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Welcome To The Post-Truth World


Chapters: 8 Pages: 48 Word Count: 13,657 Genre: Science Fiction/Action/Adventure

Chapter 1: The Politicians

Two reporters stood in the media pen within a packed stadium of sixty thousand people. On the field, there was a large sign towering behind the stage. It read "Gregory di Conti/2028" - "Restoring American Supremacy."

Supporters in the bleachers cheered and waved giant foam hands that said, "America #1". Many had traveled great distances to see the man who stood at the podium.

“America has been brought low by dissenters and naysayers, conmen and parasites,” di Conti cried over the speakers. “We have been tricked by people who reject our nation’s Judaeo-Christian heritage – the irrefutable truth that America has been and always will be a Christian nation – and into believing that we must worship the government instead of God. Those who brought this civil war down on us will face a day of reckoning.

“I make you this solemn promise. America will not only be great again. It will be mighty. It will not only be respected. It will be feared. Christianity will become the dominant religion on Earth. The Islamists will regret striking down Lady Liberty, as well as the Russians.” Di Conti thrust a finger high. “And I tell you now, no one will ever challenge us Americans again.”

One of the reporters scanned the audience, a cold sweat dripping down his brow. “Man, the crowd is really eating up this crap. Don’t they understand what he’s proposing?”

His friend, Joe, shrugged and peeled off a candy bar’s wrapping. “Look, Ed, Trump said he would drain the swamp of corruption and put Hilary Clinton behind bars.”

“What does Trump have to do with any of this?” The first reporter asked.

Joe took a bite out of his candy bar. “Did Trump drain the swamp as he said he would?”

“Well, no. His administration had more executives from Goldman Sachs than Obama or Bush, and don’t get me started about the personal corruption.”

His friend chuckled. Bits of chocolate sprinkled over his wide midsection. “And what about Clinton? Is she rotting away in some jail cell right now?”

“No, she’s not,” the first mumbled. “But he did get Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court.”

“That was about all he got done,” the second reporter said. “Donald Trump proved that our democracy is working. That it will never fail. Oh, he tried to undermine it by attacking the courts and the free press and attempted to destroy the First Amendment by changing libel laws but his efforts ultimately fell short, just like he failed to get his border wall built.”

The second reporter gestured towards the crowd, which chanted “death to gays” and “all liberals must die.” They looked like they were ready to kill someone.

“Trump was a showman,” his friend added. “He didn’t mean half of what he said, and di Conti is no different. This is political theater. Di Conti is playing to his base, propping himself up as a strong man, which in these uncertain times, is what Americans want.”

“Maybe, but what if di Conti isn’t like Trump? What if his words aren’t political theater?”

The second reporter finished his candy bar and tossed the wrapper into a nearby trash can. He grabbed for a soda bottle. “Trust me. They are.”

“But if you suspect everything di Conti says to be a lie, how can you know when it's not?”

“Welcome to the post-truth world.” Joe took a gulp of his soda. “Words, like facts, have no meaning. Everything is just a feeling. Bullshit is the new truth.”

***

Two hours later, Governor Gregory di Conti, flanked by Secret Service agents, walked to his limo. In the distance, thousands of protestors booed and screamed. A group held up a banner: “Governor di Conti, A Proud Member of the Christian Taliban.”

Di Conti sneered. The Taliban? How dare they compare him to those desert-dwelling devil worshipers? Once he became President and repealed the First Amendment, he would have those rabble-rousers skinned alive and impaled on wooden pikes.

Di Conti entered his limo, and it whisked him away. He stared, brooding. “Heretics and infidels. Soon you will know the wrath of the true disciples of Christ.”

His cellphone rang. He picked it up and checked the caller id: Revelation 9:13-21.

Di Conti gulped. He placed the phone to his ear. “Yes, master.”

“The civil war we have engineered progresses nicely,” Supreme Inquisitor Abbot said. “The Heavenly Benefactors are most pleased.”

“I must admit I did not think the public would be so receptive to our message.”

“People are angry. Trump and Pence failed to make America great again, and Wellman has all but handed away America’s sovereignty to foreign bankers.”

“And our civil war has removed the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.”

Abbot chuckled. “Indeed, and the Corporatist Democrats have learned nothing from their years of fighting Trump and Pence. President Wellman’s empty platitudes will fall on deaf ears. But don’t become complacent, my most loyal of servants. Francis Downey has decided to make a third party bid on a progressive socialist platform.”

Di Conti recalled the charismatic billionaire. A lifelong progressive who styled himself after FDR, Downey had the finances to run a successful campaign.

Di Conti sighed. He could beat President Wellman, but Downey…

“I think the time has come for Downey to meet an Inquisitor,” di Conti said.

“Hum. Perhaps. But his death must be made to look like an accident.”

Di Conti leaned back in his seat. “I think that can be arranged, master.”

“Okay, come up with a plan and present it to the council. But remember, timing is everything. We want to remove Downey when it benefits us the most.”

Di Conti nodded. “Don’t worry. His death will only strengthen our hand.”

