Standing in my children’s room, watching them sleep, I am overcome, night after night, by a sense of sadness that cannot be stemmed.
Standing in my children’s room, watching them sleep, I am overcome, night after night, by a sense of sadness that cannot be stemmed.
That’s how this starts.
Standing in a line waiting to purchase the world’s most expensive churro.
These things are huge as well. They’re the Ron Jeremy of churros. 24 inches of styrofoam covered in cinnamon and sugar.
We’re at Disneyland. The airs smells like cotton candy cloaking whatever chemical they dump into the river that hosts Mark Twain’s boat ride. It’s me, my wife and my three kids: eight, eight, and five.
Behind me are two adults – husband and wife, judging by how they stand close but do not speak – each of them wearing Mickey hats and sweaters. They have a bag filled with Disney branded stuffed animals and magnets. The woman wears a Tigger tail and is sweating profusely. The man sports a 25th anniversary Disneyland medallion around his hairy neck. Annual Pass Holders for sure.
In front of me are two teenagers. In my mid-30s it’s now become difficult for me to say if a person is 17 or 23. I used to be able to tell. They are male and female. They are young. And they are in love. That much I know.
They hold hands and she hangs on him and he wraps his arms around her neck and he leans in and kisses her nose and she whispers something in his ear and they both laugh and they move awkwardly and stupidly as they emulate the actions of what they think it looks like to be in love.
Or maybe that is what it looks like.
Maybe the first stage of love is stupidity – flaunting your affections in public – showing the world how mature you are. Touch touch. Kiss kiss. Giggle giggle. They wear it on their sleeve so everyone knows.
Jade and I stifle our own idiotic brand of laughter and roll our eyes. When they aren’t looking I reach over and stroke Jade’s nose and bat my eyes at her and scoff the ground with my foot with unmistakable boy-ish charm. I blow her a kiss.
Jade mimes a blowjob and then begins to choke.
Rory asks if she’s okay.
The sweethearts order a churro. He says he doesn’t have money. She pays and laughs because isn’t that adorable and isn’t he so cute? They walk away, sweetening their lips with sugar.
My kids stand behind me. Three of them trying to casually kick and punch each other when we aren’t looking.
The girl in the churro cart looks sad and starved. Her skin is pale and her eyes are dead. “How can I help you?” She says it the way a porn star would. She says it like, “This is how you WANT IT to sound, right?”
I ask for two churros – four full feet of sweetness to split between us.
My children hear me order “ONLY 2?!” and the apocalypse begins.
Rory: “There are five of us! I want my own! I don’t want to share! Buy more! I’m not eating if I have to share!”
I’m like, “1. They’re huge. You don’t need your own. 2. I am going to break off a piece and hand it to you. If you choose to take it, you will reap the enjoyment of a churro. If you do not take it, your siblings will reap the rewards of your churro. It makes no difference to me.”
Huffy puffy face. Arms crossed. Dissent and argumentative undertones while I tear one off. Fists clenched. Eyebrows furrowed. Frumpy. Frumpy. Frumpy attitude.
I tear off the piece of churro and hold it out to my son. He stares at it but doesn’t lift his hands. I say, “This is your only chance. In who’s belly this churro lives is of no concern to me.”
He reaches out and grabs it, thankless. With a pinched face he starts eating. Life is hard.
The other two are no better.
People are crowding in around us. Shoulder to shoulder. Someone smells like steamed carrots. Someone else smells like garlic toast. Someone else smells like something that reminds me of the summer of 1994 though I can’t place it. It’s like pine needles and rubber tires and soil.
While we stand in line for the train (my favorite ride) the children bicker and argue with one another. They punch and fight. They ask why we’re in more lines. They yell at me for not getting them another churro. They want to go home and watch cartoons.
Glancing around I see that this is business as usual. Every parent in that line looks like they’re about to commit a homicide / suicide against their offspring.
I can feel my eyeball starting to twitch. My brain is getting all wired up. I need to sit somewhere quiet for a moment. I look at Jade and say, “We are reaching critical mass,” and she says, “Is that a church joke?”
Quinn crawls over the turn-style, pausing on the top to howl like a wolf, her face pointed at the sky. Rory kicks it with his foot like Jimmy Bad Ass but can’t execute it properly and it snaps back and hits him in the gut. He revenge punches the machine. Bryce gets trapped halfway between and begins to panic.
