So you know how “people” (meaning like a couple dozen people) think the concept for The Purge was stolen from me, except it was also the premise of a Star Trek episode I’d never seen, but it still made me feel really important for like fifteen minutes?
Well, here is a partial for a story I never finished called “The Utopia Boredom” where a ginger systems engineer named Melvin Sninkle accidentally becomes president and then fixes all of America’s problems while interesting things keep almost happening, except he defeats them all by being uninteresting to outsiders and staying on task. As it happens, I wrote this, according to google July 22, 2016 and yet it has a very similar plot to “Designated Survivor” starring Kiefer Sutherland which was released in September 21, 2016. Coincidence? Of course. Because it takes way longer than three months to film something like that, I never shared it with anyone, and I also just realized this is a pivotal plot point in Battlestar Galactica. Anyhow, I’m not going to finish this story now because it’s not distinct enough and the elements that are I’m putting on the back-burner for the Gingerbread American story.
But here it is, because I feel guilty for writing on Family of Fang and Claw stuff you don’t get to see.
Chapter 1 Designated Survivor
In later days, when the buildings had been rebuilt and the people who knew the dead were themselves also dead, society wondered if there hadn’t been some sort of purpose to the meteor strike. Wondered if perhaps the three fiery bolides had not been directed by blind chance. Rather, they speculated, a benevolent God or perhaps even extraterrestrials, frustrated by humanity’s lack of progress, had understood what would be gained by the destruction and simply nudged the meteors out of their natural orbit.
Whatever the case, on a chilly February morning two years into a disastrous presidential term –85% of all people agreed that all recent presidents were disastrous, but lamented at what could be done when only 85% of the population supported such a notion– a meteor plummeted into the sky over Washington DC, struck the atmosphere at several dozen times the speed of sound and broke into three separate pieces. Later, the meteor would be called Columbus. The three resulting bolides would be called la Nina, la Pinta and la Santa Maria.
The resulting collision was both incredibly destructive and… oddly specific.
In the immediate aftermath of the impact, it was of course assumed the meteor strike was an attack by an enemy power. What were the odds, after all, that a meteor would randomly break into three separate pieces over Washington DC and simultaneously and exclusively destroy the White House, the Senate, the Congress and pretty much all of K Street? –A large field of debris had been thrown into the air by the destruction of the White House and flew in a parabolic arc for several blocks before obliterating K Street– On the same day that the president and vice president were meeting with fourteen of the fifteen members of the cabinet? And while the Congress and Senate were in session with record-breaking attendance to pass emergency bathroom legislation? And to do so with such little warning that even the aerospace lobby had barely enough time to clear the area?
The odds were astronomical.
Yet, still, it happened.
In a flash of light and a clap of thunder, the entire leadership of the United States of America was wiped out.
Good-looking sociopaths in khaki vests -also known as news anchors in this time period- rushed to the area with cameras and made a fuss of standing in the middle of the street and getting in the way of people who were nowhere near as good-looking, nor sociopathic for that matter, but who were actually doing actual things like providing emergency aid.
Reporting, in this time, had become a profession of maintaining immaculate hair and waiting around for a government official to tell you what to report. As there was presently no government there was no one to approve an official story. So the press milled around asking after the socio and geopolitcal opinions of people who happened to be wandering in the street and young people with high speed cell phone cameras that had captured the strikes.
Exactly 2 hours and 49 minutes confused minutes passed this way.
CHAPTER 2 President Melvin Sninkle
At 7:30am Hawaii time, secretary of Transportation Melvin Sninkle awoke with a wide grin on his face. He’d had a good dream of spotting several birds he had not been able to sight the previous day and also a fond nostalgia of his childhood stamp-collection. A dream of finding that one elusive stamp of the Queen and placing it in a perfect grid completing his collection. And also a little bit of a nightmare in the middle about the Lieber rates being adjusted 25 basis points beyond what it was supposed to be, but a good dream overall.
As the world waited on word of the fate of the leader of the free world, Melvin Sninkle:
- Did twenty-five push-ups.
- Did thirty sit-ups
- Did forty squats
- Ate two eggs over easy
- Ate a piece of plain wheat toast
- Drank one glass of orange juice
- Showered for exactly 12 minutes
- Brushed his teeth for two minutes clockwise
- Brushed his teeth for two minutes counterclockwise
- Turned on the news
Upon seeing the destruction of Washington DC, Melvin Sninkle was in shock for exactly 6.23 seconds. During this time he thought to call the White House switchboard, realized the futility of this, and then decided the best thing to do would be to get in touch with his contacts at the major news networks.
He began this task, in the only fair way he knew, and thus the only way conceivable to him: alphabetical order.
“Hello?” a panicked voice asked at ABC News.
“Melvin Sninkle here,” said Melvin Sninkle.
