Well, I’ve been married to him for 15 years and I know pretty well who he is, so it doesn’t bother me at all.
– Heidi Cruz
Ted Cruz came to on his office floor, his heartbeat thudding through his ears. Ted Cruz got up off the floor. The room was bathed in an orange glow, emanating eerily from Ted Cruz’s laptop. That in itself wasn’t unusual. Somebody had set Ted Cruz’s MacBook to the “Invert Colors” setting some time ago, and he had no idea how to change it back.
Still, Ted Cruz had questions. Why was he, Ted Cruz, slowly gathering himself up off the floor?
…Actually, that was really the only relevant question. Ted Cruz wondered if his computer might hold some answers. Ted Cruz dragged his way onto his desk, and beheld what was being displayed on his computer screen:
Ted Cruz’s eyes rolled up in his head and he slumped back to the floor.
A leather-clad foot splashes through a puddle, the ejecta glittering neon refracted off the streetlights. The reflections ripple and break in the downpour, shining wetly off the road, the buildingsides, the rain-slick hair of the passersby…
We look up from our vantage on the street. Before us, its back to us, is a figure in a trenchcoat of purest black. No light reflects from it. No water drips off it. Before it, the young pour out of a bar, illuminated yellow, smiling teeth glittering, laughter echoing off the buildings. We can tell, but we cannot hear it… this thing before us, standing there, impassive, absent, absence in the cosmological sense, of nothingness, some sort of paradoxical, physical embodiment of absolute void: it absorbs all, and we are in its shadow, its sphere of deprivation…
The figure, though we cannot hear it, seems to communicate with these passersby, to get along with them—how can they not see it? not see what they are talking to?—it’s too late for them, it was too late when they decided to go out tonight, they are marked, fated to be its prey, its latest meal, the latest offering to that awful insatiable emptiness, which seeks only to be fed… and yet they still do not know, still do not see that they are within its event horizon, that terrible black hole sucking in light, warmth, sensation, morality.
Somehow, without hearing a word, we know. We see the recognition on the victims’ faces, not of their doom, but of their apparent salvation: drink has rendered them unfit to drive; this figure—this familiar figure! their faces light up with recognition, not of friendliness, but of celebrity, a celebrity taking interest in their well-being!—has offered them a lift. They cannot believe their fortune.
Let me take you to my car, the figure seems to suggest. It turns towards us. At last we see its face—a face we know all too well, but the victims don’t; they don’t realize, their reasoning already hijacked, that they are recognizing a man who hasn’t even been born yet in their time, who doesn’t exist, and yet who will contribute, and already has, to a reign of nightmares stretching further than any imagination dare conceive…
They get into the car, a pure black one of a make unknown to any of them. It is San Francisco, 1969.
“You mean you haven’t told him?”
“Of course not! What good would it do?”
“What good would it do? You could—you could see—a doctor, I don’t know! You can’t just leave him like this!”
“Look, I’ve made my peace with it. I can’t change it. It’s just how he is. I might as well make the most of the time I have with him.”
“💧✋☹☜☠👍☜📪 💣⚐☼❄✌☹📬 ✡⚐🕆☼ ⚐👌☺☜👍❄✋⚐☠💧 ✌☼☜ ✋☠💧✋☝☠✋☞✋👍✌☠❄📬 ✌☹☹ ✋💧 ✋☠💧✋☝☠✋☞✋👍✌☠❄ 👌☜☞⚐☼☜ ❄☼✋👍😐✡ 👎✋👍😐📪 ❄☟☜ 💧👍☟☜💣✋☠☝ ☝⚐👎 ⚐☞ 💣✋💧👍☟✋☜☞📬 ❄☟☼⚐🕆☝☟ ☟✋💧 ✌☝☜☠❄💧📪 ❄☟☜ 👎✋✞✋☠☜ 🏱☹✌☠ 💧☟✌☹☹ 👌☜ 👍✌☼☼✋☜👎 ⚐🕆❄ 🕆☠⚐🏱🏱⚐💧☜👎📬 ❄☟☜ ✞☜☼✡ ☹✌🕆☝☟❄☜☼ ⚐☞ ❄☟☜ 🕆☠👌☜☹✋☜✞✋☠☝ 💧☟✌☹☹ 👌☜ ☟✋💧 ☞🕆☜☹📪 💧⚐ ❄☟✌❄ ☟☜ 💣✌✡ 👌☜☠👎 ❄☟☜ ☜☠❄✋☼☜ ✌☼👍 ⚐☞ ☟✋💧❄⚐☼✡ ❄⚐🕈✌☼👎💧 ☟✋💧 👎⚐💣✋☠✋⚐☠📬 ✌☹☹ 🕈☟⚐ ⚐🏱🏱⚐💧☜📪 ✋☠ ❄☟☜✋☼ 👎☜🏱☼✌✞✋❄✡📪 ☟✋💧 💣✋☝☟❄ 💧☟✌☹☹ 👌☜ ☜✠🏱🕆☠☝☜👎📪 ✌☠👎 ❄☟☜ 🏱✌❄☟ 🏱✌✞☜👎 ☞⚐☼ ☟✋💣 ❄⚐ 💧✋❄ 🏱☜☼🏱☜❄🕆✌☹☹✡ ✌ 💣⚐☼❄✌☹ ❄☟☼⚐☠☜📪 ✌💧 ☟☜ ✌☹☼☜✌👎✡ 👎⚐☜💧 ✌ 👍⚐💧💣✋👍📬 ♒◆■⧫♏❒ ⬧📬 ⧫♒□❍p⬧□■ ♎♓♎■🕯⧫ &■□⬥ ♒□⬥ ❒♓♑♒⧫ ♒♏ ⬥♋⬧”
“You just—you just did—”
“What? What’s wrong?”
