He paced back and forth in front of the window. He was nervous, scared, anxious. All those things he wasn't supposed to be any more. He'd been President of the United States for 250 years, and the world was finally America. Of course, America wasn't doing so well any more, and so went the world, but he was fine. He'd always be fine. It's what they promised. Hell, between the stem cell therapy and the prosthetic surgeries, he didn't seem a day over 85. He'd outlived them all, even those hippie freaknicks who'd saturated the air at the 2188 Inaugural Ball with concentrated liquid ecstasy. He didn't remember ever nailing the original Laura as hard as he did her 175th clone that night. And he did it on television, and called her a dirty little boy the entire time, and no one said a word. He could rape old blind men in a church on Easter Sunday if he wanted and no one would say a word.
So why was he so scared? Why was he so scared of this one stupid woman who didn't know enough to concede like the last victorious opposition candidate over 100 years ago?
He should talk to Karl. Karl could fix anything. Karl always knew just what to say.
He wrapped his flag tighter around his thin, bloated shivering frame and headed for the door. Decades ago he had declared that he would wear no other clothing save the American Flag. And so he went everywhere with a large flag wrapped around himself. Others began emulating his mode of dress, but he had them shot. He didn't want this becoming a fashion thing.
He bumped into his Vice President, DIC4000, on his way out the door.
"I'm going to see Karl," he told it, sounding as though he was asking permission.
"Very good, Mr. President," it told him, as though it was granting it. They walked the rest of the way to see Karl together.
Once there, DIC4000 took down the jar and placed it on the altar. A human brain sat in the jar, suspended in a preserving fluid. Even with the fluid, it had dried and shrunk considerably.
The president knelt before it. "Karl," he said, showing his desperation. "Karl, what do I do? She's... she can't become president, she can't! I'm the President!"
A drop of condensation ran down the side of the jar.
"Don't you think I tried that?" the president screamed at the brain in the jar. "She can't be killed! My best people have tried! She isn't human! No family, no scandals in her past. No real past to speak of, and yet she still wins the election by a landslide!"
A small bubble made its way slowly upward through the thick preserving fluid.
"Oh sure I've heard the stories. She was born on November 7, 2000. She can't die and doesn't age, because she carries a piece of the soul of America inside her." He threw his hands up dismissively. "Nonsense. Her 'legends' say she came from the old State Orphanages, where she ended up when her parents were killed trying to sneak her across the border into Canada." He chuckled to remember Canada.
The small bubble burst at the top of the preserving fluid.
"I did check the records. Yes, there was an Ember Layton in the Newark Orphanage from 2009 to 2015. So what? This girl also had the right birthday, so anyone trying to make a name for herself could make good use of the record."
More condensation ran off the jar and pooled around it.
"Look, I don't care if she is here to 'make real the myth of America' or whatever foolishness they're spouting, I'm still President. She can't take it from me if I don't want to give it up. She can't take it from me if I don't want to give it up!"
"Ummm, Mr. President?"
George's eyes focused and he roused from his fugue state. Did he actually yell that? He could never be sure, but--
Oh damn. There were people around. Dick and Rummy and some other guys. Crap. Condi too.
He'd never had the dream in front of people before. Funny how he never had it while sleeping, and how it seemed to be episodic in nature, each dream a continuation of the last. What did that mean?
"Mr. President? Are you okay?"
Crap. They're still here. Maybe if he humored them a while with some work, they'd let him alone.
Alone to dream.