Other ramblings

Safe Space

1.

It had been months since the sun shined. Nathan walked along the crumbling highway with his son Samuel in tow. Samuel had a rope tied to his waist. The rope was attached to a shopping cart which contained all of Nathan and Samuel’s worldly possessions: some cans of food, a rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammo.

The shopping carts’ wheels clattered along the cracked asphalt. But then Nathan heard another noise. The noise of an engine. He looked back and saw a cloud of gray dust on the horizon.

“We need to get off the road.”

Nathan grabbed the assault rifle and the blue tarp from the shopping cart. Samuel pulled the cart off the highway and down the hill into the tree line. The dead trees provided little protection, but it was the only cover they had. Nathan tipped the shopping cart on its side and laid prone on the ground alongside Samuel. He threw the blue tarp over them. The barrel of the rifle poked out.

The noise of the engine grew louder and louder until a pickup truck screamed past them. Thankfully, it was going too fast to notice the blue tarp. Nathan saw the passenger’s, though. There were four of them sitting on the bed of the pickup, all bald white men. A turret was mounted on the bed of the truck, and a Confederate flag waved from the bumper.

After the engine’s noise had died away, Nathan and Samuel crawled out from under the tarp.

“Dad, how much longer till we get to the bubble?”

“Not too long now. Maybe a day or two.”

“Will life be better in the bubble?”

“In some ways, yes.”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s a safer place for you.”

“But?”

“But safety comes at a cost. We won’t be free.”

“You mean we’ll be slaves?”

“No, I mean we won’t be free to do certain things.”

“Like what?”

“Like, you have to say Caitlyn Jenner was brave.”

“Who’s Caitlyn Jenner?”

“Don’t worry about that now.”

Nathan had been reluctant to tell Samuel all the truths of the world. He didn’t want to confuse the boy. Samuel had been born in the middle of the Snowflake Uprising. At the time, conservatives were still clinging to power. Every day, liberal armies would gather outside government buildings and courthouses in cities across the country, demanding conservatives leave office. They carried no firearms, for they were all staunchly opposed to the Second Amendment. Instead, the liberals wrote snarky messages on posters, sang peace songs and offered to give conservatives sensitivity training. The conservatives shot and killed thousands of them in self-defense.

But eventually, the ammo ran out. After several years, the liberal army — or Snowflakes as they called themselves — succeeded in ridding all the great American cities of every conservative-leaning politician, judge or bureaucrat. Once the job was done, they commissioned the scientific community, a loyal ally of the Snowflakes, to construct massive bubbles around their cities. The bubbles were impervious to gunfire, bombs or missiles. The Snowflakes welcomed immigrants, minorities, homosexuals and fellow white liberals into the bubble. They kept out conservatives through extreme vetting tactics. Pretty soon, the Snowflakes had what they wanted — liberal havens where people were free to be who they wanted to be, act how they wanted to act, and say what they wanted to say as long as nobody else is made to feel uncomfortable.

They called these bubbled cities their “safe spaces.”

2.

The sky had turned a darker shade of gray as dusk approached. Nathan looked off in every direction to see if he could spot a light or some kind of structure that could serve as shelter. It was very dangerous to be caught out at night. The Snowflakes weren’t the problem. Nathan feared The Deplorables. He suspected the men in the pickup truck from earlier were Deplorables.

The Deplorables were a radical offshoot of conservatives. Their kind had always existed on the peripheries of American cultural discourse but were finally able to seize power in the fallout from the Snowflake Uprising.

At first, the Deplorables tried to attack the space spaces. But soon they realized they had exactly what they wanted: an entire country free of liberal influence. The Deplorables then set about achieving their ultimate goal: creating a white ethnostate. They began roaming the country in search of immigrants and minorities who were unable to make it to the safe spaces. When they caught them they gave them a choice: death or slavery. Many chose slavery, more chose death.

But the Deplorables didn’t just stop with immigrants and minorities. Pretty soon they were hunting anybody who didn’t share their radical beliefs, which is why Nathan felt the need to hide. Sure, Nathan had been a conservative thinker his entire life, but even he wasn’t sure he could withstand questioning from the Deplorables.

Rumor had it that when the Deplorables question you, they shoot you full of truth serum and force you to answer three questions at gunpoint:

  1. Do you think women deserve to earn equal pay as men for the same job?
  2. Should businesses be required to provide service to a customer if the request conflicts with the business owner’s religious beliefs?
  3. Do you believe climate change is real and that humans are causing it?

