Blood of Tyrants by Ken Shufeldt is a gripping political thriller that explores the devastating effects that unlimited political funding, if permitted, could produce (available May 30, 2017).
Backed by a secretive Super PAC, Richard Wilkes, an old money Virginia businessman, upsets the incumbent to win the Presidency. His term begins smoothly enough—until ISIS launches horrific terrorist attacks on American soil.
In way over his head, the President refuses to take action, paving the way for the terrorists to use a stolen Pakistani nuke to incinerate almost a million Americans. Fed up with his incompetence, multi-billionaire Walter Jefferson leads several high ranking military leaders and a band of patriots in a bloody coup.
After eliminating President Wilkes and almost everyone on the Presidential succession list, Jefferson proclaims himself Chancellor and begins moving “undesirables” into internment camps. He then orders the military to invade Canada and Mexico in a desperate attempt to wipe out the ISIS contingents hiding there, and to build a buffer zone around the country. There are catastrophic losses on all sides. There’s only one hope for the United States now: the last survivor on the Presidential succession list, the Secretary of State.
William Trussle, the president of the Country Club of Virginia, had been expecting a big turnout for Richard Wilkes’s sixtieth birthday celebration. As the line of Mercedes-Benzes, Range Rovers, Jaguars, and Cadillacs filled the circular drive, he said, “Marty, get everybody that’s not working the party out here to help out.”
Richard Wilkes’s great-great-grandfather had founded the club back in the 1800s, and Richard was one of its most esteemed members, so William didn’t want any of his guests having a bad experience if he could help it.
Richard was a world-renowned businessman, and many of the guests had come in from all over the world to attend. Normally the club only allowed the members to book the main ballroom for parties, but due to the large number of attendees, they were using the adjoining rooms to accommodate the crowd.
There was a distinct chill in the air, and there was a light mist falling from the dull overcast skies. They had roaring fires going in the twin fireplaces, and the web of LED lights draped from the twin crystal chandeliers cast a spiderweb of light across the ballroom’s highly polished wood floors.
Richard had been a member of Yale’s national championship–winning rowing team, and he was on the twelve-member executive committee of the Yale Alumni Fund Board of Directors. Rachel, Richard’s wife, had every room decked out with all types of Yale memorabilia, and they’d set up a small stage near the center of the ballroom where several of Richard’s college teammates took turns sharing their favorite stories about him during dinner.
After dinner there had been a constant stream of guests coming by Richard’s table to wish him well, but by ten o’clock the party had started to wind down. He was left sitting on the far side of the ballroom, contemplating how his life had turned out.
He’d intended to enter politics when he finished his MBA at the Yale School of Management, but his father’s untimely death in a boating accident had forced him to assume the reins of the family empire. In the thirty-odd years since he’d taken over, he’d more than doubled the already vast family fortune, but he still lusted for the recognition and power that a political career might have afforded him.
Richard had been on the country club’s board and membership committee for many years, and after the last of the guests had left, William Trussle dropped by to introduce their newest member.
“Richard, I’d like to introduce you to Charles Trowbridge,” William said.
“It’s very nice to meet you, Mr. Trowbridge,” Richard said. “I noticed on your membership application that you’re a political campaign manager.”
“I hope you’re not going to hold that against me,” Charles said.
“Not at all. I once considered a career in politics myself.”
“It’s never too late to start,” Charles said.
“I’m afraid I wouldn’t have the energy for it anymore.”
“I hope that’s not true, because that’s actually why I asked Mr. Trussle to introduce us. I know that your family has made significant financial contributions to the GOP over the years, but the party is in serious trouble for the upcoming presidential election.”
“How much do they want this time?”
“This isn’t about money. I’ve spent the last six weeks consulting with the Republican National Committee to help them vet the potential presidential candidates, and we don’t have a viable candidate.”
“I could name at least four off the top of my head, surely one of them will step up.”
“I’ve spoken with all of them, and none of them are willing to run against President Tidwell.”
“He’s a popular bastard, but I don’t understand how he can still command that much loyalty considering the sorry shape the country is in.”
“I know this is going to sound crazy, but given your reputation for getting things done, we think you would have a realistic chance of winning the party’s nomination.”
“Given the current political climate, I doubt that any Republican could unseat President Tidwell, let alone a complete unknown.”
“Would you at least consider it?”
“I’d be seen as some sort of Don Quixote.”
“I promise we wouldn’t let that happen.”
“It seems like a fool’s errand to me, but give me some time to think it over,” Richard said, even as his heart raced at the thought of it.
“Of course, but don’t take too long. The longer you wait the harder it’s going to be.
Three days later, Richard Wilkes sat down at Charles’s table while he was eating lunch at the club.
“I’ll do it,” Richard Wilkes said.
“Will you be my campaign manager?”
“That’s up to you. I’ve managed a lot of senatorial campaigns, but I’ve never run a presidential campaign.”
“I’ve done my homework on you. You can do it. Give me a call when you’re ready to get started.”
“We can get started this afternoon.”
Copyright © 2017 Ken Shufeldt.
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Ken Shufeldt was born in Kansas and raised in the West Texas Panhandle. He served in the US Navy for a number of years before leaving to begin a career in computer programming, where he specializes in law enforcement system software and 911 dispatch software. The author of Genesis, Tribulations, Rebellion, and Rage, he lives and works in Amarillo, Texas.