Ever and Always
Chapter 44: Retiring - August 2028

Copyright© 2015 by Banadin

If martial law was to be ended, then there would have to be elections. This seemed simple to Rick at first, but the more meetings he sat in on, the worse his headache got. He thought that they would have an old-fashioned presidential election.

Then someone mentioned since there really weren't any states anymore there was no electoral college. As a matter of fact, how would they put together a House of Representatives or a Senate?

Many schemes were tossed around. One was that they found people from every state represented in the Valley and let them run for their State Office. Besides the fact, they had no one from Hawaii, Alaska or Rhode Island it didn't make sense.

It was Marsha who planted the seed with Rick one morning over coffee.

"It seems to me Rick that the United States Constitution was developed to give a check and balance between Federal and State power. That is not an issue here. Not only don't we have a Federal Government; we don't have a State either. What do we have?"

"Uh, a City State," Rick stammered.

"You mean like the old Italian City-States of Venice and Florence or the more modern Singapore?"

"Yes like those."

"Well I don't think we want a Doge in power, and Singapore worked so why don't we look at their government structure."

All hell broke loose when Rick brought that up in a staff meeting, but ultimately a plan did come together.

The return to a functioning government would be in stages. First, there would be a President of the United States. There would be no Congress. There would be a Supreme Court. It would be the United States, not the United States of America, as far as they knew they would cover the whole world.

This interim government was to oversee a constitutional convention. The goal of the convention was to bring forth a document which would allow for states to be reformed, not necessarily with their old boundaries. Once thirteen states (a nod to the founding colonies) were formed state elections could be held, which in turn would allow the formation of a Federal government.

The Bill of Rights would be clarified and embedded directly in the new Constitution. Rick intended to fight tooth and nail for gun rights; and that while government could not force a state religion that the state wouldn't have to be a practicing atheist. While there were many arguments to be made, Rick considered atheism a religion as it was founded on a belief which was not provable. Since Rick's beliefs about atheism were unprovable in themselves, people soon learned not to open a discussion on the subject. That conversation cleared many a room in the Valley.

While all this was going on Rick and Marsha's lives had changed. They were brought back to a world that they had never had, children and the joy that can be had by seeing the world through their eyes.

Matt was now seven and Janet five. Rick and Marsha were the only parents they had ever known, well along with Wanda Moore their Nanny. The kids were a bundle of energy. Fortunately, the reverse aging process that Rick and Marsha were undergoing had them down to their mid-fifties by now.

The children were active in school and sports. Rick took great delight in teaching baseball to Matt, and learning soccer from Matt in return. He even snuck Matt behind the barn and gave him some boxing lessons. He forgot about all the cameras that were on the property, and Marsha didn't remind him. She thought it was good that a boy could defend himself.

While Matt was all boy, Janet was a mixture. She was a hardnosed soccer player, but at the same time she loved a tea party and dressing as a princess. Once in passing Marsha wondered to herself if technically she was now the Queen of England but soon forgot about it, that was a different world, from a long time ago and far away.

Marsha insisted that Rick attend all the parent-teacher conferences as she was virtually the head of the entire educational system. It was a lean system, Marsha as head, one secretary and a Principal at each school.

It was the little things that brought new joy to Rick and Marsha, the wonder of Christmas, even the heartbreak of Janet's valentine card being rejected by her first love. Matt did not have this problem yet as girls still had cooties.

While the problems of the future were undergoing lengthy discussion, the Valley was exploring the old United States of America. One hobbyist in asking a question brought up the most practical method of exploring and reuniting the country.

He asked, "Would it be possible to use the old steam engines?"

It turned out there were still over a hundred of them around. Of those eighty-five were in running condition when the Fall happened.

Teams were sent out to rescue those they could. Within six months, they had thirty two working engines. Drones were busy mapping the remaining rail infrastructure. With all the large cities being nuked, they had many detours, but at the end of the project they had an effective national rail system. Of course, there would be no automatic switching. Every time a switch was approached it would have to be thrown manually. Fortunately their hobbyist Jim Morse had a collection of switch keys that covered almost the entire country. Most of the switches once thrown to a main line position could be left in place.

Each train sent out comprised of two engines, for redundancy, four coal cars and four tankers, a solar array car, Pullman cars for the crews. The train had to bring with it coal and water. While each engine had its own coal car, they brought alone hopper cars taken from power plants. When that supply of cars was finally empty there still was enough coal at the power plants to last many years.

The tanker cars were for the water. They were refilled with water pumped in from the nearest stream or creek. The water was filtered as it was pumped. The pumps were operated by stored electricity from the solar power array. They pumped effluent out the old way, onto the track. It was a new world out there.

The dumping of human waste directly into the environment was of concern to some, but even in the end they conceded that man's footprint had become negligible. They would never know the answer to the global warming arguments that still raged. Consensus still existed, the theory wasn't proven. It was all moot as man's effect had gone away.

The one thing that all agree upon was that a new beginning was underway, and that man should never be in the position of even having to ask the questions in the future. Fossil fuel was gone in the long run. They would use up the current diesel fuel supplies and go electric where ever possible. This meant solar arrays to support every building off the nuclear grid of the Valley and even electric cars.

