A President's Final Solution for the unwanted doesn't go as planned.
Exiting the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge onto Constitution Ave, the sudden glare of strobing red and blue lights coaxed my eyes from the surface of my tablet to the garish scene around me. A great mass of sign toting humanity extended like tendrils from the expansive lawn of the Institution of Peace to the sidewalks and curbs running along Constitution and 23rd. A line of cars stood backed up at the lights as police in riot gear plowed the crowd out of the intersection.
I glanced at my watch in annoyance, aware we had only fifteen minutes to reach the White House.
“What seems to be the trouble, Mr. Garcia?” I asked my driver.
He propped his elbows on the steering wheel peering through the tic-tac beat of the wipers before leaning back and draping an arm across the seat. “It’s another one of those Kaleidoscope Front protests.” He shook his head in disgust. “You’d think those KF… people,” he spat the word like a curse, “would realize no one gives a rat’s ass about their perverted alternative lifestyle.”
The queue of cars eased forward as an opening was bulldozed through the crowd by the line of shield-toting cops, dealing out baton blows and a volley of gas grenades that sent the crowd flying.
When the first bullet struck my limo, fracturing the bulletproof glass into a snowball of opaque crystals, I stared at it in confusion, reaching out a curious hand to brush fingers against the bowed out mass. Then a second and a third round hammered into the car as the mob reacted in panic, scattering from the gunfire like leaves in the wind.
“Go! Go! Go!” my bodyguard, Jason, screamed leaping across the plush leather seats and pinning me to the floor.
The car sprang forward then slammed just as suddenly to a stop.
“I can’t move,” Garcia cried, “the crowd’s too thick.”
The distant screams of the mob and the kak-kak-kak of weapons fire filled the car with fear as a hail of bullets thudded against the car’s armor.
“Run over the queer bastards!” Jason yelled. “Just get us outta here.”
The car surged forward the sickly thud of bodies slamming onto the hood and bounding over the roof drew me from the floor. I shoved Jason aside and peered out the rear window, a single drop of blood drizzling down the rain-flecked glass, forming a rainbow of shifting colors in the police lights. I leaned back in my seat, the irony of the scene not lost on my sense of justice.
“What’s the security shut off time for the cabinet meeting?” I asked. Feeling too fatigued to lift my arm and check.
“We’ve got plenty of time,” Jason said as the limo skidded onto 17th Street and raced for the White House. “We’ll be there with time to spare.”
My phone pinged with a Tweet from the president:
Good pal & Health Minister Adam Price attacked by KF terrorists. Sad! Proof of their agenda. Prayers for Adam.
“How’d he know?” Jason asked reaching out a hand to brace himself as we skidded around another corner and careened towards the front gate.
“He’s got eyes everywhere,” I said, jabbing a finger towards the sky. “Drones probably. I think he follows all his ministers.
Jason’s face tightened.
“Don’t worry,” I said laying a hand on his knee. “He doesn’t see everything.”
We pulled up to the side of the sprawling White House complex as a cadre of black-suited agents poured from the door. One of them snapped open an enormous umbrella and opened the limo door.
“Minister Price, are you injured?” he asked.
I wiped a hand across my sweat-beaded brow and stepped out. “No, no, I’m fine.” I turned to examine the fusillade of holes peppering the rain-slicked fenders, grim testimony to our escape.
“That was a close call, Minister,” the agent said. He stepped up beside me and laying a hand on my shoulder. “You’d better hurry, Sir. The elevator to the security council meeting will be locking down in eight minutes.”
“Just one moment.” I turned to my bodyguard. “Jason, would you grab my briefcase and phone? I’ll meet you at the security gate.”
“Certainly, Sir,” Jason said, ducking into the back of the limo.
I stepped to the driver’s window and rapped on the glass. The window buzzed down with Garcia looking up at me curiously.
“Sir?” he asked.
“Mateo, I want to thank you for everything you’ve done.” I stuck out my hand clasping his in a long shake. I could feel my fever rising, my palms sweaty against his dry skin. “For all those times running through crowds, smashing aside protesters whenever they blocked our way, and especially for those times when they didn’t.”
A smile creased his pockmarked face, his hand pumping mine eagerly. “The pleasure was all mine, Sir. We sure showed em’ back there didn’t we?”
“We sure did,” I said, giving his hand one more squeeze. “Like that time you ran over the girl in the clown suit and her pink dog at the LGBT parade in LA.”
