“Memoirs Of The World Chancellor”: Short Story By Stadden

I’ve never published anything, and this is perhaps not the best way to do it. But I want to test it out on you all. I wrote this short story a while ago, and edited it heavily in the past few days. I think it is finally in a somewhat presentable draft that is good enough to show off until I can find a real editor.

The idea came from a question I have always bounced round in my head, and which I will gladly explain in the comments, if you want. But if I told you the question itself, the story would be ruined.

Enjoy! Tell me if you guessed the ending early on.

And, you know, copyright 2017 Stadden all rights reserved and everything. If you use this anywhere please tell me, I probably won’t say no.

Memoirs Of The World Chancellor

            In the middle of the year 2230, the first World Chancellor Yngve Frisk suffered from a meltdown of a singular sort, which was of the utmost import for the rest of humanity. It was not until 2234 that he was given the help he required, and began the long journey to recovery. Though still incomplete, the former World Chancellor’s recovery has reached a point at which, for the first time, he is willing and able to discuss exactly what occurred in his mind during his seven years of administration.

Presently, it is 2253. The following is a transcript of the first interview he gave with the State Psychologist on the subject of his psychological state during his administration, in which he, for the first time, comes to terms with what led to such mental disturbances.

Former Chancellor, thank you for agreeing to this interview. We realise you have experienced something of an unnatural, one might say supernatural sort, and we shall do everything in our power to ensure no harm comes to you through this interview, and that you shan’t end up reliving your ordeal too vividly.

            “I appreciate your gratitude and I am sure I am in safe hands. I am more afraid that I shall do something that will do me harm, than that you shall do me harm.”

            Let’s begin then, if you have no objections. And only if you’re sure you’re ready.

            “I believe I am.”

            Excellent. Shall we commence with the first instances? And a bit of historical background to place your account in the context it deserves to be in and to get a full grasp on the story, if you wouldn’t mind, would be much appreciated. Let us here remind the readers that you have never revealed any of this to anyone, and most of the information in our case files concerning your thoughts was either assumed or deduced.

            “Yes. I am not sure how I should begin, but here we go.

“‘Yesterday, someone tried to drown me. Three days ago, there was a sniper. Last week, there was a bombing. The week-end before that, a plane deliberately crashed near the Official Residence.’

“‘Why would anyone make attempts on my life? What had I done to deserve any of this? Where were all these would-be assassins coming from?’

“Thoughts like this harangued me at the beginning of my administration in 2227. It is now 2253, and I presumed it might be beneficial to humankind if I recorded what occurred to me over the past few years, and I hope I shall be able to express it all clearly and fairly, and that no memory shall affect me so much that it will cause a relapse into this calamity. Though it should be obvious by the end of my account that all my troubles are completely behind me, I have yet to come to terms with this fact. It is obvious to the rest of humanity precisely what occurred, precisely why I became the person I became, and how I ended up in this situation. And because of the very nature of my ailment, shall we say, it shall never affect anyone else, let alone myself again. I know that this shall no longer affect me, yet I still am harangued by flashbacks and insufferably vivid visions. These I can never eradicate, though the sickness be eradicated.

            “Anyway, thoughts of the attempts on my life poured through my mind as I tried to determine why so many people had tried to assassinate me and at such a high frequency. I considered every day whether my few enacted policies had been beneficial or detrimental to my constituency; and though they seemed to be very pleased with my performance (I achieved a 90% approval rating, unheard of even in the USSR or North Korea, when they existed), the attempts on my life continued. Something was encouraging a very few of the voters to attempt to end my life, since for some reason my plans for mankind, entirely altruistic and pure, were unthinkably evil to them.”

            Were you afraid of death? Were you at all afraid that one attempt might eventually succeed?

            “As any other man, I was afraid of death. And I still am. It is the ultimate, final, irreversible result of successfully reproducing cells for a hundred or so years in the body and then finally just awaiting some sort of mechanical failure within the autoimmune system or the cardiovascular system. Any man who claims he is not afraid of the end is an outright liar, even should he claim to have some sort of otherworldly assurance of a better life after death. Everyone is afraid of the great transition and must harbour some sort of doubt that he will be saved by whatever creed he had chosen. I had no particular creed. So, yes, I was afraid of death. And to make my case even more tortuous, I was not sure why my life was constantly more in danger than that of the common man. There was no obvious or clear reason that so many should want me eliminated. and what effect that would have on my afterlife, should there be one.

            “Not that I find myself to be in any way superior to the ‘common man’. I mean that here as ‘the average population’. I myself am a common man.”

            The reason we are interviewing you is that, with all due respect, you are anything but a common man. You’ve had an experience which only one human may undergo, and with which no one can relate.

            “This much is true, but aside from the circumstances, the ill luck to be placed in my exact position as I was, and the ill fortune to be who I am, I am exactly like any other human being. The events are entirely extraneous to my personality, as I hope is clear. I think myself to be in no way separated from those who chose me to lead them, and I had no aspirations to power which was not justly gained or purposed towards evil.”

            This much we are sure of, Sir. All who remain respect you highly and are aware of your utter bad luck, for which we are sympathetic.

            “Right. In any case, I was born Yngve Frisk in the year 2176 AD in Uppsala, the second capital of the Pan-Germanic Province of the Russian Federation. I made my way up in politics, as you know, by mediating between the right and the left, the up and the down, and almost always furnished a settlement that was not merely acceptable to both parties but also even favoured over the original plan by both sides. It is for this reason and not for any political backstabbing or what have you that I rose through the ranks of the United Nations. I am the typical Swede in every way: moderate, even-tempered, and merciful. I was an excellent negotiator, if I do say so myself, and in spite of my almost naïve respect for human goodness, no one ever tried to take advantage of my disposition towards kindness and compassion. It seemed almost to disarm them, almost like Dostoevsky’s Myshkin, except I was no idiot.

