Saturday, July 09, 2016

Scenes from the Apocalypse

Scenes from a post-apocalyptic high school reunion.

Setting: The burnt-out husk of a high school gymnasium

The year: 2031

Lady: So, what do you do?
Man: Well, I capture and sell squirrels, rats, raccoon… you name it!
Lady: Sounds interesting.
Man: Yeah, I’m thinking of branching out, maybe get into the human thighs and buttocks market.  It’s big business, particularly in Containment Zone 9.  Man, those guys in Containment Zone 9 love the stuff!

Lady1: So, you and John were sure getting along.  Just like old times?
Lady2: Oh, stop it!
Lady1: What do you think?  His wife was just sold into slavery by a roving band of marauders… he’s single!
Lady2: That’s enough, Marsha!
Lady1: Did you notice he still has 75% of his skin?

Man: So, I rode my horse in from Containment Zone 4…
Lady: Oh yeah?
Man: Yep, still has one eyeball and most of her original teeth.
Lady: So how long’d it take you to get in from Containment Zone 4?
Man: Well, she does about 20 if I’ve scrounged enough carrots and oats to feed her… probably took me around five days.
Lady: Whoa!  Pretty slick, Dave.

Man: Well I grow non-mutated strains of wheat and mill them in an old 19th-century mill that my marauding gang conquered.
Lady: Wow!  Maybe I should come check out your milling operation sometime!
Man: Hey, anytime!  Just make sure you remember the password!  Otherwise, the guards at my mill will shoot you with their crossbows!  Seriously, they will.  You need to remember the password.
Lady: Well, what is it?
Man: Periwinkle.

Man1: Say, anyone know what happened to Rick McCaffrey?
Man2: Ahh, I heard he became a warlord.
Man1: Shit, no way!
Man3: Yeah, guess he stumbled upon an abandoned army fuel depot.  Guy’s swimming in shiny stones and anti-bacterial cream over in Containment District 4.
Man2: Guess he’s too big to come to his own high school reunion, eh?

Lady: Now, correct me if I’m wrong, mister, but I heard you were married a few years ago!  Where’s the missus?
Man: Ahh, yeah, Jenny couldn’t get a pass into the Containment District for the reunion.  She has a pretty bad case of the Blight.
Lady: Oh god… oh Jesus, get away from me!

Lady1: Judy!  Judy… Nelson?
Lady2: Well, it’s Judy Henderson now.  And this is my zombie husband, Carl!  Say hello, Carl.
Man: Braaains…
Lady2, confidentially to 1: Always with the brains, am I right?

Man: You know what I haven’t seen in a while?  A non-feral cat.
Lady: I know, right?  We tried bringing one back for our daughter, but she ended up getting rabies.
Man: How many shiny stones would you trade your child for?

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Trump: The Fate of Destiny (part 1)

August, 2010

The setting sun cast an orange glow across the terraces and cloister of Mar-a-Lago.  The Palm Beach residence, built in the 1920s, was considered one of the most luxurious mansions in the world.  Its carved, Dorian stone facade, Spanish and Portuguese-inspired interior and 144 opulent rooms were set upon 20 acres of immaculately-landscaped lawns.

Walking back to his private residence at Mar-a-Lago in the early evening glow was the mansion’s owner, millionaire real estate developer Donald Trump.  He had purchased the property in 1985 and was proud to have kept it true to its original configuration.  Even if he had wanted to change it, he couldn’t: Mar-a-Lago had been placed on the National Register of Historic Places in the early 70s.  It was a priceless treasure, and it was Trump’s.

A few hours spent relaxing by his resort’s magnificent swimming pool had left him feeling refreshed and eager to take on the night’s guests.  As he stepped inside, a pair of servants opened two Venetian doors leading from the pool deck to the dining room.  Waiting for Trump was his beautiful wife, Melania.

“Any time for the spa?” he asked her, glancing at his watch as a third servant fastened it around his left wrist.  He rarely took it off, but never brought it to the pool.  The timepiece cost more than a Rolls Royce.

“I do not think so, darling” she consoled, knowing her husband would be disappointed.  Trump often finished his active day with a sauna and massage, but the sun was now too close to the horizon.  “The Bushes have arrived and Jon Voight will be ready for 7:30.”

“Tomorrow, then,” he smiled and gave his wife a kiss on the cheek.  “I’ll see you in the dining room then.”  Jauntily, he made his way to his private quarters to get ready.


The master bedroom done in the Spanish Colonial Revival style was in keeping with much of Mar-a-Lago’s decor.  The sash windows facing the ocean let into the room the ochre glow of a sun hidden just beyond the horizon.  Trump had changed out of the light, short-sleeved shirt he had worn poolside and was in the middle of putting on his evening wear.  Normally he would wear the black tie and white shirt expected of such an occasion, but the company was familiar enough that he felt comfortable in a blazer and shirt.

As he checked the blazer’s sleeve length against his wrist, a sudden commotion.  An unnaturally cold wind seemed to blow in all directions, rattling windows and knocking paintings off walls.  Trump instinctively shielded his eyes from a bright, overpowering light.  Startled, he turned around to the source and found himself looking at a familiar face: his.

But not his.  At 64 he himself had the distinguished features of a man entering old age with pride: the dignified chin; the bronzed, youthful skin; and the hair - as ravishing today as it was thirty years ago.  The man before him was weak, and old.  The once-proud mane was all but gone, his chin melded into what amounted to a grotesque, drooping goitre and his posture was deflated.  He was as immaculately-dressed as ever, but the juxtaposition between the tailored clothes and the defeated man wearing them was comical and pathetic.