We’ve been here for two hours. The day is really just getting going. And yet, all I want to do is turn and walk away, flipping them off over my shoulder and shouting, “Find your own ride home, ya thankless bastards!”
They really do bring out the best in me.
They really do bring out the worst in me.
I look over at them. Pinching each other. Standing up. Sitting down. Crawling under the bench. I shut my eyes because my freaking head is going to explode. Would it be inappropriate for me to stand up, point with a condemning finger and shout, “SHUT UP! SHUT UP! JUST SIT DOWN AND SHUT THE FUCK UP FOR ONE GODDAMN SECOND!”
Jade leans against the rail post and stares into the distance, probably imagining that she’s in a soft bed with Netflix and Diet Coke. We all need an escape.
As the train pulls up, an older woman helps a younger man out. The man is mid-20s. Clearly her son. He has on a bright orange helmet that straps under his chin and matching vest pulled snuggly over his torso. Both his arms are strapped down to his side, tied off so he can’t move them. At the bottom of the vest I can see his little fingers peeking out. As she guides him along, one hand placed on his back, he attempts to reach out and touch things. Tries to make contact with a plant. With the fence. With the garbage can. His fingers twitch and grab hopelessly. His eyes are softly focused and he makes lazy contact with each object. His mother guides him gently down the stairs.
They turn and disappear into the crowd.
I watch them vanish.
The interaction took moments. Here and gone. And now I’m back at the train station. My kids. All of it.
I grow aware that my mouth is dry. I grow aware that the sun is warm. I grow aware that my fingers are sticky from the churro.
I look down at Quinn and see her face is covered with sugar crystals. It looks like she’s just gone on a coke bender. She hisses at me and puts up her hands like claws. I reach out and touch the top of her head. Feel her hair. Feel her skull. Acknowledge her presence.
Acknowledge her health.
Acknowledge the blessing of life. Of hers. Of mine. Of hers inextricably looped into mine.
I touch each of their heads in turn, thankful for each of them. Thankful for this moment on the train station steps.
On the train, Quinn gives Rory a snake bite and he kicks her in the knee.
*** *** *** *** ***
Splash Mountain is closed and the Indiana Jones ride has technical difficulties. They turn us away after our hour wait in line is almost over.
*** *** *** *** ***
In line for The Jungle Cruise I can see the boats pulling up and collecting people. The main source of enjoyment at Disneyland is watching other people get on a ride and living vicariously through them, if even for a moment. “Oh! The ride is moving! I bet they’re having a good time! That will be me soon!”
That will be me soon.
As we draw closer to the boarding station, I see a boat stop. A draw bridge comes down. A mechanical device swivels around. On the dock I see an old woman in a wheelchair. She is pushed onto the mechanical platform and it navigates her onto the boat.
Her hair is thin and white and wispy. Each thread is an albino spider’s web. Her skin is translucent, barely more than Reynold’s wrap. Her veins are blue and purple. Her skin is mottled with brown spots, her body ripening like an old banana.
Her eyes are crusted but there is life in them. She is still there. Whoever she was. Is who she is. Her consciousness trapped inside of a failing body. Her mind aware that her body is rotting away.
As she passes, I stand up a little straighter. Take a deep breath. Hold it. Let it out. Become aware that I am young and becoming less young by the moment. Become aware that I am alive. Become aware that I am healthy.
Become aware that that will be me soon.
That will be me soon.
That will be me.
My own mortality is glass. And the idea that I feel invincible and changeless is an illusion. I am going to grow old. I am going to get sick. I am going to die.
My hair is going to white out. My vision and hearing are going to fail me. My body is going to go rogue. My skin is going to turn ghost on me.
I will need help standing.
Everything that I do. Every choice that I make. Every road that I travel. Leads to old age and death.
The only difference between that old woman and myself is 50 years. The band of time holds us apart but she may as well have been me. I may as well have been her.
Later on I stare into the witch’s mirror and see my own aging face staring back at me. “Mirror mirror on the wall. Whose the fairest of them all?”
It answers back.
“None of you. All are rotting fruit, destined for the compost heap. This is merely your season in the sun. Let the light touch your face. Have self control. Give. Be compassionate. Eat churros.”
