The Sock and the Puppet

Aides and appointees round the Oval Office glance from one to another silently, each avoiding eye contact with the president. Donnie stands in self-deluded triumph behind the Resolute desk, spray-caked combover sparkling in the morning sun. Per usual, he thinks stunning others into silence means he’s “won.” Finally, Chief of Staff John Kelly—used to being the only thing like an adult in the room—clears his throat and speaks up. “Mister President, I don’t think we can distract Mueller from the Russia investigation by convincing him the Mexicans are invading and mutilating cattle. I’m not sure—”

“Wrong!” Donnie slaps the desk with his free hand. At least he remembered that time. “Wrong! I used to watch X-Files. Everyone knows Mueller thinks aliens took his sister and that’s why he joined the FBI. People are saying this El Chapocabra, bad hombre from Mexico, is mutating cows; using the genetics Obama let scientists put in our food to make cows into mules to put drugs into, everyone says so. Don’t worry, I have the best plans, my staff is always telling me,” he tells his staff, who might disagree. “I think bigly, I can turn this all around; we’ll be winning more than ever, even though we’re winning so much now, we will win even more than now, believe me.”

Snuggled tight about Donnie’s left hand, Socky has the perfect vantage point to watch everyone in the room have another go at exchanging hushed glances. From the look on John Kelly’s face he regrets speaking up at all, but then he usually looks that way anymore to Socky. Across the room, Vice President Mike Pence appears to be watching amateur wrestling videos on his smart phone. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is busy staring at the tips of his pointy shoes. The fervor of a True Believer shines within National Security Adviser John Bolton’s eyes, yet even that zealot’s tongue remains behind his teeth.

Oh, Socky muses with private glee, these sycophants weren’t always so quiet. During the campaign they whispered among themselves that Donnie was only joking, just getting it out of his system before he assumed office. He was testing the waters to see what played to the base, just— “You have to hear what’s in his heart, not the words coming out his mouth,” they used to say in the same tone you’d tell a man impaled on a spike in the basement of a burning house that, “You’ll be fine, just wait for the paramedics to come.” Everyone was a doctor at the convention, telling one another to be patient. So the infection took root, and symptoms the party ignored earlier have morphed into what GOP elders fear is a terminal disease.

Well into year two of Donnie’s tenure, a.k.a. the latest season of the worst reality show ever, nobody claims the president is joking anymore. At least nobody who sees him on a daily basis. They all know he’s serious; never anything but. Good comedy takes brains and talent, and the man occupying the office that used to be leader of the free world has neither. None of the sycophants in this room will say it out loud, but they know.

That’s alright by Socky. He grins from cheek to fuzzy cotton blend cheek. He still finds Donnie’s tirades amusing, but then he always knew Donnie was serious. Drinking in the despair and confusion wafting about the room nourishes Socky—it doesn’t hit the spot the way a good old fashioned racial genocide or (dare he dream?) thermonuclear war would, but hey, he’s working on that. The stresses of the powerful will sustain Socky till he can arrange a feast more satisfying.

“Perhaps, ah…” So far Socky’s running theory has Jeff Sessions as one of Santa’s elves who got on the naughty list and ran away south to run for office. Or maybe not, but just to be safe, Socky wouldn’t advise signing any magick contracts with the crafty Attorney General. Donnie already learned the hard way when Session recused himself from the Mueller investigation. “Perhaps,” the potential fairy drawls, “ah, our associates at Breitbart could find a link between the Mexican aliens and the, ah, medical marijuana movement, all funded by the Deep State…”

With those words heads around the room begin to nod, accepting this new reality before it’s even taken final shape. Whatever else their issues, Socky has been pleased to find the GOP understands so well what a tyrant must: the truth is irrelevant, so long as the people choose to believe whatever you tell them. That maxim served Socky well before in empires past, and today’s world is ripe for this particular reboot. What’s truth in 2018’s America when a more creative interpretation of reality lets you stick it to those elitist liberal snowflake cucks on the coasts?

