Decisions – A Short Story

Decisions

Joe Biden stood at the window, frowning, hands clasped behind his back, eyes watching the anti-war demonstration in front of the Whitehouse, but brain not engaged. Deep in thought.

The Ukraine situation was delicately poised. One false move now could easily provoke World War Three. These decisions were all knife-edged. Should he have announced that they would not involve themselves militarily? Should he have refused to pass on those Polish planes or enforce a no-fly zone?

Putin had threatened a nuclear holocaust. Instead of a rapier thrust and installing of a puppet regime he had a war of attrition. The costs were enormous, not just in tanks, planes, roubles and soldiers, but in credibility. They were being humiliated. Russia was bankrupt – a pariah state.

Yet there was still that enormous nuclear arsenal and a cornered beast was at his most dangerous.

The switchboard woke him from his reverie. ‘I have Kamala here for you.’

‘Send her in.’

Kamala strode in looking tense and business-like. Without asking, she purposefully sat herself at the table.

Joe, seeing this was formal joined her, leaning forward, fingers interlaced. His blue eyes locked with her brown eyes and the unspoken question was written on his face. What was this about?

Kamala nervously ran her tongue over her lips, took a deep breath and steadied herself. ‘I’ve just come from a meeting with Lloyd Austin and Avril Haynes.’ She tensed, waiting for him to catch on. ‘Avril says they have finally achieved it.’ Her eyes were steady and piercing.

Joe slowly sat back into his seat and his hands slid into his lap. He knew what this was about.

‘This is it,’ Kamala said quietly.

‘Is she certain?’ He asked. ‘Every sub, every plane, every mobile launcher?’

She nodded, her eyes not leaving his.

‘Our operatives have successfully secreted a location device on every nuke the Russians have.’

Joe took a long deep breath. He could feel his heart racing. This was a moment that he had hoped would never come. His mind was clear.

‘Is she sure they will work?’

‘We’ve tested them repeatedly. When the satellites activate them they will work. We haven’t had a single failure.’

He required that reassurance. ‘What does Lloyd say?’

Kamala paused, pursed her lips and set her face in a stern mask. ‘Lloyd says we are ready to go. We have sufficient cruise missiles deployed to take them all out. We have a window of opportunity.’

Joe raised his hands to his chest, considered for a full minute.

He rose, walked the short distance to his desk and punched the intercom. ‘Call a full cabinet meeting. The war room. Now.’

They were all gathered. The room was full of conversation. All, apart from Lloyd Austin, Defence secretary, and Avril Haynes, Intelligence, were speculating on what this was about.

Kamala took her seat. Joe walked in with slow deliberate steps and placed his hands on the long table.

There was an expectant silence.

‘Will you be quiet please?’

Opher – 16.3.2022

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