Nathan knew there was only one answer to these questions the Deplorables wanted to hear, and he knew that if he wavered in front of them, it would cost him his life.

3.

They found refuge in the husk of an old worn down trailer parked off the highway. The trailer bore the Snowflake insignia on the side. Nathan assumed it was one of the trailers the Snowflakes used to transport goods between safe spaces. The safe spaces functioned as their own independent city-states, exchanging goods and services only with each other. They flourished economically under this arrangement, while the rest of the country — deprived of their hubs of finance and innovation — suffered.

This is why Snowflake convoys transporting goods were often attacked. Sometimes the Deplorables would attack them. More often, it was starving citizens. This worn-down old trailer was likely the result of one of the few successful attacks, and it would make an adequate shelter for the evening.

Nathan and Samuel laid flat on the metal floor of the trailer. Neither could sleep. Outside, in the distance, Nathan could hear engines roaring and gunfire.

“Dad, why did Uncle Michael get to live in the bubble?” Samuel asked.

“Because he was already living there when the Snowflakes took over.”

“So they let him stay?”

“Well, first he had to convince them that it would be okay for him to stay.”

“How did he do that?”

“You know, by saying all the Snowflake stuff: gender is a spectrum and universal healthcare and all that.”

“And he convinced them?”

“Apparently.”

“So he can get us into the bubble?”

“I hope so.”

“How do we know he isn’t a Snowflake?”

Nathan let out a long sigh. The truth was there was no way of knowing whether his brother was a Snowflake. Nathan hadn’t spoken to Michael in over 15 years. The two had been close as children, but things changed when Michael decided to attend college. In short time he began lecturing Nathan on “trigger warnings” and “microaggressions.” Nathan would tell Michael that the purpose of college isn’t to be coddled, it is to open your mind to new experiences and new ways of thinking. The brothers would get into heated arguments and not talk for weeks.

The final straw came when Michael set fire to the student center to prevent conservative thought leader and author Khloe Kardashian from speaking at his school.

It was at this point that Nathan realized Michael had been infected with some kind of liberal disease. Rather than try and help his brother, he turned his back.

Little did Nathan know that this liberal disease would go on to infect his wife, Wanda. Only months after giving birth to Samuel, she decided to join a Snowflake march on the state capitol. Nathan begged her to stay home.

“Let them kill each other! You’re a mother now, you have responsibilities!”

Wanda shot him daggers. What she said next Nathan will never forget:

“Don’t be a cuck.”

With that she was out the door. That evening, Nathan heard about her death on the news. She crossed the picket line and attempted to enter the state capitol. She said she wanted to reason with the conservatives. She didn’t get two feet in the door before being cut down by a flurry of bullets.

Michael had seen the news too. He called Nathan that night, and invited Samuel and him to come live in the bubble.

“Do it for the boy,” Michael told Samuel. “You can’t raise him on your own. The world out there is not a good one.”

Nathan was wounded. “Your world is so much better?” he shot back. “Maybe the reason the world is like this now is because your kind stuck their noses up at the rest of us. So thanks, but I don’t need your pity. I’ll take my chances out here.”

Michael did take his chances outside the bubble, but he underestimated how bad the country would get. The only jobs left were in coal mining and agriculture, and the slaves did most of the agricultural work. The Deplorable government had promised prosperity for all, but to Nathan it seemed that all the money went to the top, and none managed to trickle down to the working class.

Out of options, Nathan was finally taking his brother up on his offer.

Michael rolled over and looked at his son.

“I don’t know that he’s not a snowflake. But I know that he’s my brother, and I think he can help us.”

4.

The trailer jerked forward. Nathan shot up from his slumber and reached for his weapon.

“What’s happening,” Samuel asked, wiping the sleep from his eyes.

“I think we’re moving.”

The trailer jerked forward again and Nathan fell on his side. Then he and Samuel slid backward, then forwards when the trailer began to pick up speed.

Nathan stumbled to the back door of the trailer and unlocked it. The highway was running away beneath Nathan’s feet. Somebody must have hitched their vehicle to the trailer. Nathan didn’t want to find out who, but by now they were moving too fast to jump off the back.

