People had issues with my characterization, what the power was, the chapter structure, and a few other things in my story. So, I've rewritten it, and hopefully it's better now!
Here it is!
Who the hell let a reporter into my office? I thought with a scowl as my door swung in, permitting a young woman. The permeating scent of stubborn determination filled the air like a bad perfume, and she strode to my desk, extending her hand while flashing a winning smile.
"Good morning, High President," she greeted cheerily, blue eyes sparkling. She had an odd clip to her voice—a familiar accent, but one I couldn't place. "I'm Laura Brown."
I considered her for a moment, then, still frowning, deigned to stand and shake her hand. "Good morning. Now I would appreciate it if you leave. I'm busy enough without rude interruptions."
"Actually, that's what I'm here to talk to you about," she said, stepping away and making herself comfortable in one of the chairs across from me and folded one black-clad leg over the other, her foot bouncing happily.
Laura's aura was confident—only the slightest amount of fear tinted it. She knew that I could have security come and toss her out if I chose. How did she get in here, though? Who didn't run this past me?
Reporters were a obstinate lot. They were the sort of people that I had a hard time dissuading from bothering me.
"What's it like to be the ruler of the world?" she asked, and I could feel smugness in her aura at the fact that I had not called for security yet.
Exhausting. And fairly boring. "Busy enough," I said, sitting back down and taking my reading glasses off, "even without a nosy reporter in my office." It wasn't the right thing to say to get her to go away—I knew that it would be harder than that. Like the time I had had to convince the congressmen to lower the age for the American Presidential office.
Laura didn't take the hint; instead, her aura grew more bold after a moment of irritation, and I finally turned my attention fully to reading her.
I'm not about to let this opportunity slip out of my hands, she was thinking as she opened her mouth to speak.
God, I'd wish she'd leave already. I have things to do. Annoyingly dry things—I was far off from eliminating the paper system of the 'old' world—but I had to do them nevertheless.
I held up a hand, stopping her before she began. "I am not interested in discussing—"
"You're bored," she interjected idly, cutting me off.
"Excuse me?" I asked, though I was more surprised than irritated.
"There's nothing else for you to do, nowhere else up the ladder to go," she told me matter-of-factly as she flicked the end of her pony tail over her shoulder.
How did she . . . ? I thought with surprise, scrutinizing her closer.
Like a shark sensing blood, she pursued, the scent of triumph tainting the air. "Rising to power was like a game to you. Each step higher was just another piece to take out."
Though they had to be guesses, her guesses sounded confident. Very confident.
My ascent to power was public record. It had taken a lot of political maneuvering, greasing of hands, and countless debates. Fortunately, I had always had money and some power in the political world—my parents had had connections, even back then—and it hadn't taken long for me to shoot up the ladder.
As confident as me, I realized, remembering how I had climbed up the social ladder. Could it be possible . . . ?
"What makes you say that?" I questioned while leaning back in my seat.
Giving the same, perfect-teeth smile, she continued as the scent of triumph and smugness growing stronger. "As soon as you turned eighteen, you ran for mayor of Seattle. Against the odds, you won. Then you made state governor. Next thing everyone knows, you're the king of the world a short ten years later."
A year had passed since then, and I was having some troubles wrangling down rebel groups from several of the more mulish countries who refused to accept a once-American as their leader.
Wait, I thought with surprise as I realized something. She had gotten me to ask her a question. Blazes. I didn't respond to her prodding—she hadn't asked a question, after all—instead frowning deeper and starting to pick apart her aura. This was a foe worthy of my full attention.
You don't know me. The message came through brightly, and shock grew through me as she gave me a sly smile. I wonder how you came to power without the aid of something greater?
Inconceivable, I thought, baffled by the thought that there was another like me. There had never been another who could match what I could do.
"Do you consider yourself a good man?" she asked—another question that caught me off guard.
Dammit. I had to stop letting her do that.
I was hesitant to answer the question, which would give me away if she really was like me. Indeed, I could feel her aura shifting, although she waited for me to respond this time. "No," I finally said, shifting a paper on my desk. "I don't. When was the last time you elected a good man, though?"
"We didn't elect you," she informed me, and I gave a small nod. This was true. Democracy was a step I had skipped when I started taking over the other countries. "What do you consider yourself?"
It was a question I had asked myself for a long time. Though I had never thought myself a good man, I had done great things since I took over. I had ended world hunger. I was on the way to achieving world peace. I had allowed new technologies to come forth that had been repressed—a water-powered car, for one.
In those aspects, I was a hero to many. But the lengths I had gone to achieve to achieve power, and the reasons, were not heroic by any means. Using the ability to sense wants and hear thoughts to emotionally—and otherwise—manipulate people had never been the trademark of a hero. I bent
"A villain, perhaps," I said. I had, after all, abused an extraordinary gift given to me to attain a position unlike any other. Then I cursed myself again. She was a bloody reporter. Whatever I said today might be in tomorrow's news.
But . . . the allure of someone who was like me at all was strong.
"And why is that?" she questioned further, leaning forward.
After a long moment, I said, "Because there was no one to stop me."
She smiled broader, and I could hear from her aura a distinct message:
"I believe that will be all," she said, standing.
I stood with her, extending a hand while smiling at the challenge—something new and foreign, but welcome. "Well met, Laura Brown."