For Round 9 of our Three-Minute Fiction contest, we asked you to send us original works of fiction that revolve around a U.S. president, who can be real or fictional. Our winner was "The Dauphin."
"Mr. President, can you tell me who was your roommate in college your junior year?"
This is the 845th question that I've been asked in today's session. Even though my ability to answer basic questions about my life is being tested, my ability to count has already been more than verified.
"Just a standard quality assurance test," the man in the gray suit keeps telling me. Quality assurance on my memory. Making sure that the one they lost is the one that they're getting back.
"Trick question. I lived alone junior year."
"Very good. And how about your freshman year at Groton?"
"I lived with several people," I reply.
"Their names were?"
This is going to mean 845 more questions, but I admit that I don't remember. "I don't know if I remembered before the shooting," I say. Because it's very possible that I didn't, but I can see that the test administrator, in his neatly pressed suit, is nervous.
"Mr. President, you have recollected almost every major bill that has come through this office during your presidency, but you can't remember the name of any of the kids you roomed with in high school?"
"I remember several of their names: Tommy Granderson and Jonny Devine, but I don't remember the name of the third guy."
"The two you named are the only two we have in our records, Mr. President." He's shuffling through a stack of papers, which seems arcane given the circumstances.
The third guy in the room has me hooked-up to electrodes and is intently looking at a computer screen. He tells the suit, "I'm not seeing any missing brain activity. It's an authenticated case of a missing memory. So far the personality transfer is complete as queried."
"Gentlemen," I say, "I don't mean to be impatient, especially as I'm eager for your vote," my attempt at a joke barely gets a smile, "but I was wondering if we can postpone this until the afternoon? As I understand there are a few urgent matters which require my attention, particularly as I have just died."
"Sir, as you say, you have been shot: We cannot simply put you back into the presidency until we have confirmed that you are in fact fully who you were. Glitches have been known to occur. Remember President Morgan? That was awkward." It was: a full policy change following his would-be assassination.
Of course, everyone credited what they thought was his brush with death to a change of outlook, but myself and the guys in this room know it was a programming error; one that turned out to be beneficial in the end, but an error all the same. Someone put a 1 where they meant to put a 0, and he was a different person and the world changed as a result.
It's at this point that I start to wonder if it was accidental. Sure, the presidential cloning practice sees its fair share of conspiracy theories around the Oval Office water cooler, but now that I'm subject to it, I really begin to wonder: Am I who I was and does it matter?
At this point my aid, Ms. Lewis, enters carrying a stack of papers. Another stack of papers; I don't get it in this day and age. We can clone our most valuable bureaucrats, but bureaucracy itself can't be digitized.
She looks at me concernedly, "How are you feeling, sir?"
"I feel fine," I say, "you should see the other guy." She laughs a little uncomfortably. Noted: Insensitivity to my own death, not a crowd-pleaser.