“I’m scared,” Samuel said.

Nathan hugged his son and they huddled together on the floor.

“Whatever happens we’ll face it together.”

Nathan continued holding his son until he fell back asleep in his arms. Nathan wished for sleep as well, but he knew that was too dangerous. He needed to be awake for whenever the trailer got to where it was going. He needed to be ready to shoot.

Hours passed. Nathan laid against the wall in a sleep-deprived daze. He felt every bump on the road, every turn the trailer made. He kept one hand on his son, the other on his rifle.

Then, the trailer stopped. Nathan clenched his weapon tightly. In another moment, the back doors of the trailer swung open and Nathan and Samuel were hit in the face by dull morning sunlight.

“My god,” Nathan heard a voice say. “There are people in here.”

Two men climbed into the trailer. Nathan instantly recognized their Snowflake fatigues.

One of the Snowflakes spoke:

“Who are you two?”

“My name is Nathan and this is my son Samuel.”

“How did you manage to get inside a Snowflake trailer?”

“We were traveling along the interstate and we found it on the side of the road,” Nathan said, meekly. “We needed shelter, and it was unlocked.”

The Snowflake reached down and grabbed the rifle out of Nathan’s hands. He inspected it and then passed it off to the other Snowflake, who exited the trailer with it.

“How do we know you didn’t kill the driver and steal what was inside the trailer?”

“We didn’t!” Samuel yelled.”

“Samuel, be quiet.” Nathan said.

“Alright then,” the Snowflake said. “We’ll get to the bottom of this. Get up you two.”

Nathan and Samuel climbed off the floor and the Snowflake escorted them out of the trailer. Nathan turned around and laid his eyes upon an enormous dome raised over 3,000 feet in the air. Inside the dome was a beautiful city with shiny silver buildings and luscious green trees.

They had made it to the safe space.

5.

The needle pricked Nathan in the arm, and he watched intently as the truth serum entered his blood stream. Samuel sat in the corner, watching sheepishly.

The Snowflake who administered the shot held the door open as he exited the room. A slender black man in a tailored suit stepped in.

“Hello, my name is Barry,” the man said as he took the seat across from Nathan.

“I’m Nathan, and over there is Samuel,” Nathan said, turning to address his son in the corner.

Samuel nodded his head.

“Samuel,” Barry said. “Can I get you a soda or a snack or anything like that?”

Samuel, staring at the ground, just shook his head.

“Ok then, I’m going to have to ask your dad a few questions. Would you be a good sport and wait outside please?”

Samuel picked up his head and looked at his father. Nathan gave him a nod and he shuffled out of the room. After the door closed behind him Barry turned to Nathan.

“I want you to know right now that your son will be granted access to the safe space, no questions asked.”

Nathan let out a sigh of relief.

“What about me?” he asked.

“Well, that depends.”

“On what?”

“On what kind of person you are.”

“I’m a father. A widower. A good person.”

“A Deplorable?” Barry asked.

“No!” Nathan exclaimed. “Those people are a cancer.”

“But you are a conservative.”

Nathan wanted to say no. He wanted to lie. But he felt a painful tinge in his throat. He couldn’t find the words.

“I’ll take that as a yes,” Barry said.

“Listen,” Nathan said. “We’re both rational adults. Not all conservatives are bad people. Just like not all liberals are good people. You have to agree with that, right?”

“Do you know how cancer starts?” Barry replied.

Nathan was taken aback. “You mean like the disease?”

“Yes.”

“No, I don’t.”

“You see, our bodies are made up of 100 million cells. Cancer starts when just one of them begins to grow or multiply too much. The result is a growth called a tumor. We treat cancer with chemotherapy, which kills the cancer cells but also harms perfectly good cells.”

“What’s your point,” Nathan said.

“Remember the country we used to share. Millions of cells all working together. But then one of those cells began to grow. Pretty soon we had this ugly conservative tumor that was bringing down the entire country. Us liberals tried our best to treat this tumor humanely, but the more we tried the bigger and nastier it got. Pretty soon we had no other option but to cut the tumor off. And yes, some good cells were killed in the process, but we were able to save the most important parts of this country, our safe spaces.”

“That’s quite an analogy,” Nathan said. “But there is another way of looking at it.”

“Do tell.”

“You just equated conservatism to a cancerous tumor, but did you ever stop to think that you’re the disease?”

