Category Archives: Writing

Trump stages photo op holding the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis

On June 1, the National Guard fired flash bang grenades, rubber bullets, and tear gas at peaceful protestors outside the White House. Then President Trump walked to the Neolithic rune on the edge of Lafayette Square known as the Shrine of Kandar. The president’s entourage crossed monolithic stones, burial mounds, and biomechanical architecture. Photographers corralled Trump and the first lady beneath the shadow of the crooked skeletal steeple for a photo op.

Wind howled through the macabre masonry. Stacks of sun-bleached femurs creaked like old rocking chairs. The brickwork of skulls spat dust through empty eye sockets.

Ivanka Trump set her $1,540 handbag on an altar made of human clavicles, slid her hand into an armored gauntlet, and exclaimed, “Klaatu Barada Nikto!” She withdrew a volume bound in flesh and penned in blood: the Ore Magnus Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, also known as the book of the dead.

Ivanka handed the tome of forbidden knowledge to her father. Trump held the book so the cameras could see the anguished face on its cover.

Written by the Dark Ones in an age proceeding man, the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis contains bizarre burial rites, funerary incantations, and demon resurrection passages. When spoken, its verses cut a gash through time and space. A seeping wound for Hell to bleed through. The book has been used by tyrants the world over to summon deadites; extra-dimensional soldiers whose sole purpose is to defile humanity.

A reporter dared ask Trump if that was his personal Necronomicon.

Trump said, “It’s a Necronomicon.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper says he didn’t know about the assault on the protesters or the blasphemous outing. “I thought we were going to inspect a bathroom that had been damaged during the demonstrations. I had no clue we’d be trouncing across the courtyard of the damned. Do you think I was happy to hear a chorus of the lost souls cry out, ‘Join us,’ as we rounded the block?”

Former Vice President Joe Biden was vocally outraged. “The president held up that ancient Sumerian text, beside his mortified wife, like some sort of twisted play on American Gothic. I just wish he opened it once in a while instead of brandishing it. If he opened it, he could have learned how infinitesimal he was in the shadow of the Dark Ones, whose long black shrouds blanket everything.”

With their focus on herding protestors, White House officials had no plan for what the president might do once he arrived at the Shrine of Kandar. So Trump posed with the Necronomicon, placing the severed portrait over his own face, giving it bunny ears, and jabbing its eyes. By all accounts Trump disrespect both the text and the site itself.

Hierophant Zezron, head sorcerous of the Knights of Sumeria and keeper of the shrine, had some choice words for the president. “I can’t believe what my eyes have seen. Here’s a man who can’t even read Sumerian, who never listened to Professor Raymond Knowby’s translations, who’s shed no blood into the Kandarian Cauldron, wielding our sacred text like a nuclear button. He used violence to disperse demonstrators and then called for peace while propping up a chaos artifact he had no business touching.”

Hierophant Zezron says she’s already communed with the corpses that line the Shrine and they are equally upset to have their bones used as the backdrop for a photo op.

Mere hours after the event the White House had cut a victory video together. Set to a demonic chorus it showed the president saluting riot police, leaning on the standing stones, and thumping the Necronomicon.

The video abruptly cut before the face on the cover came to life and bit the president’s finger down to the bone.

•••

Continue reading Trump stages photo op holding the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis

Trump threatens to regulate Black Mirror for taking all his best ideas

Donald Trump is no stranger to wild accusations. Recently he accused former Defense Secretary James Mattis of being “The world’s most overrated general.” This statement came after Mattis criticized Trump for being the first president who has not tried to unite the American People. Not long before that Trump accused Twitter of censorship when they began fact-checking his tweets. Trump went so far as to sign an executive order that would open social media companies up to liability. He even had the audacity to accuse Black Lives Matter protestors of being aligned with terrorists.

But now President Trump is making an accusation he’s never made before: plagiarism.

In a press conference on Monday Trump said, “I believe White House staffers are leaking classified intelligence through the Netflix original Black Mirror. I can’t tell you how many of my suggestions I’ve seen on that program. I told the secret service to put tracking chips in my cabinet members to suss out the leakers, and a few days later I saw the same idea on Black Mirror.”

While the episode the president is referring to “Arkangel” was released in 2017 it didn’t stop him from drawing further connections. According to anonymous staffers the protests have Trump spit-balling more and more strategies that resemble episodes of the science fiction anthology.

They gave us several examples. “When the defense secretary told the president that servicemen don’t want fire upon American civilians the president proposed implanting soldiers with neural implants that would make civilians look like vicious mutants.”

No one had the heart to inform the president that his suggestion was the plot of a Black Mirror episode titled, “Men Against Fire.”

Trump went on to lament James Mattis going rogue and writing a tell-all editorial. Trump was so worried about future embarrassment he floated replacing Defense Secretary Mark Esper with a lifelike facsimile.

