorist group … that can do so much damage?’
‘They’ll mobilise millions of refugees, hungry and homeless
refugees, when the economy of the region is reduced to zero.’
They nodded. ‘I can see that,’ the Prince stated. ‘And this …
agreement?’
‘If you help to spend money on planning for the refugees, the
other nations will make you the preferred supplier till 2025, then
switch to others to make up the shortfall.’
‘What … planning?’
‘Build apartments and houses in regions that will be unaffected,
move some of the people of Southern Iraq to the central region, help
us create desalination plants that will survive the quake. And, a year
before the quake, help us create refugee camps away from the
affected areas.’
‘These terrorists who rise up, they are our people?’
‘No, mostly Iraqis.’
‘We can move our people inland,’ they stated. ‘That will not be
so difficult. As for Dubai…’
‘The migrant workers and westerns would leave,’ I said. ‘The rest
… well, we were kind of hoping you’d give them a home till they
could move back.’
‘And how much of Dubai will be left?’ they pressed.
‘Not a single brick,’ I told them. After a moment, I said, ‘If you
gave the Kuwaitis, and others, small enclaves inland, they only need
to be twenty miles away from the coast. Months later they’d be able
to go back to … well, a possible new start. And gentlemen, we’re
telling you, but asking you not to tell others yet.’
‘We can survive this,’ the Prince insisted.
‘The tsunami, yes, the terror group … probably not. Jimmy saw
them rise before, and they took down the whole world.’
‘How is that possible?’
‘They infiltrate refugees fleeing the area, then blow themselves
up at checkpoints. Others move on and cross borders to Europe,
blowing up everything they can, a never-ending supply of suicide
bombers rolling forwards. And, when they attack Israel, they’ll start
a war, soon to be a nuclear war; Jimmy didn’t step back through
time for nothing. Millions of refugees mean millions of potential
recruits.’
‘Where will these refugees congregate?’
‘In Basra, Baghdad, Tehran, and in Pakistan. The main terror
group rises up from Basra, which will be damaged by the tsunami.
Jobs in the Iraqi oil industry will be lost.’
‘Refugee camps, like the Palestinian camps in Lebanon,’ the
Prince noted. ‘A perfect breeding ground for the angry young men to
come together.’
‘And be preached to,’ his colleague added.
‘We will take this deal to our people and return,’ the Prince said
as he stood. ‘But, if this becomes known, people may switch oil
supplier early.’
‘We have considerable influence,’ I assured them.

That following month I watched with keen interest as Saudi Arabia


woke up and got moving – and without discussing it with us first.
They closed down many of their inland wells, and concentrated on
pumping at the coast and offshore, soon seen to be practising
uncoupling rigs and re-attaching them. Their east-west pipeline took
on more importance, a second planned. Building work around
Riyadh increased exponentially, and a few facilities on the coast
were seen being dismantled. Their African enclaves also developed
an added urgency to them.
They came back four weeks after the initial meeting, keen to see
the oil purchase agreement implemented. They signed an agreement
on behalf of their government, and within a day CAR had cut
production. President Blake got together with the US oil importers
and encouraged them to adjust their buying patterns, without saying
why. Sweeteners were offered.
Jimmy persuaded Cuba to scale back production, but to ramp up
exploration, briefing them on the disaster to come. China reduced
consumption from Tanzania and bought more from Iran, not just
Saudi Arabia. West African states were encouraged to reduce
production, but Nigeria took some convincing. Jimmy had to explain
to them it was a matter of life and death, and time travel, and that he
could not expand upon it yet.
The Saudis increased production after years of successive
reductions – thanks to us, and I saw movement in Kuwait. I had not
discussed anything with the Kuwaitis, neither had Jimmy, but a town
in the desert popped up some thirty miles inside the Saudi border.
Meanwhile, bombs started going off in Dubai, probably sent by
Rahman. The net effect of the bombs was a reduction in tourism,
and in business. Property prices began to fall, the Dubai authorities
struggling.
They were already in difficulty because of the American led
recession, now almost two years long, and things did not look good
for them, either side of the tsunami. When the Dubai airport blew up
and caught fire it sealed their fate. Tourism died, investors fled, and
as soon the party was over it was time to go home.
Jimmy said, ‘Dubai has been moving forwards at twenty percent
a year. All it needed was to dip down to ten to collapse completely.
It’s a house of cards.’
The bombs continued through to September and the house of
cards was on its knees. You couldn’t give away a holiday here.

Plastic
The brain-trust kids, working with the volunteers, had improved
their plastic pipe technology. It all came from oil, but somehow the
layers had different properties. Carbon fibre was woven in at one
stage and silica powdered onto the final layer, giving it some
element of heat resistance.
Production levels were off the chart, the Rwandan stretch of
pipeline growing by ten miles a day, a dozen gangs working on it.
On the Kenyan side of Lake Victoria, the pipeline was already
buried and mostly invisible from above.
In Ethiopia, we had created jobs with the dam projects, one such
dam creating a lake stretching back miles. I mentioned fishing to the
people who ran our fish farm, and they got on the case. First, they
dug up soil from a place ten miles away, dumping it into the lake
and turning it brown. Where the lake touched parched soil in the
hills, diggers or explosives were used to move the soil into the new
lake, currently sitting on mostly barren rocks.
With a dozen dumper trucks a day dropping in soil upstream, the
lake was seeded with fish fry, nutrients added to the water. The dirt
would settle at the bottom and form mud, and that would give life to
both water plants, and the kind of small creatures that fish might
munch on. In the meantime, flour and stale bread was dropped in,
plus special pellets that the kids had come up with. The rest would
take time.
In Uganda, our dam was coming along, a start made on the
pipeline. Our Congo dams were taking shape, pipeline being laid
north, plans made for additional dams near the Ugandan border.

The citizens of the Middle East could now be seen travelling on our
buses, inter-city routes, the local authorities marvelling at how cheap
they were to run. Electric cars were also to be glimpsed on the roads.
South of Basra, our pipeline was coming along, the desalination
plant just south of the city and a mass of cranes. And in the city
itself, solar panels now powered TV sets, wind turbines drove air-
conditioning systems, and people disconnected from the local
electric grid.
The Saudis allocated their first payment to the refugee problem,
and sponsored the building of large apartment blocks in Baghdad.
The Iraqis were surprised, to say the least, at the generosity suddenly
being shown by its previously arrogant southern neighbour.
‘We can win this,’ I told Helen one evening, having spent a hard
day poring over production levels.
She seemed sceptical, yet optimistic at the same time.
The following week I commissioned the building of apartments
in Amman, Jordan, and further apartments on the Egyptian border
with Gaza. My Egyptian pipeline was coming along, the cleaning
plant being built west of the Nile delta.
Ben Ares then came to see me. I took him up to the roof, to a café
that was open when it was not raining, and we sat with cold beers.
‘We’re losing Palestinians,’ he noted.
‘Is that good, or bad?’
‘Good, in that they’re less of a burden on the Palestinian state,
less of a burden on water resources.’
‘But?’
‘We could ease settlement pressure if we built in other areas.’
‘And by that … you mean if I pay for the building in other areas.’
He shrugged.
‘And would settlements in the West Bank be halted in favour of
these other areas being built on?’
‘It would ease the pressure.’
‘But would there be a … direct link, Ben?’
‘Would that be a condition?’
‘Since we’re all busting a gut down here to save the planet,
you’re damn right it would. It would be a condition – not a hope.
And we’d need to provide water for them, so that delayed pipeline
would have to be extended first. Then … then I could see a few
apartment blocks rising in the interests of peace. I could also see a
loan for you, and a few … business deals. I could also see the Jewish
quarter here growing.’
‘That jewellery business has grown very quickly.’
‘I could give you a loan towards building a hotel down here, and
an apartment block, and stuffing it full of Israelis. And, hopefully,
they’d come up with a business idea or two.’
‘We would be interested.’
‘And a direct flight once a week to Tel Aviv,’ I nudged.
‘That would be fine. One El Al flight, one of yours.’
‘I’ll want to see settlements eased, Ben, or there’ll be no deal –
on anything.’
‘And if we compensated Palestinian farmers near the settlements,
but moved them?’
‘If the compensation was realistic, move as many as you like to
the east of Ramallah, or to Jordan, or to Egypt – I don’t care; it’s the
lack of compensation that’s the issue. And I’ll even refund some of
the compensation afterwards – but only after I see what you’re
doing, Ben.’
‘I think we can reach an agreement. And we’d be interested in
property and business down here.’
‘It’s a free and open city – so long as people do exactly what I
say,’ I said with a dangerous smile.

I went to see our jewellery factory the next day, and their chart on
the wall said it all; production could not keep up with sales. Of most
interest to me was the fact that I was turning gold into cash, but
without lowering its value. We were also using up the diamonds.
They showed me pictures of shops all around Africa, sixty in
total, plans for a hundred more this year alone. They were also now
franchising the shops, and we’d soon have shops in every town.
Jimmy was pleased with the project, very pleased, admitting that
it was not something he’d ever thought of. But he asked me to
franchise it to India, China and South America, and I sent the factory
a note to that effect. Hell, if we got into the Chinese market we’d
make a killing, and I could shift a lot of gold.
My Saudi contact then cheekily asked if he could buy gold at a
good rate, for his cousin who was involved with gold jewellery. We
haggled a price, and I gave him a fifteen percent discount on market
value, to be paid in US Dollars. Hell, it shifted gold out of our
vaults, but not as fast as our jewellery business. That was burning up
gold by the tonne, many Africa housewives now adorned with cheap
jewellery, bought with their husband’s hard-earned dollars.

At the next meeting with the volunteers and the brain-trust kids, they
reported that there were now almost twenty thousand of them. A unit
was working on economics and the internalisation of the markets -
coming up with things that we could produce ourselves, factories
popping up all over our region. Those factories created jobs, the
research and development departments more or less free of cost.
A massive furniture factory opened, its wood cut in our region, its
cloth made from the cotton we seeded many years ago, or from
synthetics. Household goods of all sorts were now being produced
locally, steel, plastics and glass available cheap. We still imported a
great deal from America, but that was intentional.
One of the groups suggested that we create a bottling plant in
Southern Chad to service the area, at a point on our water pipeline
north, and I gave it the go ahead.
The next group came up with a flat-pack house, complete with
solar panels, wind turbine and stove. I had to see it. We all
journeyed around to the factory, where a demonstration was laid on.
The pack came on a lorry, the pack about six foot wide and twelve
foot long, three feet deep but not very heavy; it took only six men to
unload it.
As they got to work assembling it, the chief designer said, ‘We
use local plastic, wood and metal, and the solar panels that we
produce. Everything is made here.’
‘And the cost?’
‘Six thousand dollars per unit.’
I stood observing the small cabin taking shape. The walls were
thin, but had two layers to them, and the staff explained that sand,
dirt or even cement could be placed in the layers to give extra
strength. If not, they were cool during the day and warm at night.
Bolts and wires took the tension and stiffened the assembly, the
floor and roof adding strength to the shape.
With the roof on they fixed the solar panels to clips, attached
wires and fed them below. A small wind turbine was placed on top,
powering either a fan or a heating unit. A silver water container was
fixed to a corner and wired to the solar panel; the water could be
heated up. We stepped closer and peered inside.
A fold down table was clipped in place, a sink, pipes attached to
the tank on the roof. A foot pump could be used to pump water up to
the tank. Strong plastic chairs were placed down and I sat observing
as a bed frame was clipped together, rubber straps run across the top
of the base.
I tested the walls, pushing and poking, I pumped water up and
watched the wind turbine turn the fan, and even lay on the bed
frame. Triangle shelving was fitted to the corners, and it gave the
final added strength to the walls.
Stepping out, I asked, ‘When can they go into production?’
‘In a month or two.’
‘Produce a thousand, and use them around Darfur and Chad, see
how they work. Send some to Rescue Force at Mawlini for them to
experiment with, but then I want a larger version - to fit a family of
five. As soon as that’s ready I want to see it. Well done, everyone,
it’s a good design – and cheap. But where’s the TV?’
I took away their brochure, and sat up late that night reading it.
Turning to Helen, I said, ‘For The Brotherhood to rise up and
organise they’ll need people and … a density of people, yeah?’
‘Yes, I should think so.’
‘So if the camps are all small camps, dotted around, they can’t
organise too well, now can they?’
‘Well, no, I suppose not.’
‘In order to get the supplies in, people like the Red Cross will opt
for larger camps - it makes life easier. But I’d opt for smaller camps,
well spread out.’

The next day the news broke; someone had gone to the press and
reported that the 2025 disaster will be a quake in the Gulf. The detail
was both accurate, and a worry.
Jimmy waited a day to see what the press speculation would be,
but a Kuwaiti official confirmed the story. That was that; we were in
the final leg of Jimmy’s struggle. I spoke to him on the phone, and
he didn’t sound concerned, he sounded almost relieved.
Global stock markets dipped and oil prices rose; I guess they
weren’t looking at the calendar since we had five years to go. Jimmy
then planned a TV statement, asking for the speech to be piped to
everyone on the planet at the same time. It would be 2pm GMT and
held in London. In the house, I sat with Helen and the girls to watch
it.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, and those watching this broadcast far and
wide, I’m here today to address you about the speculation about a
disaster to occur in 2025. The press speculation is correct, there will
be an earthquake in the Gulf region, and a bad earthquake.
‘As with other earthquakes and disasters, I have been working
with the various world leaders for long time to plan ahead, and to
consider what we might do. Many of the world’s leaders knew
twenty years ago, but we’ve kept it secret so that we could plan, and
so that the peoples of the affected regions could get on with their
lives and receive outside investment.
‘It was decided a while ago to inform the Saudi Government and
others in the Middle East, and to make joint plans and preparations.
The earthquake will strike a region stretching from Northern India,
through Northern Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran. There will be
widespread devastation in those regions, particularly in southeast
Iran.
‘As a result of the earthquake, the Iranian side of the Gulf will
rise, and the Saudi side will sink. The resulting tsunami will reach
inland ten miles, and will sweep away all before it. The water will
reach Basra in Iraq, and will wipe away Kuwait, Qatar and The
Emirates. The wave will also strike southern Iran, Southern Pakistan
and the west coast of India, Oman and Yemen, even as far south as
Somalia and Kenya.
‘Following the earthquake and tsunami, the economy of the
region will be severely affected, and there will be a refugee crisis.
The various world leaders have been working with me to make plans
to deal with that refugee crisis but, unfortunately, if those refugees
are not housed effectively, then civil unrest in the Middle East is
likely.
‘Everyone should be aware … that in early 2025 all oil
production in the Gulf will end. That should not be a cause for
concern, since I know where additional oil can be found. We also
have electric cars, and electric bus technology, and I now urge all
nations to adopt the electric car technology before it’s too late.
‘Everyone should also be aware that this crisis can, and will, be
dealt with, as were the other problems that we previously faced.
Mankind will go on as before, the world economies will go on as
before, husbands and wives will argue … as before. The worst thing
you have to fear … is idle gossip by the press. Thank you.’
‘Well, it’s out there,’ I said with a sigh.
‘My God,’ Shelly said. ‘No Middle East oil. Is there enough in
other areas?’
‘I doubt it,’ I commented. ‘That’s why we’re pushing electric
cars.’
Checking the news online that evening, I could see banks
collapsing, property development companies folding, and other
businesses making provisions for losing money in the region.
Individual tales emerged of people being wiped out after having
invested in certain regions of the Gulf. Oil continued to spike
upwards, the markets falling further – despite Jimmy’s reassurance.

