Short Story: October Surprise

It’s October 18th, my birthday. It should have been nicer than this.

I got up as usual to go to work, ate breakfast, got in the car and flipped on the radio. As I flipped channels there was nothing but chatter.

“More platter, less chatter”, I thought. It was a 30 minute drive to my job in Salem and I wanted something nice to listen to, not some inane thoughts about the upcoming election.

I was about to shut off the radio when I caught “…and tonight in Virginia all persons not officially authorized to be out and about should be off the streets by 9 pm. Travel to and from your place of employment is permitted, as well as travel for emergency medical purposes.”

“Wha…?” I began to the thin air in my car, and then continued to listen. “If you’re just joining us, President Obama has declared martial law throughout the entire nation, as well as in Puerto Rico and U.S. possessions in the Pacific.” Here is an excerpt from the president’s speech to the nation late last night:

“My fellow Americans, it is with deep regret that I have to announce the establishment of martial law throughout our great land.  However, I have determined this is necessary due to the ongoing violence in countless cities all over the nation. I understand this is an action of a kind which has not occurred since the Civil War. But the harming and even killing of innocents must stop, and businesses must be able to operate freely. I have instructed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to move military personnel into the most affected areas in order to protect our people. I have also invoked the constitutional provision to suspend writs of habeas corpus for the safety of the public….”.

I stopped listening right there. Lincoln had suspended the writ of habeas corpus, which gives Americans the right to seek appearance in a court of law and avoid unlawful imprisonment, during the early days of the Civil War. He was worried that Maryland might secede from the Union. There had even been a riot in Baltimore provoked by the passing of Federal troops through the city on the way to defend Washington,.

“I knew things were bad”, I said to myself, “but I didn’t know they were that bad.” Since last summer American cities had erupted on a scale not seen since Vietnam Days.

Indeed, these imbroglios, sparked by the economic woes which spread to the U.S. after the complete collapse of the European economy, were far worse than those of the 1960s. And I could remember clearly watching parts of Baltimore burn as an adolescent when Martin Luther King was assassinated.

Whole sections of Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and other large urban areas were totally controlled by roving guerillas. These rebels were well-armed and in most cases outgunned the police.  Forget protecting yourself from them if you were a private citizen, even if you had a bazooka in your garage.

Lawlessness and anarchy were spreading. In my heart of hearts I couldn’t really blame these rebs. After all, the basic necessities of life had been taken away from them.

These people were literally starving. Government services such as transportation had ceased months ago. None of these cities had any money to operate busses and subways, or pay the people who drove or repaired them.

Hyperinflation had just about destroyed anyone’s chance of having a decent meal. Two or three bananas costs me $1,000 dollars the last time I went to Kroger over in the south side of Blacksburg.

In fact, the $40,000 dollars a day it cost me to drive to Salem from Blacksburg wouldn’t normally have been doable.  However, I had a job that paid me $4,000,000 a month.

Now I knew why I was teaching English to all these Spanish speaking folks wearing fatigues and why I was getting paid while others weren’t. The government was going to need these soldiers.

Like I did with most politicians I was now tuning out Mr. Obama’s taped remarks . I was in a semi state of shock, yet thrilled at being a part of history at the same time. 

“Given the current nature of events in our country at this time, I have decided to suspend the upcoming elections indefinitely until order is restored…”, I heard him say.

“YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING. YOU CAN’T DO THAT!”,I shouted at the dashboard. I began beeping my car horn in frustration. Funny. I was hearing other horns go off as I journed down Interstate 81.

The POTUS left the podium and the talking heads began to strut their stuff, although I couldn’t see their craniums through the radio. I changed the channel to get some more hard news.  News items were spouting like a flood from my car radio:

*Legislatures were meeting in several states today. Some were preparing secession documents.

* Some states were talking about forming confederations based on similar politics, cultures and ethnic makeups. Florida, Texas and Arizona were discussing forming a “Organization of North American States” together.

*Alaska was thinking of joining Canada.

*Hawaiian leaders publicly discussed asking Barack Obama to resign his position and become their king. They must figure there isn’t much hope for  a future United States of America.

“Governor Mitt Romney will be speaking in a minute or two from Salt Lake City” said the news announcer”.

“Now what’s he gonna say about all this?” was a question that poked at my brain.

I said to nobody and everybody,”We’re in big trouble. Now THAT is what I call an October Surprise.”

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1 Comment

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One response to “Short Story: October Surprise

  1. Eddie Boylan

    sounds -alarmist …

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