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Power by Devon Pitlor

I. Doing what needed to be done.

Mackenzie Moreland glanced with retching disgust at
her severed forearm and which lay in a pool of now
drying blood strung across a sheaf of ruined papers
which were to be her apology to the world. She had
applied her own tourniquet to the rest of her arm using
some strong brown twine and baling wire found behind
the cabin, and the bleeding had stopped. Her stump
was, however, beginning to emit a rather sharp odor,
and Mackenzie knew she had to act fast. The beast
would attack again, and with its razor sharp claws and
crushing mandibles could lop off any part of her body
that was exposed. A mere scrape by its probing
antennae was like the skin-ripping lash of barbed wire.
Her only weapon was a broom handle which she had
managed to sharpen into a spear before the last attack.
She had neither a telephone nor a gun at her cabin
retreat---only her laptop and printer and her
overwrought brain boiling with the massive apologies
that she needed to write as a public catharsis for her
profound remorse and bottomless embarrassment.
The insect, now large as a big puppy, could move at an
alarming rate of speed. Its armored exoskeleton
deflected most of the jabs Mackenzie had issued upon
the first attack, but her spear had found a crevasse in
the huge bug's thorax and inflicted a wound which
temporarily caused it to retreat into a crack in the wall.
It was getting larger by the minute but also had been
draining a kind of creamy bluish ichor, which
Mackenzie thought to be its blood. It was, she knew, an
ordinary cockroach grown to ghastly proportions
because of ... because of... Well, she didn't exactly know.
Mackenzie had lost a lot of blood on the first attack and
wasn't thinking clearly. Her mind had been totally
frazzled before dodging the press and escaping to her
retreat in the first place. Her doctor had prescribed a
strong tranquilizer, big pills, and after the first night
Mackenzie spent in hiding, she was sure that she had
seen one of the large two inch long cockroaches
munching on some tablets spilled inadvertently from
the open bottle. Perhaps the trank, Clonazepam, had
caused the insect to grow. Perhaps not.
Mackenzie, her arm numb with pain, knew she was
fighting now for her life. Before the roach, it had been a
desperate struggle for her political life. Now it was her
very life itself. She needed medical help urgently, but to
even venture beyond the cabin and work her way down
the hillside to the dirt road, she would have to get past
the cockroach, something the huge bug did not want her
to do. With iridescent compound eyes rolling around in
its huge head sockets, the thing watched her every
move. It was bleeding, as she had been, so the scales had
been perhaps set even, but each time it crawled out
from the wall crevasse, it appeared to be bleeding less.
Mackenzie gripped her sharpened broom handle,
crouched behind an overturned table and waited. From
somewhere deep within her, a strong survival instinct
had emerged. The instinct had surprised her at first, but
now she clung to it as her only hope. The dry, armored
carapace of the huge roach scraped across the floor,
gathering the strength to lunge at her again. Clotted
with her own dry blood, Mackenzie waited. She
trembled in fear but steadied herself nonetheless. Rest
was out of the question, and she was getting delirious.
The insect would neither sleep nor retreat. Mackenzie
knew these things. It would either chop her apart, or
she would manage to gore it again. Woman against
insect. Nothing more. Nothing less.