            “Years passed as I climbed the ladder of the diplomatic corps. The Russian Federation had only recently swallowed up large parts of Africa when I began my career, and I happened to be in the right office at the right time to have a large hand in the annexation.”

            Many saw this as an aggressive annexation, yet you negotiated the annexation yourself. How do you reconcile this with your claim that you are a pure-hearted person?

            “On the one hand, I had an obligation to my nation as a diplomat. I had promised to carry out my duty, in this case to negotiate an arrangement for the African Republics once they were absorbed.

            “On the other hand, if I had done nothing, much more aggressive diplomats, possibly the few wanton nationalists, would have led the negotiations and a poor settlement, by which the Republics would be crushed, would have been arranged. It fell upon me to arbitrate and mediate, then.

            “Furthermore, I was hopeful that, once there were only two nations left, it would become obvious to both that unification would be necessary in the very near future. As you know, the African Republics were the last independent nations to exist before there were only two left. I took a gamble, for the good of mankind, and I was correct.”

            Please tell us about the greatest achievement of your career: Unification. And Unification began with the African annexation, if I’m not mistaken.

            “Gladly. That is correct. The Chinese watched the proceedings of the African negotiations with great eagerness. They knew that the course of the event which I was spearheading would set a precedent for the next few centuries of foreign policy. If the Russians were aggressive, the next few hundred years would be rife with war because it would be clear to the Chinese the Russians were looking to achieve world domination. If they were gentle and merciful, unification of Russia and China might be a possibility.”

            So the Chinese were considering unification as an aim of foreign policy?

            “Yes, actually. After a few thousand years of keeping to themselves, and a few hundred of strutting arrogantly over the remains of other great empires, they realised suddenly that this all had to come to an end. They sought to share power with the Russians, to split the world while uniting it through a power-sharing deal until the two governments had merged.”

            And your control of the negotiations in Africa revealed what to them?

            “It revealed that the Russians were considering the same thing: Unification.”

            We hear often that humans are greedy and power-hungry. Why did both sides suddenly want to give up what power they had wielded for centuries and share it, seemingly without a political advantage to themselves?

            “Well, they realised how petty it all was. They no longer had to fight each other for resources, since they both controlled exactly what they needed to be autarkic. Instead of keeping to themselves, since they still had to trade luxury goods with each other, goods which only the one could produce for historical or qualitative reasons, they decided they should merge. This precluded any possibility of international arguments after the fact, since there would be only one nation. Almost all wars began over conquest of resources. And now the greatest cause of war, along with African independence, was simply gone.

“So perhaps you could term it as if both sides suddenly saw the light. I am not convinced they had a change of heart, but that they simply saw an advantage and took the opportunity. For which I am not blaming them.”

            And you, Sir, were the one who began the talks between the two.

            “That is correct. I received a white paper from the Chinese indicating their interest in such an arrangement with the Russians. I was absolutely overjoyed, I must tell you.

            “The Chinese stated that, if the Russians were willing to merge administration, I should indicate it personally, and that I should be the one to discuss with them.”

            So you contacted your superiors about this? How did they react?

            “They were in the process of drafting a similar communiqué to the Chinese. Once I related to the higher-ups that the Chinese had already indicated their willingness to such an end, they had me engage them in a secure channel of discussion. So I was the one who began the greatest negotiation of my life and of humankind’s history.”

            You were very lucky, then, that both sides were already in agreement. And that you had been chosen specifically by one side, especially the side you didn’t represent officially.

“Yes, very lucky, indeed. It almost seemed like a dreamstate, in that it was something I could never have imagined to occur during my lifetime. And beyond that, that I would be the one to bring all mankind together.

“I happened to be lucky enough as well to be the chief mediator between the Russian Federation and the Chinese Federation in 2227 at the London World Unification Conference. The Event lasted a few weeks, from January to February, but there were only minor setbacks which are hardly worth any mention whatsoever. They were small squabbles over very specific details, which were soon ironed out.

“At this Conference, I was able to merge the only two remaining nation-states in the world together into one large federation, for convenience divided into ten provinces: Anglo-Saxon North America, Europe and Russia, North Africa and West Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, South and Central America, Japan, East Asia, Australia and the Pacific, and South Asia. Each province had a governor and the typical federal-style organisation all the way down. There was a parliament based on population from the provinces, chaired by a chancellor, who was indirectly elected by the people with the ten governors as their electors in an electoral college.

“I’m still absolutely and wholly amazed every occasion I ponder what a magnificent and monumental achievement was the unification of all world governments into one smooth-functioning, well-oiled machine. The two last remaining nations suddenly realised for the first time in humanity’s existence that unification was more efficient and beneficial to all over a thousand nation-states constantly intriguing against each other, and the result was glorious. No wars could be declared, not that nation-states declared war anymore in favour of ‘contingency operations’, and ethnic struggle had all but subsided to a mere sideshow in light of the Chinese and Russian emphasis on assimilation to a central culture. Naturally, many small cultures still existed over large swaths of land, which was the basis of our division of the provinces.

“It was almost too simple, really, but this owed to the fact that the two nations had similar systems of administration anyway, and now had similar aims. So by mid-February, we were one nation.”

Everyone must have been incredibly excited the moment you walked out of St. Paul’s Cathedral with the announcement that there was only one nation on earth.

“Yes, and I could barely keep myself from crying. It was all too easy, all too smooth, all more than I could ever have hoped to achieve.”

Then the elections occurred the next day, correct?

“Yes, the elections for the first World Chancellor.”

And you ran?

“Actually, no. I was quite happy with my career ending then.”

So what happened?

