From the moment the dark-skinned interlopers jumped out of the crowd and onto the stage, it took exactly one minute and eight seconds for the Secret Service to surround President Trump and hustled him to the safety of a black limousine that carried armor thick enough to stop just about anything short of an anti-tank missile.
The driver ripped the limo into gear, and sped away with his precious cargo. Black vans followed close behind. Secret Service agents, White House aides, Trump family members. In a well-trained protective maneuver, one of the vans swooped around to lead the pack, two more got on each side of the President’s vehicle. Uniformed Maga-city One police officers rode alongside on motorcycles, blue and white security lights flashing silently.
Two and a half minutes later, the motorcade roared into a garage beneath the White House that had been built during the first Trump decade.
Fifteen minutes after that, the President stood in a small chamber that had been constructed inside the walls adjacent to the Lincoln bedroom. He’d had it built as a secret, a special hiding place where he could escape from the rigors of leading the free world while also absorbing cable news and creating Twitter posts virtually around the clock.
Though Twitter still existed in the Fiftieth Year, it had been a much more popular communication program during the early years of the Trump era, when people mostly preferred to communicate through little handheld device known as “smartphones.” Trump’s genius had come in harnessing it as a means of speaking directly to the citizenry without being filtered through the hated news media.
But where Twitter users had once numbered in the hundreds of millions, the site eventually fell victim to the same deadly plague that killed so many technology platforms in the early 21st century: familiarity. People just moved on to the next New Thing.
First there was SpecTalk, then Puddle, then Phonos. All skeletons gathering sand along the technological super-highway. Now, most online communicators interfaced through a combination of Virtual Reality, vid-screen sign language, and smoke signals.
The old sites still existed, of course. They only appealed to a few niche users, mostly nostalgia types and steampunk devotees who found a never-ending sense of hipster comfort in utilizing outdated cyber junk from bygone eras. Only a few hundred thousand people remained active Tweeters, as they called themselves.
Whispered rumors among the Tweeter subculture posited that one of those active users was none other than Donald J. Trump himself, sending out messages to random users under the pseudonym of John Miller. Occasionally a wild tweet would bubble up in the chat rooms, and the Tweeters would go crazy trying to locate the source IP of the message, only to come up dry. That only convinced them even more that something was amiss. Trump, they figured. Had to be Trump. He loved his fellow Tweeters. He would never abandon them. He was out there, somewhere, speaking their language. Speaking only to them.
But as far as anyone really knew – as far as anything could be proven – those were rumors, and nothing more.
Trump stared into the mirror. He brushed back his feather brown hair, straightened the lapels on his expensive navy blue suit, and grinned.
“You are so, so handsome, Mr. President. Look at you,” he said to his reflection. “Absolutely wonderful. And these motherfuckers, all they want to do is bring you down. Can you believe that? Who do they think they are? It’s a disgrace. You know, I always say, if you’re gonna come at the king, you best not miss. But those little motherfuckers, they just keep on missing. And I just keep on being the king. Don’t I, honey?”
“Ivanka, honey. Are you listening?”
“I’m listening, Dad.”
He turned around, towards his daughter. She sat in the corner behind the door, on a pink velvet-covered chair with a high round back. That chair and a small ceramic wash basin were the only other pieces of furniture in the room besides the oval mirror.
Ivanka Trump – she’d kept the family name even though she had been married radiated the incredible beauty of everlasting youth. Just like her father, she maintained the peak form of her late twenties. As Daddy liked to often remind her, she was a product of those special Trump genes, although she also felt some credit also belonged to the reverse-aging process that her husband Jared patented to astronomical financial success during the Third Trump years.
Ivanka sighed, rubbed the back of her neck, bored. “You say that like you think they’re really trying to get you,” she said.
“Of course they’re trying,” her father said. “That’s what they say on television, right? ‘The Resistance attacked Trump again today,’ that’s what I hear on the news every time. That’s what the whole country hears, right?”
She took a deep breath through her nose, exhaled, looked like she wanted to say something but kept it to herself.
Her father’s smile held firm, as though his face had been glued in that position. His eyes danced about, giving off a hint of confusion that didn’t comport with the rest of his expression.
Ivanka realized he was practicing that grin again.
“Come on, Dad,” she said. “Don’t embarrass yourself.”
“Oh, lighten up,” he said, breaking from the smile and walking away from the mirror. “I’m a smart person, okay? I know the score. Of course I do. It’s my show, I came up with everything, remember?”