There are nights I awake with chills thinking about that day. Garcia had no reason to swerve and hit the girl standing along the road, but drivers for the administration pride themselves on taking out protesters, every injury or kill chalked up to terrorist action, every body an invisible notch they wear with pride.
“No matter what you hear people say,” I told him. “don’t believe for an instant you’re not a credit to this administration.” His smile evaporated as I turned and marched inside.
I was escorted through the building to a set of gold bordered elevator doors where Jason awaited.
“Are you ready?” I asked.
Jason's eyes met mine, his lips drawn into tight thin lines. “Yes, Sir.”
The ride down was a confusing one, with several stops and negligible jerks to the right and left. Few people actually knew where the President's council rooms lay. There were rumors of it being beneath the Lincoln Memorial or the Reflecting pool. Personally, I’d always favored the idea it rested beneath the Washington Monument. It seemed strangely apropos for the man who’d stripped the nation of her freedom to house his council chambers beneath a giant phallus.
The elevator hummed to a stop and the door slid back revealing a stark white corridor with a man in a black suit and tie at the end. He stood before a set of burnished gold doors, to his left a nondescript white door.
“Good evening, Minister Price.” The guard's voice as devoid of emotion as a machine’s. “If you’ll step into the scanning circle, we’ll get you inside as quickly as possible.” His eyes drifted to Jason. “Your escort can join the others in the waiting room. I think they’re serving Teriyaki Chicken tonight.”
With beads of sweat easing down my back, I handed Jason my briefcase and stepped into a red ring painted on the tile floor.
Instantly, I was bathed in a shower of golden light which snapped off just as suddenly as it appeared. The man in the black tie consulted a tablet he held in one hand, his eyes flicking up to meet mine.”
“Minister, you’re running a fev…”
Phump, phump, phump. The sound of shots from Jason's silenced pistol was followed by the tinkle of brass casings skittering across the floor. The man in the black tie slumped to the ground with three scarlet rings spreading across the expensive material of his alabaster shirt.
“Quick,” Jason said, “we’ve got seconds to get him under cover.”
Pressing a button on the side of my briefcase, it unfolded like a Transformer creating a box with no bottom. On the front, several lights flashed importantly beneath a panel that read:
DEFENDER Automated Scanner.
We dragged tie man into the corner and shoved him into a fetal position. Then snipped off his thumb and covered his body with the box. Jason grabbed tie man’s tablet from the floor and pressed the severed digit onto the plate. Behind us, the gold doors swung open.
“It's been an honor working with you, Sir,” Jason said.
I stared into his dark blue eyes. It was difficult to not see his twin brother Jacob, the man who’d loved me without reservation, without judgment for almost twenty years, the man who’d died in the attack on a gay club in 2023, an attack I’d discovered was orchestrated by the President and his cronies in an attempt to sway an upcoming vote on Muslim expulsion.
“You could go back up,” I said. “You might even get away.”
He laughed, his cheeks dimpling the way Jacob’s would when he lay across the sheets from me on lonely fall nights.
“No thanks,” he said. “We’re in this together. Plus, if I’m getting payback for Jacob’s death, then I’m going down to the buzzer.” His eyes dropped to his watch. “Sir, you’d better get moving.”
I cupped his cheeks in my palms and stood on tip toes to place a kiss on his lips then squared my shoulders and paced through the doors. I heard them hiss shut behind me as I padded past rows of white doors to the polished gold ones at the hallway’s end.
Pressing my thumb to the keypad, the door swung open and I stepped inside. It seemed everyone but the POTUS was here. All The President's favorite ministers, the Minister of Public Enlightenment, Minister of Justice, Minister of Information, Minister of Labor, Ministers of Economics and Transportation and of course his right-hand advisers; Sergey Gorkov and Kyle Duke.
Duke pulled a cigar from his jacket and fired it up as I dropped into the seat reserved for visiting dignitaries. Already my muscles had that loose tingling sensation of a fever.
“I can’t wait to hear the status of your program,” Duke said. “You’ve pulled almost every intelligence officer and cop off the street to rush this thing through, I hope the results are as spectacular as you promised.” He punctuated his point by jabbing the cigar in my direction.
At that moment, the wall behind us rumbled open and the President stepped through. He’d gained weight since his first term in office, his double chin jiggling over a red silk tie as he labored into the room.