I’m sitting at a picnic table in a park. A father and son are throwing a baseball back and forth. A young girl throws herself down the slide with a squeal. Her older brother chases her down while their parents stand nearby and chat, smiles on their faces. The sun is mid-way between high noon and sunset.
The moment is snap-shot worthy. Something from a postcard.
My cell phone, lying on the table, lights up next to me. My dad is calling. I see that I’ve missed a previous text from him that reads simply, CALL ME ASAP.
My stomach drops and all the terrible things come to my mind. How much of an emergency is this? What am I about to discover? I’m picking up the phone and dread is filling me up. It rings and I’m thinking it’s either going to be awful or an overreaction. It rings again. I tap my finger as my stomach tightens.
Mid-ring he picks up. A moment of silence. A choke. A pause. It’s just long enough to know it’s not good. Just enough to think it’s bad. Just enough time to brace myself for news, some news. Please do not tell me someone is dead.
I hear a sharp inhale and then, “My mom died.”
Silence. My thoughts a void. Then it all snaps back to me, thrown in my face like a bright light after darkness. My grandma was dead. My dad’s mother was dead.
My mind goes blank, the back of my brain falls out and all I can think is of a big empty space where no thought lives at all. I stare at that dad throwing the ball to his son. The image is macabre.
My mind instantly throws a handful of sloppy thoughts in front of me. What was the last thing you said? When was the last time you spoke? Did you return her last call? I struggle to think, to answer, to understand.
My dad and I sit in silence for the better part of a minute. I hear the occasional sniff on his side followed by shallow exhales. He lost his mother, I think. A picture of my own mother rises into my mind and I immediately understand that someday I will be standing in his shoes, calling Rory, telling him that my mother has passed on.
I ask what happened.
“She’s old. She’s old.”
I fly back to South Dakota a few days later and meet up with my family. There are a lot of us. I grew up amongst these people. And I grew up amongst my grandmother, she having lived next door to me my entire life.
At the wake I stand at her casket and stare down at her. They have made her look nice though she did already look nice while she was alive. Her hair is perfect. Her skin is colored to look healthy. A slight smile. I can’t help but think she looks happy to be dead.
Her hands are cold. And small. And her skin is thin and wrought with fat veins and deep wrinkles. I see a watch on her hand, Wizard of Oz themed. It ticks, very much alive.
I watch the second hand take it’s jolting steps forward, forever marching ahead. And another second. And another second. And another second. And now I’m a few moments closer to the end of my own plank, my yellow brick road getting shorter and shorter, brick by brick by brick.
The last thing I see before they close the casket is her watch, still ticking.
At the graveside they’ve dug a hole before the family arrives. I carry the casket from the hearse to the grave and slide it onto the harness. Around the casket they’ve placed fake grass, hiding the earth from our eyes, cloaking death, hiding the truth from us, trying to put make-up on it, hiding what we’re doing.
Some words are said and people begin to walk away, the casket still sitting on the harness.
The crowd gathers in their cars and drive away, the casket still sitting on the harness.
As I drive away, I see the casket, still sitting on the harness, reflected in my mirrors.
I want to watch it lower. I want to bury her with my hands. I don’t want to drive away and eat turkey sandwiches and potato salad while she sits alone, being lowered and buried by some Chuck and Larry Whoever.
Afterwards, in the church basement, I have a chance to look out at the attendees. We are young and old. I witness the web she has weaved, the relationships she has forged, the people she knew, either by choice or by blood. These were her people. Some of them so young they are brand new, a baby nursing. Some of them so old, their minds have begun to fade, their memories being slowly deleted, their relationships being erased.
I look at the ones that are closest to me, mother, father. Siblings. Uncles and aunts. Cousins and friends. And I realize I will be standing here again in the years to come. If I am lucky enough to continue to live, I will see each of them in a casket, their eyes closed, their make-up on, their happy-to-be-dead smiles. And their ticking watches. Like the marching of a drum.
I fly back home the day after the day after the funeral and am walking up my driveway in LA late. It’s dark. The moon is up. My family is sleeping.
Inside I drop my bag and kill my coat. Kiss my wife. Walk into the children’s room and see them sleeping, their eyes closed, their faces young and healthy. Their smiles nowhere to be found in their sleep.
