Loath as she was to admit it—and, indeed, wouldn’t admit it until some seven weeks and only then to an interrogator named Milo who’d been kind enough to bring coffee to her dark site cell rather than bashing her in the face with his flat knuckles as his colleagues had done—she hadn’t actually anticipated on levitating the White House. However, on that fair April morning, her seven hundred followers leaning their backs against the black metal fence, feet resting on folded knees in the lotus position, channeling chants of peace from zenned out minds through open mouths, she hadn’t the same perspective. Indeed, what sane woman wouldn’t take credit for organizing a cosmic vibration of universal proportions that lifted 55,000 square feet of painted Aquia Creek sandstone thirty-five feet into the air?
Her seven hundred supporters hadn’t seemed like much of a threat given the recent protests. The 82nd Airborne took the day off and the U.S. Marshals were out to lunch. A screaming Marine, hat askew, clung to one of the columns floating high in the air, chunks of dirt and stone raining down into the basement below. A half dozen stunned secret service agents paused in the yard, heads swiveling between the levitated White House and Skye (not Susan—her domesticated title). Guns drawn, they rushed across the lush turf in their shiny black Rockports.
“I am here on the authority of the Universe, explosion of gasses that birthed us all. On the authority of the Collective Consciousness that binds mind to mind, makes peace from war, love from hate, legislative debate from fascist executive orders. On the authority of the sun, which will burn this world one day, consuming us and the atoms of our decayed corpses. On the authority of human rights, John Locke giving a hummer to James Madison, on freedom, on equality, on freedom again, because that’s really important,” is what she intended to say.
What she actually said was, “I have a permit,” shoving the document between the fence for inspection. The paper trembled with her hand.
The Marine kicked at the air, shouting for salvation. A flag pole, Old Glory still attached, appeared from one of the open glass doors, aimed for the Marine’s location.
A Secret Service agent with a jaw molded out of splotchy granite sporting a five-o’clock shadow leaned forward. “The Tyrone Power Pound Cake Society in the Sky,” he read aloud. “Says you’re going to levitate the White House 3.5 feet in the air, ma’am.”
“It’s a decimal point error,” she said, refraining from admitting which side was responsible for said error.
A second Secret Service agent in a smart black skirt jogged up behind her colleague, gun pointed at the ground. “You’re going to have to put it down, ma’am. The president and his first ladies are hosting the Faberge Egg Roll in an hour.”
Skye shook the paper, wooden bangles knocking. “The permit says we’re allowed access to the free speech zone until 2pm.”
Other members of The Tyrone Powers Pound Cake Society in the Sky heard their brave guru speaking. Maizy Alcatraz and The Beard, Skye’s closest advisers and apprentices, slowed their chanting. Maizy-A cracked one eye open, turning her head slightly to the left and peered through the fence.
“Holy fossilized feces.” She jumped up, gauzy mini dress jumping, too, and grabbed Skye’s arm with her long, turquoise-tipped fingers. “We really did it.”
The beard unfolded himself and took his place on Skye’s other side. He pulled aside the curtain of red fur that covered his left eye and stared, grunting through his thick beard.
The flagpole, too short to reach the Marine, was pulled back inside the White House. A longer pole sporting the Red Banner emerged next. He strained to reach it, flat hat falling off his head as he did. They watched it puff up in the breeze, slowly floating down into the basement.
“Fine,” the female secret service agent said. “Good for you. You’ve levitated the presidential residence, whatever good that will do you.”
“An empty act of rebellion,” another agent said. “The new media won’t carry the story. The Senior Spinner will discredit any who speak of it. It means nothing.”
Skye’s initial shock was wearing off, her rage rising. “Of course it means something,” she shouted. “It means seven hundred people acting in union can rebel against one fascist fuck.”
“Fascist fuck,” Maizy-A repeated.
“Please don’t use the f-word,” one of the agents said.
“He’s still a fuck, regardless of what adjective you put before his name.” Skye gripped her skirt with sweaty palms.
Maizy-A, undeterred by their admonishment, screamed. “FASCIST fuck. FASCIST FUCK.”
Her screams were enough to rouse the chanters on her side of the fence from their blissed-out state. Gasps of surprise, squeals of excitement, echoed down the line as they stopped chanting and turned around.
The Marine was scrambling through the open door, into the relative safety of the levitated White House, when it tipped sideways, sagging towards the people who’d stopped chanting. Furniture could be seen sliding past the large windows on the first floor. The muffled screams of those within became more shrill.
The Secret Service Agents turned to face the building. “Lift it back up! Lift it back up!”
“I thought I was supposed to put it back down,” Skye said.
“FASCIST FUCK,” Maisy-A shouted again.
“We did it! We did it!” Her followers began to dance, shaking hips, jingling bells on their ankles and wrists.
A portrait of Andrew Jackson crashed out of a window on the sagging side.
The female agent’s voice was cold and smooth like a dry martini lacking an olive. “Fix it.” Skye stared down the gun’s barrel, aimed at her face.
“I have until–”
She backed up hands held in the air. “Everyone. Everyone.”
Faces turned towards her, away from the White House. Eyes from ice blue to night black. Skin from pasty pale to richly dark.
“Everyone. You need to listen to me.” She cleared her throat, calming her shaking voice, bringing the low tones she used when talking to her mother’s horses back when people called Skye Susan. “The White House is aloft! You may feel as though we’ve won. We’ve accomplished what we came here to do. But, I need you to know that one action is not a victory, one day is not an eternity. We are but a single flower in need of a garden. Rejoice at what you’ve done, but do not stop.”
A gangling teenager wearing a kilt and little else raised his hand. “What does that mean?”
“Don’t stop!” Skye shouted. “Butts back on the concrete. Backs against the fence. Our work isn’t done yet.”
They exchanged looks, sat back down, closed their eyes, and began chanting once more. The White House continued to sag. “You two, too,” Skye said to Maizy-A and The Beard.
The White House quivered, but didn’t move.
Skye shook her head at agent holding the gun. “I need to join them.”
“Like hell you do. Andersen, get out there and start chanting with them. This woman needs to be taken in.”
One of the male agents unlocked the gate and squeezed out. “How do I do this, ma’am?”
“Just close your eyes and be one with the movement. Be one with the universe. Know that your soul united with 700 other souls has the power to change the world. An individual’s desire. A collective’s will.”
His eyebrow rose skeptically above the frames of his sunglasses. Still, he sat down, in a modified lotus position, and began to chant.
The sagging side of the White House began to rise.
“Now,” the female agent said. “You’re going to tell us how to put it down.”
Skye finished her coffee. It was the best worst coffee she’d ever had, one-note, black, bitter, and wonderful. Acidity stung her cracked lips as she shook the last drops into her mouth. She handed the Styrofoam cup to Milo. “How long did it take them to figure out how to get it down?”
He rubbed at the black scruff on his chin. “Well, the first problem was that the scientists wouldn’t help them.” He formed the words slowly so she could understand his thick eastern European accent.
“The first problem?”
He nodded. “The second? Other people started to notice. Started to join your Sweet Bread Society.”
“Pound Cake,” she said, though it didn’t really matter. “How long did it take to get it down?”
He chuckled, clearly amused. “Oh, sweetie. Last report, it was somewhere in the mesosphere.”