Drama Fiction

President Johnathan Macmillan is a tall man that immediately says "powerful leader" as soon as you take one look at him. He is walking quickly down the White House hallway towards the Oval Office when one of the staff members caught up with him. He looked at her and said in a driving voice, "Tell me what you know, and quickly. I'm headed to address the press in five minutes."

"Mr. President, NASA has confirmed the discovery and are working out the calculations as we speak. They won't have an exact time until later today." Grace had been with the President since he was elected. She admired his fortitude and honesty. But even she was scared to deliver this information to him.

The President and the staffer stopped in the hallway. He is in disbelief of what he just heard and is wondering if addressing the press and the public right now is the correct move to make. "Get everyone together in the conference room. Those that can't make it need to call in."

"Yes, sir." Grace turns and walks quickly down the hallway in the direction they had just come from.

President Macmillan is met by his Chief of Staff, Harry Whitewater, as he enters the Oval Office. "I heard already," the President says. "I just called a meeting with everyone. I need to know if this needs to go public."

"Mr. President, I know you have an obligation to the people of this country. But do you think telling them about this is going to benefit anyone?"

"Harry, the panic that can start from this could be bigger than anything we have ever dealt with. Part of me wants to keep quiet. The other part wants to be honest. The people deserve that."

"John, let's put this into perspective. If you keep it quiet, life for millions will go on just as it does every day until the meteor hits. When it hits, we can have the survivors do the panicking and worrying. But if you tell everyone now, there will be panic from the day you finish your speech. Who knows how many people will die because of it? Not to mention the looting and the riots."

Grace interrupts the meeting. "Mr. President, everyone is gathering in the conference room now."

"Thank you, Grace." The President and Chief of Staff stand up and head to the conference room.

By the time the President got to the conference room, all of the seats were filled. Many others were standing up all around the walls. The President and the Chief of Staff sat in their designated chairs, and he began the conversation. "Thank you, everyone, for being able to be here on such short notice. As many of you know, NASA has confirmed a large meteor is on a direct path to intersect with Earth. The meteor is estimated to be the size of the state of Oklahoma. When it hits, it is more than likely going to be an event a hundred times worse than the one that wiped the dinosaurs from the face of the Earth. NASA is estimating the chance of survival to be around 1%. But within weeks, life will be completely gone because of the massive destruction it will cause. NASA is doing calculations to get an exact time of impact. But for now, it is estimated to be within three to four days."

The room explodes with chatter amongst the individuals.

"PEOPLE! Quiet! Please," the President yelled. "I called this meeting to get advice. Simply one question: Do I tell the American people?"

The room went quiet. It was as if everyone knew the President's pressure to do what was right and do it in a way that would not incite panic throughout the country, much less the world.

The President looked at his vice president, Joe Chambers, first for advice. "Joe, what would you do?" he asked.

Joe sat quietly for a moment to gather his thoughts. Then he said, "I would keep quiet. Unless there is some way we can prevent the meteor from hitting the Earth, I would not say anything to the public. All it's going to do is cause panic throughout the world."

A voice came from the other side of the room. "You can't just say nothing. You have to tell the people the truth."

That one comment started another yelling session amongst everyone in the room. The President noticed that half of the room was for telling the public while the other wanted to keep quiet.

"PEOPLE!" the President yelled out. "This is obviously not helping. I'm headed to the Oval office. I will notify you of my intentions and what I have decided to do." The President stood up from the table and walked away. Harry was close behind. "Harry," the President said. "I'm going to do this alone." He motioned for Harry to stay back, and he retired to the Oval Office.

The President sat at his desk wondering what the best choice for him would be to move forward with. His staff was of no help, half being for one way and the other half for the other. He decided the people of America would, and should, be informed. If not with all the details, they could start preparing at least with enough information.

"Grace!" the President called. "Prepare the podium. I will be addressing the country in ten minutes."

"Yes, sir, Mr. President," she responded.

Johnathan Macmillan was getting himself ready to address the people of the United States of America. He was nervous and unprepared for what he would say. There was no time to have his speechwriter create some poetic piece that could bring assurance or calm to the country. This time, the President was on his own.

He stood at the podium.

"My fellow Americans, I am here this afternoon to inform you of some information I had just received minutes ago. I stand here speaking with no teleprompters telling me what to say—no prepared speech to follow. I only have my heart and my personal beliefs that will help me say… allow me to tell you… what I believe you should be aware of.

"This morning, NASA officials were able to confirm the existence of a large meteor approximately half the size of the state of Texas. It is moving at a fast rate of speed and on a direct collision course for our planet. The exact time of impact is still being calculated and verified by NASA. Early estimates give us approximately three to four days.

"When the meteor collides with Earth, it is estimated to be an event one hundred times worse than the incident that brought an end to the dinosaurs. This means, best-case scenario, we will be one of the first to die. Suppose the impact is on the other side of Earth. In that case, it is estimated we will have less than one week before the radiation, and the fallout of the collision will reach us. The death will be slow and painful as we lose oxygen, and all plant life dies. There will be no sunlight. We will have the only food we bring to our fallout shelters. The recovery of an event this big will easily last several thousand, if not millions, of years.

"This is not science fiction. This is not Hollywood. We have no way to combat an object this size headed directly for us. There is no plan in place for such an event. I plead with you… please use this time to be with your loved ones. To be with your family and any others that you care about. Do not waste this time using it for panic or for times of anarchy and destruction. Use it as a time to love. To show compassion. To amend broken relationships. To reflect on what is good about you… about us. Use this time to be decent human beings because this is literally the only time you have left.

"Lastly, I want to thank you for giving me the privilege of being your 56th President of this great country we call the United States of America. It has been my pleasure to lead you, to serve you, and to love you.

"Thank you."

President Macmillan turned away from the podium and walked silently down the hallway. There were no reporters asking questions. No music or fanfare. It was only a single human being walking alone, knowing there was nothing more he could do.

February 06, 2021 21:08

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Palak Shah
23:35 Feb 18, 2021

I love the way you have crafted this dialogue and great use of the prompt; it was a captivating story and I enjoyed reading this story due to the presence of NASA in it. Well done !!!! Can you please read my story and share your feedback on it. It would be appreciated a lot. Thanks ~Palak


Show 0 replies
17:11 Feb 16, 2021

Scary story, yet touching and emotional!


Show 0 replies
RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.