I enter our room and pull off my shirt. Glancing down into the crib, I see Beau sleeping on her back, one hand laying on her tummy. One hand sprawled above her head.
I stare at her. And I stare at her. And I stare at her. And I can’t shake the thought. It eats at me and turns my stomach and makes me sick. I feel my throat restrict and my eyes begin to well up.
Someday I will die. Someday I will leave you alone, Beau. Someday I will leave you all. Alone. Someday you will have only one another. Someday you will be standing over me, staring down at me. I can’t protect you from this. You will suffer the death of a parent.
And if we are lucky, you will suffer the death of a parent and not I suffering the terrible and awful naked horror of losing a child.
The clock ticks. It ticks on and on. My children grow. They have families and children of their own, friends and lives. They’ve built their own webs of relationships, their own complex frameworks that I will not know. I will not be familiar with them. Their late-life tapestry will not be for me to observe or take part in.
Staring down at Beau, the third and final thought strikes me and I want to walk out of the room, redirect my thoughts and blind myself with distractions. I want the horrible earth to be covered in fake grass – I don’t want the truth. I want the make-up on the truth. I don’t want the truth. I want to run from it but instead I stand at her crib side and I keep staring, digging into it. Letting the emotions encase me.
Someday Beau will die. And someday she will lie in a coffin. And I will not be there. And strangers will celebrate the life of my baby.
In the earth, my grandmothers watch continues to tick.
A VULGAR DISPLAY OF POWER
Elon had been secretly working on his Mars project for a very long time. Over the course of the last few years he had been quietly launching robotics missions once a month and delivering packages to the same landing sight.
When they arrived, they found it stocked with the makings for a small colony. A small group of Wall-E like robots were already building a green house. Cots and rudimentary sewage were already in place.
They buried Bernie just outside their camp and named their new human colony Burlington, after the Vermont town where Sanders earned his come-uppance and gained popularity as a mayor.
Under the harsh landscape of Mars, the Wall-E robots had been carving out a cavern, creating the footprints of what would be the next step in human evolution.
And in the deepest darkest recesses lied their most valuable asset: an exact duplicate of Bernie’s iso-chambers. “Bernie and I have been working on this for quite some time.”
Barack and Michelle stare at it, dumbstruck.
Elon gestures to the three tubes. “Genetic material plus mental and emotional attributes equals human being. All we have to do is take the best humans the earth has to offer…”
Elon looks around the room at the three of them. “I guess that’s us.”
“Just the three of us.” Michelle nods. Joe was elsewhere, probably gazing out over the red planes and dreaming of a utopian society.
Elon continues. “This is how we’ll repopulate. We’ll grow the humans. One at a time.”
“One at a time.”
“And we’ll teach them. We’ll teach them new things. We’ll teach them brand new things and we won’t teach them the old ways. We won’t even tell them about earth or Donald.”
“Not everything about Bernie. We can tell them some things.”
“What if they ask where we came from? What will we tell them?”
“The truth. We came from the stars. We don’t know why and we don’t know how. But we know that when we stand together, we are stronger.”
That evening, after plenty of wine, Barack and Michelle go to their quarters and make love on Mars. They aren’t the first African American couple to make love on Mars. They are the first couple to make love on Mars.
Elon stands alone in the green house and watches the little Wall-E robots work tirelessly on his project as the red sunset burns through the window. He didn’t know what time it was anymore. His body said he was tired.
The robots worked endlessly and without complaint. They didn’t ask for a raise and they didn’t care if you beat them up or shut them off and they weren’t offended when you upgraded them.
Robots. He thinks to himself. Maybe they are the next level in human evolution. Maybe they lack the thing that ruins us. The thing that controls us. The thing that enslaves us.
Perhaps if I could tweak the code in the iso-chamber, just a little, we could produce a human that had less emotion. They would be a little more predictable. A little more tamable. A little easier to…
He catches the word on his tongue.
Elon turns and walks to his cot, contemplating his own selfish shortcomings as a human being.
Over Burlington, Mars, the same sun that set over Earth for a millennia, sets on the dusty red planet’s dead landscape and over four of the same people that it set on before.
And our new Martians didn’t live happily ever after. Nor did they live completely happily. Nor did they live ever-after.
But they did live.
And maybe things would be different this time.