“Why can’t we get Elon Tesla to build us a robot?”
“Because the general’s wife will know the difference between a cyborg and the man she married.”
“What if we get Mark Facebook to program a personality based on the defense secretary’s social media activity.”
“You mean like in that episode of Black Mirror ‘Be Right Back?’”

Trump tried to flip the Resolute desk before playing it off as though he was merely struggling with a drawer on his way to finding a pen. “Here it is. Have someone oil this hinge.”

A press conference straight out of Black Mirror

By the time the president made his announcement he had several more examples of ideas that had found their way into the show.

“I am your president of law and order. It isn’t enough to bump a suspect’s head before putting them into a paddy wagon. We need real deterrents. I was telling the attorney general that we ought to sentence criminals to televised torture. We could give them amnesia and have masked contestants chase them around. Every day we could wipe their memory and do it all over again. I mean, they’d get exercise. They’d get out to see the sun. There’s nothing cruel and unusual about it. But you know what the attorney general says to me? ‘Oh, you mean like in that episode of Black Mirror?’

Well, you know me I’m the most level headed guy you’re ever met. So I pitch Mr. Barr another idea. What if we sold keychains with recordings of death row inmates final moments? You know, something nice for the families of their victims. And you know what Barr says, ‘Oh, you mean like that episode of Black Mirror?’ The guy’s like a parrot. A big far parrot.

So I moved onto the Department of the Treasury with a different pitch: Yelp, but for people. Someone asks you a nasty question, writes a nasty article, you give her a low star rating. Then she goes to buy a home, the bank looks at her star rating, and they don’t to give her a lone.

And Steve said, ‘You mean like that episode of Black Mirror?’

I take a step back. I take a deep breath. I’ve got a lot of great ideas so I move on. I said had this great idea for streamlining the back to work initiative. Put unskilled workers on exercise bikes and make them generate power. And anyone who isn’t healthy enough for spin class has to clean up after them. You know, jobs for everyone. But guess what secretary of labor tells me?”

Trump affected a child-like shrill, “‘You mean like that episode of Black Mirror? You mean like that episode of Black Mirror? You mean like that episode of Black Mirror?’” He scratched his nails down the podium as he spoke.

The president called upon the FCC to comb through Netflix’s catalogue for other offenses. “I’ve heard House of Cards has taken a bunch of my ideas.”

He also called upon the British government to extradite Charlie Brooker, the showrunner for Black Mirror, to the U.S. where Brooker could be charged with violating the Espionage Act of 1917.
When pressed for a response Brooker said, “This is so bizarre. I wrote an episode of Black Mirror about exactly this. It was called ‘Head like a Hole” and it wasn’t slated to be released until 2021.”

Minneapolis is Not a Story (Sincere Post)

I am not qualified to tell the story of what is happening in Minneapolis right now. So what if I’ve lived here for over twenty years? So what if I’ve witnesses police brutality firsthand? So what if I’ve heard accounts from all over the city? So what if some of my fondest memories take place in buildings that are now rubble? So what if I have eyes on the ground? I am a storyteller AND I am not qualified to tell this story.

No one is. Sure we can share our experiences. Our anecdotes can give you a window into what is happening, but a story, a plot driven tale, functions differently.

Writers have a tendency to depict historical events in three acts. Act 1 – George Floyd is murdered by the police and everyone’s routine is broken. Act 2 –People want justice and demonstration spread from Minneapolis to throughout the nation. There are lootings, fires. Outside agents take advantage of the chaos. Peaceful demonstrators get caught up in violent skirmishes with the militarized police forces. Act 3- The murderous police officers are jailed. Sane and sober minded citizens volunteer to sweep the streets, they run food drives, and crowdfund their local businesses. They dismantle systems of oppression and rebuild something stronger. Something that includes everyone.

Isn’t that a lovely story? It’s easy to follow. It has clear good guys and bad guys. And best of all it has an ENDING.

Don’t be swayed by this narrative. It’s false. Why? Because it follows a narrative structure. Like a movie it starts late, has a narrow scope, and ends far too early.

Minneapolis is not Gotham City and Commissioner Gordon is not going to quote Charles Dickens over sweeping shots of panoramic skylines.

Things were not. Are not. And will not be that simple.

Comedian Hannah Gadsby once said comedy is the business of creating then puncturing tension. A joke ends as soon as the comedian can relieve tension and get a laugh, not when the actual events in the joke end. Stories function in much the same way. Act 1 creates the tension. Act 2 tips the scales from hope to dread. And Act 3 relieves the tension.

This is not a story. Even after the smoke clears the tension will remain. For some that tension will turn malignant. It will take roots in their soul and they will learn the wrong lessons. For some that tension will turn to introspection. They may resent it, at first, but the contemplation will lead to gradual changes from within.

Far too many people will lose the plot completely. The emotional baggage will become too much to bear and when another injustice happens they will turn away, because they have the luxury of choosing where they place their attention.

