Mary Soaring Eagle achieves her dream of becoming the first female POTUS.
|Mary Soaring Eagle stepped up to the podium, raised her right hand, and placed her left on a Bible. “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.”
Applause rippled across the crowd facing the United States Capitol's west facade. Mary smiled, waved, and left the platform to join her inner-circle in a small reception room.
Susan, her tall blonde wife, swooped in for a kiss, enveloping Mary in her pleasant floral perfume. “You made history today. The first female and openly LGBT President. You deserve it after working so hard.” She stepped back. “I must say, you look hot in a pantsuit. Authority suits you.” She ruffled Mary's hair. “And I love the new pixie cut."
Her uncle, Ken Running Wolf, pulled her into a warm hug. “Your parents would be so proud, Mary. Not only the youngest President in history but the first Native American President.”
She stepped aside and grinned at her assembled family, friends, and colleagues. “I couldn’t have done it without you. Especially not without my wonderful Uncle Ken, who headed up my presidential campaign. But my presidency will not only focus on feminist or LGBT or indigenous American issues. It will promote freedom, liberty, and justice for all Americans.”
Everyone cheered, and champaign corks flew across the room. A waiter brought her a glass. Before she could raise it to propose a toast, her uncle took her aside.
“You must immediately seek justice for our people.”
“The Trail of Tears. The tribal lands stolen from our people. Now we have a real American in office, we can begin to take back what was lost.” He gripped her arm. “At the campaign rallies, I visited the reservations and promised you would return all the land to its rightful owners and provide compensation for the atrocities.”
“Y-You promised what?”
His eyes narrowed. “I thought you, of all people, would understand. That’s why so many real Americans voted in this election. I promised each and every one of them a hundred million dollars compensation.”
“A hundred million! Are you crazy?”
“And to return their ancestral lands.”
She shook her head. “What were you thinking? Every city in the nation is built on land that once belonged to one tribe or another. Returning it all would be impossible.”
“But I promised. They think you promised. If they don't get what they're expecting, there will be protests, riots… It will be Custer's Last Stand all over again.” He threw up his arms and disappeared into the crowd.
Mary was dumbfounded. What could she possibly do to resolve this situation? As she racked her brain for ideas, one of her Secret Service agents stepped in front of her.
“Madam President, there is a problem. You are needed in the Situation Room.”
“W-What’s happening?” Was it time to circle the wagons already?
He gestured toward the side of the room. “The Secretary of Health and Human Services will fill you in en route.”
She was ushered into the secure underground car park where a limousine awaited. Climbing inside, she found William Schultz, the gray-haired Secretary of Health, waiting with a folder.
“Good afternoon, Madam President. I'm sorry to cut short your inauguration party, but the CDC has declared a Level One emergency. The nation is experiencing an unprecedented Ebola outbreak.”
She gaped. “Ebola. Are you serious?”
“Deadly serious, ma’am. We have confirmed cases in NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, and Atlanta.”
“That’s every point of the compass.”
“It’s already far more serious than the 2014 outbreak with almost a thousand cases reported.”
The blood drained from her face, and she clutched the hand rest. “Why wasn’t I told earlier?”
“We didn’t have definite figures until an hour ago. I felt it inadvisable to cancel your highly publicized inauguration at short notice. It could have led to mass panic.”
Ten minutes later, Schultz led her into the Situation Room deep under the West Wing of the White House. Despite the air-conditioning, the room stank of stale air and desperation. They were joined by the Secretary of State, the National Security Advisor, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and a dozen aides.
Mary glanced around at all the uniforms. “Why are there so many military representatives here?”
Tom Brown, the National Security Advisor, leaned forward in his seat. “Madam President, the unprecedented spread of Ebola over the past twenty-four hours cannot be explained by natural causes. This sudden epidemic is clearly a terrorist act.”
Mary dropped into a seat and put her face in her hands. “Terrorism?”
“Yes,” said Sarah Clinton, the Secretary of Homeland Security. “We cannot identify a single terrorist group capable of an attack on this scale, but the statistics are undeniable. Not only have people in six cities been infected, but each person was important. We’re talking hospital heads, chiefs of police, high-ranking military officers, city officials… This cannot be coincidental.”
She looked around the table. “What do we do?”
Schultz sat up straight. “That’s for you to decide, ma’am.”
“We only provide information and advice. It’s your duty to make the big decisions.”
“Well, we can’t just inject them all with bleach,” she muttered under her breath then straightened and said aloud, “What does the CDC say?”
Schultz gestured to a large screen on the wall, and an aide flipped a switch. Dr. Jack Swanson, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, appeared on the screen. “Good afternoon, Madam President.”
“I wish,” she moaned. “What do you have for me?”
His expression turned grim. “I am so sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but this is only the beginning. You know about the thousand confirmed cases, but there are as many as ten thousand suspected cases that will likely be confirmed before the end of today. They are spread across thirty-three cities around the nation.”
She gasped. “Do they follow the same pattern?”
