This is a rough first draft of a short story that I hope to turn into a novel about Trumplandia. It’s a decent start, but I continue to struggle with a plot of the scope needed for a novel.
a short story draft by Shelton Bumgarner
migukin (at) gmail.com
Guy Kuk looked up at the fall sun as he made his way through the warmer-than-average Autumn weather of South Pole City. The hum of South Pole City was comforting to him. He enjoyed how the hum, the energy of the multitudes surrounded him.
Trumplandia’s Capitol building shone with all its gold glory as he hurried towards it. Tsar Donald I a century before had personally designed the building, made sure it was located exactly at the South Pole.
He finally reached the front door of the Bannon Office Building and was waved through by security. Guy was feeling sticky from the humidity of his walk to the building and its air-conditioning was a welcome change.
After a bit of walking, he arrived at his staff offices and opened the door. Like a lot of Duma members, he could not afford a real assistant, so his office was staffed by an AR virtual assistant that was activated whenever the door opened.
“Greetings boss!” the assistant chirped as he opened the door and turned the lights on. “You have 101 new pieces of VR and AR mail to experience. Any particular urgency you’d like for me to use?”
“Give me something random,” Guy said as he sat down at his desk in the adjoining room. He was now behind his desk. He checked one of his drawers to see if his bottle of bathtub gin was still there. Yep. Still there. Trumplandia was all by a dry state, had been for ages by order of the Tsar, but you could get it if you knew the right people.
“Would you like to experience your third and last VR letter notification from your high school, Union Military Academy, about your 25th high school reunion?”
Guy had poured the gin into a tumbler and was leaning back in his chair with his feet on his desk.
“Sure, sure, plop it in there,” Guy said.
After a moment, his iVizor showed him a completely immersive letter from his high school, touting the benefits of coming to the school that weekend to meet up with his fellow alumni.
“Among the confirmed attendees are Zack Bannon, inventor of Deep Love and a close associate of the imperial family…”
At this point, Guy’s mind clicked off. He and Bannon knew each other quite well. Though he and Bannon could not be more different politically, they had managed to stay friends since high school. As leader of Lennist faction of The Resistance, Guy could see the chance to meet with people like Bannon might be politically advantageous.
Though Trumplandia prided itself in being a democracy in the tradition of the late American Republic, in fact it was anything but. The tale of how Trumplandia was founded when the last vestiges of the American Republic merged with that of newly revived Russian Empire because of the beauty of a Russian princess was now so much a part of Trumplandia folklore that virtually everyone knew it by heart.
So, while the Tsar prided himself as a not only autocrat of all the Russias, but defender of the American Republic, in reality the Duma was just a place for people like Guy Kuk to vent some frustration while the Tsar made all the decisions.
One of the complaints of people like Guy was he was not in tune with the common man. So, the press coverage of him going to something as pedestrian as his high school reunion in the middle of nowhere might help that a little bit. The Lennist faction of The Resistance was among the smaller political groups in the Duma and it needed all the help it could get.
Guy clicked “coming” on the immersive VR letter and blinked three times in quick succession. Soon a AR representation of his wife Freewoman Helen popped up.
“What,” she said. “I’m busy writing, what do you need.”
“Well, nice to see you again, too,” Guy said. “I gave you a kiss this morning and everything.”
As a Freewoman, Helen could mouth off like that. The lot of the average woman who was not a Mother was so bad that they were barely afford to be seen in public. Apps like Deep Love were really their only way out of a near slave like existence. In modern Trumplandia, a woman’s worth was valued only relative to her ability to reproduce and raise a child. And, with the continued advances artificial wombs, even that was being whittled away by technology.
Freewomen, those who had somehow managed to attain rights independent of their reproductive organs, were looked upon in Trumplandia as unique creatures that no one could quite understand or fathom. Helen had attained the status the usual way — bribery. Her parents were wealthy industrialist and as such were able to dabble in that most forbidden of political ideologies — feminism.
“Honey, what do you think about us going back to Competition to visit Dad and go to my 25 high school reunion at that military academy I went to,” Guy said to the virtual visage of his wife before him as represented by his iVizor.
“But, like, you hated that place,” Helen said. “Why go back now? I don’t see the point. And do you really think it’s safe? You would be in the middle of nowhere, maybe even off the grid. God only knows what might happen out there.”
Guy knew she was right, but he felt he was sufficiently famous that the Tsar would not touch him. For the Tsar to detain him, his most vocal opponent, would be taking things to an unprecedented level. People were used to comics and reporters being attacked randomly on the streets of Trumplandia by mysterious individuals, not a Lennist such as himself.
The Lennist movement was based on the political views of John Lennon and as such was at the forefront of what little feminism there was in Trumplandia. Though sometimes people quipped that even Lennists did not know what they stood for because John Lennon was not exactly known as a serious political theorist. Lennists were also the most strident voices against the seemingly never ending hostilities between Trumplandia and the city state, The Republic of Colbert. It was weird that Trumplandia spent so much money defending itself against Colbert given how small and remote it was. The enormous wall Trumplandia had built between itself and Colbert was only one of several seemingly enormous over reaction to the mere existence of Colbert, but that was the world he lived in.
