Authors Note: Read Part 1 Here
It had been six months since Richard Cummings PhD had accepted his spot on the Philadelphia Philharmonic Symphony as a conductor. He had started out as an understudy but quickly rose in the ranks to lead conductor. The previous one had had an accident one night on the way home. At least that’s what Richard wanted everyone to think for now. Their opinion would change in the next four months after they had played for the President, and his bomb exploded into a mushroom cloud.
Richard was in his office studying music sheets, and an idea came to him. If he could find the perfect spot, he could use the music to set off the bomb and he wouldn’t have to use a trigger device. The music would be the trigger he needed. The crescendo of the second movement would be the perfect spot. They would just be getting into it. Richard would just have to figure out the frequency of the notes as they were being played to be able to program the detonator on the bomb, which would have to be custom made by him. Richard just hadn’t figured out how to test his idea without raising any eyebrows in the wrong places.
There was a knock at his office door. “Come in!” Richard looked up as the door opened. He couldn’t believe who was coming into his office. “Agent Handle and Agent Glover what a pleasant surprise! What brings you to the Philharmonic?” They stopped mid-step, as Richard could only describe it as surprise on their faces. “Doctor Cummings?” Agent Glover asked unsure of how she should proceed, as they hadn’t been expecting him to be in this office.
Richard motioned to the chairs in front of his desk. “Yes, That’s right. Please sit.” He knew he had an upper hand on the agents this time, yet he still wanted to be very careful. “How can I help you today?” He watched as they once again looked as if they were telepathically talking to each other. “Well, Doctor Cummings. This is unexpected, decided on a change in career?” Richard smiled a little. “As a matter of fact, I did. I wanted to do something different and I’d always wanted to give conducting a try. The Philharmonic was holding some rare open auditions and I decided to give it a try. Who knew I would be so good at it!” The Agents both nodded. “Well, that’s very interesting Doctor Cummings, however, the reason we are here is that we wanted to double check all the people that would be at the inauguration in just four short months. We had a different name for the lead conductor.” Richard took a sip of water. “Yes, well. There was a horrible accident that happened just last week, and I was promoted as a result. Not the way I’d have wanted it.” He hoped the Feds would take the line he was feeding them. They looked at each other once again, doing that telepathic thing. “We'd like to thank you for your time.” They got up and left before Richard could say anything else. He took a deep breath as they closed the door.
As he looked down at the sheet of music, he found the spot. The perfect spot, the note that would end it all. The cord would be B Flat Minor. Richard pulled out the blueprints to the concert hall. He wanted to find the exact center and then moved it to the wall directly in front of the conductor’s spot, which would put the bomb directly below and in front of the soon to be president. Not to mention all the dignitaries, guests, and other officials.
Next he pulled out the blueprints for the bomb again, trying to find a way to have an even bigger explosion. He couldn’t really find one. Richard smiled, he knew he had everything that he would need to explode the world into a new direction. At least that is what he hoped would happen.
“How did that sonofabitch end up here!” Handle slapped the dash of the car. “Joan, I don’t know. But abusing the dash isn’t going to get us answers. We need to look into the accident that the previous conductor had last week. Besides, we don’t have any evidence to keep him from being here, or in Washington D.C. in four months.” Handle looked over at her partner. “I guess we better find something then huh?" Glover nodded as they pulled into traffic.
January 20th 2084
Richard Cummings sat in his hotel room. He looked over at the clock, it stoically told him it was five in the morning. He mentally started to go over every step he was going to take today. He had placed the bomb last night while he was looking over the orchestra pit to make sure that there were enough chairs and placements for the musicians. He placed it under the conductor’s podium, which was dead center of from where the president would be standing.
Richard went over the backup systems and knew that even if the band didn’t set it off, the deadman switch or the timer would do it for him. He had also set up a redundancy that if any wires were cut, the bomb would still blow up. He realized that there would be bomb-sniffing dogs, and decided at the last minute to double up the casing the bomb sat in to hopefully keep the dogs from getting the scent of the explosives Richard was going to be using to set off a mushroom cloud in Washington D.C. He had decided at the last minute to add a wireless trigger.
He got up and decided he should get a shower in now, because in about an hour he wouldn’t have time to stop to do it later. Rehearsals last night went well, everyone seemed to know their parts. Richard had to be careful with the bomb. He double checked it beforehand to make sure it was turned off during the rehearsals. He didn’t want it going off by accident.
He looked at himself in the mirror. “Why am I doing this?” he asked himself. “Because, we need to get refocused on what’s important. The nation has become this tech obsessed, mindless culture. It doesn’t care about anything anymore. We use to be a nation that cared, now we just want to upgrade to the next edition of our phones, or get the latest gadget. No one has any depth anymore. We don’t talk with our neighbors, or co-workers, or strike up a conversation with a stranger while getting a drink. We just don’t care about people anymore.” He gave his reflection a sardonic grin, and then got into the shower.
