It is the year 2020, and Obamacare has made the world a very different place. It is this distorted realm that our protagonist finds himself unwittingly, kind of awkwardly and very drunkenly thrust into. After having fallen asleep in the year 2010 and, possibly due to some sort of top secret army experiment in cryogenics (but far more likely due to passing out in that meat locker), he has become frozen in time and arisen 10 years hence to find the America he once knew "hanging by a thread." Let this tale serve as a warning of things to come:
"I'll fucking cut you!" I screamed, like I always do when waking from a deep sleep.
I skeptically surveyed my surroundings. This clearly was not the Chili's storage freezer I--in a confused attempt to counter the Cat Scratch Fevers I came down with after doing too much Meow Meow in the back of an El Camino owned by a guy named Loose Lopez (he owed me some favors)--had originally fallen asleep in. Everything certainly seemed the same: I was still curled up in a desperate, terrified fetal position, both of my eyes were still propped open and my hands were formed into their usual claws so as to appear threatening to any potential predators stumbling across my unconscious form; but the room was entirely different. The freezer unit must have burnt out somehow; the steel walls were warm to the touch, rusted out and appeared ravaged by time and neglect. I stood shakily, resisting the urge to rub my scent on the walls (a lingering side effect of the drug) and made my way to the door.
I emerged onto a landscape destroyed: The husks of old, burnt out cars littered a broken highway, the distant skyline was populated only by the crumbling shells of what I assumed were once gleaming skyscrapers, and the air itself was the ruddy color of worn concrete. No birds chirped, no animals stirred; it was a world completely devoid of life.
"Jesus, I wound up in Baltimore," I muttered to nobody in particular.
This is Baltimore. If you've never been, don't worry - you'll go there one day to pay for your sins.
"This is Washington," rasped a voice behind me.
I spun to see the haggard, wrecked form of a man dressed head to toe in soiled rags. His shoulders were stooped, his posture was broken, also his head kind of looked like an undercooked ham and something about his facial expression made you just know, instantly, that he was currently impotent, and had always, always been so.
"Glenn Beck," he introduced himself, offering me his hand to shake.
Seriously, that man has a terminal case of Ham Head.
"What... what happened here?" I asked, gesturing at the wreckage around us.
"Health care reform," he spat. Literally. Just all over me. There was clearly something wrong with his mouth.
"Forgive me. It's the extra saliva glands they implanted back in '13," he stepped to the side to reveal a dim, narrow opening between the buildings leading downward into the earth below. He shuffled through it, and I followed him into the claustrophobic darkness as we spoke.
He laughed, his voice thick with sorrow and resentment. You could actually hear him choke back the tears. He clearly had some practice at it.
I'm assuming he cries pineapple glaze.
"The democrats! Who else!? You know perfectly well what they did to us. After they passed the health care reform bill, they started handing out medical procedures left and right - and that was fine! Who could argue with making health care more accessible to the poor and impoverished? But then, just like we pundits had always feared, they went completely mad: They couldn't stop, even when everybody was perfectly healthy. 'We're good,' said America, 'thank you very much, now let's use the rest of this money to get everybody jobs!' But no! 'Health care,' the democrats screamed, frothing at the mouth with madness in their eyes, 'more health care!' Soon elective procedures were made mandatory: Boob jobs were forced on even the most naturally busty of women, chiseled jawlines were installed by roving surgery units, nosejob kiosks cropped up on every corner like streetlights, unmanned aerial drones armed with high powered lasers performed corrective eye surgery from the skies, literally raining down vision on the helpless masses below."
"That's... terrible?" I asked him.
He spun on his heel and shoved me up against the side of the cave wall. "You know what happened next! You were there! They started replacing perfectly good kidneys just because they were 'shaped funny'! Weekly CAT scans! Daily colonics! Soon they were installing multiple, backup organs 'just in case'! Look at me: I used to be a normal sized man who always somehow inexplicably looked fat, now I'm practically anorexic!" He motioned downward at his emaciated frame and I saw that, indeed, he was whip-thin now.
Still looked fat though. Weird how that worked.
My theory is that he's made of Stretch Armstrong material left out in the sun.
"They installed so many saliva glands in me that food simply slips right out of my mouth! It's hell! Hell has come to town, and he's asking around about apartments! Hell wants to be your roommate, and he's going to drink straight out of the goddamn carton!"