Barry raised his eyebrow, interested in what Nathan meant.

“Think about it,” Nathan went on. “One of the foundations of our old country was freedom of speech. But then y’all started policing everybody’s speech. We had the right to bear arms, but then you tried to take our weapons away. We wanted to keep people out of this country who came here illegally, and you called us racists. You even sullied the sanctity of marriage by allowing pretty much anybody to do it. Every single day I watched liberals undermine the basic tenets of American life. And I tried to understand. I tried to have sympathy. But your side ate at the very fabric of what made this country great. You were the cell that grew out of control, you were the tumor.”

“If we were the disease,” Barry asked. “How come we now live in great cities? How come we have technology beyond what you could ever dream of? We are healthier, more socially active. We have higher IQs, we have greater rates of employment, and our environment is cleaner. On top of all that, our life expectancy is nearly 15 years longer than that of your kind.”

“You’re right,” Nathan said. “Your kind lead completely different lives. We came from different worlds. It only makes sense that we would wind up in different worlds. But you know what? We weren’t the ones who did this to America. You gave up on us, not the other way around.”

Barry let out a sigh. He shuffled a stack of papers in front of him.

“Are you ready?”

Nathan took a deep breath. He nodded.

6.

Barry cleared his throat. “Question one: Do you think women deserve to earn equal pay as men for the same job?”

Nathan crossed his arms and leaned back in his chair. “Yes.”

“Question two,” Barry continued. “Should businesses be required to provide service to a customer if the request conflicts with the business owner’s religious beliefs?”

Nathan let out a laugh. The truth serum made the hairs on his arms stick up when he even thought about lying. He shrugged. “Yeah.”

“Very good,” Barry said. “Final question.”

Nathan grew tense. He knew what was coming. He knew what he wanted to say, but he didn’t know if he would be able to.

“Do you believe climate change is real and that humans are causing it?”

Just hearing the question made sweat bead on Nathan’s forehead. The fluorescent light shined brighter. Barry squinted at him. Nathan could see what he wanted him to say. He could feel the truth serum rushing through his veins. The hairs on his arms wanted to rip themselves out.

“I…”

Barack leaned forward, intrigued by what may or may not come out of Nathan’s mouth.

“I…”

“Well?” Barack said. “Do you believe in climate change or not!”

“Ergh…I….”

Nathan began breathing heavily. He thought about Samuel. What would become of him in the bubble without his father? Would be become a Snowflake? Would he be vegan?

The thought made Nathan clench his chest. His heart wanted to burst out and run from the room.

“Nathan. I’ve had just about enough!” Barry yelled. “Give me an answer now or leave.”

Nathan’s eyes began watering. The soles of his feet burned. His fingernails gripped the wooden table like a cat. A fire rose in his chest. Now it was rushing up his throat. He felt it in his mouth now. It made his tongue dry. He was crying now. The salty tears evaporated in his mouth. He opened his mouth as wide as he could.

“I DO! I BELIEVE IN CLIMATE CHANGE,” Nathan screamed between sobs. “IT’S REAL! IT’S REAL! GOD ALMIGHTY, CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL!”

7.

Barack re-shuffled his papers. “Thank you, Nathan.”

With that, he stood up and exited the room.

“Wait!” Nathan sobbed. “Did I get in?”

Michael stepped into the doorway.

Nathan had to wipe the tears from his eyes. “Michael? Is that really you?”

“It is,” Michael said as he approached his brother. “The Snowflakes alerted me when they brought you into custody. I vouched for you. I told them you are a good man and they agreed to allow you and Samuel to live in the safe space with me.”

“But, the questions…”

“A mere formality. Did you really think we would condemn you based on your response to a few silly questions?”

“No,” Nathan said. “Those are the same questions the Deplorables use during their interrogations.”

“Oh, are they?” A grin appeared on Michael’s face. “Have you been interrogated by the Deplorable’s firsthand?”

It took Nathan a moment to understand what his brother was saying.

“You mean,” Nathan shuddered, “The Snowflakes spread fake news about the Deplorables?”

The grin on Michael’s face had turned into an almost sinister smirk, but he wiped it away as Samuel came running into the room.

“Dad! They just told me we can stay!”

“That’s right,” Michael said. “Welcome to your new home.”

“Who’s this?” Samuel said pointing at Michael.

