“I don’t have a racist bone in my body. But I think when Mexico sends its people over here, they’re not sending their best guys. They’re all rapists, criminals and drug peddlers!”
The man in the blue suit flailed spasmodically, pushing physical emphasis into his opinion. His hair, which was molded to his head like acrylic plastic, did not move one follicle out of place despite his gesticulations. His lips may have reminded a careful observer of a poor dubbing of a foreign language film. But most eyes in the audience were incapable of catching a detail like that from the distance of their seats.
“On that note, I don’t think Muslims have a place here either! If I am elected president, we will not let them in!” A confused rumble of applause squirts from the crowd, peppered by groans of disbelief and exasperation, mostly from the press.
Two men back stage are watching the crowd reaction on a tiny monitor with the sound turned all the way up. A tall, thin Middle-Eastern man in a white collared shirt and striped tie, and his partner, a slightly shorter, pasty man with shaggy brown hair and glasses, strain their ears to listen. Even with the sound all the way up, the low-def monitor was very hard to hear. They glance with satisfaction at one another, before the Middle-Eastern man lifts a small walky-talky-like device to his mouth and begins speaking again.
“Muslims are…” He pauses, shaking off the shock of shame and laughter before continuing. “Muslims are not nice people. They treat women badly. I mean, look at me! I love women!” He dropped the device to his side before a crack of laughter split his concentration. “Do you think that’s enough? What’s the crowd reaction?”
The pale young man in the glasses watched the monitor, noting the wave of confused, placid faces. “It’s crazy,” He muttered. “I can’t tell if they love us or hate us? You better…you better keep going.”
“You know this is really hard for me to say. Why can’t you do it?”
“I know, man. But you’re the one who knows Islam well enough to really dig deep.”
“You’re just saying that to keep your conscience clear.” He let the last few shakes of laughter fall away before tentatively raising the device back to his lips. “I think we had the right idea in WW 2. Round up all those woman-hating terrorists and put them in internment camps!”
The audience on screen collectively shifted with discomfort. A few cheers broke the thick, silence.
“I do not want to meet the people who’re still cheering after you just went full Hitler.” Mike shook his mop of brown hair in sad disapproval.
“You don’t want to meet them? With a name like Muhammad Samir, you may as well paint a red target on my face and strap a six pack of Bud Light to my ass!” They both snickered, despite the gravity of the situation.
“Do you think we went too far? I mean, Mr. Flanders said he wanted it to be unbearable, but…there’s a line, right?”
“You’re asking me that now? After full Hitler?” Muhammad put the device on his belt via a clip on the back. The crowd on screen applauded meekly, and Mike took up what looked like RC car controls with two sticks, and began to wiggle them back and forth.
Cameras flashed and voices called after from off screen. Things like, “Mr. Thrump! Mr. Thrump! A few questions! What do you say to the allegations that you are-”
The man in the blue suit passed clumsily through the curtains separating back stage from the main platform. Several people tried to push their way in after him, but two large men in black suits and sunglasses barred their path. They blocked the crowd and shooed them back through the curtains, pinning them in place and turned to the operators and the man in the suit. The entourage walked quickly, with Mike still flicking the joy sticks, around the corner and out into the gated parking lot.
A semi-truck idled just outside the door with a ramp leading to an open trailer. Several dozen people with cameras pressed their faces against the chain link fence, watching as the man in the suit ascended the ramp and stood in the trailer. The four men followed him up the ramp and huddled in the empty trailer around him. The ramp lifted slowly, and became a door. The truck turned slowly and rushed out of the lot.
Mike took an old flip phone from his pocket and dialed. It rang twice, and a female voice answered with a curt, “Flanders office, how may I direct you?”
“Angela, this is supposed to be a direct line! Where is Mr. Flanders?”
“Oh! Mr. Simone. Sorry, force of habit. He’s just coming back in from lunch. Just a minute… here-”
A man’s voice took her place on the other end of the line. A gentle voice with a lot of confidence. “Ah, Michael. I trust that everything is progressing as predicted?”
“Project Republinator is going according to plan, Mr. Flanders. We have just concluded our talks in Dallas and are on our way into Houston.”
“Good, good. Keep in mind that these are some of the reddest fields on the map, and while I realize this disquieting disquisition may not be what you had in mind when you signed on with me, I assure you it is of the utmost importance.”
There was a pause on the other end of the line. A long, meditative silence, before Micheal uttered, “Yes, sir.” And another awkward pause. “But… But is it fair? I mean, what we’re doing?”
“Fair? Democracy, true democracy, does not exist. It never has, and humanity being what it is, it never will. Is that fair? We allow the American people to parade around with clouded, saccharine ideologies, when we who hold office know full well they are ignorant. To whom, Mr. Simone? To whom is that fair?”
His voice had a cool, sharp edge to it that made him sound almost sinister. It terrified Mike, who braced himself against the side of the shaky trailer and looked to Muhammad in the dim light. He mirrored Mike’s terror.
“Wisdom is an incredible thing, Michael.” Mr. Flanders continued. “In the right hands, it can be a gift. One that can be shared with all mankind. But, if power should fall into the hands of someone without wisdom, the consequence could mean the destruction of us all.”
Mike didn’t have the strength to try to find a hole in his logic. He barely had the strength to stand, and allowed himself to slide down the wall, rumpling his shirt. He groaned into the cellphone, “Yes, sir. I understand.” But he wasn’t sure if he really did. Apparently, Mr. Flanders wasn’t sure either.
“You have a gift with robotics, Mr. Simone. As does Mr. Samir. We need all the gifted young people we can muster to put this country upright again. But it all starts here, with Order 66-6. With this simulated waste of human life. These gifted young Americans need someone to hate. Someone to rally them to my side. Be the enemy, so that you might be the hero. And Mr. Simone…”
“Do not fail me.”
The line went dead, and Mike let the phone drop to his side, still in his hand. He looked again at Muhammad, resting against the back wall of the trailer.
“Dude, that was intense.” Mike whispered. Muhammad nodded, and the two men in black suits barely seemed to notice.
“How long does it take to drive from Dallas to Houston?”
Mike checked the distance on his phone. “About three-and-a-half hours.” Both of them groaned and tried to find something to do with the time.
They ran through the initial battery check and systems check of the Ronald Thrump android, but everything there seemed to be as it should, other than the face being a little off-timed to the speech. But there wasn’t much they could do for that.
“I guess he’s just going to have to stay a stroke victim,” Mike laughed.
“I think we’ll leave that out of the bio we give the press.”
The truck rattled along for what seemed like an eternity under the hot, Texan sun. Even the men in black were forced to loosen their ties and shrug their blazers. Finally, the rattling stopped. Everyone looked up from what they’d found to do on their phones and watched the door. Cool, fresh air streamed through, little by little as the ramp lowered, revealing a crowd already assembled.
“Here we go again.” Muhammad sighed into the device, making the android’s lips flap together in something that looked like a whisper.
Brea McCoy recently graduated from Doane college in Nebraska with her degrees in English and Theatre. She has been trying to get her name out there. She’s loaded all of her work, consisting of short stories and scripts for stage and screen, into a cannon and started shooting it at publishers. Her teeth and ambitions are bared.