Or maybe they’ll be the same.
But it would be a very long time before we discovered the answer.
A VULGAR DISPLAY OF POWER
Kim Jong Un floats through the distant cosmos for a very long time and he sees many wonderful and interesting things. Just kidding. Space is a black void. And if you don’t know where you’re going or how to get there, you’re pretty much boned.
Kim floated in space for the rest of his miserable life, unable to entertain himself and with nothing to look at. He had become his childhood nemesis, Jeong Rang, and had suffered nearly the same solitary fate.
Unrest was beginning to rise amongst the crew and Kim was beginning to lose control of them. He overheard someone suggest that they should eject him down the toilet in order to watch his face explode in the freezing abyss.
He wasn’t altogether sad to finally die. In fact, he had come to terms with it and had accepted his fate when, on a Sunday, or what would have been a Sunday (with no Earth or Sun there were no Earth days) a strange portal opened on the deck of his ship and out stepped a strange and hideous creature who went by the name of Wells Fargo.
Wells voice was unsettling and made Kim’s skin crawl. “Kim Jong Un. You have destroyed Pale Blue Dot.”
Kim is silent. The crew watches in rapture. Kim wants to unleash his men on this monster, unleash the righteous fire-power of his wrath but he isn’t completely sure that they would follow orders.
Wells continues, unfettered, “You destroyed Pale Blue Dot. It was not for you to destroy. It did not belong to you. Consequences must be met for your thoughtless actions.”
“Do not touch me, monster.”
“Do not tell me what to do, biped.” Wells slurps forward and reveals his broken teeth. Kim feigns bravery. Kim’s bowels release. His mother runs to him and cradles her sweetie in her massive bosom. Wells blasts them both with his quantum-revolver and they both drop to the ground, conscious but frozen. The effects would wear off in a day or two. He drags them through the portal and takes them back to the land of the Kardashians. He planned to make Kim his pet. His children had always wanted an Earthling.
And this one had a cute little haircut.
The mother could potentially be bred out. If not, they could send her to the glue factory with the rest of the callused herd.
For the rest of Kim’s life, he lived in a cage. His owner made him take behavioral courses and they eventually took.
His new pet name was Cookie and he would speak only on command.
Tomorrow brings us to our final ending: EPILOGUE 2.
A VULGAR DISPLAY OF POWER
The roof of Elon’s mansion folds back, revealing a magnificent launching pad. The countdown clock hits zero and the rocket containing the PSA fires them into space, propelling them away from the cradle of mankind in a fury of rocket fuel and human ingenuity.
Elon takes a moment to consider that in the next 30 minutes he will be the smartest man alive. And also the tallest.
As the violent atmosphere rocks their ship, Michelle pukes into her space helmet and Barack has a powerful spiritual out of body experience.
Bernie suffers a stroke and dies while passing through the final layer of atmosphere into outer space. They don’t discover it until it’s too late. His body is placed in the freezer and they plan to take care of it as soon as the proper opportunity presents itself.
Joe feels like he’s lost his father.
As they rise up, they see the great and glorious expanse of space open before them. “The cosmos,” Elon says mystically before unbuckling himself and doing weightless somersaults towards the fridge. He snaps open a vitamin water and thoughtfully sips it. “Well, I suppose I should ask. Are we planning to watch the explosion or should we kick it into Tesla Speed?”
Elon plugs his stereo in and begins to play Amazing Grace. Then he plays Highway to Hell. Then he plays Rocket Man. None of them feels right. Finally he just turns on white noise and listens to its calming hiss as the missile, which they can now see, moves slow motion through space and time towards Pale Blue Dot.
Elon begins to recite a mantra from memory, spoken by one of his heroes.
“That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there – on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturing, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.
To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
Elon stops talking and the group sits in silence as they watch Kim’s Power House missile slam into Earth and kill everyone they’d ever known.
Their planet was gone.
Tomorrow is our EPILOGUE part 1 followed directly by EPILOGUE part 2.
A VULGAR DISPLAY OF POWER
John McCain awakens in a golden room, tied to a golden chair with, what appears to be, a golden lasso. He squints against all the shine.
John opens his eyes fully and allows them to adjust. It’s just he and Donald (in Kardashian form) and Melania in the room. Donald is making love to Melania on the desk. “Love” was a strong word. From John’s perspective it looked more like Donald was making hate to her.
