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President Monster

Andrew Kozma's fiction has been published in Escape Pod, Interzone, and Road Kill: Texas Horror by Texas Writers, Vol. 2. His book of poems, City of Regret (Zone 3 Press, 2007), won the Zone 3 First Book Award.
We elected it, so we had only ourselves to blame. Even though it was a monster--everyone knew that since movies had been made about the devastation it caused in the past and would cause again--we sat it down in the White House and set advisors at its feet like hors d'oeuvres.
The Army Corps of Engineers first had to remove the top of the White House, the President was so big. Weather ravaged the historic rooms and treasured artifacts of our country, but the hungry, living sweat of the President would have done that regardless. Bilious drops of it crawled over the Secret Service assigned to protect the President, devouring them from the outside in, but not letting them die. They kept their jobs as they skeletonized. Their insurance was top-notch.
The President ruled us from the White House with its all-seeing eyes. Anywhere in the country, those eyes could appear, some the size of Hummers, some the size of wasps. Even on the toilet, an eye could pop into existence. And wherever the eyes showed up, the President's many mouths inevitably followed. They spoke gibberish. It was literate gibberish, in that it was made up of words, but those words made no sense either as separate globs or streamed out like uncontrollable vomit. The words were words but they infected the brain if listened to too closely, breeding in the brains of those exposed and attentive until they swelled the brain case, having eaten the brain meat, and burst from every orifice of the face.
And when those corpses rose from where they'd died, we treated them like the living. We stood behind them in line, we opened the door for them, greeted them with "Good morning" and "Good night," and didn't look away when their faces sunk inwards like a street riddled with potholes. Even without eyes, they cried, only stopping when all of the moisture in their body was gone and their tendons snapped and crackled as they walked. Vultures filled the sky, waiting for corpses to fall, but the corpses never did. The vultures starved, falling to the ground like bags of garbage, and other vultures descended on the dead and dying vultures in slow circles with open, scheming beaks.
When the President started in on his plans for our country, we cheered, happy something was finally getting done. The President's plans were not our plans, and not the plans it had professed to believe in during the election. The disemboweling of our enemies would come later, the spokesperson for the President drooled. Organic, finger-thin cables from the President's mouth-the hardness and color of old teeth-ran through the spokesperson's body, jerking him like a puppet. He had volunteered for this. We all had. We drilled holes into our backs in case we were chosen. The wounds were left weeping. The smell was organic and horrible, but it was the spirit of this Presidency. The zeitgeist grew so strong we stuffed our nostrils with flower petals. They rotted and the smell never went away.
Murder holes in sidewalks to feed newly-installed city beasts! Governors replaced with soul worms! Water so pure it washes the body clean away if impurities aren't added before use! And, of course, the endless concerts staged in every community, with choral music by singers whose throats have been dragged from their necks! And the sacrifices! Oh the sacrifices! How many sacrifices! What body sacrifices! What dreams-made-flesh sacrifices! What flesh-made-nightmare sacrifices! What our-bodies-will-pave-the-way sacrifices!
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, March 6th, 2018


What is difficult for me in writing about politics is making sure that the story I write has a complete life of its own outside of any political commentary. In this case, that meant making the metaphor non-metaphorical. This isn't a president who acts monstrous, but a president who is a monster. The other thing I often think about is writing as witness--not using my fiction as a tool to change people's minds, but as a recording device for a particular moment of time. But if you're witnessing, what are you changing? And how do you keep yourself from being absorbed why what you're documenting?

- Andrew Kozma

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