            “Unfortunately, the responsibility of running the whole thing was placed in my delicate Nordic hands. I never officially announced my candidacy for the position. I simply didn’t want that much responsibility. I was fine with building the vehicle but I sure as hell didn’t want to drive it. I would also miss the security of being a diplomat, that is, having some responsibility but not being burdened with the total weight of a nation’s politics, and being the ultimate seat of blame or accolade.

            “But I was written in by an overwhelming majority of people on the ballot. It was such a mandate that I could not ignore it. Though I hesitated for a few days, I was convinced by my friends that, if I truly believed in representative democracy, I had no other choice.”

            The Russian Federation and the Chinese Federation were both strong states with a semi-authoritarian structure. What led them to change their ways so suddenly and allow a vote?

            “This was allowed for the sake of stability. If both sides came together and put forth candidates on party lists, or simply installed someone, it could, obviously, lead to a dispute which may have shattered the whole endeavour. Therefore, they wisely decided that they should let everyone else choose, since the populations of both countries were about even, and that this would prevent one of the two former nations from dominating in the newly formed World Union.”

            So why did such a clear majority, almost all the population of the world, take it upon themselves to write your name in on the ballot?

“For the same reason both the Chinese and the Russians approved of me and asked me to negotiate between them.

“Though I speak our official languages of Russian and Cantonese with an accent, I had become a venerated speaker in the world’s burgeoning only nation. People overwhelmingly approved of me. People in both China and Russia had always approved of me since they could very easily tell that my rhetoric on popular sovereignty and republics was not at all mere rhetoric, but that I truly believed in these ideals without illusions of utopia. I seemed genuine to them, and the majority of humans took it upon themselves to end authoritarian states once and for all.”

But the Russians and Chinese could always have ignored the vote, correct?

“Yes, but with such an overwhelming and clear majority it was apparent to both sides that any interference on their parts would lead to a calamity never before experienced on Earth. They were thinking along the lines of Cicero, putting stability before all else no matter what the means, and even if it meant entrusting so much power to the voters.”

If you were so reluctant, as you said earlier, why did you take the job after days of hesitation and consideration?

“Though running the entire world was, again, more responsibility than I cared for, it turned out that I was the only human being able to unify such a widely variegated and diverse group of people as the entire world into one large government. As George Washington, I would have preferred to relax at my dacha in the Moroccan Province of the former Russian Federation and retire after uniting all of humanity towards a single cause upon the completion of the Unification Accords, yet it was demanded of me that I take control of the whole thing. And I had no choice but to accept. It behoved me to accept not only for the reason I already stated, but also for fear, as Plato would have prescribed, that someone worse should ruin my life’s work and the future of humanity, more importantly. The amount of power the first real world leader would have was, obviously, daunting, and could easily be mishandled or, worse, abused. In a world in which every piece of information that ever existed could be recalled instantly, and in which armies could be mobilised in minutes, and in which travel across the planet took less than an hour, a very responsible and even-keeled man had to be in charge for the good of all.

            “So it was only natural that they asked me, on account of my previous experience and popularity.”

            You were accepted and in fact demanded by the vast majority of humans on earth. So why did everything begin to go wrong?

            “I assumed that my rule would be accepted by the general world population. And it was. My administration was, as you said, demanded by 85% of people on earth. The whole thing was functioning better than I could ever have imagined it would, and the world’s first unifying government did just that: it unified. There was total peace for more than three years. Not a single strike amongst labour, not a single scuffle across former borders, not a single spat between ethnicities. It was a utopia, and I feared I was so blinded by our success that I was accidentally ignoring something of the utmost importance, which could potentially wreck the entire system. Maybe I was drunk on my own success and was unable to perceive a great black tumour sitting right in the middle of the operation which could destroy it if left to its own devices. But it was just so beautiful, I brushed these concerns aside. It really was a utopia. Nothing was wrong.”

            It was, we all must admit. And yet, assassinations plagued you?

“And yet, assassinations plagued me. Never before, even as leader of the United Nations, was I ever the subject of an assassination attempt. My reputation had always been beyond rebuke, unbesmirched, flawless, etc. However, the very moment, twenty-six years ago, it was declared that I had been appointed Chancellor of the World through popular acclaim, the United Nations building in the former Chinese Province of Mid-Atlantic America was bombed by a raving maniac with a bag full of Bibles. It became apparent the bomber had no idea I was in London, or that, being unable to reach London, he wanted to make a statement by bombing my office in Old York City.”

So that was the first attempt?

“The very first. And they became ever more extreme and ever more frequent.”

Was there anything at all you could have been doing wrong in your tenure that would have engendered such a response?

            “I must admit that I was not the perfect ruler, and I, as any politician, had a few skeletons in his closet, but mine are fewer and farther between, less numerous, and consist of only a few bone fragments, if my metaphor is understood. I have never slighted anyone unless it was deserved or for the benefit of my constituency. I have sinned in my life, obviously, but I was never malicious or debauched. So I was at a loss as to why the very moment I take office in my highest position I should become a major target for the maniacs of the world. I knew I was not perfect, but I didn’t think I was Nero or something, for heaven’s sake!

            And was when the mental health issues began?

            “A slight delusional strain, in the psychological sense, had been itching at me a bit beginning the day I entered office. This needs a bit of explanation, so please bear with me. As it seemed to be minor, even though it was increasing in potency each day to the point it was perhaps beginning to become serious, I never declared it even to my personal physician.”

If it was so serious that it might be an indirect cause of these attempts, why didn’t you tell your physician? Usually, he’s the first person one tells about these sorts of issues.

“I thought I just had not been receiving good enough sleep. I thought I was simply fatigued from the stress of world government.

“I thought it possible that it was evident to those who saw me on television at a subliminal level that there was something afoot in my head. I thought it possible that it irritated them more than they knew themselves, that something about my body language was indicating my lack of fitness, and could even broadcast a maleficent aim. But I disregarded this possibility. It was an absurd idea.

