Skip to main content

Air Brushed

 "The United Peoples Headquarters, formerly known as the Grand Imperial Palace by its previous owners, was at the center of a dense urban maze sprawled out from the ancient citadel. The centuries-old walls and turret towers were occupied by guards equipped with modern submachine guns. The archway and iron gate were replaced by a steel one that slid on an electric rail. 

In the south-facing wing of the palace was a former servants' kitchen that had been converted into a photo lab and office for the Supreme Executive's official photographer, Doctor Krutzov. Krutzov had been in the Supreme Executive's service long before the great leader had even thought the title up. 

Krutzov had been in that photo lab for nearly 22 years. He had followed the godfathers of the national revolution into the temple of power. They fortified their position taking care not to repeat the mistakes of the regime they overthrew. 

Krutzov had passed into old age inside the walls of the headquarters. The hair on the back of his head had stubbornly stuck in his scalp, but the rest had fallen away. His skin had wrinkled, and his always small eyes seemed to be shrinking as the frames of his glasses grew.

Krutzov was having a busy week with the Supreme Executive's latest damnatio memoria. 

Krutzov's position put him at the head of this effort. Statues aren't smashed in the modern version of this mode of personal eradication; instead, photographs are gently altered.

People were erased every day, but most would be forgotten as quickly as their families could be killed. A select few faces, though, required Kurtzov's direction if they were to be erased from public sight and the national memory.

Sometimes a recent persona non grata was very well known. Sometimes the non-entity in question was a person the Supreme Executive had known for years and had been photographed with on numerous occasions over the years.

Kruzev spent the last three weeks tirelessly combing the national archives for every photo of the Supreme Executive with the offender. They were to be airbrushed out and never mentioned again.

Kruzev had already produced several photos of the Supreme Executive shaking hands with the air, looking thoughtfully at a wall, and standing at an awkward distance from other people. The final portrait was a group photo of the Supreme Executive at the center of his old entourage. Well, that's what it had been a picture of. Time had reduced the 7 ministers in the photo to just three people placed seeming at random. 

Kruzev thought about his own dwindling circle of confidants. Though most of them had been done in by old age and illness. He supposed it was just the same that even the greatest men ultimately leave this world alone.

Kruzev's contemplation was interrupted by a knock at the door. He set the photo down.

"Come in!" he called.

Two giant guards entered the room and flanked the door. The one on the right stepped forward.

"It is my duty and an extreme pleasure to announce the presence of the Supreme Executive! First in the party, Grand marshall of the nation, and -

"That will be enough. He's heard all of this before."

The Supreme Executive shuffled through the door. He was never as large as the official portraits were meant to lead people to believe, but he seemed to be shrinking in his old age. He had stooped shoulders, a slight humpback, beady black eyes, and a thick plume of coarse snow-white hair. He looked more like a kindly old grandfather than a revolutionary warlord. He was dressed in a simple tunic adorned with shimmering party orders and military medals.

Kruzev stood up as quickly as his old bones would allow and saluted.

The Supreme Executive smiled. "As you were."

"To what do I owe the honor of your presence?" Kruzev asked.

"I just wanted to check on the project of your recent special project."

"I've just finished, your excellency. Have a look."

The Supreme Executive took out a pair of glasses from his breast pocket. 

"Don't tell anyone you saw me using these, or it's your head." He said to Kruzev with a smile

Kruzev chuckled. The Supreme Executive had taken to joking around more in his old age. Kruzev supposed it was because he was confident he'd outlasted all his enemies.

The Supreme Executive examined the pictures. "Very good," he muttered. Finally, he came to the last photo, the group photo. The great leader held the picture up and studied it for a moment.

"Didn't there used to be a few more people in this photograph?"

Kruzev thought hard about his answer. "No, sir, I don't believe so."


Popular posts from this blog

On the Eve of Extinction

The river was like a massive indigo snake coiling in the shadow of the canyons its eternal flow cut out of the very earth. Somewhere along the watery corridor, settled human life grew out of the muddy banks. The tribe sustained itself on the arterial river, steadily expanding and contracting with the rhythm of its flow like a beating heart. As far as anyone in the tribe knew no other arrangement had ever existed. The river had birthed them, molding sand and clay into flesh, and infusing the husks with its life-giving waters. Life under the desert’s smooth turquoise sky seemed safely stagnant. There was no inkling, no deciphered omens, absolutely no hunch of the approaching cataclysm lurking just out of sight obscured by the landscape’s jagged ridges. Not far from the isolated patchwork of green and brown earth settled by this tribe, the scion of ancient god well into his twilight years was on the cusp of fulfilling his divine purpose. Harmakar was sitting in the dust staring into t

Science and Semantics

Leonard Malcon Warner was one of the God’s that reigned over the modern industry of information. The dimensions of his wealth were such that if any of it shifted in any direction, it made ripples in the economies of entire nations. His investment decisions could irreparably alter the lives of the millions unaware their personal destinies were so bound by the whims of wealth. Aging happens gradually then suddenly all at once! Before he knew it, Leonard was leaving the middle years of his life behind. He repeated every futile attempt to reclaim his youth. The cosmetics, the surgeries, and the models were all expressions of the same tragic realization, Leonard was getting old. LMW hadn't become one of the wealthiest men by accepting any sentence handed down from fate, even if it was what natural law demanded. Warner had a panoramic view of the world, and he understood what moved it. People like him. Reality need never be an impediment to human will. Science is the most effective t

The end is nigh!

The air raid sirens wail, but the tv says everything is fine. No one may be left to tell the entire story of how it all went down, but fragments of armageddon are here. A benefit concert is held at Soldier Field in Chicago as refugees surge against the city's blast walls as the starts debate about handing out guns or birth control. On the west coast, a sustainable city must covert its solar-powered food delivery drones into flying bombs. In DC, the company that developed an AI that launched a military coup via Twitter wants the Pentagon to pay up before fleeing the country. These stories and more about what you might expect when the clock strikes midnight...  Click here to get the Kindle edition!