The next day the TV news was not good, Dubai property prices
reducing to zero, the ruling families complaining that they should
have been warned twenty years ago. At least they were blaming the
US and the Saudis, and not Jimmy directly.
I called an emergency meeting of the African leaders for the
following day, and welcomed them into the conference centre as
their President. Taking the podium, I hoped that I could be
reassuring.
‘Ladies and gentlemen. You’ve all now seen the news about the
2025 earthquake, and let me start by saying that the affect on Africa
will be very small. We produce our own oil, and we’re not as
dependent on the Middle East as some nations are. But, even though
we’ll not be affected, we will do all we can to assist, because as
Jimmy said … problems in the Middle East may lead to civil unrest
there, and maybe a war.
‘In the short-term, we are asking all African oil producers to cut
back on production, and are hoping that the Gulf states sell as much
oil as possible in the next five years. Some of that oil revenue will
then be used to assist the refugees in 2025. You must calculate that,
after 2025, Africa oil will be much sought after, and will make us a
much greater profit. So leave it in the ground for now, where you
can.
‘But there is more to this tale than I’m letting on. Jimmy believes
that unrest in the Middle East could lead to war, and that it will
spread, probably to us. Because of that we’re making plans and
contingencies – just in case. I urge all of you to cooperate fully with
those contingency plans; if we all pull together in one direction then
we’re a very strong continent.
‘In the years ahead we’ll be looking at ways of internalising our
markets, and making things that we currently import. We’ll be
sponsoring factories in many nations, aiming to build what we need.
We’ll also look closely at the goods that each nation makes, and will
try to have them sold around the other nations.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, we’re in a very good position, good
enough to help the Middle East, and strong enough to resist any
aggression. Reassure your peoples, and carry on expanding as usual.
Hold your heads up high, and never appear concerned. Africa is now
strong, very strong.’
After my applause we broke to mingle, drinks in hand. Small
groups huddled and discussed the turn of events, and I beat up those
countries that produced oil, hinting at consequences if production
was not cut back.
An agreement was made, even with the Nigerians, and oil quotas
were set, a communiqué released. I made a speech to the TV
cameras afterwards, reassuring the peoples of Africa, and suddenly
felt like I was the President, really the President.

G20

A week later, Helen, myself, and my team jumped aboard Africa


One, bound for the UN building in New York and a meeting of
leaders and Finance Ministers. The UN did, however, now screen all
diplomats. They kept the lousy coffee in plastic urns, but they
screened potential shooters.
Familiar faces were greeted, a few new ones introduced, thirty
minutes taken to chat in small groups before Jimmy called order.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, politicians, hard working aides. This
meeting is … a little more out in the open than I had anticipated - by
a few years at least. Perhaps that’s a good thing, not least because
there are fewer secrets that I’m burdened with. Some in the Middle
East are very concerned, some afraid, some downright angry at the
thought of losing their homes, businesses and livelihoods. They will,
at the very least, escape with their lives, and if the people around this
table work together and assist, then the Middle East may have a
chance at recovery.
‘We’ve already seen the Saudis move quickly, and I’m pleased
that they’re showing such resilience. That brings us to the first topic,
the one of oil production - an important topic to us all. The Saudis,
and hopefully other Gulf states, have entered into an agreement
whereby the nations represented around this table will buy more oil
now, expecting fully for there to be none from that region in 2025.
Part of that deal … is that the Saudis will assist financially towards
the cost of preparing and dealing with the refugee crisis in 2025.
‘So, first of all, can I have a show of hands … of people not
happy with this approach towards Saudi oil.’
‘Oil prices will be high for five years?’ the Brazilians asked.
‘Not high, but more than before. If they rise too much then we’ll
increase our own production.’
The Saudis piped up with, ‘We believe that we can restore
offshore drilling within weeks after the tsunami.’
‘And how will you get it ashore?’ Jimmy asked.
‘We will tanker it straight down to Mozambique.’
‘A good approach,’ Jimmy commended.
‘And after 2025?’ the Japanese asked. ‘Where do you expect oil
prices to be?’
‘Ninety-five dollars a barrel,’ Jimmy suggested, a few people
exchanging looks.
‘Why so low?’ the Japanese asked.
‘Because the crisis will polarise people’s view of electric cars,’
Jimmy explained. ‘They’ll panic, despite assurances, and I’ll be
pushing hard to get electric car costs down even lower.’
‘How do you see the refugee crisis developing?’ the Turks asked.
‘I see Turkey not accepting any refugees, and I advise you not to.
I see the refugees remaining in their own countries, or close by, and
being assisted there. I see temporary shelters being built, food and
water shipped in.
‘The President of Africa, my good colleague, assures me that they
have invented self-assembly homes that are not only suitable, but
come with solar panels and wind turbines to generate electricity and
warmth. Such homes are only around six thousand dollars to
produce, made from materials in our region of Africa.
‘All of the nations here are free to buy those homes in years to
come, to assist with refugees, or can simply donate towards them. A
little money will go a long way to keep the refugees … happy.’
‘And would donor nations be expected to contribute to the
Iranians?’ President Blake asked.
‘They most definitely will, since an unstable Iran is not desired
… by anyone. And the countries unaffected by the disaster, those
that expect to take refugees, will be Jordan and Syria, Iraq itself
hosting its own refugees from Basra and the area to the south of it –
plus those of the Gulf states. I’ll be asking that donor nations
contribute towards the added burden on those countries, but – as you
may know – Paul is already assisting those nations, and will
continue to do so. Paul? Mister President?’
I gave him a look. ‘We have desalination plants already working,
increased agricultural output in Jordan, and we’re funding housing
projects. In Iraq itself we’re working on much needed desalination,
but around Basra - water piped up to the city and far enough away
from any tsunami damage. I’ve also donated hundreds of electric
buses and thousands of solar panels to assist with their economies in
a small way.
‘In the years ahead I intend to build apartments in Syria, Iraq and
Jordan, ready to assist with refugees. But, we’ve no idea of the
movement of the peoples of Kuwait, Qatar and The Emirates.
Perhaps our Saudi friends could give us their opinion.’
‘The Kuwaitis will be at an enclave thirty miles inland, across our
border. The other nations are ... undecided on a course of action, but
there is high ground they could go to.’
Jimmy said, ‘If they remain in the area, then food and water will
be scarce, no electricity, no roads, no functioning ports. Perhaps you
could offer them temporary areas till they see the damage … and
finally pay attention.’
‘And then?’ the Saudis nudged.
‘And then … you could assist them till they reclaim their own
lands, or move to other nations – under agreement with those
nations.’
‘Will the Kuwaitis not use their enclave in Africa?’ India asked.
‘Yes, they will,’ the Saudis replied. ‘For a certain number of
citizens. And we will relocate almost three million.’
‘Could Dubai not relocate as well?’ the Indians asked, and I tried
not to show my disappointment in their question.
‘Dubai’s wealth came from the allure of their golden city,’ Jimmy
suggested. ‘That wealth is now gone, and they owe a great deal of
money to many people. They have little to bargain with.’
‘The Emirates and Qatar total some four point five million
people,’ the Saudis thought they would mention. ‘More than we
could absorb, or would wish to.’
‘Could they return later?’ Blake asked.
‘No,’ Jimmy suggested. ‘They’d be starting from scratch, nothing
left. Absolutely nothing. Many will drive towards Iraq when the
time runs short, some towards Oman – but Oman will have its own
problems.’
‘And what of Pakistan?’ the Indians asked.
‘They’ll have an internal refugee problem of one or two million
people.’
‘And will that lead to unrest?’ the Indians pressed.
‘No,’ Jimmy answered. ‘The Warizistan Taliban have been
diminished, and will continue to be diminished before the time.’
‘And Iran?’ Blake asked.
‘Will concentrate on looking after its people. The unrest … that I
expect, would start in Basra, and that’s where my efforts will be
focused.’
We spent thirty minutes going back and forth before we broke
into smaller groups, individual deals discussed. After a lunch break
we met with the Russians, Chinese, Americans and our outgoing
British PM.
Jimmy placed a map of the region on the table. ‘OK, let’s get
down to it. First of all, the Saudi factor is new to me ... and
unexpected. If they help financially, then things may be better in the
region after the tsunami. I’ll also be expecting you all to dig deep,
because the rise of The Brotherhood is about displaced people with
empty bellies, rejected by those around them. The displaced from
Qatar, Kuwait and the Emirates - the poor displaced, will end up
north and west of Basra, in camps.
‘Even though those camps will have Iraqis in, the local Iraqis will
soon want the foreigners gone, because around Basra jobs are scarce
enough now anyway. If the Saudis take many, then the Basra camps
could be reduced, and let me be clear about something: the rise of
The Brotherhood is not assured, and may be delayed for years.’
‘I had an idea,’ I put in. ‘If we create many small camps, instead
of one big camp with a million people in it, then the rise may not
find the support it needs to gain momentum.’
‘An excellent idea,’ Jimmy commended.
‘If we pressure the Saudis to take some, then those camps don’t
need to be so big,’ Blake suggested.
‘We’d need the oil buying nations to join forces and pressure the
Saudis,’ Jimmy informed them. ‘Oman will suffer, they won’t want
to take any people – even if we offer financial aid.’
‘Four million people is a lot for the Saudis to adopt,’ I cautioned.
‘Anything is a benefit,’ Blake suggested. ‘I’ll talk to them. Do
they know about the Brotherhood?’
Jimmy nodded.
‘But not the other nations,’ Blake noted. ‘Probably best; that
would depress people around the world for sure. And you’re sure
that Iran won’t descend into chaos.’
‘Pretty much,’ Jimmy suggested. ‘Besides, we’ll assist them.’
‘How many refugees will they have?’ Blake asked.
‘The most, almost five million homeless, but most will stay near
their old homes.’
‘What if Iraq closed its border?’ I asked.
‘They did before, but the border guards all accepted large bribes
to let the people in. And people just drove around the border posts,
across the desert. The Saudis will be quite brutal with unwelcome
visitors.
‘OK, moving on. If, and when, The Brotherhood rise up, this is
the plan. Our forces in Afghanistan run a line from the Chinese
border to the Gulf, stopping anyone crossing into Pakistan, or vice
versa. That will be the same force as is there now, but strengthened.’
He tapped the map. ‘Next, the Africans will take the Sinai
Peninsula, possibly with Egyptian permission. Your combined
navies will patrol the Gulf, the Red Sea and the Yemen Straits from
the base we now have. NATO takes the Mediterranean, Russia – you
take the Black Sea, the Bosphorus Straits down to Europe.
‘An army of Rifles will land in India and assist on their border
with Pakistan. Russia, you’ll cut off Georgia with an army north of
that country, a second line of defence inside your own borders. The
European armies will position themselves in Greece, Bulgaria and
Romania, Gibraltar and Spain, Southern Italy and Malta.
‘Russia and China, you need to watch northern Iran. That bottles
up the region, but that’s just the start line. At the time I’ll look at
where pockets of The Brotherhood are active, and use search and
destroy missions with the Rifles, plus those of your soldiers suitably
trained. Then, as in Afghanistan, we would make camps and set-up
flags, inviting attack … and killing anyone who does attack us;
they’ll run out of people before we run out of ammunition.
‘My aim … is to be able to call upon a hundred thousand Rifles,
and forty thousand of your soldiers suitably trained, but never
deploying more than half of that.’
‘What about Turkey?’ the Russians asked.
Jimmy took a moment. ‘Hard to call. I probably will put Rifles on
their border, but they do have their own very capable army. But
there are two things that The Brotherhood will want to attack. One is
oil production in general and the Saudi Arabia oil in particular, and
the other is Israel. One strategy could be to deploy Rifles to the
Saudi border, another group around Israel; if they killed enough
people it could turn the tide. It could be the solution I’ve been
searching for.
‘Problem is, that’s a ten year job as the Middle Eastern countries
get back on their feet and fight back themselves. Remember, the
economies will be hit hard.’
‘And if the displaced are spread around?’ the Russians asked.
‘Then they won’t have the concentrated firepower, and they can’t
gain momentum. And remember, it’s not just the displaced that join
them, many ordinary Arabs flock to their cause because they’re all
unemployed and suffering.’
‘Can your soldiers go in sooner?’ the Chinese asked.
‘They would help to spark the rise,’ Jimmy said as he studied the
map. ‘Seen as foreign oppressors.’
‘This whole mess comes down to the wrecked economies,’ Blake
noted.
‘Do you fancy throwing some money at the problem?’ Jimmy
testily asked.
‘I can just see Congress approving money to rebuild Iran!’ Blake
scoffed.
‘And that, boys and girls, is why we’re screwed,’ Jimmy said
with a sigh. ‘We’d have to throw a lot of money at corrupt dictators
or proclaimed enemies.’
Studying the map, an idea came to me, but I kept it to myself.
Jimmy ended with, ‘I want all of you to consider just how much
you would commit to the restoration of the Middle East economies.
We have a while yet, and I would expect the recession to end this
year. I’ll supply CAR with locations of untapped oil; we’ll drill, but
cap them off ready. Russia, try use your coal-oil internally where
you can.’