Nathan looked at his brother, then at his son.

“This is your uncle Michael, Sam. We’re going to be living with him.”

Michael knelt down and shook Samuel’s hand, but he kept his eyes fixed on Nathan.

“Let’s say we get out of here and have something to eat,” Michael said.

“Yeah!” Samuel said. “I’m starving.”

“I could use a nice fat burger after the day I’ve had,” Nathan said.

“I’m sorry,” Michael chimed in. “But in the safe space saying the word ‘fat’ is considered a body-shaming tactic and punishable by 90 days in jail. I’ll let you slide this time but next time I’ll have to report you.”

Nathan returned his brother’s remark with a blank stare.

“Also, red meat is illegal in the safe space. But I know a place that makes great soy black bean burgers! Let’s go!”

Michael took Samuel by the arm and they marched out the door. Nathan stood there for a moment staring at the wall. He thought he felt a lump in his chest, or maybe a tumor.

Samuel appeared in the doorway again.

“Dad, are you coming?”

Nathan nodded. Then he put one foot in front of the other, and he was gone.

Special Interests Draft

[Monday Night Football Music]

[Bob Costas] “Live from Radio City Music Hall, it’s the 2017 Special Interests Draft on ESPN.”

[Camera pans across a crowded auditorium of old white men in suis. The camera then swoops up and comes to rest on an overhead balcony where four other white men are sitting behind a big ugly desk]

[Bob Costas] “Hello folks, I’m Bob Costas here with my colleagues Joe Buck, Chris Berman and the incomparable Mel Kiper Jr. and we are excited to bring you this year’s Special Interests Draft, live from New York City.”

[Joe Buck] “That’s right Bob, tonight the most powerful special interest groups in the country have gathered together to draft some of the most influential politicians in America to help further their personal agendas.”

[Chris Berman] “It’s sure to be a rumblin’ bumblin’ stumblin’ good time. The Citizen’s United ruling ensures that these special interest groups have absolutely no limit to the amount of money they can donate to these politicians in order to curry their favor. Last year over $3 billion dollars was doled out.”

[Bob Costas] “You bet Chris, these organizations are infinitely more powerful than regular citizens when it comes to political impact.”

[Joe Buck] “Hey in America it’s more money, more power, right Mel?”

[Mel Kiper Jr.] “I’m locked in a room watching college football for 364 days a year, so I don’t know too much about politics, but this whole thing seems really messed up.”

[Bob Costas] “Right you are Mel. Now let’s turn to the stage where Big Oil is about to make the first pick.”

[An elaborate stage with a podium in the middle. Charles and David Koch walk up to the podium amid cheers from the crowd.]

[Charles Koch] “With the first pick in the 2017 Special Interests Draft, Big Oil selects…”

[Charles Koch hands the envelope to David Koch]

[David Koch] “Texas Senator Ted Cruz!”

[Ted Cruz jumps out of his chair and kisses his wife and hugs his children. The camera trails him as he makes his way on stage and shakes the Koch Brothers’ hands. They hand him a hat that says “Drill baby drill” and the three pose for a picture.]

[Bob Costas] “The obvious pick for Big Oil, and also the smart pick, wouldn’t you say Chris?”

[Chris Berman] “Oh without a doubt, Bob. Ted ‘punch me in the face’ Cruz has proven again and again that he has no fixed ideology or principals. His influence can be bought easily, and Big Oil spent over $100 million dollars last year to further their interests, with 88% of that money going to Republicans. They got themselves a keeper in Cruz.”

[Mel Kiper Jr.] “I thought elected officials are supposed to serve their constituents, not giant corporations who only care about their own profit margins?”

[Joe Buck] “Nice one Mel! Let’s go back to the stage now as NRA head Wayne LaPierre and the Gun Rights lobby appear ready to make their pick.”

[Wayne LaPierre approaches the podium with an AR-15 assault rifle in his hand]

[Wayne LaPierre] “The only thing that can stop senseless gun violence in America is more guns. With that in mind, the Gun Rights lobby selects…Ohio Governor John Kasich.”

[Kasich raises both arms in triumph. He walks up on stage and shakes LaPierre’s hand. LaPierre hands Kasich the AR-15 assault rifle, which Kasich promptly shoots into the air. All the Democrats in Radio City Music Hall drop to the ground in panic. The Republicans whip out their pistols.]

