Waiting was always the hardest part. We had been driving for hours across the desert. Vegas was many miles behind us as we raced for the Free State of America. It had been years since the great upheaval, the time no one wants to remember but none of us can get out of our minds.
It’s only an election, they said. Both parties are the same, they said. It doesn’t matter who you vote for, they said.
They were wrong.
The initial shock lasted for weeks. I suspect some still haven’t grasped the outcome, even all these years later. But it had happened; there is no doubt about that.
The first signs we had made a mistake came from those who voted by their conscience. “But we wanted a greener world,” they said. Or “we wanted a world free from government regulation,” they said. He said, she said. Some still rationalize their decision to vote “on principle,” though their “principle” was based on fantasies created in their heads, unrelated to reality. “It felt good for a while,” they said. Until the world changed.
The irony of the Free State of America isn’t lost on us who saw the upheaval coming. The former U.S. state was the first to secede, with Phoenix now the nation’s capital. It came as a shock when the former Governor, aged Senator, and legislators were expelled. Those who had been immigrants built a wall around the state, forming a new country, one in which freedom and responsibility were integrated with rational regulation. Unlike in the former United States, corporations had to pay hefty premiums just for the right to be in the burgeoning marketplace. No corporation got tax breaks, and still they begged to get inside the wall. Wealthy individuals entreated the people’s government to tax them even higher.
It seems everyone wanted to get away from the former United States. They had “made America great again,” for sure. Though they just as assuredly hadn’t realized it would become great only because the honest folk left all the toxic elements behind – the bigots, the racists, the misogynists, the liars. As more and more of the former American states joined with the Free State of America in forming a new nation, all that was left in the former USA were the takers, the ones who avoided taxes, scammed their employees, and skimmed off gillions as they ran up debts before strategically bankrupting the country in the hope no one would notice.
After the bankruptcy the Trumpians ran amok, demanding the government feed them. But under the new Putin-puppet all social programs were immediately eliminated. All investment in infrastructure and jobs and education was cut out completely. Eventually the Trumpians started fighting each other. No longer able to blame immigrants and minorities and women and the poor and non-fake Christians for their delusions, they turned on themselves. Militias fought militias once they realized their stockpiles of guns were no match for an actual military. And then the military left them to themselves.
Eventually they will annihilate enough of each other that us rationals can walk back in to retake the remainder of what once was America. Already half the population has come over; all that is left are a few enclaves of hatred, with no one left to hate besides themselves.
The long drive over, we’ve been told our application has been approved and we’ll be granted entry into the Free State of America. The mandatory sun block has been applied and we have proved our ability to contribute to society.
The waiting won’t be long now. We smile.
[Written in response to one-word prompt, Waiting]
David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate.