The day the Republicans entered the EarthArk® and sealed themselves off from the rest of humanity was a day of celebration for what was now the Democratic United States of America. They left to prove that they were right and we were wrong, and pretty soon we’d have no choice but to admit it, when they were enjoying peace and plenty inside the dome that extended across the Independent Republic of Texas and into the gulf waters of Louisiana and Alabama. They left us outside with our Obamacare and our Internet, our Grand Theft Auto V and our hip hop devil music and booty-dancing, which were wounding the soul of America like a poisoned dart to the heart.
The Democrats declared a 10-day National Period of Celebration, during which work was cancelled; everyone could go to the doctor for anything without an appointment (the doctors had to keep working, but no one mentioned that), and there was a symbolic smashing of the sign at the headquarters of Fox News. Beyond that, the Democrats couldn’t agree on what else would properly express the “good riddance” sentiment felt by the whole nation. Just when consensus seemed near, the next senator so-and-so would bring up a point like, “But what message is this sending to the immigrant population if we select a pineapple as the historic symbol of welcome, when so much of the Latin American and East Asian world has been negatively impacted by the predatory agribusiness practices of Big Pineapple?”
So, after the first day, with its dramatic television footage of the Sealing of the Final Door: EarthArk®, people mostly just lazed around and had barbecues in the backyard with their like-minded neighbors.
There was only one link between the EarthArk® and the Democratic United States of America, and that was a tiny monitor located in the CNN headquarters building in Atlanta. Only two people had access to the room in which it was housed—Wolf Blitzer and the President of the United States. The monitor pumped the CNN news broadcast into EarthArk® headquarters, and it showed Wolf Blitzer what was going on inside the EarthArk®, which was usually two guys staring back at him in the monitor, occasionally eating tomatoes or picking their noses. Periodically, there would be an actual news update: number of births and deaths, crop yields, election results.
In the first years after the Republicans left us, everything was great. Scads and wads and loads of new legislation was passed by the one-party Congress, and Supreme Court cases were decided with lightning speed. Marijuana legalized across the nation? Done. Universal Heath Care (ObamaCareUniversal 2.0)? Done. Marriage equality between whomever for whenever? No problem.
Enormous swathes of the country were set aside and protected from fracking, drilling, energy exploration, snowmachines, four-wheelers, motor vehicle traffic of any sort, new construction, porta-potties, hunting, swimming and feeding the bears. You could look all you wanted, if you could find a means of acceptable access, but you couldn’t touch. Hot air ballooning became a popular pastime.
Not So Hot
By year five, things weren’t so hot. It turns out Democrats do not have the gift of money management. Allocating and spending, they were geniuses of. The making and the saving, not so much. The only ones who seemed to have a knack for it were Hollywood stars, music moguls and professional athletes, and it turned out they had a childlike understanding of money’s significance, unable to operate beyond the scope of “Mine!” and “Want more!” We had to take it away from them, for their own good.
The doctors began to get tired of working all the time, even on holidays, and especially during the 10-day annual Leaving Day Remembrance. As a concession to healthcare workers, the 10-day celebration was cut to five days, which incited riots and walkouts by workers in other fields who had already booked tickets for two-week cruises. People still came in droves to stand on the edges of the national parks and reserves, looking wistfully from the overlooks at the formerly wealthy but still-better-off-than-they celebrities drifting through the valleys in their hot-air balloons.
By year 10, there were food shortages and transportation catastrophes. Fossil-fuel use had been outlawed, but supply couldn’t keep up with demand for electric vehicles. “We should have gone with them,” people began to mutter. A protest group started showing up every weekend outside the Amarillo entrance to the EarthArk® with signs that said, “Take us in,” and, “Thus sayeth the Lord; there shall be a second harvest.” Eventually, the protesters built a tent city that stretched for skinny miles along the edge of the Ark, its reflective surface showing them only their own desperate longing. There had been no news from inside for several years; Wolf Blitzer and President Gennifer Garfield (no relation to the assassinated leader of 1881) had begged, pleaded and threatened, but the two monitor-minders just gazed steadily back, eating tomatoes like they were apples, not even cutting them up.
It didn’t take long for the protest movement to form a militant wing, who declared the only way in was by force. Meanwhile, rumors had begun to circulate about a leak in the Louisiana region, a secret tunnel, regular shipments of pornography and of the plentiful, legal weed that Midwestern farmers now cultivated as a cash crop, sudden population swells in the border regions. The government dismissed these rumors as wishful thinking, an official position CNN dutifully passed along, while simultaneously conducting their own, fruitless investigations.
It was a Tuesday night three weeks before the 13th annual Leaving Day Celebration, when the President picked up a call on the secure line directly from the monitor room.
“They’re gone,” Wolf Blitzer said.
“Who’s gone?” President Garfield asked, peevishly. She’d had a devil of a day, narrowly avoiding a Waco-Texas-circa-1993-shitstorm between her government forces and a band of militants with blowtorches. She was in no mood for obfuscation.
“The Ark monitor guys. The monitor is still on, but the room is empty.”
“Maybe they both had to take a dump at the same time. All those tomatoes.” President Garfield let out one bark of bitter laughter, then said, “Keep me informed,” and the line went dead.
Wolf called back the next day. And the next.
And so it came to pass, that on the first day of the 13th annual Leaving Day Celebration, President Garfield announced that the barrier would be breached, that there were grave concerns about the Republicans’ wellbeing, and that a small team would be sent in to assess the situation and report back to the President and the public. People who hadn’t thought much about the Republicans in years—their parents, aunts and uncles, those Republican neighbors from across the road who always let them borrow their lawnmower when the Democrat family couldn’t get their act together to keep gas in their own—suddenly worried and pulled out old photo albums and spent barbecue time reminiscing about the Before days. There had been a measure of peace, they collectively realized, in believing their loved ones to be safe. The Republicans had always been so sure, so self-righteous, so positive in the correctness of their beliefs. Surely they had managed to create the perfect society they’d always dreamed of and had never been able to shut up about while they were still among us, had never been able to stop trying to impose on people who had no interest.
While CNN couldn’t report on the classified technology used to breach the EarthArk’s® carapace, a government team was successfully inserted inside. They spent days rolling through the dome in their Tesla, encountering evidence of a thriving agrarian economy, but no people. Reporters speculated on the vanishing—theories abounded from divine Rapture to molecular vaporization. More troops were sent in to conduct a grid-by-grid sweep. In the end, there was only one official survivor, a four-year-old boy found sleeping in the rec-room of a cabin on a Louisiana lake, a pile of tomatoes in various stages of ripeness beside him and a Monopoly game board with all the houses and hotels stacked on his side.