Continuity of Government
Nature carves out caves haphazardly. The walls are bumpy, the floors are uneven and prone to sudden opening up into deep chasms, and spikes hang from the ceilings like icicles. This cavern though had been cut into the side of the mountain in a very deliberate and careful fashion. It was a space of equal dimensions. The walls and ceiling with smoothed over with concrete. The opening only went a few meters into the rock and on the back wall was an elevator with a sliding cage door.
The Nelson party stumbled upon this secluded anomaly on their way to a burgeoning Mormon settlement on the west bank of the Mississippi. It was too alluring not to explore.
It was evident from the location it was the builder's priorities to make sure this place was never found. That could only mean whatever was housed there was valuable.
Joe and Mike Nelson had never ridden in an elevator before, and it was every bit as mystifying to them as the man made cavern. The even succession of clicks produced by the gnashing gears provided a steady rhythm for their descent. The lift was a steel cage ventilated like cattle cart. The fluorescent gleam of the shafts lighting fixtures mesmerized the Nelson boys.The elevator carriage jolted when they bumped into the bottom of the shaft.
The weight of the cart subtly shifted from side to side as it settled on the ground. The door opened into a room even smaller than the entrance. Joe took the first reluctant steps from the confines of the elevator, and Mike cautiously followed his lead.
The only light in the room came from the open doors, and they found themselves in a small cinder block room considerably smaller than the entrance.
“What is that smell?” Asked Mike covering his nose with his hands.
Joe’s nostrils were also being assaulted by the putrid odor hanging in the stale air.
"It's horrible," Joe said recoiling in disgust.
Besides, the light spilling from the space was dark. The claustrophobic space was just as suffocating because of its confining dimension as it was foreboding because of the sharp shadows that stood out against the drab and barren surroundings.
There was a small desk in the far right corner of the room, and a door flanked six open lockers on the back wall. On the right wall was a portrait of a man well into middle age wearing a navy blue suit with a button on his lapel that had some blue and white stripes along with some five-pointed stars.
Mike walked over to the picture. His eyes strained in the dark. "President Richard Newton," he read aloud.
"Mike look at that!" Joe gasped pointed down at the floor. In the center of the room painted on the tile was an eagle circled by the same stars and splattered with blood. The colossal bird was clutching some arrows and leaves in its yellow talons. Between it's spreading wings was some writing that was incomprehensible to Joe or Mike. The brother’s quietly deliberated with themselves over whether or not they should move forward.
The silver knob began to turn. Joe bent his knees as if getting ready to spring from where he stood. The door opened a few inches and stopped. They could hear unintelligible mumbling, and the door budged again and this time swung on its hinges until it bumped into the side of a locker.
Joe and Mike gasped at what was standing in the doorway.
“Are you guys from up there?” Asked the nub toothed boy, his pupils dilating in his squinty eyes.
“Yeah, we are,” Joe stammered after a moment.
“I have to show you to the president,” the deformed by replied unaware of the glimmering strands of saliva around his mouth and chin.
Joe saw Mike reach for the revolver tucked his belt and motioned for him to stand down.
“Ok, that’s fine,” Joe said calmly.
The greeter gave them a smile that lingered into a blank stare. “Follow me,” he blurted as he turned and started back down the hall.
Mike shot Joe a glare that betrayed disgust and apprehension. Joe just nodded his head. “Just trust,” he whispered.
They started for the hallway before being assaulted by the nauseating stench that had settled over the entire length of the corridors
“I was born in the service, so I have to watch the door,” explained their grotesquely formed and enigmatic guide hobbling along.
The brothers exchanged another glance.
“Who do you watch this door for?” Mike asked.
“The president,” was the automatic reply.
“How do you keep all these lights on?” Joe asked gazing up into the fluorescent illuminance.
“I don’t know what that means,” their host answered with some confusion.
“The lights, the lights in the ceiling,” Joe repeated obviously annoyed by the lack of comprehension.
They came to a set of windows that looked in on another chamber. The room was filled with rows of plastic chairs that lead up to a small raised platform with the same starry red white and blue banner from the portrait and the crest on the floor. Standing on the platform wearing a tattered old navy blue suit was another malformed figure with a childlike stature, a bulbous head, and stubby limbs.
The dozen or so munchkin sized monstrosities sitting in the chairs were all dressed in a similar fashion. They wore jackets with sleeves that had slack hanging far beyond their hands, some of them decorated with ribboned emblems. They were a vile collection of vaguely human abominations with thin stringy hair, swollen bellies, and bumpy skin. Thier noses were upturned and gnarled, and they had large foreheads that made a ridge over glazed beady eyes. Somehow they seemed just as taken back by the looks of Joe and Mike.
“Who are you two?” Demanded the child-sized humpback standing on the stage.
“I’m Joe Nelson, and this is my brother Mike Nelson,” Joe said with a calm demeanor that concealed his disgust.
“I’m Richard Newton, the 55th president of the United States of America.” The hunchback informed them proudly from the corner of his contorted mouth. “Why are you interrupting my state of the union address?”
The Nelson’s look puzzled. “We don’t mean you any harm,” explained Joe. “We just saw your cave and thought we’d check it out.”
“Yeah we didn't know you were living down here,” said Mike.
“The entrance is open?” Asked President Newton.
“Yeah we were just passing by here on our way to the Mississippi when we saw it,” said Joe.
“If the entrance is open that means it is time for me to return to the Capitol in the east to take command of America!” Newton said gleefully.
“Hey you wouldn't by any chance happen to be related to the Richard Newton from the picture would you?” Asked Mike
“He is my great great grandfather,” Newton said proudly.
Joe shook his head in disbelief. “How long have you been down he-
“Is my helicopter here?” Newton interrupted.
“Helicopter?” Mike repeated quickly.
“Yes, the one to that’s going to take us to Washington!” Newton bellowed.
“Yes,” blurted Joe. “Just take the elevator up, and it will be waiting just beyond the next hill.”
“We’re finally going home!” President Newton proclaimed. The collection of oddities cheered at the news.
The grotesque group assembled at the elevator. It was a joyous occasion for them. They talked endlessly about their imagined Capitol, a seat of power that assumed was reserved for them to rule over the continent. The Nelson brothers did their best to pay lip service to the stubby-legged president claims. Joe figured having them leave on their own volition would be a much easier business than a massacre.
President Newton was the last one on the elevator. “I want to thank you for your service,” he told the Nelson boys.
“Happy to help,” replied Joe.
“When I get to DC I will send Air Force One to come get you, and I promise you two have a place in my cabinet,” Newton said with a twitchy eye, and a good amount of saliva flowed from his cracked lips.
“Ok,” Said Joe. “Safe travels.”
“God bless you and God bless the United States of America!” Roared Newton as the doors slide shut and the elevator ascended back to the surface.
“Alright let’s see what they have down here,” Suggested Joe.
“Good idea,” grinned Mike. “How do we get back up, though?” The lights blinked, the humming filtration system groaned one final time leaving the abandoned cavern in pitch dark silence. The Nelson brothers were sealed in an impenetrable mountain tomb.