Prologue: Final Impressions of the First Lady

The blade turned over and over in Melania Trump’s chest, like a key too small for its lock. Fitting, she supposed, as in recent weeks she had become a lock of sorts. A strong box. A mobile safe. The carrier and de facto guardian of an inexplicable and cursed object. The treasure within may not be killing her, but it did make her wish for death with every passing moment. Which is why she silently endured the knife. And why she didn’t question the ridiculous armor worn by her husband. These things could wait.

So filled was her mind with the emerald’s ceaseless voices, that she barely registered the grinding in her sternum. She felt extreme pressure, then a pop. And then, miraculously, the cacophony faded. Weeks of agony, senseless howls in unfathomable tongues, the relentless nightmare dirges eroding her sanity - all of it vanished like the stain of breath on a mirror.

Cool, still silence enveloped her. Her struggles peeled away, layer by layer, like the paper skin of an old globe, revealing nothing underneath but black, gentle oblivion. The end. She welcomed it.

"Get it out of her!"

The terrible world returned, crashing through the fog: an explosion, the clatter of debris, something lifeless tumbling across the chamber. Acrid, chemical smoke and the smell of an exhausted motor. The smoke felt like sandpaper in her eyes, but she was too weak to rub them. And really at this point why bother? Everything seemed pointless. She ached to return to her quiet place. Her dark place.

A man was shaking her. Yelling and sobbing like an idiot. He slid into focus. Oh, I know you. He kissed her. His salt tears dripped into her searing eyes. Into her wounds. She couldn’t feel them anymore. Well thank God for that.

Someone else, someone calm, reached a gloved hand into her open blouse. After some wet, cracking noises the thing inside her chest came free. It looked so small held between those gloved fingers. That stupid emerald. The storehouse of souls. Steeped in blood, it still glistened with an irritating beauty. Melania hated that a part of her missed it. Oh well. Someone else’s problem now.

A sticky bloom of red soaked through her top and with it, an all-encompassing calm. Was she sinking, or was the floor somehow softening? Seemed unlikely. Copper replaced the smoke smell. From a thousand miles away her husband’s voice called out.

"You did it, sweetheart. You saved us."

Not true. They saved themselves with their strange weapons, their weird, impossible powers. All she did was carry the thing. Suffered in silence while it fed and grew - while it gestated. And now that she had delivered, she was ready to go. Some part of her wanted to say so, but by then she was drifting beyond words, nearly beyond sounds. Donald Trump gasped, and she was gone.

Gone, but not alone.

[Official records state that Melania Trump was not present during the events of the Burning Mountain facility attack. Had she been present, she most certainly did not die at said facility. And even if she had she done so, it was absolutely not at the hand of the President of the United States of America. Officially records state that Melania Trump remains alive and well, safely installed in an undisclosed location.]

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