[Bob Costas] “I don’t think Mr. Kasich will have to worry about any weapons charges with that outburst, now that the gun lobby has his back.”

[Joe Buck] “Right Bob, and what the Gun Rights folks just did was lock down an asset. Kasich had been wavering recently, advocating for restrictions on access to guns for people who are mentally ill or on a terrorist watch list. Now that he’s been drafted, the gun lobby can expect Kasich to fall in line.”

[Mel Kiper Jr.] “So because they give him money he’s going to support pro-gun legislation? Isn’t that…illegal?”

[Joe Buck] “Not in America!”

[Chris Berman] “I’ll tell you whose not going to be happy about this pick: Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Last year ‘little’ Marco was second only to Donald Trump in donations from pro-gun organizations. He was really counting on them tonight.”

[Rubio sitting in a chair with his head in his hands]

[Bob Costas] “Speaking of Trump, he has to be a little surprised his name hasn’t been called yet.”

[Joe Buck] “K Street has been hesitant to invest in the president given his lack of competence. But maybe he can turn things around now as his old friend Wall Street has the next pick.”

[Chris Berman] “Yes, financial organizations donated $1.1 billion dollars to politicians in 2016, the most of any sector. This would be a huge pick for Donald ‘grab em’ buy the pussy’ Trump.”

[Sheldon Adelson approaches the mic]

[Sheldon Adelson] “With the third overall pick, Wall Street selects…Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders!”

[An audible gasp is heard throughout the crowd. Sanders stands up and shuffles down the aisle. He keeps his head down as he walks towards the stage, trying to avoid eye contact with fellow Democrats. Adelson slips a wad of cash into his suit jacket pocket and they pose for a picture.]

[Joe Buck] “UN-BE-LIEV-ABLE. Bernie Sanders, one of the most outspoken opponents of Wall Street greed, has just been drafted by the very institution he built his career fighting. This is an absolute shocker.”

[Chris Berman] “I agree. I think Wall Street realized they needed to neutralize Bernie as a threat. The senator had been the face of the 99% movement, but not after tonight.”

[Mel Kiper Jr.] “I honestly don’t get it. Do any of these politicians have morals, or are they all just looking to get paid off?…Hello? Can somebody answer me?”

[Bob Costas] “One second Mel. Our sideline reporter Rachel Nichols is with Sanders now.”

[Rachel Nichols] “Senator Sanders, many of your supporters look to you to be a voice for the impoverished and the needy. Are you afraid this draft pick might affect that image?”

[Bernie Sanders] “I will always speak out against inequality, I will now just be a lot richer while I do it.”

[Rachel Nichols] “Well said Bernie. Bob, back to you.”

[Bob Costas] “Thank you Rachel. Now after that last pick we received reports that Donald Trump stormed out of the auditorium.”

[Joe Buck] “I understand why he’s angry. The President of the United States should always expect to go in the top three considering the amount of influence he has. What you’re seeing here tonight is a lot of special interest groups realizing that it may just be too dangerous to attach their agenda to this president. They appear to not believe he can help them.”

[Chris Berman] “And why should they believe it? This president has done plenty of posturing since coming into office, but is yet to deliver any tangible results.”

[Bob Costas] “Alright coming up next is Dark Money. For those of you unfamiliar, Dark Money comes from anonymous donors, and the source of the money is unknown.”

[Mel Kiper Jr.] “What do you mean the source of the money is unknown?”

[Bob Costas] “I mean the money can come from anywhere. Criminals, foreign governments, you name it.”

[Mel Kiper Jr.] “And this money can be used to court the favor of American politicians?”

[Bob Costas] “Yes.”

[Mel Kiper Jr.] “And the public will never know how this money might influence their elected representative?”

[Bob Costas] “Exactly.”

[Mel Kiper Jr.] “Are you serious?”

[Bob Costas] “I am.”

[Mel Kiper Jr.] “WHAT THE FU…”

[Joe Buck cuts Mel Kiper Jr. off]

[Joe Buck] “OKAY! Looks like Dark Money is ready. Picking on their behalf is Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

[Putin saunters onto the stage with a smirk on his face. He leans into the microphone.]

[Vladimir Putin] “Hello America. I am very pleased to represent Russ, er..Dark Money as we make our pick in your lovely draft.”

