General Brighton waited quietly by the sofa while the President of the United States swiped the screen of his iPad and began another game of Angry Birds. Bright colors and loud noises drifted up from the screen which had completely absorbed the attention of the Commander in Chief.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had not been asked to sit down and he had learned early on that Obama was very sensitive about members of the military usurping his authority. The last time he did it, he had been asked if it was "a racial thing."
Instead he remained standing while a fly slowly circled his head like an orbiting satellite.
"So we're on for the conference," Obama said, without taking his eyes off the iPad. His legs were curled up behind him on the sofa and his neck was craned over as if he were trying to physically project his body into the game.
It was a stance that Brighton often saw on his teenage boys.
"Completely." Valerie Jarrett drifted in from somewhere. Brighton had gotten used to her appearing out of nowhere with the covert skills of a Special Forces team.
"I shake the Iranian guy's hand and then I make a speech. Damn." Obama winced as unhappy sputtering noises rose from the game. Something had gone wrong.
Valerie affectionately patted his head. "You'll get it right next time."
The Commander in Chief of the United States shook her hand away. "I know I'll get it right next time," he said, without looking up. "I don't need you to tell me that."
"Of course you don't. You're too smart for that."
"I know I am," he mumbled, swiping again.
General Brighton's face paled. He had thought it was a bad idea when the White House first suggested it. Modernization was good and these were changing times, but there was too much that could go wrong. Still Valerie had insisted and she had gotten her way.
The general had served in Vietnam, but his stomach had never churned as much acid as when his boss had gotten an iPad because next to a dozen Angry Birds apps was one app defined by a bright red button labeled NUCLEAR BUTTON. One wrong tap could reduce the world to a cinder.
Obama paused with his finger in mid-air. "What about the military preparations?"
"Well we have one carrier in the region in case anything goes wrong," General Brighton said. "We would have had two if not for the cutbacks."
His boss frowned in that look which meant that he thought his failure to understand the answer was someone else's fault. "Why do you need two aircraft carriers for a gay wedding? Are the two grooms going to come in on separate aircraft carriers that are going to dock together?"
"What gay wedding," General Brighton said, and cursed inwardly a moment too late. Maybe he could have gotten the budget for the second carrier restored.
Obama sighed with patient impatience. "We talked about this. Didn't we talk about this Valerie?"
Valerie seemed to materialize in front of Brighton out of thin air glaring angrily up at him with the air of a poodle pretending that it's a bulldog. "Every branch of the service is supposed to hold a gay wedding. Barack thinks it's of the highest priority."
"My apologies, Ma'am," General Brighton said wearily. "I thought he might have been referring to Iran."
Valerie Jarrett's hand slapped his face, or the air underneath it, which was as close as she could reach. "There are no military preparations for Iran. None whatsoever! This is a peace conference! Have those Jews gotten to you?"
"I'm a Lutheran," Brighton said. This wasn't strictly true as he had stopped believing in any higher power after his first visit to the White House and then he had started believing again after the first dozen times that his Commander in Chief had managed to not blow up the world using his iPad and then lapsed again after being made to supervise his third gay wedding.
"Wait a minute," Obama said, absently raising one hand without taking his eyes off the screen. "What if we bring two carriers together to have a gay wedding in Iran at the peace conference?"
General Brighton began to pray. He was no longer sure for what. It might have been a bolt of lightning. Or a premature retirement to somewhere safe. Maybe Mars.
"Sweetie." Valerie was all sweetness and light again as she rushed over to him. "I don't think that would be a good idea."
"Why not?" Obama demanded petulantly. "Just because I came up with it? You never want to do anything I say."
"Tell him General," Valerie demanded.
"Uh well," General Brighton stammered. "The Iranian regime isn't too terribly fond of gay marriage."
Obama shook his head. "Where did you get that idea? I'm disappointed. I thought we got all those Islamophobic trainers out of the military."
"They hang them," Brighton said desperately. "They lock them up and hang them."
"Is this a racial issue?" Obama demanded, frowning at his iPad. "It's always a racial issue with you guys."
"It's what is," Brighton said weakly. He didn't ask what race had to do with it. He had learned better.
"That's enough," Valerie snapped. "The President doesn't want to hear from you anymore."
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff wasn't paying attention to her anymore. The fly was no longer circling his head. It was preparing to land on the iPad on the sensitive capacitive screen of the mobile device right over the red button.
"Sir," he began.
"What?" Obama snapped, finally looking up at him.
"If you could just play another game of Angry Birds. Right now," General Brighton said, sweat beading on his forehead.
"Is that vital to national security?" Obama asked.
"You have no idea how much, sir."
"Don't say I don't ever do anything for the military." Obama shrugged and tapped the Angry Birds app just as the fly landed.
General Brighton mopped his forehead. It had been another close one. He didn't know how many more of these he could take.
Osama bin Laden woke up staring at the ceiling of his council house in Tower Hamlets. Through the wall he could hear his three wives making their morning preparations in the next room over, which consisted of them hitting each other while cursing in the name of the Prophet.
They were on the waiting list for something larger, but the Islamophobic local authorities were delaying. As far as the authorities were concerned, Osama's name was Mohammed Hamid Rahman Abu Mamza with a few random Abduls, Mahmouds and Abus thrown in there for good measure. These days though he suspected that he could come out of the closet and get the new council house even faster.
