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Sic Semper Tyrannis
I turned over in my bed, wanting to get out of this dream.
Sic Semper Tyrannis...
In my sleep, I stopped moving, simply terrorized by the impending horror that inevitably comes in all nightmares.
Sic Semper Tyrannis...
I was horrified, ready to bolt upright and escape whatever hell my mind was about to cook up. I opened my mouth to scream, and...
The laughter of comedy! This wasn't any bad dream! I was spared! I took a step backwards to get a better look at my surroundings. I did not know there was a wall behind me and lightly hit my head against it. To my shock, I felt it as clear as if I were awake. Severely disturbed, I franticly looked around, desperate to make sense of this foreign world.
My head was throbbing from my recent collision. Despite my very inept entry, no one looked in my direction. No head turned to see what had just happened in the back of the theater. Just as no one saw the shirt, jeans, and tennis shoes I did not go to sleep in. Of this I am thankful, as everyone in that chamber was in fine attire, as well as at least in their 50s, whereas I was thirteen.
Taking this opportunity, I made my way to the nearest door, a simple task of turning 180 degrees and walking forward. The door opened quietly, and I hoped I would leave soon without a hitch. I felt very awkward in this situation, and was glad to leave it and move down the wooden stairs. The steps I took were gentle and quiet, as though I was about to be killed should I make a noise. The silence was to my liking, but I had become to use to it. I leapt backward up over five stairs, scared out of my wits at the thought of people finding me in this place, wherever it was. But there were no searchers. The crowd was merely laughing again. With the renewed confidence and feeling of safety I left the stairwell and found myself below where I just was.
There was a stage in the front of this room. Above my head there were higher seats. A red carpet was covering the floor, parting boxes of seats. The center had the largest seat group, with smaller sections on the left and right. The setting looked very much like a theater, for that was what it was. On stage was a very comical scene that reminded me of Spamalot. There was a man who kept incorrectly combining idioms into things like 'Birds of a feather gather no moss.' I laughed with the rest of the audience.
More so, I laughed at my own good luck. What a dream! An entire comedy, with a streak of satire no less. The strange gentlemen conducted himself in an elitist manner; he gave the impression of arrogance. As did the man who just sat down in an empty chair, although he gave an impression of discipline and valor. He looked at me worriedly, as if I would blurt out his name, starstruck.
'Tell me, have I missed anything important?' he asked me reasonably casually, stroking his small beard.
'No, well, I've actually haven't been here that long.'
'Ah well, I hoped no one would see me slip in. You might not know who I am,' he took a deep breath and then said 'And I'd like to keep it that way,' the two of us laughed, punctuated only by his single introduction. 'My name is Ulysses Grant. I was going to sit with the president, but I had second doubts.
My face went pale. I felt hot, but not from the outside. The kind of heat you feel when something horrible is going to happen. I flew at General Grant, like I'd seen the bodyguards on TV. We hit the rug, the general shocked with rage. It seemed that everyone in the room was going to kill me. One or more of them was going to try. On the high box on the direct right of the stage, Lincoln's face grew smaller and smaller. I realized I was running, pushing Grant with me. The halls became menacing, and another shadow ran through them. I screamed, but no one heard me apart from the 18th President.
'What in God's name are you doing?' he shouted as he shoved me toward the wall.
'Sir, someone is trying to kill you!' my trembling voice said.
'Impossible. Lee surrendered to me less than a week ago. Or is this a sneak attack against the American Government?'
By this time we were reasonably far from the actual theater. A bullet echoed along the hall (Lincoln's?) and instead of murdering the President, whizzed by my face, causing my lip to begin to bleed. Our assailant made the mistake of thinking he hit Grant, and advanced. The general slammed him to the ground. Two more men stepped out of the shadows where the other had come, rifles held like they were born for this night.
I heaved up and shoved the third man's body at them. I can't throw a full grown man, but the other two accidentally shot their ally, and Grant made it out of Ford's Theater alive. For now. I scrammed out a window.
It was dark. Even though it was the seat of government, the city was more or less asleep. 'Sore about Appomattox?' Grant suddenly yelled. The two remaining gunmen came out of the theater.
'That way,' he whispered and pointed to an alley beside Ford's Theater. Once safely there, he turned toward me.
'What is going on?' he asked me. I wish I knew. John Wilkes Booth had fellow conspirators? That certainly wasn't in the history books.
'I don't know exactly. However I am fairly sure that they were attempting to kill you.'
'That was obvious,' he said in a matter of fact manner. 'They were from the South. I'm sure of it.'
'Really?' I inquired, trying to sound that I didn't know what happened that night. Lincoln had been murdered. He was killed while watching a play at Ford's Theater. The very theater I was just at! How was it that I tried to save Grant but completely forgot the whole reason I was so concerned! He was still there. The President was still in danger!
'Kid, you ok?' Grant asked in a vain attempt to lighten up my spirits. He saw the look in my eyes, my blank expression, and came to the same conclusion as me.
'Oh no,' he muttered. Normally, General Grant has large armies, guns, and cavalry to achieve victory. Here, he had two guys, himself and me. With that few people, options are scarce, so he concocted a plan rather quickly.