[Clears throat]

[Vladimir Putin] “With the fourth pick in the 2017 Special Interests Draft, Dark Money selects Mr. President Donald Trump.”

[Donald Trump bursts out from backstage and gives Putin a big hug. Trump then abruptly steps forward in front of the podium]

[Donald Trump] “I am very very pleased to be drafted by Dark Money tonight. Of course I should have been taken awhile ago, but lets not worry about that now. I just want to let you all know that although this draft pick means none of you will ever know the true source of my income or where my allegiances lie, you should just take me at my word that I am here to support America.”

[Putin steps forward and whispers in Trump’s ear]

[Donald Trump] “Also, this seems like as good a time as any to let you all know that the United States is lifting all sanctions against Russia. Thank you.”

[The crowd applauds as Trump and Putin disappear backstage]

[Bob Costas] “Well there you have it, the president of the United States is getting money from anonymous sources whose interests will remain hidden from the public.”

[Mel Kiper Jr.] “What do you mean anonymous sources? That was Vladimir Putin! Our president is in the bag for Russia.”

[Chris Berman] “Now Mel we don’t know that for sure. It’s not like we have Trump’s tax returns.”

[Mel Kiper Jr.] “I don’t know a thing about politics and I can see what’s happening here. You have to be blind or dumb not to see it.”

[Chris Berman] “I don’t think we need to resort to name calling.”

[Mel Kiper Jr.] “Shut-up Chris! You’re truly an idiot if you can’t see that Trump is working for Russia. Also, you’re nicknames for people suck.”

[Joe Buck] “You’re way out of line here Mel. I’m going to need you to apologize to Chris.”

[Mel Kiper Jr.] “You know what, screw this. I’m going back to my room to watch college football.”

[Mel Kiper Jr. rips off his mic and storms off.]

[Bob Costas] “Sorry about that folks. I guess Mel is only good for football drafts. Anyway, sit tight as there is plenty more of the Special Interests Draft coming your way. Martin Shkreli and Big Pharma are on the clock. We’ll see you after the break.”

(All statistics via OpenSecrets.org)

Board Game

In the Oval Office of the White House, a game is being played. The participants are Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel and Xi Jinping. They all sit on pillows in front of the Resolute Desk. On the floor in the middle of them is a board. The board features a colored twirly path that starts in one corner and ends in another, similar to that of a “CandyLand” board. The main difference between this board and “CandyLand” is the cards. Depending on the color of the spot you land on, you have to draw a card from a specific deck. A green card corresponds to the policy deck, a red card to the military deck and a blue card to the law and order deck. The object of the game is to be the first to get your game piece from one side of the board to the other. The winner gets to be the Ruler of the World.

“Rock, paper, scissors, and shoot,” the four presidents say in unison. Xi is showing paper while the other three are all showing rock. It is agreed upon that Xi will roll first, and that the game will proceed in a clockwise direction.

Xi shakes the dice in his hand and tosses it on the board. Three. Xi slides his game piece three spots and lands on red. He picks up a card from the military deck. He reads the card out loud. “The choice is yours,” the card reads. “Ramp up military action in the South China Sea, and you get to move three more spots. Xi leans back on his pillow and weighs the option. He shoots a look to an aide standing in the corner. The aide comes over and leans down so Xi can whisper something to him. The aide nods and leaves the office.

Holding back a smile, Xi slides his game piece three more spots.

Putin is next, and he rolls a one. He grimaces and then moves his game piece a solitary spot. He lifts a card from the policy deck and reads out loud: “If you open gay internment camps in Chechnya, you can pick one participant to lose his or her turn.” Putin cracks a smile and then snaps his finger. A Russian aide walks over and leans down so Putin can whisper something to him. They both laugh. Then the aide hustles out of the office.

Putin goes to hand the die to Trump but Trump stops him. “If you all would just wait one moment,” Trump says. The door to the Oval Office opens and Jared Kushner hustles in holding a silver platter with a chocolate milkshake on it. He leans down so Trump can take the milkshake. Trump snatches it and then runs his fingers through Jared’s hair. Jared can’t help but smile. Trump takes the bendy straw in his mouth and begins sucking down the milkshake.

“While we wait, I hope you don’t mind if I throw on a little TV,” Trump says while lifting a remote.

On CNN, a chyron on the bottom of the screen reads “China escalating tensions in the South China Sea.”

