Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta president. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta president. Mostrar todas las entradas

jueves, 15 de diciembre de 2016

The president

   In the kitchen, everyone was working at full capacity. There was not a single person standing by, doing nothing. Every single worker was doing something, even if they were just apprentices or the chef himself. All hands were needed for the banquet to go exactly as planned and one of the most important parts of the whole experience was, of course, the food. It wasn’t possible to do a proper banquet without a great menu and the one for that event had been checked at least a hundred times and by a diverse group of people, all with different tastes.

 Of course, the most important person in the whole gala was the president, as he had been the one to organize the event. It wasn’t one of those planned things that took place every single year but an impromptu kind of thing that had arisen from the fact that the president wanted to do a benefit for a cause he thought had not been helped enough in recent years. Public opinion was really divided on the subject but most people admired what he had done and how he had done it. After all, it was very uncommon for a president to stop his work to do something else.

 Some papers were criticizing every single aspect of the event, from the price of the food and the flower arrangements, to the list of guests. Some said it was too big and others too small. Some said he had invited people from the wrong countries and organizations and others praised him exactly for that. It wasn’t new that the press was not in agreement completely; they had always been very divided on the presidency from day one, which had taken place a little more than a year ago, after a very uncommon period of transition.

 Awkward was the better word because the new president had asked the old one to give him an office in the presidential headquarters, as he wanted to check on everything as it happened. Such a thing had never been attempted and a certain distance was thought to be the wisest thing when dealing with such a moment. But from the first moment of him been the president elect of the country, it was very clear he wasn’t going to be like any other president, in the country’s past or in other countries. He was, for lack of a better word, uncommon.

 Very uncommon indeed as he had won in the most unexpected way, when many people had decided it was the best to make a change at the very last minute. Polls had never granted him the presidency and he thought, the morning of the election itself, that he was going to lose for sure but he wanted to go away gracefully so he did something unexpected: he shared the day with people around his city, visiting tourist spots and taking random pictures. Apparently people loved that because in the afternoon, polling stations were filled with voters.

 By the end of the night, he had been declared the winner with over five percent of the vote over the other candidate; a woman everyone had predicted would be the next president. She was the very opposite of him, someone who seemed to have fire in her eyes, always talking with an amount of passion that seemed to much for such a small woman. Millions adored her and, of course, by the big conglomerates that actually controlled the country. She loved to speak about economics and foreign affairs and all such things.

 However, the new president had never really been passionate for anything. To be perfectly honest, he had been chosen out of nowhere by the third most important party in the country. It was predicted that the two most voted parties in the last election would hold the same spots in the new election but that didn’t happen. People were tired of the game between those two parties that, at the end of the day, were exactly the same party if you were to compare their policies on several key elements of people’s lives. They just had slight differences.

 Studies on those elections would last for years, as never had predicted that surge of a third option. And now that third option was organizing an impromptu dinner in honor of a cause many thought wasn’t “attractive” enough. In this day and age, people still thought some subjects were best not spoken out loud, in the open, much less in a fancy dinner table with expensive Champaign and a band playing music from eighty years ago. The president was known by now for his odd choices and that was also reflected on his choice of food.

 The people in the kitchen had elaborated a menu that mixed very high cuisine with foods that everyone loved. The dishes were particularly successful among the special guests of the evening. In other words, the people that were directly affected by the charity they were raising money form. After all, they were all normal people that did not really have experience in fancy dinners and strange food, so the combination of high cuisine experiments with almost fast food, was a success among them and many presidential supporters.

 Of course, the richest people in the event weren’t very thrilled to be eating what were basically hamburgers, hot dogs and fried chicken, in a very old hall that had a long history of elegant banquets to celebrate the riches of the rich, instead of charitable efforts. However, the rich were never shy when it came to donating, as it was the perfect way to pay fewer taxes and to be seen as some kind of savior by the people that were benefitted by that money they didn’t need.