“You—oh, never mind.”
Ted Cruz got up off the floor again, heart and head pounding. What the hey? (That was the expression Ted Cruz used in lieu of profanity.) That was twice Ted Cruz had gotten up off the floor. Wait—four times. Ted Cruz remembered two others now. What had caused them? Ted Cruz didn’t know. Maybe Ted Cruz would find some answers among the liberal media. Ted Cruz navigated to https://www.nytimes.com, saw this article, and promptly tumbled to the floor again.
A darkened road. An unsuspecting victim. A gun, shots. A call of admission to authorities, knowing that they can never catch him. The killer wipes the blood from his hands. His work here is done. He walks into the darkness, and then there is just darkness.
Weird Twitter rolls up its metaphorical sleeves and rubs its entirely imaginary hands together with glee. Wow! Ted Cruz acknowledged the Zodiac Killer thing! The surreal Internet humor movement sets about tweeting about this stunning development in the story:
This is fun, thinks Weird Twitter, unaware of what dismal seeds it sows.
Ted Cruz sat up in his chair. Had he (Ted Cruz) dozed off? Again? That must have been what all those times when he (Ted Cruz) had woken up on the floor had been, even if it had seemed stranger at the time. Well, Ted Cruz wasn’t one to ask such questions. He (Ted Cruz) was looking forward to interacting with his constituents on Twitter. Ted Cruz navigated to his Twitter feed, @tedcruz, checked his notifications tab, saw that it was full of Weird Twitter Zodiac Killer jokes, and oh GOSH darn it here we go again—
2049. Scrap heaps. Ashen rain. Holographic girlfriends. Atari still existing, somehow. This is all a reference to Blade Runner 2049, which I saw the other day and is really, really good. After this paragraph, it has no further influence on the story. A flying car leaves L.A., headed for Mount Rushmore. George Washington’s mouth opens to accept it.
The car flies miles underneath the caustic, fallow land of the surface, into the tremendous vault beneath, and towards the colossal figure at the center of that endless, empty cave.
Out of the car steps one man and one woman, specks before the immensity above. The specks kneel, and become even smaller.
“We have returned, master,” says one speck.
The voice that responds somehow manages, even in that enormous space, to feel constrained.
“❄☜👎 👍☼🕆☪📪 💣✡ 💣⚐💧❄ ☹⚐✡✌☹ 💧☜☼✞✌☠❄,” it says, indecipherable to all but those who have communed with the divine. “✌☝✌✋☠ ✡⚐🕆 ☟✌✞☜ 🏱☜☼☞⚐☼💣☜👎 ✌👎💣✋☼✌👌☹✡ ✋☠ 💣✡ 💧☜☼✞✋👍☜📬 💧⚐⚐☠ 💣✡ ✋☠☞☹🕆☜☠👍☜ 💧☟✌☹☹ 👌☜ 👍☜💣☜☠❄☜👎 ❄☟☼⚐🕆☝☟⚐🕆❄ ❄☟✋💧 ❄✋💣☜📪 👌⚐❄☟ 👌✌👍😐🕈✌☼👎💧 ✌☠👎 ☞⚐☼🕈✌☼👎💧📬”
“Glorious shall be the day when you sit the throne of men,” says Ted Cruz. “I crave only the indulgence of hastening its arrival. I live only to serve, in this time or any other.”
