State of Emergency, Part 3

Jared stared out at the lush green “clouds” for awhile, imagining that anything below didn’t warrant his attention because he was so far above them. In reality, they were just trees that would die, and he wasn’t so much far above them as he was just barely. Still, just barely could be stretched to create a world’s length between him and the motley crew below.

An angry orange sphere was falling in slow motion through the green canopy dotted with rooftops. Some chimneys jutted from the canopy too, trying to capture their meager slices of color before the moon came out.

“Jared! Time for, um, dinner!” Aunt Misty called from the somber foot of the stairs. A real person from reality was calling.

“A minute!” Jared replied. A little terse, but she was used to it. The State had ordered meatloaf, but Aunt Misty was crafty and would hack into the system to show footage of one of their past meals.

When Jared descended the stairs, though, he smelled the savory meatloaf. He cursed underneath his breath and walked into the dining room.

“Why meatloaf?” Jared asked as he sat down.

“It’s what your Uncle would’ve wanted,” Aunt Misty replied, bringing the white dish with her and setting it on the center of the table.

“But I don’t want it. I’m alive,” Jared said. Aunt Misty’s lower lip quivered, and she walked out of the room. Jared sighed and tried to find whatever dark hole she climbed into. Despite the house being fairly small, when Aunt Misty didn’t want to be found, that was it. Jared always wondered if there was a secret passageway or something.

“Aunt Misty,” Jared called out, walking out of the kitchen only to lose three hours of his life. After he had apologized thoroughly, he conjured the excuse of taking out the trash so he could go see a friend. Aunt Misty was always concerned that the sirens would find their way to her doorstep if Jared went out by himself. But Jared had been doing this for years and everything had turned out okay.

“At least you don’t have to worry about your Uncle anymore,” Jared’s friend Sasha said to him as they skipped stones across the river. The night was pleasant and green. Lights shone from the porches of houses not that far off.

“I heard they find some way to come back,” Jared replied, not looking at her. “I’m afraid to go to Jimmy’s house. They were swallowed by something. I don’t know what.”

“We don’t have anything to worry about beyond the usual. Let’s just skip stones,” she said.

“Well, if I decided to go to Jimmy’s house sometime, would you go with me?” he asked.

Sasha looked at him, then patted his leg. “Of course,” she said. “But it’s been a really hard day. I just want to watch the ripples.”

Jared obliged and waited while the ripples went off like fireworks. The moon had waited all day to put on a show, and it didn’t disappoint. The frogs lent their noisy throats to the commotion by the river, and Jared relaxed for a bit, taking it all in. Soon though the porch lights started to die off one by one, and the anxiousness returned. Sasha didn’t seem to mind, but she was like a rock. She faded into another one of nature’s holes for a minute, then returned.

“I can’t let you walk home quaking in your boots,” she said. “It wouldn’t be right.”

“Thanks. But you’d be wasting your time. I don’t want to go home. What if Uncle Tom comes back?”

“He’s cremated. How would he?”

Jared shook his head. “Dunno.” Sasha sighed, knowing she couldn’t argue with that. She put her arm around him and loaded up CoinBonanza on her phone. That always seemed to distract Jared.

“I got 100 coins this time. Pretty good, eh?”

“Well, it was on my phone. So they’re mine actually,” Sasha replied. Jared drooped a bit, but he managed to work his way up the ladder leading to his bedroom window without too much trouble. He opened the window, sliding inside with the grace of a discarded velvet sheet.

“Be careful!” Sasha said from the base of the ladder. “I mean, you don’t have to be, but…”

Jared gasped when he saw the spindly shadow of his Uncle Tom.

“Why should I bother punishing you when the State will beat me to it?” Aunt Misty’s voice drowned out the sirens. Jared knew she was right. Then he started to wonder if the sirens were for him, and if Sasha would be able to escape in time.

 

 

 

A Wasteland President, Part 16

It was still dark when Donald raided another Shocko Bell. The stars glittered as he casually devoured the chicken tacos placed haphazardly on his lap. He didn’t know what Barack was on about. Go up to the counter, ask for good, receive food. Simple as that. Plus, he was showing the world that he didn’t need the Secret Service or private jets or adulation to survive. He could survive on the purified nut of mother nature.

