The year is 2030 – some fourteen years after Emperor Trump was unknowingly elected to be the last President of the United States.
History books – what’s left of them, anyways – show that he ran under the decree that he would “Make America Great Again.”
People even wore it on hats and posted the slogan proudly in their lawns.
Now barely more than a decade later it’s a phrase that is heard ominously across the landscape, from our institutions to our employers to our workforce itself, for failure to simply utter the words in response to a government official is paramount to treason in America today.
The only one who is afforded a Freedom of Speech in 2030 is Trump and Trump alone.
I spend a lot of time thinking while I’m at work about how things devolved the way they did so fast – it helps to make the manual labor move by faster during my daily 16-hour shift at the server farm. It’s a hot and grueling task to maintain the thousands of computers that support the Trump regime, but it’s better than building The Wall … I’ve heard that some men get tasked to work on the wall only to never see their families again, whether it’s the non-existent safety standards or the rogue patriots who still think that they can somehow make a difference in this world…
How they haven’t all been hunted down by Trump’s deportation squads, I have no idea, but admittedly there’s a small part of me that believes in what those guys fight for because rumor is that it’s what America was actually founded on centuries ago.
I understand the country had already begun to steer away from its roots by the time that Trump was elected to power. One half believed in the rights of the people, whereas the other half lived motivated by fear and antagonism, and it’s not hard to guess which side he chose to incite in order to take control of the American government. Some could see the writing on the wall and people protested in the streets, but they were quickly shutdown by his supporters who seemed to see Trump’s victory as a way for the like of them to clear the slate after having tolerated the other side for so long.
In fact, many were such ardent supporters of Trump after his election that they didn’t even realize what was really happening until nearly half the country had succumbed to his new style of leadership.
Unemployment fell to zero, namely because every able-bodied man was put to work in the national farms or underground in the mines or doing other menial tasks while at the same time females were banned from the workforce and expected to stay home raising the family, out of sight and out of mind.
International trade with other nations disappeared overnight as Trump declared that America would reject the global community and put to rest any reliance that it had on countries like China and Japan which were once known for making a majority of the goods consumed by Americans.
Immigration proved to be a rather simple problem to solve because long before construction even began on The Wall, illegal immigration all but ceased from our southern border as immigrants observed up close the rapidly deteriorating American lifestyle and thus decided that they were far safer outside of the American Empire in their own country.
Though it’s been years since anyone has seen Emperor Trump’s face publicly, his name remains plastered in gold letters upon our most monolithic of structures that we pass on our routes between work and our own meager homes. His messages are broadcast out to every citizen via devices that we are required to carry on our persons at all times – he uses an application they refer to as The Twitter that shares his most prolific thoughts with his followers in near real-time.
I’ve heard that in the past, these incredible devices could be used to communicate with just about anyone else on the planet who also possessed one, however today they’re limited to only official communiques from @realDonaldTrump.
He mostly sends messages out late into the night when we are just returning home from our workday, and they’re almost never coherent, but you didn’t hear that from me.
I’m sure America wasn’t perfect back then, but it certainly couldn’t have been any worse than the world we live in today – a darkened industrial complex where it’s difficult to breathe outdoors, working long hours for only government-approved rations with no time left for rest or relaxation, much less personal expression or any form of belief other than an unwavering allegiance to Trump. There are certainly those who prosper – mostly people who had vast wealths prior to Trump’s election or his own personal friends and colleagues.
They’re the ones who fly around in their private jets and live in these enormous, glass towers and enjoy lives that the rest of us work tirelessly to provide for them. America is no doubt great if you’re one of them, never wanting for a thing in their lives and yet always wanting a little more of ours, too.
Maybe it was them who he was really talking to when he promised to Make America Great Again.
If you found yourself non-consensually sent back in time, how would you get back to the present???
It started off as just another back in my hometown-style nightmare, but something wasn’t quite right about it this time. The more I wandered about trying to get back to Florida, the more I remembered about this alternate life of mine until I realized that I hadn’t just failed and wound up back home … instead, something very different was taking place…
The timeframe itself was a bit sketchy – Mom and Dad were still together, but clearly on the brink of divorce, and I was fighting with my sister a lot, but I also had these feelings like I just didn’t fit in and this wasn’t my time, and eventually I started to remember more about significant things in my life such as buying a house and having a wife and a decent job, and that’s when I began to fight harder to get them back.