Back in Africa, I offered the South Africans coal-oil technology,


provided they buy factory goods from us. It was an easy deal for
them to accept. I sent them details of the non-chemical process and a
bunch of experts, plus a loan towards their first refinery. That done, I
asked Abdi to pop in.
‘Abdi, how do you feel about giving over some of your empty
land for an enclave, for a few years.’
‘To who?’ he puzzled.
‘To rich Arabs from Qatar and The Emirates.’
He took a moment. ‘What do you think?’
‘They would be fenced off, not interacting with your people, but
buying goods from you. And I’d expect them to go home after 2029.
They’d pay you towards the land, and they’d build a port.’
‘Will they become dangerous after this earthquake?’
‘Dangerous? They’d be surrounded by Somali Rifles! Can you
think of anyone wanting to trouble you?’
Abdi smiled. ‘No.’
‘And they’d have no weapons. Maybe their police would have
some weapons, but that’s it.’
‘How many people would come?’
‘Maybe a quarter million at most.’
‘If you think it would be OK.’
‘What could go wrong? You surround them. And, ask them to
spend some money on oil exploration offshore.’
‘That is expensive,’ Abdi agreed.
‘It’s what they’re good at, so let them do it. You’d get a share of
the profits.’
I then asked Jimmy where the untapped oil was off Somalia, and
he sent a scanned image with a few scribbles on. The Saudi Prince
was summoned with his opposite numbers from Qatar and The
Emirates. They came to my office, but the new faces did not look
pleased to be in my company.
‘Thank you for coming,’ I offered.
‘We have little to lose,’ one stated.
‘And everything to gain,’ I quickly added. ‘OK, I’ll get down to
it. I’ve worked long and hard to persuade the Somalis to allow you
an enclave, as with the Saudis in Mozambique.’
‘That enclave has oil.’
‘This has more oil.’
‘Why were we not offered that?’ the Saudi Prince asked.
‘It’s close to the Middle East and … if there’s conflict in the
Middle East, it’s … close. We figured you’d want to be far away.’
‘What conflict?’ they Qatar representative asked.
‘We believe that if the economy of the Middle East stays poor for
many years after the quake, that war could break out.’
They glanced at each other, shrugging. They obviously didn’t
seem to disagree with that.
‘Look,’ I said. ‘The land is cheap enough, there’s oil offshore,
and when your existing countries are back up to speed you can move
back. You’d have to pay the Somalis a percentage of the oil, but I’d
subsidise your food and water.’
‘Subsidise? For … how many people?’
‘How many do you have?’
‘Two million,’ the man from Qatar said.
‘Then I’d subsidise food for that number.’
They stared back.
‘Who is the offer for?’ the official from Qatar asked.
‘Both of you, enclaves side by side.’
‘And who extracts the oil?’
‘You do it under agreement, overseen by CAR, quadrant by
quadrant. Anyway, think about it.’
‘And if they do not wish to pursue this offer?’ the Saudi Prince
asked.
‘I’ll try and get you in there,’ I offered. ‘But only if you set-up an
enclave in your territory for these good gentlemen; quid pro quo.’
‘And the oilfield size?’ the Prince asked.
‘Don’t get ahead of yourself, these gentlemen haven’t decided
yet.’
I took them to lunch in New Kinshasa, showing them the view
from the tallest tower. ‘I built this from nothing,’ I told them. ‘And I
can build you an enclave very quickly.’
Jimmy rang me a few days later and asked what I was up to. I
said that I had an idea, and that I was doing what I was good at, and
to trust me. He sounded worried.

A month later the governments of Qatar and The Emirates, which


were basically the royal families, agreed to the deal. They each paid
Abdi two billion dollars down for the land, and I got to work. I sent
a thousand of the basic quick-assembly huts that we made to
Somalia, along with a thousand workers. With a batch of the new
flat-pack homes ready, I grabbed five hundred and sent them up as
well, along with a couple of hundred miles of barbed wire.
The initial team set-up the two squares, both five miles wide and
five deep, and pegged them out. I sent bulldozers by train and lorry,
hiring four thousand Somali builders, Abdi providing Rifles to patrol
the perimeter wire. The corporation sent up convoys of water tankers
from Mogadishu, bottled water and food.
The ground was cut before year’s end, Helen and myself filmed
with shovels in hands. Back at the mansion, Jimmy was waiting. He
nudged me towards the end of the garden and the jetty.
‘How much are the enclaves in Somalia costing us?’
‘How much will the rise of The Brotherhood cost us?’ I
countered.
He shot me a look before taking in the calm lake, sailboats in the
distance. ‘Good answer. If I thought it would stop them … I’d use
everything we have.’
‘But…?’
He put his hands in his pockets and stared down at small fish in
the shallows. ‘Was a time when I considered committing the Rifles
to the Middle East, even if it cost them all their lives. And … there
was a time when I thought about using all the financial resources
from down here. But …’
‘But you couldn’t bring yourself to do it,’ I finished off. I put my
hands in my pockets and stared out across the lake, heaving a sigh.
‘What I’ve built down here means everything to me; I’d be sorely
tempted to tell the world to go to fuck and just isolate Africa.’
‘I’ve had that thought once or twice. But if The Brotherhood get
Iranian missiles or fissile material – ’
‘Then we’d be at the end of a nuke inside a decade. Yes, I know.’
‘When I gave you more to do down here, it was to develop your
political skills, and to widen your experience. I figured that the
experience would come in handy when the troubles started. Africa is
now five or six years ahead of where it should be, and that’s on an
exponential chart, and you’re looking at things with a commercial
slant, not a political one. Instead of asking people nicely … you’re
dangling big carrots. As well as kicking a few doors in.
‘That jewellery factory was a good idea, a billion dollar industry
already, and the water pipes should make a big difference to tensions
now and in the future. Fact is, we’re in new territory, way ahead of
schedule and on a different course. The Saudis were never supposed
to have enclaves, nor the Kuwaitis or others.’
‘If they’re not there in 2025, then they can’t become refugees,’ I
pointed out.
‘If the rich leave and the poor stay, then it’ll still be an issue.’
‘Well, in that case, I may just have a word with certain Arabic
gentlemen and modify my agreement. Or else!’
‘Maybe this is the right approach, the commercial approach. I’ve
been focused on the fighting too much.’
‘Fighting with your other self. Which are you, soldier or doctor?’
‘If I’m the soldier, you’re the doctor,’ Jimmy softly stated.
‘The enclaves can’t do any harm. They get people out of the
quake zone, they create jobs here, they make money for Africa, and
they’re ring-fenced; surrounded by Rifles.’
‘There’ll be no Iraqis in the enclaves,’ Jimmy commented. ‘And
they’re the spark for the fire.’
‘I’m working on a few ideas, and I’m sure that I can make a
difference.’
‘That’s what I always hoped for, that someone else would take on
the fight.’
‘It’s what you hired me for, boss.’
He turned and smiled. ‘I hired you for your charm and wit, and
because you produce nice daughters.’
‘Shelly has surprised us; not interested in university now.’
‘She’s bright enough as it is, and university is just three years of
reading books.’
‘She’s quite settled with Mali, and working eighty hours a week.
Poor girl looks tired some days.’
‘She’s found her calling,’ Jimmy commented. ‘And a few years
early. Another surprise.’
‘Well, there’s no point knowing the future just to repeat it –
someone once said.’
Jimmy smiled. ‘You’re learning. And it’s only taken thirty years.
How’ll you power the enclaves in Somalia?’
‘Got a ruddy great nuclear reactor down the coast with spare
capacity; I’ll run power lines. The plant will also power the
desalination works.’
‘Some day, the Somalis may not be happy you gave away their
oil.’
‘They get twenty percent.’
‘They should have got eighty!’
‘Well, they got money upfront, and I’m creating jobs for them.
They can whinge if the world is still here after 2025.’
‘Don’t repeat this yet, but that quake will cause a tiny shift in the
earth’s orbit, making us a little cooler in the decades ahead.’
‘Noticeably cooler?’
‘No, just a degree or two, but it all helps.’
‘You’ve banned the release of the plankton in the Caribbean,’ I
noted.
‘It would do well there, but affect their tourist trade. And right
now we need the world economy buoyant. Anyway, how’s money?’
‘Don’t you keep track?’
‘Yes, but I like to ask you what you’re up to, Mister President.’
‘Cash is fine, American stocks climbing and we’ve offloaded
some. The loan money is coming back, but slowly, CAR is down
because we capped the wells, but GDP and taxes here are rocketing.
My good citizens are not savers, they’re spenders.’
‘New found wealth,’ Jimmy noted.
‘Got a bunch of companies that want to build hotels down here,
but I only grant them a license when the other hotels are over sixty
percent occupancy.’
‘You are indeed a wise leader of your people,’ Jimmy mocked.
‘And Ben Ares was after a few quid?’
‘I made it conditional; a peace dividend.’
‘Yeah, well good luck with that. But … but the Gaza Palestinians
are moving to Egypt in numbers, and to Jordan. Your policies there
are easing the housing shortages inside the occupied territories.’
‘And the Israelis are now compensating Palestinians before they
boot them out of their homes. We’re paying for it ... but it’s the
thought that counts.’
He shot me a look. ‘Cats and dogs; the Israelis will never
change.’
‘Their economy is suffering,’ I said. ‘More orthodox Israelis on
state benefits than people working!’
‘The working Israelis tend to have two kids, the orthodox Israelis
have four or more. And the poor old US taxpayer is being nudged
towards helping out.’
‘Sanchez seems to have become a footnote in history already.’
‘The US military machine sees Israel as an important outpost in a
sea of hostile nations, and the Israelis see the Americans as a
pushover. They’re using each other, but it’s the Israelis that will pay
the price - the higher price ultimately.’
We headed back to the house. Jimmy said, ‘A lot of human rights
activists are after us for the Rifles in South America and elsewhere,
accusing us of shooting first and arresting second.’
‘Damn right.’
‘So pull them out, all apart from Mexico.’

In the weeks that followed I dispatched a few thousand volunteers to


Somalia, to speed up the enclaves, and hired another three thousand
Somali builders, the men coming from all over the country.
Oddly enough, many of the hotel companies that nagged me
about building in New Kinshasa now started to ask about the
enclaves. I explained that it was sovereign land belonging to Qatar
and The Emirates, and to ask them. They received permission
straight away, and ground was soon cut on a dozen hotels in each
enclave.
We housed plenty of building companies in our region, some of
whom had laid off staff as New Kinshasa neared completion, so I
dispatched a few of them up to Somalia with grants. They re-hired
former staff and shipped their heavy equipment up by train. I figured
that the enclave would be ready way ahead of schedule.
I then had an idea, a sneaky idea. I contacted the emirs and
princes responsible for the building work, and informed them that I
would build worker’s apartments at the rear of the enclaves, and that
they would be pulled down in 2025. They had no objection, but
thought it expensive compared to the pre-fabricated houses that a lot
of workers suffered in.
The order was signed off, and concrete apartments for five
thousand workers were sanctioned – in each enclave. But I had made
a mistake, deliberately. I assumed one worker per two- bedroom
apartment. Silly me. Ten thousand apartments would now be built,
built by men who were expert in building these standardised blocks.
And when finished, I would forget to demolish them.

