Official website of Seattle-area actor and writer Nathaniel Jones

• Messiah Complex•

August 14, 2016
The White House, Washington DC

            President Kip Harris sat at his desk in the oval office reading over the speech that had just been handed to him. He read it to himself and then nodded to the camera.
“Ok, we’re going live in 2 minutes” said an attractive young woman into a microphone. Kip stared at her for a moment, and then returned his eyes to his speech.
The President cleared his throat and looked in the mirror next to his desk, making sure he had his facial expression just right – equal parts strength, hope, and sorrow. He tried a few different versions (including one that reminded him so much of his puppy Roger that he just had to look at his secretary of defense Paul Meyer and say ‘ruff ruff ruff.’ It was so amusing, Kip could hardly contain himself), eventually deciding on furrowed eyebrows, firm jaw, and calm eyes. He thought that it made him look especially attractive, and made a mental note to have somebody take his picture with that expression later on.
“30 seconds” said the young woman.
My fellow Americans. My fellow Americans. My fellow Americans” repeated President Harris into the mirror.
The young woman got his attention and gave him hand signals counting down the last ten seconds. At 5, the lights went down in the room, and the desk lit up just right. The lighting effects in the oval office had cost nearly three quarters of a million dollars, but the result was so perfect for the television cameras that everyone agreed that no president had ever looked quite so presidential on television before.
“My fellow Americans. Since the turn of the century, we as a country have faced some of the most terrible threats to our existence we have ever faced as a nation. Beginning with September 11th, 2001, and continuing through the following wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Korea, Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, the Sudan, Switzerland, Uganda, Brazil, Chile, Guam, continuing involvement with Israel/Pakistan, France, Colombia, Cuba, and Venezuela. We currently have members of the International Network for the Elimination of Potential Terrorists in every country on the globe in a non-stop effort to keep you safe in your homes – and on that note, I have been informed by our military that it should be safe for you to leave your homes at some point in the coming months.
“We are fighting this war on terror with everything we have got. But unfortunately the more we succeed, the more the terrorists hate us, and when there is such hatred from such evil people, unfortunately bad things happen. It saddens me to say that today, a bad thing happened. Terrorist members from the Middle East have taken over shopping centers in nearly every major city in the country, and they have completely destroyed the Mall of America as a symbol of destroying the capitalist system. Our terror experts fear that if we don’t regain control of our countries malls soon, the terrorists may soon make it impossible for us to visit a Sears or a JC Penny’s, or my personal favorite Spencer’s Gifts, at all in this great country. It is for this reason I have come to you via the television tonight – to tell you that on this day, August 14, 2015, I have ordered airstrikes on every terrorist-occupied shopping center in the country. I know all of your well wishes will go to our military as they carry out this important mission, and I ask that you keep them in your hopes and prayers. On a personal note,  I also ask that you pray that as many of the nations KB Toy Stores remain unharmed, as well as the food courts – especially those that contain a Jamba Juice. Thank you, and God Bless America.”