II. Mackenzie's cabin retreat. First day.

Mackenzie Moreland, governor of West Dakota and
principal leader of Americans for Moral Choices, after
having made a particularly bad moral choice, had spent
a restless night in her family's deserted cabin buried far
enough in the foothill woods to escape the prying eyes of
the press. She had passed the day wrestling with her
laptop and composing a series of broad apologies for
her conduct with Daniel Langram, captain of his
college's swim team, a twenty-one year old boy who
looked particularly buff in his Speedo trunks.
Mackenzie had first been attracted to his "outstanding
buns" as she called them, and had just wantonly
proceeded from that point on. Following her
commencement speech at Daniel's college, Mackenzie,
despite her status as state governor, had just
spontaneously decided to go forward with whatever was
driving her hormones at age 39. She needed a respite
from her hectic political agenda, and, besides, the boy
was willing. All boys at that age are, Mackenzie knew.
She also knew that her affair had offended the Jesus of
her youth and the electorate of the state and the
membership of Americans for Moral Choices, for which
she had campaigned long and hard against adultery in
all of its offending forms. But Daniel had just been too
alluring. His boyish magnetism had caught the frazzled
Mackenzie off guard, and something fresh and vital had
arisen within her. But that had all ended last week when
the snooping press got word of the ongoing affair. There
were pictures, secret pictures, taken with clandestine
cell phones and recordings of their email conversations
and even tapes of their nefarious meetings, many of
which were on state property.
Then there had been Justin's reaction. The "first man"
of West Dakota, as the press had nicked him. He had
managed Mackenzie's successful runs for first the state
senate and then the governorship. He had also managed
to serve as a house husband and take care of their three
children, now ranging in age from 4 to 11--- clean and
pretty children, the offspring of a happy and decent
couple...or at least until the previous week and its
revelations. Then he had openly renounced her. He
moved the children out of the governor's mansion and
back to Broadside immediately and issued his own press
releases almost hourly about his shock and dismay. In
Mackenzie's political peril, her own husband had
become her worst enemy.
When Mackenzie first disappeared from the state
house, aides explained that she was at a sulfur bath
retreat and did not wish to be disturbed until Monday
when she would issue a full account of her trespasses.
Her family's cabin was uncharted by the media and
seemed like a good place to compose her apology. She
had begun writing: "I face you today, bravely I hope, a
changed woman. I am filled with regret and sorrow for
the anguish I have caused. I have given pain to those
who trusted me, and I now come before you, hiding
nothing and asking for your understanding if not your
The words seemed hokey and plastic. Mackenzie
watched the late afternoon sun fall through the humid
atmosphere and took another Clonazepam which she
washed down with a mouthful of vodka. The vodka
bottle was gradually emptying itself as she wrote on her
laptop. It was good to give the Clonazepam something
to swim in. A warm sensation of primal innocence
washed over her body, erasing some of the tenseness.
Another Clonezepam couldn't do any harm. Another
glass of vodka. Finally typing became useless. Her
concluding sentence made no sense: "I took the boy for
what he was, a beautiful symbol of my downfall and my
latelife lust, and I would untie it if I could find the knot
but now I know I cannot and must not and will not...untie
the knot." What was this? Some kind of drunken
poetry? She printed this last revision and threw it on
the table in disgust. Another few swigs of vodka and she
was asleep on the sofa. She slept fitfully in the light of a
kerosene lamp and finally awakened in a stupor to see
the room overrun with big roaches. Some were eating
the pills she had spilled on the sink. Others were
running up and down the walls. It was that way every
summer, she remembered. All you needed to do was
spray. Fumbling in the utility cabinet, she found the
spray and used it. Roaches immediately began flipping
over and dying all over the place. Mackenzie still had
the presence of mind to not spray over her pills. She
noticed that at least two of them had been nibbled down
to mere powder, perhaps more. She had not counted
the pills beforehand. She put the spilled tablets back in
the bottle. Then she slept again.