“I pushed on. I thought it must be mere political fanaticism, and that my theory about my sleep causing my assassinations was an extrapolation caused by stress. I also had no assurance this had anything to do with the assassinations, and, like I said, it was a crazy idea and causally erroneous. But it ached me day and night to think I may be descending into madness.

“I don’t know. I think a lot of what I’m saying is contradictory. But please remember that I was trying to figure all of this out on my own, and that I had to grasp at straws for answers. Anything seemed logical.”

Could you describe this delirium you mention over and over?

“To put it simply, thoughts which were not mine and which were foreign to me, even heinous to me, were being impressed into my head. The day I took office, this began to occur but not at an alarming level. Again, I thought it was merely stress. I tried everything to relax myself, but nothing got rid of the voice whispering to me. I decided I just had to live with it. And I did.

“Being the subject of assassination attempts on a daily basis in no way calmed me and perhaps accelerated my descent into what outsiders called full insanity, and what I was too afraid to name.”

Your policies were not accepted by a small minority of the population, so did it ever occur to you they might be the ones responsible for the assassinations?

            “Well, yes. Obviously, not everyone was in agreement that the world’s governments should be fused into one, but there existed overwhelming support for the attempt worldwide and every single human was objectively better off. I assumed that, if there were only a numerically insignificant minority, I could press on and eventually the improvement of their situation would speak for itself. But I think that alienated the most radical ones among them.”

The assassinations continued, as you say, daily. Was there ever a clear cause to any of these attempts?

            “There was only slight circumstantial evidence indicating why the attempt occurred that day. For example, the sixth or seventh time I was attacked, we made some sense of it and we could extrapolate quite a bit about likely assassins in the future. It was already obvious this was going to happen often.

“It was another bombing, this time against my official vehicle, and ostensibly was related to the passage of the Universal Mark Act. It was the first piece of major legislation enacted under my leadership. My most contested legislation, proposed and passed in my first few days in office, would propose that all humans receive a small barcode tattoo on the forehead or the wrist to be used in lieu of paper or plastic money, to be used to access medical information instantly without error, to identify them positively, and, yes, if necessary, to track their movements across the world. As the legislation required all citizens to receive special tattoos to be used as credit cards, medical records, and ID, many had concerns.

“Though quite controversial, it was a necessary Act. This faced opposition from Christian lobbies in particular, who deemed it ‘Teufelmark’ or some such epithet, claiming the end of time was upon us. I was the one who began calling them Marks in order to reclaim the word, and to make it sound beneficial rather than detrimental. It appealed to me since it also recalled the Deutsche Mark, one of the strongest currencies during the latter twentieth century. The Mark would, naturally, be entirely invisible except to special scanners which have been recently developed.

 “Surely, it could be used as a surveillance device, but many safeguards were enacted to ensure this was not allowed without warrants. Only criminals would be tracked.

“Many opposed the idea that they carried their medical records everywhere, which could possibly be hacked. Again, the scanners required for this were of a special type which were strictly regulated and owned only by medical professionals. The Marks simply would not react without these particular scanners.

“If nothing else, the end of cash was upon us. Imagine how much more efficient it was for people to exchange goods without carrying cash, or cheques, or plastic cards! Even robbery on the street was impossible, as the scanners for currency exchange were only leased to reputable businessmen, and the buttons on the scanners themselves measured the heart rate of the operator. This last fact is integral, as it meant that the machine would not transfer the invisible cash if it were aware the operator was under severe stress, as when being robbed or coerced. There was not a single problem that we had not previously considered and alleviated.

“It passed by a slim majority in my first year. And it was pretty successful, with fierce resistance of a small section of the population, mostly in Anglo-American Province.

“The Act required that all members of our civilisation must receive the Marks in one month. It was painless, took a few seconds, and would save them much trouble later on, so many complied. Only a few resisted outwardly.”

            This Act led to the attack on your car, which was a run-of-the-mill bombing with no particular calling card or ideological evidence, correct?

            “That is correct. There was no way to link it ideologically or evidentially to any other attempt, so we assumed circumstantially that the bombing was related to my recent legislative endeavours. This was what we extrapolated, and it was only slightly correct.

“When I say ‘extrapolated’ as I did much earlier, I really should say ‘guess’. There was a weak pattern, and we imposed this pattern we thought should exist onto the evidence.”

            You were overjoyed, I imagine, at the success of the Marks Initiative?

            “Surely. I had spent a great deal of political capital, so to speak, to get this passed. And it was working smoothly from the very beginning, with crime rates dropping dramatically in the first month to the point it was entirely negligible.

            “However, soon after the implementation of this policy, I was plunged into a more severe delusion. It had all begun with foreign thoughts implanted in my head, subtle whispers of evil things from an unknown source. This had only slightly been intensifying day by day.

“But the day of the passage of the Marks Act, I felt as if I had slipped and fallen down a slope of madness from which I would struggle to regain the summit of sanity. I began suffering vivid hallucinations of some sort of shadowy demonic figure following me everywhere. At first, I would have them only when I was alone. I tried as much as possible to ensure I was always surrounded by people, with at least one person at all times, to ward off my torment. But there was no way I could be surrounded at all times. I have also been a lifelong bachelor, and even in spite of these night terrors, I had no desire to have a bodyguard watch me sleep. I would also have to explain why I wanted someone in my entirely secure bedroom at all times, and could never think of a convincing excuse.

“Within weeks, the spectre began to appear in public as well, brooding from afar, or observing with a maniacal countenance.