Trump gets to the bottom of his milkshake and snatches the die from Putin. He lets out an audible belch and tosses the die on the board. Six.

“I’m really so good at games like this,” Trump says as he slides his game piece so that he is even with Xi. He lifts a card from the policy deck. “Fire the director of the FBI and advance one more spot.” Without hesitation, Trump screams “JARED!!!” On the TV Wolf Blitzer is talking about gay internment camps in Chechnya.

Jared comes running back into the room. “Fire Comey,” Trump barks at him. “Make it snappy.” Jared nods and runs out again. Trump slides his game piece one more spot. “Ha, I’m in the lead now,” he says as he hands the dice to Merkel.

Merkel shakes the dice in her hands, but just as she is getting ready to toss, Putin reaches out his hand to stop her.

He nods towards the screen, where Blitzer is still talking about the gay internment camps. “You lose this turn, Angela.”

The German president lets out a sigh and hands the dice to Xi.

The game goes on like this for several hours. During that time many decisions of consequence are made.

Merkel had caught a string of tough cards and opted to allow over one million Syrian refugees into her country. The catch being that after every turn, she had to move her piece backward one spot. This put her far behind all the others.

Xi was in a close third, with Trump two spots ahead of him. Xi was very measured in his gameplay. When he had the option to advance six spaces by sending the Chinese Army to the North Korean border, he opted against it. Trump, on the other hand, had made a series of drastic moves in order to maximize the number of spaces he advanced. Over the last few hours, Trump had decided to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, pass an extremely unpopular health care bill, slash funding to dozens of programs for the poor and end the Iranian nuclear deal,

Putin was ten spots clear of Trump, and only needed to roll a four or higher to win the game and become ruler of the world. Putin had played the game very tactfully, making a series of moves that benefitted him while also doing what he could to take turns away from both Merkel and Xi.

The chyron on CNN currently read “North Korean soldiers marching to meet US troops at the border.”

Trump’s Blackberry had been ringing uncontrollably for the past hour. The United States president had stationed Kushner outside the door to the Oval Office to stop Mike Pence, James Mattis and others from getting in.

Putin tossed the dice and rolled a two. The other three presidents breathed a sigh of relief. He slid his game piece down the map and lifted a policy card. “Wildcard: You may choose to switch places with any other contestant on the board, or remain where you are.”

On CNN Wolf Blitzer was now talking about an angry mob marching towards the White House. The ticker on the bottom of the screen spoke of anti-refugee riots happening across the European continent. Blitzer then switched subjects to talk about how the Phillippines, Japan and Taiwan had mobilized their naval fleets to interfere with Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.

“Donald, I would like to switch game pieces with you,” Putin said.

Trump couldn’t hide is astonishment. He nearly spit up his milkshake.

Putin made the switch and handed Trump the dice. “You aren’t as smart as I thought, Putin” Trump said. He rolled a five.

“HA, I win,” Trump says. He slid his game piece across the finish line.

The other three world leaders stood up to shake his hand.

“Very well played, Donald,” Merkel tells him.

“Yes, a master class,” adds Xi.

“I underestimated you, Donald,” Putin says as he shakes Trump’s hand. Trump goes to wrest his hand free but Putin only grips tighter. Finally, Putin releases his grip. Trump stumbles backward.

The door to the Oval Office bursts open and dozens of Trump staff rush in.

“Sir, the Iranians have burned down the US Embassy in Tehran,” Mike Pence yells.

“A Chinese submarine has sunk a US warship off the coast of Taiwan,” Mattis shouts.

“The North Koreans have launched a ballistic missile that is headed towards Los Angeles,” Reince Preibus screams.

“Forget all that,” says Kushner. “An angry mob has breached the gates and is marching up the White House lawn as we speak!”

Trump turns around and goes to the window. The White House is surrounded on all sides by a sea of protesters, all chanting in unison “bring us Trump.” He turns around to his staff, all of whom are waiting for him to give some kind of order. He can’t speak.

“We’ll leave you to it, Mr. Ruler of the World,” Merkel says as she heads towards the door. “We know you will do a fine job.”

Xi and Putin fall in behind her. At the doorway, Putin turns around and puts a hand on Mike Pence’s shoulder.

“If you’re free next week,” the Russian president says. “We’re playing again at my house.”