“Yes, dear, I know, but you’re overthinking things,” Guy said. “We’ll be fine. I’m looking forward to it. I’ll meet up with you at the apartment later today.”
Guy and Helen were soon pulling into driveway of his father’s house in Competition. To get to Competition, they had taken their late model Tesla. As was customary the vehicle lacked a steering wheel and they spent the entire trip watching immersive movies and answering VR and AR letters.
Guy’s father welcomed them warmly. Guy looked at the bizarrely antique TV his father had and shook his head. His folks had always been Luddites, and it was jarring to see such technology still in use anywhere. But the Luddites continued to be a powerful political and social movement in Trumplandia and so it was still possible to watch over-the-air TV that wasn’t immersive.
“How’s life, Dad?” Guy said. “You still selling junk to make a living in your old age?”
Guy’s father made a snorting noise.
“It’s not ‘junk,’ son,” his father said. “I make good money selling 8tracks, VHS, vinyl and cassettes to people online. Luddites aren’t all poor you know. Some of them are really wealthy and they know quality when they see it.”
“Where do you get the stuff?” Helen asked. “I know most of that stuff is so old that few people have seen them since WWV.”
His father just cackled and looked at state TV’s latest expose on Hillary Clinton’s emails and Benghazi. The fact that they were breathless pouring over the details of events that happened long before even Guy’s father was born did not seem to phase his father one bit.
“I don’t see how you can oppose the Tsar,” his dad said, changing the subject dramatically. “The Tsar does everything he can to help the people and all you do is complain about him. He’s the defender of the Republic!”
How the Tsar could be the all powerful monarch of Trumplandia and the defender of the Republic did not seem to cause his father any cognitive dissidence. But it was one of those weird historical quirks that the masses of Trumplandia had simply taken as a fact of life. Just a few people, like Guy, were willing to speak out.
“Dad, I know what you think about such things,” Guy said. “How are my brother and sister, that’s what I want to know.”
There was an awkward silence as his father processed the deflection.
“Well, your brother is still preventing people like you from bringing about the Singularity, while your sister is still enjoying her religious freedom in Colbert City,” his father said.
One of the core tenets of Lennism was the need to research the Singularity to get humanity off of a planet that seemed in a death spiral of increasing heat. Guy’s brother was a high-up in the Tsar’s regime technological administration bureau. Meanwhile, his sister was a dissidence of sorts because she objected to Trumplandia’s state religion. She was doing quite well for herself in Colbert.
“When are you going to become a Mother?” Guy’s father asked with all seriousness.
It was Helen’s turn to cackle.
“No need,” she said. “I have all the rights I need. No need for me to become a Mother when I have all the rights I need without a baby.”
His father simply could not digest the concept that Helen was a Freewoman. He looked at her like she was some sort of exotic alien.
Guy said took that as a sign to leave.
“Anyway, we’re supposed to be waking up early tomorrow, I think we’ll pack it in,” Guy said.
And with that, Guy and Helen
The next day, Guy and Helen were the center of attention at the reunion. Even though it was April and as such enteral dusk, people were using the built-in lights on their iVizors to take recordings of the couple walking around the campus. Helen took his hand and the two of them walked around Union Military Academy enjoying the sights and generally just trying to fit in.
The only person to garner more attention than them was Zack Bannon. They walked up to Zack and greeted him as inconspicuously as they could given the circumstances.
“Hey guys,” Zack said. “It’s great to see you again. What’s it been a few years?”
“Yeah, it was at a political function of some sort,” Guy said.
“I have a lot of respect for you,” Zack said. “You really stick to your guns, even though it’s all very pointless.”
Guy and Helen’s eyes grew large and Guy struggled not to roll his in too conspicuous a manner.
“How’s Deep Love going?” Guy said, changing the subject. “Last time you had reached Facebook levels when it came to your user base.”
“Yes, yes, that’s true,” Zack said. “Say, a group of us is meeting up at this cabin in Disputanta, you think you might be interested hanging out with us? We’re going to have the best dank we can get our hands on.”
Guy thought about this for a moment. He knew where that was and it was even more remote than Competition. The idea of being of the grid with a bunch of Trump supporters made him nervous, to say the least. It passed his mind that it was amusing that alcohol was nearly illegal, while pot was freely available.
But it did not make any sense that anything would happen to them. The Tsar fancied himself a benevolent near dictator and a crackdown on dissent that detaining him would mean would not be in line with his public persona.
Looking at Helen, Guy made a snap decision.
“Yeah, I guess,” Guy said. “I guess we could do that. Don’t know much of that dank we’re going to enjoy, but I’d like to think maybe I can have some of my bathtub gin while I’m there.”
And with that the die was cast.
