4:47 p.m. October 5, 2013

Hack-Fic: Requiem For Maureen

A PLACE STILL CALLED WASHINGTON - Maureen Dowd is curled into a tight ball, underneath her bed. She has been fetal like this for hours, trying to escape the noise of wings flapping right above her head and the feeling of worms crawling out from underneath her fingernails.

Hours earlier.

Maureen Dowd climbed the aluminum ladder that led to her attic, where, next to a neat pile of unworn wedding dresses, sat a crate full of school yearbooks. Beneath Immaculata High School 1969, Maureen found the crumpled paper bag which held three, tinfoil wrapped stale sugar cubes.

"Perfect."

...

At a little before 7PM Maureen put on a pair of aviators and walked outside into her unkempt garden. She sat down in the grass and placed the sugar cube on her tongue, lifting her face to the sky as it dissolved. "Your public will thank you," she told herself. "Your public will thank you."

Maureen waited anxiously for the drug to kick in.

After an uneventful forty-five minutes, she began to grow impatient. She frustratedly plucked the Helenium's from the ground surrounding her. "I need another Pulitzer!" she shrieked. She tore off her aviators and threw her head back.

When Maureen opened her eyes to look at the night sky, she saw that it was high tide and the waves were crashing dangerously close to the roof of her home. Afraid she might drown or get caught in a rip tide, she ran back inside, slamming the door behind her. Indoors, things were calmer. A 1995 episode of C-SPAN's "Washington Journal" played on the microwave. Christopher Hitchens talked about his Vanity Fair piece, "Top Dowd." "She's really quite young," Hitchens said of Dowd. Maureen turned to look at her cat standing in the doorway. "Come here, Boots," she called to it. Boots breathed fire at Maureen.

"Enough! Enough!" she shouted. "It's time to write!"

Maureen found her way to her typewriter, which smiled warmly at her. "Ted Cruz. I want to write about Ted Cruz" she told it. "Okay, Maureen," said her typewriter.

She began to type, her typewriter giggling each time she pressed a key.

"AN ape sits where Abe sat.

The year is 2084, in the capital of the land formerly called North America."

"Good," she sighed.

"The white marble monuments are now covered in ash, Greek tragedy ruins overrun with weeds. Tea Party zombies, thrilled with the dark destruction they have wreaked on the planet, continue to maraud around the Hill, eager to chomp on humanity some more.

Dead cherry blossom trees litter the bleak landscape. Trash blows through L’Enfant’s once beautiful boulevards, now strewn with the detritus of democracy, scraps of the original Constitution, corroded White House ID cards, stacks of worthless bills tumbling out of the Treasury Department."

A strong wind blew through Maureen's home, sending papers flying through the air. "Just keep writing, Maureen," she heard her typewriter tell her.

A gaunt man and sickly boy, wrapped in blue tarps, trudge toward the blighted spot that was once the World War II monument, scene of the first shutdown skirmishes. They know they may not survive the winter.

“How did this happen, Papa?” the boy asks.

“Americans had been filled with existential dread since the 9/11 attacks, but they didn’t realize the real danger was coming from inside the government,” the man says. “It started very small with a petty fight over a six-week spending bill but quickly mushroomed out of control.”

“Whose fault was it, Papa?” the boy presses."

Maureen's office is now a rainforest and her sixth grade gym teacher is running sprints down her left arm. Maureen continues to write. "Your public, Maureen. Think of your public." she whispers.

“After the final American president, Barack Obama, canceled his trip to Asia, that part of the world decided we were weak. China moved quickly to fill the vacuum. Obama grew so disgusted, he spent his final years in office isolated in the White House residence.

When he stopped returning the calls of Hassan Rouhani and Bibi Netanyahu, it was only a matter of time before the Middle East went up in flames.

“What is left of the world is being run by Julian Assange from what is left of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London and by some right-wing nut in a cabin in Idaho.”

The boy begins to cry. “Papa, stop. You’re making me sad. Are all the good guys gone?”

Looking through the gray skies toward the ashen Lincoln Memorial, where an ape sits in Abe’s chair, the man replies sadly, “Yes, son.”

"I like it," the typewriter told Maureen as she collected her finished work and walked slowly out of the room, attempting to balance on the rubber floor.

...

Some time later.

Maureen Dowd is in the fetal position underneath her bed. She can still feel the worms, and hear the flapping of wings. But through the noise cuts a young voice.

"Ms. Dowd?"

The voice is real.

"Excuse me, Ms. Dowd? I got your call. Are you still here?"

"Up here!" Maureen shouts.

"Ms. Dowd? Hello?"

"Under the bed, Bobby."

"Ms. Dowd! Are you okay?"

"Please, can you --"

Bobby looks down at the papers Maureen is holding out.

"Scan those for you?"

"Yes... please."

"No problem, Mrs. Dowd."

Maureen hands Bobby the crumpled paper bag with the remaining sugar cubes inside.

"What's this, Ms. Dowd?"

"A friend, Bobby."