Home > My Favorites > Day Thirty-two: Mea Culpa

Day Thirty-two: Mea Culpa

Senator McLaughlin blinked against the onslaught of camera flashes as he entered the press briefing room. The sound of shutters was like a swarm of insects – locusts, probably – that was about to descend on him in a cloud and eat him alive. He held a hand up against the brilliance so that he wouldn’t bump into the lectern that had been set up in front of the hastily-erected navy blue curtains.

When the noise had fallen to only a few clicks per second, he leaned in over the microphone and cleared his throat. Silence slammed into the room, and after a couple of final, desultory clicks, he began to speak.

“My fellow Americans. It is with a heavy heart that I stand before you today. Five years ago, my constituents, the hardworking, honest and decent citizens of Connecticut, elected me to serve in the nation’s most revered deliberative body. I was humbled to have been chosen, and honored to serve. They exercised the right that their ancestors had fought and died for, the one right that is fundamental to any citizen of a democracy – the right to vote – and gave me the awesome responsibility of being their voice in the U.S. Senate. It is only right and fitting, then, that I apologize to them first.

“People of Connecticut: I am sorry. Your faith in me… was misplaced.” The cameras erupted again, and reporters texted that quote to their editors en masse. It would be the headline of the hour, to be sure, superimposed over the tortured expression the Senator was wearing. That picture would be on magazine covers before the week was out.

“While the physical damage is indeed high, the economic effects long-lasting, and of course the human cost impossible to calculate, know that it is the betrayal of your trust that weighs most heavily on me.

“To the exiles of Waterbury. It was not my intention to have your city miniaturized. The discussions with Galactic Overlord P’thn’aar were going well, but I fear that a slight misapprehension on my part may have led to your lovely and historic city being reduced to the size of a snow globe. I assure you, the nation’s top scientists are working round the clock to find a solution that involves the least loss of life possible.

“To the soldiers of George Washington’s Virginia Militia – my most sincere apologies. I was unaware that the New London Supercollider would tear open a hole in the fabric of space and time, that it would happen during my ribbon-cutting ceremony, or that it would be you who had the misfortune of falling through. I wish we could send you back, but I am told that would result in a collapse of causality. Please take solace in the knowledge that you alone of all your brothers in arms can see the fruit of your sacrifices, made so long ago.

“And to the people of New London, who cannot hear my voice, I hope that, once we have figured out how to restart the flow of local time and you are able to listen to this announcement, you will forgive me. If all goes well, you will not have been in stasis for more than a few months. If, on the other hand, civilization has collapsed and all those you ever knew and loved are dead – my heart goes out to you.

“And finally, to the people…” He paused, cleared his throat, and took a drink of water. “To the former people of Farmington. I feel truly terrible about this, and I hope that, if you are still able to comprehend such things as ‘sympathy’ and ‘sorrow,’ or even human speech, that you will accept my apologies. We only intended the virus to be used in the event of war with the Soviet Union, and in all honesty, I thought that canister was empty. I mean, really – who the hell leaves a bottle of zombie supervirus in Farmington of all places? New Britain, sure, but Farmington? Am I right?” The Senator looked around, incredulous, but all he saw were camera lenses, flashes, and the hard, hungry eyes of reporters.

“In any event,” he continued, “it has been made very clear that the misfortunes that have been visited upon my state all have one common element – me. Therefore, the only honorable thing to do at this time is to resign so that perhaps no further damage will be done. I will be leaving with my family, and we’ll be moving back to my wife’s family home in Waterford, just a few miles from the former Millstone Nuclear Power Station number one, which I have been assured is perfectly safe.

“Thank you, no questions, and god have mer-bless the people of Connecticut and the United States.”

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  1. July 20, 2011 at 10:28 PM

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