The parking lot of the Shocko Bell was understandably empty, except for Donald of course. More cow-faced cats prowled beyond the lights provided by the franchise. They were waiting for a quick and easy meal.

“I know what you’re after,” Donald said to them. “And you’re not getting for it. You’re going to have to work for it like I did.”

One of the cats looked at him fiercely, and then quickly jumped into the bushes. Donald was a little spooked by that. He decided to get up and then walk quickly to the nearest road, which was crumbling and studded with potholes. The road was poorly lit, oozing darkness. He decided to walk until something happened. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for a blue Cadillac to pull up beside him.

“You look a little under the weather. Why don’t you get in the back. Take a load off,” a rough-looking man in his fifties said, pulling on Donald’s sleeve to anchor him to the vehicle.

“Okay,” Donald replied, sliding into the backseat with a grace few enjoyed. The driver turned to look at him, his eyes glowing like one of the cow-faced cats. Donald was more spooked now than he was being alone in that parking lot.

“I’ve been following you for some time. Quietly.”

“My people would’ve noticed,” Donald said haughtily.

“You don’t have people. But I can change that.”

“Huh?”

“I think you should run for President.” The man who spoke wore a long hood. His voice sounded positively…senatorial.

“I’ve been floating the idea around. I like the way you think.”

The man leaned closer to Donald. The hood grazed a sweaty forehead. “Let me put it to…you…this way. Palm Beach–nay–all of Florida, needs your help. But more importantly, you need Florida’s help.”

Donald squinted. “I don’t really understand.”

“You’re a talker, not a thinker. And that makes you the most important man alive. More importantly, if you want to remain that way, you’ll have to ascend to the presidency. Florida memorial cannot cure what ails you. But the government can. What do you say?”

Donald’s head dropped. “The people won’t elect me looking like this.”

“Oh, you…underestimate…your ability to inspire pity. You ran on anger. Run on pity now. For your sake. For…Florida’s sake.”

Donald was wondering what was wrong with the man. Why was he pausing so much when he spoke? He didn’t have much time to ponder that question as the Cadillac abruptly stopped. Secret Service men were getting out of the vehicle blocking its path. They didn’t look happy.

A Wasteland President, Part 15

A Wasteland President, Part 1

 

 

Adam West Fiction “One Final Labyrinth”

The beloved bat looked forlornly at the wall made up of crushed gallons of milk. His sidekick was looking at the wall too, squinting at the harsh sunlight.

“When do you think it will end, Batman?”

“The madness, you mean?”

“No, I meant the sunlight,” his sidekick said. The beloved bat looked at his sidekick, who was gangly-looking and wearing bright red lipstick.

“I don’t suppose you’d consider changing colors? You might look less garish.”

The Prince of Green looked at the bat. “Red wards off the run. And besides, it complements my hair.”

“I can’t argue with royalty,” the bat said. “You are the Prince of Green, after all. Say, why don’t you summon an airship or a retinue of veterans to rescue us from this purgatory.”

But the Prince didn’t answer. Indeed, the Prince wasn’t present at all.

“Where did you go, my dear Prince? I’d of thought you would’ve stuck around to the end.”

The only response the bat received was the hard-to-perceive sound of those decaying gallons. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t decay in enough time to spare his patience. So he walked the lonely paths lined with rejected vessels hoping the Prince of Green would appear.

“We’ve always had a tense relationship, dear Prince. That’s no reason to abandon a well-functioning duo.”

Before the bat could finish his speech, he fell through a question mark-shaped hole in the ground. All of a sudden, he was soothed. Here he was in his natural environment, nestled in a labyrinth beneath a labyrinth. Those pesky gallons still formed barriers against anything else, but Adam was coming to peace with them. They were part of this world, slowly rotting away.

“Whatever happens to this world, I’ll persevere,” Adam said to himself. “Unwanted gallons be damned!”

Adam approached what looked like an altar.

