That evening, Peter was in Michelle’s home, in the living room. They were watching CNN.
President Price was giving another press conference. Her secretary of state, a tall black man named Hammond, could be seen standing in the background.
“Over the past year, I’ve been giving some thought to the policies of our governments and corporations, both domestic and international,” she began. “This reevaluation has been provoked by what…happened…last year. We made great strides in overcoming so many of the ill effects of climate change–ending the wildfires, lowering sea levels, removing pollution in the air and oceans…”
“You liar,” Peter said. “The Bolshivarians did all that with technology we’re not even close to having. You’re still taking credit for their…”
“C’mon, Peter,” Michelle said. “Let’s listen.”
“Still, we’ve done our share of destructive things, too,” Price said. “The bombs we dropped on those three cities, a necessary sacrifice to draw out the aliens from their hiding places so we could exterminate them, nonetheless caused terrible destruction and loss of life.”
“Wow,” he said. “A frank admission of guilt from her.”
“And eerily lacking emotion,” Michelle said.
“To atone for what our governments and corporations are responsible for, we’ve decided to make some radical. sweeping changes in our domestic and foreign policies,” Price said.
“‘Radical and sweeping’,” Peter whispered. “Her favourite words again.”
“The wealth…of the heads of corporate governments…will be taken and shared…with the poor of the world,” Price said. She coughed and seemed to be gagging.
“Whoa!” Michelle said.
“That’s a Bolshivarian policy,” Peter said. “Not hers.”
“This money will fund social programs and education, will provide and guarantee employment for all, as well as universal housing and healthcare for everyone, including the poorest,” the president said amid more coughs and gagging. “All military operations in Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia will end…immediately.” She twitched a few times, as did Hammond. “All troops…are to come home…with no delay.”
Peter and Michelle watched and listened with their jaws practically touching the living room carpet.
“This is too good to be true,” she said.
“Exactly,” he said. “They aren’t making these decisions of their own accord. We know who’s really doing it.”
“The mechanical way Price is talking and looking at everyone proves it,” Michelle said. “Her expression is even more forced, more robot-like, than my mom’s was when she’d first become a carrier.”
“What we’re doing …is,” Price went on, wincing as if in extreme pain, “for…the greater…good…unh!“
“Madame President, are you alright?” a reporter asked.
Hammond began squirming and fidgeting in pain, too. A confused noise of voices among the reporters was the only comment on his and Price’s behaviour.
After several more seconds of squirming and wincing, both of them let out screams of pain. The familiar red crack lines could be seen on their faces and hands.
“I knew it,” Peter said.
“So, when Bolshivarians take control of your mind, this is what happens when you try to regain control of yourself?” Michelle asked.
“Looks that way,” Peter said. “Masochistic agony.”
Hammond confirmed Michelle’s suspicions when he grunted, “Give me…liberty…or give me…DEATH!!!”
His and Price’s bodies both split into pieces, tearing their clothes and revealing their internal organs.
“I never thought I’d see the day when the president’s guts would be shown on TV,” Peter said.
“Or the brains…since JFK’s assassination, at least,” Michelle said.
The bodies exploded seconds later.
“The TV isn’t cutting to a commercial,” she said.
“There no longer seems to be any concern over censoring anything,” he said. “No secrets need to be kept from the public, it seems.”
Peter and Michelle looked at the faces of the reporters. No shock was seen on any of them.
“The reporters don’t seem to prefer liberty over life, do they?” he said.
“No,” she said. “We know whose side they’re on.”
“Look, I’m glad Price and Hammond are gone,” he said, “But I’m not so glad about what’s replacing them.”
“If the Bolshivarians can get at the president,” she said. “They can get at anyone.”
“We’re gonna have to be extra careful if we want to keep control of our brains,” he said.