This flash fiction story is set in the same universe as the previous tales (“The End of the New York Times” and “Cannon Fodder”). Since this is the third story taking place in the same universe, I decided to give it a name. And I decided to be very creative about it. I’m calling it, The President universe.
The latest entry again features a plot about journalists’ War on America. And it again features President Edmonds’ efforts in fighting back.
Here now, in 1,000 words or less, is “Take It Back.”
“You really think you’re going to get away with rejecting a judge’s order?” Craig asked President Antonio Edmonds, the two on opposite sides of the imposing desk.
“An order to give CNN full access to the White House and me at all times? You bet I am.”
Craig shook his head. “Between this and what you did to The New York Times, it’s no wonder everyone is clamoring for our heads.”
“That’s just it,” Edmonds said. “Everyone isn’t clamoring for our heads. But journalists want everyone to believe they are.”
“And it’s your job to change that perception,” Hannah added, standing a good 15 feet away from them with her arms crossed.
She looked down her nose at him. He got just as good of a look at her. Everyone did in the short-skirted red suit she wore.
“Well-I-uh…” Craig stuttered. He smiled and giggled; uncrossed and re-crossed his feet.
“She’s right,” Edmonds said. “It’s your job to get the truth out there.”
Craig sighed. “I know. But it’s not easy to do. It’s getting harder and harder to promote your agenda. You arresting the staff and journalists of The New York Times is just the latest thing that’s made it more difficult.”
“He had the corporate officers arrested too,” Hannah reminded him.
“Right, right, right. I mean, that’s what I mean,” Craig said. “You’re calling news outlets hostile intelligence organizations,” he told Edmonds. “You’ve announced you’re going after more journalists. And now you want to ignore a federal judge’s order regarding CNN’s freedom of the press. You’re grabbing a lot of power. How am I supposed to make that look good?”
Edmonds tapped a pen on his ink blotter. “You know,” he said, “part of me is amazed anyone thinks it’s controversial that I ignore this absurd order. It’s even more troubling that people think I’m grabbing power. But then I remember, we’re in this mess because all my predecessors failed to do the right thing. And because we’ve surrendered the information war for so long. So,” he set the pen on the blotter, “I’ll withhold the outburst I was about to let loose.”
“Yes, sir,” Craig said, nervously clearing his throat.
“Instead,” the president continued, “I’ll suggest that maybe a good starting point for you would be to go back and compare how things used to be with how they are now. Juxtapose how far the nation has fallen. Point out that I’m not grabbing power, but simply taking it back from those who grabbed it from me.”
Craig scoffed. “If I dig up the past, I’m inevitably going to remind everyone of some pretty outrageous people. Remember President Trump? Journalists went hysterical over him. Do we really want to associate you with people like him if we’re trying to change public perception?”
“Journalists are going to be begging for the days of Trump,” Edmonds told him. “He was far too nice with them.”
“Come on now—” Craig started.
“Come on, what?” Hannah said. “Look where we are. A judge thinks he can order President Edmonds to surrender to him and CNN. You’d better believe it’s time someone started fighting back.”
“I-I never said I thought the judge was right,” Craig replied. “But, I mean, it’s just that I think you guys, um, the administration should appeal this through the court systems and honor the rule of law.”
“How would going along with the idea that a judge’s illegal order is legal unless another judge says it isn’t honoring the rule of law?” Hannah shot back, moving towards him.
“Well, I mean, that’s how it’s just always been done,” Craig said.
“Exactly. And we’re changing that,” she told him.
“I understand that’s what you want to do,” Craig continued. “But still, wouldn’t it be better for right now to go through the legal process—”
“You’re still not getting it,” Edmonds said, shaking his head. “We’re obligated to ignore this lawless judge. We cannot go along with him in violating the Constitution if we want to honor it. My purpose of being in this office is to overturn the decades of damage that people have done to this nation. And I’m going to succeed. So all I really need to know from you is, are you going to help?”
Hannah inched closer to him. She grabbed his shoulder, slowly rubbing it with her thumb.
Craig flinched and snickered. “All right. You win. As always. I’ll see what I can do about it.”
“See?” Edmonds asked, rising from his chair.
“No, no, no,” Craig said, standing up and smiling at Hannah. “I’ll make sure the studio gets movies started on this. We’ll keep doing our job.”
He broke free of Hannah and reached across the desk. “Have to hand it to you, sir,” he said, grabbing the president’s outstretched hand and shaking it. “You’re one of the best I’ve ever met at convincing people to do things.”
The president thanked him for coming. Hannah showed him out of the room.
“Think he’s good?” Edmonds asked, the door tightly closed.
“He’ll do what we told him, but it’s hard to believe he still doesn’t get that media drives narrative,” she said.
“I don’t think it’s that. I think it’s all a part of a culture of losing,” Edmonds said. “Communist propaganda has been so effective that even when people sympathetic to us get the reigns of media, it’s almost impossible for them to think in any other way than what they’ve been brainwashed to think.”
“Maybe,” Hannah said.
“You’re sure he’s going to produce the movies and shows we need?” Edmonds asked.
“Absolutely. The idea of doing things for me still excites him.”
“Good. But keep an eye on him just the same,” Edmonds told his intelligence and security aide. “We have an entertainment studio on our side now. We have to use it. Journalists won’t be able to get away with lying if we have actual media that overpowers them.
“My pleasure,” Hannah said with a smile.
Header image © Paul Hair.