“Officials and other people in positions of responsibility? Yes.”
She shook her head in denial. “What can we do?”
The Director leaned closer to the camera so he loomed over the people in the Situation Room. “Under the circumstances, the only action you can take is to isolate any city where an outbreak is suspected.”
“Call out the National Guard. Block all roads and train tracks in and out of the affected cities. Close the airports. Impose a ban on air traffic. Abandon those cities to themselves.”
“Abandon cities!” Mary stood and put her hands on her hips. “Have you gone mad?”
“If you don’t lock down those cities, the whole population of the United States is doomed. Possibly the whole world.”
“Can’t we send in medical response teams?”
“We don't have enough people to secure every site. Besides, there is no known cure for Ebola. This strain appears more virulent and infectious than any previously known. If we send in doctors, we’re simply condemning them to death.”
Schultz gripped her arm. “Madam President, only you have the authority to impose martial law across all fifty states. I strongly recommend you immediately exercise this authority. Otherwise, this terrible disease will spread out of control and there will no longer be a United States for you to lead.”
She looked to the screen. “Director, is there no other choice?”
“Every second you delay increases the possibility an infected person will leave a city and spread the disease. You must act quickly to save the nation.”
She looked around the room. Stony expressions answered her silent pleas for help. She straightened and addressed the room. “Very well. If swift action is necessary, make it so. Lock down the affected cities with immediate effect.”
The situation room doors opened, and more people in uniforms breezed inside. “Madam President,” said General Brenda Warren, Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force. “I’m sorry to break in on your important meeting, but we have a situation.”
Mary waved her hands around. “I know.”
“No,” said General Warren. “Another situation.” She gestured to an aide, and on the screen, the Director of the CDC was replaced by a world map. Red arrows flashed across Russia, and dotted lines from these led to locations around the United States.
“W-What is that?” asked Mary.
“Madam President, Russia has launched a full-scale nuclear attack on the United States.”
“Why? We were at DEFCON 5 yesterday.”
A technician at the back of the room waved his arms. “Madam President, I have the President of Russia on videolink.”
The familiar face of Maria Vorontsova appeared on the screen. “Madam President, I am sorry to contact you under such unfortunate circumstances.”
Mary stood and faced the screen. “Madam President, you have launched an unprovoked attack against the United States of America. Call off your missiles.”
President Vorontsova cringed. “I am sorry but I cannot comply with your request. We have reliable information that Ebola is rife across the United States. If it is not contained immediately, it could spread to surrounding nations. What I do now, I do with a heavy heart. To save the world, I must cut away the cancer that is America. Goodbye, Madam President.”
The screen went black, and everyone in the room stood and gazed at one another.
A marine major entered carrying a large black satchel. “Madam President, you will need this.”
“This is your nuclear football. You will need the contents of this satchel to launch a counterstrike.”
She glared at him. “I would never authorize the use of nuclear weapons.”
“Madam President”—the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff locked eyes with her—“there is a clear and present danger. Our SAMs should take out most of the first wave of Russian missiles, but some may get through. And the Russians will keep firing until they achieve their goals.”
Mary pulled on her hair. “You’re recommending I authorize a retaliatory strike?”
“Yes, Madam President. Demonstrating our resolve is the only way to prevent the Russians from firing further salvos. It could be the only thing that saves us from nuclear annihilation.”
The marine major pushed the black satchel toward her. “It’s time, Madam President.”
“B-But millions of innocent Russian civilians will die.”
“With respect, ma’am, you are the President of the United States of America. You took an oath. It is your responsibility to make the tough decisions.”
She covered her ears, refusing to listen. Why had she ever wanted this shitty job? The room lighting dimmed. Red lights flashed. A klaxon sounded.
A persistent alarm buzzed. Mary woke with a start, hit mute on her alarm clock, and sat up in bed, her long hair tangled across her shoulders. Long, not a pixie cut. The bed covers shifted, releasing a lavender scent into the air, and a pretty young blonde was revealed. Susan, her girlfriend. Only her girlfriend, not yet her wife, and a fellow student at Dartmouth College.
“W-What’s happening?” asked Susan groggily.
Mary glanced around the room at the Joe Biden campaign poster, her politics textbooks on the bookshelf, and the useless dreamcatcher over the bed. “Just a bad dream.”
Susan patted the space beside her. “Come over here. I’ll help you forget it.”
Instead, Mary climbed off the bed and wandered over to her desk. “In a minute. I want to do some quick research.”
“What’s so urgent?”
She powered up her laptop. “I’ve decided to change my major.”
Susan sat up straight. “Change your major? You’ve dreamed about politics your whole life.”
She shrugged. “I’m still young and learning how to stretch my wings. It’s okay for me to start afresh.”
“What will you do?”
She brought up the Dartmouth College website. “Do you think our school runs a good English Literature course?”
WORD COUNT: 2000
Plugged in "Action/Adventure Newsletter (August 5, 2020)"