Five Minutes, Mr. President

By | September 10, 2011

Again, the rules are the same: we get a first line, and we have 10 minutes to write a story.


In freefall, somehow M’buto managed to check his watch: in five seconds he would be President.

“Blast that protocol officer with his crazy ideas for my inauguration,” he thought. Jenkins, late of the British Embassy, had urged him to do something spectacular to represent the dawning of a new age in Thololand.

By now the former Governor Royal would be riding away in his Mercedes. His own men – and women – would be swiftly going through the palace, making sure nothing was taken or amiss.

He looked down at the crowd, growing larger as he plummeted nearer and nearer.

His watch beeped. Time to pull the chute.

He reached to his side and pulled the cord. There was a rustle and a ripping sound, just as in the practice jumps.

But there was no rushing sound of nylon ballooning in the wind, no sudden jerk of deceleration, feeling of relief and safety.

“This will be bad,” he thought. “A lot of people are going to expect me to roll out from the field and take the oath. I wonder if K’passie is up to the job of the President. He will have to come out from hiding in academic obscurity. And N’yamen – I will miss her, my good and faithful wife.”

He shut his eyes. The wind whistled furiously around him. He imagined himself as a large wet stain on the ground, surrounded by horrified guests, some genuine in their emotion, some covering up.

Jenkins would be there, he guessed, with that look of prissy outrage. But he would be lying, doing the bidding of his true masters. He always suspected Jenkins, but thought he’d give him a chance.

A childhood prayer came to mind. “If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

He opened his eyes. “I’m not going to be a spectacle.” He pulled the emergency chute cord.

Again he felt no answering rush of nylon. This time he closed his eyes and awaited his death.

Then there was a great yank against his neck and spine, and he felt himself pulled back as if a giant hand had plucked him from waterfall.

He yelled a great warrior yell of relief and rage and gladness. He pulled the cords to steer himself down, slowing himself and aiming toward the soft middle of the field.

It would not be in the center of the target area, he thought. I’ll have to walk across the field to the car, and maybe be dirtier than everyone expected. But I will be President M’buto, and I will show the world how a man faces danger – and lives.

He landed hard, rolled, and ended up in a pile of brush. He scrambled out, pulling off his now-useless chute, and looked up to see his wife racing across the field – his wife, now the first lady of Thololand

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