“One cannot possibly imagine the pain and suffering I experienced without experiencing the sickness itself: sleeping alone, I was not alone, for someone was watching me from inside my armoire; during speeches, I was interminably bothered by an invisible editor standing at my side and whispering in my ear to revise my speeches and disfigure them into maniacal raves; while shaking the hands of my happy constituents a silhouette was drifting behind me and it was shaking their hands with me.”

How could you tell the presence was evil, and what do you think was causing it?

            “That the presence was malignant was obvious: the whispers always consisted of evil, debauched things; the figure would hide from me and present itself at inopportune moments to give me a start; it drifted behind me as I worked, nearly invisible save a hazy blur that remained as I turned myself round to look.

            “It’s madness, I know, to have such wild visions, if they can be called such. It could not have been attributed to syphilis, naturally, as we had eradicated that demon ailment hundreds of years before the present, and it could not have been there mere whims of some tumour or concussion pressing upon a lobe or the brain or a nerve, as scans have shown it was neither of the latter. Naturally, I told no one why I wanted to have the scans performed, so as not to arouse suspicion about my mental state. Not a single human was told about my state in any way so as not to arouse alarm.

            “I continued for months on end to think that it was some sort of stress of which I could not alleviate myself. I ensured I had a regulated sleep schedule, that I was getting exactly the same amount of sleep every night and between exactly the same times. I almost always woke up refreshed, but in spite of that, the torments progressed. As usual, I refused to tell anyone.

            “I then thought that perhaps I was predisposed to some sort of condition based on family history. But this was entirely contrary to all evidence, as there was no indication any of my ancestors suffered from anything of the sort.

            “I was left with the possibility of too much stress. But it would be difficult to bring to mind any politician with an easier job than mine: there were no wars, no disputes, no foreign nations to deal with. It was a utopia, I dare say, and all that concerned me were matters of domestic policy. And these matters were hardly pressing or catastrophic, as civil society had all but stabilised and people were generally happy. I was merely tweaking, hardly overhauling anything. I was improving the final small issues left to humanity, and rendering life more efficient.”

            You obviously had many investigations, individual investigations into each of the assassination attempts. Why was there no overall investigation, one which would examine all these attempts together, since they had become such a commonplace event? There must have been some idea that something was linking them all.

            “It was only after the series of assassinations had become a constant, even hourly pattern that a Board of Inquiry was established to get to the bottom, as one says colloquially, of the threats upon the life of the World Chancellor. This was about three months into my administration.

“To answer your question more specifically, there was a perceivable link between the assassinations. One did not require so great an IQ as the great scientist Eisenmann of the 2070s to determine that the main connection between all of my assailants was some sort of link to the Catholic Church. That much was evident from the amount of Bibles dropped everywhere at a few of the attacks and the constant invocation of the Pope before the attempt or in some badly written manifesto.”

If they had manifestos, why didn’t you have a clear motive? Surely they must have said something or other that specifically stated their grievances.

“The manifestos, unfortunately, were all written in Latin. This would be no great obstacle, for there are a great deal of academics who still understand and even write in Latin. But the Latin used was, on the one hand, so poorly written in terms of grammar and structure as to render it entirely incomprehensible. On the other hand, the words used were never clear, and seemed to be some sort of code which was unknown to us.

“For some reason, the burden of committing ubiquitous world terrorism had shifted from Moslem extremists to Catholic extremists during my first three years of rule. This happened suddenly, as all at once the Moslem radicals seemed appeased, while suddenly the Christians seemed unhappy with the burgeoning peace. But at least in this case all the terrorism was directed against one person rather than anyone from a certain hemisphere or anyone who disagreed at all with their line of thinking. A proper investigation revealed that beyond the of Catholic connections lay the further link of a general Christian faith; that is to say, followers of Protestantism and Orthodoxy were also among the assailants.”

Why did all these Christians suddenly rise up through terrorist attacks?

“Unbeknownst to the Board why, Christianity had seemed to declare a fatwa against me. The assailants were all born in some heavily Christian area, for example the Deep South in the former Russian province of Anglo-America, Bavaria, and rural regions in former Russian Italy. Why so many maniacs came from this type of region seemingly had something to do with a scriptural interpretation that was being used against me. But all those on the Board assumed the scriptural condemnation to be some sort of obscure mistranslation of a verse deep within a minor book of the Bible.

“They pored over what they thought to be relevant sections of the Bible for weeks, mostly focusing on the Old Testament, since it holds much of the most easily radicalised sections. This is to say, these sections of the Bible are the most cut-and-dry, black-and-white moral and civil laws with harsh punishments and strict injunctions. Unfortunately, they never looked over the entire thing, as they thought they had found the answer in the Old Testament. I forget what exactly they cited, but I was anything but convinced by their results.

“They began to target ‘radical’ groups when necessary, and, against my will, to discriminate against Christian groups which they termed ‘radical-prone’, often on shoddy grounds. But what could I do? They were the experts, and we had to put an end to this.”

And there was a high-profile arrest as per the Board’s suggestion, was there not? In fact, two major arrests which were entirely unforeseen.

“The Board took it upon themselves, without my permission, to arrest both the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church and the Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church. I was opposed to this, but they claimed there was conclusive evidence against both. When I asked to see the specifics, they responded it was esoteric gibberish, and that I need not worry about what exactly it entailed.

“What they provided, to the contrary, was sufficient evidence that the two had been calling for attacks against me. They had been suggesting these with code so difficult to understand and, to quote the Board, ‘esoteric’, that we, myself included, could only glean that there were in fact threats against me but we could not tell the specific reason. They had also personally solicited, on multiple occasions, hitmen with orders to eliminate me. This lessened my consternation at their arrest, and made it certain to me that there were more than sufficient grounds.

“Under interrogation, the two Pontiffs refused to reveal anything as to their motivations. It was, however, clear that they had been acting on their own initiative and had not planned the fatwa together. The fact they were not in cahoots confused us further.”