Disputanta was totally off the grid. It took nearly an hour to get there and the caravan of off-road cars that were involved snaked through the dark countryside. They came to a small cabin near a lake. Cows were eating grass here and there.
The caravan came to a stop and car doors opened.
After a few minutes of getting settled, the pot began to be smoked and Guy’s bathtub gin was secretly cracked open.
Guy and Helen made their through the crowd and chatted here and there with people. A man in full kossak attire was doing drilling with a rifle and joking around with his friends.
“I feel so out of sorts being off the grid like this,” Helen said. “It’s weird not being able to check on the world anytime I like.”
“Yeah,” Guy said. “It’s kind of weird. But, I guess, in its own way it’s kind of comforting. It’s relaxing in its own way.”
“Are we safe?” Helen said. “I mean, we’re so isolated. Anything could happen while we’re out here.”
Guy looked through the dusk and eyed the cows. She was right, of course, but what was he going to do about it now. He was reasonably sure they were safe.
They eventually ran into Roy Shapiro, a well-known and successful immersive movie producer. He was the brains behind Star Wars Episode XXXXXXX and 2Fast2Furious: 55. These days it was quaint to distinguish between movies and video games, given that there pretty much wasn’t one anymore.
“Hey!” Roy said. “So glad you guys could make it. Sure you don’t want some of this dank? It’s some great stuff.”
“It’s ok, not really interested,” Guy said. “I’ve got my bathtub gin and Helen doesn’t drink.”
“Well, if you change your mind, just let me know,” Roy said. “Some heat we’re living through today, right?”
It took all of Guy’s willpower not to blurt out that it was self-evident that global climate change had reached a critical stage and given that virtually everyone was living on Antarctica that research into the Singularity was absolutely essential.
But he said nothing. He knew what Roy’s response would be, it was the response of every loyal, faithful Trumplandia citizen: the science was not yet in.
“Oh, have you guys met Mother Jill?” Roy said. “She’s inside the cabin nursing. She’d love to chat.”
With that, Guy and Helen made their way into the small cabin. The interior light shone out into the dusk, waiting for them.
Mother Jill was at a table, nursing. She was an attractive woman with long, curly brown hair. She smiled broadly when Guy and Helen walked into the cabin’s small kitchen.
“Hey!” she said. “You’re Guy Kuk. You’re the leader of The Resistance. I’m surprised they let you come.”
A thought seemed to pass across her face and her countenance changed dramatically. She began to fidget.
“Are you alright?” Guy said. “You seem upset.”
“Yeah…yeah…I’m fine,” Mother Jill said. “Just thought of something. But I’m fine. So…how have you guys been? I see you on CNN all the time. You give the best speeches.”
“Thanks, I guess,” Guy said. “I try my best. I’m just glad the Tsar still let’s CNN air them. I wonder how long that will last.”
Suddenly, there were loud noises outside of the cabin. There was a cacophony of noise and movement that sounded ominous. Guy and Helen looked out the cabin’s window and was shocked to see bright lights everywhere.
“They’re coming for you!” Mother Jill said. “RUN!”
And with that, Guy and Helen bolted out the door.
Running into the darkness, the couple soon enough realized it was hopeless. There were drones everywhere and they had their weapons drawn, ready to use at any moment.
They ran into the forbidden unknown of the fields that surrounded the cabin for a few minutes, but once shots rang out they stopped cold. They were trapped.
Looking around, they were surrounded. There was no way out.
After a tense few moments, the visage of a man wearing a long black overcoat could be seen making his way towards them. It did not take long for Guy to realize who it was: The Dark Commander.
The Dark Commander was widely considered the power behind the Golden Throne and his appearance at such an event was not unexpected. For there to be such a direct assault against The Resistance meant The Dark Commander’s desire to turn Trumplandia into a totalitarian state was finally becoming a reality.
“Ah, there you are my lovelies,” The Dark Commander said. “I’ve heard…so much… about you. See you on TV all the time. I think I’d much prefer to see you giving your silly little speeches safely in Cobert instead of South Pole City.”
Guy made a loud frustrated noise. He wanted to attack The Dark Commander, but he knew that would mean instant death.
“Ok, you got me,” Guy said. “Now what. You’re going to kick me out of the country, huh. The Resistance would never stand for it.”
The Dark Commander chuckled.
“Oh, you and your precious Resistance,” The Dark Commander said. “That won’t be of any concern for us anymore. I tried to get little Donny allow me to put you out of your miserable existence once and for all, but he wouldn’t hear of it. Said it just turn you into a martyr. So, Colbert City it is for you.”
After a few hours fly time in a helicopter, Guy and Helen found themselves flying over the enormous wall that separated Trumplandia from Colbert City. The wall itself was so vast and intimidating that for treaty reasons they weren’t even placed on the other side of it.
They were placed on top of it.
From their vantage point, they could see the lights of Colbert City in the distance.
“I vow to you,” Guy said to Helen. “I vow to you I will get my revenge. This is the beginning.”