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

Chapter 6: I Just Think It’ll Be A Beautiful Timeline. Joe?

The issue was not Hillary. It was us.

When the first clusters appeared, the tests were abundant and the protocols to implement them were rock solid. Medical professionals had been drilled to the point of maximum efficiency and they were raring to get their swabs up some nostrils and put this motherfucker to bed.

But a test only works if people show up to take it, a sentiment more accurately expressed by @RetractableDolphinPenis2’s now viral tweet —

‘Merica’s gonna ‘Merica bitches

Let us move past the fact that there was already an @RetractableDolphinPenis and that numbering was now required and instead appreciate the underlying psychological construct embedded in his (of course it was a he) words —

Accurate testing relies on an individual admitting to themselves and to others that they were not feeling well at precisely the moment symptoms began to appear. Unfortunately, Americans are trained to do precisely the opposite. Our exceptionalism, our supreme awesomeness, our very ability to be best has wired our brains to deny that we are unwell because to be unwell would make us less great again. Only when we are shaking with fever, our head throbbing, our sense of smell and taste gone after days of coughing phlegm upon our loved ones and rubbing our coronasty hands over every surface within our communities do we finally relent and quietly grumble that perhaps something is rotten in Denmark, for it could never, not ever, be rotten here in the U.S. of A..

Despite Elizabeth’s temporal intervention and subsequent presidential transplant, the one thing she could not avert was the outbreak itself. All she had to do was find someone who could do a better job of managing it. Imagine getting a gorilla drunk, very drunk on tequila, then placing that gorilla in an industrial washing machine for an hour as the spin cycle made the gorilla dizzier and angrier… then imagine removing the gorilla from the washing machine, soaked and confused and aggressively desiring to eat someone’s face off or rip their arms from their sockets, but denying the gorilla such vengeance and instead dressing it in a suit and tie and placing it in the White House press room to field questions from the media. Is there any doubt that gorilla would do a better job than him? Would the outraged wet gorilla say this would all be over by fucking EASTER?!?

It would not.

As much as Elizabeth fantasized about the gorilla scenario just to make her point, she knew it would be hard to pull off for a variety of reasons, the least of which was most gorillas are dead by age 35 and therefore constitutionally ineligible to be elected to the presidency. Fortunately, there was a much better option.

And Hillary did not disappoint. She did not dissolve the government bureaus required to deal with potential pandemics. She listened to scientists. Most of all, she was qualified. Was she able to advance any meaningful legislation in her first term? Of course not. The House and Senate were controlled by the opposition and only became more red after the midterms. Getting Garland through had been a streetfight and the rumors of Kennedy’s retirement had yet to yield fruit, even as Congress had dogged her entire presidency with impeachment inquiries (Fucking Steele Dossier!) and was on the verge of going for the jugular when the virus finally hit.

This, of course, is all that mattered in the end. A competent, able Commander-in-Chief to deal with the greatest global crisis since The Nazis stormed across Europe.

But when Hillary told us it would get bad, we did not listen.

When she told us to stay home, we did not listen.

So she turned off our internet, for that is what any parent does when their children do not listen.

“I am taking away your screen time,” The President calmly intoned from behind her desk in The Oval, broadcast (not streaming) simultaneously into every home in America, “And you won’t get it back until you show me you can be responsible.”

Her one eye gleamed with strength and confidence and just a little bit of pity.

In Bel Air, California, sitting before the widescreen television airing the simulcast, young Alden Rosenberg decided in that very moment he would need to travel back in time and make sure this never, ever happened.

He did not know that Elizabeth, sitting not two feet behind him had already given the time/space continuum the mother of all tittie twisters. He did not know that the existence he was now experiencing was a quantum rewrite. For him, Hillary Rodham Clinton had always been the 45th President of the United States.

But that could be changed. Oh yes, it could absolutely be changed. And once it was, of this Alden was absolutely sure —

President Donald J. Trump would never take his screen time away.

To be continued…