***

Billy Wellman stared out the window of his limo, with Manhattan in the foreground. His thoughts were troubled by a conversation he had the other day.

“Son, you’re a Wellman,” his father, the President, had said. “You should be at my side.”

Billy recalled slamming down a newspaper, with the headline reading “The Battle of Los Vegas Has Been Won, but 17,000 of Its Citizens Are Dead.” “Your policies have led America to civil war, father. You can’t blame it all on Donald Trump. Trump didn’t sell half the federal government off to satisfy foreign bankers. Trump didn’t declare war on the breakaway states. You could have let them go, but didn’t. Now look where we are.”

“And what do you suggest? That I allow this nation to be torn apart? That’s treason.”

“Treason? This country is already torn apart. Why can’t you and the other Democrats see that? Are you so out of touch with the common man?”

Billy grabbed his whiskey glass and nursed it, mindful that he couldn’t consume too much. He had an appointment with Francis Downey, the only man in America who had any hope of defeating both his father and Governor di Conti in the general election.

Treason? The Bible says that Christians have an obligation to honor their parents. He was about to side with his father’s political rival. What did that make him?

Billy glanced left. Skyscrapers lined Central Park West, still a glorious sight, even in an age when America faced the worst economic depression in its history.

His limo came to a stop next to a new skyscraper, between Trump International Hotel and Century Apartments. It surpassed Trump Hotel by five floors, and it was an elegant building with a slit in the middle and outdoor greeneries running up its sides. Poking out from its summit was a latticework of solar panels, giving the structure the look of a gold-encrusted javelin.

Billy got out and walked towards it. The Downey Futuristic logo hung over its doors.

He lingered under it, again wondering if he was making the right decision. He sighed. “I haven’t committed to anything yet. I’m just seeing what my options are.”

Billy entered and took the elevator to the penthouse. The speakers boomed.

“People say that coal, petroleum and natural gas still have some life in them. Other say it is Russian antimatter, but here at Downey Futuristic, we see fusion, wind, geothermal, thorium and solar powering America’s homes. Downey Futuristic has become the global leader in renewable energies, making some of the most ground shattering breakthroughs in fusion research. Clean, cheap and limitless energy, that’s the Downey way.”

The elevator halted, and the ringer chimed. The doors parted, revealing a spacious atrium.

Billy strolled past scaled-down mockups of wind turbines, solar collectors and geothermal plants. Above him hung a fusion reactor titled A.L.I.C.E.

Billy stared up at it before entering Francis Downey’s corner office. The man sat at his desk with a phone in his hand. “I’m sorry, Wilbert, but I’ve got to call you back.”

Francis got up and greeted Billy with a firm handshake. Billy winced. Man, he was strong.

“I’m glad you could make it,” Francis said, then let go.

“I’m happy that you would see me.”

“The son of the President and a war veteran? I would be a fool not to. Let me show you something.” Francis grabbed Billy by his shoulder and directed him to another model of the A.L.I.C.E. reactor. “The A.L.I.C.E. stands for Advanced Laser Inertial Confinement Environmentally-friendly fusion. It is my solution to America’s economic woes.”

Billy nodded. “I’ve read about it. It uses laser beams to heat up a sphere of highly dense deuterium to initiate a fusion reaction. A cheap and limitless source of energy.”

“And safe. Unlike fission plants, it can’t meltdown, nor does it produce waste to pollute Mother Earth and most important, it can't be refined further to make nuclear bombs. However, that’s not why we’re here.” Francis headed to his desk and planted his ass on its glossy glass surface. “So, I must admit, I’m surprised that you would side with me. Your father is—”

“Misguided.” Billy paused. Did he just say that out loud? Yeah, he did. “His austerity policies have needlessly prolonged this economic depression.”

France bobbed his head. “One could argue that he had no choice. It was the only way to lift the crippling sanctions the other nations had placed on us.”

“The War of the Sands ended seven years ago. Haven’t they punished us enough?”

“American pride contributed to the worst war in history,” Francis said. “The Middle East is a nuclear wasteland. Over two hundred million dead. Many around the world, including our former allies, feel we haven’t suffered enough or that we haven’t learned our lesson. They continue to believe that the sanctions and austerity will keep us in check. That’s their true purpose. If our nation is to ever recover, we’ve got to fight back, and your father won’t do that.”

“Exactly.” Billy sighed. “All he thinks about is paying back America’s creditors.”

Francis crossed his arms. “And what about me? Do you think I’m unchristian-like?”

Billy considered his words. Francis Downey was no saint. Having made his first million at the age of sixteen, he had a reputation for being a playboy, throwing wild parties that no devoted Christian like Billy would partake in. Word was that he had started to clean up his act, perhaps a sign of maturity, but he was still unmarried and an atheist.

“You’re not perfect,” Billy said, “but at least you’re not a Democrat selling himself off as a watered-down Republican, like Hilary or my dad.”

“I’ve often wondered where we would be if Bernie Sanders had run against D