“Why,” Sessions rambles on, “then we might have to use our, ah, powers of civil forfeiture to prevent foreign governments from helping the aliens hook people on, ah, unapproved drugs. Why, we might have to lock those weed-injecting liberals up in private prisons that we, ah, may or may not own; I do nahhhht recall.” From the look on Sessions’ face, he has what passes in an elderly Republican’s world for a hard-on. Is it just about money and power for the AG? Or perhaps Socky is right, and Sessions is the kind of elf who prefers to take people’s presents away. “If y’all reckoned to do something like that.”

“The war on drugs is one of our most important wars,” John Bolton adds from his corner.

“Real Americans drink beer and get in bar fights,” pipes up one of the lobbyists in the back of the room. “You can’t trust those socialists who smoke marijuana and get all lovey-dovey with the rest of the world.” Other voices form a chorus of support. “Maybe it could be aliens. Illegal aliens. From Mexico and Canada. Maybe. My foundation would be happy to do an ad campaign about the issue with your support, Mister President.”

Socky notes the lobbyist—tall, freckled and ginger-haired, dressed in a blue suit and red tie. Too low on his particular pole to be a potential host, but perhaps a useful tool. Socky will have Donnie look up the man’s name later.

But it seems Socky’s current host has heard enough. “I want a fresh report on Mueller on my desk Monday when I get back from playing golf,” Donnie announces. It’s Tuesday, by the way, but don’t bother telling him that. “Nobody plays golf like me. One time I got in a fight on a golf course with Adam Sandler and I won, you know I beat him so hard into that green, and he said, he said. You know what I said the other day to you, but, why are you still here. Now get out of here before I fire you all. I’ll fire you like I fired James Comey for his crooked witch hunt. I could do this without any of you, believe me.”

The legion of worried asskissers files from the Oval Office, and the president is left alone to sink back into his chair. Well, alone with Socky, but Socky never leaves his host nowadays. Back when Donnie began the campaign he only wore his secret weapon once in a while, during debates and whenever he needed a boost. Bonding with Socky gave Donnie a rush, a high not even the natural psychotic overconfidence of his full-blown narcissistic personality disorder could match. As Donnie squared off against first the other Republican hopefuls in the primaries, then Hillary Clinton in the general, he wore Socky more and more often, even days at a time. They’ve been inseparable since the breathless night Donnie won the election, nearly two years ago.

Not that many realize anything supernatural is up with the president; no one would guess the truth. It sounds too ridiculous. Socky’s powers prevent the unwanted from noticing his presence in person, and he doesn’t show up at all in pictures or video. Which is fortunate, as it’s far too late for Donnie to remove Socky by his own will, and Socky would be loathe to give up his host with plots unrealized. Socky’s scaly green tendrils have wormed their way into Donnie’s forearm and wrapped round his muscles and arteries, nourishing this unholy parasite via links to his human stooge both corporeal and spiritual. The diminutive size of Donnie’s hands has unfortunately made the link between them weaker than it should be, which neuters both Socky’s control of and nourishment from the president. That’s still minor among the other issues Socky has dealt with during their relationship. Truth be told, Socky’s had plenty flashbacks to Nero since he met Donnie. Sometimes self-destructive tyrants are more trouble than they’re worth as hosts. Still Socky clings to this flabby orange forearm, hoping to turn the dotard to his advantage.

“None of them understand,” Donnie complains once the room is empty. “That’s the problem with always hiring people dumber than you, believe me. I have one of the great minds, very big IQ, very great round number, I hear lots of people saying. I heard an article; I don’t read the paper, but people tell me, people read the paper and they tell me. This article, very famous article, it said I hit a triple every time I go to bat, like I was born there. I don’t know what that means, I play golf, I am the best golfer, three strokes on a putt is a very good golf score, everyone says so. Everyone is saying we’re going to make this country great again. We’re going to take it back from the aliens and losers. Those losers don’t get it.”

