“Chapman’s Heart,” by Michael Byers, appears in the Winter 2019 Issue of MQR. It was a new program, long-argued over, newly implemented. Before a president, any president, could launch the weapons that would kill a billion humans, he, or she, would have to murder Chapman and
But the job, like the others, had its pleasures. When a voice did answer to the name on the list it seemed to Caroline a piece of luck, and to use a false identity was a wonderful novelty. She was Betty Brown. She had heard of actors who were nervous stammering people while offstage but who became fluid and confident once concealed behind the mask of a character. Now she knew how they felt.
* Gina Balibrera *
Certain words are brighter and less symmetrical than others, and these are the ones she wants. The twitching red octopuses scare and delight her. They might deliver punishment, a royal beating, or at least scorn. They’re from another world; they don’t belong to her.