I live in a society where sometimes crime isn’t credited to the person who committed it. Every person that fits between the ages 18 and 65 are given a list of tasks that must be finished before their next birthday. If one fails to do this, they are put on death row. At least one million people fail a task before their time is up. One good thing though, teenagers’ continuous reproduction makes up for the lives that are lost.
The day before my birthday, I finished my very last task: rob a house without getting caught. I felt horrible for the family whose window I broke, but I’m sure they’ll understand. It was too big of a task to not cause some damage. That evening, when I was studying for my midterm, I looked online to find all of my tasks crossed out, except a new one: Kill the president.
I was not going to die. How could the government provide me with a task that causes the death of their leader? I walked over to my moms room, to find her wallet.
“I’m definitely getting grounded after this.” Her side lamp was flickering, contrasting against the darkness of the outside. I fumbled through her drawers where it is normally kept. And there it was, underneath her receipts and notes of nothing.
A matte finishing with a thread sewn into the leathering was her name engraved. It was definitely hers. I opened it up to find the emergency credit card. I slipped it out and slid it into my back pocket. Turning around, I was faced with my mom.
“What are you doing?”
“I saw the light flickering from the hallway. I don’t have any homework, so I thought I would replace the bulb for you. I couldn’t find any spare bulbs though.”
“They are in the laundry room. I guess you didn’t look there?”
I laughed, “No, I did not. I’ll go look there now.” I walked down the hallway to the laundry room. It was way easier to do this task than getting caught. After I finished changing the bulb, I went to bed. After I intricately planned out the decimation of the President, I decided I was going to pretend I was going to school, but get on a plane to Washington, D.C. I was able to pay for a last minute trip, $2,376. Mom is going to see that charge soon whenever it goes through. Good thing that it takes 24 hours for the bank to send a notification to her.
That morning, a countdown started: 18 hours and 26 minutes.
I’m fucking screwed.
I grabbed my bag and went downstairs to start my car. On the table was a green apple; I guess that would be my breakfast.
The car ride filled me with a lot of nerves, but the plane ride was even worse. If even one person suspected my intentions, I would have been killed.
The taxi that the airport provided took me to the White House.
“Good thing there are tours today.” The taxi man said when I walked out the door.
“Right. Thank you.” I told him. The door slammed shut behind me, and he took off. I walked around the building towards the front, wringing my hands together.
At the front there was a sign that read: next tour, 10:35. I checked my watch and realized I had only one more minute to make it. I rushed inside to find a group of people waiting for the tour to start.
Step one: complete.
Countdown: 13 hours and 25 minutes.
“Please come this way folks.” A security guard pointed us to the right. “Before the touring begins you must go through screening.” Luckily enough I was smart to not bring in a weapon that could be detected by the metal detectors. Now that would be game over. It took about twenty minutes for the rest to finish being scanned. The older people forgot that their keys, change, or phone would set off the alarm.
But during that time I came to the conclusion as to why they are being so tight knit about it. The president must be in the building, and they are taking a high risk of doing tours while he is in office. It is kinda odd though that this is going so smoothly. There hasn’t been a single hiccup along the way.
We made our way down the hallway to the last door on the left; the bathroom. “If anyone needs to use the restroom during the tour, you may, but be quick and come back right away.” It was the perfect opportunity for me to escape the tour.
Next, he showed us where the recreational room was for breaks. Some people were in there, but moved out whenever we entered. That continued to happen for each room we went in. Once we were farther away from the bathroom and the oval office, I raised my hand to inform my guide I was going to the restroom.
“Just be quick about it.” He told me.
“Sure, I’ll be as quick as a bunny.” He proceeded to give me a weird look. I need to stop saying weird things whenever I’m nervous.
I walked out of the room and went straight to the bathroom. Even though he never told us where the oval office was, my research said it was the door straight in the middle.
As I was approaching the door it started to crack open. I made a beeline for the bathroom, pretending that I was going there all along.
A voice from inside spoke up, “John, I’ll be fine by myself. Go get yourself lunch. I can hear your stomach eating itself.” This John man then walked out of the office, leaving the president wide open for harm’s way.
I watched John until he went out of sight.
“There is no one to protect you now, Mr. President.” I waited a few more minutes until I was positive the coast was clear. I reared up to the door, holding my breath.
“It’s now or never, Callie.” I knocked on the door and waited with bated breath.
“John, I told you that you don’t have to knock.” I opened the door enough to slide in, then closed and locked it quickly. I leaned against it.
He looked calm, like he was expecting this. “Hello Callie.” Wait, what?
I straightened up, “How do you know my name?” I asked.
“Who do you think gave you this assignment? Who do you think signs off on big tasks like this?”
“Why would you assign your own death?” I asked.
“It was the best plan to get me out of the public eye. I’ll make a deal with you. Pretend you killed me, and I’ll set you up with riches beyond belief. I have much better plans for this society, and it doesn’t include me being the one running it.”
“I can’t pretend to kill you because you want to quit your job. Resign like a normal person, not put others’ lives at risk.”
He started to filter through his desk drawer. He reached out to grab something, “Here, take this,” and handed me a gun, “Don’t actually pull the trigger, but make it look like you were going to.”
“How would I get away with this? If someone saw me putting the barrel of a gun to the president’s, head they would hang me on the spot.”
“I’ll explain to them after I go into hiding. They always put me in a safe house whenever there is an assination attempt. It will all be fine in the end.” He got up from his seat and walked over with the gun. “Here, I’ll show you how to use it.”
He placed the handle into my hand, it felt cold. He moved my hand to the barrel right beside his temple. “Help! There is a girl with a gun!” His grip became even tighter. “I knew you would never actually go through with it.” He whispered into my ear.
I began to panic, what am I supposed to do now? I was thinking of just running away. “I can’t die while you survive. What in the Harry Potter?” About ten men charged into the office, waving their guns around.
“This is all just a big misunderstanding. It was my task!” I screamed. “He told me to kill him!”
In my anger I clenched my hand, pulling the trigger along with it. The backlash pushed me to the ground. When I was able to lift my head, I saw blood pouring from his head.
A man walked in front of me, weilding a gun. “A few hours left means nothing compared to the death of a leader.”
A trigger was pulled and a ringing filled my ear. Next thing I know, I’m staring at two puddles of blood; mine and the president’s. Why should I even be surprised that someone with superiority caused such a spectacle?