Moammar Gadhafi had absolute power, controlled great oil wealth and influenced international events for more than four decades. Now, in all likelihood, he is holed up with a handful of loyalists or desperately on the run. No longer will he negotiate with the crush-worthy Condoleezza Rice. No longer will his children join the jet set at St. Bart's and spend millions for private concerts by the likes of Beyoncé and Mariah Carey.
A fall so sudden and dramatic is perhaps best told in fiction. So we asked eight top novelists to imagine this moment from Gadhafi's perspective. What is the "King of Kings" thinking as he fights for his life?
The stories include:
The author of "Castle" and "Mailman" places Gadhafi in a military transport vehicle outfitted for him in 1986, during a standoff with the United States, which hasn't been updated in 25 years.
Gadhafi instills one last lesson with a young grandson in this story by the author of "American Masculine."
Gadhafi's recently discovered collection of Condoleezza Rice photos provides inspiration for the author of the story collections "God Bless America" and "My Life in Heavy Metal."
The King of Kings clings to his delusions in this story by the author of "A Map of Home."
Hiding in Misrata, Gadhafi comforts himself with chess in a story by the author of "Red Weather."
A vile and vindictive Gadhafi curses his fate in this piece by the author of "The Sabotage Cafe" and "Short People."
A fleeing Gadhafi's thoughts are with his daughter Hana -- reportedly killed in the 1986 U.S. attacks on his Tripoli compound -- in a story by the author of "Power Ballads."
The author of "Moondogs" shifts perspectives, imagining a reaction by someone who has come across Gadhafi's hiding place.