“Who the fuck is Melvin Sninkle?” the voice demanded.
“Melvin Sninkle, Secretary of Transportation,” said Melvin Sninkle.
“Hey! Everyone shut the fuck up! I’m talking to a member of the fucking cabinet! Do you know what the fuck just happened? Everything’s been fucking wiped out. Are we at war?” the voice asked.
“I haven’t had time to review the data in sufficient detail, I’m afraid,” said Melvin Sninkle, who suspected a meteor strike from the footage shown on the news but who knew it would be imprudent to tell this to what now passed for a journalist.
“Then why the fuck are you calling?” the person barked.
“I believe I may be the President of the United States. I was appointed Designated Survivor in this meeting of the cabinet,” said Melvin Sninkle.
In the long silence that followed, Melvin Sninkle internally counted to ten and then said: “Hello?”
“Hold on,” the voice, more subdued, said.
“Yes, I’ll hold,” said President Melvin Sninkle.
Chapter 3 To Sninkle
President Melvin Sninkle’s first Press Conference went something like this:
“Based upon the available evidence, we now believe the destruction of our top level government was caused by a meteor impact. Though this seems to be improbable, we have worked out the orbit of this particular bolide and the following math shows that it was quite, unfortunately, inevitable.”
Melvin Sninkle then did something so grossly offensive, so wildly unprecedented, that the press’ term for this would be the creation of a new verb “to Sninkle.” Meaning: to explain something with the exact level of complexity needed to fully encapsulate the actual issue without reducing anything to catchy slogans or analogies that were “close enough to be true for the public understanding.”
In other words, in President Sninkle’s first official public briefing, he committed the unforgivable sin of doing math in public. To the collective horror of the entire United States of America.
Melvin “Sninkled” the available information about the meteor for forty-five minutes. His infographic charts, it was agreed, were the one truly stellar part of the presentation. They omitted no detail, were totally transparent, and readable at a glance. His penmanship? Impeccable and machine-like. In that span of time he answered every conceivable question any person could reasonably have.
Several members of the White House Press Corps fell asleep halfway through this explanation.
“Do you think it might be time to declare a war on space?” asked a beautiful blonde woman, who dared this after receiving a text from her boss that ratings were plummeting.
“I’m terribly sorry,” said President Melvin Sninkle, “I’m not sure I understand what is meant by that. Can you explain?”
“War. On Space. I… think it’s about time,” said the attractive blonde, seizing upon a feeling of confidence that kept trying to escape her when the boring ginger man who had become President looked at her.
“I agree! Mr. President, when are we going to take action? The United States has to do something about space!” said a man with a strong cleft chin whose chief skill was doing an impeccable impersonation of a tired and brusque working man. He was, however, a subscriber to several doily magazines, Cat Fancy, and had hands as smooth as a baby’s bottom. He had been born a millionaire and had never known what it was to live without a personal chef.
Though this was truly without merit, sensing the power of the cleft chin, other member of the White House Press Corps nodded along.
Melvin Sninkle was quiet for exactly two minutes considering the ramifications of this question. Had he not been doing math for the last three hours, this would have been considered an unforgivable failure in a first term president.
“That is a fantastic idea!” said President Melvin Sninkle.
He spent another two hours sketching out several ideas he had for meteor monitoring satellites, explained the importance of the asteroid belt, Jupiter’s gravity, and re-usable rockets.
“This all seems expensive, how are we going to afford this? We already have a capital to rebuild!” demanded a childless man with an untreated drinking problem who nevertheless looked exactly what television told you a responsible father was supposed to look like.
Melvin Sninkle considered this for a full seven minutes, slowly doing math and crossed out fully half of the satellites he had sketched on the board.
“I believe we should be able to create a sufficiently advanced system with only a few satellites,” said President Melvin Sninkle.
“How can you possibly know that?” demanded everyone.
“I deduced it from first principles,” said President Melvin Sninkle, as if confused that this was even a question.
“Who are you?” a stupid woman with very dark and communicative eyebrows -which is often confused by most people as being the same as intelligence- demanded.
“Oh, right. I was the Secretary of Transportation. Because of the move to autonomous vehicles, it was considered prudent to assign someone with a PhD in complex systems, physics, and pure math. I have several fortunately. My appointment was only supposed to be temporary until some of the more difficult work with the new transportation was completed.”
Around the world, governor’s were forced to make a number of odious choices. Nearly the entire Senate and Congress had been destroyed. It fell to them, therefore to appoint members of their states to fill these positions for the remainders of the elected terms. Given the number of things needing to be done in the aftermath -and the lack of people on K Street to tell them what to do and to pay them to do the things which were most lucrative for the people on K Street to have done- they were also jobs which no one wanted.
Not until they were profitable and less competency-driven again, at least.
“Gertrude, it has come to my attention that you have memorized all of the bylaws of the