Wunderkind Campaign strategist Daniel Poofe deserved a break. The Presidential Campaign of 2080 been a hard-fought partisan war.
Poofe was the architect of the insurgent campaign of Congressperson Orank Bojamba, the young, brash, photogenic, telegenic, hygenic outsider whom no one thought had a chance, a political Cinderella story, the community organizer who had made good. Poofe had done what everyone thought impossible.
He had brought a brilliant, courageous and scrupulously decent and honest, fun-loving, well-groomed, bi-partisan, post-racial, bi-pedal, ambidextrous (yet humble to a fault) political phenom to the brink of the presidency for the salvation of the huperson race.
First, Dan ran Bojamba’s astonishing upstart victory against the popular, well-financed and eminently experienced Decentocrat establishment choice Hildegard Chilton, a candidate universally respected and loved by all, but who, in her classy, selfless “party and country first” manner, bowed gracefully and stylishly out when it became apparent Bojamba would triumph. He now had no bigger supporter than Chilton, who campaigned for him vociferously and vicariously. Her late husband, ex-president Chilton who had tragically choked to death on a cigar only the year before, would have been proud as well.
It had been a spirited, intense, yet fair and issues-based run that left the Decentocrat Party more united than the legendary unitedness that bouyed Senator John Kerry to near-victory against the war criminal George “W.” Bush, (who much later, after a fair trial, was hung, dismembered and burnt up by the Markos Moulitsas III (D-Toronto) led Decentocrat Congress after his corpse was dug up during the realignment of ‘45.)
Poofe had steered Bojamba’s primary campaign ship through shark infested waters of an adversarial press, who often demanded answers to questions, sometimes as many as nine to a waffle. Poofe had to tack past the deadly allegorical reefs representing how to best spend the billions of dollars of contributions flooding in (How big should the columns be? What should the latin motto be on the presidential campaign seal? Should it be filigreed in gold leaf or platinum plated? How many hemp wall hangings with a picture of Bojamba’s giant head for the campaign offices do we need?)
Dan Poofe had manned the proverbial rudder past the metaphorical giant icebergs of embarrassing late primary season big-state double digit losses, sailing onward to the safe harbor of no more states to contest so we win-itude and throwing out the anchor in the bay of “Get Over It, Chiltonites”. He was both elated and exhausted, yet pensive and perspicacious.
Throughout the summer months Bojamba’s campaign had shredded the doddering old relic the Repressicans had nominated, Jon McTrite. He and his mentally retarded slut of a running mate, Shirley Pigslipsch, were running on an unpopular R.O.P. platform of torture, domestic spying, warmongering, oppressing women, gays, trisexuals, the poor and the “minorities” (now a figurative term since they were all majorities now), reforming the Constitution to strict Christianist tenets and out-lawing internet pr0n.
McTrite was down 99% to .5% (.5% undecided) and only expected to take the 120 or so Electoral Votes of the most racist and ignorant of the Southern “Red” Neck States. Yes, the election was well in hand. It was less than a week from election day, and nothing could possibly go awry in some cruelly ironic and totally unexpected manner.
“I’ll go ahead and take a that vacation I’ve always wanted,” Danial Poofe thought, “here in the present, November 3rd, 2080.”
He was also going to purchase a really nice watch.
He looked around his luxury hotel suite, skimming his eye like a stone across the lake of flotsam and jetsam of campaign life: the poll printouts and campaign “war maps” the campaign set dresser had scattered about the room, the trays of dirty dishes and full ashtrays (smoking had made a resurgence after the cancer vaccine) from last night’s final late night strategy session, the empty bottles of booze from the late later night night boozy celebrations, and curled up, stickily sleeping bodies of the late late late night hookers he’d banged. He would miss all this, he thought ruefully, and yet the adventure ahead excited him ruelessly.
He took a hover-cab to Trans-Time Travel Agency and tossed the driver an extra 20million Pelosis as he bounded out the door and through the air-lock.
