Beady, red eyes zeroed in on his head; razor-sharp claws reached and clenched, and as sharp teeth were about to bite his throat.Joe woke up, crying out.
His eyes boinked open like a cartoon. He sat up, gasping, shaking, squinting from white, fluorescent light. Its electric hum buzzed in his ears. He tasted blood, shivered from the cold air, smelled its stale nothingness.
Then Joe remembered: a van of beasts, his escape to an airfield, a long flight, nothing after celebrating with vodka and caviar. “Hate those damn fish eggs,” he thought. “Libtards,” Joe laughed, “gone for good.” He ached, struggled to focus, looked around. This was not the situation he had been promised.
He sat on a gurney. Loose straps wound around him like snakes. A hose coiled in the corner of the stainless steel room, and the cement floor sloped to a drain in the center. On a steel table sat a tray with a razor, a hair clipper, a steel bowl with clumps of hair. His hair. He swiveled, staggered, fell, crawled to the sink, and hoisted himself up.
In a mirror, his bloodshot, brown eyes stared at his scalp and face and neck, baring bloody, scabbing cuts and scrapes. He thought of the ditty, “shave and a haircut, two bits.” He snorted, then grinned—exposing grody teeth—because he still wore his favorite t-shirt, stained and ripped, bulging over his beer gut. He was hungry and thirsty, turned on the faucet, cupped his hands, gulped, coughed, choked.
A bank of television screens lined one wall, all labeled with weird symbols or foreign words, some in English with logos of networks he recognized. Some screens were clear; some flickered with stripes of interference. Loud, incoherent babble roared in Joe’s ears. His favorite channel was the only screen that displayed static like a billion gnats.
A woman entered. Joe jumped. They stared at each other. She wore a white, medical smock. She was tall with teased blonde hair, blue eyes, heavy makeup, scarlet lipstick. Her hands and feet were big. Her fingers ended in sharp, red nails, her feet in red stilettos. Joe’s focus was blurry, but not blurry enough to see her long legs that went from here to way, way up there. He grunted and grinned.
“This might not be so bad after all,” he thought. Pain changed his mind, and he sat in a chair. The woman turned a knob on the console lowering the volume.
“Velcome home,” said the woman in a deep voice, “comrade Joe.”
“Have—have I been in an accident?” Joe panicked. “Oh, God!”
“God is not here,” the woman said. “I had to shafe your hair. No more lice babies.”
“Who the hell are you?”
“I am Dr. Dick,” she said. “I vill take care of you. Ve neffer leaf our comrades behind enemy lines.”
“What’s—” Joe gurgled, “—happened?”
“You got your vish,” said the doctor. Her blue eyes crinkled; her voluptuous red lips smiled. “Isn’t that glorious?”
The doctor flicked switches on the console. All the screens, except a network Joe hated, blacked out. The video was striped and jumbled, the audio hissy and garbled. The doctor mumbled something that sounded like foreign curses and fiddled with a few knobs. “Reception can be very bad up here. The snow,” she paused, “so much snow.” She smacked the console. Joe jerked. The screen and audio cleared up. “Sometimes you haff to boss the technology.”
A talking head spoke in mid-sentence. “—brutal attack on the White House leaves many questions unanswered.” The announcer stopped, his hand pressing his earpiece, then hung his head before resuming. “It has been confirmed. The president and cabinet secretaries present at the meeting are dead. Other members of the president’s staff have not been located. The following video of yesterday’s attack, retrieved from security cameras, provides a horrific testimony. No audio accompanies the sporadic video. The images will be disturbing.”
The screen cut to the broad perspective of a camera high in a corner. In a meeting room, voiceless conversation appeared animated, attendees smiling. Silent laughter followed the president’s moving mouth.
Suddenly, a door flew open and a horde of beasts rushed into the room, leaping onto the attendees, chomping their faces and necks. Mouths opened in mute screams, bodies scrambled over furniture, over each other, grabbing and hiding behind those nearby, trying to exit, the beasts leaping onto their backs. Blood squirted on white walls; gaping eyes were soon blinded, and detached limbs were tossed in the air. Secret Service personnel arrived and began shooting, only to be attacked themselves, succumbing to the horrific claws and gnashing teeth of giant beasts with beady, red eyes.
A commercial with cartoon bears and toilet paper followed.
Joe uttered retching sounds, bent over, vomited. “The president, dead?” He wiped spittle from his mouth. “That’s not what was supposed to happen.”
“Ve boss the technology,” said the doctor.
“They told me—supposed to kill f*ckin’ libtards!” Joe staggered to his feet.
“They lied,” said the doctor.
Joe leaped at the doctor, but she stepped aside, and he fell to the freezing floor, delirious, moaning. Lifting Joe like he was light as a babe, the doctor helped him back into the chair.
The TV announcer returned. “No word yet as to what happened at Fox Noise affiliates around the nation. During the attack on the White House, all Fox Noise stations went dark. The attack seems to have begun when this unknown man drove a van near the White House and opened its back door, releasing the horror. The man’s whereabouts are unknown. He is considered armed and dangerous. Once discovered, his name will be added to the deplorable list that includes John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald: traitors to America.” A picture of Joe flashed on the screen. He wore a mullet and a long beard.
“No, no, no, I’m a patriot,” screamed Joe, “the best f*ckin’ patriot ever!”
The doctor looked down on Joe. “I brought your hat.” She placed on his head a red baseball cap with Make America Great Again emblazoned on its crown.
“What—” Joe rasped, “—what are you?”
“I told you the truth.”
“What have you done to my country?”
“Vhat do you care?” the doctor replied. “You got your vish.”
Joe shook his head, frowned in confusion.
“On your t-shirt.”
Joe did not have to look down. It was his favorite with big capital letters: “I’d Rather Be Russian Than Democrat.”
“Velcome home, comrade Joe,” said the doctor.
Joe lurched. “You b*tch!” Missed, fell again.
“No, comrade Joe,” she corrected. “Dr. Dick to you. Dr. Diva Dick.”
Joe heard a scratching noise getting louder, closer. He crab-crawled backwards into a corner. Something large with beady red eyes and sharp teeth and claws leaped upon him and ripped out his throat, his flung voice box, trailing his last scream, “MAGAAAAAAaaaa!” fading into the frozen silence.