Who Wants To Be The Emperor
By S. A. Barton
Copyright 2011 S. A. Barton
Find other stories by S.A. Barton on his Smashwords profile.
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I am Harvey Short. A short, loud name for the short, loud man you all know so well. I write these words to leave yet another record of what happened and why. Someday, perhaps the human race can gather all of these stories for itself, instead of paying to house them in the Central Conceptorium. I am an old man, having lived 159 years so far, and if I make it to 160 I'll eat my hat. That's another reason I'm writing now. I am one of the few left whose feet touched the soil of Earth. There are others, but most of them were too young at the time to have meaningful memories of it. I once walked the fabled streets of New York City, Washington, D.C., even Mexico City for a couple of weeks in my university days. Now I walk the flawless and pothole-free streets of City One of the North American Reservation planet. The dreams of humanity realized: this planet is just one of twenty-four populated by the human race. A respectable empire, and I am your Emperor. But we did not come here on our own, and we cannot leave on our own. At all, actually. My Imperial power consists of making an official proclamation each week. I am given the script three days in advance, and any changes I make are due in 24 hours for editing. I live in a mansion spacious enough that even as a young man I got around it by scooter and moving walkway. It seems to have come with a variably large harem of beautiful women. Lately, I also have a camera crew with beaks and spongy skin and suckered feet that leave odd patterns on the hardwood floors that look suspiciously like the rings my coffee cups leave on the tables. It's a spinoff, you see, of the program that got us here. I realize that in going on about this that I am stalling. I am old, and a century and a quarter has passed, and I am still ashamed. I wonder if the people who let my ancestors settle in New York felt the same way? Before I digress again: the story you know so well.