After the 2016 election happened, Kyros knew that he wanted to write a story to process his feelings about the incoming president. This was a rare story that didn’t have any prompts (except maybe our fear for the future due to the outcome of the election). We wrote this over a couple days and decided that we would each publish it on our personal Facebook pages on January 20th, 2017, Inauguration Day, as a form of protest.
The guide stepped up to the podium. With a flick of his hand, he brought up a holomap of the planet spinning silently below. One area in the northern hemisphere glowed in a soft red.
“This section of the planet used to be called the United States of America. This nation contained two strains of a political virus, conservative and liberal. Neither was especially bad or good. They just caused the infected person to view the world in a slightly different manner.
“That changed when a mutated strain of the conservative virus began spreading through the populace. This new strain caused individuals affected by it to become ever-so-slightly fact-resistant. Few people of the time noticed because initially, only minor facts were rejected.”
The guide pointed to a raised hand in the crowd. “Question?”
“Was everyone with the conservative virus affected?”
“Not initially,” the guide said, shaking his head. “Only a few people carrying the conservative virus developed this new strain, called Tea Party Conservatism. But it was extremely virulent, and spread to more and more of the conservative virus holders. Also, as it continued to mutate over the next decade, it became increasingly fact-resistant.”
Another hand from the crowd. The guide nodded.
“Surely they could be shown proof….”
A sharp slice of the guide’s hand cut off the question.
“Sadly, victims of this infection even rejected empirical evidence. Their fact-resistance had mutated to such a degree that even presenting them with video proof would no longer pierce their awareness. They would merely exclaim that the video had been corrupted by liberal virus bias. They had become almost completely fact-resistant. They only believed ‘alternative facts’ that, ironically, came from one of the infecting agents, a media outlet called Vulpes News.”
A woman stood, asking, “Why didn’t someone come up with a cure for this Tea Party infection?”
The guide looked over his shoulder at the holo for a moment before answering.
“There were a few reported cases of individuals who managed to throw off the Tea Party Conservatism virus and recover, but those were the exception, not the rule. It required the individual to completely disconnect from all the infecting agents. As this world was at the height of their digital age when the conservative virus holders were infected, this was an extremely difficult endeavor.”
“However, no one expected what happened next. The Tea Party Conservatism virus mutated one final time into something we believe the locals called Drumpfism. This strain was so completely fact-resistant that even the original infecting agents began to be ignored because they were viewed as corrupted by the liberal virus.”
A man in the crowd caught his attention.
“What were the symptoms of that last mutation?”
“The main hallmarks of the Drumpfism strain of the conservative virus were: anti-intellectualism, proliferation of weapons, denial of rising global temperatures, xenophobia, isolationism, religious zealotry, and racism.”
The man in the crowd continued, “What were the people with the other political virus, the…liberal one, I believe, doing while this was happening?”
“Some attempted, in vain, to break through to those infected. Many remained complacent until the virus had mutated into Drumpfism. Only then did they realize how dangerous the fact-resistant strain of the conservative virus had become. Of course, by then, it was too late. Drumpfism had somehow become the dominant strain of the conservative virus.”
The guide waved his hand one last time. The holomap disappeared and a robotic voice filled the space.
“This ends our expedition to the remains of planet Earth. Please visit our gift shop to purchase replicas from pre-disaster Earth.”
The guide turned away, rubbing his neck to work out the kinks.
“So is that what caused this?” a small voice asked.
Looking out over the crowd, he saw the little boy who had asked the question. Smiling sadly at him, the guide nodded.
“Our records aren’t clear whether it was the wars or the environmental disasters that followed which eventually wiped out the humans living here. We only know that within fifty of their years, all life had died off and the planet had become completely uninhabitable.”