August 24, 2016
Former Site of the Capital Hill Mall, Washington DC

            Ten days after Operation Consumer Confidence began, it ended with the complete demolition of every shopping center in the United States. Across the country, rescue crews scrambled over piles of rubble, desperately digging, trying to find any remaining merchandise that still held resale value. In Washington D.C., the President stood in front of the pile of twisted metal and stone that had once been his favorite place to shop for products that he had only seen on TV previously.
“Jesus Christ…” groaned Kip. “I just renewed my membership at Suncoast Video. I didn’t even get the chance to use my 10% off coupon…”
Peter Adams, his press secretary, appeared at his side and placed his hand upon Kip’s shoulder. “Don’t worry – you can still get overpriced videos at Blockbuster.”
“But Hell, Peter, not with the same great selection! My God, I was going to use that 10% off to buy the complete American Pie trilogy. But that won’t happen now.”
“But Blockbuster –“
“No, no, no! Blockbuster only has American Wedding, which I found to be the weakest of the three!”
A crew member on top of the rubble let out a shout as he held up a dirty-but-intact blue pin-stripe suit jacket. “Hey, I think I could still wear this!” shouted the man. Kip turned to the pile of rubble to see what had been found. He had requested earlier that any t-shirts with clever slogans be saved for him in a special pile. He was especially hoping for one of those ones with really small print that says ‘if you can read this, you’re standing too damn close.” That one always cracked him up.
“Hey Peter, if you can read this, you’re standing too damn close!” Kip said to his press secretary.
“President Harris, if I could pull your attention back to the more important issues, I think we have to discuss how we’ll play this to the media. It won’t be long before they find out that Operation Consumer Confidence was the result of the misreading of an advertising stating that the Bargain Barn would ‘Destroy High Prices’ during it’s three-day-only sale. Such news could tarnish your re-election campaign.”
“I didn’t think we had a re-election campaign.”
“Yes – even though you are the only candidate for combined Democratic Republican Party, you still have to have a re-election campaign because of the 3rd party candidates.”
“Do you think they’d actually stand a chance of winning?”
“It’s unlikely, but with 278 3rd party candidates, it’s possible that they’d get a combined majority vote, which would result in a shared office.”
“When did all these new rules come in? It used to be so easy… just get the counting machines to count me for all the votes, and be done with it.”
“It was all in the deal we bargained for so that you wouldn’t be limited to eight years in office.”
“Right. So now you’re saying that my destroying all the shopping centers in the country might make me unpopular with the voters?”
“Worse than last time?”
“No, not worse than the time that you destroyed every public school building because somebody wrote “Kill Whitey” on a bathroom stall.”
“Well, at least there’s that bright side.”
Peter shut his eyes and tried to bring himself to his happy place. “I’ll set up a meeting with the cabinet.”
Kip laughed. “Ok, and how about you invite the table and chairs and desk and stuff, too?” The President slapped Peter on the back.             “Get it, because you said ‘cabinet.’”
Peter winced and walked away.

August 25, 2016
The White House, Washington DC

            The meeting room was full of the President’s secretaries of this-and-that, and the under-secretaries, and the under-secretaries’ secretaries. Also in attendance were the heads of each wing of the military, the I.N.E.P.T. leadership, as well as a few select members of the scientific community. The President sat at the head of the table trying to tie a cherry stem into a knot, while his press secretary knocked on the table to get the room’s attention. When the room settled down, Peter stood up and said to the crowd:
“Ladies and Gentlemen, this administration, in the past year, has done more damage and cost more lives both here and abroad than any other administration in history, and we fear that this may look bad come November’s election. I have gathered you all here for a brainstorming session so that we may determine some way that we can put a positive spin on this whole situation.” The crowd murmered in approval.
Kip tugged on Peter’s sleeve and whispered ‘Tell them my idea.”
Peter regretfully nodded and said to the crowd, “President Harris thinks that we should find a really ugly person in Toledo, put him in a pointed ‘Dunce’ hat, and have him go on television and say ‘I’m really sorry I wrecked everything in the country. Boy am I a dunce!’ and point to his hat –“
“As proof!” chimed the President.
“- But I believe we might be able to think of something a bit better than that. I’ll open the floor for suggestions.”
The first man to stand was the President, beaming with pride, because he just had another brilliant idea. “Listen – everyone’s under house arrest, right?”
“Right…” sighed Peter.
“So what if we go on TV and say ‘April Fools!’ and say that none of this stuff really happened, and then we can rebuild everything, and then let people out of their houses to see that nothing really happened.”
The people in the room sat quiet for a moment, several stifiling laughs, others trying to think of ways to both praise the president while at the same time making him shut up. However, one of the scientists stood up and announced “Actually, I had an idea somewhat similar.”
The crowd turned to face this scientist. “Who are you?” asked the Press Secretary.
“I’m Dr. Gabriel Ortega, from the Instute for Temporal Displacement.”
“Temporal Displacement? You mean time travel?” asked Peter in disbelief.
“Short answer, yes. We at the Institute have created a way of sending objects back in time. My idea is that, rather than pretend that it never happened, we actually make it so that it never happened.”
The crowd stared at the doctor, not sure whether he was being serious or pulling their legs. The President spoke up. “Are you saying that we send everyone in the world back in time?”
“No – we actually don’t have the capability of sending human beings back in time. However, we are able to send back in time genetically altered human semen so that it is pre-programmed to have certain knowledge. So, if we were to send this semen back in time twenty years, and a woman were artificially inseminated with it, that baby would be born and grow up with the knowledge of this war, and then he would be able to share that knowledge with us so that we would know not to enter into the war in the first place.”
“Would that actually work?”
“We can’t say for sure. The farthest we’ve gotten with experiments is sending objects back in time by a few hours at the most, and we haven’t been able to test any effects time travel would have on the semen because of course we haven’t actually allowed them to grow into a full human embryo because of laws against it, but the semen appeared to be unharmed when we examined it after temporal displacement. We don’t have any evidence that there should be danger in it.”
The President spoke up again: “That’s ridiculous – no danger? What if my mom accidentally falls in love with this super semen guy, and then she doesn’t marry my father and so I’m never born! And of course, since I won’t be there, I won’t notice my hand disappearing, so I won’t know that I have to play guitar at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance!”
“All right… Barring the slim chance that the messenger will cause Back to the Future to become non-fiction, we don’t have any reason to believe there’s any danger. And the worst case scenario is that the semen won’t fertilize an egg, and so nothing will be any different than it is now. Mr. President – are you willing to give it a try?”
Kip looked around the room at his advisors, who were all looking rather bewildered. He considered his options – either go ahead with it and risk altering the space time continueum in some way that could destroy the universe, or say ‘no’ and risk going the rest of his life without the ability to go shopping in a place with every item he could possibly imagine all in one handy line. After a few moments, he stood up and cleared his throat.
“Let’s do this.”

August 25th, 2016
The White House, Washington DC

            President Ortega sat at the head of the conference table he waited for his chiefs of staff and secretaries to enter the room, as they had every day since he was appointed president in 2011, after he successfully proved that then-President Kip Harris was planning on invading Switzerland based solely on the intelligence that they were very good at making watches and chocolate, the technology for which could have been adapted to place miniature time bombs inside delicious dessert treats. Since his presidency began, President Gabriel Ortega, Jr. had successfully predicted every major terrorist attack, and in doing so had prevented many thousands of deaths. As his campaign strategists often pointed out, in addition to his phenomenal work with terrorist predictions, he had also made significant strides in the fields of science, working with his father, Gabriel Ortega (who, inexplicably yet genetically verifiably, was exactly the same age as his son).
When the last of the staff had taken a seat, The President stood and called the meeting to order. “Ladies and Gentlemen, in the past year, this administration has prevented more death and destruction than can even be conceived. From the time that I took over Kip Harris’ position, I have reduced the cost of the war on terrorism to a mere tenth of the previously projected cost, and if I continued to predict every major attack, we could win this war in short order, followed by swift defeats of evil, greed, bigotry, and reality television.” The room erupted into applause at this notion – it was generally agreed that TV had gone over the line when FOX produced the series ‘I Want to Hit Elderly People Over The Head with Midgets on Steroids,’ but the war effort had taken away the resources needed to battle such programming.
When the applause died down, the President spoke again: “Unfortunately, when I woke this morning, rather than awaken to a vision of what would happen in the day, I could see no farther than this meeting. As usual, the people in the room were different, but this time I could clearly see my father, and so this morning we had quite a lengthy discussion, during which some information was revealed to me, and I invited him today so that he can explain to you the situation.”
The conference room door swung open, and in walked Dr. Gabriel Ortega, key science adviser to the President. He walked to the front of the table and began to speak. “Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m sure that you have many questions, many of which I have evaded until this date, such as how a father and a son can be the exact same age, and how it is that a person can know every major event before it happens, and now, the most important question, why can he see the future no longer… To answer these questions, I must draw your attention to another version of reality.”
The crowd murmured to one another as the doctor continued: “If you’re familiar with the concept of time travel, you’ll no doubt be aware of the concept that an adjustment at one point in time will create an alternate time line – that is, if an event changes, rather than time going along as usual, it would spin off into another version of time. The version I’m bringing your attention to is the one in which Kip Harris remained president, and in which he invades countless countries, each invasion causing the war to get deadlier and costlier, until on August 14, 2016, he orders an air strike on all the malls in America.
“On August 25, 2016, I was in this very room at a conference to decide what to do to ensure President Harris’ success in the election, and what we decided on was to send a sample of my semen, enhanced with the knowedge of everything that had happened until the time of that meeting, back in time in order to prevent the events from taking place. I must admit, I had imagined that by sending the sperm sample back to my mother on the exact date of conception, that I myself would turn out to be the person to know the future, and thus be able to save the world. However, rather than the new sperm taking over, the result was that we, my son and myself, were born as twins, thus creating a father and son of exactly the same age.
“Along with the sperm sample, we also sent back in time a hologram recording of myself explaining to both my parents, and to myself when I came of age, what had happened, so that I could make sure that the time travel capability would be ready be this date, so that we could still send the sperm sample back in time on this date should anything have gone wrong. Thankfully, nothing has gone wrong, and my son has made a fantastic President. That is, until now. Since the sperm sample was sent back in time directly after this meeting, we could not give him any knowledge past this point, and so, from now on, we are sitting ducks for terrorism. We could be under attack right now, in fact, and we’d never know it, unless we saw it out that window.” Dr.   Ortega pointed out the window just as it was blown in with the force of an explosion right outside.
Everyone in the room ran out the door and into the hallway, racing down stairwell after stairwell on their way to the underground bunker. On his way down, Dr. Ortega ran into his office, took a painting off the wall, opened the safe hidden behind it, and pulled out a large locked crate labeled ‘Property of the Institute of Temporal Displacement.’ He clutched the box to his chest and joined the rest of the group in the bunker.