Once he got out of the shower, he dried off and got dressed. Richard continued to go over his plan in his head. He would wait until the last possible moment to turn on the bomb remotely. He would start the warm up with the bomb off, and then when the orchestra started to play the first note of the first song he would turn it on, and then the bomb would explode one minute later. He didn’t think much further than that point.
Richard got to the venue an hour later, and he started to get ready. The inauguration would take place first and then, then Jackson Truman would be introduced as the 66th President of the United States of America. The orchestra would start to play all hail the chief, and then the bomb would go off. He continued to go over the plan in his head. Richard started to feel nervous about the whole thing. He had thought the national anthem would be the best place to set off the bomb, but changed it a few nights before everyone left for D.C. He realized that they wouldn’t even be showing everything on the news until just before Truman took the oath, and then gave his speech.
Richard saw the bomb-sniffing dogs around the conductor podium. They were really investigating it. He decided he should go over there and find out what was going on. “Excuse me. Why are you all disturbing my podium?” One of the officers looked up. “Dr. Cummings, one of the dogs detected something and now we are just trying to figure out what it is, can you help us out here?” Richard thought to himself. "Shit, I should have tripled the casing."
“Sure anything to help.” He walked over to join the other officers, secret service agents, and other government types. “Dr. Cummings, can you tell me what that object is under the podium?” Richard bent over and looked at the bomb. “Yes, I can. It’s the anti-vibration device I’ve been working on. You know the wrong bob of the baton, and suddenly the whole piece is off key.” Richard hoped they bought his bullshit. They all looked at him, nodded, and then they all walked away. He breathed a sigh of relief and thought to himself. “Holy shit, they bought that bullshit. No wonder so many people get away with shit.”
Richard waited until everyone was out of sight and then he got down and checked out the device. He wanted to make sure nothing had been tampered with when they found it. Everything seemed ok. He decided to go back to his dressing room until it was time to come out and take the podium.
3 Hours Earlier January 20th 2084
Agent Glover passed Agent Handle a cup of coffee. “Drink this, it will calm you down.” He said to her, as she took the cup. “Right.” She replied with a dry sarcasm. She took a sip, and then a deep breath. “I just know that Dr. Cummings has something planned, and I wish I could figure it out.” She set down her coffee harder than she had intended on her desk. Handle looked over her notes and started to see a pattern of evasion in the answer that Cummings gave to them during the interviews.
She went back the first interview and watched it again. Every agent has a micro-drone that follows them. Typically it hides in the hair of the agent or on top of the ear. Its stealth technology renders it invisible to the naked eye. The micro-drone records everything the agent does while on duty, and the digital files are transferred to the FBI mainframe each time the agent enters an FBI building. Agent Handle always spent time organizing her records. Not all agents did it, but she felt it helped her find what she needed faster so it was worth the effort. For example, she put all the interviews with Dr. Richard Cummings PhD into one folder. As she watched the first interview, that was when she caught it. She kicked herself for not reviewing this sooner. He closed the basement door and she could see a glimpse of a casing for something that had the symbol for radioactivity. “Motherfucker! He has the fucking nuke!”
Agent Glover’s head snapped up from the report he was reading. “Fuck!” He said as he got up and came around to Handle's desk. She backed the video up to just before Cummings closes the door to the basement. “Look! Right there in the basement!” Glover looked at the paused video. “Fuck me sideways!” He said as he looked at the video. “Right there in front of us the whole time!” Glover said in frustration. “Where is he right now?” Handle asked. “He is in Washington D.C. about to play for the new President,” Glover said as he turned and went back to his desk. “Joan, we have to tell the director about this, he’s in Washington D.C. for the inauguration.” Glover picked up the phone and started to dial.
An hour later Handle and Glover were on a plane chartered by the FBI heading to Washington D.C. Handle just hoped they would make it in time to stop Cummings from nuking the nation's capital. It would be an American apocalypse if he managed to get the bomb to explode. Handle was startled when Glover set a report down in front of her. “Agents found everything at his house. The lead agent said that he had never seen anything like it and that if Cummings has a nuke, he isn’t looking for a dirty bomb. Dr. Cummings is going to make it really explode. He will take out the whole city.” Handle looked up at Glover. “Fuck.” She was all she said and then took a long drink of her scotch.
One Hour Before The Inauguration.
Richard’s phone started to ring. He looked down at it and it was his neighbor Sam. “Hey Sam what’s up?” He was curious why his neighbor was calling him at this particular moment. “Hey Rich! Say, did you know that there are FBI agents in your house right now? It looks as if they are going through everything right now.” Richard took a breath before he answered. “Yes I knew about that. It’s some last minute security stuff they had to complete.” Richard was glad he wasn’t on a video call. He knew that this meant they had figured it out finally. “Ok Rich, so I won’t worry about why they are digging up your backyard.” Richard pulled the phone away from his ear and covered up the mouthpiece. “Fuck!” He got back on the phone. “Nope nothing to worry about Sam.” He hung up the phone and walked over to look out his door. Nothing seemed out of place.