End of year

The end of 2019, and the start of 2020, was widely celebrated, a
little like 1999 turning to 2000, and cities the world over competed
for the best displays – apart from Dubai. The former golden jewel of
the Gulf was now a ghost town, apartments empty, cars abandoned
and collecting dust and sand.
Dubai’s penthouse suites, bought for tens of millions, sat empty.
But they started to attract a strange crowd of holidaymakers, people
keen to stay in luxury for a week or two at next to nothing –
especially the Palm Fronds villas belonging to the rich and famous.
The rental agencies handled the bookings, no regard for the absent
owners, tourism picking up a little.
Most of our belongings from the old house had now been moved
down, and we had little interest left in the UK. Some UK
newspapers accused me of abandoning the country, but the stories
didn’t bother me. Much. I gave an interview to the BBC a day later.
‘My work here is very important, especially towards 2025. We’re
building cities for the Arabs to live in, and we’re working on new
products and new technologies to help the Middle East after the
earthquake and tsunami. That work is vital. We’re also working on
fresh oilfields, and new energy technologies to assist in the future if
there’s an oil shortage.
‘The coal-oil technology that the UK is benefiting from so much
was developed down here, and that’s created tens of thousands of
jobs. The lights will stay on the UK for the next hundred years
because of that technology.’
I felt better, and vindicated, and wasn’t sure if I cared any more
about British newspapers. Much.
Christmas was a family affair, Jimmy plus his new woman - a
thirty-five year old American actress. She had gained work through
some of the films that we had sponsored, and met Jimmy at a charity
function to raise money for the Hawaiian displaced, some of whom
were still displaced.
The films we had funded had done well enough for us to recoup
most of the money, and the propaganda machine was working flat
out. Books about the combined soldiers in Afghanistan had been
available for a year or so, a hundred thousand printed in each
language and sent to every military base of the countries in question.
Ordinary soldiers and young recruits now had their idols, and a goal
to aim for.
Two films about the combined units had been released, and
international military integration was becoming the norm. The naval
base in Somali had been filmed many times, as well as the bases in
Madagascar and Sri Lanka. Russian long-range bombers landed in
Scotland, and British and American warships docked in Russian
ports, Russian dolls and trinkets purchased for wives and girlfriends,
Russian prostitutes visited after a spot of shopping.
Jimmy had made a point of visiting many of the bases where the
nations mixed, and had taken his latest squeeze along to the base in
Somalia before joining us here for Christmas. Mali was now part of
the family, but Lucy surprised us by swapping boyfriends every
three months or so. We had always considered Shelly to be the tart
of the family.
Liz loved Christmas, and loved to be fussed-over by Jimmy; I
rarely got a look in if Jimmy was in the room. She would sit on his
lap and watch the TV with us, Jimmy content to carry her to a room
where she could watch a kid’s programme with him, sometimes for
hours.
Our Christmas catering was handled by Cookie and Sandra, down
on a kind of working holiday, and we all ate way too much as usual.
I even fell asleep by the pool after lunch. With New Year
threatening a bit of a squall, we opted for a function in New
Kinshasa, a business tower with a restaurant and nightclub on the
twentieth floor. If offered the partygoers a view of the city lights,
and I stood staring down at my creation.
Jimmy’s lady, the stunning actress, drew level. ‘It’s beautiful.
And you built all this from jungle.’
‘Well, it wasn’t all jungle – some was mosquito infested swamp.’
She smiled. ‘Quite an achievement; you must be proud.’
‘I am, but we’re not finished yet. Just built an Olympic sized pool
for competitions, a new fire station, another library and a few extra
Internet cafes. It’s never ending trying to design the perfect city. So,
how’re things Stateside?’
‘I don’t really get to see any of the problems, but you see it on the
news.’
‘Still many homeless?’
‘The people protesting are not homeless, just not … living where
they’d like to live … or have the jobs they want. Most of the coastal
areas have been repaired, the parts you can see, but compensation
claims and insurance are still an issue; still people trying to claim.
My mother’s house was damaged in Malibu, and she’s still trying to
sort out the insurance almost two years on. You still see homes
boarded up.’
‘And Brad, how’s he doing?’
‘He’s very popular, doing what he can, always attacking the
damn insurance companies. He’s formed his own political party and
will be running as a late entry this year.’
‘Elections are …November?’ She nodded. ‘You Americans like
to start early. My election was easy enough, I just said – I’ll do it.’
The background music ended suddenly. ‘Please leave, we have a
fire down below!’
I grabbed the man who warned us as people filed out. ‘What
floor?’
‘Number three, sir.’
I turned. ‘I want all able-bodied men and security staff with me!’
I shouted, Jimmy closing in as I led the security detail down the
stairs. We rushed down creating our own echoing roar, a full sixteen
floors, our party being the only people in the building. On the fifth
floor I stopped, asking the initial guard who warned me where the
fire was.
‘Towards the canal, sir.’
I opened the stairwell doors and checked, leading the men into an
open plan office. Looking down, I could see the canal through the
smoke. ‘Security, shoot out these windows, all of them on this side.’
Standing back and joining Jimmy, the guards shot out the
windows, a breeze and a whiff of smoke entering the large open plan
office.
‘OK, throw everything out, into the canal. Move it!’
Jimmy took his jacket off and grabbed a desk by himself, soon
shoving it through the broken glass. Computer screens splashed into
the water, filing cabinets tumbled, and chairs clattered on the
concrete below. With everyone working hard and cooperating in
carrying desks, we soon had an empty office.
‘Carpet tiles, ceiling tiles!’ I shouted. ‘Rip them all down.’
Sticky carpet tiles were pulled up, guards on chairs knocking
down the white ceiling tiles.
Jimmy grabbed a water cooler and stepped out. He descended a
floor, the ladies now out of the building, and smashed it onto the
stairs. Others copied, water coolers smashed on the floor that I was
on.
I led the men a floor lower, all now perspiring, and found a
corner office alight. ‘Shoot out the windows, throw everything out.’
Heading towards the fire, I pulled the hose off the wall with an
angered determination, straightened it out with a little help and
turned on the water. We had pressure. I sprayed the office doors
first, yellow flickering flames visible, then ordered the guards to
hold them ajar. With twelve inches to play with, and black smoke
billowing out, I aimed at the ceiling, soon seeing white tiles blown
aside.
Closing in on the gap, I aimed lower, soon no flames visible, just
a lot of black smoke. I backed up, handing the hose to a guard. ‘Turn
the water off!’ I faced the man I handed it to. ‘Stay here.’
We checked each office in turn, all dressed in our black tuxedos,
but found no further evidence of fire on this floor. Opening the
stairwell doors, shiny helmets burst in.
‘Are you OK, sir?’
‘Yes, we got the fire out. And the floor above us - we moved
everything flammable out.’
‘Please be going now, sir.’
‘Going? I built this city, and I’m not losing a building! Follow
me.’
Jimmy tagged along behind, back up a level. We found smoke.
‘Coming from the vents,’ Jimmy noted. ‘That’s how fires travel
floor to floor.’
The vent turned out to be hot to the touch. With Jimmy and the
fire chief helping, we reeled out a hose and turned it on, spraying the
vent. When it was cooler, Jimmy punched a hole into its thin metal,
the hose shoved in. The bare concrete floors were now wet, sticky
stains from where the carpet tiles had been.
Not wanting to take a chance, I dosed the whole floor, the open
plan office now very open, the odd calendar fixed to the walls, lose
telephones lying in the water.
Another fireman stepped in. ‘All OK above this floor, sir.’
‘And where the fire started?’ I asked.
‘Out now, sir, but much damage.’
Jimmy led me below, past firemen on the stairs, and to the
blackened remains of an office, sloshing through a half-inch of
water, drips falling from the exposed concrete ceiling, a few soggy
and deformed tiles still hanging.
I picked up a half-burnt calendar. ‘Someone will have a
redecorating bill in the new year.’
Jimmy picked up the melted plastic pot of a charred Christmas
tree, the wires of Christmas lights still visible. He waited.
‘Fairy lights left on,’ I realised.
‘Good idea to clear out the fifth floor, could have made a real
difference,’ Jimmy commended. ‘C’mon, best go get cleaned up -
and reassure the women folk we’re alive and well.’
Outside, the police and fire brigade had arrived in force, the party
guests all huddled as it started to rain, names taken. I collected my
ladies, Jimmy collecting his date, and we headed home, faces
blackened with soot, suits wet and ruined, Helen not impressed that I
tried to tackle the fire.
‘I built this city, love; I’ll be buggered if I’m going to let a fire
damage it.’ I got a disapproving scowl, and looks from Shelly and
Lucy.
At the mansion, I threw away my jacket and grabbed a beer with
Jimmy. Jimmy commented, ‘You may now feel … a little as I did
when I came back. That … feeling of anger towards the inevitable
destruction of what’s been built.’
I sipped my beer and took a moment. Peering down into my
drink, I said, ‘I’d have died trying to fight that fire, and not given
up.’
‘There’ll be other buildings, in other places,’ Jimmy commented.
I took a moment. ‘Not easy to let one go - any one.’
‘It never is, but you move on and try again.’
I stared back at him. I carefully stated, ‘I could never do this
again.’
‘You think that now, but you’d change.’
The actress wasn’t following our thread.
Jimmy added, ‘And, if disaster comes, all you need is that first
step. Then, once you’re there … it’s a case of one step at a time, one
day at a time.’
Helen and the girls were not happy, and I received an ear bashing.
Jimmy assured them that there was little real danger, till he received
an ear bashing as well, opting to take his lady to the casino. Liz was
still up, and at least she was not whinging at me. We settled down to
a Japanese 3-D cartoon about a monster eating Tokyo, my daughter
fascinated.
Returning to the fire the next morning, I ordered a review of all
tall buildings and their respective fire codes. Later in the day, my
deputy from the corporation came around with a large Christmas
tree. He placed it on the road and set fire to a low branch. The damn
thing went up in three seconds.
‘Chinese imported Christmas trees, sir. Two others reported
alight.’
‘Issue a warning, ban them from Africa for next year.’

Desert bloom

Things returned to normal, and I returned to my desk, but I now set


out one-year and four-year plans, some elements of which I kept to
myself. First, I asked the brain-trust kids from the farm college in
Kenya to form a team, and to see if they can boost crops in Jordan
and Northern Iraq.
The pipeline across Rwanda was ready and tested, water leaving
our lake and travelling across to Lake Victoria, thereafter to either
join the start of the Nile or be pumped out and onwards to Kenya.
The pipes to our own lake were then connected and tested, huge
areas of white water created, bubbles surfacing, which was good for
the fish I was informed.
The next morning, as I stood with a coffee at the end of my
garden, I could see that the water level was higher. I called the
corporation and they called the water company, who said everything
was fine, but that what they hadn’t figured on was a rainy Christmas
and New Year. What they had planned on – without telling me - was
raising our lake twelve inches to improve water storage, and water
quality.
Another phone call and a little research showed the Rwandan
pumps not at the required capacity, and if ours kept pumping I’d
have crocs in my swimming pool in a day or two. Our pumps were
throttled back to fifty percent of normal pressure whilst the pumping
stations across the lake were fixed.
Three days later, the water level fell back, Lake Victoria
receiving its full quota. The second pipeline, the one from the west
of Uganda, now burst into life, and the Egyptians monitoring the
lake level were happy at the increase. That increase was measured in
millimetres, but would have an effect downstream. The Kenyans
were also happy, because water was bursting forth in arid regions,
including some of our safari lodges.
The only hiccup to the whole start-up ceremony was a Rwandan
worker who managed to fall into a pumping station and drown,
being fished out of Lake Victoria the next day after a journey of
some twenty miles. My engineers were delighted that the man had
made it all the way, marvelling at the interior smoothness of the pipe
and its joins. They tried to explain the quality of workmanship to
me, but I just stared at them till they left my office.
A branch of the third pipeline turned north and into Southern
Sudan, its first use being to irrigate safari savannah and bring a little
greenness back to the area. Literally. Dormant seeds burst to life,
and the livestock and prey animals that had been brought in now had
streams in which to quench their thirst. Lions could stop and have a
drink before returning to chasing the antelope across the savannah
for the tourists.

One of my first visitors in the New Year was a Palestinian


spokesman, accompanied by a Jordanian official, the pair something
of a surprise. With tea and coffee made, I sat and faced my
unexpected visitors.
The Palestinian gentleman began, ‘We are familiar with your
work in Jordan and Egypt, your work which … goes around the
Israelis. And, although we do not wish to see our citizens leave, we
are grateful for what you have done.’
‘But…?’ I nudged.
‘We were wondering if there was more that you could be directly
involved with.’
‘Such as…?’
‘Financial assistance.’
‘What could you spend it on? And what could you get through
the Israeli lines without them sanctioning it?’
‘The Israelis have no problem with us receiving overseas aid, and
then spending it on Israeli goods.’
‘Ah…’ I let out, easing back.
They waited.
‘Gentlemen, if I’m going to be get involved, then I want tangible
results for my money.’
‘Results?’
‘A peace dividend,’ I said. ‘Some … progress.’
‘And what … progress did you have in mind?’
‘I’ll build apartments in Ramallah, and east of occupied West
Bank, if you’ll move people that are snuggled up to the Israeli
settlements.’
‘We’d be giving up our land.’
‘They’re going to take it anyway, by slow creep,’ I countered.
‘This way you can compensate your people, and get extra housing.’
‘The fact they may do it anyway … should not be a reason for
tolerating it.’
‘Oh. OK. Try someone else.’
They sat exchanging looks.
The Jordanian official said, ‘I’m sure that we can work something
out. You have been a great friend, and most generous.’
I eased forwards and interlaced my fingers. ‘Here’s the deal. I
build more apartments away from Israeli settlements, you move your
people out of stone-throwing distance, and I’ll send some money.
That’s not because I agree with Israeli settlement policy, it’s because
I agree with moving out of the way of the steamroller. You’ve seen
the Gulf states moving thousands of miles, so you can move a few
short miles. That, is being pragmatic.’
‘And if we agree?’ the Palestinian asked.
‘Then you’ll find me very generous. You can spend the next
twenty years shouting at the slowly advancing steamroller, or move
ten miles and have twenty years of peace. And, if you consider the
quality of life of your people - rather than your cause, you’ll take my
money ahead of your pride.’
I faced the Jordanian. ‘You have a great many Palestinians in
your country. Perhaps you could take more, possibly even an
enclave of them. Then, my assistance to you will be much higher
than it has been.’
‘Do you aim to empty the West Bank?’ the Jordanian asked, not
looking happy.
‘I aim to ease tensions by reducing both the proximity of the
warring parties, and the numbers. Fewer people means more of those
left in work, and less of a welfare burden. That’s how I see things.
But, if you wish the next twenty years to be like the last, then stay as
you are.’
‘You think we are better off outside our lands,’ the Palestinian
noted.
‘The Gulf states chose enclaves in Africa … over the death of
their people. They, obviously care more about lives than parched
soil. What do you care about? If that parched soil and nationhood is
so important to you, then use up the lives of your people to fight
back – I have nothing against that. But don’t do it slowly, causing
suffering to your people. Do it all in one go, sacrifice all of your
people in one go, and when they’re all dead you can be sure that you
fought honourably for that patch of parched soil. And the rest of us,
we can all get some bloody peace.
‘Alternatively, you could look at the Saudis in Mozambique, the
Kuwaitis in Namibia, the Hawaiians in Madagascar, and realise that
being alive, and being part of the human race, is more important
than a piece of land. If you wish to die on your own soil, fine, just
hurry up and get on with it.’
They were a little shocked.
‘We’ll need to discuss your proposal with our leaders.’
‘Of course, take your time. Go forth and cogitate, sit about the
camp fire and smoke the pipe, it’s not like your people are suffering
every day.’
They left me with odd expression on their faces.
Ben Ares was on the phone an hour later. ‘Paul, how are you?’
‘Cut the crap and get to the point, please, or it’ll be
embarrassing.’
‘You’ve had visitors.’
‘Unannounced visitors, who claim ancestry back to the
Philistines.’
‘And what did they want?’
‘The usual; nukes, EMPs, rotten apples to throw at you lot.’
‘They want money.’
‘Yes, but I made it conditional.’
‘On what?’ Ben nudged.
‘That they relocate and compensate their unhappy farmers in the
shadow of those pesky Israeli settlements, and that Jordan takes
more of them.’
‘What did they say?’
‘They said they’d get back to me, but they did compliment me on
my diplomatic style, asking if I picked it up in Tel Aviv.’
‘You’re rude even by Israeli standards!’
‘A compliment if ever I heard one. I’ll let you know if they come
back.’
‘We’d like to open a small consulate in New Kinshasa.’
‘Sure, pick a spot. But does that mean we have to recognise the
State of Israel?’
‘You already do.’
‘Bummer. My Palestinian visitors won’t be happy.’
‘When were they happy?’