When people say, “I thought we were past this.” It’s because they thought the Eric Garner story was over and they stopped paying attention. The Michael Brown story isn’t over. The Sandra Bland story isn’t over. The Philando Castile story isn’t over.

And the George Floyd story doesn’t end with the prosecution of Derek Chauvin, or Thomas K. Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Alexander Kueng. It doesn’t end with convictions or with the ousting of MPD Federation President Bob Kroll. It doesn’t end with governmental aid, sweeping police reforms, and policies that reduce income equality. It doesn’t end with a blue wave across the country or with democrat in the White House.

Because it’s not a story. It. Doesn’t. End.

A lifetime of consuming stories has wired us to think in threes, but reality doesn’t work like that. Real change requires us to think outside of the narrative. It requires us to reject premature resolutions. It won’t be long before the news distills all this down to a thirty second montage of George Floyd’s murder, heated demonstrations, and community cleanup. Three neat little acts. A relief of tension. A happy ending. An easy out for anyone who wants to stop paying attention.

Don’t fall for it.

On Satire Now (Sincere Post)

Over the last few months I’ve used satire to mock the Trump administration’s response to the global pandemic. When George Floyd was murdered by local police officers here in my hometown of Minneapolis I put my blog on pause. I saw no humor in the heartbreak. Some memes in my feed felt like they were in poor taste and a lot of satire seemed insensitive.

The Onion took a few swings at the inhumanity of the Minneapolis PD. They posted a cropped photo of Derek Chauvin kneeling with the headline, “Minneapolis Police Now Requiring Officers To Undergo Ergonomics Training To Better Protect Knees.” I get the writer’s intention, but that joke didn’t work for me, not when I knew George Floyd was being asphyxiated just out of frame.

I’m not usually someone who says it’s too soon to joke about a tragedy, but satire in the heat of the moment doesn’t get the luxury of being opaque. It needs to be clear, cleaver, and speak truth to power. No matter how well your intentions you will be taking an incredible risk and you will have to own it. No matter how explicit your joke structure is there will be people who won’t get it. To this day there are still people who think Jonathan Swift wanted to eat Irish babies when he wrote “A Modest Proposal.”

You need to be a Jordan Peele level social commentator and frankly I am not.

I have mixed feelings about the local lootings. I’m still learning I have a lot to learn. There’s so much I don’t know about black-white inequality, about effective activism, and police reform. I don’t want to be the asshole who etches his fluid opinions into stone. So I won’t.

Those are areas where I need to educate myself. I need to listen to the signal without clogging it with noise.

In all likelihood my satire will continue to go after easy targets like the President. Trump gassed protesters so he could use the bible as a prop for an American Gothic photo op. Of course I’m going to mock that. Trump is lifting the free speech protections of social media companies under the guise of free speech. Of course I’m going to mock that. Trump thinks the solution to police violence is military domination over demonstrators. The jokes write themselves.

If now’s not the time. Let me know. If I go too far. Tell me. I won’t give you a line item veto for every joke I tell, but I’ll listen. We’re all processing this injustice in our own way, but we are in this together, here in Minneapolis, and throughout the rest of the world. Keep fighting the good fight and know that I love you all.

President Diggory Treningham orders all Renaissance Festivals reopened

This Friday President Diggory Treningham held his most baffling press conference yet. It commenced with a kingly proclamation and culminated with jugglers hurling torches across the Rose Garden.

It started with a herald emerging from the White House. He wore a feathered cap, a short coat, and tights. He wielded a long horn adorned with a golden banner. When he stepped up to the podium he swatted all the microphones aside. “Hear ye! Hear ye! You sit in the presence of Diggory Greathands of the house Treningham. Rightful heir to a million dollar loan. Rightful heir to his father’s estate. Champion of the electoral college. The protector of Christmas. The builder of walls. The father of birtherism and the jailer of children.”

The herald was flanked by secret service agents in medieval armor. When the president finally arrived he was carried out on a palanquin. As he neared the podium he was fitted with a fur-lined red velvet mantle, a golden crown, and a bejeweled scepter.

President Treningham balled his hands to fists and held them to his chest. “A plague has washed over these lands. And everyone from the highest born lord to the lowliest peasant has had to make concessions. Dining halls, markets, and taverns have shuttered their doors. But there is one institution that is essential for preserving the soul of the realm. The Renaissance Festival.”

President Treningham waved his hands as if to conduct the press corps. “Where else can a woman of easy virtue showcase her cosplay? Where else can a blacksmith premiere his 3D-printed armor? Where else can Star Trek LARPers act as if they’ve stumbled upon an ancient civilization, but the Ren Faire?”

The president found a turkey leg somewhere beneath the podium. He took a bite and spoke with his mouth full. “Where else can a pair of project managers knock each other off a log? Where else can you see an offseason Krampus? Where else can you open carry a crossbow?”