Richard started to pace in his dressing room. He looked up at the clock and saw that it was only an hour before he would have to be out there conducting the orchestra. Just one more hour before he would do what he had been planning for almost a decade. It couldn’t fail, because if he was caught, execution wouldn’t be far behind. They would be quick about it too, and nothing would change. America would still be the same shallow shell of its former self. He was a kid when the ruling parties imploded in an attempt to one-up each other. However, new leaders and ideas came forward, and that is what Richard hoped for here.
There was a knock at his door. “Dr. Cummings. It’s time for warm-ups.” He breathed a quick sigh of relief. “Thank you! I’ll be right out!” He quickly replied, hoping that it wasn’t a ruse. He picked up his baton, checked himself out in the mirror to make sure his tie was straight, and then opened the door. There wasn’t a swat team of agents waiting for him, so he felt it was safe to walk out to the podium.
Richard looked around as he got his music sheets in the right order. He then tapped his baton on the music stand. “Ok, let's get warmed up!” All the musicians looked up at him smiled and then the sounds of instruments being tuned filled the air. It was an oddly relaxing sound for him. It was short lived as he saw a group of people starting to gather to the left of him. “Shit.” He quietly said to himself. He reached into his pocket and made sure the trigger was ready. He wanted to wait until just before they got to him to push the button. One of the people pointed in his direction. They were almost ready to come for him. He would have to act quickly, because he was sure they knew about the bomb and they wouldn’t want him to set it off.
He smiled to himself, all the redundant systems all but ensured that the bomb would explode. Dr. Richard Cummings hadn’t taken any chances, he wanted that bomb to explode. Which is why he had moved it last night after everyone had left. It was directly under where the new President would be standing after he was sworn into office. He had set the timer to go off exactly a half hour after the event started. However, he also had the wireless trigger and it had a mercury switch because he didn’t want it moved once it was set up.
Richard looked up and saw them start to walk in his direction. He looked behind him and saw more agents. He pulled out the trigger and held it up. Everyone stopped walking. “Move one step closer, and I set it off right now!” Not how he had hoped it would go, but he had a plan just in case. “I have a trigger switch, a timer, and a mercury switch on the bomb. It will go off. There is nothing you can do about it.” He saw her step forward, Agent Handle. “Dr. Cummings, Why? Why would you do all of this?” A sneer crept up onto his face. “Because, we need to be refreshed, we need to be renewed! We have become a shell of what we were once!” He let out a bitter laugh. “I almost made it, I almost got to my goal. It’s ok though. Almost only counts with horseshoes and nuclear hand devices! This bomb will take out the whole city, and the fallout will spread for two hundred miles. So either way, I still win!” Richard pushed the button, he watched as Agent Handle's eyes widen as if in slow motion. Then it all went black.
Sam turned on the television. He decided he wanted to his his neighbor conducting the music. “Breaking news out of Washington D.C.! Doctor Richard Cummings of Washington State has set off a Nuclear bomb at the sight of what was going to be the inauguration of President-Elect Kyle Truman. We are currently trying to find out more information.” Sam turned off the T.V. and looked out his window at his neighbor's house that still had several FBI agents inside.
He looked out of the window of Air Force One. “Holy shit. It’s gone. The whole city is just gone.” Kyle Truman never thought anything like this could happen. “I’ve been President for all of ten minutes and the capital gets nuked.” Kristi Truman put her hand on her husband’s arm. “We can rebuild it.” He nodded, “Yeah. I’ll need to give a statement to the press soon. I need to let everyone know that their government is still in place.” He got up and walked to his office, sat down in his chair and put his head in his hands. “Holy shit!” He heard someone sit down. “Yeah, that’s what I’d be saying if I was still President.” Kyle looked up. “This is why you had me diverted this morning isn’t it? You knew something like this was going to happen.”
The former President shrugged. “We had an idea, we thought he might have a bomb, we didn’t know it was a nuke until two and a half hours ago. We thought we could stop him. We were wrong. As soon as we knew about the nuke, we had you diverted at the last minute.” Kyle processed everything. “So what now? Congress has been obliterated, and we only have the speaker of the house, and my vice president on this plane.” Again the former President shrugged. “I guess you have quite the challenge ahead of you.” He got up and then walked out of the office. “He is an asshole.” Kyle said to the now empty room.
“We are now getting reports that President Kyle Truman has taken the oath of office on Air-Force One and will be issuing a statement shortly. Former President Henry Thomas is also reported to be on the plane with President Truman.” The reporter looks off camera as he is handed some papers. “Ok, ladies and gentleman, I’ve just been handed the President’s statement.” The reporter quickly reads through it. “Dear god.” He looks up at the camera. “Washington D.C. is gone. Yeah Jack, gone. As in it was nuked out of existence. Yes I know I’m still on air.” He takes a few calming breaths. “The President’s statement as is follows.”
“My Fellow Americans. We have suffered an unimaginable tragedy, but we are still here. Your elected Government still stands, and we will rebuild. It will take time, but we will rebuild.” The reporter looks up at the camera. “I….”
The TV is turned off. “That sonofabitch did it.”