My visitors returned two weeks later, happy to make a deal. Well,


happy was not the right word, but they were ready to deal. They
agreed to move farmers, and I’d foot the bill, provided that the
buildings on the land would be demolished and no one else would
try and move in.
I sanctioned the building of five apartment blocks and sent twenty
million dollars cash via the Jordanians. Further assistance would be
dependent on them keeping to their side of the deal. The Jordanians,
meanwhile, were also prepared to deal, accepting a few more
Palestinians for increased uranium ore purchases and development
grants.
The Israelis, meanwhile, ignored my previous agreement to build
apartments in Israel and grabbed some of the vacated Palestinian
land, as I had expected. It was an odd world, but a reliably unreliable
and predictable one.
The Israelis opened their mission in New Kinshasa a few weeks
later, and further Israelis involved in the diamond and jewellery
industry became involved with the existing company, now some six
hundred shops in size. The business expanded into India and South
America, and my surplus gold was reducing at a pleasing rate. The
Israelis opened a kosher food store and restaurant near their offices,
and we added another nationality to the city.
But a month later we had our first serious incident, four armed
robbers intent on relieving the jewellery manufacturers of some of
their produce. The thieves, South Africans, made the mistake of
trying to target the offices instead of the factory, but either one
would have proved equally as fatal.
They burst past the first guard, and held a second at gunpoint,
both guards being Rifles. When the first nodded a signal, he knocked
two gunmen down whilst he colleague pulled his pistol faster than a
wild west cowboy and shot dead all four men in an instant.
I arranged for the incident to be covered up, since it would have
been bad for business. The getaway driver was found and became
crocodile meat, the South African jewellery fence that they would
have used meeting Unit 402 head on.
It was a disappointment, but it was a big city and this was the
Congo. I had the street that housed the jewellery office and factory
gated off, armed guards placed at the entrance. Signs were removed,
no bright advertising boards trying to sell the produce made within.
Still, you’re not a proper city till you attract armed gangs.

Post apocalyptic Canada

‘Commissioner Silo, I know what your complaints are, and your


desire to feed the people is commendable.’
‘There’s always food if you have a gold coin, or some fuel,’
Jimmy pointed out to the army general, General Gibbs. The general
stared back for a second, then walked off. Jimmy turned right and
entered the old hotel that was his office, the place always reminding
him of a Wild West saloon. He took his outer layers off, the coats
damp and dirty.
His secretary had been watching the altercation and now accepted
the coats, hanging them up. ‘Keep at him and you’ll wake up dead,
Jimmy,’ she cautioned.
‘Run the Jacuzzi, I need a bath.’
‘Hah!’ she laughed. ‘Anyway, you have a visitor.’ She nodded
towards a seat, a dark-skinned man sat in a padded coat, holding his
hat.
Jimmy ran a hand down his grey beard and stepped over. ‘You’re
Doctor Singh.’
Singh stood. ‘Yes. I work on … the project.’
‘I know, hard to keep secrets around here.’ They sat next to a low
table, well read magazines from 1994 scattered about. ‘What can I
do for you?’
Singh took a moment, seeming hesitant. ‘I’ve been doing my own
research for many years, in parallel to … theirs. They’ve lied to the
people, they’ve hit a dead end, the same calculations over and over
and they get nowhere. They’ve made no progress for nine months. In
effect, the project is shut down.’
‘That doesn’t surprise me. And all the power they take from the
dam.’ Jimmy shook his mop of unkempt grey hair. ‘What a waste.’
Singh glanced over his shoulder. ‘I think I can get it to work.’
Jimmy eased back. ‘You … can get it to work … where they
failed?’
‘They’re trying to use brute force energy to wind back time.
Brutish, simple, but flawed. They would need a dozen nuclear
reactors wired end to end just to open a tiny portal.’
‘And you think you have a way to do it?’
‘I know I do, I’ve already opened a micro-portal,’ Singh
admitted.
Jimmy eased forwards and rested his elbows on his knees. ‘You
opened a portal?’
‘A micro portal. But I got a radio programme, and it sure as hell
wasn’t from around here. And it was reporting the Falklands War.’
‘1982?’
Singh nodded.
‘Then why are you telling me this, and not your military
paymasters?’
‘Sending someone back through time would be very dangerous, it
could do more harm than good. Besides…’
‘Besides?’
‘There are a few things you don’t know. We’d like you to … join
the resistance.’
‘I thought we were the resistance,’ Jimmy said with a smile.
‘The resistance to tampering with time. There’s a group of us, all
scientists, people who worked on the drug.’
‘And your main objection … to all things military?’
Singh checked that they foyer was empty. ‘Jarheads with attitude
going back through time.’
Jimmy checked his filthy nails. ‘Could get us both shot for just
having this conversation.’
‘We’ll take the risk, instead of helping them finish it.’
‘And what is it that you want from me, Doctor Singh?’
‘We want you to go.’
‘Go?’
‘Back.’
Jimmy’s eyes widen. ‘Go … back?’
‘Yes. There’s more to it, more than I can explain, but not here.
First, I want you to think about it.’
‘What’s to think about? If I could go back and warn people, then
of course I would.’
‘And who would believe you?’ Singh posed. ‘They might just
lock you up as a nut case, or worse – they’d grab you and make you
tell them all that you know so that they can use it.’
‘They being … people like the good general.’
Singh nodded. ‘He is what he is … because of the situation. Back
in 1982 … people were different, still in the Cold War. Would they
use our knowledge to better the world, or to defeat the Russians and
Chinese and then nuke the Middle East before The Brotherhood rise
up.’
Jimmy heaved a sigh and slowly nodded. ‘Yes, I can see the
issues. Who you tell, and how you tell it, could just make it worse.’
‘We think we have a plan, a strategy that will work, but it … it’s
not what you think, and it will take time. If we could get you the
drug, would you go – go back?’
‘Why wouldn’t you go yourself?’
‘Someone needs to operate the machine, and … as I said, there’s
more to it.’ He handed over a book, and extra food coupons. ‘These
are for you.’
Jimmy examined the food coupons, then ran a finger down the
book’s spine. ‘History of mankind from 1945 to 1995.’ He looked
up. ‘A little light bedtime reading?’
‘We’d like you to eat the extra food, put on some weight, and
meet us in ten days. We’ll inject you with the drug to give you a
boost. But then, then we need you to make a few of the woman in
the resistance pregnant.’
Jimmy lifted his eyebrows. ‘Is this resistance more of a cult?’
‘You’ll see when we explain it.’

Ten days later, Jimmy was picked up in the dead of night at the rear
of the hotel, whisked away with his head full of the history of
mankind, and what he may say if he stepped back through time. He
was not worried about being followed, since he was sure no one
cared, certainly not enough to get out of their warm beds on a cold
wet night.
After a fifteen-minute drive, they pulled into a farm and bumped
along a track towards a barn, the driver not having said a word. They
drove straight in to the barn’s dimly lit interior, the barn doors
closed behind the jeep. Stepping down onto crushed and muddied
hay, his nose full of the smell of pigs, Jimmy could make out Singh,
but also recognised some of the technicians and scientists that he
knew worked on the time machine.
He stood and took in their faces. ‘I was thinking … that the best
way to warn the world might be through anonymous letters about
disasters, things like earthquakes, and to use those letters to build up
trust and credibility. And not just with the American authorities.’
They glanced at each other. ‘A good idea,’ Singh acknowledged
as he stepped forwards. ‘Take off your coat and roll up your sleeve.’
Jimmy eased off his coat, glancing at the faces as they stared
dispassionately back, most just dark shadows wrapped up warm.
‘And this drug will do what … exactly?’
‘This is the low potency version. It will make you immune to
most diseases, a little fitter, but mostly it will keep you alive if
disease breaks out here.’
Once he had completed the injection, Singh told Jimmy, ‘It will
have an effect in a few days, but they won’t see a difference in you.
We’ll get you extra food coupons each week.’ Doctor Singh then
took a blood sample, handing it to a lady. ‘This is Mira, and we’d
like you to couple with her.’
‘Couple with her?’
‘Make her pregnant.’
‘And … without seeming ungrateful at the opportunity to couple,
would you like to explain why?’
‘We’ve developed a drug that stimulates the body’s natural
production of stem cells. Once injected, you basically stop aging and
feel much better, fitter and stronger. But if we take the stem cells of
the umbilical, of a child of your own, then we can create a
genetically modified variant, and that will make you look twenty
years old again.’
‘And don’t you think the army will notice that?’ Jimmy scoffed.
‘Yes. When we’re ready, you’d have to fake your own death, be
injected, and two or three weeks later go back through time.’
‘And just why the hell do I need to look twenty to do that?’
Jimmy loudly asked.
‘To replace your younger self, and to be able to prove that you’re
… you, basically.’
‘Replace my younger self? Why?’
‘We’ve given it a lot of thought, and to change things you’ll need
at least ten years or more – perhaps twenty, and they will be looking
for you. If they find you ... then you are your younger self, and that
will throw them off the trial. You’ll have a perfect DNA match to
your parents -’
‘You think my parents would accept me?’ Jimmy scoffed.
‘If we do this right, then yes. We’ve already completed the
procedure on a solider … by accident. He looked just like he did at
twenty.’
‘I was about thirteen stone at the time!’
‘We know, we have everything planned out. Trust us.’
‘Jesus.’ Jimmy took in the faces through the dim light of the barn.
‘So what’s next?’
‘We’ll send you each of ten ladies in turn, once the drug has
kicked in, and then – in nine months – if all goes well, we’ll inject
you in secret and send you back.’
‘In nine months, there may be none of us left,’ Jimmy pointed
out. ‘The Brotherhood landed in Mexico last week.’
‘If things look bad, we’ll open the portal early. Besides, Texas
nuked Mexico yesterday.’
Jimmy took a moment. ‘That figures. But just what the hell do
you expect me to do for the next nine months?’ Jimmy asked.
‘Study a great deal, I’m afraid.’
A woman asked, ‘When you were young, you were a stock
market trader?’
‘Yes. Ah, I see where you’re going with this; trade the markets
and make a lot of money!’
‘And use that money to alter things,’ Singh added.
‘So, I guess I better study the markets for those years.’
She handed over a data stick. ‘All on there, and more.’
Jimmy held the stick. ‘You lot still haven’t explained … why
me?’
‘You’re the most trusted person in the area,’ Singh began. ‘But,
more than that, we all know about the long voyage you took, and
what you’ve done seen arriving in America. And, for what we want
done, we require someone with a strength of personality, and
someone who can keep at a project once started; a very long project,
and a very difficult project. The chances of success are slim.’
‘And you’ll explain it all … when?’
‘Step by step, Jimmy. And we have more research to do, a lot
more. Be aware, you may just be killed when you step through.’
‘I’d still try it,’ Jimmy quickly answered. ‘If there’s a chance, a
chance to undo this…’
They exchanged looks.

Back at the hotel, Jimmy accessed the data stick in his laptop,
calling up a chart of the Dow Jones, 1985. ‘Haven’t seen you for a
while old friend. So, how do I commit you to memory?’
He clicked on a particular day, and then cross-referenced his
book, annotating the events of the day to the chart. Every major
earthquake or eruption was noted, cold winter or hot summer, wars,
terror attacks, World Cup soccer matches and Eurovision Song
Contest winners.
‘Lady Diana’s death, 1997.’ He marked the chart, then stopped
and eased back. ‘I could alter that, and save her. But if I save her,
does that alter the time line?’
He stood, stepping to the window of his small and cold bedroom
and peered out through the rain. ‘This’ll take some thought.’

Goma, spring 2020

With the US economy recovering, the Chinese naturally wanted a


reversal of favours, but Jimmy insisted it was too soon and asked to
review it in six months. Meanwhile, he promised the Chinese the
enhanced coal-oil technique - to be handed over at that time.
I went to see how that particular project was advancing, finding
the plant heavily guarded.
Inside, the manager explained, ‘We have refined the technique,
but we need to drill more holes. If we drill down and hit a coal seam,
we can pump down the first chemical and pump up the stage one
liquid. That then gets cleaned up and put through the second stage, a
little distillation, and a third chemical reaction, a little more involved
that the first method.
‘But as we dissolve the coal, the hole gets wider and more liquid
is needed, diluting the liquid solution, and so we need to distil more
at the second stage. The best way is to make many holes, find the
seam and plot it on a computer, then use angular drills to make a
hole down the centre of the seam and work from there. Second stage
distillation is still an issue, but it’s quick enough, and cheap.
‘Cost per barrel?’
‘If the fuel is used for clean power stations, twelve dollars a
barrel. If you want to refine it to be good enough for a vehicle,
twenty dollars a barrel.’
‘That’s still cheap,’ I commented.
‘Volumes?’
‘Volumes are excellent. We can produce enough to power Africa
each year, and for the next hundred years.’
‘Good work. And in September, this technology will be released
to much of the world.’
‘The benefits to the global economy should be huge, sir.’
‘Let’s hope so,’ I told him with a smile.