III. The monster cockroach appears.

Mackenzie had a huge hangover when the first brazen
bars of the morning sun broke into the tiny cabin and
illuminated the linoleum floor. Perhaps fifty dead
roaches needed to be swept up. As she dumped the
dustpan onto the grass in front of the entrance, she
heard the scraping and scuffling of something inside the
cabin behind her. There on the side of the sink where
she had spilled the pills was the largest cockroach she
had ever seen. It was about the size of a kitten. Later
she would compare it to a large puppy, and finally, as
she continued to see it during the morning, it became a
small dog in size. The insect was growing fast.
Mackenzie steeled herself and grabbed the can of bug
spray. She sat down and waited at the table, flipping
through some of the apologetic garbage she had
composed the night before. None of it made any sense
to her. She grabbed a felt marker and wrote on the
bottom of a sheet of paper "I resign." That would be
her announcement to the press. That was all they
needed. As for Justin, she could look at him through the
cameras and just say "I'm sorry." What more was
needed? Lots of women desired the company of taut,
muscular boys, and Daniel was over eighteen, so there
would be no legal repercussions. He was just a little gift
she had given herself for all of her hard campaign work.
As for her group, Americans for Moral Choices, fuck
them and their hypocritical rectitude. Absolute marital
fidelity was for the lesser breed. She had always known
that. As a girl, growing up tough and strong in the West
Dakota woods, she had always forged her own rules and
dictated her own laws. How had she allowed herself to
become so involved with a bunch of clucking evangelists
in the first place? Adults were free to fuck whoever
they wanted, and she had wanted the boy. After all, it
had been Mackenzie who had first spotted Justin on a
football field many years before and decided that he
would make the perfect foil for what she then was
planning as a cutting edge law firm. He did too. That
choice, that conquest had been perfect. Justin had
advanced her career. Men, especially handsome and
likeable men like Justin, were there to be used. She was
the real star, but she needed some kind of family picture home...a dog or two. Then politics. Her
father had sat in the West Dakota statehouse for twenty
years catering to whims of venal wheat farmers and
carping Christian "pioneers." Her father knew where
the switches of power were turned on and off, and he
passed both a good name and the inside secrets of
influence to her. She hadn't even bothered to append
Justin's last name to her own. Many strong women
retained their maiden names after marriage. The
Moreland name meant West Dakota. And when she
became West Dakota---the youngest governor in the
state's history---it went with her cleanly and bereft of
any unnecessary hyphen. Hers was a new morality.
The morality of the New Age. And Daniel, well, he was
trim, smooth and cute. A piece of appealing eye candy.
She had given him some experience. She had attached
her own aura of potency to his unknown name. Here
now was this buff college junior who had slept with the
governor, and that would make him passingly famous.
The rest would be up to him. With his outstanding
looks and trim body, Daniel would go far, and a quick
liaison with the state governor was far from a curse.
Then the beast appeared again. She heard the crash of
a vase full of dead flower stems on the tile floor behind
her, turned around and looked into its horrid visage.
Inches from her face, it waved its huge antennae. Its six
jointed legs, studded with sharp spurs, flagellated
before her. A million quivering hairs rose up from its
carapace. Its vertical mandibles opened and shut like
mechanical vice clamps. Its vestigial wings quivered.
The entire body of the insect was covered with dust,
cobwebs and mats of dry debris that it had picked up
crawling behind the walls. It may have weighed now
close to sixty pounds. It was hard to tell. Its enormous
abdomen dragged slowly across the linoleum as it eyed
her. She grabbed the empty glass she had filled so often
with vodka the previous night and flung it at the vile
insect's moving mouthparts. Surprisingly, the thing
spun around immediately and scuttled back into a large
crack in the cabin wall, a crack which Mackenzie did
not even know was there, something her father had
neglected to repair, as he only used the place as a
hunting cabin.
Mackenzie grabbed her laptop and purse from the side
of the couch and ran down the crest of the hill to her
parked car on the road beneath. She fumbled for her
keys and realized with shock that she had left them on
the table with the discarded drafts of her now forgotten
apology. She would have to return to the cabin.

IV. The psychology of power

Mackenzie Moreland, governor, lived and breathed
power. Her entire staff was continually in awe of her
lightning decisions and firm stances on issues that
others had only lightly skirted around. She was power,
but even power had its limitations. She leaned for a
minute against her BMW and looked up the hill toward
the cabin. Could she actually go back up there with an
seventy pound roach lurking about? Habitually
undaunted, she told herself yes, but her legs remained
frozen in place. Then a familiar sense of omnipotence
rose up in her. Yes, she would go back up. She could
retrieve her keys and handle matters alone. To seek help
from someone in the area would only add to her
political woes.
And then, suddenly without prologue, a man with a
shotgun appeared walking down the dirt road. A rustic
guy hunting out of season, Mackenzie knew. She could
ask him for help. After all, he did have a gun.
But Mackenzie knew two other things. First, the man
may indeed recognize her as his state governor and as
the lascivious adulteress who had garnished the media
for the last several days. But secondly and more
importantly, if she asked for help, it would invalidate
the confidence she held in her own superiority. She was
no weakling---her political career proved that. She had
grown up on a farm close to these woods. She did not
need anyone to assist her with a big bug. There was a
hatchet in the cabin too, she remembered. And a long
handled broom. She immediately envisioned herself
sharpening the broom handle to make a spear---
something she later did, but in far more desperation
than she imagined standing then by her car. No, she
would not ask for help. Superiors rose above the
common flock and fended for themselves. Soon she
would be back in the capital facing finely barbed
questions, and that would be far more challenging than
any big cockroach. A higher breed of person needed to
act like a higher breed of person. As towering paragon
of strength, she would soon face the vipers of the press
and proclaim the ascendancy of her birthright, and it
was this strength, and this strength alone, that
permitted her to dabble with pretty boys like Daniel. It
was this strength that exonerated her from all possible
guilt because the strong make their own rules, and one
of these rules was that asking an old farmer for help
with a bug on a lonely road in the middle of the woods
was the very essence of craven weakness.
She turned her head away from the road and
unfastened her long hair letting it fall over her temples
and sides of her face. She had never appeared that way
in public, so the man probably would not recognize her,
and he didn't. He mumbled "Mornin'" and passed
right on by. People minded their own business in this
part of the state. When the man had shuffled on far
enough to vanish from sight, Mackenzie began walking
back up the hill.

