Ted got out a pack of crayons and set them on the table next to a large piece of construction paper. He opened the pack and sniffed that crayon-y smell fresh out of the box. He took out the macaroni-and-cheese one and began to draw a map of Iowa.
Drawing this map of Iowa and then dividing it into its ninety-nine counties was the only way he could unwind and relax tonight. It helped him take his mind off the stress and put his energies into something creative and powerful and beautiful and intuitive.
He just wished that President Reagan could see him now. His drawing was sure to look great and represent the heart of America, but he wanted more than anything for Reagan to be proud of him,
One day, though, he would make the man happy, he thought as he marked a giant green X over Des Moines.
George sat in a coffee shop waiting for his late-night latte to come through. The barista was a legally-blind man named David, but he was still skilled at churning out a good cup of java juice joe.
He wanted to cry into his coffee but it still hadn’t arrived yet, so he was mostly just trying to work up the tears before it arrived. Crying on command was a skill that he had honed for years, but never quite perfected.
The window was fogged up with ice, but the lights of New York City shone through.
His phone rang and the caller ID showed “2008”, but George ignored it.
Mark still walked the isolated path around
Him, where snow fell and the fields were as
Dead as the campaign he tried to run. It was
No surprise that an IRS agent would not be
Mark still hoped. The snow-white snow hit his
Snow-white hair and reminded him of his road
Ahead, waiting for the moment of the Caucuses.
He prayed for success despite knowing none would
Our Universe’s Jim Gilmore
Jim Gilmore couldn’t sleep. His left hand twitched, hovering over the iPhone sitting next to him on the bed. Should he call her? She’s probably up. Probably like Jim, just too excited for their big day tomorrow to get any sleep. So he should, right? No no no, that looks too desperate. Text? Yeah, text. Nice, casual, friendly text.
hey babe u still cacusin tomorrow ;)
The the light of the phone screen seared the words into Jim’s eyes. She wasn’t like all those other girls, right? Caucusing for those other candidates? No, she understood Jim. Jim was a nice guy and she was different than all those other girls. Jim turned on the ringer to be extra sure he wouldn’t miss her. Jim laid back on the bed and counted the nubs of the flaking popcorn ceiling until the night turned to day and Sunday turned to Monday, but his inbox remained empty.
Jim Webb died. Remember? Dead, lying on the ground in Chesapeake. Thousands of Neo-Union soldiers strewn across the ground, their flesh rotted away but their cybernetic implants remaining where they were when Jim butchered them like animals.
Rick repeatedly plunged the sewing needle into the skin of his left pinky, tracing down the length of his phalanx. With each sting of the needle, blood and ink welled up through the raw skin of his fingers and a sharp pain screamed through his digits and swollen, arthritic metacarpals. Rick didn’t mind the pain so much. If it wasn’t for the pain, he would be back to counting off the lines on his cell wall.
17 for days left in September after they locked him up. 31 for October, 30 for November, and 31 for December. After January’s 31 was a solitary numeral. Today should’ve been his day. 4 years ago he was a contender. He was could’ve walked away with the gold if it wasn’t for that fool Romney. But today? The people would’ve flocked to him and carried him on their shoulders all the way to Washington. Rick flicked the black stained needle across the cell and wiped his fingers on his jumpsuit, staining the orange polyester with streaks of dark red. Perry looked down at his fingers mouthed the words, “Iowa 2020.”
Rand decided that he would push for liberty like no other candidate would. He wanted limited government, a prosperous economy, and a nation that didn’t act as the policeman of the world.
But on this January night, Rand felt like liberty had disappeared. He took a trip away from the midwest and went all the way to Manhattan so that he could remind himself of where his roots laid, but it was too late–
The Statue of Liberty was missing.
Rand wept for hours but the statue never returned. It had been stolen without the notice of anyone in the entire country. He was alone in his sorrow, like always.
The rectangle of thick brown felt tickled Donald’s upper lip, but the brisk morning breeze that whipped up 5th Avenue threatened to rip the disguise right off of his face. Donald patted the mustache with his thumb. No, not Donald. He was Donald when he was flying in his private jet or saying that women were disgusting for going to the bathroom. When he wanted to go out for a coffee or a shoeshine, he was Nodlad Prumt, Slovenian immigrant and dock worker. Nodlad put his hand in his jacket pocket and brushed the cold metal, tracing out the shape of the .45 revolver and fastening his hand around the grip. He could do it. Right here, right now. He could put this gun against someone’s temple and blow their brains out. And when the cops came to throw the poor, crazed Slovenian immigrant Nodland Prumt into prison, he would reveal himself.