Back at my desk, the mine manager responsible for our richest gold
seam turned up unexpected.
‘Problem?’ I asked.
‘No, sir, quite the opposite. I have been searching for ten years
for a source of platinum, which -’
‘Is more expensive than gold, and in demand. Yes. Did you find
any?’
‘We did, sir, this week. Right on the border with Zambia.’
‘Since we have the mining rights to Zambia I want it. How
much?’
‘Initial estimates are very good, sir.’
‘And in dollars?’ I pressed.
‘In the trillions, sir,’ the man proudly stated.
I stood and punched the air. ‘Yes!’ I hit my phone. ‘Get me the
head of the corporation, send him in right now!’
I stepped around my desk and shook hands with the man. ‘Do
you feel like changing the world, my friend?’
‘That is your privilege, sir. My honour is to serve.’
The head of the corporation stepped in. I said, pointing at the
manager, ‘He’s opened a mine near the Zambian border. I want four
hundred Rifles there today, and I want you to give this man anything
he needs; staff, equipment, money. That mine is your top priority,
drop everything else for today!’
I thanked the manager again and showed him out. Downstairs, I
entered Helen’s office, finding the First Lady sat behind her
computer.
‘Not lunchtime, is it?’ she puzzled.
‘I have some news.’ I stepped around her desk and sat on her
windowsill, nudging aside a potted plant. ‘We found platinum ore.’
‘How much of it?’
‘Enough to worry a lot of countries; more than the hidden gold
seam.’
‘My God. How much is it worth?’
‘In the trillions.’
‘But … if we sell it, would it fall in value?’
‘It’s increasing in demand, they use it in everything; including
our electric cars and buses. But we won’t sell it. We’ll put the ingots
in the bank, and loan against it. And, when people buy from us later,
it’s adjusted. What’s more, we’re a dollar denominated country and
central bank. With that load sat in there we’ll prop up our own
central bank, which props up the dollar.’
‘Seems like a good find then.’
I drove around to a hotel where Jimmy was holding a meeting
with potential trading partners. I rudely dragged him out. ‘We found
platinum?’
‘Where?’
‘On our territory, up against the Zambian border.’
‘How much?’
‘Trillions of dollars worth.’
‘South Africans and Russians will be pissed. Play it down.’
‘I’ll stick it in the central bank, that’ll prop up our dollars and the
US Dollar.’
Jimmy nodded. ‘Excellent. We’ll be able to shift some platinum
jewellery as well.’
Back in my office, I scanned the list of requests for either
funding, or for items to import. I sanctioned two hundred thousand
copies of Microsoft Office 2020 Clear Sight, and ordered a hundred
thousand iPads for schools and colleges.
Running a finger down the list, I ordered four small destroyers for
the Somali Navy, three for the Kenyan Navy. They were dated
American destroyers, but they suited our needs. I added twelve dated
Hercules aircraft, ex-USAF stock, and four new C5 Galaxies.
Figuring I may need to wait to see the ingots arrive before
spending them, I walked down the corridor and into the offices of
the Finance Minister. No matter how many financial reports he gave
me, I always preferred to see a summary, or just hear a summary.
‘How much could I spend this year without worrying, given what
I just ordered from America.’ I showed him the sheet and he totted it
all up.
‘After commitments of the next four years are taken out,
assuming a safety margin and drop of GDP, you could spend two
point six trillion dollars and still be inside the guidelines Mister silo
set.’
‘Money is no good if it’s just sat in the vault.’
‘True, sir, very true.’
Back at my desk, I commissioned a road improvement scheme,
north from Mogadishu to the Qatar enclave, a new rail link to run
alongside it. Whilst thinking of Mogadishu, I commissioned new
apartments and a new shopping centre.
An improved road and rail link, from our port in Angola down
into Namibia and the Kuwaiti enclave, seemed like a good idea.
Next, I moved north, way north, and considered something that
Jimmy had once said. The Russian countryside was capable of
feeding the world, but little was being farmed properly. I sent the
farm a billion dollar loan and asked them to expand as rapidly as
possible.
My final purchase was fibre optic cable and mobile phone masts,
ordering a massive increase in the penetration of the Internet. We
had a satellite above New Kinshasa that was supposed to be very
fast, but we were clogging it up already. I wanted the fibre optic
cable to follow the road to old Kinshasa and beyond to the coast,
there to join the Atlantic cables. Other cables would spread out to
each town in our region.
I had spent a fraction of what I could spend, and decided to be
frugal, for a few weeks at least.

A month later, the first platinum ingot was placed on my desk, and
thereafter I used it as a very valuable paperweight. When the IMF
audited our central bank they noticed the new section and enquired
as to how much more we had. We didn’t say, but all of the world
leaders were on the phone the next day, all making gentle enquiries,
the dollar strengthening.
Some of the new platinum was then handed to the commodities
traders and sold at our exchange. That generated further enquiries,
but we assured people that the amounts sold on the open market
would be small. Platinum jewellery took off, advertised as “rare
African platinum”, and we sold it by the tonne to the housewives.
Seeing the gold coming in, Jimmy said, ‘I might go back now.’
I was stunned, the two of us sat on my patio. ‘Go? Before 2025?’
‘There are … other things I need to be doing. Besides, time has a
meaning here, but not … there.’
‘There?’
‘Canada.’
‘You’d go back … to Canada? And won’t what we’re doing here
have altered that?’
‘No. It’s there … and this is here.’
‘I’m no expert in temporal mechanics, but won’t success here
stop Canada from ever happening?’
‘No, it’s … not that simple. Forget it, I’m staying. Forget what I
said.’
I took a moment. ‘You think I could pull it off without you?’
‘Yes, I do,’ he confidently stated. ‘I can see now that money was
the key, not weapons or politics, but good old fashion money and
bribery. I was always battling between soldier and doctor, but I
overlooked banker.’
‘Ninety-nine percent of everything I’ve done has been your idea,
so don’t sell yourself short,’ I pointed out.
‘You ignored me and pushed the enclaves, and the help for the
Middle East, and it took time for me to see sense. I can see that we
need to forget the other nations and do it ourselves; just Africa. We
can rely on ourselves when the time comes.
‘You know, the thing I always hated the most, was that there was
no one there to help me, and I mean psychologically; no one more
experienced. I was constantly the one people relied on, yet had no
one else to rely on.’
‘And am I … becoming that man?’
‘No.’
‘Oh,’ I said, deflated.
‘But someday, well … maybe there’ll be someone. But it would
be nice just to be told what to do for a change.’
‘Should have raised daughters,’ I quipped.
He smiled. ‘Don’t take this the wrong way, but I get better
directions from Shelly than from you.’
‘She’s her father’s daughter,’ I proudly stated. ‘Bright and
headstrong.’
2035, aboard the Eco-Warrior submarine.

I tapped my computer screen. ‘Begin recording, append to previous,


topic: Jimmy leaving.’
‘Recording,’ came from the computer as I stood and stretched.
‘Would Jimmy have left us then? Hard to say, but the thought had
certainly crossed his mind. He was drawn back to Canada, but for
reasons I wouldn’t fully understand for another year or so. And if he
had gone back, could I have handled it?
‘Well, at the time I didn’t think so, but I had done more to defeat
The Brotherhood than I had realised; the development of Africa
ahead of schedule, the platinum find, coal-oil. It all had an impact on
my spending power, and I was certainly not afraid to spend our
money. And that willingness to spend the money had an effect, both
in Africa and the Middle East.
‘The creation of Mining City was a turning point; Jimmy
acknowledged that a year later. It set in motion a chain of events that
would grow our GDP by so much that we would be unstoppable.
And that GDP would make a difference, both before 2025 – and in
the critical time afterwards.
‘Some argued later … that we wasted African money, and that
the money should have been spent internally, but who could argue
with our rate of growth? No, I had no problem spending the money,
and to tell the truth … I was never happier than when I was signing
off on a new project, President Faster and Cheaper.’ I smiled as I
thought back. ‘I even signed a few forms that way.
‘I could understand Jimmy’s desire to return, but I didn’t know at
the time what waited for him there, or the grand plan, and years later
– when I knew – I struggled with when to tell the world, and if to tell
the world.
‘I was glad when Jimmy stayed. I could handle Africa, and I
could handle most of the world’s politicians, but he had a blow by
blow knowledge of 2025 that would have been invaluable to me.’
My cabin door opened and my granddaughter burst in, Lucy not
far behind.
‘We’ll be there tomorrow night,’ Lucy mentioned. ‘How’s it
going?’
‘Up to 2021,’ I informed her, touching the computer screen
before grabbing my granddaughter.
‘You’ll be rejoining the world then, and being less unsociable,’
Lucy complained.
‘This is important, I have to get it down.’
‘You could do it bit by bit.’
‘No, I want to get it all down, and then let the editors and
historians have a look at it.’ I looked down at the top of my
granddaughter’s head. ‘You don’t remember Jimmy, did you?’
She didn’t know how to respond.
‘Are you going to let the world know where he went?’ Lucy
risked.
I shot her a disapproving look. ‘Some things … are secret. But
yes, soon enough.’

Post apocalyptic Canada

A knock at the door, and Jimmy let in one of the ladies he had met in
the barn. She was no looker, but then neither was he.
‘I’ve had a long hot bath, a shave, cleaned my teeth and found
some deodorant. I’ve even had a haircut so that I’m a bit more
appealing and less … old and knackered.’
‘You scrub up well,’ she noted.
‘Was it the thirty second special you were after, or the full
minute?’
She laughed. ‘Let’s see how it goes.’
‘It’s been a while, but I think I remember what goes where. We
have black market wine, music and candles.’
‘Very considerate,’ she said as she took off her clothes.
‘And afterwards, the child?’
‘You’ll understand when Doctor Singh explains.’
‘It won’t be harmed?’
‘No.’
The following week another lady arrived, by the back door and at
night. And eight more followed in quick succession. With the
pleasurable part done, Doctor Singh dropped in another data stick,
injecting Jimmy a second time.
Singh explained, ‘This injection will make you look better, so
hide your appearance; maybe a beard or long hair. You’ll want to eat
more, you’ll sleep less, and for the first few days your pee will smell
terrible. Exercise by running, no weights, and try and slim down. If
not, you’ll put on muscle and we want you thin. You’ll only need
four hours sleep, so study the rest of the time.’
‘And when the babies are born?’
‘We’ll gather your own compatible stem cells, modify them and
inject you. That will be ten days strapped to a bed, and it will not be
pleasant. If it works, you’ll look as you did at twenty.’
‘And then…?’
‘Then we’ll give you the full picture.’
‘I guess I better get my reading glasses.’
‘You won’t need them after a week, not with this drug. But keep
them anyway so that you look as you did before.’
‘I’ve been thinking about how to stop the war, and I’m
reasonably sure that I can do it.’
‘We have a team working on a plan, you need only memorise it.’
‘Oh, well, you’re the experts.’
‘If you learn everything on the data stick, the plan will slot into
place.’
‘Let me show you something.’ Jimmy called up the DOW Jones.
‘I’ve memorised the chart by date association and major event,
disasters, Presidents and leaders, and the release of certain songs and
films.’
Doctor Singh nodded. ‘Good. Very good.’
‘That’s not all.’ Jimmy called up a map. ‘Discoveries of gold and
oil in Africa. If I made money on the stock markets, I could open a
mine and make money, drill for oil and strike it lucky straight away.’
Doctor Singh slowly nodded. ‘We hadn’t thought of that.
Excellent. Geography is geography, and rocks don’t move.’
‘Rocks don’t move?’ Jimmy puzzled.
‘We’ll explain later.’

Goma, 2020

The mining manager who had found the platinum arrived


unexpected, a map under his arm.
‘Problems?’ I asked.
‘No, no, sir. But I wanted to show you this.’ He rolled out the
map on a bare tabletop. ‘These are all the places that we drilled, sir,
taking core samples. Some have gold, some other metals. They are
not concentrations, but they are valuable.’
‘How do the ore concentrations compare to our other mines?’ I
asked as I studied the map.
‘About the same, sir.’
I called in the head of the corporation. Tapping the map, I said, ‘I
want CAR given concessions to their choice of these mining
prospects, the rest given to anyone who wants them by auction.’
‘That’s a great many mines, sir,’ the man cautioned.
‘I want the money, and CAR has capacity since they capped off
wells – and a few idle hands.’
That next week, CAR bought the concessions for twelve new
mines, its share price spiking upwards. Twenty other concessions
were sold by auction after the various company geologists had
inspected core samples. In a stroke, I had created thirty thousand
new jobs. We’d also receive a cut of the production profit, and the
usual taxes. With this new future income in mind, I ordered a new
city to be started, in the south central region and at the heart of a
group of towns in the mining belt.
Having learnt from New Kinshasa, I designed the city first, then
auctioned land, the developers footing much of the cost of the
construction. I named it Mining City, and that attracted investors
like a pack of wolves; I was inundated. A second auction was
arranged, and I could see bidders from all around the world, in
particular the Middle East. The Chinese Government were present,
Po and Yuri, the value of land rising.
There was plenty of land for sale, and cheap, but everyone
wanted to be on the main boulevard through town. Twelve hotel
chains bought land, a token hundred thousand dollars each. I
commissioned an expansion of the closest airport, but then had an
odd request from Yuri. Could he hire the C5 Galaxies to move
equipment?
I purchased four dated C5s, painting them white, but kept them as
part of our new Military Transport Command; the military pilots
could practise by flying delicate cargo around the region to keep
their skills sharp. Army Huey pilots already did that.

Studying the proposed layout of Mining City, I was like a giddy


teenager, salivating at the prospect of creating another new city.
Hearing about it, Steffan Silo came up to see me from his office on
the second floor.
He got straight to the point. ‘I think we could create a mono-rail
all the way down, up to sixty miles per hour.’
‘Cool. But its three hundred miles,’ I mentioned.
He nodded. ‘We’ve struck a deal with a Japanese manufacturer;
they’ll make the track here, at a local factory, so that’ll save cost.
They’ll supply the carriages and – well – power is electric.’
‘Which we have plenty of,’ I said with a smile.
‘I think two tracks should be laid, alternate directions, and we
should build halts at six locations on the way down.’
‘Only six?’
‘It would be a slow total journey otherwise. Besides, the existing
trains stop at many places.’ He handed over a very detailed plan, and
its very detailed costs. It even had a building schedule.
‘Total costs … thirty million dollars?’ I queried. ‘Why so cheap?’
‘We have surplus steel we bought that was never used in the city,
so I had it put to one side. The girders are already cut, so we’ve
designed a base structure around them, they won’t need to be cut
again.’
‘Cool. You have a green light.’
He hesitated. ‘Are you going to tell me to do it faster and
cheaper?’
‘Steffan, do it faster and cheaper!’
He smiled and left, the first I remember ever seeing him smile.

