Spring 2015

Bunker Correspondence

Going to ground

Patrick Lyons

A communal space in a Vivos shelter.

There’s nothing out of the ordinary about insuring against the unknown. A vast insurance industry exists so that buyers can experience relative calm in the present by casting a virtual safety net over the unknown future—all at a price. Insurance allows one to tame the future and pick it apart into tangible outcomes. But what are its limits? What does insurance for the end of times look like?

Consider Robert Vicino, founder of the Vivos Group (and a former inflatables entrepreneur), which owns a luxury underground bunker in Indiana that can house eighty individuals, as well as a second in the “heart of Europe” that offers more than 225,000 square feet of blastproof living area. His company, whose motto is “Life Assurance for a Dangerous World,” sells off spots in these facilities to anyone who (1) passes the screening process, and (2) is willing to spend somewhere around $35,000 (children under sixteen are offered a $10,000 discount). The bunkers are “fully stocked with food, toiletries, linens, medical supplies, a one-year supply of fuel, a deep water well, NBC filtration systems, geothermal heating and cooling, bedroom suites, full-size showers and bathrooms, a theater area, dining area, lounge area, exercise equipment, kennels, a garden area for fresh vegetables, laundry area, abundant storage areas, ATVs, bicycles, tools, a workshop, security devices; and, just about everything else that may be needed to ride out virtually any catastrophic event.” Each is built to withstand nuclear terrorism, social anarchy, electromagnetic pulses, solar flares—the list goes on and on.

The application process is relatively straightforward. Applicants plug in their basic personal information and check off boxes concerning personal skills and professional background. I went through the process, but, lacking any of the requisite expertise, was unable to check anything off. No military background, no carpentry or medical skills—basically no potential as a survivalist. For my personal statement, I provided an honest assessment of my worth, fluffed with the best “prepper” ideological stance I could muster:

Given the current state of widespread political, economic, and social disrepair in our nation today, it seems to me that the only direction left to go is down. Down, that is, in one of two ways: For the unprepared, down leads to disaster, destruction, and chaos. For those granted the precious gift of foresight, however, down leads simply underground, to safety, towards the future. After extensive research, I’ve come to conclude that Vivos, among all other shelter complexes, holds the most promise for the protection and preservation of future generations in the face of the unimaginable crises that bear down upon us. In the interest of forward movement for humanity, I wish to apply for placement in your Indiana compound.

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