“What in the hell?” Trump asked, stunned.  He approached his doppelganger with trepidation and examined him closely.  Every wrinkle, every liver spot - the blank, distant look in his eyes.  Suddenly, the double opened his mouth.

“You think you look as good now as you did 20 years ago?  I don’t think so.  Don’t think so.”  The voice - so familiar, but ravaged by age and... something else.  It seemed to emanate from the other side of the earth, yet came from a man not a few feet away.

“Who... who are you?” asked Trump, barely able to whisper the words.

“‘Who are you?’” repeated the elder Trump, mocking the original. “Who do you think, numb nuts?  I’m you.  I’m from the year 2028.”  The young Trump’s eyes narrowed as he searched for something in the the distance.  “That makes me 82, dum-dum.”

“Well, why are you here?  What do you want?”  Trump could not understand what was happening.

“Yeah, good question.  Mind if I sit?” asked the elder, gesturing towards the bed.  Trump nodded.  “In a few years - 2016, if you wanna know - a real slimeball is going to be the president.”  He found a perch at the side of the bed.  “This guy’s a real jagoff, lemme tell you.  Name’s Ted Cruz.”

“Never heard of the guy.”

“Well I have.  Him being president starts a chain reaction that destroys everything.  He lets loose something rotten from deep in the country’s psyche - something not good, let me tell you - that just goes to town.  Eventually there’s a war, major cities get obliterated, millions of Americans are killed, and the world plunges into a second Dark Age.  I’ll be honest: it’s ugly, even for guys like us.”  At this, the elder Trump looked wistfully out the window at the orange and purple sky darkening rapidly over the Atlantic Ocean.

“Mar-a-Lago?” asked Trump, his voice tinged with concern.

“Gone,” choked the other Trump.  “Florida, New York, Washington... There’s nothing left.  I used everything the Trump Organization had to develop a time machine so I could send myself here.”

“A time machine?  To send you here and do what, exactly?” Trump was beginning to feel more comfortable around this interloper, yet the tale he told was unsettling.  “You want me to off this Cruz guy?”

“No.  No.”  The elder Trump laughed at this display of naivete.  “Whoever the Republicans would replace him with would be just as bad.  Hell, he could be worse.  No telling what Carson could do.  Guy’s a Seventh Day Adventist.  Can’t trust ‘em.  The whole party’s crooked.  Has been for years.”  With some effort, Trump’s future self got up from the bed and took him by the shoulders.  “I need you to run for president.  Do you understand me?  I need to you become the Republican nominee for president in 2016, and then I need you to lose to Hillary Clinton.”

“Lose?  You want me to lose?  I never lose.”  The elder Trump led them out to the bedroom’s private terrace.  Above them, the night’s first stars began to appear in the navy blue sky.  Far below, the black waters of the Atlantic.

“Idiot, who do you think you’re talking to?”  Elder Trump rolled his eyes as the melancholic wind of late summer breezed past them.  “Nobody’s buying your steaks and tacky ties, your university can’t even scam morons out of their money properly, people don’t want to watch your boring, repetitive TV show anymore and you’ve declared bankruptcy more times than you’ve been married.  You lose all the time, Donald.  Now, I need you to lose one last time.”

“Clinton, eh?”  Trump mulled a thought over in his head.  “I don’t wanna go up against her.  She’s alright.  Donated to her foundation.  Had her and Bill at my wedding.  I’ve got no beef with her.”

“Then you make one up.  You do everything you need to do... Up until a point.  Then, when everyone thinks you’ve gone as far as you can go, you go even farther.  Say as many nasty, vile, cruel things as you can and watch the tenor of American politics change forever in the span of a few months.  Destroy every single unspoken rule and convention that has maintained the dignity of the presidency for over two centuries.  Watch yourself rise in the polls each time you vilify every vulnerable, maligned, put-upon group that you can think of.  Lie about everything and everyone - for no other reason than you can.  Gleefully go beyond the limits of common decency as people rabidly flock to you by the millions.”  Elder Trump took a moment to catch his breath.  “Then, you take a dive and walk home.”  He licked his lips and looked around anxiously.  “Say, you didn’t offer me a drink.”  The younger Trump looked at him, unbelieving.

“We don’t drink,” he said, incredulity coming to his voice for the first time.  “Say... how do I know you’re who you say you are, anyway?  This could be some kinda scam.”

“Our favourite actress is Joan Collins and our favourite movie is the 1970s King Kong.  We don’t like tube socks or cats.  We once ran into Johnny Unitas in an elevator, and we don’t know how to ride a bike.”

“What about the tattoo?”

“The Ghostbusters 2 logo,” he said, sheepishly unbuttoning his shirt to reveal the peace sign-giving ghost emblematic of one of cinema’s more lamentable sequels.  “Shoulda seen the movie first, I think.”

“Hmmm,” said Trump, an upturned lip signaling approval.  “I’ll be damned.  So what’s with the drinking?”

“Things change a guy, y’know?  Scotch, on the rocks.”

“I’ll have one sent for” he said, disappointed, and headed back into his room.

The elder Trump looked to the night sky, and the darkness enveloping everything from the east.  Sea and sky melded into one black whole, punctuated by thousands of bright stars coming out for the night.  Reflected in the water, they gave the elder Trump the impression he was standing at the edge of space.  He hadn’t felt this relaxed in over a decade.

The younger Trump returned to the terrace, drink in hand.  “I’ve asked those guys to keep their mouths shut about enough stuff over the years, what’s one drink gonna-” he caught himself in mid-sentence.  His double had raised himself atop the terrace railing.

“You need to do this.  The future depends on you, Donald.” With that, the elder Trump tumbled over the railing to the watery darkness far below.