'I am too recognizable to sneak around. You must go back inside and warn Lincoln. I will go to my men and search for any unplayed cards. But, in the event that you are unsuccessful to prevent the murder, I will suppress all information possible. No one will ever know this was an organized plot of any kind.' He saddled and mounted his horse. A nod wishing good luck to me and he galloped off.
I was left alone in the dark. There was a lamp on the side entrance. I slowly scaled the three steps and walked back into the theater. Haunted Houses don't compare with this. They have ghosts, here ghosts were created. They have blood. No blood was here, just bloody murder. Also, this place had John Wilkes Booth.
It was eerie how I could find Lincoln. I saw the entrance to the stairs that led to his box. He was not wearing his famous hat that day, but his height made his identity obvious to any onlookers. Like would-be murderers.
'What am I waiting for?' I asked myself, and began running up the stairs. Against time. Against history. Against destiny.
'For the South,' I heard a voice say behind me. I should have started running even faster, but I couldn't. I was so afraid. I heard it again, to my left and just a head in front of me. The man whipped around and kicked me in the chest. I was thrown against a wall, twenty feet away from Lincoln, about seven from Booth. Despite the pain, I heaved myself up and stepped in the his way.
'The Pantheon on the Ides of March, 44 BC.' he said, a pistol in his hand and hatred in his eyes. His objective was unmistakable, even if you didn't have any knowledge of history. He charged, not at me, but at who I was 'guarding'. So, in response, in desperation, I began to fight that madman.
Luke Skywalker is cool, but my fight doesn't even compare. No lightsabers, no Force. Just one kid and an assassin. The stairs made the difference and defined who was winning. The higher you were on the stairs, the closer you were to the POTUS. I started with advantage, and I jumped at Booth's head. He stepped to the side and took my precious advantage. I charged him again, this time making a direct hit. He staggered but did not fall.
Instead of resuming our fight, Booth held his arm above my head. He was preparing to fire. Before he could pull the trigger I had to act. Again I attempted to tackle the man. However he was ready for me. He unsheathed another weapon. He now wielded a knife and a gun. The knife swung towards my head. There was no way I could defeat him at that instant. I pulled away with only a scratch. When did he become such a good fighter?
He made a charge toward Abraham Lincoln. He and the rest of the crowd were to engrossed in the comedy bellow to hear what was going on on the stairs. Booth grinned ear to ear, overjoyed he would finally claim his victim. He silently pointed his gun at Lincoln. No one could hear his footsteps, moving closer and closer to the President. But I could see the way his body shook with anticipation. He seemed distracted. Silently, I crept up on him.
He was not distracted at all. He hadn't even put away his knife. It was hidden in front of his chest, out of my sight. That was when I realized I truly had no chance. How many times had he rehearsed this? Even worse, how determined was he to carry this out? Every time he practiced, every time he rehearsed the assassination in his mind, his resolve spiked. He truly relished the chance when it would come. This was not a matter of judgment for him. I wouldn't stand in the way.
The knife seemed to have telekinetic powers. I began to fall backwards down the stairs. My body's fear of death forced me away from Booth. A second later, its fears became realized.
My rib cage cracked. It split and warped asunder. There was no light or warning. Neither would there be for Lincoln. Because of me. John Booth pulled out the blade and the bleeding began. I looked down at the gash he made with his knife. My heart was definitely punctured. There was also blood on Booth's hand. He was forcing me against a wall.
'How dare you!' he sputtered 'I am superior to you. You thought you could defend your precious Moses? I have some news for you. All you are is a low animal. But you know what?!' the pain was incredible. There was no way I could survive beyond a few more minutes, I thought.
'It's not that any of you are as great as the President. The President is as low as you.'
What did he mean? Who did he think I was? What was this madman thinking? Where was General Grant? Also, what exactly was Sic...
'Et tu, Brute?' he said. He found his inside joke humorous, as if he knew what would happen next. And I didn't.
Only then I did.
'Sic Semper Tyrannis!' he screamed. This time, I could do nothing to stop him. Abraham Lincoln's head went forward and then down. The sound of a bullet, going only slightly slower than the bullet itself, made the audience look up and discover what happened to their leader.
Booth began to descend back down the stairs, but he found me in his way. By now I was existing on borrowed time. There was precious little strength in my arms. Nevertheless, one of my blood-caked arms made a resounding thud on his face. I extended my other arm. Blood went freely from my cut heart.
Now both arms were soaked in my blood. I must have looked like a zombie to any onlooker. At the moment the only onlooker was Booth. He was distracted by his victory and shocked at my state. I pushed him off of the high box. I fell with him. The theater was alive with chaos. As for me, I would die. But before that instant I would take John Wilkes Booth, murderer of the 16th President of the United States, to justice.
I woke up at 2:48 in the morning. I was intact. There was no physical damage. Only the psychological damage that sets in when one witnesses death, or did I? Was it a dream? Was that why I failed to save Lincoln's life? Fate may not have wanted me to be a hero, but I was reasonably confident it was not a nightmare. After all, dreams don't leave the sound of bullets echoing in people's ears.
Oil Springs, Kentucky
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