October 32nd, Part 2: Political AlienationPosted: November 2, 2021
Continued from Part 1
An hour later I am sitting In a coffee shop with the girl, Carrie. I don’t remember ever seeing her before, but that is hardly unusual in a university of 50,000+ students. Also. she isn’t exactly my type, I note with a wistful recollection of last night’s redhead.
But, she might be the only human being in this reality who won’t question my sanity. Plus, as an early riser, she seems way more on top of things than I am. Maybe she has some idea why we both woke up in a world where it was October 32nd, and an alien was President of the United States.
So, after the first round of shock wears off, I offer to buy her breakfast while she fills me in. She agrees instantly, perhaps as relieved as I am to find someone to talk about this with.
“As best I can determine, this reality was the same as ours until the start of the most recent Presidential election. Well, almost the same. For no obvious reason, October has apparently always had 32 days, while November had 29.”
Turns out Carrie is a history major, so she knows whereof she speaks. The extra day shifted the week of a few elections, but otherwise all the historical events she spot-checked had dates identical to what she remembered. And from what I can tell, she has an excellent memory, and a mind to match.
“The deviation began about three years ago, with the emergence of two bloggers: a Republican called Pat, and a Democrat named Kris. Both quickly amassed major social media followings with their quick wits and incisive commentary. Neither had a picture or appeared in videos, though from their voices the media inferred Pat was a man from Texas and Kris a woman from New York. There was a long-running conspiracy theory that they were a pair of teenage siblings a la Peter and Valentine Wiggins, but few people took that seriously.
“They both scrupulously avoiding mentioning the other until a year before the election, when they jointly released a hilarious animation parodying the intellectual shallowness of both parties front-runners. The combination of Pat’s earthy bombast and Kris’s erudite snarkiness made them a crossover hit.
“Grassroots movements immediately began to draft them as presidential candidates for their respective parties. Numerous polls placed them in the top tiers of the early running, despite a lack of formal campaigns.
“They played coy for months, but finally agreed to a live-streamed debate between them a week before the first primaries. The Internet went crazy not just because of the implied reveal, but because they agreed that the winner would formally run for President.
“The debate began with both participants visible as vague silhouettes on the extreme left and right of the stage. Each of them clearly and concisely articulated a platform solidly in their parties mainstream, with enough flair to appeal to extremists but the right amount of nuance to reassure moderates. After that, however, they launched devastatingly precise critiques of each other’s position. The shadowy figures moved closer as tempers and volume rose, until they appear to lunge at each other in unrestrained fury.
“The violence of their grappling seemed to buffet the screen until it finally fell over revealing… our alien, who called himself Alex. Dressed in a suit as we see him now, the alien explained that he has three brains. The brains called Pat and Kris had devoted themselves to understanding the two major parties, and used the tentacles on their side to create the shadow-puppet silhouettes.
“Alex explained that he was from a planet a hundred light-years away whose three races had almost destroyed themselves until scientists created a hybrid entity able to
empathize with all three sides. After saving their civilization, they immediately began visiting nearby planets to offer their services as mediators. However, they eventually learned it was easier to demonstrate how to lead with empathy than to explain it. So the three parents of Pat-Alex-Kris (“PAK”) were sent here 40 years ago so he could be a native-born citizen and eventually run for President.
“The rest, as they say, was history. The Supreme Court ruled that yes, he was eligible to run for President; his human guardian, the talk-show host known as “William the Red” somehow managed to produce a fully legitimate birth certificate.
“Alex won in a landslide. He took office in January on a centrist platform, and has had a surprisingly uneventful presidency. Until this morning, when he promised to unveil a landmark announcement. Tonight.”
To Be Continued