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The Return of the King

Johannes Wept
by Woody O. Carsky-Wilson

Big as a cargo van, the cocoon was the color of basalt, and a cake of cobwebs seemed to anchor it in place. The cobwebs fell off one by one. The cocoon grew lighter in tone, running the spectrum from pitch black on up, including colors you'd recognize and others you'd have to look up in a paint index at Sears. When it settled upon a handsome light tan, it shed copious waves of heat. 

Soon thereafter, a hatch opened.

Johannes, tall and sandy-haired with a face you could trust, wept upon emerging. Buildings still smoldered and even now the gas mains weakly sputtered, burping scarlet flames every few minutes. Emaciated dogs wandered the streets, dying of cancer and rolling their unseeing eyes. Radiation does that.

“We will not surrender, no matter the cost,” Johannes had said a year before, and now this. It was the same for every city and town in the once prosperous land--the same for enemy and ally too, he guessed. 

He struggled for an answer that would have averted war, but he couldn't remember the question, or why they had fought in the first place, or which senator had argued for which position. Damn! It all seemed so futile when set against the backdrop of the shattered city.

His entire base of voter support was gone.

He pondered this long and hard, brows furrowed, before returning to the cocoon and closing the hatch safely behind. He set the stasis dial. The cocoon's systems were much better than clunky cryogenics. They would keep his body preserved without damage as long as he dared stay within.

“Two hundred years should do it,” he said, and lay his head against the cushion, while the timer counted down his remaining moments in this ruined land, and Brahms played softly through his earphones. His mind clicked through the slogans he might use.

‘Give a guy a second chance…’

‘I've lost, but hey, I've learned!’

‘The best lessons are those hardest won.’

People would rebuild. It was in their nature. He'd sell his cocoon, legacy from a bygone age, and enter the lecture circuit, find himself the best damned spin doctor alive and jump back with both feet, tap-dancing into the political mix, vying for top slot, which is exactly where he belonged.

He was flexible. He would recover. 

He smiled as the cocoon went black, his fingers tapping to the soft strains of melody in C major. Thank God he wasn't a quitter! The voters would have him back again, doing what he did best, giving them what they wanted. As for what they needed…

Well, no one's perfect. 


Woody O. Carsky-Wilson is a stay-at-home dad and full-time writer recently mobilized by the Army Reserves. He's sold thirty-five science fiction, horror and fantasy short stories to various markets since his first sale to Speculon in February 2001. He chases the fiction markets pretty much like a personal injury lawyer chases ambulances, but (hopefully) with a little more dignity. He's working on a novel right now...but, then again, who isn't?


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"Johannes Wept" © Woody O. Carsky-Wilson. Used by permission of the author.
Raven Electrick © Karen A. Romanko. Clipart by Corel®.