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Dear Conqueror

Erica L. Satifka's fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine, Shimmer, Nature, and many other places. This is also her fifth appearance in Daily Science Fiction. She lives in beautiful Portland, Oregon with her husband Rob and too many cats. Visit her online at ericasatifka.com.
I did everything you asked me to.
When the leaders of the Three Remaining Nations League came over for coffee and trade agreements, I was the one who put the rat poison in their creamer, making sure to spoon in the exact proportion that you wrote down in your grandmother's recipe card file. I sewed the medals on that jacket you like to wear in your daily address. I even canceled my trip to Boise where I was to guest judge the yearly gladiatorial fights. Because I knew how much you wanted to blow up Boise, but you'd never do it if I were there.
Yes, I saw the explosion. It was wonderful, babe.
I was the perfect wife, coordinating the transfer of the bounty of the Vanquished Lands of the Midwest to our network of storage units, making sure every ear of corn was accounted for. You could have never done that, you were so bad at math. (And sex. You were also bad at sex. That's another conversation entirely.)
It's not like I'm not grateful for all you've done for me over the years. When my cancerous womb had to be removed, you rounded up all the local infants and let me take my pick of a rightful prince and princess to continue our reign. And of course, it was you who first found me toiling in the urban farms of what used to be Nashville, wiped the grime from my face, and proclaimed me to be your queen. I'll never forget that day, or the look on my father's face when you had your assistant gouge out the old man's eyes for daring to question our union.
And yet, there was more bad than good. The way you'd tell me that my crown of teeth and finger bones made my head look too large. How you'd snatch the Restored Unabridged Book of Righteousness out of my hands and tell me such wisdom was only meant for men. The callousness by which you dispatched my favorite lady-in-waiting, just so you could show off your archery skills to the Mad Monk of New Vermont. You have no archery skills. You never did.
So this is my goodbye letter to you, dear Conqueror. I'll always miss the times we shared dancing on the graves of your would-be assassins. Do you know how many of them I took out myself, armed with nothing more than a Leatherman and a length of sturdy wire? Of course you don't. Your back was always turned toward the cameras, away from the muck and the blood and the violence.
You'll tell me that I can be replaced. As I write this you are forwarding my gene-prints to the cloning facility. You have even sent our adopted son to finish me off, not realizing that he always loved me more.
Now, as you lounge in our marriage bed (its elaborate headboard wrought from the gates of the prison in which you were unjustly imprisoned during the Cataclysm of '49), you have no idea that somewhere within your palace walls waits a woman with the thick lump of a Kalashnikov under her robe, her face streaked with the blood of your most trusted guards. A woman with the key to your innermost chamber looped around her neck like a promise.
Put down the letter, sweetheart. Look into my eyes. Say goodbye.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015


This story started out as a Codex Writers' Group flash challenge to write a story with a pre-set title (which is not the final title). Of course, I picked the craziest title in the bunch, then had to scramble to figure out how a flight plan could interfere with a doomsday device. Sometimes the most restrictive story prompts can be the most fun to work with.

- Erica L. Satifka

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