Why would they not reveal the reason for which they wanted you eliminated?

“If they revealed that, it would be much easier to profile actual assassins and to nip plots in the bud. So they remained true to their vows of silence, like good monks.”

The Board of Inquiry was established six months into your administration, and the assassinations continued for the three years after, correct? How were you handling this? You already mentioned you weren’t stressed by governing, so what happened psychologically?

            “To your first question, yes, my chancellorship proceeded for three years with constant fear of assassination. But I had to do my job.

“Now for the second question. Though I was, as ever afraid of death, be it natural or by assassination, I soon became ambivalent towards my own death or, at least, I was unsure how I should feel about it. On the one hand, it could be a welcome release from my delirium, which was worsening every minute. But there was no way to tell for certain whether this would free me or entrap me after death in the grip of whatever this was. After all, I could not be entirely sure that whatever was following me, this demonic spectre, existed only in my head, as it felt to be entirely extraneous and its origin could not be precisely pinpointed in any medical or psychological fashion. So I continued to live, deciding I would find out eventually and that the chances of my situation becoming more intolerable after death were about fifty-fifty. In any case, I had work to do.”

Did you ever contemplate suicide?

“Not once. That would be a shameful and disreputable end to my existence and a blemish upon my life’s work.

“And how was I doing psychologically, to answer your question from a second ago? Terribly. At the same time that I had to worry my life may be cut short unexpectedly at any moment, my mental capacity was rotting away under strain of my mysterious ailment. And these were two entirely separate issues, meaning that there was no single answer to both problems. Whatever was causing the one was not causing the other.”

You mention often that the delirium was only worsening and becoming more insufferable. How so? Was it taking a different form than before?

 “Well, originally there were simply the foreign thoughts. Something that was not my own brain was invading my skull, and attempting to settle any empty space it could find with parasitic colonial thoughts, if you will. Then it became some sort of void, vacuous demonic presence, shapeless but apparent.

“By the end of my first six months, the demonic presence had taken a definite form. I expected something ghoulish, something Hieronymus Bosch would have painted, or which were common in supernatural films. The form, in actuality, was more terrifying than I could have imagined: It was my own form. I saw myself everywhere, sitting across from me, seen only to me, speaking only to me, and cognisant of the fact that the apparition was speaking only to and for me. It seemed as if it were determined to challenge my right to my own body, as if it were looking to evict me from my own house in order to move in itself.

“Even worse, the spectre had its own soul. The thing would drift around freely and reminded me constantly that it was not he who was unwelcome, but I. My own brain was declaring eminent domain on the rest of me and rebelling against something that resembled me. Yet I knew his origin could not have been my own brain! It was just so foreign, so unknown to me, that figure drifting about. It was depraved, saying the most unconscionably horrid things to me and almost seemed to be my total opposite, the antithesis of everything I thought formed my Self.

“Hegel once said ‚Ich ist der Inhalt der Beziehungen und das Beziehung selbst‘. I was terrified at the prospect that my Self, my understanding of who I was personally, was dependent on being juxtaposed with my antiself, that I was only whatever I was in relation to him. All adjectives are relative, after all. Hot can only be hot if there is cold. Kind can only be kind if there is nasty. I could only be who I was in comparison with this monster.”

How was it possible to live with such an apparition constantly? How could you survive so long with it following you every moment and gnawing away at you?

“It was unimaginable in the moment and it strains me afterward to know that I suffered three and a half years with this spectre that first joined me the day of my accession to the position I held! Daily, I was conscious of the fact that I was responsible for the smooth operation of the entire world, but how could I even hope to keep the world running effortlessly and without calamity if I were unable to even to rule myself? ‘Know thyself”, Plato said! I could not rule myself without the ability to know myself, and to know that I was totally secure within the bounds of my own brain. I could not even know what was attempting to finagle its way inside me, where it came from, what it was, or anything else about it.”

What was it about the fact the spectre mirrored you that excoriated you the most?

            “I realised early on that the spectre was going to take some sort of form. It was an inevitable end to a long process of slow incarnation, in which a voice became a mouth became a head and must become a body. I ought to admit I was hoping for a figure that I did not recognise, as it least that way the threat would be foreign and not internal. Some sort of typical demon shape, or a dragon, or something similar was necessarily foreign to me and would remain foreign. Think, for instance, of demons as perceived by Tibetan Buddhists: Though they may be slightly unnerving when painted, they would be almost comical in the flesh, caricatures of themselves. Never did I imagine that something bearing my own visage would try to throw my brain asunder from within its own neural pathways. This troubled me since it was a reflection of myself in a black mirror. It was, again, the opposite of myself and revealed the utter baseness of a human who had done all he could to prevent that side from ever being revealed.”

            How did this apparition affect your administration? Did it change the way in which you governed?

            “I never let this whole episode affect my work for the worse. I worked harder and longer to be better just to spite the figure trailing me at every moment. The more deleterious the spectre became, the more beneficial my administration. I attempted to occupy myself constantly so as to drown out the spectre. The more I busied myself, the more it essayed to cleave itself to me and to drown out my own thoughts with its infernal screaming.”

            You keep mentioning the voice of the creature and the hallucination of it becoming an inimical feature of your delirium. Did you ever consider that some sort of paranoid schizophrenia or multiple personality disorder might be to blame?

“I did some independent research into schizophrenia as a possible cause, and it has been shown that stress often talks to the sufferer through visions and embodiments, which, once the specific stress has been conquered, falls away. But again, I had almost no stress to conquer. The only source of any stress was the fact I was being followed constantly. The assassination attempts were a source of stress, but I felt myself to be in good hands as it concerned my security detail. In fact, the more I was supposedly in danger, the more invincible I felt. Invincible, not in the way a young person feels, but in the sense that I thought and considered myself to be almost ordained by God to survive all of it.