The interview with the tour planner, the orientation, the detailed description of the time machine and the trip through time and all the attendant narration seemed like only half a paragraph to Poofe as he realized he was stepping out of the Time Travel Trailer RV and into a prehistoric paradise. Oddly enough, for a man who had spent his life supporting the Decentocrats, who had taken the useless, deadly firearms out of the hands of dangerous citizens and created a utopian society free of any kind of violence, he had always wanted to hunt animals with a gun and kill them by shooting them with its bullets, or bludgeoning their skulls with the butt or poking their eyes with a bayonet, but mostly just shooting them with bullets, hollow pointed bullets.
You see, it had always been Poofe’s dream to kill something. And not anything as prosaic as a moose or a duck. No, he wanted to kill something really, really large: a dinosaur. Even if he had to go all the way back in time to do it, it would be worth it. A vegetarian dinosaur, so it wouldn’t too dangerous, but still, a great big fucking dinosaur!
That would really be something to see, the dinosaur falling down, hurt really bad and writhing around piteously in its death throes, blood squirting everywhere. Simple joys like these had eluded Poofe during the long weeks it had taken to make Bojama a huge media star in a country already chock-full of celebrities.
The tour guide once again reminded him to stay on the path. Daniel remembered dire warnings of grandfather paradoxes and temporal spirals and causual loops and butterfly effects and chronological anomalies. He didn’t understand it all, but put very simply, he knew the cause’s effect directly causes or could cause the original cause. Plus he wasn’t supposed to step on any bugs or sneeze.
But of course, in an ironic twist worthy of Funky Winkerbean, that’s just what Poofe did, in a series of events that would take half a page of typing to relate, a miasma of exciting and astoundingly unlikely plot turns and spirals and curves, each more unexpected than the last, which ended up with Poofe stepping on a caterpillar and mortally killing it.
He didn’t mention it to the guide, supposing that he would probably be upset about it.
“Surely, stepping on a tiny caterpillar couldn’t really change history that much, now could it?” he asked himself, in a rather odd bit of internal reflection that smacked of unnecessary exposition.
The ride home was uneventful and he slept most of the way. He hadn’t been able to get a window seat so he couldn’t see much history flying by anyway, with the years zooming past the windows in big white numerals: 1,000,000 BC… 5 BC… 1264 AD… 1492… 1612… 1914… 1945… 2112.. then the driver backed up, having accidentally passed their stop, and Poofe disembarked, woozy and disoriented with time-lag.
He felt a jolt as the unseasonably warm 90 degree (the rest of the world had finally switched back to Farenheit also) Chicago weather burnt his cheek, very warm for a November 5th morning in the windy city on the lake. Had he changed history somehow? He ran for a newstand, frantic to see a headline. Oh my god, no, it couldn’t be, he exclaimed to himself.
He tore into an unopened bundle of dead-tree newspapers, a retro fad that had sprung up in the ’60’s and were still around, desperately trying to read the heat smeared ink headline.
“Who won? Good God, have I destroyed civilization? Have I changed history by stepping on a caterpillar? What has changed?” he thought, drawing out the suspense annoyingly.
In the blink of half a sentence, all of the sudden, at that moment, quick as a bunny, a shadow passed in front of the sun, and Poofe looked up, away from the newspaper and at the sky above him, and screamed the shriek of a man yelling out his terror like it was a cheap 2 dollar horror, his shriek ripping the very fabric of some great cosmic textile.
A bloody great free-wandering dinosaur bit Poofe in half, threw his torso in the air and then swallowed it, whole, and stomped off looking for more prey to predate.
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EXPLANATION (read on if you are really, really stupid or a completist who hates short stories that end in an ambivalent manner, closure awaits in small font tags just ahead:
(See stepping on the caterpillar had inexplicably caused the climate to stay hot for millions of years, allowing the dinosaurs to survive to the supposed present day  so that, in a country where normally you couldn’t swing a cat without hitting a celebrity, all the celebrities had been gobbled up by hungry T-Rexes and consequently the toothsome morsal Bojambo was now nothing more than warm steaming dinosaur shit, leaving the evil Repressican the overlord of the sun-blasted, dead and dried landscape, while the dessicated shell of Al Gore sailed around the world in his haunted houseboat, doomed to roam the boiling seas forever in a fruitless quest for carbon offsets.)