“Ha! It was me, Donald Trump!” he would cry out as he tossed his fake mustache into the wind.
“Oh, Mr. Trump! We’re sorry for the inconvenience. Thanks for all you’ve done for this nation!” the cop would reply. The EMTs would grab the body by the limbs and fling it into the back of the ambulance, but not before asking Donald for his autograph.
No. Now was not the time. While he had the undying support of millions of voters, there were still the few who were tempted by the wiles of that seductress, Ted Cruz. It is too close to the caucus to risk that. Soon, though, Donald will taste blood and the world will reply with thunderous applause.
The cheap, pressboard coffee table was covered with stacks of spreadsheets and a dozen different calculators. Bernie Sanders pecked away at the devices, multiplying and dividing and carrying the ones, every so often referring to one of the labyrinthian sheets of data to make sure his inputs were correct. Bernie mashed calculate on an old printer calculator and it whined furiously before spitting out a thin sheet of waxy receipt paper. Bernie tore it off and, after reading it, fell back onto the couch, clutching his chest.
“N-n-no! It can’t be! How is this possible?!” Sanders said, his voice and whole body quaking in fear. The slip of paper, little more than a couple inches of cellulose and faded ink, might as well have been his epitaph. There were only three numbers; 89.9. “But… but the top 1/10th of 1 percent! They… they have NINETY percent of the wealth, not EIGHTY NINE POINT NINE! How will I tell the people… The people have to know… No… they don’t.
Bernie reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out the “Feel the Bern” lighter that was given to him by a supporter earlier that day. He struck the flint wheel and a small flame appeared, flickering under the AC. Bernie held the slip of paper to the flame and in a less than a second it was nothing but a few flakes of ash, falling gently onto the sticky motel floor.
“I am the hero that the working class deserves, but not the one they need right now.”
Larry was back at Harvard in his office. He was working late as he prepared tomorrow’s lesson for his “Ethics in Video Game Journalism” class, but he kept sighing heavily.
“Sigh,” he sighed. “If only the Democrats let me into their debates… I’d be out there in Iowa right now…”
He thought about his failed Kickstarter campaign. He was going to make America really cool again, and intuitive too…
“Honey, look at the latest poll that came out!” Lincoln’s wife shouted.
“Coming, Stephanie!” Lincoln put down his model train and stepped into the living room. Stephanie gave him her tablet for him to see the numbers.
“Wow… Lincoln Chafee at 45% in Iowa? This is fantastic!” Lincoln literally jumped into the air in a burst of joy. “I’m so excited! I’m gonna take a picture of this!”
As Lincoln ran back into his study to grab his Polaroid camera, Stephanie shook her head slowly. She didn’t have the heart to tell him that she had made up the poll numbers and put them onto an Excel spreadsheet. But as long as he was happy, she was happy.
Chris looked at the George Washington Bridge and shed a tear from his right eye. It turned into a tattoo as it fell and then solidified on his cheek.
“I paid good money for that bridge,” he said woefully. “I don’t know why the world won’t let me own it. Even if I become President, I’m not allowed to claim the bridge for my whole life…”
He went back to his home in New Hampshire and wondered, “Maybe I would do a better job as governor if I just… stayed here forever…”
“Maybe I’ll do just that.”
“Honey, look at the latest poll that came out!” Mike’s wife shouted.
“Coming, Janet!” Mike put down his banjo and ran out into the porch, where Janet’s CRT had the local news playing. The newscasters showed the latest Des Moines Register poll, and the final one before the election.
“That Ann Selzer’s a good old woman,” Mike said.
And then Mike saw it.
Two percent for Mike Huckabee.
“Fuck!” Mike shouted. “Fucking cocksucker shit motherfucker cunt shit ass dammit!” He hit the front door and cracked the screen in front of the window. “That fucking bitch and her cunt fucking motherfucking polls of shit!”
“Mike, can you–”
A line wrapped around the Hamilton High School gymnasium under the orange parking lot lights. Here was where the Iowa Democratic caucus would commence at the break of dawn. The line of caucus-goers was cleanly divided along two lines. The front half of the line was populated by an even mix of young and old from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, most of them wearing a shirt or hat emblazoned with the Bernie Sanders logo. The front half calmly conversed, although every so often a young man or woman would let out a neighborhood-waking “Feel the Bern!”. The center of the line was little more than a strip of middle aged white men wearing shirts with the face of a similarly middle aged white man.