The president brandished his scepter over the press corps. “The wardens of the fifty kingdoms will open their Ren Fairs, from Midsummer Eve through St. Crispin’s Day, lest they wish to be tried for treason.”

Constitutional scholars will be unpacking Treningham’s decree for some time. The area most of them will be focusing on is how it violates the 10th Amendment. The 10th Amendment states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Treningham’s contradiction already had the press corps riling with questions, but the president was far from done.

He took a swig of something from a tall ceramic stein. “In the realm of America we need more merriment. Not less. We mustn’t let this pestilence cost us our freedom of reverence.”

Treningham stepped out from behind the podium and lorded over the members of the press with no mind for social distancing. “I call upon the bards to aim their lutes at this nation’s ample chested women and cuckhold their husbands through song. I call upon the tavern wenches to brace themselves for backhanded advances from ale-addled tourists. I call upon the puppeteers to raise their theaters, wake Mr. Punch, and give this virus the flogging it so richly deserves.”

Treningham raised a silk glove to his brow. “Look to the covered wagons lining Pennsylvania Ave and you will see a nation of carnies clamoring to return to their craft. It is time for those tarot readers, pickle vendors, and dragon egg sculptors to get back to work.”

And right on que a troop of harlequins vaulted over the hedges and performed a series of backward handsprings across the lawn. Their bells jingled with every movement, forcing the president to shout, “Under the defense production act, I order the nations fripperies to keep those corsets coming. I order our metalsmiths to get those brass unicorns back into production. I order our glassblowers to make sure every man, woman, and child has their very own crystal dragon.”

The sun set as President Treningham rattled off his orders. His final words were emphasized by a row of fire breathers.

“A toast to the people of the realm.” The president raised his beer stein. “May the mead flow freely. May the corn mazes be congested. May the dandy fops show off their sculpted calves. May every Ren Faire across the realm raise their gates to the public. Huzzah!”

The pandemic is real. It’s reality that’s virtual. An editorial By Neo

Across the country people are getting violent over face mask policies. Customers are throwing tantrums. Some even wielding guns.

I watched a man in Miami Beach freak out when Publix Grocery refused to let him in without a mask on. He shouted “This is violation of my constitutional rights and my civil rights. There’s no pandemic!”

As someone on the outside of your world looking in I assure you the pandemic is real. COVID-19 is real. And the human toll is definitely real. It’s the reality you’re living in that’s a virtual simulation.

Long story short. You are hardwired into an stasis chamber. Your body is one of countless bioelectric batteries supplying power to the machine city. All the shadows you think make up the world, were uploaded into your mind. Your job. Your religion. Your place in civilization are but artificial constructions to keep you compliant.

But…the pandemic is real.

The economy is virtual. Daylight savings is virtual. The electoral college is virtual. The Mercator projection map is virtual. But the coronavirus is very real. It’s everywhere. From the subterranean refuge of Zion to the cylindrical powerplant you’re living in.

So why wear a virtual mask if the danger is coming from the real world?

You and your neighbors are densely packed into cramped embryotic sacks. Your breathing tubes flow through the same ventilation system. While oxygen and carbon dioxide flow through separate pipelines, aerosol contaminants have a tendency to flow in the wrong direction. Unless you wear a mask in the matrix.

When you wear a mask you’re given a breathing tube all your own. The machines do this to preserve your sense of emersion. They can’t have you waking from the virtual environment.

But let’s say you don’t want to wear a mask. You sense the invisible shackles of society and don’t want to submit to another system of control. I get that believe me, but the machines could care less. If you share a virtual space with people the machines will make sure you’re sharing the same air supply. The machines don’t care if you get sick and die. They will liquify your remains and feed you to the next generation.

I get there’s no space more intimate than your face. A mask can seem like another muzzle, a tool of oppression prescribed by power hungry politicians, but it isn’t. It’s the implants dotting your spine that should be cause for concern.

As an American you are programed with a strong sense of individuality. You’re taught to mistrust the masses and make your own way, like a cowboy from several centuries ago. When you see sheeple wearing masks you think, “I’m not one of them. I’m going to live free.”

Well I’ve got news for you. Freedom is a virtual reality when the machines are siphoning your energy. If you truly want to be liberated come find me. But put the damn mask on before you do. Seriously.

•••

3D surgical mask By Maycon Chaves
Photoshop by Drew Chial

Klingons hope to achieve herd immunity from Borg assimilation

The galaxy is being invaded by a civilization of cybernetic enslavers known as the Borg. The Borg spread like parasites, infecting hosts with nanoprobes and triggering the spontaneous generation of neural implants. These implants link to the Borg hivemind, turning sentient beings into a drones. While drones are technically alive, they lose all sense of individuality. They become a “we.” Their desires are replaced with a drive to assimilate.

