“Alright. What’s first?” I ask, having no clue what to do here.
“I don’t know, sir. It all rests with you now,” he says grimly. Alright, fake it till I make it.
Getting out of the car, I take the briefcase Mitch hands me.
“And this is?”
“The emergency protocols.”
Inside the building, I am led to a large office.
“This is temporary. We should be able to head back to DC soon, once it’s safe.”
“Thank you,” I reply, taking a seat behind the desk. Opening the briefcase, I find everything. The nuke codes, photos of things that shouldn’t exist, and even letters from former presidents fill the case. It’s all overwhelming. I don’t have time to go over everything just now, but believe me, I will.
“The airwaves are back up and running,” Mitch says, turning the TV on.
“Our nation’s capital has burned, so many lives lost. We don’t know the extent of the damage yet, but we also don’t know who is leading us. President Laurie has died. After one year, and ten days in office, President David Laurie has died. What does this mean for America?”
“Well, Jan., I believe we just need the designated survivor to make himself known. My sources tell me that it was Office of Management and Budget director, Taylor Anderson.”
“What do we know about him, Bob?”
“He graduated from Yale in 2006. At thirty-seven, he’ll be the youngest president in our nation’s history.”
“I’m going to need to address the nation,” I say, though I have no idea what to say. We still have no idea what the hell is going on, but reassuring the American people seems like the best first course of action. This is going to be a long-ass night. I have a feeling it’s just going to culminate in a lot of long-ass nights until we get this shit figured out.
For hours, the whole country pretty much stopped. No one knows what’s happened unless they just aren’t telling us. The power briefly went out. I’ve been watching the news in abject horror. All the major cities are burning. It’s horrifying. The government was wiped out except for one man, the new president, Taylor Anderson, whoever he is. It’s four in the morning, and I haven’t moved from my spot on the couch since seven-thirty last night. I don’t know why but I need to see him. I need to know that he’s okay. The internet is down, so I can’t look him up. President Anderson hasn’t made an appearance yet, but the newscast says he’s about to. As soon as he steps in front of the camera, my heart begins to race. It’s crazy. I can’t explain the reaction I’m having to him. I’ve never reacted to a man before, not like this. Then he starts to speak.
“My fellow Americans,” he begins, a thick New York accent coming out. For some reason, I wasn’t expecting that. The sound of his voice makes my skin tingle, and goosebumps pop up all over my skin. “Your government needs you. We are not as we once were; I think we can all agree that this is unprecedented, and while highly unusual, we need everything from secretaries to chefs. We need to get back to running this country as smoothly and efficiently as possible. We are asking anyone who is able to come to the capital and apply. All we know right now is that we are the only ones affected by this… incident. We can’t explain it, but perhaps we will be able to in time.” He goes on, moving on to his plans for the foreseeable future; however, I am struck by a vision of myself in a smart pantsuit and down jacket standing next to him behind a podium while it snows all around us.
And just like that, my life’s purpose hits me. I am meant to help this man. Whatever he needs, I’ll be his girl. I just have to make it to DC, and then I pack a small suitcase and grab my fire safe box of important papers. My father was a doomsday prepper. I thought he was crazy at the time, but he actually prepared me for this. I run around my house like a madwoman, gathering up the wads of cash I have hidden around my off-campus apartment. I have been at Maine University for three years. I’m majoring in theatre, but I can put off the rest of my degree. I don’t think I’ll need it now anyhow, not now that I know my true purpose in life.
Getting in my car, I drive from Portland, Maine, to Washington, DC. It should only take about nine hours. There is hardly any traffic, but I am not seeing any more fires, just burnt-out buildings and what’s left of trees and cars.
In Washington, I find a semi-respectable hotel and check-in. First thing in the morning, get up and go over by the White House. It looks like a job fair to me. This seems like a good place to start to me.