Monday, October 27, 2008

Service & Sacrifice

The following is a piece of flash (very short) fiction that I wrote for a contest with the theme of "Election Horror". Unfortunately, I didn't win but I wanted to share it with you all.

Service & Sacrifice
by Douglas Warren

The strains of Hail Columbia filled the blustery, mid-day air as Vice President Pradesh shook the hand of Chief Justice Howard and then stepped away from the podium. President-Elect Cruz stood nearby, politely waiting for his turn to be sworn in. He smiled secretly knowing that this would be the last time he would ever have to wait for anything again. The President always came first. It was just one of the perks of the office.

Cruz let his gaze wonder over to a video monitor showing the outgoing President watching nearby. The man had aged while in office, even if had only been a single term. Everyone said that the job aged a man unnaturally. Cruz could see how that would have bothered folks back before 2012, but now it should just be an afterthought. Well, hell, he felt for the man, but his sect had lost the Election fair and square and it was Cruz’s turn. It wasn’t as if the President was useless after his term was through. Lots of people thought that this was when their service was the greatest. It wasn’t. It was only prelude.

The second verse of Hail Columbia ended, hushing the crowd. A gust of chill wind blew through the clear Washington morning, rattling the leafless cherry trees. The crisp air focused the attention of the crowd like a supernatural magnifying glass, all eyes on President Slidell. A striking figure of a man, Slidell stepped up to the side of the podium. Cruz stepped forward on the opposite side of the podium. They paused for a moment and then turned to face each other. Despite the rehearsals, a thrill ran down Cruz’s spine when their eyes met.

Keeping his gaze locked, President Slidell reached into his jacket and withdrew a narrow, obsidian knife. He eyed it for a moment and then took a deliberate step toward Cruz. The President-Elect nodded and took a step toward the President.

They stood, nearly nose to nose in front of the podium. Their eyes, still locked, never blinked. President Slidell slowly raised the knife and then paused. He lowered his eyes and silently held the blade out to Cruz, just as they had rehearsed. The President-Elect took it, turned to the crowd and lifted it above his head.

The mass of people roared in approval.

“Tshak, Tshak, Tshak!” They chanted and then fell into a ghostly silence, looking up expectantly.

Cruz gazed out at the crowd, his gaze stern.

“This man has given so much to our country,” he addressed the crowd, his basso voice ringing in the silence. “Must he give all?”

“Tshak, Tshak, Tshak!”

“He has bled for you. Must he give all?”

“Tshak, Tshak, Tshak!”

“He has given his family. Must he give all?”

“Tshak, Tshak, Tshak!”

He lowered the knife in reply,” so be it.”

Cruz turned back toward President Slidell, who kneeled with a grunt and then turned his face to the sky.

Reaching out, the President-Elect Cruz took a hold of the President Slidell’s hair and slid the knife smoothly across his throat. Blood fountained from the wound, spraying Cruz and the crowd. Slidell gasped and began to rock side to side as the Cruz lowered him to the steps. The crowd roared its approval.

Turning once again toward the multitude, Cruz raised the knife, instantly quieting them. After a slight pause, he cut a line into his own wrist, letting his blood drip into the spreading pool surrounding Slidell’s inert body.

“Our blood is mingled. Together we shall make the country fertile. His sacrifice was the noblest one could hope for.”

The crowd went mad with applause. This time Cruz let it go on. This was their tribute to their former leader. Slidell deserved his moment.

Finally, the cheers relented. At a signal, two secret service agents came forward and retrieved Slidell’s body. They wrapped it in a woven, feather shroud and carried him from the steps.

Cruz bowed his head for a moment and then turned, walking back to the podium. The Chief Justice met him there, holding out the stone tablet. The President-Elect placed his hand on the tablet and began to speak once again.

“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”


tsolo888 said...

Very cool. It seems like and alternate time line that comes out of Aztec culture to me. Is that what you were going for?

Doug Warren said...

It is actually Mayan influences, but you were very close.

tsolo888 said...

Mayan, Aztec same difference :) (I'm just kidding, don't want to offend any Mayans or Aztecs)