 It was incredible to see how the people, the same that had voted for the president, supported him again on that decision and thought the choices overall were just excellent. Some thought they were funny enough but everyone agreed that it was the necessary shake up that needed to happen in such a stiff political environment. Everyone took things too seriously sometimes and it was nice to see that the president had a sense of humor or at least the capacity to be different. People admired him for that, long before he was a president.

 It was never really clear if he did those things on purpose or if everything was kind of a “happy accident”. Whatever it was, it always seemed to work. It was the same thing when he worked for a large software conglomerate where most of the workers were younger than him and he wasn’t even that old. At first they mistrusted him because they didn’t thought it was possible he would even know about what they did in the company, but after a while he showed everyone how interested and invested he was on the company, surprising them in many ways.

 Of course, he was always nervous. He had even joked that he would love to have a first lady by his side to have someone to hold hands with in the most tense and difficult moments. He even joked he would settle for a first gentleman and some of the journalists laughed out loud that day. He was something very unexpected and was attacked because he wasn’t the same kind of politician everyone had seen once and again for the last hundred years. But that’s exactly why so many people supported him; he was very different from them all.

 Some of his supporters had even organized meetings to help him with some subjects and to get him to talk about things that people felt were important in that moment. And he was gracious enough to hear them, after the meetings he had to attend about the economy or foreign trade or who knows what. He always had time for everyone and he seemed to be happier when talking and sharing with actual people. That’s why some said he was the best president in the world and others said he was a disaster waiting to happen.

 After the gala, he sent the millions won for the charity to the proper people and many were able to find some kind of solace in the fact that he had remembered them as victims. Rumors of a second term were already in the air. But when asked about it, he always laughed loudly and said he would rather end the one he was in first to see if he was successful enough to deserve more time. Of course, three years later, he won by a landslide, another unexpected win.

martes, 15 de noviembre de 2016

State visit

   Everyone at the airport was ready. The staff had put on their best clothes and every single corner of the small terminal building had been cleaned to the last millimeter. From very early in the morning, people had arrived to help organize every single part of this impromptu visit. After all, it was the president of the most powerful country in the world. And theirs was one of the poorest and most isolated ones on the whole planet. However, the presidential plane had to refuel somewhere, so the small nation had received the honor of hosting the president for a few hours.

 From the moment they had been warned about the impending arrival of the plane, hundreds of people were put to work. Not only those in the airport, people who only really worked on weekdays and even then only in certain time frames, but also every single operator and technician available. They wanted not only the people to feel welcomed but also to make the best work possible with the plane. They got fuel from the city’s reserves, as the amount they had on the airport was not enough to refill a plane the size of the one they were going to see in a few hours.

 The process required almost every person in the capital, a city of about a thousand people, to wake up and also help by cleaning the streets of the city and the authorities enabling the movement of fuel reserves from where they stored it to the airport, which was fairly close to the city. People took to the streets with brooms and mops and every single cleaning help they could get, but the truth was no one really knew if the president was going to land and stay on the plane or walk around a little bit. Many people were curious like that.

 The president of the tiny nation was the one that was moving all over his house, calling the right people and asking everything from food to more cleaning products. He wanted to send a message through TV but the people of the studios were helping around so he decided to send it through the radio. It was much simpler and more effective; as it was the medium of communication that people listened to while they were preparing the city for the big arrival. Every single person in the country heard it and everyone understood the importance of the visit.

 To the eyes of the world, it was practically a miracle that their country actually existed. To be honest, it had been a thing of luck and one of those strange coincidences that happen out of nowhere. They were too isolated and unimportant. Practically everything they had came from their neighbor to the east. So they had known starvation and real poverty because when that neighbor didn’t have enough for themselves, they suffered too. But the world in general never really knew anything because they weren’t watching, until now.

 The country had no army but its people did behave like one once the president’s message had reached every single person. They knew they had around six hours to have everything ready. With luck, the weather up in the clouds would delay the plane a bit more to give them more time but they constantly checked with the aircraft and that didn’t seem to be the case. Everyone had to do their best in the time given. Only an hour after the president’s announcement, everything was coming up nicely and all citizens were helping, even elders and children.