V. The battle begins

The cockroach had grown to the size of small dog and
was directly in front of the cabin door ripping apart a
spotted fawn with its crushing mandibles and labial
tensors. Half of the fawn was strewn across the wooden
porch as the beast gorged itself on the unfortunate
animal's digestive track by tearing out its intestines in
one long, sickly white string. Mackenzie froze upon
first sight of the carnage and noted that the insect's
claws were as sharp as butcher knives. It knew how to
slash with them too and made fast work of the outer
skin of the fawn. Mackenzie realized that the bug could
move with astonishing speed. All of her life she had
killed the same species of large roach in its normal size
which was about two inches long. Roaches were fast
moving, and Mackenzie realized that she would not be
able to outrun it should it decide suddenly to abandon
the fawn and come after her. It could climb anything it
wanted too, so skirting up a tree was not an option. If
only she had borrowed the passer-by's shotgun. From
the distance she now stood, she could have made quick
work of the beast.
But luck would have it that the roach had caught the
fawn first, and all of its attention was directed toward
the haphazardly disassembled carcass. The stuffing and
swallowing of fawn innards was making the insect
slower and less abrupt in trolling its multi-lensed eyes in
her direction to the point where she felt reasonably sure
that the creature was becoming satiated. All of her life
she had seen its lesser brethren gorge themselves on
stinking piles of offal and then turn over, expose the
softer belly parts of their exoskeletons and languidly
oscillate their six multijointed legs in the air. Though
huge, the anomaly differed very little from his regular
kindred in this gorging pattern, and after a few raspy
chews of bone and sinew mixed with intestinal mash, it
lurched to its side and seemed to fall into a kind of semi-
stupor. That, remembered Mackenzie, had been the
best time to step on them, and it would be the best time
to kill this one. Mustering up her family name and her
sense of superior physical and political potency, she
darted past the monster and into the still unlocked
On the table in front of her were the draft copies of her
apology for the party and the press. She snatched only
one of them from the pile, the one marked "I resign." A
funny thought was coming into her head about her
plans regarding that just now, something that welled up
from the core of her forceful personality. Her bravery
was going unchallenged by the bloated roach, and now a
strong sense of even heightened superiority was filling
her mind. It was something like "Fuck it. I probably
won't resign now." No, indeed there would be no reason
to resign.
But the cockroach had her trapped in a cabin designed
for the colder season and all the windows were still
nailed shut. She had made a mental note to un-nail
them the day before, but Clonazepam and vodka had
forestalled that plan, along with the compulsion to wash
clean her adulterous adventure in contrite and abject
language designed to appease the press and her
statehouse colleagues. For a few minutes, resignation
seemed supremely stupid. She was strong enough to
battle a cockroach as big as a wooly lamb, so what was a
little tryst with a beautiful boy? No, she didn't need to
resign her governor's post any more. She had
challenged an atomic cockroach and was winning. That
was the stuff of champions, and champions didn't resign
over trivialities like a few hours of reckless lust with the
sculpted captain of a college swim team.
Just as these thoughts were coursing through her mind,
she heard the distinct rustle of the bony insect beyond
the door. It was waking up. A moment of panic seized
her and she slammed the door and wedged it with a
wooden chair. Locating her car keys, she thrust them
into her jeans' pocket and looked for the hatchet, a kind
of family heirloom which had reputedly belonged to her
grandfather and with which he had reputedly once
killed a drunken Indian. Stories like that had always
circulated in Mackenzie's family. They had come from
tough pioneer stock and were at the very apex of the
superior when it came to taming the empty expanses of
the West. With the hatchet she quickly sharpened the
oak handle of her grandmother's huge straw broom,
another family heirloom. She lopped the broom end off
in one blow and, finding a nail and a small shingle
board, attached the latter to the bottom of the spear. In
her childhood, she had read the adventures of King
Alfred's Anglo-Saxon knights holding off the lunging
attacks of the Danes simply by standing on the foot of
their spears and allowing the Danes to thrust themselves
into their outstretched blades. That was how she
planned to deal with the insect if it came at her again.
Like a brave Saxon knight, she would stand fast and
allow the bug to impale itself onto her spear by its own
force. A very neat plan and worthy of the potent
warrior which she was.
But the drama, spun in the heat of a northern inland
summer day, unrolled otherwise. With the table
overturned, Mackenzie stood stoically behind it, spear
in hand, foot on base, waiting for a strike as soon as the
thing would break through the cabin door. But instead
it came in from a crevasse where rafter met roof,
knocking a few rotten boards aside as it dropped in
seemingly weightless insect-style to the linoleum floor,
upon which its claws scraped with a deadly
malevolence. It edged around to her flank and attacked
immediately in an unexpected swipe to her unprotected
left side. Swinging its frighteningly jointed front leg like
a scimitar, it immediately sliced away her left lower
forearm and hand in one shocking thrust. Her hand
and lower arm fell to the table and onto the pile of
printed sheets with a thud that reached her ear long
before the stun of the blow or the resultant pain reached
her brain. She stared at her bleeding stump in awe.
She gaped at her severed parts now lying near the edge
of the table. These parts had once been attached to her,
and they would never be again. It took a few seconds to
digest this fact. But Mackenzie recovered and darted at
the gloating creature with the sharpened broom handle.
Her blows, though mighty and forceful, only glanced
impudently off the tough chitin of the animal's
carapace. Jabbing and jabbing, she found softer parts
under the tough shell and gored the beast, pushing the
broom handle at least two feet into its shell. The thing
writhed and recoiled, spurting liquid from its wound.
Some of the caustic ichor splashed up to Mackenzie's
face and eyes and burned like acid. But the beast
retreated into a narrow crack in the log wall.
Realizing her loss of blood, Mackenzie ran from the
cabin door and to the shed, found some heavy baling
twine, and using her mouth and right hand, spun a tight
tourniquet around the gushing stump. She found some
malleable wire used for fencing and reinforced the
tourniquet to a point where her dark blood ceased to
spurt. Then she poured the entire contents of her last
bottle of vodka over the fearsome wound, wincing in
inexpressible pain, biting down hard on the shaft of her
broom handle spear. As she rounded the cabin to regain
the path downward, the insect waited for her about two
meters down the path with glaring eyes and grinding
mandibles. She had no choice but to go back inside and
position herself behind the overturned table, holding
her makeshift spear at a forty-five degree angle, "Saxon
style," she told herself in a lightheaded daze. The insect
scuttled at once to the front of the table and gyrated on
its six legs and probed with its huge antennae. One of
the latter chanced to whip over Mackenzie's forehead
ripping the skin from its path as would a lash of razor
wire. More blood. And this time it was in her face and
clouding her vision. But, mustering her superiority, she
held fast to the spear and crouched behind the table. It
would be her or the cockroach, and it damn sure wasn't
going to be her. Not this time. Not ever.