August 25, 2016
Secret Underground Bunker, Washington DC

            In the bunker, the thoroughly shaken white house staff stood tightly packed in the farthest corner of the room, trying to stay as far away from the entrance as possible, in case some terrorists should enter. When Dr. Ortega ran in, one of the elderly gentlemen screamed. The President, after making sure that everyone was accounted for, shut the door of the bunker and sliding the heavy lock into place. For all of them, this was the first time any of them had been this close to an actual terrorist attack.
“Well, this is certainly a change of pace!” said the President. His cabinet did not see this silver lining on the cloud of smoke. President Ortega pulled his father aside. “What do we do now? I don’t know what all is going on up there, but I’d bet everything I’ve got that when we go back out there it won’t be a pretty sight.”
Dr. Ortega set the locked crate down on a large table at the front of the room. “I brought this down – it’s the contingency case. In case you were not born for some reason, this case has everything we need to send a person back in time. All we need to do is update the semen with the knowledge of this attack, and then send it back, and we can stop this attack just like we stopped the others, and –“
“No,” interrupted the President, “what good would that do? Stop one attack, only to be attacked a few hours later? What would we do – send back another person after every attack, each time creating a new line of history? It won’t work.” He began walking over to huddle amongst his cabinet in the corner, but his father grabbed him by the arm.
“We can’t just sit down here and wait for death. We’ve got the means for time travel, I think we should use it.”
“You already used it once, and look where its gotten us – stuck in an underground bunker. Who knows, maybe the next version of you that you sent back leads to an attack that doesn’t give people enough time to get to a bunker. Maybe the next time line leads to an all-out nuclear war that destroys the planet!”
“Maybe we just did it wrong the first time.”
“You didn’t do it wrong – I’m here, aren’t I?”
“Yes, you’re here… but maybe that’s what we did wrong…”
President Ortega looked at his father. He recognized this look in the doctors eyes – it meant that his brain had taken over, as if all bodily functions had been turned off so that his brain could function at some super-human level. When the doctor returned to normal, he continued:             “Yes! The last time all we were trying to do was to fix the symptoms, not the cause.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Our goal in sending you back in time was to prevent these specific attacks, which led to other specific attacks. What we should have done, and what we can do now, is to prevent any attacks at all. Look at it – the Middle East has been causing trouble for decades – each different group warring with the others, and nobody has been able to make a dent in it. And why is that? Because everything is already so messed up over there, at this point in time there’s nothing we can really do to stop it, besides blowing the whole thing up. But if we sent somebody back in time to before it got too bad to handle…”
“… Then maybe we could stop this whole war before it even begins!” finished the President.
“How far back would you have to go in order to do that? Back to the year ‘0’?” Laughed the President. Dr. Ortega didn’t laugh.
“I think that might just about do it.”

2009 - Nathaniel Jones