The Final Digit


This is my entry for:

The Bloggers Bash Blog Post Competition 2017

Whose theme is ‘Connections’ – to be interpreted as we wish.

The Final Digit

(Released under the Freedom of Governmental Policies Act)

Play the tape…

“Ladies and Gentlemen, Who’d have thought that the Black Room would have a ‘black box’? When the end of the world came there he was… swearing away at the buttons, and it’s all on tape or disc or some memory device embedded in concrete.”

Camera follows turning anchor:

“Can you tell us any more about it, General? We really appreciate you opening up like this – such a refreshing change of policy. Would you like some of my iced tea?”

“Thank you… ‘Damn, damn, damn’, is all you can hear on the recording – as the world goes to hell and he frantically punches at the last of the codes. It turns out that the Black Room was remarkably old-tech. Everything else was modern: the planes had been changed, the missiles updated and charged back to the rest of what was left of the Alliance, the procedures and escalation workflow had been streamlined in accord with the latest findings of psychology… Everything thought through.”

“Foolproof, then, you would say?”

“Hell, yes! As idiot-proof as you could imagine…”

“And in the end it was… idiot-proof?”

“Yes, but not in a way that any of us had anticipated!”

“You’re sweating a bit, General. Is it the studio lights?”

“Might be… who gives a damn… Been up for twenty-four hours, helping to pick up the pieces. Gimme some of that iced tea, will you?”

“Here, General. have the pitcher, you look like you could use it. Were you the first to get to him?”

“Sonofabitch locked himself in there… We’d all said don’t do it! Told him it was a Mid-East bluff, but he ran for it, locked the door and started to push the buttons. Shot half his closest advisors at close range before he left the emergency council chamber. We didn’t even know he was armed – you don’t advance your career by searching someone of his rank…”

“But you got to him in time to stop the conflagration?”

“Yes and no. I was the only one old enough to remember the backup failsafe code and the fact that four of the top advisors’ fingerprints would open the door. A good number, as it turns out…”

“A good number?”

“Hell, yes! There were only four of us left alive at that point! Not counting the man in the Black Room.”

“But the bad guys’ nukes haven’t rained down on us all…”

“You’ve got to understand bluffs… and strategic gains. The only people who truly want the planet to go up in flames are mad…”

“So the real game is something else?”

“Hell, yes! it’s about positioning before the stand-off.”

“And that’s all about being creative with the truth?”

“Hell no! It’s about being exact with the truth…”

“I see… No, I don’t… Did you save us all, General? Most people think you’re a global hero”

“No, got there too late… One digit too late.”

“Too late? Are we dead, then?”

“No, but the thirty-year-old connector that linked the final digit to the nuke was…”

©Copyright Stephen Tanham 2017


22 Comments Add yours

  1. TanGental says:

    I won’t read it yet but great you ‘ve joined in Steve…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. stevetanham says:

      Thank you, as ‘dark’ as your finest, I hope!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. stevetanham says:

      Thank you, Robbie. Glad you enjoyed it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ali Isaac says:

    Well I did read it, and it was excellent! And also excellent that you entered. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. stevetanham says:

      Thank you, Ali. That means a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ali Isaac says:

        Will we be seeing you in June?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. stevetanham says:

          You will, indeed. Already registered and paid.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Ali Isaac says:

            Fab! Look forward to seeing you. 😊

            Liked by 1 person

            1. stevetanham says:

              Me, too. Thank you.

              Liked by 1 person

  3. Sacha Black says:

    Cracking last line. Just linking up these posts to the winners post which will go live tomorrow. Thanks for entering and congrats again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. stevetanham says:

      Glad you liked it, Sacha! Thank you for a brilliant day at the Bash xx

      Liked by 1 person

  4. ellenbest24 says:

    Well done Steve it was an honour to share the podeum with you and this story. Congratulations


    1. stevetanham says:

      Thank you, Ellen. It was a lovely day and congratulations to you, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Congratulations, Steve, on this entry coming in the finals of the Bloggers Bash writing competition.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. stevetanham says:

      Thank you, Robbie!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. besondersite says:

    Wonderful post!! Totally loved it 🙂 and a big congratulations to you 😀😀


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