In a hall in Warsaw, a tall, wide and empty hall made of stone and glass; a hall which – at one end – sat an oaken desk with soft leather inlay, and brass knobs on the drawers; a hall which – at the other end – were two double doors, each as wide as two men, and as tall as the ceiling, where they tapered to a point: in this hall sat the King, watching a live-feed of the American News. The Americans were getting riled up again over his latest atrocities that never happened. Glenn Beck was spewing bile about the evils of the European monarch. America should never have allowed France to fall.
From his throne the King watched. He watched battles unfold through a viewer on the screen. Satellites miles above his head beeped and whirred as they bounced the feed from a glass in Britain to one a continent away. This was the end for the Independent States of Europe. America refused to help, meandering in their self-imposed exile. Could they really not expect this War, which had seen the fall of two continents over fifty decades and three kings, not to spill over the Atlantic?
The King snorted at their arrogance. Britain had seen themselves invincible as well, till it was no longer to be. The death of Churchill had been their real downfall; he who once stood fat and proud as a symbol of the pillar of freedom; who died sick and weak in his bed; who was the only strategist who could match the King’s grandfather. Britain would fall, weak, demoralized and hungry; and then they would beg for the King’s mercy. And he, being the gracious monarch, would provide.
The Kings fingers tapped across his keyboard, the merciless clack filling the hall and echoing off its stone walls. Each click reverberated back to him like the second hand of a grandfather clock, ticking away the hours until the judgement day. It took the King exactly two minutes to type in the one hundred figure Code. A practiced time.
In the middle of his screen, where Glenn Beck’s obtrusive face had before contorted and twisted into terriffic accusations of what rule under the Polish Empire was like, the Code played out in front of him, filling two lines of text. At the end of the number known only to the King, at the end of the number who’s very existence was known only to a few people within the King’s Cabinet, sat the cursor, blinking green against a black existence of nothing. If the King pressed enter, the cursor’s very existence disappeared. He pressed the button.
Another item appeared on the screen, taking the place of the cursor and lines of unintelligible text. A green box, set against the black background. The King felt like the box and the words it contained were glowering at him, accusing him. DO YOU WISH TO LAUNCH THE U.M.D. AGAINST THE PROGRAMMED TARGET? YES. NO. The King wanted to make it disappear. He pressed the button.
The King will provide.
Confession Time: I didn’t write this tonight. I have a massive headache from working on my dissertation and I don’t wanna spend much more time staring at screens. This is a story I wrote a few years ago based on a historical “What if?” scenario. Try this: Take a big event in history, and change something. “What if” something else happened? Mine was based on the original fall of the Polish Monarchy. Try your own!