The sky outside is a shimmering irradiated green as I wait for the armored Uber convoy to pick me up for work. I check my phone for any incoming airstrike notifications (you have to check manually because in addition to spotty service, the app does not work half of the time), then take a long sip of coffee flavored hot water from my thermos (wartime rationing is such a bummer).
Eventually the convoy rumbles around the corner and through the rubble that was the apartment complex where I used to live, which is next to the FEMA camp where I currently live. An Abrams tank leads the column, followed by several hulking armored personnel carriers covered in gun turrets and rocket launchers. There are a dozen other well-dressed business professionals waiting at the pickup point with me. A fighter jet screams past overhead and everyone instinctively checks their phones for an airstrike notification, but I guess the plane was one of ours.
The inside of the APC is crowded, cramped. The ceiling is low and people keep hitting their heads against the metal as the tank bumps and buckles over the uneven surface below. Otherwise, taking the armored Uber to work is not much different than how taking the train used to be. Around me, people chatter on their phones, sip their coffee flavored water, and do their best to avoid eye contact with anyone. The only real difference these days is now everyone riding public transit is homeless, as opposed to only a handful of vagabonds.
A display panel streaming video feed from outside gives us a glimpse of the city. All of the tallest buildings have been destroyed, so all of the jobs housed in the big towers have moved to the medium towers. Then the medium tower jobs were pushed to the small buildings, and the small building jobs all went underground. Basically, the war has made everyone one tier less important than they were before. Except for the underground jobs people. I do not know what happened to them.
I used to work in a medium sized building, on the sixteenth floor and with a nice view of the baseball stadium. A few days after the war started, an airstrike destroyed the baseball stadium. I remember watching it from my window and wondering why the enemy decided to target a baseball stadium first. Later, I learned that all of the baseball stadiums around the country had been bombed. The enemy was apparently looking to make a poetic statement with their first strike.
Some jerk from a much taller (and now destroyed) tower booted me out of my cube, so now I work behind the counter of what used to be a Burger King. My “cubicle” is next to the deep fryer. My boss had her office setup in the drive thru window, but her Uber APC drove over a land mine a few weeks ago. I want to move into her drive thru window office, but I am not sure what the appropriate amount of time is before I can make that request without seeming tacky.
Our Uber convoy rolls to a stop and the heavy blast doors open up. The air outside is smoky and smells heavily of sulfur. The streets are littered with the charred, skeletal remains of the old morning commute – luxury cars and sport utility vehicles reduces to metal frames and broken glass. A tank is burning on the street corner. A human hand reaches out desperately towards the heavens, buried deep within in a pile of concrete and plaster. The stale, anxious terror of imminent death lingers pervasively over the boulevard, furiously grinding its teeth in anticipation of the blackness.
Otherwise, the streets are lively. The morning bustle continues as it always did, people in suits jostling past each other on the cracked sidewalks, carrying leather suitcases or dragging wheeled backpacks in tow. A few soldiers keep the foot traffic moving, waving people along with their rifles. The sound of persistent gunfire rattles in the distance, but you stop noticing it after a while. I stop by the Starbucks for another coffee flavored water (I finished my thermos during the ride to work), then head for the Burger King.
There is only one other person at the office this morning – my coworker, Steve. Steve used to work with me on the 16th floor. I think he was an accountant. I am not sure what he does now. Steve waves hello to me and offer a friendly nod in return. Then I sit down at the deep fryer and open my laptop. After connecting to the WiFi, it takes ten minutes for my email to load. I have eight new messages: four meeting notifications, two emails from corporate about how the bank gives back to the community, one email from corporate about how we have another new CEO because the woman they hired only three weeks ago was killed in a rocket attack, and finally, a message from one of my other coworkers, Stacy, about how she can’t take all the death and destruction anymore and just wants to sleep.
My job used to be financial analysis for the information security group at the bank. Then all of our server locations got blown up in rocket attacks, and also the financial markets collapsed so now instead of money, people mostly barter with food and ammunition and sex. That means I don’t have much to do at work these days. I send an email to Stacy that she should probably take a few days of PTO to clear her head. Then I review our financial records from before the start of the war, twelve years ago. They have not changed at all due to the aforementioned total collapse of the financial markets, but I keep reviewing them because I am not sure what else I am supposed to be doing.
The rest of the workday passes by uneventfully. I can hear Steve crying for several straight hours, but do my best to tune him out. A large explosion rocks the building around lunch time, causing dust to rain down from the remaining ceiling tiles. There is also some screaming outside, followed by gunshots, both of which make Steve sob even harder. For lunch, I deep fry one of the three FEMA protein bars I am allotted each day.
At four in the afternoon my phone vibrates, signaling that the daily presidential broadcast is about to start. Trump is on the screen. The signal is choppy, and the broadcast resolution stutters. He is surrounded by American flags and inside what appears to be a steel bunker. He is wearing a MAGA hat and blinking rapidly.
“My fellow patriots! Great news, we are still kicking serious ass. Our enemies are no match for the awesome power of the American Military. We are having tremendous military success everywhere, and soon we will win a Decisive Victory! Things are better than they ever have been, and will only keep getting better. Also, do not worry about the UK and Canada leaving NATO and joining the International Coalition to Destroy America. They were always a joke and did not help us at all! We have way better and more powerful allies, like Bahrain and the Democratic Republic of Congo. We don’t need Canada and the UK and we are going to destroy them, just like we are also going to destroy Iran, Russia, China, Korea, India, Turkey, Brazil, Mexico, Israel, France, Italy, Australia, Japan, Germany, Pakistan, and the Moon. Make America Great Again!”
The stream ends and I can hear cheering outside. I enter my work hours into the time tracker, turn the deep fryer off, and head to the extraction point for the next Uber convoy out. The warm air outside feels good, but then I realize that I am standing next to a pocket of dense radiation. I watch a ragged dog eating a corpse. The Uber convoy is late.
Back in my FEMA tent, I unwrap another protein bar and play Candy Crush on my phone. The sun is setting and I think about how different things used to be before the war. Trump tweets that he is going to make a deal with the ICDA, but that he wont accept anything other than their absolute total surrender. I hear the roar of jet engines overhead, and suddenly the canvas of my tent is replaced by thick smoke and several hundred pounds of debris that quickly buries me. A sharp piece of wood is lodged in my sternum, and one of my legs is missing. My phone vibrates and I wrench a bloodied hand free to check it. An incoming airstrike warning is flashing on the screen.