the last leader

Excerpt from The Last Leader (Chapter 13) by Joe Moody

The Milky Way marched toward the moon like a procession of candle bearers. Atop the Pink House, the face of the moon reflected upon the glassy surface of a koi pond. A sobbing, swooning tune radiated from a golden harp.

Emperia strummed the harp with eyes closed, creating melodies of pining and regret. She wore a silk gown inspired by the American flag, with silvery stars and red stripes draped down her leg. White flowers adorned her hair like a crown.

Deliberately, her fingers swept the strings as the despondent dirge took form. She swooped up the scale as the pace quickened, plucking with rapid-fire precision, stomping the harp’s pedals like weapons of war. At the climax, the pond’s surface rippled in cascading circles, and the koi jumped and danced. Finally, with a gentle sweep of the strings, she drifted down to the resolution where chords lingered like clouds. The pond became still again as she returned to the melancholic opening, notes evoking deep violet and blood red hues that gave the moon its howling face.

When she stopped playing, she gazed skyward, her powderwhite skin glowed under the stars. Her red lips quivered as she whispered. “My father, why did you leave me?”

Only silence answered, until the gentlemanly voice of Vincent lifted the mood. “Pardon me, Madam President.” He stood in the arched gateway of the rooftop garden in his metallic tuxedo. “I bring good news.”

The presence of her robotic confidant pierced through her inner fog like a sunbeam. “Yes, Vincent?”

“We made progress in our search for the rebels. Underwater drones tracked an unidentified submarine that made a brief stop at an island in the Caribbean Sea. There is a high probability we located our runaway vice president, and perhaps a rebel base too.”

Emperia’s gaze sharpened. All sadness left her body. Confidence bloomed in her expression. She stood up from the harp, straight as a pillar, clasping her hands. “Prepare three warships. Let’s show the world what happens to traitors.”

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