To say I was surprised she spoke to me would be an understatement.
I was shocked.
I almost spilled my drink.
The D.C. bar was rowdy—the band loud—and I was in my corner, sipping my drink, watching all the beautiful people: dancing, mingling. Young people and powerful people, and everyone with so much potential.
“Hi,” she said.
I wasn’t used to anyone talking to me, least of all someone like her. The most I ever got was some snide comments about my appearance (I’m 3′ 8″) and humiliating stares.
“Mind if I—”
“Please,” I blurted out. “What’s your pleasure tonight?”
She ordered a beer.
“Listen,” she said after a while. “I’m going to be honest. I’m here on business—urgent business. We’re looking for a small man with experience in mechanical operations who’s not averse to electronic enhancements and who’s looking to make a career change.”
I sat dumbfounded. Was she fucking with me? Was I going to end up on TikTok?
“If you’re not interested, get up and leave.”
“If you are interested, follow me outside, where you’ll see a car waiting. Once you get in, they’ll tell you more.”
“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime,” she said.
I followed her out.
But when I got in the car—black, obviously government—she backed out, mouthed “good luck,” and the doors locked.
The car moved.
A screen separated me from the driver.
Through a speaker:
“The following is classified. Killsafe. The President is dead…”
—I awoke indoors:
I was in a wheelchair.
“Get him in!”
We burst through a pair of doors to a room where a body—the president’s body!—lay on a table, eyes missing and chest cut open, organless and hollowed out and—
I was lifted from the wheelchair:
Dangled over the body:
Looking down, I saw blood dripping from the bandages where my legs used to be, and started flailing my arms, screaming, but instead of the screams escaping my lips they escaped those of the dead president.
They stuffed me inside him.
Sutured me within.
In the cold, fleshy darkness I heard a voice in my own head (Stay calm. Look for the screen and control panel.) and discovered a brightening rectangle connected by wire to a metallic cube of buttons.
A flash of light—
And suddenly I was outside under a blue sky.
Except I wasn’t outside.
The President was outside, and I was trapped within his cadaver, seeing through where his eyes once were.
“What is this?” I asked / I heard the president say.
Try standing and walking.
Using a combination of movements—
I jerked forward.
To speak to us, think.
What is this?
The country needs its leader. Consider yourself his puppetmaster.
You’re the puppetmaster, I thought.
No more private thoughts.
For how long?
Your position is permanent. Only the presidents will change.
Transplanted, when the time comes.
I’m entombed, I thought.
In absolute power.