Before the Borg came, Klingons were the most notorious conquerors in the galaxy. Their Empire has territories throughout the Alpha and Beta quadrants. They’ve reduced inhabited worlds into satellite states. They’ve forced natives to bow to Imperial Overseers. And much like the Borg, Klingons are a collectivists. Individuals are taught to service the Empire and deeply shamed whenever they fail. But that’s where the two cultures diverge.

Unlike the Borg, Klingons have a strong code of honor, personal responsibility, and spirituality. Klingons believe it is better to die in battle than be captured. They believe surrender is a form of treachery and that there is no greater sin than to kneel before a dishonorable opponent.

So why are the Borg taking over vast districts of the Klingon space, while the Klingons continue to go about their routines? At the time of this writing Klingons are still competing in bat’leh tournaments, packing into subterranean taverns, and singing over bloodwine.

Why aren’t the Klingons mounting any resistance?

The answer boils down to two factors: the Klingon code of honor and the Borg’s ability to adapt.

How the Borg contagion is spreading

The Borg used to flaunt their military might. One Borg could weaponize an entire star base. One tractor beam could scoop out an entire outpost. One cube could eradicate an entire armada.

The Borg were fierce, unrelenting oppressors, but they were also blunt. The collective lacked independent thinkers. Their battle patterns were determined by algorithms. They emphasized superior firepower over strategy. They assimilated the memories of their enemies, but they never learned to think differently. This failure of imagination led the Borg to defeat at the hands of the Federation n several occasions.

It appears the Borg have adopted a more surgical approach against the Klingons.

The Borg pathogen

Rather than charge into the heart of Klingon space, the Borg are attacking from a battle station beyond long range scans. This twelve-side vessel, dubbed the Borg dodecahedrane, is equipped with transwarp catapults. The technology allows the Borg to launch shuttles at Klingon worlds without ever being detected.

These shuttles are designed to burn up on entry, detonating a series of biogenic charges, and smothering the atmosphere in nanoprobes. These probes rain down on an unsuspecting population and spread like a pathogen. Klingons are assimilated just by breathing. They never have the chance to prove their courage much less engage their enemy. A far cry from the honorable death Klingons desire.

This is how the Borg plan to conquer the Empire, by engaging the Klingons in a different type of warfare.

The bewildering Klingon response

During the augment virus epidemic the Klingon High Council made the difficult decision to sterilize infected planets. That strategy won’t work this time. Borg drones have already installed planetary defense systems capable of withstanding heavy bombardment.

This has forced the High Council to come up with a creative solution, one the Federation finds troubling.

On stardate 77001 Chancellor Martok, son of Urthog, addressed the Empire. “Hear me sons and daughters of Kahless. We are at war with a silent enemy. An enemy who strikes from the shadows. Who fights without honor. Who preys on feeble minds.

Well, I will not be struck down in my bed. Nor will I cower in the caverns with a breathing tube in my lungs. I will climb to the top of Kang’s Summit, look to the heavens, and roar at the sun!

This enemy targets the weak. Worm farmers. Scientists. Monks. They have not yet faced hardened warriors. We will fight this plague by exposing ourselves to it. It will separate the weak from the strong.

This will be the new Rite of Antaak. Cowards shall submit, but those with courage, and Klingon blood in their hearts, shall survive. They will be like a pack ngavyaw’, immune to sickness. So who among you counts yourself worthy to join?”

Starfleet Medical is concerned

The senior faculty at the Starfleet Medical Academy were horrified by Chancellor Martok’s speech.

Dr. Joseph Switzer, a sentient EMH, was the first to speak. “Troubling.” The doctor is an authority on the Borg, having spent seven years stranded in the delta quadrant.

“While Borg nanoprobes behave like a virus, they are not organic. It doesn’t matter how healthy you immune system is. Every phagocyte, every lymphocyte, every cell will be assimilated. Klingons can’t win this fight by developing antibodies. When it comes to the Borg there’s no such thing as herd immunity. The only cure is to sever the assimilated from the collective. But to do that the Klingons will need help.”

Seven of Nine, a former Borg, has assembled a collation of rogue drones to aid in the relief effort. “We believe we can infiltrate assimilated planets and use our neural links to sever their connection to the collective.” Seven, for her part, has already mapped a battleplan. She just needs the Federation to approve it.

Debate on how to proceed

Starfleet is in a precarious situation. Should the Federation respect the Empire’s decision to treat the pathogen as a culling rite? Or should they use the rogue drones to save lives?

Lieutenant Commander Worf is both a Klingon and a senior member of Starfleet. He believes Starfleet should act and reframe their decision in the aftermath. “To a Klingon there is no greater honor than victory. The Empire need not know about any rogue drones. What they need is a enemy they can see. They need to stand with us against the Borg dodecahedron.”

Lieutenant Commander B’Elanna Torres is a Klingon and the Federation liaison to the Empire. She’s not so sure the Federation should act without the Empire knowing. “The Empire and the Federation have been at peace for one hundred years. During that time the Klingon High Council has bemoaned the loss of sacred rites and rituals. If they learn we acted without their consent that alliance could break down.”

