True to his word, Pete returned home after getting things situated inside the cave. All things considered, he had actually managed to make it somewhat cozy inside. It wasn’t exactly a four-star hotel, but it wasn’t a bad place to wait out a nuclear Armageddon. In fact, he was almost anxious to get back to it. Tensions back in the real world were at an all-time high. All anyone was talking about was the ongoing negotiations between the International Nuclear Alliance, made up of all the major industrialized nations in the world, and the tiny nation of Marwan. General Mombozi’s public threats were intensifying by the day, but most pundits were hopeful that it was all talk. The only certainty was that the rest of the world could not let their guard down as long as the tyrannical leader of Marwan was in possession of nuclear technology. Pete considered himself an optimist as well. But he also was a realist. He was a firm believer in the old adage, ‘Hope for the best, plan for the worst.’ Only this time, the worst could mean the end of the world. Pete just hoped his best plans would be enough.
As he was gathering the last of his supplies at the local shopping center, he couldn’t help but notice a large crowd gathering around the big screen TV’s in the electronics department. By the time he made his way over to see what they were watching, the screen was showing the President of one of the founding members of the INA giving a press conference. He was visibly upset and by the looks of the people watching inside the store, so were they.
Pete approached two men who were discussing what was on TV and asked, “What’s going on? Is he talking about the negotiations?”
“Yeah, but it sounds like all negotiations are off. Mombozi just kicked out all of the INA’s inspectors. They’re trying to work with some of Marwan’s allies to see if they can talk some sense into him, but it doesn’t look good. Oh wow, check it out.” He pointed to the screen, where cameras were showing a scene of helicopters and tanks being maneuvered into position inside of Marwan.
“He’s closing off his borders. They should have taken him out months ago. We better get in there and take care of this right now, before he gets his missiles ready for launch”, one of the stores spectator’s said.
Another onlooker replied, “I read that he has been waiting on this moment for months. He more than likely already has his weapons aimed at his primary targets with his finger hovering above the trigger. This is going to be bad.”
While the people in the store carried on this troubling conversation, Pete slowly melted back into the crowd. He picked up his pace and quickly made his way to the checkout line. He waited as patiently as possible as the clerk rang up his items.
The clerk, noticing all of the camping equipment and dry goods in Pete’s basket, shook his head knowingly. “So, I guess you’re making a run for it too, huh? Can’t say I blame you. Business has been booming here lately with all the people stocking up on supplies. I’m not too worried myself though. My nephew is in the military. He says they can go in and take out that Mombozi character in about a week. How much trouble can he cause in a week?”
Pete didn’t want to know the answer to that question, but didn’t want to get into a deep discussion with this guy right now either.
“Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. Good luck to you.” Pete took his buggy full of supplies out of the store and started loading them into his truck. As he shut his tailgate, he looked around at the busy parking lot. People were everywhere. Pete suddenly felt a deep sadness that he couldn’t explain. Pete somehow shut the thought out of his head and jumped into the driver’s side of his truck and pulled away. He was heading straight back to the cave with enough supplies to last a few months.
He just hoped that this place, and these people, would still be here when he had to make his next supply run.
But his optimism only went so far.