“Sad,” Socky agrees.

To look at Socky (assuming you rolled a twenty on your will save and could see him when he didn’t want you to) he appears to be a puppet made from a white, blue-fringed tube sock, albeit one speaking from a suspiciously realistic maw. Genocidal urges dance within his ivory bubble eyes. A cute sock puppet sized red MAGA hat rest atop Socky’s head, a recent addition since he took his latest host. With hosts of previous eras he’s worn a pickelhaube, laurels, a top hat, face paint, whatever fit the fashion and time of the arm that bore him. No need for the host’s mouth to move when Socky speaks; his voice is his own, high-pitched and clear, normally able to overrun the mutterings of s/he who bears this “puppet” on their hand. Most the time it’s Socky’s words that come out the host’s mouth, once the bond is strong enough.

Truth is, Socky predates all his hosts. Once upon a beforetime, while the Universe was yet to be scattered and born, a fluctuation like the Oneness Beyond Time having a belly gurgle created the Eldest Ones. You may have heard of some of them, as the more flamboyant among their number tend to attract attention in their doings. There was Ganesha, and Eris, and the ever-squabbling Yahweh and Lucifer, and Shiva, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and others. Among the less famous was Socky, who preferred to feed on suffering unnoticed. After all these powerful beings were born, Non-Existence got a bit crowded. To make room, the Oneness expanded with a great boom, and the Multiverse was born.

Ever since, Socky has wandered between endless dimensions, taking different hosts on different worlds in different realities with different laws of physics, feasting on an all you can eat buffet of bad juju throughout the Multiverse. This particular Universe was blessed with Socky’s presence about 23,000 years ago, way out in the boonies of the Milky Way on a planet called Earth. (That means “dirt” in the language of the people who live there, which might explain how they mostly treat the planet.) You may be familiar with it. Much to Socky’s chagrin, he’s been stuck here on Earth all these centuries, relying on a succession of primitive human hosts into modern times. A broken succession; there have been what mortals would consider long gaps between some of Socky’s active periods. But that’s another story for another time.

What’s important to know is that in our reality, Socky appears as an evil sock puppet who latches onto hosts and uses them to fulfill his dark ambitions, because quantum fluctuations are weird like that. Once you start hopping between dimensions with different concepts of space and time, you never know what you’re going to get on the other side or what form you’re going to come out in, even if you are a godlike being whose existence technically predates actual Existence.

“I know what you should do,” Socky says, plucking at a familiar chord and hoping his host will finally catch on to the tune. “You should burn them all.”

Donnie’s eyes squint in what might be thought. “Yeah..” He nods as if he understands what the eternal being encasing his hand is getting at. “I should burn them. I’m the best burner.”

“It’s in your power as president,” Socky presses, “any time you want. Just say the word.”

“Yeah. Burn them all. I say the word. Burn. That’s a word, everyone says so; I made that word just now, burn. Nobody used that word like that before me. People say I have the covfefest words, believe me.”

Hope springs in Socky’s… well, he doesn’t have a heart, but you get what I mean. Except then instead of summoning the nuclear briefcase as Socky has been trying to get him to do the past two years, Donnie waddles to the toilet in the next room, lets his pants fall down round his pasty ankles, plops to the seat with a groan, whips out the very symbol of his manhood, and uses it to get on Twitter.

“I’ll burn them all good, like they tell me Barron wants to tell me about on the internet. Listen to this: Failing Democrats think aliens are on our side. Not enough to take our jobs, they want to burst out our chests. Melania’s chest was expensive. Sad losers want to ruin nice things we spend money on! #MAGA.” With a proud thrust of his multiple chins from his over-sized suit—purposefully too big, just as his tie is purposefully too long, in order to camouflage his gut and man tits—Donnie declares,See, I burned them bigly.”