Melania looks like she’s been drugged. She isn’t even blinking.
John’s body is broken. Everything is broken. All he knows is pain.
Donald pulls his green penis, covered in boils and slime, from the inside of his robotic wife.
“She came here to kill me.” He wipes his wet dick on her dress. “Did you know that she was created by Bernie Sanders?” He throws the soiled dress over her soiled face. “Many years ago I found this out. I’ve been waiting for her to make her move. In the meantime I’ve been -” he signals to her robotic vagina.
He glances at her. There is no emotion in his face but within his eyes there is sharp hatred and a shadow of hurt.
“She’s not asleep, if you’re wondering. She’s dead. If she was ever even really alive. I destroyed her charging station.” He touches her face and then pushes her off the desk and onto the floor like a dirty Kleenex.
Human life. Just some piece of meat. Just a thing to pussy-grab when you wanted. An object to be used.
Donald pours himself a bowl of cereal and sits down in front of John. “It’s a real shame it’s got to end like this, both of us getting fried in a nuclear holocaust.”
“My name is John McCain. And I am a hero.”
“Seen a mirror lately?”
“My name is John McCain. And I am a hero.”
Donald pulls a dollar bill out of a golden kleenex box and blows his nose in it. Another bill magically pops up.
John begins to struggle against the rope. The pain is tremendous. Every bone in his body is broken. Every movement is shattered glass on raw skin.
“My name… is John McCain… and I am… a hero.”
A tear rolls down his cheek and he shakes it away. Tears were for mortal men. And John McCain was not a mortal man. He was born for more. Destined for greatness.
“My name is John McCain.”
His left hand, wrist and all five fingers broken, becomes free. But it’s all he needs because, “I am a hero.”
Donald Trump begins to load a hooka full of Godplex. He plans to make the next hour take quite some time. He’d smuggled some in from 5-Points years ago and has had it on top of his fridge since then. He took a hit before his State of the Union Address. Big mistake.
He lights up and inhales deeply. The burn is deep and fierce and loud and ugly and then tiiiiiiiime sloooooooows dooooooown. Behind Donald Trump, John McCain stands up and approaches him. Donald is caught in a daze of ecstasy.
John McCain is a limping and garbled mess of flesh and bone and muscle and sinew.
Donald turns around just as the bruised and bloodied face of a monster bears down on him. The teeth are all missing. The nose is twisted to the side and gnarled into a fist. One eye is swollen shut. His cheek and jawbone are broken, making his previous chants sound far less coherent.
He grabs Donald’s cheeks in his broken hands and his nerves scream in pain. “Mer nohm iz Jhon MuhGain. ‘N I em a herro.”
He screams. And his spittle flies into Donald’s face. And Donald is terrified. He quivers back in fear and releases his bladder, spilling golden urine onto the fine golden carpet. He shouts for Paul Ryan but he’s nowhere to be found. He goes through his list. Everyone is dead or fired. Some are missing. I’ve run my agenda into the ground. I’m never going to get my wall built!
For the next five years, Godplex time, John McCain merciless beats Donald Trump. He throws him around the room in a fantastic rage. A rage that held no consequence for this was The Great Ending. A rage that held nothing back for there was nothing after this. A rage that was equal parts want and need. He knew he shouldn’t find enjoyment in this but he did. He didn’t want to, but he did. And this was the end, so he embraced it. He allowed himself to be nothing but Man. Not Civilized Man. Not Modern Man. But Primal Man. He allowed The War Machine to take over.
He let out Mad Dog McCain. And it was Mad Dog McCain that carved his initials into Donald’s forehead with his thumbnail over the course of a long fall season in Donald’s time perspective. It was horrendously painful and Donald wept until he was dehydrated and choked with exhaustion.
A VULGAR DISPLAY OF POWER.
Kim Jong Un sits on the deck of his spacecraft, The Nobility, with his mother, and stares at the blur of the missile’s tail. “I really did it, mommy. I really destroyed Earth.”
“You sure did, my beautiful little baby. And Mommy is so proud of you for standing up for yourself to that mean old bully. He got what he deserved. He and all of them.”
