President Whitmore's Basement
Like where are the kids man.
Please . . . take whatever you want, just don’t point that thing at me.
Man like I’ll point it wherever I want, just like tell me where the kids are.
But what kids? I don’t understand.
Don’t bullshit me man.
I, I’m not, I just don’t . . . there aren’t any children here, I’m alone. I’m just staying in this house while—
You were great in Independence Day by the way.
Oh, I . . . well, thank you, yes that was—
Like I was only one when all that stuff happened, but I rewatch the movie a couple of times a year. My favorite part is that speech you gave right before the human race attacked the alien ships and won back our freedom. That was some George Washington shit right there, man. Gives me goosebumps every time I watch it.
Well, thank you, I’m glad the film resonat—
Man like so how long did it take you to write all those words and stuff for that speech.
Well, I think you may be a little bit confused about that, because I didn’t actually write anythi—
I’m just asking because like English was always my worst subject in school. Anytime I tried to write something really cool like that speech of yours, the words always came out all mixed up and stuff, you know?
Yes, I . . . I think I know what you mean.
Like it always felt like no matter what I did, I could never find a way to get the words in my head out onto the paper in the right order.
Well, you’re not alone. I know exactly how you feel. School can be tough for anyone.
But that’s like why you’re such a big hero of mine. You were able to inspire the whole human race to rise up and fight back against the aliens, and you did that with nothing but words.
Thank you, I’m . . . I’m just glad I could be an inspiration to—
Man like that’s badass as hell.
I suppose that’s one way to say it, yes. Thank you.
Like if I’m being honest man, I kind of feel like I failed our country by not being able to help out back then. I think I would’ve done good against those alien pricks.
Yes, well . . . I agree. You seem to be a very courageous young—
It’s like an honor to be here man.
You were the best president until forty-five if you ask me.
Again, I’m very grateful, but you know it was just a—
Now like tell me where the kids are.
But that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you, there aren’t—
Don’t bullshit me man.
I’m not, I just don’t know what you’re—
Are they in the attic or the basement?
But there aren’t any—
Or is it some other secret room in here where you hide them.
There aren’t any children in this house at all, it’s not even my house. I’m just staying here for a few weeks while I work on this new project for—
Don’t bullshit me man. I just watched Independence Day again last night, and you look exactly the same right now as you did thirty years ago. Like there’s no way that’s possible without the blood. Just ask a scientist.
With the . . . what?
The blood, man.
Don’t bullshit me man.
I’m not, I—I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about.
Like I don’t have time to play your fucking mind games man, just tell me where the kids are!
Okay, okay, I think we got our wires crossed somehow, so why don’t you just sit down, take a deep breath, and tell me exactly why you’re here in my kitchen at . . . three forty-six in the morning. Please. Help me understand.
Like don’t even try to sweet talk me with your fancy words man! Like don’t even try that garbage on me! You think that just because you were this great president who saved us from the aliens that that gives you the right to kidnap all these little kids and drink their blood for eternal life? That’s not cool, man! Like you were my fucking hero growing up! How could you do this to me!
But that’s ridiculous, you can’t possibly believe something like—
Man like I told you to cut the shit with all your sweet talking fancy words!
Okay, I’m sorry, just please be careful with where you point that.
Like don’t tell me what to do! I’ll point it wherever I want! It’s not 1996 anymore, you don’t own me.
You’re right, I’m sorry.
Whatever man, Christ. Now stand up and show me where the kids are.
But I . . .
Let’s go. Chop chop.
Okay, I . . . I guess we can check the basement first.
Fine, whatever man, just like, you go first.
Okay . . . just be careful on your way down the staircase here. This is a very old house and some of the stairs look like they’re uneven near the—
Oh God! Get the—get off, get off!
Oh my God!
Whoa, be careful, don’t—
Goddamnit! Like move, move! Don’t just stand there man!
Wait, I—what are you doing! Stop pushing so much!
Oh wow. I think it’s dead.
I think we’re finally safe man.
Like this huge spider landed right on my shoulder man.
God almighty. You nearly gave me a heart attack.
Like I know man, I hate those fucking things. They give you diabetes if they bite you.
What? No they don’t.