“I remember.” She saw the anger flushing into his face and hoped this conversation wasn’t headed in a bad direction. “It’s a great idea. Your genius really shone through with this one. I wasn’t suggesting otherwise –”
“The people love this show. Drama, action. The ultimate in reality TV. They eat that shit up, you know? Put their hero – that’s me – in a little danger, let ‘em think the bad guys might be getting the upper hand. Then BAM, comeback. Everybody loves a comeback. The hero saves the day. Happy ending. Music swells, credits roll, everybody goes home happy. Wash, rinse, repeat.”
Ivanka shifted uncomfortably in the seat, looking for a way out of the conversation but, in her heart, she knew she couldn’t escape. They went through this after every Resistance scene. The President liked to rehash and talk about what a great it had been, launching this storyline. It showed strength. Resolve. Such red meat for the base. Yawn.
“It shows strength. Resolve. The base loves strength. They eat it up,” he said, looking at himself in the mirror again.
He flexed his pectorals slightly, just enough that he could see his suit jacket tighten.
“They say I’m playing chess, you know.”
“Who says that?” she said.
“The media. The people on the news. CNN, Fox, the usual places.”
“Yes,” she said.
“I am, aren’t I?”
“You are what?”
“Playing chess. Mental chess.” He narrowed his eyes, pondering the depth of this concept. “A game with my mind. I’m using my brain and I’m playing, and you know what else? I’m winning. That’s what it is. I’m winning.”
“I don’t think the average human being can understand the level of chess you’re playing,” she said.
“Do you think so?”
“Yes. Of course,” she said. “In the early days they called it ‘4-D chess,’ trying to explain how far ahead you were of conventional wisdom. But it’s not 4-D anymore. You’re playing 6-D chess now. 7-D. 10-D.”
She’d learned over the decades that this kind of comment was the best way to bring a topic to a close. The words didn’t make any sense, but they sounded good.
Trump slowly nodded his head and let the topic dissipate. He ran his fingers across the top of his head, as close as he could get them without actually touching the tight, gossamer shroud of reddish blonde hair that stretched across his scalp.
“You’re my daughter. I need to ask you something. Something I don’t think I can ask anyone else and get an honest answer,” he said.
“What is it?” Ivanka said. She felt a sudden, hard lump of nervousness in her throat.
“How good do I look?”
“I think I look great. Am I right?”
“Oh.” She paused. “You look great. You’re right. Of course you look great.”
“Come here and stand by me.”
He waved his daughter towards him. She stood up, walked to his spot in front of the mirror, and put her right arm around the back of his waistline.
They smiled at their reflections. He at hers, she at his.
“My God, we are two beautiful people, do you know that?”
She held her smile.
“I think I’ve finally done it, Ivanka. Jared may have been the one cracked the code on that reverse-aging process, but I must tell you, I am the perfect living example of its possibility. Look at me.” He took a deep breath, held his chin at a slight upward angle. “I think I’ve finally done it.”
“I think so, too.”
“Do you know what I’m talking about?”
“I’ve done it. I’ve achieved Peak Trump.” He nodded. Intense confidence gleamed in his eyes. “I’m a hundred and twenty years old and look and feel exactly the same as I did in 1987. That was some year. Peak Trump. You’re lookin’ at it, kid. This is it.”
“You look great, Dad.”
“The human genome consists of twenty-three pairs of chromosomes,” he said. “Hard to imagine. Only forty-six chromosomes total. Billions and billions of people throughout the centuries, all of them made from different combinations of just those forty-six chromosomes, and the genes they contain. Millions of genes. A lot of genes. An incredible amount, really. But it’s a finite number, you know? I studied math in school. I’m a smart person, okay? Finite means, not infinite.
“A finite number of chromosomes, a finite number of genes. Only so many possible combinations. I haven’t done the math, it’s a hell of a lot, but only so many. And if there’s only so many, that means sooner or later, a combination will repeat. It has to. Only so many. It’s simple math. Think about it: one day, I can’t say when exactly it’s going to happen but one day, the same exact combination of Trump will happen again. There will be another me, an exact copy of me. A perfect replica. Peak Trump, the sequel. Amazing. How about that?”
She nodded, slowly. “It’s an interesting theory, Dad.”
“I’m very smart, okay?”
“Yes, you are. The smartest.”
He planted a kiss on her cheek, and walked out.