My favorite brodcaster, National Public Radio, has been running a series of three-minute-fiction contests. Each round has a specific theme or subject or scene defined, and then entries are posted that can be read in under three minutes. That means less than six-hundred words.
I’ve not participated up until now because I just couldn’t see myself creating something readable in six-hundred words. I’ve decided that talking myself out of it is just silly, and I’m going to participate in every round moving forward. I’m going to post my entries here after I submit them, and if anyone else out there tries one of these too, please comment and link back to your own. I’d love to read what other people send in.
This round’s topic is “Story entries must revolve around a U.S. president, who can be real or fictional.” All entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 23.
My story has been heavily influenced by recent events, and I tried to extrapolate this into a bit of alt-history.
by Nicholas Rogers
“My fellow Americans. I come before you today to discuss the recent tide of events; events that have slowly pulled my administration out to sea. A tide that I truly believe has now turned.”
He’d never wanted to be President. His whole professional life had revolved around campaigning. The campaign he understood, talking with people, connecting individually, driving voters to the polls. It was the governing that made him uncomfortable. When she had called him on that late spring evening, and asked him to be her running mate, she was asking for his hand in her campaign. He could carry his home state of New York with ease, and bring in voters from Florida to California. He didn’t have to drive the policy, just drive the campaign bus down the road.
And it was glorious.
“A few minutes ago, Governor Smith was sworn in before a joint session of congress as the new Vice President of the United States.”
She was the best President in a generation. Landslide victory, like the grown-ups had returned home after a long vacation. On her first international tour it all went wrong. A crowd in Damascus, incensed by a YouTube video, cornered her armored limo and eventually dragged her broken body through the streets. Which also became a YouTube sensation.
“At this very moment, I have no doubt that the new Vice President and the heads of the Executive Departments are taking the unprecedented step of invoking Section Four of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. Declaring that I am effectively incapacitated and cannot continue to execute the office of the Presidency.”
No more than thirty minutes after taking the oath of office, he’d ordered a punitive strike. No U.N. mandate, no security council vote, just a battle-group and the wrath of a man who believed he was one small step below a vengeful God. Eight-Hundred and Seventy-Three soldiers died in the fighting with the Russian and Iranian military that followed.
“With a heavy heart, I must admit that they are correct.”
He personally called the families of every soldier that had died. It took him nearly a month. Each call became another chip in the shattered window of his sanity. When the time came to make the call, he ordered the first military use of a nuclear device in more than sixty years. One-Hundred-Thousand modern-day Sauls were blinded by the bright face of God, and were purified in nuclear fire.
“To prevent these good men, and this good nation, from being forced to set a terrible precedent and bringing further turbulence to the already troubled situation; I must take the only honorable course of action.”
Even his own party screamed about the “Disproportionate Response”, but he could not hear them…those savages had killed her and for that they would pay. But the utter despair from ending so many souls, for any reason, cost him everything. He had lost the support of everyone, even the nation he had campaigned so hard to convince. Only an assistant press-secretary and a camera-man had joined him in the Oval Office for this broadcast.
“I hereby resign as President of the United States.”
His hand slipped into the drawer just below the surface of the desk, finding its cold bulk with his fingertips.
“To all of you that I have disappointed during my time in office, I can only tell you that I am … profoundly sorry for everything that has happened.”
He felt the cold steel against his temple, and the stiff resistance of the trigger against his finger. Then he conceded defeat in his final campaign.