Socky sighs, which Donnie takes as approval. He takes every reaction that isn’t blatant disagreement as approval. Except when he mistakes obvious agreement for disagreement and goes on a rant about it. That happens fairly often too.

“See, people are already saying my post is the best.” Donnie hefts his phone, the heaviest thing he lifts most days, so Socky can have a peek. Hundreds of Russian bots are already retweeting his latest diatribe. “I make the best posts. Look at everybody saying it. I hear failing Twitter was almost out of business before I came along. Done, they were done, everyone says so, but I turned it all around and now Twitter is making so much money, believe me.”

Next the president of the United States of America takes forty minutes of grunting to force out a cinder block of feces, all because he lives on fast food and refuses to eat vegetables. This morning’s Fox and Friends streams on a TV mounted to the wall across from the toilet; Donnie already watched it live as well, but he’ll watch the same episode two or three times a day just for the ego-stroking. (Jokes about him stroking something else to Ainsley Earhardt circulate the White House, except Donnie’s erections have been few and far between since the last time a B-list celebrity became a Republican president.) Socky takes the opportunity to nap, perchance to dream of how great the coming apocalypse will be. It’s only a matter of toughing it out a while longer, then sticking the landing. Patience, this horror from beyond time and space reminds himself. He won’t have to put up with this dumb asshole of a host forever.

Future generations, assuming the species survives the fallout from this administration, may doubt much of what Donnie’s contemporaries write about him. No one post-Axis politician could be that terrible, right? For posterity’s sake, let’s put the facts as straight as we can.

First, know that everything bad you’ve heard about this man is likely true, especially if it paints him as stupid, vain, and petty, as these are his chief character traits. Were Donnie born as poor as the bulk of his supporters, he would roll coal in a loud, lifted twenty year old truck with racing stripes and flashing neon light strips masking dents and rust, Truck Nutz swinging below his “I’m not compensating, I swear”-themed bumper stickers. The rebel battle flag would definitely appear somewhere on the vehicle, possibly waving from a pole in the bed. In this alternate dimension, Donnie would make maybe $11 an hour at a succession of low skill jobs that he was constantly being fired from. He would still be as massively in debt from endless terrible decisions as he is in our Universe (but he would have a harder time hiding the fact), and his ex-wives would all be much fatter. All of this would be to blame on other people who were jealous of how great he was, should you make the mistake of asking his opinion.

Lucky for Donnie, if not the rest of humanity, in our Universe he inherited a fortune from his daddy, who was a real estate tycoon when he wasn’t spreading terror with the Klu Klux Klan. Despite Donnie’s best efforts, he’s been unable to squander all of his inheritance over a lifetime of bad decisions. That isn’t really his fault—the man’s businesses have declared bankruptcy six times. Over the years he’s failed to sell Americans football, steaks, phony diplomas, and get-rich-quick schemes, hard as that may be to believe. He even lost money on a casino, which is almost statistically impossible.

But regardless of your terrible decisions it’s also nearly impossible to go broke in early 21st century America once you hit that 1% lottery. Modern America is a socialist paradise of endless safety nets and bailouts for the rich, and rabid “Too bad, should have been born rich if you didn’t want to be poor” laissez-faire capitalism for everyone else. Donnie is Exhibit A for where having rich parents and a household name can get you even if you’re the biggest fuck-up alive. Among his personal claims to fame are a shitty reality TV show, guest appearances in professional wrestling, epic meltdowns on Twitter, and his ongoing fascination with the idea that the first black president of the United States was somehow illegitimate for reasons that surely have nothing to do with his skin color. Well, and more recently, committing treason by partnering with the Russians against the interests of the American government he’s supposed to be leading.

In short, Donnie is just Paris Hilton with a lamer catchphrase, worse hair, and smaller hands. Not to mention he’s uglier inside and out.

