My entire body was trembling. I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck rising to confirm what I already knew: Everything had gone terribly wrong.
I had everything I thought I wanted and yet I’d never felt so scared in my entire life.
“We don’t guarantee isonomy for a reason, my son.” McBride gave a wicked grin. “It gives people the false sense that they actually control the direction of their lives.”
The toothy grin dissolved into a malevolent look.
“People control nothing, nor do they want to,” he continued. “They want to be led–with lies, if necessary.”
His smile returned.
My face must’ve spoken what I couldn’t get past my lips.
“What’s wrong, my son?”
I tried to still the inner churning, and find a response that wouldn’t reveal my panic.
“Sir,” I fumbled.
Words like “wrong” and “illegal” wouldn’t suffice. Terms such as “barbaric” and “totalitarian” wouldn’t be tolerated.
“What you’re proposing would bring unnecessary challenges to our nation at best and could possibly cause war.”
I tried to sound level headed, grounded.
He sipped his coffee as he feigned consideration for my words.
“Garreth I understand you’re concerned,” he paused as if trying to choose the right words that would help me understand, as if he were concerned for me.
Like an illusionist, McBride was a master at the ploys of false humility that distracted and built trust.
“It would be unwise for you not to question my reasoning and methods, but…” he paused again, placing his coffee on the table between us. His smile returned, the reassuring, paternal one this time. “But I know you, my son, and you’re a professional, fully capable of laying aside personal misgiving for the betterment of society.”
I bit my tongue. His proposals would tear apart our society, not make it better. I scrambled for words, the tools of my trade.
McBride folded his hands across his lap, a smirk on his face. His body language spoke volumes. He didn’t have to say anything; he had “check mate” written all over him.
“And I’m sure you’ll be able to translate that message for me very quickly. Everyone needs to understand how I’m doing the best thing for them, this nation, and their children. You can do that my son.”
A knock interrupted us.
“Come in,” McBride called without taking his eyes off mine.
The sound of high heels resounded against the oak floor. Lisa, the lone female staffer, had entered the office.
“Chancellor McBride, the press conference will be starting momentarily,” she said.
“Thank you, Lisa,” he said, smiling. “Garreth and I were just finishing up here, so you’re timing is perfect as usual, my dear. You are such an asset to this team and country.”
He rose and headed toward the door.
“Garreth I’ll need that speech rather quickly,” he said, without looking back, “and add a few light jokes in there, the people love that.”