There is another America just a few dimensional hops away from ours, where no one campaigns for the highest office in the land (which, in that America, is God-Emperor). Instead, they are nominated by the electoral college, and they spend their time actively campaigning for the other God-Emperor candidates and denouncing their own views, accomplishments, and visions. During the last electoral cycle, a woman named Brenda was nominated to become the new God-Emperor; she had successfully been the governor of a the Gulf-Coast megalopolis, and was well beloved by her constituents.

“Do not vote for me,” Brenda said into a microphone during the first debate. “I would be an awful God-Emperor, because my brain is riddled with worms. I am addicted to painkillers, and I am a sexual deviant. My paltry, weak, old, diseased body would be rejected by the souls of the Founding Fathers. Vote For Andrew– he is as strong as a horse, all of his hair is real, and he is in no way beset by madness, as he claims.”

Despite her protestations, Brenda was elected to the God-Emperorship in a landslide. She immediately attempted to flee to Cuba (which in that dimension is a socialist republic without a figurehead), but was stopped at the border and forced to return to the capital, where she was kept secure under guard. While sequestered, she underwent the rituals necessary for the coronation and inauguration: memorization of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights; full-head laser hair removal; ritual botox, facial tattooing, and branding; and one-on-one interviews with all media outlets, current cabinet members, agency heads, and international world leaders.

At the God-Emperor inauguration, which took place at the end of December, Brenda was fitted with the new God-Emperor crown, a full-head mask made entirely of platinum, gold, and titanium, set with precious stones, and decorated and filigreed to the utmost degree. (It is not removable, as the locking mechanism is placed behind the right ear, inaccessible once closed. There are openings at each orifice large enough for physicians and dentists to aid with any ailment or infection.)

Brenda had been kept awake for thirty-six hours prior to the inauguration, and had been given psychotropics and amphetamines by the handful in preparation. Even through all this, she performed the torch-passing admirably. In accordance with the Constitution, she leaned over and listened to the whispers of the outgoing God-Emperor; then brought the sledgehammer down, crushing the old crown and accomplishing the Founding-Father Soul-Transfer with a single blow. She had been well-trained by the priest-senators, and was carried through by rote muscle memory. Once this was complete, she was no longer Brenda. She was only the God-Emperor.

She held the bloody sledgehammer high to massive applause.

God-Emperor is an honorable role, and a six-year term as God-Emperor is full of earthly pleasures and all-encompassing power. God-Emperors reside at the top of the Capitol Ziggurat at the center of the national capital megalopolis, surrounded by hedonistic pleasures: only the finest cuisine, prepared by the finest chefs in the world; the most beautiful and/or handsome courtesans; servants by the score to fulfill every whim and desire; and the leadership of the most powerful country on the planet.

If she wanted to meet with the governor of one of the nation’s megalopoli, she would clap and they would appear within the hour. She could speak with any head of any country on earth via videoconferencing within ten minutes. If she disagreed vehemently enough with a senator or representative, she could have him publicly flogged or beheaded; she chose to do this infrequently, and preferred tempered debate, although there were times when a display of power was necessary.

In this way, the God-Emperor was able to affect positive change, pass new legislation, and accomplish several longstanding political goals.

She took lessons to become a helicopter pilot. She personally murdered and replaced the lead singer of her favorite band, and went on a month-long world tour. She became very good at racquetball, despite the limitations in peripheral vision caused by the crown. She spent a week hiking Yosemite Valley. She worked with the World Wildlife Foundation and the National Institute of Science to clone the extinct Megatherium from soft tissue discovered in Bolivia; she created a refuge for them in South Texas, her home district, and ate the first one.

The God-Emperor never wanted for anything.

On the eve of the torch-passing, O children, the God-Emperor sat atop the Capitol Ziggurat and gazed across the megalopolis, sipping her hot mint tea (as tradition dictates). She pulled her Megatherium-fur coat tighter against the chill, and looked back over her life.

Not bad for a dumb street kid from Houston, she thought.

The next day, bound to the stone slab altar, she watched as the newly-elected God-Emperor took wobbly steps up the brick steps and slowly approached. As he bent down, she noticed the small differences in his crown– the filigree beneath the eyes was a different pattern, the cheekbones were more pronounced; a small chain dangled across the forehead, where hers was encrusted with emeralds.

With his face inches from hers, she quietly whispered the ceremonial words that had been passed along from her predecessor, and his predecessor, all the way back to America’s first God-Emperor.

She closed her eyes as he lifted the sledgehammer.

Image by the inimitable Bill Latham.

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