“Power isn’t getting the President to return your phone calls.” The old man croaked. (HE LITERALLY CROAKED, OR IS THIS SUPPOSED TO BE ATTACHED TO THE PREVIOUS DIALOGUE?) “Power is telling your secretary to get a number and you’ll call back later. (PERIOD. NEW SENTENCE FOR THE EFFECT YOU WANT. NOTE, IT'S NOT CLEAR HOW TELLING THE SECRETARY TO GET NUMBER IS RELATED TO THE PRESIDENT. GET THE 'PRESIDENT'S NUMBER'?) If it’s convenient.” He stopped long enough to choke up a foul-looking (VAGUE. IF YOU'RE GOING TO MENTION IT, THEN YOU HAVE TO GO THE GENRE-APPROPRIATE DISTANCE. GREEN, YELLOW, BLOODY, BROWN? WHEN I TOOK CARE OF MY GRANDFATHER AS HE DIED OF LUNG CANCER, I CAN DESCRIBE THE SLIME HE COUGHED UP VERSUS SNEEZED UP VERSUS CHOKED UP.) slime. The nurse sitting at his bedside, wiped his mouth and chin carefully. “Power is knowing
I regarded the old man at length. Wizened and beset with ailments, he was a study in modern life—extending medicine. Fluids from plastic sacks inverted on chrome plated stands, and gases from heavy green oxygen tanks stationed nearby, dispensed sustenance to the decaying body via a tangle of tubes. Tubes also drained bilious fluids into other bio-hazard receptacles. A tangle of wires stretched from a bank of gizmos to key points on his body. Each had a computer screen with multiple tiles reporting a different vital sign. Collectively, they mindlessly (THE DOUBLE ADVERBS COMPETE. GET RID OF ADVERBS WHENEVER POSSIBLE.) monitored their patient for any hint that something might be awry. Medicaments were machine-pumped automatically (ADVERB BORDERS ON REDUNDANT, SO I DOUBT IT'S NECESSARY), and with great precision, through flaccid skin marked with great purple splotches: Dark, ugly bruises that would not heal; would not have time to heal.
1) Because I don't know the genre or title, I'm not sure where this is going: could be thriller and this is a killing scene for all I know. But I can say that I've been pummeled with too much information about his medical treatment to even remember that there was some conversation re: power.
2) The "I" introduces the POV character, supposedly the hero/heroine. Then this character dissapears behind the tubes and machines. HOW this character sees these objects goes to characterization, yes, but don't let them get lost in the picture. You have 2 paragraphs to give me a feeling for them and make me care about them. I cared more about the machines. I doubt that's your intent.
3) Dialogue in first paragraph was good except the last. Dying man talking of power as his mouth is wiped like a baby is great juxtaposition. But again, it got lost with 2nd 'graph.
Yes, I'm sure the 3rd graph got more into the other character or plot or whatever. But this challenge is about hitting the key notes up front, not delaying them. You can do this!