Next to him lay the Pakistani boy who had been a parting gift from the Taliban and their Pakistani intelligence masters in exchange for putting as many kilometers as possible between him and them. By then the Egyptians had been running the whole operation and had squeezed him out of his own organization.
"Egyptians," Osama bin Laden mumbled to the cracked ceiling. "Every one of them claims to be a doctor. You can't find a falafel vendor in Cairo who isn't a doctor of something. Snakes all of them. They're as bad as Syrians."
It was no use. No one was listening. No one cared.
He thought sometimes of setting up a website. Videos on news networks were so old. Tariq talked of something called Twitter. He could make an account. Get his message of a world Caliphate out. Get back to the way it had been before the Egyptians had taken over.
But he knew it wouldn't work.
The Americans had killed that double of his whom the Pakistanis had set up as a decoy. It had gotten their man reelected for another term in the White House. If he ruined all that, he wasn't worried about Scotland Yard, but Pakistan's ISI had made it clear that they would do things to him that he couldn't even imagine. And with his ties to the Saudi royals, he didn't have to imagine very hard.
He shook Tariq awake. "Come on. We've got to get to St. Paul's early if we're going to sell t-shirts to the tourists."
The t-shirts said, "My friend went to London and all I got was this lousy shirt." It wasn't Al Qaeda. But it kept his wives in ugly jewelery. And it was something to do.
"Three bombs," General Bakseesh said. He knew it already, but he liked repeating it anyway. "We only need one for the peace conference."
"And one for Tel Aviv and one for New York," General Hosseini added. "And that's just the beginning."
There were a lot of generals in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. More generals than men, especially after the latest debacle in Syria.
"The Americans think we're still three months away. The Israelis think we're a week away," General Bakseesh said. "This achievement is a tribute to our intelligence and our dedicated patriotic workers."
The workers were mainly political prisoners who died after a week's exposure to radiation and were buried in mass graves. When their numbers ran out, they imported Bangladeshi workers. There had been some noise over the killing of so many Muslims, who hadn't even been found guilty of anything under Sharia law, but four other generals had pointed out that Iran was at least giving the Bangladeshi migrant workers a quick death.
That was more than Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or Qatar gave them.
Working without anything resembling safety precautions had allowed the Iranian nuclear program to advance by tremendous leaps and bounds. Or it would have if Iranian Revolutionary Guard generals hadn't been slowing it down with lucrative contracts.
General Bakseesh and his father-in-law owned two-thirds of a concrete company that had caused at least one nuclear disaster due to shoddy construction. It hadn't been entirely deliberate, but it had doubled their take. He knew that General Hosseini and his three son-in-laws controlled mining interests and had taken extensive bribes from Chinese business interests.
Meanwhile General Mohammedi had taken to outright sending Revolutionary Guardsmen to smash up nuclear equipment for his company to replace while blaming it on the Zionists. It was so blatant that at some point he would have to be dealt with. As soon as he could convince Hosseini to come in with him on taking over Mohammedi's company.
"Do you know some of those infidels say that the Islamic way of life is harsh," General Bakseesh said, shaking his head. He couldn't see it himself.
With his three Porsches and illegal satellite TV that allowed him to catch up on the best episodes of the Shahs of Sunset, his four mistresses, eighteen companies and ability to have any ordinary person killed, he didn't understand why everyone wasn't a Muslim.
Brett Kennedy sweated as he looked at the screen of his Macbook Air. The famous Hope poster of Obama hung just behind his head, next to one of Ron Paul and another of Edward Snowden. His hard drive was packed with misspelled bomb manuals, even though he lacked the manual dexterity to screw in a lightbulb, and child pornography, even though it held no interest for him, to send him to prison despite his distant, eight times removed, relationship to the Kennedy family, or his father's job as Undersecretary of Diversity Planning at the Department of Health and Human Services.
The scrawny teenager, officially Breton Kennedy IV, had been desperately trying to rebel against his family. He wasn't very good at it though his family of wealthy anti-war activists turned bureaucrats did their best to encourage him, even hiring a Natural Rebellion Adviser for six hundred bucks an hour.
That had infuriated him even more. The Adviser, kept quoting Noam Chomsky and talking about the Zeitgeist. Brett had told him to go to hell and the elderly hippie had told him he was on the right track.
His Twitter account, automatically retweeting the latest Anon news, had a Guy Fawkes mask, but he hadn't even managed to hack his father's WiFi password. He suspected there wouldn't even be anything interesting there anyway.
At this rate, he would never be anonymously famous.
He had finally managed to piggyback onto his father's Federal cell network access and troll for files, but there were just smiling photos of government employees at cocktail parties looking smug and self-satisfied. A bunch of HUD executives were flashing gang signs in Georgetown while balancing plates of shrimp. It was just too much.
Brett was just about to give up when he came across an iTunes account POTUS2008.
"No way," he said. "It can't be."
Despite having the hacking skills of one of those Georgetown shrimp, he had found programs that would do nearly all the work for him. One of those brought up the contents of the target's iPad on his screen.
Brett rolled his eyes. "Angry Birds, Angry Birds, Angry Birds. Stupid capitalist scum." Then he spotted one that looked interesting. It was probably just a game. It had to be.
His finger hovered over the trackpad as he hunted feverishly through his own iTunes account for the right gangsta rap to play while destroying the world.