The year is 20whatever and a nuclear sunset falls over the once glorious Capital built on the backs of the taxpayers of the land once known as North America. A young boy, sick from lack of universal health care and a withered man without unemployment compensation stumble towards the great phallic symbol of the United States. Now broken and crumbling, it signifies the end of the American empire, metaphorically. The boy and his father won’t survive the winter, even though the ice caps have all melted and global warming has increased average winter temperatures to a balmy 70 degrees.
“What is this place?” the boy inquired.
“My son, we are in what is called a ‘parable,’” the father replied solemnly. “It’s an instructive story that illustrates lessons and principles to the reader through analogies and metaphors. It’s a way for people who believe they are intelligent and witty to dumb down complex ideas to a straightforward manner so that morons can easily understand the point the writer is trying to make.”
“I don’t understand any of the things you just said, dad,” the boy said, staring down at what was at one time a road, but now was just a metaphor for a budget impasse that was never solved. “I grew up in a time without the Department of Education, remember?”
“Son, for the last time, that’s not an excuse. You can still learn things without government.”
“I’m a victim of bad character development, Dad, lay off.”
In the distance a loud kerfuffle could be heard. The dad grabbed his son and dove behind a dilapidated park bench.
“What is that?” the son whispered as a group of Mad Max-inspired bikers rode by.
“Those, my son, are dystopian cliches, and they are everywhere in poorly-written parables like this one.”
The father reached into his pocket and carefully unfolded a yellowed and torn piece of paper. At the top, the words Welcome to Ted Cruz’s Thunderdome, by Maureen Dowd, were written in faded black ink.
“This is the bullshit world in which we live.”
The father scanned the writings that he had read countless times.
An ape sits where Abe sat.
“That’s a reference to Planet of the Apes,” the father said as he counted out the number of obvious dystopian references that Dowd had packed into her parable. “It doesn’t make any sense in this context, but no piece of bad dystopian writing would be complete without at least a reference.”
Tea Party zombies, thrilled with the dark destruction they have wreaked on the planet, continue to maraud around the Hill, eager to chomp on humanity some more.
“Zombies, always a necessary detail in a dystopian cliche. They represent the breakdown of society and a government unable to protect its people from themselves.” [or sometimes just consumerism, OMG MALLS)
Unlike Suzanne Collins’s “The Hunger Games,” where the capital thrived as the nation withered, here, the capital withered first, as the federal city shriveled without federal funds. But, in other ways, it mirrors the fantasy dystopias depicted by Hollywood and Cormac McCarthy in his novel “The Road,” “bloodcults” consuming one another in “an ashen scabland,” a “cold illucid world.”
“Here’s where Dowd gets lazy, she starts to just name-check popular movies that were adapted from popular books in her time.”
In 2084, there’s little sign of life in the godless and barren lost world. The insurance exchanges are open and the kinks are almost ironed out. But there is no one to sign up. Koch brother drones patrol the skies.A Mad Max motorcycle gang wielding hacksaws roars through the C.I.A., now a field of dead cornstalks, and the fetid hole that was once Michelle Obama’s organic vegetable garden. Will Smith and Brad Pitt are here, hunting aliens and monsters.
“Those are the bikers that just roared through.”
The Navy-Air Force game goes on, somehow, and there are annual CrossFit games on the Mall, led by flesh-eating Dark Seeker Paul Ryan, now 114 years old.
“Dark Seekers, now that’s a reference to the movie I Am Legend.”
“Please stop papa!” the boy cried out in pain. “The writing… it’s just too terrible. None of it makes any sense, except for the glitches in the online health insurance exchanges. Why would the Koch brothers have their own fleet of drones? How are Brad Pitt and Will Smith still alive and how are they the ones fighting aliens and monsters? She knows they’re just actors right? I can’t take any more bad movie references.”
“I’m sorry son, I know it’s hard to read. I should have just showed you this.” The father said as he pulled out his iPhone and navigated to Wikipedia. He typed list of dsytopian films in the search box.
The boy looked down at his feet, bloody for lack of shoes. (They had been worn to dust in the great CrossFit games.) “Can’t we escape?”
“No, I’m afraid we’re stuck here in this poorly written, cliche-wracked parable forever.”
“What will happen to us?”
“Well, if I know anything about bad writing…” The father trailed off and stared stoically into the distance. His gaze took in the alien ships blasting lasers at destroyed buildings, Godzilla fighting Mothra, the vampires, the sentient machines hunting human prey, the zombies, The Tea Partiers, the giant two-headed 0ctopus with the word “Kochtapus” on its brow that towered above the DC skyline.
“What?” The son asked.
“I’m afraid we have to die to satisfy the liberal orthodoxy that has permeated this shoddily-constructed, nonsensical world.”
“Well,” the son said sighing, “It’s probably better than living in a badly-written world filled with contradictions and over-the-top conservative boogeymen.”
“That’s a good boy,” the father said proudly. “You’re already smarter than 87 percent of The New York Times op-ed columnists, and you have a brighter future!”
The boy began to smile. “Papa stop, you’re making me happy. Are all the bad liberal dinosaur newspapers gone?”
Looking through the burning sky toward the (INSERT POST-APOCALYPTIC ADJECTIVE HERE) Lincoln Memorial where Maureen Dowd sits in Abe’s chair, the man replies happily, “Yes son. They’re all gone now.”