N.M. Roswell was elected to The Presidency as an Independent Thinker. It was the unthinkable, something that people said could not be done. He wasn't from a corporation, or from the military. He was not from Intelligence, and he didn't raise hardly a dime for his bid.
They tried to call it some sort of "crime," what he did. Although, he wasn't the responsible party. A zealous fan had programmed a virus that spread across the Internet just days before the election. This unknown "hacker" was wanted by the world's law enforcement apparatus, and he or she remained in hiding.
Roswell - N.M. to his friends - was likeable enough. He was camera friendly, not too dark, not too white, not too young and not too old, not too fat and not too skinny, not too tall and not too short. His face seemed smooth without pockmarks or blemishes. No. He was okay for prime time, now that he was destined to command the most powerful military machine the world had ever known.
The two major parties scrambled to smear him. But, they came up empty, for he had no actual dirt they could exploit. And since they had barred Roswell from attending any debates, they couldn't use his own words against him. This was a disaster, for them. More drastic measures would need to be drafted in order for them to maintain complete and total dominance over most of the planet, as they had become accustomed.
It was said that the Majority Party Whipper and the Minority Party Snapper had put aside their several differences, and they now met daily. Somehow they had to "invalidate the election," before the Power House was handed over on the 20th. These "summit lunches" were reported as the biggest news in the nation's capitol. The belabored and much repeated "coming together" theme preceded all of the reportage, and the reporters implied that somehow the two political parties had substantially differed before the election. But, that was in the past. The Major and Minor had joined forces to oust the newcomer, somehow.
Roswell spoke to the cameras, but he never said anything "political" that could be used against him in any way whatsoever. He kissed the flag for his intimate interview segment. He led the nation through a non-denominational prayer. He thanked the people for their vote of confidence, and he proposed a greater vision for the future. Something for everyone. Never did he speak of taking anything away from anyone. Roswell merely thanked and praised and rejoiced in the popular sentiment of the post-election environment.
The public grew fond of Roswell, the newcomer who spoke plainly. In nationwide polls, people were asked the following question: Do you believe President-Elect Roswell's claim that the two major parties are all crooks?
Ninety-one percent of the respondents agreed. It was reported as forty-nine percent. Still, this was enough to rain total all-out warfare down upon the nation's capitol, through the halls of Parliament, at the Great Court, in the numerous public relations firms and across the Intelligence community. "Just who the heck is this Roswell anyway," they'd say, "and why isn't he on the payroll?" It was the greatest intelligence failure since who knows when?
According to classified files, Roswell was a shlub, a nobody. He'd taught school, for God's sake. An orphan, he had no history worth a damn. He'd never joined a political party, a club, attended a protest or a demonstration of any kind. His electronic mails were boring and of a typical median thought process citizen, aged forty two. There was nothing spiking about this guy at all. It was like he formed out of the collective mean DNA of the country. He watched TV. Listened to the radio. Coached some little league. He owned three porn videos, tastefully directed, where the girls were all of legal age. He was the greatest threat to the status quo since the Please Stop Trading With the Enemy Act.
His numbers were scary. What's more the media could no longer be controlled to the point of non-stop propaganda. They actually let Roswell speak - and even more - they let others speak on television about Roswell.
Numerous plans to assassinate the President-Elect were cooked up. A "terror-monger" could fly a rocket into Roswell's inauguration ceremony. Or someone could induce a heart attack with various chemicals placed into Roswell's food or drink. A foreign service could be commissioned for the hit, or a number of organized crime rackets that were already on the clandestine payroll. The expatriate underground was handy and bored of working legitimate jobs.
It was agreed, generally, that Roswell would have to be snuffed, for the good of the status quo and those entrenched in power. But who would take over then?
Roswell's Vice President-Elect was a mom, a school woman that Roswell knew since his days teaching the third levelers history. Any assassination would need to take them both out of national service simultaneously.
Some considered "talking" to the Vice President-Elect, Mrs. Smith. But, she came up with a cleaner record than Roswell. The computer models suggested that she just wouldn't go for the murder of her partner, and it would be a sticking point.
The virus that had spread across the Internet was a bit annoying. Everyone complained. Everyone made a fuss. It wrote itself onto your hard drive, and it started a little presentation all by itself. The hacker had done his job well, and it evaded all the latest anti-virus software out on the market through an ingenious ruse. The virus convinced the anti-virus software that it was updating itself with the latest "known viruses" list. The anti-virus programs were turned to pro-virus in the blink of a byte.
With his mechanism firmly tested and operational, the hacker set out to cause real trouble for the incumbent administration and for the major challenger. Once a person had the virus running around inside of his or her computer, it put up a highly visible headline, that, "The President is a Criminal," and "The Parliament is on the Payroll Too." Further it warned, "Do not trust any of them, for they are no longer interested in democracy of any kind."
When people protested the message, and attempted to turn off the show, the virus countered: "Do not tamper with this presentation or your hard drive will be permanently erased, even if you turn off the computer system. The File Allocation Tables have already been encrypted, and will only be restored at the conclusion of this presentation." It was quite a convincing threat, even if it was untrue.
For several minutes more, a list of easily verifiable crimes was highlighted. The President, the Vice President, the Counsel General, the Minister of State, and the Prosecutor of Aggressive Defense seemed to have extensive records of crimes against humanity, against the peace, and they had numerous technical violations including bribery and pushing the boundaries of election law. Clear cause and effect relationships were drawn between the bribers and the subsequent "laws" that resulted from their nefariously placed funds. The virus program went on to implicate large corporations and financial institutions for tampering with the beloved Foundations of Democracy.
That was the tip of the iceberg. Soon a compressed video image replayed the big building incident, the "Crime of the Century."
When the alleged foreigners rammed their blimp into the nation's tallest building, and the blimp was filled with Senaboom explosives, and the building toppled over, and no one really understood why, the virus explained why. It explained who, as well.
Although the investigations into the actual Big Building Incident were blocked and stopped by the most senior people in the Administration, no one suspected them. But the new video claimed to indict exactly those at the top of the executive branch of the government. But, why for God's sake? Why would those who stand to gain the most from a war actually cause one? People just didn't want to believe.
But the hacker sure did.
The ill-fated blimp was clearly off its designated flight path, the virus did show. The blimp took a long and arduous path to reach the Bigass Building, before it exploded and knocked it onto its side. The National Blimp Command Center, deep in a bunker, tracked all blimp activity on its giant screens. It was well documented that the instant a blimp veered off course, the entire fabric of governmental oversight would drape itself over the situation. Yes, hundreds and hundreds of Blimp Specialists, Blimp Tracking Engineers, Blimp Guidance Counselors, and every single Protective Flybase on the entire continent were alerted, routinely. Before a blimp gets ten miles off course, over one thousand ready response specialists have already tracked the blimp, assigned it a squawk code, and have sent rocket fighters at Mach 2.0 to fly over, under, left and right of the dirigible, and at the ready position to shoot it down if need be.
But not on that day. For some highly obscured reason - the virus tells us - not one rocket fighter was sent at Mach 2.0. Not at Mach 1.0, or even at half a Mach to intercept the blimp. As a matter of fact, not one high speed rocket fighter was allowed to go up into the air at all for over an hour after the blimp was spotted off course by the thousand blimp specialists. "How could this be?"
The virus quoted Professor Hindenberg, at the United University for Blimp Sciences. Hindenberg screamed, "It's impossible!" He himself was jealous that the blimp had gotten through without being shot down. One of Hindenberg's own aircraft was shot down many years before when attempting to show naughty pictures of naked ladies over New Netvia.
The computer virus replayed the quite devastating footage of the Bigass Building exploding, then toppling over and destroying half of the city. Then it showed a rocket fighter sitting idly on a runway. Then it showed the President and the Vice President giving one another a high five greeting. Then it showed the news headline: "The President Gets His Wars!"
The pre-election day virus repeated that sequence, the Bigass Building blowing up, rocket fighters idle, high fives, and good news for war hawks several times. Each time faster, and then it showed further footage that implicated the Administration. Apparently, the "foreigner" that they had pinned the blimp job on in the cover story was still on the payroll. This was the final straw that broke the backs of the previously loyal voters.
In disgust, people sat glued to their computer screens, disillusioned and ill at the massive crimes being committed all around them. Further viral evidence showed that the other political party was just as caught up in the bottomless pit of criminal activity. Both parties, Major and Minor, had done massive Looting of the Treasury - a crime punishable by a twenty credit fine - in the wake of the Bigass Disaster. They poured truckloads of taxpayer dollars into the coffers of their own bribers, the corporations that had bought them off.
With the massive "shock" of the blimp incident, with thousands of civilians killed and maimed, the country turned off its collective brain and had no further thought processes for over a year.
In the meantime, an organized crime ring had stolen nearly everything not nailed down in the United Territories Indivisible, the big U.T.I. The laws that protected people from their own security forces were repealed. The police state was securely installed. People's communications were monitored by Large Sibling, that ever nosy branch of the Homeland Security Apparatus. It was no longer a "free country." It was more of a "permanent lockdown economy with as much free propaganda as one could ingest."
The public brain was effectively removed from any involvement in the decisions that affected public policy. People plugged their umbilical receiver cords in each night, after laboring nine tenths of the day. They were provided with state-generated stimuli, tested and approved for mass ingestion. The Great Trough - TV - limited discussion within the required parameters. "Topics" were carefully honed and crafted by the public relations industry so that the Administration would prevail. Period.
Until that election day all of this worked smoothly, as designed. Not until the unknown hacker or hackers threw a wrench into the works, and all hell finally came tumbling down.
N.M. Roswell said, on the Tonight Report: "A better future for everyone. We will clean up our government, and we will end corruption now. I guarantee you. Your children will inherit a better world than this one."
A "crazed sniper" waited in the hotel across the street from the television studio. He had a very sophisticated weapon. The telescope could pick out your eye color at 1000 yards. The barrel was silenced. The magazine held thirty rounds, and the caliber was sufficient to put a hole the size of a grapefruit through most anyone's chest. He gazed at a little portable television broadcasting the live feed from the Tonight Report. His suite remained in total darkness. A small circular hole had been cut through the immovable windowpane, and that's where the barrel of the rifle did point.
Roswell's Vice President Elect, Mrs. Smith, shared the couch with N.M. Roswell. The host of the show drank to the point of inebriation, and he danced around the stage to the strains of his in-house band, Apoxia. The credits rolled, and Roswell looked at Smith, and he shrugged his shoulders. The host continued dancing solitarily, as Smith and Roswell dropped their microphones and rose to leave the set.
The sniper rose also. He slid his finger gently along the rifle. It sat upon a tripod close to the window. "Red Eagle, nesting," he said into his communications device. The response came back as, "Thirty miles to Graceland."
With thirty seconds to go, the marksman placed the crosshairs of the telescope on the doors of the building across the street, far down below. People streamed out in ever greater numbers. "Number ten. Love Me Tender," said the communicator voice.
"Don't Be Cruel," said the sniper, to himself. And his eyes opened wide, gazing at the faces on the forms as they strolled out into the city night. "Gotcha," he said to N.M. Roswell.
As the soldier's finger squeezed calmly toward the criminal act, Roswell tilted his head up, directly to the window. He looked right into the sniper's eye.
The weapon, instead of firing, pinged and crunched. The firing pin jammed, and a spring uncoiled.
"Please release me, let me go," the voice sounded again on the speaker of the radio device. "Love him tender. Love him tender.'
The gun would not fire.
Roswell smiled, down below on the sidewalk, and he stepped to the limousine that the TV station had provided for him. Ever the gentleman, he allowed Mrs. Smith to enter the limo first. Adoring fans crowded and surrounded the vehicle. Roswell shook hands and conversed with many of them to their satisfaction and delight.
The Secretive Protection Men assigned to defend Roswell from stray gunfire also looked up to the window with the hole, if just momentarily.
Not so easily thwarted, the status quo forces tried again to terminate N.M. Roswell. The banquet of foreign dignitaries was the perfect opportunity to get at his food. So much food was prepared that the number of potential suspects would range in the hundreds.
Roswell told the gathered, "There are many who would like to continue the U.T.I.'s painful pattern of waging war around the planet. I am not one of them. War is the most terrible thing, not the most desirable. It should only be used in the case of self-defense."
The visiting representatives of other governments breathed a sigh of relief, and they toasted to the new president.
"And now a word from my Vice President, Mrs. Smith, a wonderful lady with some great ideas about educating our next generation."
At that point Mrs. Smith addressed the planet's leaders. Soft spoken and shy, she said, "We spend far too much of our resources on weapons, bombs, ever bigger rocket fighters, and horrible atom chain reactor devices. We must stop this, and put more resources into the young. We must make sure that they are not shortchanged in our rush to build bigger doomsday devices, and to enrich the men who build them for us."
Dinner proceeded accordingly. The happy and well-paid staff of food preparation specialists brought out the many plates. Roswell cut himself a slice of the vegetable dish, and he bit into what contained the most toxic substance on the planet, a synthetic acid-base dissonance compound. When he tasted the poison, he reached over to his Vice President Mrs. Smith's plate, and he held her hand still.
"Sir?" Roswell said to the nearest food preparation specialist. "Please dispose of these two plates, and see that no one eats from them. Not even a dog."
"Very good Mister President-Elect," said the butler.
"Yes, and could you bring out dessert for we two, right away. Thank you."
No one at the table seemed to notice. The men in the Secretive Protection Services noticed, and they later reported the amazing facts. Roswell did not die. He ate the most toxic substance the planet had to offer, but he remained alive and in good spirits. He and the Vice President-Elect toyed with their desserts, feeding one another and flicking whipped cream at each other's noses. People suspected a romantic attachment between the two would-be heads of state.
Mrs. Smith was a widow, with two grown children. Roswell had never been married. Together, they acted like an adolescent couple discovering the secrets of life.
The public relations smear houses ran down every possible negative statement that could be concocted regarding a romance between pres. and vice-pres. What they finally decided was that this strategy could only backfire. The general personage still clung to the idea that love and romance were positive things, above all of the muck and mudslinging of partisan politics.
Roswell had dodged another bullet, though he remained ignorant of its trajectory.
The easiest method to get rid of this nuisance president was then decided. An established pattern already existed. Blimps always circled the inauguration ceremony. They displayed large images of the action, up in the sky above the crowds. That way, the millions of spectators could actually see the event. Blimps showed us the national pinning of the pin, the national dance step, and the required national triple cartwheel. No president had ever failed to perform a decent triple cartwheel. Whenever one won the election, he received immediate high-level training in the art.
The fateful day arrived soon enough. Millions of workers poured out and sped toward the capitol city. It was like their cages had been opened. An entire day to relax and to watch the ceremonies, it was one of the true highlights of modern life.
The blimps were out in force, traversing tightly controlled corridors. Above them, rocket fighters launched firework missiles to delight the populace.
Roswell and Smith exited their limousine, and they stood before the stairs of the Great Pewter Temple. Media surrounded the gala, and the world waited for the two to ascend the great staircase of the Great Pewter Temple. By tradition, the President-Elect would go first, followed ten paces behind by the Vice President-Elect.
Roswell stopped before the cameras, and he took Mrs. Smith's hand in his. They smiled and they kissed one another, as the thousands of flashing bolts of light energy painted over them.
"I wish only," he said, "to serve all of our people and to act in the best interest of the many. I thank you all for allowing me to humbly accept this position of responsibility."
Breaking the ceremonial mandate, Roswell held hands with Mrs. Smith for their entire climb up the Temple staircase. At that altitude, they stood among the blimps. Their images broadcast from one dirigible to the next. The pictures painted the sky above oceans of adoring civilians. Rocket fighters lit up the upper atmosphere with the glow of dancing explosions. With all the free drinks, each citizen enjoyed a sumptuous world, so much larger than normal life.
That was until Blimp-21894 suddenly veered off course and dove down toward the new President. Atop the temple, so much activity could be surveyed, that not even N.M. Roswell could tell that the suicidal Blimp Pilot, his eyes bloody with rage, screamed toward the national dance step ceremony, where Mrs. Smith was busy shaking her rearmost region for the many cameras.
No one would have noticed one blimp, of the hundreds aloft in the stark purple sky, a sky crowded with crafts of every size and shape, weaving through the bursts of light.
Roswell took position, bowed, and then performed his triple cartwheel, not stopping at three. He twisted and jumped through somersaults, handsprings and lay outs. Children across the nation delighted at Roswell's wondrous acrobatics. When he had milked the ceremony for its full effect, he landed in a sitting position, and he bowed once again to all.
The blimp dropped down upon the pewter temple, where it exploded in a frightening gush of flame, a fireball that would shock the planet for generations to come.
N.M. Roswell exploded as the blimp exploded. His force shot out in a spherical shape so that he covered the entire temple mount. Roswell's body mass expanded and enveloped the entire ceremony. His energy formed a force-field that deflected the Senaboom reaction. The fireball and its plume of hot gases bounced up into the sky above the temple.
The hundreds of broadcast cameras fixed upon the event, and their operators struggled to focus, to seek out what was left of N.M. Roswell. As the fires sputtered off into the sky, and they left only a glowing mass of energy atop the temple, it became apparent that Roswell was no more. He was not going to return to his previous form. He was not one of us at all, but was from somewhere beyond our humble planet.
Like a soap bubble, Roswell started to rise up above the capitol city. Floating on the wind, he gently drifted off on one of the jet streams. Like soap, the bubble of N.M. Roswell disintegrated. The energy and matter dissipated in various directions, carried by the breezes, separated, splintered, evaporated.
Mrs. Smith finally understood. Her eyes, blinded from the Senaboom, began to regain an ability to see. She saw that Roswell had given his being to save her and the gathering from incineration. She saw that Roswell was not a being like any she had ever known, and that he was in all probability dead, beyond their understanding and certainly beyond the capabilities of their medical institutions. She saw that she was now the President of the United Territories Indivisible, a duty that she would swear to perform to the best of her abilities, and for the good of all. And she saw that she was deeply in love with the memory of N.M. Roswell, what he had accomplished, what he stood for, and the unspeakable beauty of his final sacrifice.
January 30, 2003