 A huge amount of people arrived at the terminal in order to use the old kitchens that some rundown businesses had not used in several years. The idea was to cook a good amount of their national food for the people arriving, as well as other dishes that they might like. It wasn’t crazy to think that they would be very hungry, even at that early hour of the day. After all, this was all going on in the darkness of the night. The president was scheduled to arrive around eight o’clock in the morning, so they had to wake up or not even sleep.

 The cooking team was led by the nation president’s chef, his own wife. It wasn’t like in other countries were the president has everything and the people below him have nothing. In that nation, everyone was basically the same. People hadn’t starved in some years but they weren’t rich or even close to that. So the president’s wife decided it was best if someone close to the government like her supervised the food. It was the best way to guarantee that it would be perfect for someone with such a high profile as the ruler of the richest country in the world.

 They acknowledge that all those people in that plane, around two hundred according to the information they had shared with them, had been and eaten in places much better than their small country. That was obvious and they didn’t feel bad about it. But they wanted them to leave knowing a little bit more of their culture and about what they loved to eat and drink in those lands. The menu had been defined by the president’s wife and she was very confident that it was going to be one of the best feasts in the recorded history of their nation.

 It consisted of a special recipe for meatballs using a kind of cheese that was made from goat milk, which also happened to be used in their national beverage, which was kind of like a milkshake but less thick and richer in flavor. They also cooked the goats in various ways and were very proud about their vegetables and mushrooms, of which they had a very large variety. Various dishes were cooked with all those ingredients and some spices too.

 The small country’s president arrived in the airport only two hours before the arrival of the plane, to check everything out. The terminal had been painted in record time by volunteers and the control tower was bursting with life when, in normal days, it would only have one person and not even all day. He thanked everyone there and then went to the terminal’s commercial area where his wife and helpers were giving the final touches to the food. The smell had flooded the building and it was very delicious, so much that many stomachs growled loudly.

 Then, he went outside and did a walk around the tarmac and the runway. There wasn’t a single spec of dust anywhere, which he thought was absolutely magnificent, especially for such a windy part of the country. It seemed as if the weather was also helping them achieve their goal. The red carpet in the tarmac was the same one that the president had stepped on when he was inaugurated for his term, more than three years ago. A president’s term was five years and he couldn’t be reelected, which he personally thought was a good idea.

 He decided to check the band that had been practicing for hour in the cold and congratulated them for the amount of love they were showing the country. He stayed a bit to hear them play and, to be fair, they were not as prepared as he would have like, but there was no way of getting better musicians with only an hour to go. They would have to do. What made them special, at the end of the day, was that they played their instruments with real passion and the idea of making their country proud. And that was more than enough.

 The president decided to wait for the plane in the control tower. There, he would be able to know every detail about the upcoming visit. When he stepped in, the plane had crossed into their airspace. It would be only thirty minutes until they touched down in the runway. The atmosphere was really special. Every single person in the tower, in the terminal, in the tarmac and even in the city was ecstatic. This was, by far, the most exciting thing to ever happen in their country. And they had all worked together to make it the best day possible.

 The plane came out of the clouds and landed, in a very soft and elegant manner. Everyone applauded and greeted the people inside through the radio. The president ran outside, getting ready with all others. Many people from the city had come out of curiosity and they had been allowed to stay a bit further away. The plane parked exactly where they had determined it should go. For some minutes, nothing happened. Then, the door opened and everyone stopped breathing for a second. Their moment had come.

jueves, 25 de febrero de 2016

Jovian loop

   It was a completely closed room. It had no windows, only one door and no visible openings for heating or air conditioning. However, the temperature in the room was very nice and the two women and three men inside were chatting just as if they were out in the park with the sun above their heads. There was a large table shaped like a U on one side of the table and in the other there was just the empty space where they were talking to each other. Next to the table there was a wall covered in TV screens that looked more like very black glasses. The room fell silent the moment the door opened and a woman, accompanied by a gentleman in a military suit, entered the room talking. The only word heard was “people”.