The back of the line, however, was a circus. Screeching young men and women circled pockets of older voters, who clung desperately to each other in wide-eyed fear. The swarm of teens spouted out quotes from a massive catalogue of pop culture, occasionally asking one another if they were mad. However wild they were, the Hillary Clinton camp kept to themselves for most of the night… until one of the savages broke the neutral ground of the Marty Line.
The Hillary supporter, a young woman clad in a shirt depicting Hillary Clinton standing, then Hillary standing next to Elizabeth Warren, then Hillary Clinton standing next to Bill Clinton, then Hillary standing next to a sideways Bernie Sanders, flailed her arms wildly, clotheslining everyone in her path. “The fufu lame shit I ain’t wid it!” she shouted. “I send some shots at yo fitted!”
The terrified onlookers cleared a path as the crazed teen flailed around in a circle. She stopped and stared, her pupils stretching from corner to corner, her lungs laboring to keep up with her ravings. Her movements began to slow. Her eyes went blank. The girl fell to the ground, a faint “Gratata” passing between her lips before her heart stopped.
Alternate Universe Jim Gilmore
Alternate Universe Jim Gilmore was a God in this realm. His powers were beyond the greatest imaginations of those who inhabited it, and each and every small, insignificant act he performed was tantamount to a miracle in their eyes.
He cared not to rule the country, but in this land called Iowa, he desired for nothing less than to reign supreme and feel the power surging through him as the populace fell to its knees, begging for him to let him put it out of its misery.
And he would say, “No.”
A bowie knife flew through the air until it hit the wall, embedding it about two inches into a picture of Hillary Clinton. Carly Fiorina grabbed the knife by the hilt and yanked it from the wall. The picture of Hillary Clinton was little more than a series of loosely connected shreds of confetti at that point, but Carly could still make out face her face. She could still make out the face of her ultimate prey.
Fiorina knew full well that she could beat any of those disgusting pigs that called themselves her Republican opponents. Sanders would be tougher game, but she could bring him to his knees. It would just take a little more work. She chuckled at the thought of going against O’Malley. But Clinton? She was a much more dangerous foe. Any mere man she could destroy with a snap of her manicured fingers or a stomp of her heel. But another woman? This presented a different challenge.
A battle of femininity. Strong-independent-womano-a-strong-independent-womano. It mattered not that Hillary was polling around 40% and Carly hadn’t seen double digits in months, Hillary kneel before Carly Fiorina or taste her wrath.
“Who cares about Iowa?” John asked the people gathered at the town hall meeting in Manchester. “I sure don’t. I care about America. And Ohio. I’ve been Governor of Ohio for a long time now, and if there’s something I’ve learned in all that time, it’s that it’s a great state and I love it more than anything.
“Does love make a person qualified to be President of the United States of America? It certainly makes someone qualified to be Governor of Ohio, because my love is the reason that the people voted me in. I really hope that I make everyone happy.
“So please, vote for me in New Hampshire and South Carolina and Nevada and obviously all those New England states on Super Tuesday but that goes without saying. I really wanna win this one, guys. But fuck Iowa. I don’t care about that.”
A thin mist, a cacophonous mixture of every scent from aspen pine needles to zucchini squash, swirled through the air of the vape bar. Joey B sat back in his usual chair, equidistant from the bar, restrooms, and jukebox, and breathed in the second hand scents. He smacked his gums as the smell of every ingredient of a Denny’s grand slamwich crept in through his nostrils, until an unexpected interloper entered his dreams of a gooey, greasy, all-in-one breakfast sandwich. It was… corn… fresh corn.
Not just corn, but ethanol, elbow grease, and whiteness. To most these would be nothing more than a bunch of unrelated vapes, but Joey knew better. Joey B was all too familiar with the smell of Iowa. Joey’s mind retreated into the realm of memory, to four years prior when he and Barry spent nearly half of their collective salaries on dirty movies and cheap beer. To eight years prior, when he and Barry were talking about doing a bit of a wife swap. Barry was probably joking, but Joe wouldn’t mind taking Michele for a little spin. Not this year, though. Barry was off doing some president shit instead of working on his reelection.
It wasn’t that bad, though. Joey B could still party alone, right? He didn’t need Barry to teach him how to have a good time. Joe walked to the jukebox, parting the sea of vapor, and dropped a fistfull of change into the coin slot. He flipped to Saints & Sinners by Whitesnake and hit the button for “Here I Go Again” 15 or 20 times.
