I stayed in my house for the next two days. On the third day after "The Bomb" (the name given to the Chicago nuclear event by the Pentagon News Service), it was announced that some banks would reopen. Television was still monopolized by the Pentagon News Service, but radio was now broadcasting Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh between the Pentagon broadcasts.
Hannity and Limbaugh mostly read the government scripts that had already been read over and over. Hannity made claims that Saddam's weapons of mass destruction had been moved to Syria. Limbaugh advanced rumors that Hamas had released biological weapons in America that they obtained from Syria. Both of the shock jocks criticized the President for not attacking Syria.
The internet was still down and there had been no mention of this by the Pentagon News Service. However, there was an announcement that steps were being taken to prevent terrorists from using the internet to coordinate attacks. It seemed obvious that the government had shut down the web.
I was out of cigarettes, running low on food, and starting to go stir crazy. The building where I work was closed "for security reasons", so I couldn't go to work - even if I had wanted to. I decided to leave the relative tranquility of home to do some shopping.
First, I went to the bank to deposit a check. I was encouraged to obtain a debit card, which I did. There were no lines at the bank and no limit on the number of customers allowed inside at one time, but there were several soldiers inside. There was a sign on the wall: No Cash Withdrawals.
I encountered a checkpoint on the way to the grocery store. There were no other cars at the checkpoint as I approached. As seen on TV, I came to a stop and exited my car holding my ID above my head. A young redneck soldier told me to get back in my car and impatiently waved me through.
Two policemen holding shotguns flanked the door at the grocery store. Inside, the shelves were nearly empty. I was able to get a loaf of bread, some cans of soup, a bag of cookies, and a carton of cigarettes. I paid for the items with my new debit card. The cashier put a pamphlet in my bag about how the voluntary ban on cash prevented terrorists from using the "underground economy" to make purchases.
Next, I went to fill up my tank. There was no line of cars like there had been at the 7-11 and I was happy to see that. The gas prices on the sign outside were covered with plastic sheets held up with duct tape. Once inside, I disovered that gas was now $6.66 per gallon - cash only. I suppose they didn't mind if terrorists bought gas. Fortunately, I had $20 in cash - enough for three gallons.
Rush Limbaugh was on the radio. I punched the buttons and found him on every station. He was ranting about people who complained about the war - unpatriotic traitors that were unwilling to sacrifice to preserve our freedom. Suddenly, he stopped the rant and cheerfully informed listeners that America had just launched a missile strike on Syria from Iraq. This would teach the Islamofascists not to attack America with biological weapons, he proclaimed.
I had listened to the Pentagon News Service for three days and not once did I hear any explanation as to how they knew that al Qaida was responsible for detonating an Iranian nuke in Chicago. How did they know who did it? How did they know it was an Iranian nuke? How did they know there were more nukes already in the country? If they know there are al Qaida cells preparing to detonate more nukes, why weren't they rounding them up?
I turned off the damned radio and drove home. I hadn't been home more than 5 minutes when my doorbell rang. I opened the door to find six police officers standing in my front yard. They asked me to come outside. I saw another group of policemen several doors down talking to a neighbor.
Three of the cops went inside my house while another cop asked to see my ID. I asked what was going on, but was ignored. I asked if I could go back inside my house and was told to sit down on the sidewalk. A few minutes later, a cop came out of my house holding my rifle. Another cop spray painted a blue triangle on the front of my house.
The cop put my rifle in his car and another cop asked me if I owned any other guns. I lied and told him no. Apparently, they hadn't found my pistol. I was then told to go inside and the cops left. They had wrecked my house. They had smashed the screen on my computer monitor and had stolen 3 packs of cigarettes out of the carton I had just bought.
My pistol was still on top of my bookcase and they hadn't found 2 boxes of bullets in my tool box. They had gone through my wallet but hadn't stolen anything from it. I was livid. They had stolen my rifle for no reason and spray painted my house. They had caused hundreds of dollars worth of damage and stolen a $300 rifle. I was mad at myself for not even objecting to this outrage.
Two days later, I walked to the 7-11 just to get out of the house. The first newspaper published in five days was being sold, so I bought one. There was no real news there. Long lists of the banks, businesses, and airports that were still closed filled an entire section of the paper. The source of all the news appeared to be the Pentagon News Service.
A large picture of Dick Cheney snarling adorned the front page. The main headline was: President To Address The Nation Soon. I read a story headlined: The Fight To Keep America Free. This article stunned me.
Disregarding their personal safety, demolition experts from the Army Corps of Engineers brought down the Sears building after structural damage was found. Experts believe that the two dirty bombs detonated last week weakened support beams in the basement of the building.
I could not believe what I was reading. Dirty bombs are not nukes. The Pentagon News Service had led the nation to believe that a nuclear bomb had brought down the Sears Tower. The radiation from two dirty bombs detonated in the basement of a building would not justify the evacuation of Chicago. My stomach started to hurt.
I went home and began packing a few things. I decided that I needed to get out of the city. I wasn't sure where I would go, but I knew I needed to get away - at least for a while. I felt like every drop of energy had been drained from me. I laid down on the sofa and took a nap.
I woke up in a cold sweat. I was trembling and my head was pounding. I got up and went back to the kitchen and noticed the screen on my computer monitor was not smashed in. My rifle was back. I ran outside and there was no blue triangle on my house.
The nightmare had ended.
This article contributed by Tom Blanton of Richmond, Virginia.