Being around his mommy always made Kim feel better. Even when he felt guilty for killing billions of people, many of them children, his mother knew how to turn his day around and make him feel great about himself.
Mom’s were magic like that.
“What should we do now?”
Kim thinks, “Did we bring any DVDs?”
His mom shakes her head. “I don’t think we packed any.”
Kim races from room to room in a panic. It was true. They had become so consumed with packing food and weapons of mass destruction that they had forgotten to pack any DVDs, video games, books or activities. There weren’t even any coloring books.
“What have I done?”
A VULGAR DISPLAY OF POWER
John McCain flies Bernie’s rented jet as high as he can, circling it up further and further into the sky. John has lit a cigarette and squints against it in the fading light. “Where are you, you bastard?”
If he knew anything about people, and he thinks he did, he’d imagine that Kim would be sending that missile straight towards Mar a Lago. He was going to want to make sure Trump sees it loud and clear. He probably even painted a little message on the front of it for him. People sometimes did that.
Arriving high above Mar a Lago, he begins to loop wide circles around the area, waiting, hoping, to catch eye of the missile when his fuel-light suddenly fires on. “Shit.” It had been a while since he’d flown and he’d forgotten the basics. Good thing he didn’t plan to land the thing.
Hours pass and still no sign of the missile. The gas light is now dangerously low but he knows he can’t touch ground. He knows that he has to stay. He knows that he has to give it his all. He knows this is it. He knows there is no take two. He knows there is no place for him to refill and jump back up. He knows this is not how this works. He knows he is in enemy territory.
He looks down and sees the swampy marshland pressed up against the sea and for a moment he’s back in Vietnam. “No.” He shakes his head and snaps back. “I’m not there. I’m here. I’m here.” The engine light cuts off, the engine themselves sputter and then the plane is falling. “Goddamnit. Goddamnit.” McCain hops up to find a parachute but instead finds the cabinet empty. Inside is a sticky note that says, “Replace parachutes.”
He stares at the sticky note before slowly shutting the door and strapping himself into the pilot seat.
“It’s time to ride this bull into the china shop.”
He tries his best. He pulls up hard. He puts everything he has into it. He’s closer and closer to the water. The trees are no longer small and distant. Instead they are very close and very green and he is even able to identify a group of beautiful Dogwood Jacaranda before the front of his plane slams into the still surface of the ocean and he is back in Vietnam except he is not young and flexible. Instead he is old and broken and this is not how it is supposed to happen. This is not it.
But, yes, it is. This is it. This is how you go out, John. Cold and alone. But it’s how you wanted it, isn’t it? Dying for something you believed in?
Will they ever find my body?
No. Nobody will even know you were here.
John’s body tumbles and breaks and snaps. Again.
Why didn’t the C4 pop?
It was his last thought.
Donald Trump watches the entire thing happen from the roof of Mar a Lago. He can’t believe his luck. He sends his troops to go retrieve whoever is flying that jet.
A VULGAR DISPLAY OF POWER
In the basement of Elon Musk’s 19 bazillion dollar mansion, you’ll find his personal passion project, which he has entitled “Optimus-P”. It was scheduled to be his greatest success to date. Unfortunately, nobody currently alive would be around to witness its glory. Elon was a little bit of a nihilist and believed we were all living inside of a giant computer program so wasn’t emotionally invested in his own life ending as he simply assumed he would “respawn” elsewhere. Perhaps in a different body or a different dimension or a different plain of consciousness. Or perhaps he’d simply reboot in a different computer program. Or maybe he’d be reborn in his own body and was destined to relive his own mistakes again and again until he learned from them.
Elon pulls a lever dramatically and the basement lab begins to transform. Walls slide. Windows buckle up. Furniture flips over and folds away. Control panels roll out of the walls. A track by AC/DC starts to play over his intercom system. He designed it that way to give people watching it the chills. He understood the pleasure centers of the brain and how to make them fire.
“This is magnificent, Elon.” Michelle is truly in awe.
“I’ve just turned it on. You will see magnificence shortly. Please be sure to stay within this circle while Optimus is in operation. If you don’t, a limb could easily be torn astray from your body, resulting in death and / or dismemberment.”
Everyone absentmindedly shoves their hands in their pockets.
A timer begins counting down on the wall. It is set to 6 hours.
Elon smiles. “Prepare for blast-off.”