 The two stopped talking when they saw the rest of the people and just went on to the table. Each seat was occupied and the small woman that had entered last had the central seat, facing the screens. No one said a word for some minutes. They glanced at some sheets of paper in front of them and just gave each other strange looks. The woman looked at her hands, also waiting. Finally, the screens turned on and formed one big image in high resolution. Everyone was even more silent then, if that was possible. They appeared to have no ability to breath or be relaxed. They couldn’t believe their eyes.

-       This is the only image taken by the Hercules probe as it descended through the clouds of Jupiter only two days ago. The image was beamed to an orbiter before the probe was crushed by atmospheric pressure.

 The small woman read this from one of the papers and when she was done she looked at the image, apparently trying to figure out what she was seeing.  Noticing no one said a word, she told them to state their view on the matter, starting by one end of the table. When they were all done exposing their theories, she wasn’t any more relaxed than before. She looked at the screen again; her hands in the position of prayer, and talked as calmly as she could, her voice trembling a bit.

-       Life, then?

 The group around her, nodded. They seemed terrified but not of her. Each one of those scientists had gone through the picture once and twice and even thirty times, checking every single variable and making copies of different sizes and colors and formats and the conclusion was always the same. As the probe descended through the clouds, it had taken a picture of things that were clearly alive. It was hard to describe the creatures but the movement was obvious and the camera on the probe was state-of-the-art, the best one ever on a machine sent to space. Many had thought it wasn’t worth it to put that camera in a probe that was going to be destroyed.

 The woman told them that, as the president, she was entitled to accept or dismiss their theories. So, again, one by one, she asked them to explain why the image depicted living beings. Why those couldn’t be just clouds or errors or whatever else. There was a scientist, a woman, who stood up and said in squeaky voice that the image was not the only thing they had gotten from the probe. A couple of the others looked at her surprised, clearly they had no idea about this new information. The president looked tired and asked the scientist to show them the information she had.

 The scientist went to the wall, were a small keyboard appeared and introduced a code no one else knew. Then, the screen changed in order to show a very small video on a loop. It was only six seconds long and the quality was not as good as the picture’s but it was clearly visible that those things in the image were moving. There was no sound but everyone seeing the footage supposed it would have been a very noisy environment. There was something like a flash at the end of the video, possibly a thunder.

-       Could any of you describe… the creatures?

 Another scientist, a bald man, said he was a biologist and had concluded that the creatures appeared to float in the upper atmosphere. They seemed to control their elevation perfectly and had a look between a cloud and an elephant. The comparison was very strange but they could all agree with the man, who sat down very fast after concluding his theory. The video kept repeating itself on the screen and the president just looked at it, as if trying to decipher some other meaning behind it.

 The aide she had come with, an older gentlemen in a military uniform, stood up and asked the rest of the people if the creatures were hostile. Surprisingly, it was madam president who told him that was the stupidest question she had heard recently. He told him it was impossible that those creatures could be any threat. The implication of their existence went much farther than just aggression. It made a change in our collective minds, our societies and civilizations. There was life on another planet and they had the proof right there.

 The man sat down, embarrassed, and the woman inhaled some air and just pulled back into her chair, thinking about many things, some of which they hadn’t even been talking about. After all, she had a daughter and was thinking of how weird it would be to explain all of that to her. She was a smart young woman but was curious to see if a young person would be as shocked as she was. To her the revelation had been too much to handle, so much she didn’t really know what was the next step.

 Apparently everyone was thinking the same thing because one of the scientists asked exactly what they were going to do with this information. Would they keep on studying the data or would they just released the video to the public and let them decide what it was? The president had no answer to that and her military aide was not going to say one more word on the matter. Silence again and the video in a loop. The creatures moving up and down, through the clouds. They had lights or something on them and had a strange color. The president wondered how it would feel to fall through the Jovian atmosphere.

 Her mind went back to the room when the video disappeared from the screen, instead being replaced by a white flag, whit a skull in the center, flanked in the back by two crossed swords. It was a pirate flag. Everyone in the room looked at each other, is if they were looking for someone to jump from their seat and excuse themselves for the mishap or the joke or whatever that was. But no one moved. Worst even, someone let out a gasp and said almost in a scream: “The Pirates!” The statement was a little obvious at first but then, slowly; the y understood what he had meant.

 The president said a course word and asked the military counselor for her phone but he reminded her that no phones worked in that room. He then yelled at him, ordering him to run out and tell the security forces to confront a cyber attack.  But it was too late. The famous Pirates, a band of virtual brigands that dedicated to looting governments and stealing their most precious belonging, had already done their deed. The Pirates were famous because of their logo with the white flag instead of a black one and their tendency to never ask for money. They said people paid them, with their honesty and enthusiasm.

 The flag on the screen disappeared and then they were looking at a webpage, more precisely it was someone going to YouTube. One of the videos the site recommended, as it was knew, was the one they had just seen. It played in a loop again and the comment and number of viewings rose in only fifteen minutes, time it took for madam president’s aide to go out and make all sorts of calls that wouldn’t make one ounce of a difference. The information was public and they could not make unseen what had been seen millions of times.

 The president couldn’t move, couldn’t keep her eyes apart. The man she had come in with tried to help her up but she just wouldn’t budge. She saw the creatures going up and down, and up and down. And she realized that the world had just changed. Her daughter would now next time she saw her. She cried a single tear, cleaned it and marched out of the room.

martes, 21 de julio de 2015

Men as monsters

   Inoctium was the name of the compound that they had invented in the lab. It had many properties that a normal human would have deemed incredible and many of those who had been involved in the project thought exactly that. Many had wanted to leave the project before it was finalized but that wasn’t possible, as no one wanted any leaks or stolen information. It was obvious that any foreign power, anyone to be honest, would love to have their hands on such a potentially disastrous little element. So very few knew about its existence and another handful thought it was just an urban legend and that no one would be so stupid to create something so incredibly dangerous, although good in every way too.

  Only a small amount had been created but what had amazed the creators was what that small quantity could do. It was an alchemist’s dream as it had the capacity of transforming anything into platinum, one of the most expensive metals in the world. It could also be used to manipulate magnetic fields so many objects had been created around it to transform the world, as we know it. But of course, all of those objects, like flying devices and many military weapons, had not come out to the world yet. The committee that had approved tests to create the compound, finally decided to cancel the whole thing altogether and ordered the inoctium to be destroyed in the act and not a single thread of evidence to be left around. The reactions were varied but it wasn’t like they could say anything to prevent it.

 Nevertheless, the destruction never took place. And that was simply because the inoctium behave almost as if it was a living creature, a very strong and resilient creature. It couldn’t be destroyed. They tried every single corrosive agent, viruses, alloys, even small bombs but nothing seemed to do anything to it. The only real difference they detected was that the amount of inoctium had somehow grown larger. The committee, after hearing the results of the attempts to kill the thing, decided to keep it away from every single human forever. It was sent to a nuclear waste disposal facility, where the deepest chamber had been redesigned to contain even the largest explosion. The inoctium was placed there, under several locks, security and around several amounts of nuclear waste.

 Its creators never forgot about it. They felt it was their baby, their proudest moment as scientists. But they knew it was dangerous so they never spoke about the inoctium, ever again. The files that had been created around it had all been destroyed and their lab was dismantled. Thirty years passed and no one dared to go back to those dark times. That was until the day Yucca mountain, the place were the inoctium rested, exploded in a massive way. A whole was opened in the desert and some small towns were in the way; the earthquake that was generated wiped them out. It was the biggest disaster involving anything nuclear and scientists couldn’t explain what happened.

But the creators of the inoctium, a group of only six people, knew exactly what had happened. They had warned the government against burying the compound in a place were other chemicals and elements were kept but no one heard then and no heard after the explosion, mainly because only a handful of government officials knew about inoctium and they were all close to retirement. The president didn’t believe a word that he heard, thinking that if such a powerful thing existed, the past governments would have used to finally impose the country on the world. Maybe that was what he would have done but it wasn’t what had happened. The team knew that the explosion had a cause but no one would believe them.