That following month I settled down to some good brain sex, taking
my work home with me. Helen had become a widow to my
designing of the new city, but I often involved her and the girls in it,
loud debates about where to put what.
Shelly grabbed the computer modelling software that the
volunteers used and entered much of the detail. I could now ‘walk’
down a three-dimensional street on my computer and see what it
might look like someday. The brain-trust kids got involved and
created a website where anyone could walk through the theoretical
city. The hotel owners added in graphics for their new buildings, as
did many others, and we soon had a detailed virtual city.
One day I noticed a new bar with a neon sign. Since it was called
the Faster and Cheaper Bar I had a closer look. Ladies looking like
hookers stood outside, well-endowed ladies, and inside I found a
realistic caricature of myself sat a table. As I approached myself, the
character said, ‘Faster and cheaper!’ Cheeky buggers.
With the number of platinum ingots growing by a stack a day, I
turned my thoughts to the Middle East again, viewing rioting in
Gaza on the TV news. Jimmy was in America, working on film
scripts, so I decided to be bold and invited the Palestinians down
again. They arrived three days later.
‘Gentlemen, I have a question, and a proposition. You’ve seen
the Arab enclaves in Africa. If it didn’t cost you anything, would
you like one of your own?’
‘One of our own?’ they queried.
‘A fenced off enclave, your own sovereign land, peace and quiet
a long way from Israel. And, maybe a little oil offshore. I’d build a
city for you, a sea port, an airport, and you could sustain yourself
from the oil.’
‘And have the Israelis asked you to make this offer?’
‘No, they don’t know yet.’
‘We’d be giving up our rightful land, and the Israelis would have
won!’
‘Is that what it’s all about; who wins, who’s right, who has the
last word? Are the lives of your people not more important? You
could have schools, hospitals, playgrounds for children – a thousand
miles away from an Israeli helicopter. Or you can stay where you are
and suffer for a thousand years. And in 2025, the economy of the
region will be devastated, millions of refugees and unemployed
people wandering around. Things will be bad for you then.
‘How much worse could your own enclave be … than Gaza is
now? You’d be free, you’d live in peace, you may even prosper.
Some day you might be a nation like Qatar or Dubai, and your
children would grow up learning mathematics and English, not how
to make bombs and hide from Israeli helicopters. It’s good enough
for the Saudis and others, so it’s good enough for you lot, and I’m
offering to spend billions on a new city for you.’
‘And Israeli would claim all of the disputed territory!’
‘What use it is to them,’ I scoffed. ‘What’s your GDP? How
many mines do you have, oil wells, or even adequate water? You’re
living in a shit-hole!’
‘The people would never give up their lands. We’ll have no part
in this.’ They stormed out.
I went down to Helen. ‘They stormed out.’
‘They’ve been fighting for that land for so long they’ve grown
used to it,’ she commented.
‘I’m wondering if I could work around the leadership,’ I thought
out loud.
‘Most Palestinians live outside the occupied territories.’
I raised a finger. ‘They do, and they struggle. So, if someone
offered them a job someplace else, they may come.’
‘Once enough of them were there, and doing well, others would
follow by word-of-mouth.’
‘If I built it … they will come!’
‘Wasn’t that a Kevin Costner film?’
‘I learnt a lot by watching TV,’ I told her as I left her office.
I rudely requested that Abdi fly down the next day, save me
flying up to him. I took him up to the roof, the weather fine, and we
strolled around, enjoying the view and the cooling breeze.
‘How do you feel about another enclave?’ I asked.
‘They are good for jobs and trade.’
‘Do your people worry about foreigners on your land?’ I asked.
‘Its just desert, no one lives there. I think they like the job and the
money more than the sand.’
‘No complaints?’
‘Some small voices, but everyone sees the work and money.’
‘How would you feel about a Palestinian enclave?’
He glanced at me. ‘Many of my people, they understand the
Palestinian struggle and take the side against the Israeli, but the
soldiers see the Israeli as fellow brothers. It is mixed.’
‘You have land in the north, barren land - no one lives there,
hundreds of miles without a house. They’d want only an area five
miles wide and five miles deep.’
Abdi shrugged. ‘It is a grain of sand on the map. But how will
they pay - they have nothing? Less than nothing.’
‘I would pay.’
Abdi glanced at me as we progressed. ‘You wish to make the
peace?’
‘If the two sides have an ocean between them, then they can’t
fight; it may end a long period of suffering. And, in 2025, that area
may see a lot of fighting, the innocent caught in the way.’
‘You and Jimmy, you have never been wrong, and you have
never steered us wrong. Somalia is a rich, strong, and proud nation
now, and I think what it would have been without you. If you say
that it is necessary I will order it accepted - it is five miles of sand
and camel shit.’
‘There’s something else. Jimmy told me where a small oilfield is
located offshore; not enough to make anyone rich, but enough to
feed a few hungry Palestinians. I would position the enclave next to
it, and let them drill for oil. Your oil.’
Abdi plodded onwards. ‘And this oilfield, how does it compare to
the money you gave my country?’
‘Well, it’s less. A lot less.’
‘Then it shall go some small way towards paying our debts.’
‘C’mon. Lunch on me,’ I said.
‘We’ll split it. I insist.’
Ben Ares rang later. ‘How are you, Paul?’
‘Cut the crap and ask your question, Ben.’
‘What did the Palestinians want?’
‘I offered them an enclave in Africa.’
‘You did?’
‘Yes, but they refused; stormed out the meeting.’
‘That doesn’t surprise me,’ Ben scoffed.
‘So I’m going to build one for them anyway.’
‘You are?’
‘Yep, and I’ll work around the leaders and see if I can tempt a
few people along.’
‘Where would it be?’
‘Somalia, a coastal enclave.’
‘How long would it take to build?’
‘Ben, can you do something for me?’
‘What’s that?’
‘Fuck … right … off.’ I hung up.
Using the designs for the Kuwaiti enclave in Namibia, I modified
the basic layout and scaled it down. Fixing the location where
Jimmy had indicated a modest oilfield, I marked out a square,
getting the coordinates off Google Earth. I checked the satellite
images and saw no settlements - the area backed by hills, and no
roads. It truly would be an enclave.
I commissioned a Somali company to build a port and marina,
and asked them to make a start straight away.
Jimmy popped in a week later. ‘You’ve been busy? You pissed of
the Palestinians - and Ben Ares.’
‘Fuck ‘em all, they’re all a bunch of wankers,’ I responded. ‘You
never get anything done trying to be nice. So I’ve commissioned the
enclave anyway.’
‘You have?’
I nodded. ‘When the basic facility is ready, I’ll offer jobs to
Palestinians from outside the occupied territories, from Egypt; they
can come down by boat. If nothing else, they can work there for a
while, but some are bound to stay on.’
‘Not a bad idea. Where are you building it?’
I showed him on the map.
‘Oh dear,’ he said. ‘Israelis will be pleased about the oil.’
‘Fuck ‘em.’
‘Let’s avoid mentioning the oil till the place is full, and then play
it down.’
‘Why?’ I pressed.
‘Because if the Israelis believe that a free and independent
Palestinian colony might grow rich, they’ll want to destroy it.’
‘Why, for fuck’s sake?’
‘Because the Palestinians will have long memories, and some will
want payback. The Israelis know that, and they won’t want to see
the Palestinians with their own navy or air force.’
‘They won’t have an air force; it’s a small enclave with limited
oil,’ I insisted. ‘Besides, the fucking Israelis will be happy as fuck if
all the Palestinians move to it – they’d have the land they want and
no terror threat.’
‘Old habits die hard. Be careful.’
‘If the Israelis go near that enclave I’ll have the African armies
stop them! Besides, the Israelis would have to fly over Egyptian or
Saudi territory to reach it, and that would be a war with those
countries! And it would be a war with me as well.’
‘Build a Somali base down the road; the Israelis will think twice
about nuking the area. And plenty of international hotels, especially
Arabic chains. Problem is, as we get closer to 2025, the Israelis will
get twitchy.’
‘Twitchy … pre-emptive strike twitchy?’ I asked.
Jimmy nodded. ‘It won’t do them any good, and it’ll make things
worse. I’ll have advanced EMPs in the region, and at the first sign of
an Israeli attack and I’ll bring down their planes and missiles.’
‘Do they know that?’
‘No, not yet.’
‘Then I guess we’ll both be popular.’

President Blake was on the phone a week later. ‘Paul, you’re


building a Palestinian enclave?’
‘Good news travels fast.’
‘They don’t have two beans to rub together, so I’m guessing that
you’re funding it.’
‘I am. But the Palestinians have refused to occupy it.’
‘Have you halted construction?’ Blake asked.
‘Nope, I intend to offer jobs to Palestinians from Egypt.’
‘What will that achieve?’
‘A trickle may become a flood, and the Red Sea may part, a guy
with a beard - and looking not unlike Charlton Heston - leading his
people to the promised land. Either that or they’ll come by ferry.’
‘And your aim, Paul?’
‘To tempt Palestinians away from Palestine.’
‘If they left of their own accord, there’d be peace in the region,’
Blake noted.
‘They don’t pay you the big bucks for nothing, do they.’
‘May I ask about your platinum reserves?’
‘What would you like to know?’ I nudged.
‘How do they compare to you gold reserves?’ Blake asked.
‘About the same, in weight.’
‘It’s a lot of money.’
‘And will be used well, not least to prop up the dollar.’
‘Our guys have your GDP growing at around fifty percent.’
‘Yeah, sounds about right.’
‘And the new city, they say it’ll be bigger than New Kinshasa.’
‘Could well be, lots going on in the region. Your Caterpillar
company has a stiff dick at the prospect.’
‘You’re their biggest customer, by far.’
‘So, how’s the west coast?’ I asked.
‘Progress is slow, still a few insurance companies wrangling
about claims. But jobs are up, the welfare bill falling, more people
being relocated around the various states. This quarter’s figures are
good, markets are up.’
‘We’re buying what we can from you.’
‘And we appreciate it,’ Blake emphasised. ‘Paul, can I ask a
question you may not like?’
‘Of course you can, you’re American.’
‘Will Brad run for President next year?’
‘We hope so, and he’ll get a billion dollar backing – thanks to
your lawmakers changing the law and allowing such things.’
‘I’m not running, as you probably now, and we’re not popular.’
‘Sitting governments always get the blame, even if they do
everything right.’
‘Tell me about it. Oh, Hardon Chase is back in the Senate.’
‘Good. It helps to have friends in high places,’ I quipped.
‘You don’t need friends, Paul, they need you. My guys say that
by 2025 your cooperation group will be a super-power in its own
right, an economic superpower at least. You’re making India, China
and Brazil look bad.’
After the call, I went up to the roof and for a stroll, glancing
down at our creation, noting tall cranes in the distance and not even
knowing what building was going up. Stood looking down at the
canal, I realised that we were becoming an economic superpower,
and I was determined to use the money to fix 2025.
I had previously sent the Iranians an invite to visit, and they finally
turned up in June. After a welcome chat and a tea I took them
outside, and to a demonstration of a flat-pack home being erected.
Once up, they poked and prodded the house, and marvelled at the
electricity coming from the roof.
I told them, ‘When the quake strikes you’ll lose a quarter of all
your houses. I intend to send you five million of these so that your
people have something better than tents. I’ll also send you grain
ships every week, and food from here.’
They took a moment to consider my offer.
I added, ‘I also have another suggestion. After the quake your oil
industry will be devastated, but CAR could move in to sink fresh
wells, and you’ll get the lion’s share of the proceeds till you’re back
on your feet.’
‘Given what you say will happen, we will be glad of the
assistance, not least … because we have very little choice. But what
of payment for the grain and food.’
‘It’ll be done on the honour system. If you can pay, and when you
can pay, you can send us what you think is appropriate, but we
won’t be chasing you for it.’
That puzzled them greatly. I showed them around Gotham City in
a civilian S61 helicopter, followed by an aerial tour of New
Kinshasa, finally lunch in the marina. We had an agreement; I’d
send whatever the hell I wanted to send, and they’d use it. It was
simple enough.
The corporation dispatched a hundred flat-pack houses to Iran,
another batch to Iraq, even some to Pakistan.
The UN Secretary General then paid me an official visit, and
reviewed the flat-pack houses himself, wishing to make use of them
in the UN coordinated effort. What he meant to say was “Could I
have some powers back – you took them all!”
I graciously offered to work within his written plan, but then
scribbled all over it. Handing it back, I gave him my plan, which he
then adopted as his own. Rescue Force would have a major role, a
full deployment, but would also channel the food and control flat-
pack house erections. They would run the camps, and as such would
be the front line. They’d also be my eyes and ears for when The
Brotherhood put in an appearance.
On the TV news I caught Jimmy campaigning for Brad in the
States, the opposition trying their best to have him stopped. Problem
was, US laws on support for candidates were loose at best, and the
laws governing the sponsorship of candidates had been relaxed a
decade earlier. Corporations could send money to candidates – even
foreign corporations, so CAR had sent Brad sixty million dollars,
Pineapple Music another ten million.
Wherever Brad and Jimmy turned up the crowds would be huge,
Jimmy giving speeches about troubled times ahead and a need for
the right man in the White House. It was as if he was saying Brad
was destined to fix America, and that no other candidate would do.
It made me smile, the poor old Republicans low in the ratings as
Brad fielded his volunteers as new candidates for Congress, making
good use of twenty-two Democrats and four Republicans who had
switched sides.
The opposition claimed that if Brad’s newcomers gained a
majority in the house - that the house would suffer from a lack of
experience. Jimmy countered by stating that he knew of all the
problems and issues to come and would advise accordingly, a hint
that he would only do so to Brad’s team. It was outrageous
interference on a grand scale, and we didn’t care.