“Kyle, Sergey, good to see you.” H shoved a chair out of the way and dropping into a throne-like seat at the end of the table. His eyes searched the room and landed on me.
“Adam, my boy!” he pushed up with a groan and waddled towards me. “Glad to see you made it. Nasty business with those KF bastards.”
My head was beaded with perspiration my cheeks flushed. I swipped the sweat away and stepped up to shake hands.
“Mr. President, it’s always a pleasure.”
“I thought for a minute you’d have to take one for the team,” the President laughed.
“Oh, Sir, if you only knew how true that was,” I said, pumping his hand.
He pulled away scowling at his damp palm before wiping it in disgust on his slacks.
“Well now, what's on tonight's agenda?” the President said, returning to his throne. “I heard we had results on the automated defenses installed on the border walls.”
“That's right, Sir,” Duke said. He pulled on a pair of reading glasses and paged through the stack of papers resting on his lap. “Here we go.” He pulled out a page and slid it in front of the President. “Sections where we've installed the automated point defenses...” he began.
“Those are machine guns that detect motion, right?” the President interrupted.
“Yes, Sir, that's correct,” Duke said. “In all sections where we've installed the point defenses, successful wall incursions have dropped by 99%.”
He clapped his hands in glee. “99%? Now that's a number my supporters like to hear.”
“Not only that,” Duke continued, “But we took out eighteen members of the LFF while they were protesting the system's installation.”
“Seems they wandered into a section of the defenses that wasn't marked,” the Minister of Enlightenment laughed, throwing a knowing look towards Duke.
“We've reported their deaths as a successful repulsion of a terrorist assault,” the Minister of Information said. “Our people are putting together a video showing the LFF members attacking the wall. I think you'll be impressed by what we've come up with, Mr. President.”
The President rocked forward on his seat, his eyes sparkling with mirth. “Now that's the kind of news I like to hear. Good stuff. Making the nation safe.” He leaned back, knitting his fingers in his lap. “But what about the Latino Freedom Front? What's going on with shutting the LFF down? They've been a thorn in my side far too long.”
“They have at that, Mr. President.” Duke bushy brows danced across his face as he considered the notes on his lap. “Which is the reason we've invited, Minister Price.” He pulled a sheet from his stack and slid it in front of the President. “As you can see, our informants have identified the top LFF members. They're known to be living in the Phoenix Freedom Zone and the North Compton Freedom Zone. We believe Minister Price's sterilization program for queers will take care of our Latino problems as well.”
“Oh, right, sterilization program,” he said. “That’s my project, good project. Ridding our fine nation of fags isn’t that right?” He looked over to Duke for confirmation.
“That’s right, Sir.” Duke agreed.
The President's eyes met mine. “Great thing you’re doing here, Adam, marvelous thing. We’ll unify the country behind a fight everyone can back.” He raised his palms and lifted his shoulders. “Great thing, right? Wonderful. Who isn’t for American values, who isn’t for family?”
Like a chorus of frogs, all his ministers voiced their approval.
“So, where do we stand, Adam?” he asked. “We were moving the plan ahead of schedule weren’t we?”
“That’s right, Mr. President,” I said, “we’re wrapping up the distribution of sterilization serums today.”
“And the disease?” The President asked,” what’s going on with the disease?”
“Just as we discussed, Mr. President. One percent of the serums have been tainted with a strain of the H5N1A virus. The incubation period is five to seven days after which victims will begin to spread the sickness.”
“And how many people have been given the injection?” Duke asked.
I met his gaze and smiled. “Thanks to your generous assignment of troops, Mr. Duke, and the fact that most of our uh...undesirables have been rounded up into Freedom Zones.”
The image of the President's Freedom Zones flashed through my mind. Walled off sections of our largest cities where little of anything existed especially freedom.
“And through the invasive use of spyware to identify targets outside the Freedom Zones.” I bowed to my right and smiled. “Thanks to Mr. Scott, our Minister of Information. In the course of the last ten days, we’ve injected more than four point seven million homosexuals and over 600,000 transsexuals.”
