By Steven Vanshyke

DENVER - Three-term President of the United States Noah Grace - architect of
America's defense against perhaps the worst plague in modern history - died
suddenly of an undisclosed illness on Christmas Eve in the nation's makeshift Capitol.
Government officials scrambled frantically to explain the news in a hastily called press
conference at the Denver Federal Center.

Details surrounding President Grace's death remain scant at press time. Meanwhile, a
ravaged nation mourns, turning to Vice President Harvey McCullen with frightened

"At approximately 8:10 p.m., Noah Grace, 33rd President of the United States...patriot,
husband and father, joined an elite brotherhood of great Americans watching over us
all," said the acting President in a brief television announcement. Vice President
McCullen, who will be sworn into office tomorrow at noon inside the Federal Center,
was visibly shaken but spoke confidently. "We've lost not only an exceptional leader...
a visionary...but one of the truly great men of our time. However, this country is built
not upon singular greatness, but upon the collective strength and determination of the
130 million who proudly call ourselves Americans. President Grace will forever be in
our hearts, and his spirit shall continue to give us the strength to persevere during
these challenging times."

Following Vice President McCullen's announcement, government officials refused to
answer questions about the circumstances surrounding President Grace's death.
Cause, length and type of illness - even burial plans- are being withheld behind the
familiar thick was of Presidential privilege. Requests for medical transcripts from
President Grace's recent annual physical were rejected under the auspices of the
Executive Protection Act of 1950. However, it was believed by many Grace insiders that
the President was in fine physical and mental condition, validated almost daily by his
well-publicized morning fitness regimen.

Amidst the confusion and sadness brought on by President Grace's death, skepticism
abounds regarding the official explanation for the events surrounding it. Vice President
McCullen flatly denied conflicting reports of the President's whereabouts at the time of
death. Undisclosed sources close to the Grace Administration have questioned
whether illness is a cover-up of more sinister and far-reaching proportions. When the
acting President was confronted with allegations involving projects code-named
"Daedalus" and "Abraham," he spoke sharply.

"Outlandish accusations and conspiracy theories are natural occurrences during
difficult moments," Vice President McCullen intoned. "That said, I will not dishonor
President Grace by paying heed to thoughtless rumor, hysteria and speculation."

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