The bleeding roach moved slower now, but it had a

calculating manner. It sidled along the table top and
managed to project one of its six claws around the side.
The first feint missed Mackenzie, but another one
immediately followed and scraped across the top front
of her Adidas running shoe, slicing neatly through the
sneaker material and cutting off the top joint of the
three lesser toes of her left foot. The toes flew across the
room like little pink ingots and landed on the floor
behind the insect. More blood gushed. Mackenzie
thought there was no time to bind this wound, and she
would just have to die from the blood loss. Noticing the
family heirloom hatchet on the floor, she momentarily
dropped the spear and seized it with her good hand. In
a last act of futile desperation, she flung it Indian style
directly into the insects writhing mandibles, and it
stuck. The hatchet had split the beast's mouth in half
and lodged itself into its oral cavity. In vain, the roach
attempted to extricate the hatchet from the hole
between its ever-grinding mandibles. When it retreated
slightly, Mackenzie rushed at it again with the spear
and found a soft, fatty part near the underjoint of the
armor where its flat abdomen met its thorax and jabbed
wildly in a blind frenzy of truly supernatural strength.
The insect squirted out blacker blood and clots of wet
fat from its torn underside. Backing up, it left a
pungent trail of innards and briskets of stored fat on the
cabin floor. It eyed her with the sort of mute
malevolence that only an insect can inspire and was
preparing to catapult itself forward again. It
brandished all six of its claws and advanced. But the
advance was slowed by its draining carapace and the
vital organs which now trailed behind it. Mackenzie,
wracked with pain in both foot and arm, willed herself
to take the lead again and came forward with the spear
lodging it deeply under the beast's wagging head,
cracking through the tough layers of jet into the beast's
cranial core. Mackenzie swore in the worst language
she knew, foul words, delirious words, words which she
had taught her children not to use. Maybe it was these
epithets which did it, but the insect stirred no more. It
stopped oscillating and quivering and remained
immobile and ostensibly very dead.