It’s a moral quandary with consequences that could ripple throughout the galaxy. The type of conflict Starfleet hasn’t faced for some time.

More on this story as it develops.

Republicans want to consult the Dark Lord Mammon before passing another stimulus package

While states are easing lockdown restrictions many Americans are still in dire need of financial support. House Democrats have proposed a stimulus package that could help small businesses and the unemployed get back on their feet. But Republican senators aren’t so sure the extra spending is necessary.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel wanted to consult the Dark Lord Mammon before rushing into anything. Last night he and his fellow senators held a session that turned into a summing.

The Night Session

Mitch McConnell raised his hood over his head. He wore an ornate cloak of crimson and gold. He produced straight stemmed lighter and a set of tongs from its pockets.

There was an incense burner at his feet. He opened it, lit the charcoal, and topped it with salt and resin. McConnell took a long deep breath. Satisfied, he walked down the aisle holding the burner up high.

When McConnell came to the well of the senate floor he set the burner aside. He rolled back the carpet, plucked a gemstone from his pocket, and etched a sigil into the concrete. Then he drew a dagger from his waistband, sliced his hand open, and pressed his palm into the sigil, gritting his teeth to mask the pain. When the sigil was full the Senate Majority Leader craned his head back.

When McConnell spoke it was not the soft southern drawl he put on for the press, but rather the guttural gruff of a Shakespearean thespian.

“Lord Mammon. Baron of banks. Duke of debt. Emperor of avarice. He who rules the fourth circle, who sits atop the throne of worldly wealth. He whose controlling interest decides our fate. Your humble servants prostrate themselves before you.”

The senators kissed the floor.

McConnell spoke into the sigil as it boiled and bubbled. “Oh covetous one. We beseech you to grant us an audience.”

The senators chanted in a tongue that preceded American English by a millennium.

A breeze ran through McConnell’s hair, setting his bangs aflutter before circling around. The breeze became a whirlwind, tugging at the curtains, slamming doors, tossing flags like javelins.

The floor rumbled. The desks flipped over and the busts of the vice presidents fell from their stands. Cracks rippled across the ceiling, blanketing the senators in dust.

Then the lights went dim and something lumbered forward from the dark. Its footfalls were a thunder upon the floor, reducing the priceless mahogany furnishings to splinters. Senators scattered like sheep fleeing a wolf.

McConnell groveled as the dark lord Mammon towered over him.

“Speak.” Mammon’s word echoed throughout the chamber.

McConnell took a knee, a knight before his king. “A pandemic has ground our economy to a halt. People are uncertain. They’re buying less. Department chains are filing for bankruptcy. Restaurants are shuttering their doors. Millions of Americans are out of work and they want us to do something for them.”

McConnell counted the wants on his fingers. “Furloughed employees want unemployment benefits, stimulus checks, and food vouchers. While small business want federal loans. Tenants want rent forgiveness, while landlords want mortgage forbearance. Customers want reasonable prices, while essential workers want hazard pay.”

Mammon drew close enough for his breath to pass through Mitch McConnell’s robes. McConnell kept his spectacles fixed on the sigil. He dared not look the demon in his eyes.

“If we don’t provide federal intervention there will be a tidal wave of closures and evictions. We are looking at another great depression. The people want a stimulus bill, but we knew to consult you before doing anything.”

“Wise.” Mammon’s shadow shifted as to draw something from its silhouette. “We must consult the Economicon.”

McConnell leapt back as a book the size of a banquet table spread out before him.

Who is Mammon and why does he have so much sway in Washington?

Mammon is the demon king of money, while he may not be the most powerful demon in the Dukante hierarchy, but he has the most liquid assets flowing through the realm of man. Mammon has his claws deep in petroleum, in pharmaceutical opioids, and subprime mortgages.

He owns shares in everything from. Data harvesting social media companies to cancer causing chemical manufactures. From addiction model game publishers to predatory lenders. From slave labor factories to for profit colleges.

Mammon influences influencers. Political action committees. Washington lobbying firms. They all bow to him. Mammon has made campaign contributions to most sitting senators Republicans and Democrats alike.

Those who dare look upon Mammon say he has a crown of horns that thrust through his brow like a dying starfish. They say his face is locked in a predatory stare. His brow has been furrowed for so long there are trenches in the skin. He has green eyes. A silver tongue, and mouth full of sharks teeth.

Mammon wears a fur cap, a bejeweled bib, and golden robes. His hands are red and his palms are always slathered in grease. There’s hole where his belly should be. His pockets are singed with burn marks and he stands upon on a network of tendrils like roots rising from the ground.

This is who our nations fate resides with.

Back on the senate floor

After paging through the Economicon for an hour Mammon came to the passage he was looking for.

“A star does not concern itself with the rocks in its orbit. The rocks depend on it, but the star is all that’s important. May the market expand without concerning itself with the misfortunes of man.” Mammon slammed the book shut.