Packing to leave was much different than before – after a fight with my Dad, I simply told him to join me for dinner the next day if he liked because the day after I would be moving back to Florida. I think the only things that ended up in my car were a laptop, some clothes, and an acoustic guitar because now I had the foresight that the other things that packed my car previously weren’t really needed anyways.
I was to head to Tampa Saturday morning by way of New York to try and hunt down my future wife. I didn’t really know what to expect – would she be back in New York as well or still in Tampa where I had left her? Worse yet, if I did find her in a state where we hadn’t even met yet, how would I convince her that I was her future husband and not just some crazy stalker person with insane amounts of information about her???
I walked through meeting her in my head the entire trip, picking nuggets of information about her and her family that no one else knew, as well as insight into our relationship together in the future, and how one day we would elope a year before our actual wedding, and how we would struggle for years before being able to have our first child. I still couldn’t imagine what her reaction would be to a stranger sitting across the table from her, able to recite her social security number and every medical procedure she’s ever had and her closeness with her grandmother … I was terrified but also determined.
The future that I once knew seemed so familiar, yet so far away … how does one get back to something you once took for granted?
Cleo was already awake when the first explosion hit.
As I walked out into the family room, I found her at her post in the front window like always … except that instead of trying to tear through the window like she would when an enemy squirrel was discovered within a hundred feet of the house, this time she was eerily calm.
Looking out the window across the dark red sky as flames from above lit up the night, I instantly knew why the change in her demeanor.
We were being activated.
There was no time to explain to my wife on our way out the door. “Whatever you do, just stay in the house. You’re safe here – trust us…” I called back as we ran out the door, myself in little more than the t-shirt and boxers that I slept in and Cleo without her leash, which in any other situation was something she probably knew that I would never do. As we rounded the corner of the block, I just hoped that we’d live so that I’d have the chance to explain to her who we really were…
Off in the distance, the source of our alert was unquestionable – a large, rock-like creature towered several hundred feet tall maybe five miles from where we stood. Occasionally it would throw something through the sky and the night would explode into a bright burst of flame as destruction rained down on our neighboring suburbs. What stood between us and it then was our immediate issue – a small faction of monsters that appeared to be working their way up the street from the front gate, shattering our neighbor’s houses as they went.
They didn’t know where we were yet, but they were coming for us. We still had the upper hand…
As I looked back in the direction of our own house in worry for my wife, a large fireball suddenly soared through the air in its vicinity, though just before it was to come crashing down and lay my humble home to waste, a thick, blue shell iced over the house as I had planned and absorbed the blast in a bright flash of light. The shield had worked and it could hopefully withstand another dozen or so blasts without being directly targeted, but we needed to stop the storm at its source sooner than later.
Neighbors at our end of the subdivision looked on in horror from their front lawns as they watched these ghastly beasts approaching from the distance while Cleo and I walked defiantly down the center of the street in their direction. Before long, she took off running ahead of me – something that would normally have caused me great concern – but this was very different and only a moment later she would validate that she could certainly handle herself. Each beat of her paws against the asphalt seemed to grow louder as she rapidly approached the intruders, but her thunderous approach wasn’t all that changed about her presence.
By the time she had reached her first victims at the end of the street, she had returned to her normal size – several times larger than even the largest lionesses that the world knew. The first beneath her paws didn’t even know what hit them as she plowed through them with full force, rendering them unconscious before they even hit the ground. Her claws now the size of daggers sliced through the beasts like a hot knife through butter as she savagely and vehemently defended her neighborhood from the unwelcome guests. She was just finishing ripping the last one in two from a nearby home when a much larger rock beast that was clearly their leader crashed through the front gate and stood towering over her, causing her to crouch down into a defensive position as she continued to growl menacingly at its entrance.
It took two swings at her, which she expertly dodged, though the house nearby wasn’t nearly as lucky. Just as it was about to take its third was when it noticed me for the first time, the blinding flash of my broadsword left us little time for conversation as it sliced through the air and removed one of the beasts massive arms without the least bit of resistance.
Cleo took this opportunity and charged at the beast’s legs, her teeth burying into the hard rock and causing it to topple over just before I delivered the final deathblow by sheering it clean in half at the chest, splinters of rock fracturing off from its body as it collapsed but bounced off of the imposing, heavy plates that now protected my own body like pebbles thrown by a child. Though our neighbors were in a grateful state of shock as they looked at the two of us, nearly unrecognizable as we stood tall amid the pile of foul corpses, there was little we could do to explain what was taking place as the fires continued to soar overhead, so without a word, I simply nodded to Cleo before jumping into the hefty saddle that appeared on her back, and we took off into the rubble as we left the subdivision behind us.