“Which I was.

“Yet even looking into these disorders as possible causes was a waste of time. They could not be the reason for my ailing psyche, as my family has no history of schizophrenia nor have I any reason to have this ailment. I have always been a very emotionally stable human. Similar personality disorders simply did not conform to the symptoms I was experiencing. It was a copy of me, not an entirely different personality as would be the case in these disorders. It was something entirely alien that attacked my psyche without ceasing, yet something that was entirely myself. More like a cancer, then, with a part of me attacking myself, yet more so that my whole being was invading my whole self. A civil war was occurring in which both sides fought themselves as well as each other. But instead of a war of brother against brother, it was a battle of brother against himself.”

What did the spectre do once it had taken your form? Did it keep its distance or did it become more aggressive?

“So, just as I feared, it became much more aggressive. My demon had in this form arisen and perturbed me beyond belief, with attacks ever more pointed and more excruciating to the point it was becoming impossible to ignore by being with other people or burying myself in work.”

You just said the attacks were ‘excruciating’, so were they becoming physical?

“No, always mental or psychological. But rather than suggesting incalculable evil of me and implanting wicked desires in me, it began to demand it. It began to scream at me to carry out its will.”

No one ever noticed you were so pained? There were no physical manifestations of your torment?

“I hid it perfectly. I kept it entirely to myself and did everything in my power to ensure no one could have any idea what was occurring inside my head. No one ever asked, no one ever noticed, even though I’m sure they cared and would care if they had been given any indication of what I was going through. My baggy eyes were caused by a rough night of sleep. My aches were caused by sitting in one position for too long. Anything could be explained away. What I was going through was absolutely ridiculous and I thought no one would believe me, or that I would be seized and institutionalised immediately.”

So according to the official medical report, three years into your administration was when the nadir of the occupation of your mind began, correct?

“Correct.”

What made this the beginning of the most unbearable bit?

“The voice had been there for a few months. The silhouette of the demon had for two years followed me round constantly. While it at first had remained at a distance from me, never closer than fifteen feet, he now rested next to me at every opportunity and skirted between those who walked with me. He inched near me with every second, maintaining his distance but making it clear he was advancing towards me. He was without a doubt going to attempt to consume me, not only in mind as he had been trying to do but also in the corporal sense with his silhouette. I was never alone, never at peace, so long as he followed me round. I had become almost used to the spectre and still never, ever mentioned these experiences.

“Until now, and in the original case file, which is very incomplete.

“After three years and three months of suffering, his slow advance towards me reach a milestone. He was at last clasping my hand continuously, no matter how I shook my hand round or however much I attempted to put some sort of barrier between us, be it a door or some such object. He, or I, or whatever he was, merely passed through the door with me. I wished for the first time without ambivalence that the assassinations would be successful at some point as to cleave me from my situation permanently. He was a ghost but something also more than that, a phantom, perhaps, but more real, yet not real. This interminable situation wrecked me invisibly but for when I was alone and faced nothing but thoughts that were not mine and a constant companion sitting with me even in the most secluded regions of my mind and my official residence in Ny Paabel.”

And the assassinations continued daily still?

“Yes. But I was too consumed by the dangers in my own head to worry much about that.”

Three years and one half to the day after your inauguration was when the meltdown, so to speak, occurred. Please tell us what happened, in as much detail as you can. And take your time, since we don’t want you to relapse.

“I’ll go slowly. I’m already beginning to tremble a bit from reliving the experience.

“Exactly three and one-half years after my inauguration, three and one-half years after my demon began to assail me night and day, and a quarter year after he began to clutch my hand every second of every minute of every day, a frightful occurrence happened which I shall never forget and which pains me even to write. This section of my case file had to be written with a large break taken between every few phrases just so that I could recover from panic attacks that I still suffer to this moment when thinking of the horrific moment. [pauses for an indeterminate amount of time while collecting himself] I would that I could describe more, but I was unresponsive for three weeks after my worst panic attack while I wrote the last few sentences and fear to say anything more aloud.

“On this night, I was asleep in my hotel bed in Jerusalem. It was the day before an important speech to be given on the Temple Mount. I was slowly awoken by a light buzzing sound coming from the other me, who by this point was more like a conjoined twin, since my right and his left had become merged. He was lying on the bed next to me. His face was directed at a ninety-degree angle relative to the bed, straight upwards at the ceiling, and his eyes were wide open. I looked at my soulmate as I slowly came to. Once fully awake and fully annoyed by the buzzing sound, I quietly demanded an explanation to the sound.”

You spoke to it?

“This had been the first time I ever spoke to the spectre. I always thought ignoring him would make him disappear. Now, I was sickened by the whole experience and wanted nothing more than the buzzing to stop if nothing else. Not only was my entire situation ludicrous but I must I also have to suffer through this infernal buzzing? I was indignant and literally beside myself about all these goings-on.

“So, yes, I demanded an explanation, that he screw off or something since all this had been going on long enough. And I wasn’t about to stand for him invading my ears as well. Is nothing sacred?”

But did it respond to your demands? Did it ever acknowledge anything you said to it?

“No, it never responded. I might as well have said nothing, for it seemingly paid me no mind.

“The head of my twin turned slowly but with purpose towards me, the airy bones in his vaporous neck emitting a loud cracking sound as he did so. This is when I began to get worried, to a level above that which I had been for the preceding years. The eyes, facing still straight ahead out of his skull, stared through me yet at me.

“I again desperately inquired what was the matter. Something was about to happen and I ordered he furnish a response. His eyes then began to rotate upon the point where the optic nerve should have been: they began to rotate with the pupils as the axis as the whites of his eyes spun. I should have moved and been repulsed had I not been held down by some invisible shackles which bound me to my exact position on my bed. I was fully awake and not dreaming or in sleep paralysis. I could feel something was physically holding me down, and I could feel it burrowing into my skin with every striving I made to change my position. Though nothing should have been strange to me at this point, I knew something terrible was about to occur.