VI. Mackenzie's triumph

Dizzy, clotted with blood and stumbling, Mackenzie
realized at length that she had destroyed the anomaly.
She looked at the crude tourniquet on her arm and then
at her still bleeding foot, to which she attached another
wooden shingle with baling wire and twine. She
chucked her spear into a corner and looked around the
"I won," she announced loudly to no one in particular.
"I won."
Winning had not surprised her. She had been used to
winning before. In ghastly pain and caked with blood
and god knows what else, she descended the pathway to
her car and found an old family friend, Doctor Adkins,
who asked no questions and patched her up as best he
could. Adkins sent her under cover to the state hospital
in Maltville, and they finished his crude work. When
she emerged several days later, she had a turquoise tube
over her left arm and some temporary prosthetic toes.
She was driven by someone who didn't speak English to
the capital and regained her office sometime in the
middle of the night. She told her security personnel to
be quiet, and they did. She read reams of newsprint
about herself, endless speculations about where she
might have been, what she was doing and who she was
with. One article opined that she had escaped her
shame and gone to South America. Another claimed
that she had committed suicide as the "natural" thing
to do in her pitiable circumstance. Daniel Langram was
interviewed in still another article and claimed that
their affair had been purely platonic, which of course it
wasn't, but it was a convenient cop-out for the boy. In a
glossy photo-op press release, Justin proclaimed to the
whole world that he would never countenance his wife
again and that he and the boys were going into reclusion
for a time "to regain our sanity." The state Republican
Party leader was quoted as saying that Mackenzie
would surely resign given the hurt and shame she had
caused. The wolf pack press augmented this sentiment
and called for her head on a platter. Americans for
Moral Choices disavowed any connection with the
governor. "She was just a mouthpiece," admitted one
of their number. "We still stand for what is right and
decent. We can do without an unabashed and
unrepentant sinner." The lieutenant governor, Mr. Cal
Owensby, was apparently preparing to take over the
state leadership within hours. Citizen protest
abounded. Mackenzie Moreland, scion of a long
political tradition in West Dakota, was not longer
qualified to.....and so on.

VII. Conclusion
On August 12th, Mackenzie Moreland, governor of
West Dakota, emerged before a restless and milling
pack of press conference attendees. Her news, what
they had of it, had been spread across the world. Her
resignation was at hand. That had already been
prognosticated by the media, by Americans for Moral
Choice and by the Republican Party. All that mattered
now was how she framed it. Justin did not stand by her
side, nor were any of her children there. Late summer
rain fell in sheets, and a sea of umbrellas blossomed
before the state podium. Some earlier supporters
carried handwritten signs reading "Betrayal." Others
had banners, dampened by the rain, that read
"Hypocrite" and "Adulteress."

Mackenzie walked out waving her left arm stump

encased in its bright turquoise tube. Her left foot was
wrapped in a white plaster cast signed by no one. A
hush fell over the crowd. The youngest governor in the
state's history was about to resign in shame, and that
would be world news. The commentaries had already
begun. Cal Owensby sat nervously in a folding chair
under two umbrellas held by aides, patiently waiting his
turn to take the reigns of office.
"I was attacked last week by a cougar," Mackenzie
began with a steely-eyed confidence that galvanized the
attention of the crowd. "The cougar lost and I won."
She cleared her throat and said that Reform Bill 780B
was the most sweeping piece of legislation that she had
ever proposed and that next week she would be going on
tour statewide to promote it. "I also am putting rapid
cross-state rail service on my agenda as a priority," she
said. The rain paused, and a confused murmur rippled
across the crowd. Many eyed one another in wonder;
others gaped in shock. Mackenzie continued on about
high speed rail until an eager reporter for the West
Dakota Times interrupted her by asking about her
extra-marital affair with Daniel, her disappearance, and
her subsequent plans to leave politics.

Mackenzie became pensive for a moment and said "I

was mauled by a cougar last week. That doesn't mean
much to anyone but me, but I have no plans for
resignation, nor should I, and as for my dalliance with
the boy, well, who doesn't do that from time to time? I
hope Justin forgives me because I have long ago
forgiven myself. We have a lot of stress in these jobs.
But we persevere. What more can I add?"

Her final words to the press corps were "That is all."

And in the end, she was deemed the strongest governor
the state had ever known and, not at all miraculously,
she was handily reelected for a second and then a third
term. She never failed to discharge all of her duties
with unparalleled vigor.

Devon Pitlor June, 2009

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