Trampling down the empty road, we thankfully saw little resistance as Cleo continued to work up speed. We were still early – that was a good thing. As her footfalls thundered more ominous, her leaps grew in bounds as the ground began to disappear from beneath us, her velocity so great that it pushed us further into the sky with each step as her massive paws crashed through the air with the larger beast in our sights.
“There!” I pointed as we grew close enough to begin to make out the monster’s features, with glowing, yellow eyes buried within mountains of rock as it towered over our poor, undeserving city. “Get us to the head,” I prompted her as I looked down in woe at the fires that already covered the landscape beneath us.
It wasn’t long from there that the beast finally keyed in on our presence and a few moments later, we found ourselves the target of an onslaught of rocks and flame as it tried in vain to prevent our hasty approach. Despite dancing through the air, Cleo expertly dodged each boulder that it threw in our direction, even gaining yet more momentum as she sprung off of them towards our target while I deflected the blasts of flame with a shield similar to the one that had protected our home back on the ground.
We couldn’t begin to imagine what those down below were thinking as they watched this epic battle unfold, though with any luck hopefully our new found presence was enough to keep the beast occupied to give our friends and neighbors a chance to take refuge. As we made our final approach and we stared into the beast’s piercing eyes that were nearly as big as we were, I raised my sword up into the air and a crash of bright light seemingly cut a hole through the fiery sky around us, reaching the legendary blade and a moment later scattering down around us like the rails of a cage made entirely of white light.
As the beast flailed wildly beneath us, its movements now restricted by the magical light, I brought my blade down deep within its skull as Cleo landed with full force, eliciting a deafening cry as the monster shrieked out in agony. Struggling to hold the sword in place as Cleo balanced atop the shaking beast, the light slowly began to close in around it until in one final shock wave, its life essence was sucked from its gargantuous body, leaving behind nothing more than a smoking mountain of rock, now frozen in time in the center of our suburban landscape.
Climbing off of Cleo’s back and using both hands now to pull my sword from the grey rock beneath us, I looked over the neighborhoods beneath us with relief as the sky began to return to its normal color, only then raising my eyes off to the distance as I noted my companion had already focused her own attention. Just off the horizon in seemingly all directions stood more of these same ominous rock creatures, that familiar, red hue blazing above them as screams of panic echoed quietly into the night.
“Do you think the others have been activated yet?” I spoke out loud as I looked to Cleo scanning for any glimmer of hope akin to what we had just accomplished amid the chaos, though the frown through her own teeth confirmed that my worst of suspicions.
Breathing a deep sigh, we both looked down at our own neighborhood to where our house still stood among others that weren’t fortunate with the same protections. We both wanted nothing more than to go back and stand guard in silence like we had for the last three years, but that’s not what we were there for. She was safe … for now … but the rest still needed us, whether our brothers were able to rise alongside us or should we be forced to fight alone. It wouldn’t be the first time, and it was up to us that we ensure that it wasn’t the last, either…
“Let’s go,” I solemnly prompted my loyal companion with resolution as the glowing sword slid back into its sheath behind me before I took my place in the saddle upon her back. Looking to the closest monster that was maybe 15 miles off at best, she crouched down and paused to lick at her paw for a brief moment, then sprung off the rock tower as we raced away into the fiery night sky to finish what we’d been brought here to prevent.
A short work of fiction about a man’s experience when he first discovers that he has superpowers. What do you think – should I keep going???
I was on a flight from LA to Philly.
It was a particularly long flight, and I really hate flying to begin with. I’ve never been claustrophobic before, however lately the more time I spend in those tiny seats on airplanes, the less time I want to spend in those tiny seats on airplanes.
Plus, I tend to worry that one day the plane I’m on is going to just fall out of the sky for one reason or another, so there’s also that.
Anyways, we were only about an hour into the flight when I got the feeling that something bad was about to happen. I tried to chalk it up to nerves when I noticed four different men of the same ethnicity all stand up and push their way into the aisle at the same time. They looked agitated and rushed, and spoke a foreign language as two ran up the aisle towards the cockpit while the other two positioned themselves midway through the cabin.