“Go due west,” the altar said, a voice coming from below. “You’ll find your answers there.”

Adam decided to follow the altar’s advice. He headed due west, through ever-narrowing corridors dotted with question marks. Clay hand prints dotted the dots, making Adam suspicious. Something nefarious was going on. He started to doubt the sage words of an always reliable altar. But as soon as he did so, he entered a cavernous room. The gallons had gone, replaced with rocky walls and more clay hand prints.

A being was sitting in a posh chair covered in red. “The Prince of Green! I’d recognize that shade of red anywhere!”

It was indeed the Prince of Green, but his left arm ended in a clay-ish stump. The Prince offered a malicious glare.

“Sorry for the deception, bat, but it was necessary.”

Adam became a little flustered. After all, his sense of justice had been rattled.

“Deception is a tool of the morally polluted!”

The Prince of Green motioned with his clay-ish stump, and shadows started to come out of the woodwork, revealing their true selves.

The Joker appeared, seeming calm and cool-headed. The Penguin, short but devious, took off his top hat, bending a bald head. A riddler wearing pjs stepped out of the dark, yawned and looking benignly at the bat.

“You’re surrounded, my friend,” said the Prince of Green, who tripled in size as the mind behind the shape let go. It was clayface in all his dramatic glory. Vines crept up behind his massive shoulders, and a throne of ivy was rose above his head, sitting inside it was  of course the red-haired poison ivy.

“The Goad-dess of plants herself!”

“At your command!” she said.

Adam was confused, and getting a little angry. Why were they being so nice to him?

“It’s time to let go, Adam,” clayface said, his mask of sadness deepening in the candlelight.

Adam smiled, the reality of things finally dawned on him. “I suppose you’re right,” he said. “But there’s just one last thing.” He looked expectantly into the shadows.

Robin appeared, giving a bow. So this was it. The end of an era. As Robin and the bat walked into the doorway of light, Adam thought that nothing could be this simple. There had to be a catch. But his old enemies were smiling and waving. The Joker, the archbishop of Evil, his greatest nemesis, was waving too. Adam did the same, punching Robin lightly on the shoulder as they passed from one level of existence to another.

Maybe Adam would give David Bowie a call. It was only fitting.

 

A Wasteland President, Part 15

Donald quickly closed his eyes and titled his head, in an effort to look unconscious. Unfortunately within less than a minute, he was unconscious, surfing the waves of the day’s events. He was fighting off a giant lyme tick on the shores of a tumultuous sea. James Comey walked casually along the beach, kicking up sand and sea shells.

“Comey! Hey!…James!” Donald yelled, but Comey kept walking, head down. As he reached the edge of Donald’s dreamscape, a Bannon orc materialized from a shimmering portal, cutting Comey down and vanishing back through the portal in the blink of an eye.

Donald woke with a lump in his heart. He felt tired. Like he could sleep away the next several decades. “Where am I?” he asked. He could hear a cold voice over a speaker system.

“You’re in the hospital, Donald,” Mitch’s voice said. “You fainted for the second time tonight.”

“I need to get to D.C. I need to get those tapes!”

Mitch smiled through Donald’s blurry vision. It seemed gentle and authentic. “You’re not going anywhere. Look, Barack’s team has everything under control.”

“I don’t trust him! He’ll use the tapes against me! He wiretapped me! He sabotaged by Presidency from Day 1!”

“Look in the mirror, Mr. President. You’ve sabotaged yourself,” said Barack, nodding to Mitch. Barack had such a cold look on his face, as if he didn’t care if Donald lived or died.

“Take a look, and remember this is only temporary,” Mitch said.

Trump gazed into the mirror, expecting to see his formidable features. Instead, he saw a remarkably pale man with black, spidery veins clinging to the left side of his face.

“What the hell happened to me?”

“You were bitten by  a Lyme tick. Relax. In a few months, everything is going to be fine,” Mitch said. He leaned closer. “You know, I have a private room here. Best establishment in the whole city. You’re going to love it!”

“The man is suffering from advanced Lyme disease, and all you can talk about is how nice the accommodations are.” Barack said.

