By Lori Schafer
He hacked. It was coming in gushes now, the blood in his sputum, the cureless calamity of his body and soul.
“Name a successor,” his adviser had urged, on reviewing the doctor’s report. Secretly hoping, perhaps, that it would be he.
It wouldn’t be. The Minister had no son; no child to carry on when he was gone. No reason to carry on at all.
The years of service had exhausted him. Few understood it, the strain of monocracy. His subjects perceived only its magnificence: the fine clothes, the luxurious automobiles, the sumptuous banquets with world-renowned guests. They could not guess at the responsibility that accompanied it, the knowledge that he was ultimately accountable for every decision, every difficulty of the people. When they loved, it was him they loved. But when they despised…
He coughed again, spat into the bronze basin, and watched the discolored mucus slide slowly out of sight, leaving a watery crimson trail behind it. It was nearly time.
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