Joe Solomon, the Minister of Enlightenment rocked forward to catch The Don’s eyes. “We’ve released a series of studies proving this new strain of influenza is spread by homosexual contact,” he said. “When the virus explodes in the Freedom Zones, we’ll release additional papers to prove homosexuals are the cause of the disease.” He leaned back clasping his hands in satisfaction. “By the time we release the cure, the entire nation will be scrambling to place blame. Our loyal voters will burn every house belonging to one of these perverts and string up every homo, transsexual and dyke they find. Once we rein the people in, we’ll have eliminated virtually every one of them, not to mention all the Latinos, closet Muslims, and every other maggot living inside the Freedom Zones.” He looked around the table a wide smile on his pasty face. “Our initial studies indicate we'll eliminate over eighty percent of Freedom Zone residents with less than five percent death toll in the general populace. He glanced over to me. “Isn’t that right, Minister Price?”
I covered my mouth, breaking into a series of hacking coughs. The entire table considered me with squint-eyed looks of concern.
“It’s all right,” I said waving my hand dismissively. “Just a little something I picked up. Now, where were we? Ah, elimination of the undesirables. Well, Minister Solomon, the plan might not work out like we originally planned.”
“And why is that?” the President asked. He glanced around the table, his chins dancing a counterpoint to his eyes. “Am I missing something here? Is someone not with the program?”
“Mr. President, honorable friends,” I said. “If you'll give me a moment, Mr. President, I’ll explain.” Another bout of coughing had me doubled over, my palm covered in flecks of blood.
Wiping my hand across my thigh, I glanced to my left where the Minister of Transportation was edging away from me. I gave him a wide smile and went on “For one thing, those five million injections weren’t designed to sterilize, they were a vaccine.”
“Vaccine,” Duke said. “Vaccine against what?” Duke ground out his cigar and leaned closer.
“To provide immunity to the H5N1A virus, of course. A virus which I cross-engineered with a strain of hemorrhagic fever. Ebola to be exact.”
“Why would anyone need to be immunized against a virus that’s never been released?” the President asked.
“Oh it has been released, Mr. President. Just as you requested; one-percent of those injected were given a tainted serum.” My eyes drifted to the ceiling as I calculated. “Which would be approximately fifty-two thousand people who have already begun to spread the disease.”
Every face, except Duke’s, went white.
“Make that fifty-two thousand and one people spreading the disease.” I smiled letting my gaze drift from face to face until they landed on the President's. “Because, Mr. President, I decided to take one for the team. I’m too am infected.”
At my words, everyone scrambled to their feet, knocking over chairs and toppling glasses as they dashed for the door. In moments, only myself and Duke remained. He unwrapped a cigar and lit up his icy blue eyes never leaving mine.
“I always suspected you for a fudge packer.” He puffed a gray cloud towards the ceiling. “That’s why when we needed to target a club back in twenty-three I chose the one your fag pal hung out in. Figured I could kill two birds with one stone. When I made sure you discovered the bombing was a government scheme, I thought for sure I’d catch you trying to get even.”
I laughed, my dark mirth transforming into a series of hacking coughs. I held up my hand so he could see the blood-flecked spittle on my palm. “Surprise, you caught me.”
He pulled a German Lugar from his pocket and laid it on the table.
“How wildly appropriate,” I said, eying the gun. “A Nazi and his Nazi weapon. All you’re missing are a pair of shiny boots and a snappy black uniform.”
He leveled the pistol his lips twisted into a snarl. “Where’s the antidote, Adam? I assume everyone in this room was infected.”
I nodded. “Most likely.”
“And what’s the mortality rate?”
“That's an excellent question,” I said. “All ten test subjects died, so I guess you could say 100%. I’m sure there are some with natural immunities, but they’ll be rare.”
His mouth tightened into a scowl. “And the factories where the antidotes were synthesized? What’s to keep us from manufacturing more?”
I smiled. “Thanks to my collaboration with the Kaleidoscope Front, those factories are probably ashes by now, all my notes destroyed.”
Duke’s gun went off like a thunderclap, the impact of the 9mm slug like a kick to the gut. I slumped into the chair clutching my wound, blood pouring hot and thick through my fingers. I wondered if he hadn’t done me a favor. I’d seen the slow demise of those infected, it wasn’t a good way to go.
Duke rose from his seat, his hands shaking with rage. “So what will happen to the world, Adam? The human race will die. Everyone knows fags hate kids, they hate family.”
A laugh gurgled in my throat the thick coppery taste of blood filling my mouth. I spat out a glop of blood and wiped the back of my hand across my lips. “If you think being gay or transsexual means we don’t love family or children then you never understood us at all.”
He shook his head and leveled the Lugar’s barrel. “So you decided to create a world based on perversion?”
“No,” I shook my head. “One based on acceptance.”