Author : Bob Newbell

(Thunderous applause over a musical flourish)

“Thank you! And welcome to ‘Interview With A Dictator’! We’ve got the old quantum teleporter warmed up and ready, so let’s bring on tonight’s guest!”


(Computer voiceover) “Tonight we have a despot from ancient Earth who ruled the Italian nation-state circa 8048 BN, Galactic Calendar, or 1922 to 1943 on the old Earth calendar. We’ve locked on to his coordinates and are ready for transport.”

“Folks, let’s welcome ‘Il Duce’ himself: Benito Mussolini!”

(Thunderous applause. A flash of light and a tired-appearing, heavyset man materializes in the chair opposite the host. The newly-arrived man looks terrified and confused. The chair’s armrests extrude themselves around his wrists to form manacles. The chair’s legs similarly bind his feet.)

“Where am I?! Who are you?! What is this place?!”

“Benito, I’m Davvit Ril-Watyn and you’re on ‘Interview With A Dictator,’ the Milky Way’s highest rated talk show. Now, you and your mistress, Claretta Petacci, are about to be machine gunned to death by anti-fascist partisans in the Italian village of Giulino de Mezzegra at the end of the Second World War in your subjective reference frame. We’ve brought you forward in time to what on your calendar would be the year AD 6893. We also installed a translator device in your brain during your teleport so you can understand and speak in Galactic Standard. The laws of physics will only let you remain with us for a minute or two after which you will rematerialize back in 1945 and die. So let’s have an…”

(Audience in unison) “Interview With A Dictator!”

(Mussolini trembles, perspires profusely) “This is madness! This is a dream!”

(Ril-Watyn leans in with his elbows on the desk, cradling his chin in his hands) “Ben, the Italian and German fascist militaries had exquisite uniforms. But it seems like the better-dressed armies always lose to sartorially inferior enemies. Do you think your impeccable sense of style was a tactical mistake?”

(The Italian struggles with his bonds) “I must leave here! Let me go!”

“I wouldn’t be in too big of a hurry if I were you, Ben.” (Ril-Watyn lowers his voice to a faux-whisper) “They’re going to hang your corpse upside down from the roof of a gas station using meat hooks.”

(Audience groans, Ril-Watyn smiles and shrugs) “Well, they are.” (Audience laughs)

“Okay, Ben, let’s get down to brass tacks. We all know that another fascist dictator got the spotlight while you — let’s be brutally honest here — had to play second fiddle. Why was that? Was it the mustache, you think?”

(Mussolini stares wild-eyed at Ril-Watyn) “You are working for that communist, Walter Audisio! You are doing this to torture me before you kill me!”

“Hold that thought, Ben. It’s time to put in a word for this cycle’s sponsor, ‘New You’. When you decide it’s time to change species, trust the species-reassignment company with over 2,000 years of experience. Trust ‘New You’. Now, Ben, even after almost 5,000 Earth-years, the word ‘Italy’ is still synonymous across the galaxy with great food. Let’s talk about fettuccine alfredo.”

(Buzzer sounds)

“Oh, Ben, I’m sorry but we’re out of time.”

“Let me go! I have money hidden away! I will give you a fortune!”

“Sorry, Ben, I’m afraid you died 4,948 years ago…right now.”

(A flash of light, the chair is empty)

“Folks, the very late Benito Mussolini!”

(Applause and whistles)

“Next week on the show: Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, known to history as ‘Caligula’! Good night, folks!”

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