Each pulling a handgun out of their jacket, they shouted something unintelligible, and everyone on the plane began to scream.
I put my head in my hands and stared at the floor for a moment while the woman next to me went hysterical. I’d like to say that all sorts of profound things went through my head before what happened next, but being profound was never really my strong suit.
Later on the news, however, the woman who sat next to me quoted me merely muttering, “I’m not going to die today…” as I got up from my seat.
Truth be told, it didn’t even feel like I was me while it was happening – it was more like an out of body experience where I was watching somebody else who looked exactly like me from the sidelines. Sorry, but I’m just not that courageous.
And yet somehow I didn’t so much as blink as I unbuckled my seatbelt and took the few steps to the man closest to me before his gun was pointed directly between my eyes.
He shouted what I barely recognized as, “Don’t try to be a hero here!” which at the time made me smirk.
When he saw that I didn’t so much as flinch, much less back down at his command, I watched in slow-motion as his finger squeezed the trigger of the handgun, however instead of my life flashing before my eyes, I continued to just see the now slightly less menacing barrel of the gun pointed between my eyes.
“Put the gun down,” I heard myself tell the man. I guess he didn’t like that idea because instead, he cursed and pulled harshly on the trigger several more times in rapid succession, but not a single bullet left the chamber while the barrel remained only inches from my brain…
It was then in his confusion that I saw myself draw back a clenched fist and punch the man squarely in the face, surprising him nearly as much as me as he crumpled to the ground with the gun slipping from his grip and falling into the lap of a man beside us.
Truth be told – that was the first punch that I had ever thrown in my life … even all through grade school, I tended to be more on the receiving side than the giving side of any fights that I had managed to find myself in. For what it’s worth, later on that night I went through three bags of ice trying to get the swelling to go down…
More shouting filled the plane as I looked behind me to see the second man taking aim. When he pulled his trigger, instead of sending a bullet in my direction, the firearm more seemed to sort of just explode in his hand, shortly after which two men nearby grabbed him and forced him to the ground.
The other passengers’ screams turned to cheers as the second man was subdued, and as I looked across the rows of random strangers, I felt a strange sense of obligation to finish what I had started as we teetered on uncertain death 30,000 feet up in the air.
Again seemingly out of body, I watched a calm and confident version of myself step over the man whom I had just knocked out and walk to the curtain separating coach from first class. As I pushed it aside, I instantly saw the other two men frantically trying to barge down the door leading into the cockpit while the first class passengers looked on in terror. One flight attendant lay unconscious on the floor, another cowered in an empty seat in the second row.
Before too long, the men saw my advance and one came running at me wildly while the other continued to bang on the door. Wielding a considerably larger weapon that more closely resembled what I can only assume a machine gun might look like, this one yelled something about the holy land as he let loose on the trigger and filled the cabin with an awful sound that many would’ve expected to have been followed shortly thereafter by the cabin losing pressure and the plane falling out of the sky.
But it didn’t.
Empty shells fell to the ground in numbers, however not a single bullet was to be found – it was almost as if he had been firing nothing but blanks. His jaw dropped as I walked forward, his eyes got wide and something about the devil left his lips only moments before my second punch ever left him as equally incapacitated as his comrade.
As I finally turned to the fourth man – presumably the leader of this operation – he didn’t even raise his gun, but instead looked me straight in the eyes as I walked closer before just collapsing at my feet without so much as a taunt or anything. Reaching down to check his pulse (something I don’t know how to do), I announced that he was dead and was greeted to an airplane filled with cheers as everyone realized that they’re going to live to see another day after all…
Over the next hour or however long it took the pilot to divert the flight for an emergency landing in Denver, I found myself in a blur as dozens of people crowded around me to express their gratitude and appreciation, citing how brave I was to do what I had done.
Was I brave?
What was it that I had actually done???
Within moments of touching down on the runway, federal marshals had stormed the plane and taken the four terrorists into custody. Looking out the window to the myriad of flashing lights and news reporters who had gathered outside the plane, I overheard people gushing over the word “hero” as they talked about what had transpired.
The questions were only going to get worse the moment I stepped off the plane, and yet I had so many questions of my own that I felt deserved an answer far before anyone else’s.
Standing to follow the rest of the crowd off the plane, all I could think about was how much I would rather just be back at home, and then as I closed my eyes and took a deep breath…
…there I was.