The Tower of Endless Worlds Online - Jonathan Moeller

Chapter 1 - An Exclusive Interview

Anno Domini 2001

“It all began in a Wal-Mart,” said Thomas Wycliffe. He folded his arms over his chest and looked over Lake Michigan’s choppy waters.

“Congressman?” said Eddie Carson, fingering his tape recorder.

They stood on the far end of Chicago’s Navy Pier, the waves lashing at the concrete. The pale blue sky faded to purple as the sun dimmed, outlining the downtown skyscrapers. Couples wandered arm-in-arm past Carson and Wycliffe, along with groups of teenagers heading to the Pier’s Ferris Wheel. Eddie supposed that he and Wycliffe looked like just another pair of corporate drones strategizing over coffee.

He disliked the idea.

He wanted nothing to do with Wycliffe.

“My political career began in a Wal-Mart,” said Wycliffe. He stood a head shorter than Eddie. His lower jaw jutted beneath his upper lip, and small scars pockmarked his face. Narrowed brown eyes watched Eddie from behind thick glasses. He wondered how such an ugly man had gone so far in politics. “It began that day, in that Wal-Mart. Please, Mr. Carson, do you mind if we sit? My back has been troubling me lately.”

“Of course,” said Eddie, gesturing at a table near the railing. They sat, and Wycliffe sighed in relief and took a sip of his coffee. He stared at Eddie for a while, a small smile on his lips.

“Why don’t you work for my campaign, Mr. Carson?” said Wycliffe.

Eddie glared at him. “I’ll tell you. Because,” he ticked off the points on his fingers, “first, your ideas on tax reform are absurd. Second, your foreign policy views are racist, aggressive, and downright silly. Third, your positions on abortion and gay rights are archaic. Fourth, there are your alleged ties to the Russian Mafia. And fifth, Mr. Wycliffe, I find you personally offensive.”

“Ah,” said Wycliffe. “And you’re firmly committed to Senator Fulbright, as I understand.”

“Yes,” said Eddie. “Senator Fulbright will do what is best for the people of Illinois. I’m not so sure about you.”

Wycliffe chuckled. “Yes, yes. We all know about Edward Carson, the bold popular political columnist and reporter. That razor-sharp pen of yours has caused me a lot of damage, you know.”

“Good,” said Eddie.

“Whatever happened to objective journalism?” said Wycliffe, spreading his arms to the sky. “Did honest reporting die with our fathers? William Randolph Hearst no doubt smiles benevolently upon you from his place in hell.”

“I didn’t come here to be insulted, Mr. Wycliffe,” said Eddie. “You said over the phone you wanted to give me an exclusive interview.”

Wycliffe folded his hands. “I did, didn’t I?” He smiled. “I’m a man of my word, Mr. Carson.” Eddie tried not to laugh. “I’ll answer any questions you want…but first, let me give you a bit of background. No doubt it will make a fine story for your paper’s readers.”

Eddie reached into his jacket pocket and clicked on his tape recorder. “Go ahead.”

Anno Domini 1994/Year of the Councils 954

I wanted to be a college history professor.

My career in politics began when I was twenty-three. At the time, I was a graduate student at the University of Constantina in Chicago, working on a program in Greco-Roman history. I still read and write Greek and Latin quite fluently. You know that, Mr. Carson, if you’ve done your research.

At any rate, my goals in life were meager. I desired to complete my doctorate, obtain tenure at some university, perhaps turn out a book every few years, and spend the rest of my days boring my students. I had no real ambition. Just an unfocused desire to obtain a cushy position and coast through it.

Of course, everything changed that November afternoon in my twenty-third year.

I was renting a miserable apartment in a South Side industrial neighborhood. It was a squalid little hellhole, yet I took a certain pride in it. It was, after all, mine. The biggest problem was the rats. Filthy little buggers.

At the time I was working on a paper about Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus. Two rabble-rousing demagogues. You should find that an interesting comparison to my present career.

Anyway, I was typing on a computer I had leased when I heard the rattling in the closet.

I assumed it was the rats. Poison them and trap them as I tried, they still kept finding their way through the baseboards. I picked up the tennis racket I kept for the express purpose of rat-whacking and went to the closet.

I yanked open the closet door, raised my tennis racket with a yell, and found myself face to face with another man.

“What the