Time Travel: “The Presidential Mansion”

This short piece was written in a class I had with the brilliant Professor John Weir @ Queens College. The theme of the semester was time travelling. Have I mentioned this one before? Well, there was a period last year where I was obsessed with the White House. It was because I was drawing up a floor plan for my ideal house, and I used the White House as a source of inspiration. I’m no architect, but I think what I drew up was decent. My research on the White House, its rooms and history, and knowing the floor plan led me to putting it in a short story as a setting. Is it obvious it’s also set in 1812? Not a detailed story, but I could update it more someday.

“The Presidential Mansion”

My stomach churned as I was frightened at the thought of the British soldiers marching over here. They were going to arrive soon, and that made me want to defecate all over the carpet somewhere in a corner. At the behest of the President who had already retreated, a few of us were tasked to remove as much valuables as we could out of the White House.

“This is the White House, right?” I asked the commander.

“What white house?!” The commander glared at me as if I wasn’t responsible.

The look he gave me made me not want to fight on his side any longer, so I waited for the perfect time to escape from his watch. I didn’t have a lot of time. We were in the middle of a fog of war and that was already an opportunity for me to escape. And so I did.

“My God! Where are you running off to?!” The commander yelled.

I didn’t say anything but I hoped to have given the impression that I was scrambling to retrieve items in another room. But I never returned to him. The layout of the mansion was different from what I’m used to, but this was the second floor. The different floor plan was an obstacle to my escape. I ran in the direction where the stairs were supposed to be only to find empty rooms. In one of them, distant gunfire drew me to the window. I could make out an orange glow and black smoke rising into the night sky in the distance. In the foreground, shadows were drawing nearer and nearer, some on horseback, many on foot.

I stepped away from the window, ran back out into the hallway, and managed to locate the oval-shaped room of the mansion. I broke through one of the south windows and jumped out. My foot landed and bent at an unnatural angle. It couldn’t take me far, but I found refuge somewhere in the back lawn. A bush resisted me trying to get in it and so I fell back into it, still in extraordinary pain. The shadows came in the night and stormed into the mansion.

After a few moments, fire blazed through the innards of the house. Glass shattering and loud booms could be heard as floors came crashing down. Every window of the mansion eventually spewed fire, and the black smoke rose up to the sky.

The great capital was in ruin.