When the trains went out they would first pull into a switch yard and examine the contents of each box car. Those that had materials they were interested in were attached to the train and taken back to Pikeville on the return journey. They picked up hundreds of tons of food and chemicals this way. There would be no need for industry to produce such items as sulfuric acid for a long time.

One of the things being done was inventorying diesel fuel in diesel locomotives and switching yard fuel tanks. They were hesitant to use the diesel engines because of fuel availability. At the same time, there were many more diesel locomotives than steam engines, and the steamers would wear out, so they needed alternatives.

The problem was that diesel fuel while more stable than gasoline had a shelf life of a couple of years unless treated. Since they didn't have the means to do this, they used diesels wherever they could, and they knew they wouldn't run out of fuel.

Between diesel and steam they were good for an indefinite future. The equipment would wear out before they ran out of coal. They had a team working on the cad systems to print new steam engine parts. They had one industrial printer that could handle objects that large. While the design was in process, they had the printer replicating itself.

For personal vehicles, it was decided use electric. Obtaining electric-powered automobiles wasn't an issue; there were thousands of them parked at the Nissan plant in Smyrna, TN plant. Nissan would never know how popular the Leaf would become.

There were now for other towns set up for permanent residence. Augusta GA, Reading PA, Tucson AZ, and Weed, CA had local residents. These were people found in that region who didn't want to move to Tennessee. They varied from fifteen hundred to three thousand people each. These were the nucleus for the reforming of the States.

While all this was going on there was a building project underway. The New White House was being constructed. Rick and Marsha had been using their home for special events, but once he was no longer in command the new president would need an official residence. Marsha wasn't going to give up her house!

The New White House, which quickly became the White House, was almost a replica of the old destroyed White House; however, it was built with the idea that it could be expanded. Rooms were larger and walls made that wire and fiber optics could be run at need. A side building included a huge elevator shaft so that eventually the building could go as deep as they could dig.

In the last hours of the United States when the nuclear missiles started flying the White House staff started emptying the building. Many were suffering with the first stages of the flu, but they were there anyway trying to save the treasurers of the Republic. In those final minutes in a desperate rush, they brought out the entire China collection, the Resolute Desk, the Lincoln Bed, the Treaty Table, the White House Piano and most important of all, the portrait of George Washington, that had been saved from the British by Dolly Madison.

Everything had been loaded on tractor trailers and sent out of the city to a site near Front Royal Virginia. The information was sent to the command post at the survival center. There also was a small carton containing the contents of the last official act of the Congress of the United States of America. It was packed separately and marked for the attention of Mrs. William Wigle as the personal effects of United States Congressman William Wigle.

William Wigle elected to remain in Washington to attend to the last business of the Nation rather than run like many of his colleagues. It did them no good as none survived the holocaust of disease and war.

There was another trailer staged in Front Royal. It contained some old government paperwork, like the Constitution of the United States of America, and the Declaration of Independence.

All these treasures were retrieved during the recovery process and would go into the White House.

At one of his staff meetings, Rick openly wondered if the political parties would keep the names of Democrat and Republican. His staff looked at him like he had two heads.

Matt Johnson said, "Rick, if you haven't noticed the parties have fallen apart. With no elections, no one was interested. Now that we are going to have elections no one can find anything to differentiate themselves into groups. When you got down to it the old parties were based on a strong Federal government vs strong States rights. Since we have neither right now there is nothing to go on."

"What about the issues?" asked Rick?

"What issues, not immigration, not abortion; Heck with the bounty we are giving for new children every woman who can get pregnant is. I know I like that attitude at my house. What other issues are there right now?"

"What about who is running for President."

From the way the crowd broke up you would think it was the funniest thing they had ever heard!

When he managed to get himself under control Matt said, "Rick no one will run against you."

"Me!" Rick squeaked.

"Yes you."

"I hadn't planned to run."

"Don't matter Boss, you're it."

"What if I pull a Sherman."

"Not going to happen, we need you as the first President so you can turn the country over to the civilian government. Not being King was a great thing that Washington did, but his stepping down after two terms set a tradition of peaceful transition, which held for two hundred and fifty years. So man up, it's your turn."

Rick ran unopposed and served two terms as President of the United States. They were good years. Unlike George Washington, he didn't have an empty treasury or a Whiskey Rebellion to put down. Thomas Jefferson faced Barbary pirates. By this time, they had found and rescued a few people overseas but hadn't found any populated areas.

There were now five states, Tennessee, Arizona, Northern California, Pennsylvania and Georgia. They had a Congress in session now.

Two parties had emerged. The first was the Republican Party which represented the business interests and the Anti-Republican's. The ants as they became known, only platform was that if the Republicans wanted it, they were against it!

The day he left office, Rick registered as an Anti-Republican. When asked why he explained. "I know my views are simplistic, but follow the money. The Civil War was really about southern slave holder money vs northern industrial money. When business got big, the government had to write more regulations to stop abuses. The more the abuses the bigger and the more powerful the government became. In defense, Unions were formed, but even they became too big.

It all started because special interests in business wanted laws passed that would benefit them or handicap their competitors. I want to stop this in its tracks. Right now, no business is so large that they can make a statement like that idiot at GM who said, "What is good for GM is good for the country."

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