Moses parts the Red Sea

With the fence up around the proposed Palestinian enclave, and the
main harbour wall complete, I had a thousand flat-pack houses
raised on the barren sandy soil. A canteen was constructed, a shower
block, a food store, and little else.
We then advertised in Egypt for Palestinian labourers, and
Palestinians only, the first batch of fifty men turning up by boat, an
overnight voyage down the Red Sea. The existing Somali builders
hired the men and set them to work. The men’s wages were modest,
but food and accommodation were provided. They began work on
the harbourmaster’s office, followed by a customs building, a few
sheds erected.
Two hundred turned up the second week and were put straight to
work, materials arriving by ship every day.
By the end of the first month I had five hundred Palestinian men,
including a handful from Gaza. They began building apartment
blocks with the guidance of Kenyan builders, apartments with no
water or electricity yet. Having constructed the apartment blocks
they moved into them, water brought in by bucket for the moment.
Two small oil-powered generators turned up by ship, and the blocks
gained power, water soon pumped up to the roof tanks, hot showers
created by solar panels and wind turbines.
That following month the first family moved in, and the wife
began to make a living washing clothes. I continued to advertise, and
attracted a second batch of five hundred men the following month,
ten families tagging along. A small oil-fired power station was then
landed by boat, in pieces, and was soon knocking out more than
enough wattage to power the apartment blocks.
In the hills behind the enclave the Somalis sunk wells, enough
water found to save bringing it in by ship. We increased the
advertising and attracted five hundred additional men, many
escaping Gaza through the smuggler’s tunnels and with just a
suitcase.
Now that things were moving along I sent two thousand Somali
builders to the enclave, a thousand from the corporation, and
commissioned twenty apartment blocks in a row. Satisfied that the
harbour was now big enough, and operational, I commissioned the
same French company to build an airfield, positioning it up against
the edge of the enclave.
A desalination plant, big enough to provide water to half a
million people, came by ship, many of its components only needing
assembly. Plastic pipes turned up, enough for a comprehensive
sewer system, fibre optic cables being laid from nowhere to nowhere
through the sandy soil, the builders wondering what the hell was
going on.
Increasing wages, and paying in dollars, our advertising went into
overdrive around the Middle East, families turning up that had left
Palestine in 1948. I then considered that it was time to piss off the
Palestinian leadership, erecting a large billboard picture of what the
enclave would look like when finished. It was labelled as New
Palestine, and two huge flags blew in the breeze next to it.
Only now did it dawn on a few of the builders just what they
were building. The sign next to the picture stated that anyone of
Palestine origins would be granted citizenship and allowed to live
and work there.
The UN came to see me a week later, a very polite “what the fuck
are you doing?” type of question, but asked very nicely in a round
about sort of way.
‘I’m building a Palestinian enclave. Anyone Palestinian who
wants to live there will be welcome.’
‘You … are encouraging them to give up the occupied
territories.’
‘Not at all. If they want to stay where they are they can, or they
can go to the enclave. Besides, most of the people in the enclave are
from outside the occupied territories.’
‘You expect the enclave to be recognised as a country?’
‘It will be recognised by all African and Middle East nations. Or
else!’
‘Oh.’
They went off thinking about my approach, and just how little
they could do about it.
Following the UN visit, I altered the building schedules at the
enclave and had the marina given priority, a horseshoe promenade
backed by cafes, bars and apartments. Pontoons were brought in, and
the first sailboat docked, the first cup of tea served. Mooring fees
were nil, no customs officers to be seen.
The Saudis then decided that they should have a hand in the
enclave, if not an influence, and commissioned several hotels, a few
schools, and a tower block that one day may house business offices.
I was delighted, but tried to make out that I didn’t want too much
Saudi influence in the place.
The harbour was suddenly alive with boats, all wishing to
offload their men or materials. I sent another five thousand flat-pack
houses, and two thousand Kenyan builders, the second harbour wall
being hurriedly finished off. Offering resettlement grants to the
citizens of Gaza, I seriously pissed off Hamas, a flood of people
escaping by the tunnels to Egypt and down to the enclave. Two
hundred families took up residence in the apartment blocks,
agreements stating that they were rent-free for five years.
The first shops appeared, built by merchants bringing their goods
in by boat. Since there were no taxes, margins were good. After a
few fights and one stabbing, I put fifty Somali police officers inside
the enclave, backed by fifty Rifles. But we had no prison or police
station yet, they all had to be built, and so troublemakers were
simply deported.
When a fat old police chief turned up with his family we gave
him a uniform, a jeep, and a detail of Somali police to work with. He
called former colleagues in Gaza or the West Bank, and they
journeyed down; all of a sudden, Israeli issued travel permits were
right easy to obtain. Getting back in afterwards would be the
problem.
Palestinians arrived from Lebanon, their sea fare paid by us,
apartments allocated. The enclave was a dusty hot place, alive with
building work going on from dawn till dusk, the place a hive of
activity. The Egyptian President flew in on a military transport,
landing on a half-finished runway, and had a look around. He was
losing the burden of the Palestinians on his state, but made out that
he had concerns about the welfare of the people.
Not to be outdone by the Egyptians, the Saudis flew in and made
a grand tour, praising the enclave. A Palestinian politician then
approached me, and asked if he and ten of his colleagues could take
charge of the enclave. That delighted me, and I gave them a good
budget, finding them temporary offices. The sign went up: “Interim
Palestinian Authority”. They recruited additional police officers,
customs officers, and tried to bring order to the dust bowl building
site, immediately condemned by both Hamas and the West Bank
Government.
Another three thousand people journeyed down, and we were
accepting them faster than we could build, the flat pack houses made
use of. I nudged the builders to finish roads, and to create a shopping
centre. I had already dispatched twenty Rescue Force medics, but
now made that a hundred, jeeps and all, a temporary clinic erected.
As the end of 2020 approached, Brad now President Elect, twelve
thousand Africa builders and eight thousand Palestinian men toiled
on the enclave, the port in use day and night. With the runway
finished, the terminal just about usable, I dispatched C5 galaxies full
of goodies, keen to make sure that no one suffered for the lack of
basic amenities.
All day long, aircraft landed and took off, the stores mounting up
and being distributed. Fridges, TV sets, basic furniture, medical
supplies, food and drink; everything had to be brought in. Ships
bringing concrete berthed every three hours, others offloading steel
girders, bricks or breezeblocks.
At my request, warships docked one at a time, and the ratings sat
around the marina bars, buying food and drink, and stimulating a
small local economy. A scuba centre opened up, and visiting naval
ratings could dive in the Red Sea, extra dollars earned by the locals
– untaxed dollars. The ruling council had not yet got to grips with
taxation or currency, so they used dollars at my request. They
charged sailboats a modest fee for docking, and controlled the
customs officers and police, and little else so far. It was time to upset
the Israelis.
I had a bank built, a large bank. It offered a retail service,
changed money, but more than that it held a gold reserve that I had
sent around, a small number of bars. But that gold secured a new
currency, the Palestinian Dinar. We printed them in New Kinshasa,
both coins and notes, and fixed a rate against the US Dollar. One
dollar fetched three Dinars.
A million Dinars were printed and sent to the bank, the first few
puzzled citizens holding a purely Palestinian currency. Hamas were
furious, the West Bank Government making threats. Well, they
would if they could actually get out of the West Bank. Workers were
paid in Dinars, using them at the local shops or exchanging them for
dollars.
The Saudis recognised the currency straight away, asking to buy
them from us. We sold the Saudis five million Dinars, more than
was in use at the enclave. The Saudis then paid the people working
on their tower in Dinars, Egypt recognising the new currency.
Lebanon and Syria followed, if anything just to piss-off the Israelis.
By January, 2021, and Brad’s inauguration a week away, a steady
trickle of five hundred people a week were leaving Gaza, the Israelis
allowing us to land boats in little used harbours. From the West
Bank, Palestinian families made use of re-opened border crossings
with Jordan, boarding ships in Aqaba, all paid for by us.
Inside the enclave, full employment was guaranteed, wages good,
and a few additional political leaders arrived. They couldn’t agree on
what colours to paint the walls, let alone on a government, so we
ignored them and worked around them till I imposed a structure,
Somalis and Saudis acting as honest brokers and stewards.
With the airport almost ready, certainly enough to handle a few
flights, we installed security equipment - manned by Somali Rifles,
and landed two 737s painted in the Palestinian colours and labelled
as Palestinian National Airways – just to catch the attention of the
Israelis. Daily flights began to Cairo and Amman, filmed landing by
the world’s media.
The West Bank Government were about to burst a blood vessel,
since they weren’t involved, and Hamas could only sit and scratch
their heads as their supporters slipped away at night. The Palestinian
Government then suggested that they would send a delegation down
and govern from afar. I said that the men would be welcome, but
then emailed the Israelis, asking that the men never be allowed back
in to the West Bank.
The delegation took up offices in the enclave and joined the other
political leaders, still arguing over the colour of the walls. Not to be
outdone, Hamas sent its own representatives down. Their boat was
intercepted, their weapons dropped over the side, and as they came
ashore they were again checked for weapons. Now, if they wanted to
argue and fight, they would have to do it with words, heavily armed
Somali Rifles wandering around.
Hamas set-up its own office, but no one was paying them, the
men told to work or starve. They picked up tools and melted into the
workforce just as I created the first basic ruling council. That council
had taxation rights, and Palestinian workers were now paid through
the council, taxed at a modest rate, the money used towards the
police and customs officials. We stopped paying those officials
ourselves.
An extra five million Dinars were flown up from New Kinshasa,
handed to the council to pay workers. And, after I asked, Kimballa
flew in for a visit, the council welcoming him and showing him
around. He informed the council that he would grab an office suite
to use as an embassy, and that the DRC would officially recognise
the enclave as a country in its own right.
The Saudis were hopping mad, and commissioned the very quick
building of their own Embassy. Abdi followed suit, followed by
Egypt, soon a row of embassies taking shape, imported trees lining
the avenue and watered regularly, Somali Rifles policing the street.
With just enough roadway to make it worthwhile, I dispatched
ten electric buses and fifty electric cars. The first few taxis appeared,
taking workers from the harbour to various sites, to embassies or the
airport, the airport hotel now finished.
Itching to see the building work, I flew up unannounced with
Helen and toured the dusty enclave in an electric bus, meeting the
provisional council and a few of the ambassadors. We stopped at the
marina and took a walk, the Palestinians more than happy to see me,
a few British naval ratings enjoying local cuisine. I stopped to chat
to them.
‘Never thought we’d be eating at a Palestinian café,’ they
commented.
‘Or in a Palestinian port,’ I pointed out. ‘You tried the scuba
diving.’
‘Only here today; next trip maybe. Had a nose, and it looks good,
the water is good around here.’
‘Locals friendly?’ I nudged.
‘Very. Nice spot as well, this.’
I made sure that we were snapped looking around, since we had –
after all – brought a dozen hacks and a TV crew with us. They
filmed the marina, getting footage of me chatting to the ratings and
the locals. What they didn’t film were the hot-tempered men of the
delegation that couldn’t get back into the West Bank.
When I met with them, I said, ‘Why don’t you bring your
families down here; free apartments, jobs, and it’s peaceful.’ I was
being less than sympathetic to the men, and they were not that keen
to stay.
Arriving back in Goma, Ben Ares sent me an email, asking if
Palestinian prisoners wishing to move to the enclave could be sent
down. ‘Sure,’ I said, but then worried about something.
My worries were confirmed when a ship turned up with a
thousand former inmates, all of whom had been expelled from
Israel. They were given apartments, but the men’s families were still
in the occupied territories. I uttered a few rude words for being
played, then encouraged the men to bring their families down,
offering good money as incentive. Some of the men caught the next
ferry to Egypt – heading for Gaza via the tunnels, others stayed,
their families sent for.
The Israelis modified their approach, and sent just prisoners from
the West Bank on the next ship, the UN and Middle East leaders
condemning the move, worried that the Israelis might now try to
forcibly expel Palestinians. I voiced my opposition to any forceful
expulsion, but we still received a steady five hundred a week from
all around the Middle East.
The local council received blank passports from me and began to
register people, the first few passports issued, Egypt and Saudi
Arabia recognising the new passports. Africa recognised them, but
would not issue visas, not yet.

As spring approached, the Saudi enclaves in Mozambique and


Madagascar were coming along, as were the Chinese, and those of
Qatar and The Emirates. My pile of platinum was growing rapidly,
and the IMF had to count it afresh each month. With money coming
back to us from America, and the addition of the new platinum, a
very large sum was soon sitting in the central bank.
But unlike many countries we didn’t sell bonds; we had no need
to. Instead, we loaned money to many countries by buying their
bonds.
South Africa was now doing well thanks to coal-oil and electric
buses, their economy booming and adding to Africa GDP. Nigeria
continued to increase its own GDP, and Southern Sudan was
becoming a rich nation, starting to eclipse Sudan. Around Africa,
things were looking good.
President Brad Sullivan made an official visit to Goma, a grand
show put on for him. Thousands of soldiers lined the streets, aircraft
flew by overhead, and half a million people lined the streets as we
toured the city in an open-top bus that was oddly glassed over with
bullet-proof glass. I had to question the ‘open-top’ aspect of it.
Brad was seen and filmed opening several new buildings and
projects, and described to the press numerous large contracts that we
had awarded US companies, making it appear as if he had secured
them himself. He spent the night with us at the mansion, but
discreetly steered things away from mention of the Hawaiians here,
still a sensitive topic to the Americans.
Mali popped in, thanking Brad for all he had done on the west
coast, but I could see that Brad was uneasy; he wanted the emigrants
home, Jimmy wanted them here – and more of them.

Post apocalyptic Canada

Jimmy lifted a baby and smiled down at it, the realisation that this
small bundle was his child finally dawning on him. ‘If only you
could have been born into a better world.’
Dr Singh stepped up. ‘We believe we have what we need to
begin. Next week, could you fake your death and hide.’
Jimmy took in the expectant faces. ‘You going to tell me the big
secret now?’
Dr Singh gestured Jimmy towards a chair, the child’s mother
taking the bundle. ‘The drugs will greatly extend your life, and that’s
necessary. We have a plan, but it may take from two to three
hundred years to get it right.’
Jimmy stared back, his mouth slowly opening.

**The next Magestic chapter is the last

*K2 book 7 is available from www.geoffwolak-writing.com