01 January 2000

The Candidate

It's a little bit relevant that this was written in 2004.

“Dear God,” I muttered. “I think the Candidate has bolts in his neck.”

It was true. B-roll from SPKF coverage spilled across the television screen, and there they were, just under his shirt collar, accidentally revealed by a make-up artist as she tried to relieve his unearthly grey pallor. A steel bolt in either side of his neck, marked with the unmistakeable sooty scars of electrical contact.

The Candidate's long gaunt face displayed no emotion other than, perhaps, the sadness of a very old man waking up to discover that he is in fact still alive. The make-up artist sighed, pouted as she adjusted the Candidate's collar, and went back to trying to scrape gravemoss out from under his fingernails.

My assistants were over in town, stuffing date-rape pharmaceuticals into police officers and reprogramming them into believing they craved sex with bears. I had the house to myself, and it was just as well. This new development required Professional Thought. My hands still shake occasionally, and I spilled much of the necessary nutrients for Brain Work over the cat. So I snorted the cat and began Thinking.

The Candidate selection process for the Party In Opposition had been the usual retard farming. General John ended his political career when he put his arm around an aZian-American kid at a photo-op and grinned, “You know, back in the War, I used to fuck gooks like your daddy right in the lung tissue.” There was a Doctor from Vermont who had a scream on him like Peter Finch in Network and eyes that rolled around inside his head like a stoned Muppet. No-one told him that a President from Vermont is like a Pope from Berkeley. Old Joe Lebensraum had the best shot since Bugsy Siegel at showing America that Jews can be evil truthless dogfuckers too, and it remains my fervent wish that a thousand generations of his ancestors pull themselves out of their graves and bite the little bastard to death. Dennis Kukikikithing, cursed with the look of a Valiumed-up schoolteacher who'd been repeatedly hit in the face with a shovel, registered on the Richter scale of American politics like a fart on the moon. No-one gives a damn how smart you are when it looks like it takes all your strength to open your eyes and not shit yourself in public.

So we were left with The Candidate. A man who was in a War but appeared neither to have eaten babies or indeed prepared them with fire, nor to have introduced his penis into any part of the Enemy. A man with a full head of hair—no-one has yet noticed that the hair appears to belong to an overfed chinchilla—and none of the strange physical tics endemic to professional politicians that can sink a Presidential campaign.

Aside from the bolts.

I mean, there's appearing stiff on camera. And then there's being dead.

The B-roll had been leaked out to me by an acquaintance at SPKF—people send me this stuff thinking it'll galvanise me back into writing. It didn't and won't—if people didn't listen to me before, they damn well won't now—but I confess that I still find it interesting. And this, this was fucking fascinating. The Candidate was leaning sideways. And leaning. And leaning. It was like watching a tree fall over in slow motion. It took the people around him a moment to realise what was happening. There was shouting from his handlers. A short PA with grey pubic hairs in his mouth lurched into the shot, carrying a car battery. The Candidate's collar was pulled down again, and clips were attached to the Frankensteinian bolts. The full whack of the battery was delivered into the would-be next President's neck. As he jerked, his hair shifted, and I saw that the pelt was affixed to his head with a masonry nail. The nail sparked and all the hair stood on end. Somewhere in that foresty mass, an animal's eyes suddenly stared in stark existential horror.

The jolt wasn't enough. Staffers scrambled in, ripping his jacket off, pulling his shirt open. Under his clothes, there was a hideous tangle of long surgical stitches. The Candidate was a patchwork quilt of various decaying skin tones. There was half a tattoo. And three nipples. Two of which appeared to have originally belonged to gentlemen of colour.

A crash cart clattered into the small room. A giggling doctor was masturbating frantically on to the electrical stimulation pads. “It's better than conducting gel,” he laughed, “and it will gift him with my personal Powers. And possibly a few diseases.” A handler punched the doctor in the throat, and the camera captured pus-flecked semen spattering over the Candidate's shoes. It hissed on contact and began to dissolve the leather uppers. The handler stamped on the doctor's liver, screaming like a violated chicken. “You pervert! We are the Party In Opposition. We do not DO sex anymore! This man is going to be President! We could have selected from eight different penises for this man, and we didn't give him ANY!” He snatched up the pads, spat on them, and jammed them into the Candidate's chest. Sadly, he didn't say “clear!” first, and the unlucky make-up artist, doubtless educated by television and hanging on to the Candidate's neck, was instantly electrocuted.

She fell across the Candidate's lap as he revived. Grey eyes rattled around in his grey head and came to rest on the poor smoking woman. His lips moved, gradually baring sharp, stone-coloured teeth.

He began, slowly and inexorably, to eat the dead make-up artist.

“Ah, fuck it,” a staffer was heard to sigh. “It's the first hot meal I've seen him eat in months.”

I looked for the TV remote and couldn't find it. So I repeatedly threw the cat at the screen until it shattered. And then I threw the cat some more until the screen shattered, too. The Hate screamed in my veins. This was the Party In Opposition's best possible shot at unseating a criminal, drug-crippled Fake President who was handed the gig by paid judges and his own mutant family? Why didn't they care? I walked outside. It had gotten late. The sky was red, bright and awful. I sat down on dead grass and watched the sun go down on America.

After a while, I put on my shades.

— Warren Ellis

(Reprinted without permission, because I understand it to be intended as a publicly distributed work. I'll take it down if I learn otherwise.)

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