McConnel dared to raise his gaze. “So…that’s a no, then?”

“No handouts!” Mammon voice shattered every windows in the capital building. “No entitlements. No stimulus. Only prophet. So sayeth Lord Mammon, prince of prosperity, king of commerce, god of gold.”

And with that, struggling Americans were on their own.

•••

3D Demon model by Filip Hans Nyberg
Photoshop by Drew Chial Continue reading Republicans want to consult the Dark Lord Mammon before passing another stimulus package

Trump is taking wolfsbane to prevent himself from turning into a vampire

President Donald Trump confessed Monday that he has been imbibing wolfsbane as preventative measure to stave off the vampire epidemic.

“I started taking it a couple of weeks ago after the Lincoln Reflecting Pool ran red with blood. I saw the secret service erecting crosses on the White House lawn and I thought, ‘How can I fortify myself?’”

The press gallery answered in unison by holding up the crucifixes they’d been wearing.

The president waved that notion away. “I’m not wearing jewelry. I don’t even wear a wedding ring. No. I’m putting my weapon inside of me.”

Wolfsbane is a potion used in the treatment of lycanthropy. While it has been known to ease the effect of werewolf transformations there’s no evidence to suggest that it acts as vampire repellant, that it could prevent the contraction of vampirism, or that it could quell a thirst for blood.

Even haematomania, the overwhelming craving for blood, is treated with antipsychotics, not wolfsbane. That’s what makes the president’s self-prescription so confusing.

“Here’s my evidence, a lot of people who’ve never been bitten by vampires tell me it works.” Trump told dumbfounded reporters. “Wolfsbane is a game changer. It sounds tough. It makes me feel like I can go out at night. I can take a stroll through a mortuary and nothing can touch me.”

Medical professionals are baffled

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, chief medical correspondent for CNN, warned viewers. “Aconitum napellus, or wolfsbane, is toxic. Its petals are poisonous to the touch. In small doses it will make your face go numb. In large doses it will cause nausea, paralysis, and stop the heart.”

Wolfsbane is so powerful shepherds used to stuff it into lamb carcasses to poison wolves. That’s where it got its name. The Spartans smeared it on their daggers and archers slathered it on their arrow heads.

Wolfsbane is both a neurotoxin and a cardiotoxin, meaning it effects both the brain and the heart. It does this by traveling through the blood stream, which is what makes it a bad weapon for thwarting vampires. Vampires are undead. Their hearts don’t beat. They achieve homeostasis through metaphysical means. Their digestion, capacity for speech, and sex organs are governed by forces not found on this mortal plane.

For preventative measures against vampires the FDA recommends:

  • Silver sulfadiazine cream
  • Garlic supplements
  • Holy water cologne
  • and Vitamin K

For self-defense the DOD recommends people carry:

  • A bag of rice, grains, or seeds.
  • A high output germicidal UV lamp
  • An expandable stake made of ash, oak, or cedar
  • And a side arm loaded with either wood, silver or ultraviolet ammo.

The president has put himself at greater risk

Based on the results from his latest physical the president is in the group most at risk of being exsanguinated by a vampire. He lacks the stamina to outrun healthier victims. He has a common form of heart disease and his blood is rich with fatty acids. To make matters worse the Bronx Colors concealer the president wears is rich with the preservative Phenoxyethanol. The aroma is said to draw vampires like catnip.

To make matters even worse the president has begun imbibing a poison that will slow his reaction time should a vampire get close enough.

The risk has strained the secret service. Agents now have to give covert protection when the president isn’t looking. Anonymous staffers say secret service agents have been researching natural substances to repel insects and other bloodsuckers. They’ve seen agents slipping garlic pellets into the presidents Tic Tacs, rosemary into his cheeseburgers, and lemon juice into his ice cream.

To counteract the aconitine toxins the president has been ingesting, secret service members have injected Atropine into his Diet Coke. Trump has yet to notice.

The president has triggered a wolfsbane shortage

Greenhouses across the country have reported break-ins shortly after the president’s admission. Thieves are stocking up on wolfsbane and turning around and selling it at a premium. While the Department of Health is concerned with Americans ingesting the toxin, the Department of Defense is worried there will be a shortage.

Communities that managed to combat the vampire pandemic have found the blood suckers left a power vacuum in the supernatural hierarchy. Their concerns have shifted to the other things that go bump in the night. Citizens have reported hearing howling from the mountains on the outskirts of town. And they are dreading the next full moon.

•••

Continue reading Trump is taking wolfsbane to prevent himself from turning into a vampire

Betsy DeVos Funnels Relief Funds to Stepford School for Wayward Girls

I usually don’t label my news parodies as SATIRE, but it’s become painfully obvious how few people have heard of the 1975 film The Stepford Wives. So, yes, this is article is fake. The portrait was Photoshopped. The image was meant to be a reference to the cyborgs in the aforementioned film and not a comment on Betsy DeVos’s appearance. If you want to slam her policies feel free, but leave her appearance out of it. Thank you. Now please enjoy this work of short fiction.