Yeah they do man, just ask a scientist. There’s over a hundred million people in this country walking around with diabetes right now and they don’t even know it. You think that’s just like some super huge coincidence that happens by itself? Think about it. What’s the one thing you can find inside every single house in America no matter where you live? The one thing that’s in every house, apartment, Winnebago, and trailer home all across America? SPIDERS. Man like do you get it now? It’s just basic science. There’s no other way a hundred million people all spread out across the country could keep getting sick with this same unknown disease.
But it’s not unknown at all. Type 2 diabetes, which is the type I assume you’re talking about, is well understood by the medical community, and spiders have nothing to do with it. It’s caused by obesity, poor diet, stress, genetics, lack of exercise, and—
Like that’s bullshit man, you got to take off the blindfold the mainstream media has tied around your head. All that garbage you just said, that’s a disinformation operation carried out by the government to keep us fat and lazy in our living rooms instead of out in the streets fighting back against their oppression. You should know this stuff better than anyone, you owned the government back in the day. Man like what’s that.
This? It looks like a cabinet for storing dry goods, but like I told you, this isn’t my house, so I’m not even supposed to be—
Is that where the kids are?
I can promise you that there are no—
Like don’t bullshit me man!
I’m not bull—
Open it right now man, or it’s your ass!
Okay. See? Just some soup mix and canned beans and dry spaghetti. No kids or blood or anything like that.
Whatever man. What’s that over there.
Yeah. Where does that go.
I don’t . . . why don’t we find out?
Don’t try to play those mind games with me again man.
I’m not, I just . . . can I ask you a question?
I don’t know, can you?
Yeah, not so smart now, are you, Mr. President? I can play mind games too.
What’s your name?
What do you care?
Well, I just . . . since we’ve been talking for a while now and getting to know each other better, I just realized how rude I’ve been by never asking for your name.
Like whatever man, nobody cares. Now open that door and turn on the light.
Okay, but why do you think nobody cares about what your name is? I care.
Man like just . . . whatever. Nothing in my life matters anymore, so what difference does it make? This is the only thing I can do that actually means anything, because at least these kids are still young enough to have a—what’s that.
It looks like a freezer. But why do you think that nothing in your life matters anymore? You’re obviously a very courageous young man, and you seem to have a strong moral compass that—
Because like nothing does matter anymore man! This is all I have! Without this I just have a shitty job at Wal-Mart and a room in my parents’ attic with my PC! All my friends are gone and married with kids and houses of their own, and I haven’t even been on a date in twelve years! Like do you know what that feels like man? For women to be so disgusted by the sight of you that they turn their carts around in the supermarket just so they don’t have to walk past you? Can you even imagine what it’s like to be so alone for so long that you feel like you’ve been dead for a hundred years?
No, I . . . I’m so sorry you feel that way, I know how painful—
Like whatever man, I don’t want to talk about it! Now open that freezer.
Okay, okay, just please be careful with where you point that.
Man like what the hell are these things!
I don’t—it looks like meat, frozen—this must be their meat freezer, the owners of the house, I guess they like to hunt—
This is them, isn’t it! Like this is what’s left of all those kids you kidnapped, isn’t it!
No, no, I swear on my life, this isn’t even my house, I’ve never been down here, it’s—
Like how could you do this to me! You were my hero man! I loved you more than my own dad!
Look, please, just listen to me, it’s not—it’s venison, its deer meat, look! It says it right here on the plastic, it’s deer meat from November of 2020, it’s not—Augggg!
Oh . . . oh . . .
Oh God man. Oh Jesus.
Please . . .
Like I’m sorry man, but you did this to yourself.
I . . . oh . . . please, please call . . .
Man like I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I can do.
Please don’t go . . . don’t leave me like this.
I have to. It’s for the kids. Saving them is the only thing I have left.
No, please . . . don’t leave me alone down here.
Goodbye Mr. President.
Steve Gergley is a writer and runner from Warwick, New York. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Atticus Review, Cleaver Magazine, Hobart, Pithead Chapel, Maudlin House, and others. In addition to writing fiction, he has composed and recorded five albums of original music. He tweets @GergleySteve. His fiction can be found at: https://stevegergleyauthor.wordpress.com/
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