“Where’s Michelle?” Mitch asked.

“Looking after things.”

“I…I think I need to lie down.”

The pair of men nodded, putting on their stately masks as they went away.

Donald had lied to them just then. In fact, it wasn’t the first time he had done so. He needed to get those tapes. Maybe he could hitchhike. Take a bus. Something! He had to wait until the nurses ended their shifts and everything died down a little.

The night eventually slowed, with the staff’s voices falling to a simmer and then eventually the only sounds left were the hums of the various machines keeping him alive. He started the mighty task of removing each of the prying tentacles, quietly, semi-efficiently.

After 20 minutes or so, he had freed himself. Donald looked out the window. He was on the third floor. But that wouldn’t stop him. He tied some sheets together, and slid down the silky serpent without so much as a second thought.

Donald stood in front of the hospital, behind some bushes. For the first time in a great while, he was happy. He had cut himself from the Obamas and the nasty ball of entangled headphone cords known as politics. The sky was the limit. He was preparing for the fact that he would have to defend himself occasionally in this new world, but there was always a price to pay for freedom.

A Wasteland President, Part 14

A Wasteland President, Part 1

 

 

A Wasteland President, Part 14

Trump didn’t know what to do. He was scared, alone, and hungry. And mildly claustrophobic.

“I don’t know who to blame,” he whispered. “Mitch, Barack, Michelle. They’re all dirty, as far as I’m concerned.”

He slithered through the vents like a snake, wondering where his next meal was going to coming from. But the exercise was erasing his mind. Everything seemed clear now. Bannon wanted the FBI smeared in time for election season. What possible purpose could that serve?

“Looks like I underestimated you, Steve. Good job.”

Donald was seeing light at the end of the tunnel, even though he couldn’t fit Mitch inside Bannon’s grand scheme just yet. Who was working for whom? Was he still leader of the free world? And what about James Comey? What happened to the friggin’ nut job?

So many questions as he plopped out of an air vent hole, like a recently birthed seal.

“Hold your fire,” came Barack’s voice. “He wears the mantle.”

“The mantle? Who talks like that?” said Michelle.

“It’s simply short-hand for presidential privilege. These guys know what I mean.”

Trump rubbed the top of his head. “I don’t feel so good.” He looked pale and and his eyes were sunken. He could’ve sworn something bit him inside the vents, that suffocating hell of worm tunnels and endless conspiracies.

Barack walked up to the crescent of Secret Service agents, parting the suit-and-tie sea with his eyes. He offered a hand.

“Get up, Donald!” Barack commanded.

“Is this your way of apologizing? Then I accept,” Donald said, then Barack withdrew his hand.

“One of you guys give him a hand. I’m tired of his ****!”

A Secret Service man nodded and went to help the former president. After the incident had resolved itself, Donald caught up with Barack.

“You weren’t very nice to me back there,” Donald said, choking the hallway and preventing any further progress.

“Yeah. That was kinda the point. It’s been one hundred years, Donald. You haven’t grown up at all?”

“In my defense, I was asleep for most of that time.”

“Look. Michelle isn’t hear to defend you and go on and on about your little gift. A god damn paperweight. Anyway, you need to start taking things seriously.”

“You basically tried to have me committed. What’s the point of trying to take things seriously?”

“Barack!,” Michelle said, coming down the stairs.

“Michelle, this isn’t up for debate.”

“Someone has to be guiding the poor man.”

“I’m just trying to keep him outta harm’s way. That’s the same thing.”

Trump shifted his weight to his left hip, and folded both arms. “I think I should decide what qualifies as harm.”

“James Comey running for President harm enough?” Barack said.

“Say wha?” Trump blurted.

“We needed those files from the FBI secured, Donald. I didn’t want you, Bannon, Mitch, or anyone else getting near them. I had to make sure the operation was a success.”

Trump didn’t know how to respond, so he fainted. He woke up hours later, the hum of the car engine soothing him back into unconsciousness.

