The Last Debate

Mike Wallace sits ramrod straight in his chair. His eyes twinkle. A hint of emotion plays at the edge of his mouth; it’s not humor, it’s not hunger. Raw anticipation, not free from malice but fueled by something grander.

His limpid lounge-singer’s eyes half-lidded gaze upon the stage of stiff, almost martial competitors. ‘Tonight,’ he thinks. ‘Tonight will be the night.’ Not just another facile primary debate. Tonight he would put an end to it all.

“This next question,” he begins, and pauses. Wallace licks his lips, obviously in anticipation. “This next question, is for all of the candidates.”

The crowd’s breath draws in and holds. The candidates are taut, gripping their stands. The air about the microphones positively hums in anticipation.

“This question is for all of the candidates because, in one part or another, it touches on the platforms and proposals of every candidate here.

“So. This nation, the United States of America, faces a grave crisis of illegal immigration. Fundamental to this crisis is an absolutely porous border through which the absolute dregs of Mexican society pass through, unobstructed.

“Simultaneously, as so many of our candidates have belabored and described, our nation is still in mortal peril of another major domestic terror attack by foreign agents.”

Wallace allows himself a single blink, still smiling.

“So,” he proceeds, “on the one hand, foreigners are allowed all-but-unfettered traffic in and out of the United States. Not only is their passage free but our internal security is so sadly lax that they can live all-but-unmolested entirely on our welfare system, despite having no documents of citizenship or entitlement.

“On the other, we are beset on all sides by enemies barely held back from our homeland. Our national intelligence infrastructure is occupied twenty-four hours of every day deflecting the ceaseless barrage of covert attacks by fanatical foreign Islamist forces who crave nothing more than another attack on our sacred soil.”

The denouement. Wallace knows these are the final moments. His eyes gleam, feverish, enrapt.

“So then how, lady and gentlemen, can these two narratives both be true? How is it that the most depraved and incapable criminal element somehow traverses our border daily, while the world’s most dedicated, ingenious, and capable fighters haven’t managed a single attack on US soil in fourteen years? In what world are ‘border security’ and ‘Islamist terrorism’ both, simultaneously, domestic issues?”

He lets his gaze sweep the candidates one last time, his tight smirk never changing. “You will each have twenty seconds to answer. Senator Graham? Mr. Trump? Who would like to be the first to answer?”

Graham’s eyes, moist and bovine mere moments before, are suddenly frantic. The rictus grin shatters as his jaw chews the air, seeking a word, a phrase, any incantation to free him from his circumstance. His knuckles whiten on the edges of the podium. Side to side he lurches, facing first Jindal, then Pawlenty.

Breaking the tense silence, Huckabee bellows, “The Name That Must Not Be Spoken! The Question That Must Not Be Asked!” His odobenidine bulk smashes his podum from the stage. Spittle flies from his mouth as he plunges into the crowd: “Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!” A bellowing kaiju from myth, the former governor wades into the crowd as indifferently as a farmer breasts through wheat.

Ever decisive, Trump double-fistedly smashes his podium to shards. Immediately after he leaps into the moderator’s booth, plunging the shaft of shattered pine into Wallace’s chest. “I’m gonna build a wall from your teeth and your ribs, loser! It’s gonna be great! Great! Great!” Every downward slash of his improvised dagger punctuated with another, “Great!” Through it all Wallace’s sneer never flickers, his eyes never dim, but sparkle in the brilliant stage lights.

Across the stage, Carly Fiorina grimly draws a Javanese kris blade across her throat. Her final gurgling words are an arcane invocation of the dark gods lurking between the hidden folds of infinite space, condemning the Earth which has failed her to an endless hell of antediluvian depravity. The lights of a blasphemous heaven stream down on her still body.

Santorum’s face is suddenly clear. Where suburban lassitude once masked his visage there is now only the lean, vulpine creature that laid in wait for this very moment. Santorum licks his lips with a suspiciously long tongue, foam seeping from the corner of his maw. The flickering reflections in his eyes are only of cattle. With purpose and obvious pleasure he descends into the carnage before him.

The camera wobbles, then spins, a 1080p-strobe of images, first at the podium, then amongst the ruins of the moderators’ seats, then the audience, where smoke rises amidst the chaos of spectators and network staff alike. The crowd keens and crests and pulses. Criss-crossing through it all are the talons and grim, hungry maws of the candidates, exulting in cannibal bloodsport.

The Question was asked! and woe to all mortal ears that had heard it. The ancient tide of blood was unleashed on the autumnal world.

The Question was asked! Better that it go unanswered than that any present should see another day. The smoke rose, and blood spilled free as rain, and the candidates set to the work ordained to them by an occult heaven’s harsh mandate. None shall speak or hear of the blasphemy set before them that day! Tekili-li!

And their work was not done until long into the morning of the next day, and the day after.

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