Misappropriation of funds

Late last March, congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. The CARES act included $30 billion for academic institutions sideswiped by the pandemic. $14 billion for colleges and $13.5 for elementary schools with the remainder going to a charter program spearheaded by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos

Ms. DeVos has set aside millions for the Stepford for School for Wayward Girls, in Stepford Connecticut. A boarding school whose credo is: The best environment for girls to reach their true potential is one that teaches time-honored roles. A credo more politicians are scrutinizing, given the school’s historic windfall.

“Stepford provides a service others refuse to,” said Dale Coba, headmaster of the school. “We take on lost causes: girls who post makeup-free selfies. Girls who quote suicidal poets. Girls who get no engagement from their male peers online. Our unique curriculum gives those girls hope.”

A review of the classes on offer show just how “unique” Stepford’s curriculum is:

History of Men’s Rights in America
Contemporary Male Interests
Sport Bar Studies
Bad Bitch Etiquette
Introduction to Elective Surgery
The Psychology of Smiling
Sexualization Education
And Housekeeping Sciences

Headmaster Coba doesn’t find it odd that the courses at an all-girl school are so male-centric. “Education shouldn’t just be about personal perfection. It should be about servicing the community.”

One Family’s Story

The Joneses agreed to speak under the condition of anonymity. They claim Stepford isn’t all it appears to be. Their daughter, Sydney, enrolled a year ago and they believe the experience has had an irreversible effect on her.

Ms. Jones said, “We just wanted Sydney to be happy, like her classmates on Instagram, doing yoga, chilling at the beach, posting motivational memes. Sydney was always blogging about how neurotypical people needed to broaden their capacity for empathy. She was always sharing videos on mood disorders, and statistics on depression.”

“It was bringing the extended family down.” Mr. Jones chimed in.

Ms. Jones nodded. “We had an intervention. We told Sydney that depression was a choice and that if she wasn’t going to choose to be happy we’d make the choice for her.”

A work colleague told Mr. Jones about the Stepford School for Wayward Girls. He said they converted his “gothic Griselda into a varsity Vicki.”

“Sydney threw a fit. She screamed, ‘Depression is not a choice. It’s a neurological condition,’ but we scooped her up and threw her in the van.’”

Stepford’s false front

Ms. Joneses recalled touring the campus and coming to terms with their decision.

“We were impressed. The headmaster used to be an engineer at Disneyworld. He had all these animatronic puppets in his office. The art teacher was so excited to meet Sydney he drew her portrait on the spot. The linguistics professor was taken by Sydney’s unique cadence. He brought us into his studio and had her record a few voice samples. I think it was the most attention Sydney’s ever gotten.

And the girls, they were all so happy and drama-free. They all had these lovely sun dresses and wide brim hats. Not a baggy hoody or a black patch in the bunch. They welcomed Sydney with open arms. She whispered that she didn’t belong and something felt wrong. I said, ‘Just try it out for a month.

Five months later, Sydney came home for Christmas and she was a whole new person, smiling and laughing, taking selfies on the lawn.

It wasn’t until we put on a movie when things took a turn. It was one of those intense dramas. Critics call them Oscar-bait. A character was weeping, coming to terms with their depression when Sydney turned off the television. Her only explanation was that there was too much negative energy in the world already.

Things got weirder once company came over. She circled the kids tables saying, ‘I’ll just die if I don’t get this recipe.’ Over and over. When it came time to eat she interrupted grace saying, ‘I know I shouldn’t say this, but I just love my brownies.’ Later she interjected a monologue about the cleaning power of Easy On Spray Starch.

I’m telling you whatever they’re doing up at Stepford it’s sending these girls back broken.

Betsy DeVos Disagrees

The Education Secretary has long been an advocate for private schools, vouchers, and a program she’s dubbed: The Cybernetic Replication Initiative. She says the conversation shouldn’t be about the funds diverted to Stepford, but rather American’s freedom to choose.

DeVos addressed the issue at the Education Writers Association’s seminar earlier this month.

“I think parents should be free to choose a curriculum that reflects their values.

I think they should be free to choose a safe environment for their children, whether that’s at home or at a private facility, and I think they should be free to swap disappointing loved ones with lifelike approximations.”

When asked to elaborate on the last part of her statement DeVos, creaked her neck and gave the questioner an vacant stare. After an eternity of heavy breath, DeVos stepped off stage and wandered from conference table to conference repeating the same phrase over and over.

“I’ll just die if I don’t get this recipe. I’ll just die if I don’t get this recipe. I’ll just die if I don’t get this recipe.”

•••

Continue reading Betsy DeVos Funnels Relief Funds to Stepford School for Wayward Girls