When he woke again, the moon had taken full reign of the bleak-looking streets. He had only one name on his mind. Kushner. He was going to write a letter to Kushner and send it via homing pigeon.

Trump painstakingly wrote the letter in silence with a severely bitten pencil and a wrinkled piece of paper he had stolen from the elementary school, peeking over at the driver’s and passenger’s seats to make sure no one was monitoring him.

After a solid hour writing, he folded up the piece of paper and stuck it between the pigeon’s claws. “Take this to Kushner,” he whispered, and opened the window quickly.

“Donald, what the hell are you doing?” Michelle said, pulling the car over.

 

A Wasteland President, Part 13

A Wasteland President, Part 15

A Wasteland President, Part 1

A Wasteland President, Part 13

“Look, Mitch, we can talk this over. I’m a good guy. I know you’re a good guy.”

“Take a seat,” Mitch said. He shifted for a minute, not giving Donald much eye contact. Trump wondered if the former Senator was feeling guilty.

“I’m sure you must be very confused right now. You used to be the most powerful man in the country. Now, you’re…you’re…”

“A has-been?” Obama ventured.

“I believe we can still put him to good use,” Mitch said, giving the Obamas a blank stare.

“How were you able to come up with that theory?” Michelle said, and turned to Trump. “Sorry, Donald. You’re just not fit to serve.”

Trump took a breath, looking like a haughty, puff-chested partridge. “I can’t believe this! After all I’ve done for this country! I go to sleep for one hundred years, and this country ”

“I know, I know…Look, Donald. This isn’t easy for me. We’re still allies, as far as I’m concerned. It’s just that our roles have shifted.”

“Are you the man of the hour, Mitch? Have you betrayed me like they all do?”

Mitch’s face turned a very dark red. “Donald. Not at all. I’m just doing what I think is best for what humanity has left.”

Barack shook his head fiercely. “I know what you’re trying to do, Mr. McConnell. But you can’t reason with the man. It was my understanding he was going to be placed in care unit…specific to his needs.”

“We still need him. Elections are coming up soon…”

“You can’t be serious?!” Michelle said, peeling the skin off of a grape.

Obama put his hand on hers, taking the grape and putting it into his mouth. He titled his head thoughtfully. “Hmm. That’s a good grape.”

“Sour grapes,” Trump muttered, then said it louder. “You are all filled with sour grapes!”

“Donald, I thought you would be ecstatic at the news! Another chance to run for President. Not many have the opportunity…”

“I never stopped being President! Besides–”

“Mr. McConnell! Mitch. You keep trying to be the pragmatist…,” Barack started.

“…And? It has worked out thus far.”

“Circumstances are different,” Michelle said, and Barack nodded.

“The circumstances are very different.”

Trump nodded once to himself, as if he were making a decision. He stood up, turned around, grabbed the guard’s gun and knocked it out of his hand. He backed away, then turned and ran out of the cafeteria.

“Come back, Donald!” was the chorus he was used to hearing. But not this time. Things had changed too much for his liking. Run for President again? He became an old man after that. Never again.

After regaining his composure in an empty classroom, he looked up and noticed an air vent with the cover missing. Donald knew that as soon as he wormed his way through the opening, his life would never be the same. Maybe that was a good thing. Thinking about it, he realized he had too much respect for the law. Too much restraint. Worming his way through an air vent opening would change all that. Fuck up the system.

“Let it be done, ” Donald said to himself, and jumped into that square-shaped abyss.

A Wasteland President, Part 12

A Wasteland President, Part 14

A Wasteland President, Part 1

24 hrs w/o fiction

I was supposed to write another chapter in my political satire story A Wasteland President today, but wasn’t feeling up to the monumental task. I think it’s shaping up pretty well, but am having trouble making the overall plot “cohere.” Is that really it, though? I’ve developed this nasty habit of starting an ambitious yarn only to let it unravel at my feet. Typical hubris of the writer? Possibly. But I have so many ideas at any given time that it is truly difficult to focus on just one of them. Hubris would take too much sustained attention.

I have to finish this post-apocalyptic tale. I just have too. If not for the benefit of readers everywhere, then for personal character development.