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by Michael D. Britton

  “So I will be a human sacrifice?”



  Lassen had warned me that the following two years would be hard – but I had no idea just how hard.

  Throughout my descent into darkness, I kept in mind that if the ends are just, those ends always have the intrinsic ability to justify the means.

  But the means were taking a toll.

  My hair, once a thick, jet-black mop, was thinning and mostly gray – and I was only forty-three.

  And I’d lost a lot of weight.

  But that wasn’t the worst of it.

  In addition to the war, the Family fabricated a nice little scandal, to facilitate the exit strategy of my wife and kids. They said their absence from the scene would set the stage better for my death – America and the world would be more comfortable if they weren’t taking away a husband and father – just a letch and a mass murderer.

  I’ve heard that sometimes an actor can get lost in the role. That a generally good guy, when he delves deeply into the character of a sick, demented, evil person – can start to forget who he really is and become enveloped by the totality of the alter-ego he is nurturing for the sake of his art.

  Always seemed like a weird concept to me – until it started happening to me.

  To be truly convincing, I had to bury myself beneath the ever-thickening surface of the man the Family had created.

  It got to the point where I was actually enjoying doing the things that would lead to my death. The power I was imbued with was absolutely breathtaking – it filled the emptiness in me and expanded my very soul.

  First, there was the war itself.

  Then, there was the New Wartime Powers Act, and the authority it gave me to cleanse the earth of my foes.

  Enemies – foreign and domestic – fell by the dozens, then the hundreds – and then the thousands. A perfect fulfillment of my oath of office.

  And the blood on my hands was like a balm.

  Now, not only was I loved and hated – it was so much better.

  I was feared.

  A large-scale propaganda campaign saw my face posted everywhere. When we took control of the internet, it was so sweet. All the information became pure, and we created and destroyed history with impunity.

  Lassen praised me – he said the Family was well-pleased with the job I was doing.

  Then he told me the time was soon at hand.

  For my death.

  “So,” I asked. “How’s this going to work? A stand-in takes the fall, while I’m whisked away to my own private island? Or something more high-tech?”

  “Well, you have surely heard that the underground media are calling for your head. The Resistance is thirsty for blood. And so is the U.N. Security Council. They want a swift trial at The Hague, followed by swift justice.”

  “So, a faux execution, then?”

  Lassen stared at me coldly. “Who said anything about faux? Nothing will be staged, Nick. This is it.”

  He nodded with an air of finality.

  As if saying goodbye for the last time.

  Fact was, I never did see him again.


  I was whisked off to The Hague for a whirlwind show trial.

  If you thought I got a lot of face-time as president – well, as Defendant-of-the-Century, my mug was plastered twenty-four seven in every medium in every corner of the globe.

  Knowing I was not long for the world, I allowed myself to get swept up in the grand majesty of it all – I relished the fame – the infamy.

  The sheer magnitude of my being as I took my place in history.

  When Lasser had first made it clear I was really going to die, I had recoiled inside.

  I nearly broke down, actually.

  But I had been trained very, very well.

  Never let them see you sweat.

  Never let them see your eyes twitch.

  Keep your mouth moist, your throat supple.

  Hands steady.

  Pulse even.

  And you can even lie to yourself.

  But those brutes at The Hague had facts, witnesses, evidences, histories – and lies of their own.

  Well, actually they were our lies. The whole prestigious event was carefully crafted and masterfully orchestrated by the Family.

  And grandly, deliciously so.

  This truly was the capstone of their hundred year project.

  The reason I was born.

  To die.

  For the world.

  For you.


  The lights seemed to get a little brighter in the last few minutes.

  I remained calm.


  Imperial, I like to think.

  This morning, before they brought me in here, the Family sent a messenger.

  Lassen thought I might like to know about the final phase – that which would be born of my death.

  Once I was – gone – the world would change dramatically.

  My demise would ignite the final revolutionary firestorm that would wipe clean the earth and pave the way for the New Paradigm so long in the making.

  The messenger went into a fair amount of detail, describing the history of the near future.

  But I was a little distracted.

  As you might imagine.

  The visit, however, was reassuring. It made clear to my mind where my piece fit into the enormous puzzle of the Family’s vision for humanity.

  It enabled me to face my fate with serenity.

  To face the witnesses I could not see behind that glass.

  My chin high, my eyes steady.

  To face you.


  The judges at The Hague had decided on a traditional method of execution.

  Firing squad.

  The United States insisted on doing it here in Washington D.C. – the site of my “most heinous crimes.”

  The clock on the wall approached two minutes to noon. They eschewed the standard “midnight” execution, favoring it being done “in the full light of day.” It also made for better broadcast ratings.

  Another minute passed, and the slats in the wall just above the viewing window slid open, and seven rifle muzzles poked out.

  I had no final statement – no last words would be spoken by the “Silver-Tongued Satan,” as I was called.

  The Family had prepared a statement to be published posthumously.

  I didn’t bother to read it – I knew it would be golden – that “my words” would grace the history books of future generations.

  I glanced down at the target over my heart.

  So quickly I had been changed from hero to villain, from a savior to the devil.

  In those last few moments, I swore I saw, in the reflection in the one-way glass, Father standing behind me in his black suit.

  For a moment – a glimmer of hope that he would intercede and save me, as he had done all along – like that first time I saw him in the rear-view mirror.

  I looked again, and he was gone – a mirage.

  Like my life had been – a mirage for the masses.

  The clock struck twelve.

  If I’d known my destiny, would I have changed it?

  Not for the world.

  Because this was for the world.




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