The most excellent Damon Lindelof has kindly offered to share a serialized story with NextDraft readers to help us, and him, through the quarantine. To be continued, daily…

Chapter Two: Today I Got a Humidifier at Bed, Bath & Beyond and also Six Bags of Gummi Bears But At Least I Was Wearing Dish Gloves

Abby was a Gryffindor, a Gryffindor for sure. Leo was Hufflepuff. Emma also claimed to be Gryffindor, but Abby cried foul and demoted her to Ravenclaw. And Alden?

Alden was a Slytherin.

The real world, of course, had no magic. The Rosenberg children had gone to Universal Studios, Orlando a couple summers ago where a Grad Student in an ill-fitting robe told Alden The Sorting Hat had most certainly put him in Gryffindor, but Alden scowled and said, “This is America. We choose our own House.” The Grad Student (his name was Charlie) grinned gamely. So what if the instructors at the Upright Citizens Brigade told him his choices were a bit “obvious?” He lived for shit like this. For kids like Alden Rosenberg.

“Ahhhh…. So a Slytherin, then?” Charlie said ominously in an accent he loosely based on Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood.

“You’re goddamn right.” said Alden.

Two years later, Charlie was on a ventilator and Alden, alongside his brothers and sisters, was planning a murder.

But there had been a creak. And it was quite clear it was a mom creak and not a dad creak. Mom was sure-footed and sly… an undetected approach to the doorway would not have been possible for dad, who, let’s just say it, was an oaf.

“What’s an oaf?” asked Leo.

“Google it.” said Alden, who was hurriedly stuffing the composition notebook that contained his plan underneath the mattress.

Mom had hustled away quickly once Alden had heard her, so they were free to talk. “Do you think she heard us?” Abby asked. She was his twin, just as bright as Alden but unfortunately not nearly as evil. In her dreams, the two would team up and solve mysteries, like who stole the money from the cashbox at the Beverly Hills Elementary Brownie Bonanza? (Alden did)

“She definitely heard us.” Said Leo, who idolized Alden, even though he was two years older and a head taller. Like dad, Leo was also an oaf.

“We can just tell her we were playing Clue,” said Emma, “Clue has lots of murder.” Alden nodded at his younger sister. She showed promise.


“They won’t believe we played a board game on our own. They know it’s something we’d only do in exchange for screen time.” The others nodded. Of course Alden was right. He was always right.

“So now what?” asked Leo, who was always the one who said “So now what?” and also “What did he/she mean by that?” and also “Can you explain that again?”

Alden tried not to sigh aloud. “Now we go downstairs and watch the briefing like everything’s cool.”

And that’s what they did. All four children, as cool as could be, taking their usual positions as dad clumsily toggled between the AppleTV and DISH and XboxLive on the remote. Emma snuggled into mom’s lap on the couch as Abby scrunched into the matching beanbag beside Alden. Leo sat criss-cross apple sauce on the floor, way too close to the TV as Dad finally navigated to CNN.

As the last few members of the press settled into their seats before the empty podium, The Chryron at the bottom of the screen read “PRESIDENT ABOUT TO SPEAK ANY MOMENT”.

“I hope they have some sense of how long this is gonna last.” said dad.

“It’s only been two days, honey…” mom responded.

She looked over at Alden and smiled, but he knew she knew. If anyone in this family was smarter than Alden, it was mom. She was widely considered to be one of the world’s greatest particle physicists, but she was also just a little bit evil, which opened her eyes to the world in ways the others were blind. On a rainy day a few months earlier, in those bygone days PH&W, Alden and mom watched SILENCE OF THE LAMBS together, just the two of them, eating grilled cheeses. When the movie was over, Alden told mom that he had been rooting for Lecter the whole time, even when he brutally killed the policemen who were guarding him and wore one of their dismembered faces like a mask so he could escape. “Of course you were rooting for him,” mom had said, “He’s the hero.”

Alden wished he could tell her what he was up to, but he knew she’d destroy her invention immediately. Mom understood probabilities. The only reasonable response to learning his true plan would be to make sure he could never implement it., so for now Alden would have to play dumb while vector by vector, closet by closet, he conducted his search.

“Here we go!” dad exclaimed, and sure enough, on the TV the experts were walking out from that little blue door and filing onto the stage behind the podium. Once they hit their marks, the President appeared.

“She looks sick.” said dad.

Mom frowned. “She’s not sick, she’s tired. I’ll bet she hasn’t slept since this all started.” Dad nodded in agreement, retreating, “You’re right. Sorry.”

And with that, Hillary Rodham Clinton, 45th President of The United States, began her briefing.

To be continued…


Chapter 1