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A Hard Act to Follow

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Here's a synopsis of a science fiction short story I'm thinking about leaving unfinished:

The crime of murder isn't particularly noteworthy. On average, about 40 people are murdered every day in the United States. However the four murders that occurred on the day in question made headlines around the world. The victims were the former Secretaries of Defense and State, and the previous President and Vice-President of the United States.

The killings took place in California, Maryland, Wyoming, and Texas at 3:47 a.m. EST. All four died from a gunshot wound to the head. The gun was placed against the right temple, the trigger was squeezed, and a hollow-point .22 caliber bullet fired into the brain did the rest.

Everyone in the country was asking the same question: Who was behind it? What organization from what country had the wherewithal to commit such an outrage with such terrible precision ... and then not take credit for it?

The most unsettling aspect of the murders was successfully kept from the press through the combined efforts of the Secret Service, the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA. The newspapers screamed of a vast conspiracy but the intelligence agencies knew differently.

Each murder, though separated by thousands of miles, took place at exactly the same time ... and ballistic tests on the four recovered bullets irrefutably proved the bullets were fired from the same gun.

There was no conspiracy. The intelligence agencies of the United States were looking for one person who could do the impossible.

The person they were looking for was an obscure physicist who had worked for an even more obscure R&D firm. In 1999, while completing work on a quantum entanglement experiment, he discovered that although time travel is impossible ... stopping time was ... feasible. Over the next ten years, working on his own time, he developed a mechanism that could stop time. Up until the moment he had a functioning device, all thoughts of how he could use it were purely hypothetical. Once he had a working prototype the question became real: What Is He Going To Do With It?

He had a very short list of what he wasn't going to do with it ... give it to the government. The history of the last century was replete with examples of why the government couldn't be trusted with, nor should have access to, any weapon sharper than an orange. So if he wasn't going to give it to the government ... what was he going to do with it?

Why Save The World of course!

For starters he could single-handedly bring about the end of war. At that moment the physicist was as crazy as anyone else who picked up a gun and set out to solve a problem. With righteousness buzzing in his brain, he began his new life's work. Getting away with murder for a just cause.

He knew he had to get the attention of The Powers That Be. He just couldn't surreptitiously leave a note on the president's desk in the Oval Office saying "Completely withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan." He knew the president probably received hundreds of like-minded missives every day. He had to do something to ensure attention would be paid to his note. And he would have to slightly rephrase it to something like, "Completely withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan ... or you're next."

He drove to Washington DC, took a White House tour, stopped time, left his note, calmly walked out into a time-frozen world, and bicycled away to his car parked on the outskirts of the city. There he resumed the flow of time, checked into a motel room, and avidly watched the news.

The Secret Service assured the president it was impossible for any would-be assassin to get to him. Select members of his cabinet reminded him the position of the United States was to never negotiate with terrorists. And the president agreed with them right up until the moment the physicist shot him in the head.

The physicist worked his way down through the presidential order of succession until finally ... the former Secretary of Agriculture's first act, after being sworn into the presidency, was to withdraw all American military and civilian personnel from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Though his work in Washington DC wasn't finished, the physicist decided to take a little breather. He had all the time in the world to drive up to New York and visit a few changes upon Wall Street.

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Some 45 years ago I became aware of the fact that the government of The United States was trying to kill me. I wasn't paranoid or anything. I mean I knew the government wasn't out to kill me personally. They just wanted to kill as many Vietnamese (more...)
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