Part 1: Man vs Nature
After the president was eaten alive by bears on national television the country fell into various states of dilapidation.
In a rare moment of unity, both fans and critics agreed it was a riveting and appropriate end to what ultimately culminated in both a condescending and overextended stay. The survivalist-themed reality TV program was previously thought to be staged but proved everyone wrong and had the highest rating in television history.
The good thing about a country with no president is that you finally have a country with no president. The bad thing about a country with no president is nothing because it fucking rules. I think we’re all pretty apt at self-governance by now. We’ve all got solid Wi-Fi connections.
Some time ago I started seeing people wearing T-shirts and holding signs that said NO GOD JUST GOOGLE but I couldn’t tell if they were being ironic or not.
It really is a colorful time to be alive. I suppose it’s gotten harder to get along but for the most part we can all agree on the violence. That feels universal. When everyone saw those bears tear apart the president, we all knew they meant it.
Part 2: Man vs Man
Since the executions stopped I think everyone’s grown more edgy. My favorite part of them is scrolling through the comments of the live stream. The feeling I get inside when I see the thumbs up and thumbs down and the hearts and the sad faces fly across the screen of the Public Executions Page (PEP) is rapturous. What I truly savor is the feeling of logging on with everyone else. It’s truly inspiring. Whether we cry out for the violence or against it; just being there together feels good.
If we all were honest with ourselves we’d admit that things aren’t that different than they used to be. Or maybe all this anger is authentic. I think we’re all doing just fine. I know that I’m grateful for the universal wi-fi.
Maybe it’s because we all know it could be us next, our necks shoved onto the cold, digital chopping block, faces pathetically plastered on everyone’s computer and phone screens, pants pissed, desperately trying to remember the words we’ve all hastily thumbed out and edited over and over again on some note taking app titled “LAST WORDS—DON’T DELETE”.
I’ve been hit by a wave of ennui for about a week. I hope things go back to normal soon because since the executions stopped, it’s been hard to muster the energy to go to work and filter the water and meet management deadlines and clean my kid’s bear trap wounds all while still maintaining good client relations.
Part 3: Man vs Self
No one feels worse about drawing straws than me but I couldn’t have made things more equal. It’s been hardest on my wife. She told the others our boy went to join the resistance in the abandoned travel plaza off I-80, but I think people know the truth.
I didn’t want to do it. We hadn’t eaten for weeks. At least we did it quietly and with substantial shame. We weren’t like those other families who upload videos that give tutorials on filleting and how to not overcook the meat.
Maybe this isn’t the place for these thoughts. I know it’s not a good idea to disclose the discomfort.
It’s hard to trace the breadcrumb trail that brought us to these tribal conditions. I suppose if I scrolled through my social media feeds long enough I could pinpoint it. Perhaps it’d be buried in there, somewhere between the selfies with our kids and our videos for how to make a sundial with a twig in the woods, but I can’t really be bothered. Looking back only makes my wife and I both sad. Our search histories are erased for us now.
Nicholas Rys is an MFA candidate in fiction at Bowling Green State University. His essays, reviews, and author interviews have appeared in places like Electric Literature, The Rumpus, and PANK. His fiction and poetry have appeared in Hobart, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Split Lip Magazine, Reality Beach, and others.