"Jesus! I'm sorry, I... I didn't know. I must have slipped through time somehow. This was all just here when I woke up. I had no idea!"
"No..." a look of disbelief passed over his face, quickly replaced by a kind of skeptical hope, "can it be? You're... pure? Unaltered? Two eyes, two ears, one heart?"
"Yeah, I..." he patted me down frantically, feeling all of my limbs, "...I've got a dick that does the work of 10 lesser dongs, but that's about it."
At that he suddenly choked off a sob--you could tell the words 'dick' and 'work' appearing together in the same sentence pained him. I slapped his shoulder reassuringly. "Listen, man, I was exaggerating. Honestly, it only does the work of two, maybe three cocks, tops."
Still the hardest working dick in show business, though.
"No matter!" he cried, seizing my arm and rushing headlong down the path with a frenzied abandon. "We must bring you to the elder! You are pure! The prophecy is true!"
After what seemed like an eternity of random, stumbling turns through a series of increasingly narrow tunnels, we finally emerged into a large, dimly lit cavern beneath the rock. Its outer boundaries were lost in shadow, and the entire floor of it was crowded with strange dwellings that seemed to be modeled after an idyllic '50s suburb. Ratty, musty carpeting was laid down in place of the archetypal finely manicured lawn; pointed sticks rubbed with chalk took the place of white picket fences; roughshod collections of garbage shaped like old Buicks, lawnmowers and ice cream trucks were haphazardly strewn throughout. As we passed by each "home," the inhabitants shyly stepped out from the doorways in their burnt and blackened suits; their housedresses cobbled together from scraps of plastic. It was heartrending. They were clinging to the past with everything they had, though the world had long since left them behind.
"Where are we going?" I asked Beck.
"To the elder! We have waited for this day for so long!" He dragged me up a twisting ramp onto a raised dais in the middle of the cavern. The people congregated below, a hushed murmur of excitement stirring amongst them. An ostentatious, adorned throne was erected in the center of the platform, and I could just make out the shadowy form of a man there. He stood and with great effort waddled his way into the light, where I could see that he alone was wearing an unmarked, impeccably-tailored Italian suit. His hair was obviously recently and expensively cut. His hands were soft and clean. A gold watch shone from his wrist.
Obviously this is the champion of the working man and not a human parody of a supervillain.
"Rush, he's here!" Glenn, in his excitement, tripped over himself and sprawled into the dust before Mr. Limbaugh. "We've found him! The pure one! Look at him, you can see: He's unspoiled by health care! He's perfect! His eyes are poor, he's obviously out of shape, his teeth- I mean, he's clearly not been to a dentist in years! And his face! Look! He's still pretty ugly! Pure! Pure!"
"My god," said Rush Limbaugh, looking over me with the cold empathy that a butcher looks over an animal before slaughter, "he is an absolute wreck! What a marvel! The American ideal we've been fighting for!"
"This is getting kind of retarded and mean-spirited," I began to point out, but was cut off when a deep, resounding boom thundered throughout the cavern. Dust and debris showered us from the cavern above; scattered cries of excitement rose up from the people below.
"That's him!" cried Rush, lumbering towards a steep stairway carved into the rock behind him, "bring the Unhealthy One, Beck! This ends today!"
"What's going on?" I asked Glenn as he ushered me upwards after Limbaugh.
"It's just like I said! The Sleeping Giant has awoken! The prophecy was true! 'When a purely unhealthy man emerges from the ruins of an insured nation, the sleeping giant will awaken to take back America from her oppressors!' It's all happening!"
"Well I get why you tied me down, democrats: You hate liberty. But all the raping just seemed downright unnecessary!"
The caverns completely emptied of people as we ascended. They scrambled up their makeshift ladders, they sprinted up the stairway after us, and when that was full they scaled the walls freehand - pulling themselves any way they could towards the surface. Their faces were absolutely contorted with a kind of religious, celebratory fury. I was forcefully expelled into the surface air by the throngs gushing out from the passages beneath me. They carried me along effortlessly toward some mysterious destination and--though the scale was too massive to fully comprehend, and though I was constantly being thrust forward and jostled by the crowds--I managed to catch recurring glimpses of some enormous, star-spangled, gargantuan man-thing striding slowly above the crowd. Each step of his was an earthquake; each breath a gale force wind.