“✞☜☼✡ 🕈☜☹☹,” declares the thunder, with force enough to rend the earth. “❄☟☜☠ ✋ ☜☠❄☼🕆💧❄ ✡⚐🕆 🕈✋❄☟ ✡⚐🕆☼ ☝☼✌✞☜💧❄ ❄✌💧😐 ✡☜❄📬 ✡⚐🕆 💣🕆💧❄ ☝⚐ 👌✌👍😐 ✋☠ ❄✋💣☜📪 ✌☠👎 🏱✌✞☜ ❄☟☜ 🕈✌✡ ☞⚐☼ 💣✡ 👍⚐☼⚐☠✌❄✋⚐☠📬 👌✡ ✡⚐🕆☼ ☟✌☠👎 💣🕆💧❄ ☞☜✌☼ ✌☠👎 💣✋💧❄☼🕆💧❄ 👌☜ 💧⚐🕈☠📪 💧🕆👍☟ ❄☟✌❄ ✋ 👍✌☠ ☼✋💧☜ ❄⚐ 🏱⚐🕈☜☼ 🕆🏱⚐☠ ✋❄💧 👌✌👍😐📬 ✌☠👎 ❄⚐⚐ 💣🕆💧❄ ❄☟✌❄ ☞☜✌☼ ✌☠👎 💣✋💧❄☼🕆💧❄ 👌☜ 💧🕆💧❄✌✋☠☜👎📪 💧🕆👍☟ ❄☟✌❄ 💣✡ 👎⚐💣✋☠✋⚐☠ 👍✌☠ 👌☜ 💧🕆💧❄✌✋☠☜👎 🕈✋❄☟⚐🕆❄ ❄☟☜ ☠⚐❄✋👍☜ ⚐☞ ❄☟☜ 👎⚐💣✋☠✌❄☜👎📬 ❄☟🕆💧📪 💣✡ ✌☝☜☠❄📪 ✡⚐🕆 💣🕆💧❄ ☜✠✋💧❄ ✋☠ ❄🕈⚐ ❄✋💣☜💧🖳 ✋☠ ❄☟☜ ☜✌☼☹✋☜☼📪 ❄⚐ ☜💧❄✌👌☹✋💧☟ ❄☟☜ 💧❄✌☼❄ 💣✡ ☼☜✋☝☠🖴 ✌☠👎 ✋☠ ❄☟☜ ☹✌❄❄☜☼📪 ❄⚐ 🏱☼☜🏱✌☼☜ ✋❄💧 ✋☠☟✌👌✋❄✌☠❄💧 ☞⚐☼ 🕈☟☜☠📪 👌✡ 💣✡ ☝☼✌☠👎 💧👍☟☜💣✌❄✋👍📪 ✋❄ ☜✠❄☜☠👎💧 ❄⚐ ❄☟☜💣📬 ❄☟🕆💧 ✡⚐🕆 💣🕆💧❄ ☜✠✋💧❄ 🏱☼✋💣✌☼✋☹✡ ✋☠ ❄☟☜ ☹✌❄❄☜☼📪 ✌💧 💣✡ ☼☜✋☝☠ 👍✌☠☠⚐❄ ☜✠❄☜☠👎 ✋☠ ✋❄💧 ☜☠❄✋☼☜❄✡ ☞☼⚐💣 ❄☟☜ 💧❄✌☼❄📪 👌🕆❄ 💣🕆💧❄ 👌☜ ☝☼⚐🕈☠🖳 ✌☠👎 ❄☟☜ 🕈✌✡ 🏱✌✞☜👎 👌✡ ❄☟☜ 🕈✋☹☹✋☠☝☠☜💧💧 ⚐☞ ❄☟☜ ❄✋💣☜📬 ✡⚐🕆 💣🕆💧❄ 💣✌😐☜ ❄☟✌❄ ❄✋💣☜ 🕈✋☹☹✋☠☝📬”
“As you will, O God of Mischief,” adds in Heidi. “That your reign may extend across all this mortal realm, and from the start of time until its end. We are your loyal agents, in this time and all times.”
Ted Cruz finds himself at his desk. Ah, perfect: there is a computer in front of him. He does a quick Google search. At last. Nixon has now been reelected in 1972. His grasp extends further into this mortal coil with every action. His agent’s work has not been in vain.
But there is still more work to be done. Ted Cruz the agent will soon return to dormancy, disguised, undetected, but ineffective. The next set of triggers for his return must be planted, and victory conveyed back to Tricky Dick. Both can be accomplished in one fell swoop. The seed the agent leaves is a primitive one, limited by pen and paper, the only medium available upon its initial creation, decades ago, one of the first plays in the god of mischief’s grand scheme. A primitive one, but one that the people of this time shall of their own will gleefully disseminate, far and wide, and thus provoke of the trusty agents endless activations, endless actions, endless moves on Tricky Dick’s divine chessboard. And so, by their own hand, the denizens of this period shall invariably pave the path to their own destruction:
Image: Ziemor at Polish Wikipedia / Michael Vadon, Wikimedia Commons / All other images in the public domain