 Two of them, who had married and had children, decided to try and recreate the process that had created the inoctium but they failed horribly, dying in another explosion, less massive but also a tragedy. Only the two of them died, so the other four members of the team knew what had happened. They insisted on talking to the president, they wanted to explain to him how it all worked for him to understand but he just wouldn’t listen. Word had it that he was trying to blame the explosion on some terrorist group or another country, so he could get a hand on their resources. This president was not like the other who hid their intentions; he didn’t care for those who were ashamed of what had to be done, according to him.

  The team reunited with other experts and tried for them to understand what was going on and how they should prevent anyone from mishandling what was left of the compound on the site of the explosion. If the wrong person got there first or if someone mishandled the inoctium, something even more awful could happen. The scientific community was much more receptive than the government, mainly because the four remaining members of the team had time to explain how they had created the compound and what were its properties. By doing so they were going against the law and against every single paper they had to sign the day the inoctium project was shut down. But lives had been lost and they couldn’t afford to allow more to happen.

 Nevertheless, the scientific community was very divided. Some, like the government, thought the four scientists were insane old people that needed to be in a retirement home and not talking to anyone about science. Others believe some parts but the properties of the inoctium were the thing that put them in high doubt. And other believed them, mainly because they had worked on similar projects before that had ended in failure. Despite that, they felt it was possible to do what they had tried to do back then. So the team got some support and tried again to contact the government, with no more success than before. It was announced, a few days after, that the country had concluded the explosion to be a terrorist attack.

  For the members of the team, it was a tragedy when they saw the images of tanks and planes attacking some country on the other side of the world. The government had declared them guilty of harboring terrorists and claimed that they should be brought to justice. What was obvious after a few days though, was the fact that every suspect they found was killed. No one was apprehended. In a few days that nation had fallen and occupation began, like it had happened before elsewhere. Of course, every single company prepared their luggage and landed in the destroyed country to set up business, weather it was security related or minerals related. Anyway, the world had lost another piece and scientists weren’t closer to prove anything.

So they decided to disobey in the most visible way possible: they would get the proper equipment and then travel to Nevada, were the explosion had taken place, to illegally enter the site and see for themselves if the inoctium had been destroyed or not. Many fellow scientists helped them prepare and get the equipment and it took them only a week to be prepared and leave for the desert. They had brought weapons too because this time they weren’t going to be just scientist but also madmen, even if there was a women among them. When they got to Nevada, they started doing vigilance on the site, which was very heavily guarded. Fortunately, they were able to get a military drone from one of its makers and used it.

 The drone discovered that the site was not only a whole on the ground as it had been portrayed in the media. The truth was that they had built several building around the explosion site and the crater created had been covered by a white fabric, which looked like plastic, or something like it. They didn’t get to see or know more as the drone was shot down and by the military, who were the ones guarding the place. The scientists had controlled it remotely so no one knew it had been them watching but they decided to head for Las Vegas, to think about their next step. The news had changed their headlines from “Patriotic war” to “Our heroes triumphed” showing military man “guarding” the streets of a ravaged town.

 The team knew they just couldn’t get into the site as no one would allow them to and another drone would be even more dangerous, because then they would really be in the eye of the storm. They didn’t know what to do, what to think of it all. Because of them, because of what they had done so many years ago, people were dying every day. That fake war and the explosion were a symptoms of a cancer that had to be taken out. And although the government was also another disease, it was preferable to deal with the inoctium first. They planned to seek help from the opposition to the president and to the war and try to get international help from scientists around the world, willing to speak on their behalf.

   But when the war on the other side of the world expanded and spilled onto other countries, the scientists were rendered mute. Because on one morning in august, people around the world got to see the most incredible and most horrible thing in the world: the military had used the inoctium against other. They had seized it and created weaponry with it. Easily, the world started to crumble and people, for the first few seconds, were all without a voice. They couldn’t believe they were seeing the end of their world on their TV and computer screens. And many wouldn’t get to see the real end, further ahead.