Suddenly a sharp, high-pitched shrieking pierced the air above us. Cries of fear echoed from the crowd. When I glanced upward, I found myself staring into the face of pure, unadulterated terror: Fleets of black-robed figures twisted through the air, mounted on shimmering, winged worms. Occasionally one would break formation, swoop down and drag one of the poor, unsuspecting, honest working men screaming up into the air, before dropping them to their demise.
"Death panels," Beck explained, keeping my head low and pushing onward, "they are exactly how we described them. God, we tried to warn everybody! Why did nobody listen!"
They are exactly like the Nazgul, except with the head of a bureaucrat. Named Stan. He likes stamps. And DEATH.
By taking shelter below the Sleeping Giant and skittering from cover to cover, Beck, Limbaugh and I somehow made it safely to our destination: The ruins of the Capitol building. The once grand structure stood before us, it's proud facade now dingy, faded and utterly disgraced. A semi-circle of dark, robed figures blocked our way to the entrance, and in the middle of them all stood some... thing. It was like arrogance and smugness had coalesced into human form and taken a shape meant to mockingly resemble a woman.
"Stand aside, Maddow," boomed Rush, in what was probably intended to be a tone of righteous indignation but really just came across as kind of snotty and bitchy.
"Never!" she answered immediately. "Even with the giant awoken, we will never surrender to you! The people must be told how to live! Must be forced, if need be, into doing what is best for them! We will take it all away until life is perfect! Criminalizing cigarettes! Banning trans-fats! The world will be sterilized!" Her voice inspired instant nausea, a sickening lurch in the bones. It was as though it operated on a frequency human beings were simply not meant to hear.
"Sterilized, sterilized, sterilized," chanted the others in a dull monotone.
"It's not just the giant," cried Beck, shoving me forward to stand alone between the two parties, "the Pure One has come!"
There was a moment of astonished silence as Rachel Maddow appraised me skeptically.
That's pretty much the only look she has, actually: skeptical appraisal.
"Jesus, he's kind of a wreck isn't he?" one robed figure whispered, breaking the silence.
"You truly are untouched," Maddow marveled, "but we can fix you, Pure One! It will cost you nothing. If you come with us voluntarily now, you will be made whole like us. If you refuse, you will be ruined. Utterly demolished. And when you are at your lowest point, it is then that we will strike: You will be insured harder than you ever thought possible. Insurance that will reverberate through every aspect of your life. Insurance that will haunt you forever. Your choice."
The entire world seemed to pause at that moment: The conservative masses held their breath, yearning for the least excuse to unleash some grand moment of violence for reasons they no longer fully understood. The democrats stood before me, their circle of oppression wanting to violate me with their filthy health care. The tension was rivaled only by the silence; all awaiting my response.
"What will you do?" asked Beck at last.
"I'm sorry," I coughed, clearing my throat and addressing each side in turn, "it seems like you're both just fighting at this point because you're supposed to be fighting. Ultimately, I doubt my day-to-day life will be all that affected regardless of what happens. "
Pictured: My day-to-day life, being unaffected.
"But... the oppression!" cried Limbaugh from behind me.
"But... the greater good!" Maddow hissed in front of me.
"If I had it my way, I'd bring us back to the time where your vote and your policies were a private matter that you didn't talk about in public because it was considered rude," I replied.
The Death Panels circled uncertainly above us. I'm fairly certain I saw one of the shrouded figures--writhing through the air above us on his hell-beast--give a shrug and a reluctant nod of approval to another. The giant seemed confounded; he scratched his head and shifted from foot to foot. Glenn Beck was on on the verge of tears (again,) Maddow just took to silently making bitch-faces at everybody present, while Limbaugh puffed on a cigar and guffawed villainously into the ether. They seemed completely at a loss as to what to do when you didn't fuel their bullshit engines by loudly endorsing one side or the other in stark black and white terms.
"I guess I just don't really give a shit about politics," I admitted, "I, uh... I probably should have mentioned that earlier before wasting everybody's time. My bad."
You can pre-order Robert's book, Everything is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead on Amazon, or find him on Twitter, Facebook and his own site, I Fight Robots or you can just type the word "bias" below in all capital letters like this is supposed to be fucking journalism or something.