“Which one of you wants to party with the Republican frontrunner!?” Jeb! shouted to the empty meeting room of Des Moines First Presbyterian Church. Nobody replied besides Jeb!’s solitary echo. Jeb! swung his hips, grooving his way through the crowd of partygoers. He totally had this election in the bag.
“All the party people caucusing for Jeb! say yeah!” Jeb! hollered.
“Yeah!” Jeb! whispered.
“All the party people caucusing for Jeb! say whoooooa!” Jeb! whooped.
“Whoooooooooa!” Jeb! repied in a hushed shout, like a prepubescent basketball player mimicking an adoring crowd.
“Haha! Whooooo! Just look at the polls circa January 2015, people! The Jeb!mentum is going strong!”
Jeb! walked over and grabbed a red solo cup from the snack table. He ladled up a glass of punch and took a sip. “Whoa, what kinda party is this? Jeb!ville ain’t in a dry county!” Jeb! pulled a flask from his coat pocket and poured a splash of cheap vodka into the punch. Then another. Then half the flask. Then the whole thing. Jeb! drank until he passed out and woke up on Tuesday morning in a pool of piss and tears.
Linds sat in bed in his pajamas and turned on the night time news. He took some chocolate-covered cherries out of his nightstand and began eating them as Bill O’Reilly prattled on about the declining morality of the American people and his bluegrass band.
Linds’s secretary Mr. Plissken came over to the bed and handed him a Redpop Faygo soda. He popped the can and began chugging the drink. “Holler if you love Faygo!” Linds shouted, looking straight at the audience.
Linds was up to .5% in the polls but he was still fine with it. He knew he was going to win
the caucus. It was going to be amazing.
“I’m gonna vote for Donald Trump because he speaks his mind and we need someone strong like that to fight that Ayatoller guy!” said a portly, plum colored woman on the television. Marco shut off the television and spooned a soggy mass of cereal into his mouth.
“Uhg, fucking normies,” Marco said through a mouthful of Cheerios. “They don’t know what real Republican candidates are! The old Republicans, the real Republicans, had soul and conservative values and… and common sense! And then this Trump guy thinks he can come into our party and call himself one of us?!” Marco shovelled another soppy spoonful of oats into his mouth.
“The just don’t make them like they used to. Now everyone is just a corporate shill. They don’t do it for the art like Ron or Richard or… or me!” Marco slammed his empty cereal bowl on the table, splashing milk all over the place, and locked his arms. “I’ll show them… I’m going to win this election and show the world what a real conservative is.”
Piyush “Bobby” “B-Jinds” “The Man from Louisian” Jindal
LAST SEEN: BATON ROUGE, LA
NOVEMBER 2, 2015
HEIGHT: 5’ 4”
EYES: Brown, way too close together
PLEASE CONTACT THE LOUISIANA BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION IF YOU HAVE ANY MORE INFORMATION
Martin O’Malley stared at his own reflection, scowling. “You. You’re the best. You’ve got this. You are this most important man in Iowa. Iowa is the most important state in this nation.” Marty bounced between the balls of his feet and threw punches into the air. His heart was pumping, his lungs lungs were working like clockwork.
“Yeah, that’s right. Marty the decider. Marty the kingmaker. Oh, you wanna win, Hillary? BAH!” Marty swiped with a quick left hook. “You’ve gotta come begging to Marty. Oh, you feelin’ the Bern, Sanders? BAH BAH BAH!” Marty let out a flurry of quick jabs. “You better be feelin’ my 4%, motherfucker!” Marty reached into the pocket of his Tapout shorts and pressed play on his Zune. Eye of the Tiger played meekly from the MP3’s player meager speaker.
“It’s the… eye of O’Malley it’s the thrill of the fight,” Martin hummed under his breath. “Hmmm hmmm huh hmmmhmm challenge of our hmmmm hmmmm. And the last known survivor is going to give his caucus voters to the other two candidates. And he hmm hmm hmm hmm huh hmm eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeye-”
Rick Santorum clacked his rings of power together, watching the television screen intently. This election was devolving into complete and utter chaos and it was all going according to plan. Sure, there have been a few snags along the way. The Trump Man has procured an unsettling lead over his opponents and some, such as the Science Man and Man with No Last Name, had all but fallen into obscurity, but still they were 11 candidates strong. Still the monkeys danced for his amusement. Soon they shall know true chaos once Rick unleashed the Smiling Robotic Man upon the election. His body ached and his soul wrenched under the intense strain of this beautiful madness, but as long as he remained tethered to this mortal plane then his reign would be unopposed. Who knows, he may even get his hands dirty in Iowa like he did last time around.