“The eyes turned a thick, bloody red. It’s a red I have never seen before or since, which I can only describe as unearthly. The bloodshot eyes oozed out of their sockets into a long, round set of extremities that inched towards me determinedly. At once I began to shiver, my mouth wide and agape, in a state of total shock as I had never before experienced: I knew this was the end. I was no longer in control of my body and it was his turn to occupy. The oozing ocular devices approached my own and burned on contact with such a hellish sensation as no man has ere felt, and which sent me into such convulsions that I nearly broke my bones against my invisible manacles. My eyes were melting into my soulmate’s eyes, being entirely incinerated in the process. I could still see and, upon what seemed to be their total merging into one ocular set, I saw inside my soulmate. I was being welded and melded into him and I could see into the depths of his existence, what comprised him.”

What did you see in him?

“I saw Hell itself.

“Absolute torment, pain, suffering, fire, conflagration, and more punished horridly abject souls, which flew around in vain attempts to avoid ghastly demons intent on punishing them. My soulmate was Hell incarnate with Satan as his brain and punitive flames as his blood. My heart beat dangerously quickly and my eyes were blinded by the sheer brightness and the heat of the pit of fire in his belly. Hell comprised my soulmate with the face of a human, my own face, guarding the secret. Were I not pinned to my bed I would have fallen off of my bed as I began to shake spasmodically as if suffering from a severe seizure, but while retaining total, if not superior consciousness.

“I heard my soulmate belch a banshee’s shrieks suddenly and my vision was restored to the earth. My eardrums each split in twain and from the sound as I immediately regained sight outside of my soulmate’s belly. My eyes darted back and forth in all directions, apparently entirely intact but utterly dazed to the point I could not control them.

“My soulmate was flying above me, eyes disconnected from me.  He had changed form into a hellish demon: He was redder than any crimson I’ve seen in life, a deep, painful red that petrified me deeper than any core I had in my human body, even more unearthly than what I had seen in our conjoined eyes. Horns, pointed directly at me like spears, dominated the greater part of his face, which was my own still, yet had been changed slightly so as to terrify me more: it was not a zone of the uncanny valley, for he was the entire uncanny valley.

“A long tongue with a fork at the end suddenly darted forth from between his lips. It invaded my mouth and I began to scream uncontrollably in pain as it pierced my innards. I screamed wordlessly, writhing while the fire of Hell slowly dominated my entire body and spread like lava flowing through my every vein. My screams were entirely silent as I could feel my vocal cords had been burnt to crisps within my overheating oesophagus. My thoughts turned to debauched evil and a will to bring pain to every living being, a pain that was beyond what man can experience in the natural world. All the things he demanded of me in his damned state were suddenly becoming my own perverted and corrupt wishes.

“My demonic soulmate lowered himself slowly as I looked through our eyes at his face, begging for mercy.

“Yet none was to be had.

“My body felt white hot with rage as his chest touched mine, and I could see smoke rising from my legs as they were fused together with the heat of the Abyss. I felt my brain being hacked away from my spinal column slowly and surely by a scorching blade of some demonic extraction. My brain felt as if it had been thrown into a searing pan of evil, and my soulmate suddenly plunged his face into mine.

“He had become me.

“I was no longer inside my body.”

Where were you? You were ejected from your own body?

“Yes, I hovered, just as he had at the beginning, above him. But, unlike him, I could neither speak nor protest. I was diaphanous, and had no senses other than vision and hearing. I was not welcome in my own home.”

So what was happening? The case files are entirely certain of the cause of all of this, but you yourself refused to acknowledge it under your duress. For which we are not blaming you. But do you feel comfortable, now, saying aloud what had occurred within you? Something which changed the fate of humanity and of Earth entirely?

“I realise now, as I sit in my comfortable and padded cell, in which I am housed in spite of my present sanity, what was occurring. My lease on my soul’s housing had expired. It was the turn of another to evict me in the most unpleasant and demeaning of ways from my earthly husk while he used it to his very whim till he should return it to me in a worse state. And it’s only natural that so many should have wanted to kill me. They were clairvoyant and acting in the interest of the entire human race, not in the only way they knew how, but in the only way that mattered anymore. I do so wish they had been successful. But, knowing what I know now, I think I am finally at ease in explaining what was going on.

“Perhaps not at ease. That was silly. This was an ungodly, agonising, and anguishing experience which I would not wish on anyone and which could only occur to one person anyway. I happened to be that unlucky person. And I will announce to you the same, correct, conclusion of the case files aloud, with the final bit of my explanation and retelling.

“Next day, the day after the possession, or rather, eviction, the demon gave my speech on the Temple Mount of Jerusalem. It was not at all the same speech I was going to deliver. It was something dastardly and hateful, clothed in niceties and sweetness to the point that the crowds round the world ate it up and immediately did his bidding. It was the beginning of the end for humanity.

“I watched it happen, unable to do anything, try as I could. I spectated formlessly above my own body while he finished his speech. To thunderous, overwhelming applause, my soulmate calmly and majestically declared a simple phrase on the Temple Mount before the press of the entire world: “I am God.”

And then began, as you said, the end of humanity. Can you say it now? What was going on? What caused all this to happen? Who was this demon? Who were you?

“Something sinister was going on. Something Satanic.

“My soulmate claimed to the world he was God and everyone believed in him. Everyone sold his or her soul and condemned himself in doing so.

“In that moment, I realised my soulmate was not God. He was something much, much worse.

“And who was I? Or, rather, who were we?

“We were the Antichrist.”

            [End of interview.]

 

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