Thanks to a fluke in the electoral college, despite losing the 2016 nationwide popular vote by around three and a half million,* he’s also currently President of the United States of America. And he’s flushing the country down the toilet faster than he can manage to get rid of yesterday’s bucket of KFC with four extra gravies.

(*Socky has heard Donnie claim several times that there were “more than three million illegal votes” in the 2016 election. Everyone who had anything to do with counting those votes disagrees, as does every investigator the GOP appointed to look into the matter. Still Donnie insists he really won the popular vote if you get rid of the “illegal” votes. One time Socky overheard a staffer try to explain in small words that “These so-called illegal votes don’t exist, Mister President,” to which Donnie emphatically responded, “See, this guy gets it!”)

Once executive time is finished (a.k.a. Fox & Friends is over), Donnie sits in on a meeting with HHS and ICE. For some crazy unforeseen reason, the exasperated federal workers try to explain to Donnie, snatching toddlers from their parents and throwing them alone into concentration camps is unpopular with the masses. When clear and simple sentences won’t drive the point home, the workers pull out colorful charts. “Look at Mexico on there,” Donnie critiques a map of Honduras and Guatemala. “Mexico is red because they’re socialist. El Chapsocobra is a socialist, very smart people are saying, very mean to GI Joe. Mexico is red like China, very weak color red. When I won the election, very great victory, everyone says, they say when I won it was red states, all the map red, all but some little parts that don’t count. Very fine color red, believe me.”

Tell themz d’e komplaints are fakez news, spread by d’e dishonest me-diaz,” Socky suggests in his best impression of Vladimir Putin.

Donnie immediately parrots Socky’s words sans fake Russian accent, and the rest of the room blinks back at him. With most hosts Socky would send telepathic commands through the bond and hear his own words fall from his host’s lips. The simplistic neural structure of Donnie’s brain seems to be an accidental shield against such direct control. Manipulating this latest host may become the greatest challenge in Socky’s eschaton-kickstarting career. Luckily, Socky discovered months ago that Donnie will repeat anything he’s commanded to say using Vladimir Putin’s voice, and Socky excels at impressions.

“Sir, with all, uh…” A short man in a blue jacket tugs at his collar. From HHS, Socky believes. “All, um, due respect, Mister, um, President…? We have state governors making complaints. There are already several lawsuits filed, and—”

“I’m hungry,” Donnie interrupts. “Meeting adjourneyed, which means you all have to leave. Hope? Where’s Hope?” he calls to no one in particular as expensive suits stuffed with stress and disappointment file out of the room. “Someone tell Hope I need her to make a run to McDonald’s.”

Sitting beside Donnie, Vice President Pence reluctantly turns his chair. The best way Socky can describe Mike Pence is to imagine you squished Anderson Cooper just a bit—and also made him deeply ashamed, and even more deeply in denial, about his innate sexuality. “Miss Hicks quit months ago, after she testified to the House Intelligence Committee about the, ah, FBI witch hunt.”

“Very fuckable, Hope Hicks, but not as fuckable as Ivanka,” Donnie responds. Or maybe he’s responding. Sometimes Socky’s unsure whether Donnie actually participates in conversations, or if the gibberish that pours from those pale dead slugs he calls lips only seems connected to what others say around him because he habitually adopts the opinions of whomever he spoke to last. Talking to Donnie can be like trying to have a conversation with an AI through an online chat program. “Tell Omarosa I want some fish delight.”

“You had a screaming match with Omarosa and threw her out of the White House months ago.”

“Well, tell her she’s fired. Then get Steven Bannon and—”

“Called you names and went back to Breitbart.”

“Okay, Paul Manafort. Paul and I go way back, great guy, ran my campaign when everyone said we couldn’t win, even though I was the most popular candidate that ever ran for president, everybody says so, believe me. Paul used to live in my building, lived in Trump Tower for years and we saw each other every day; we made many deals together, very big deals. Made a lot of money working with Putin in Ukraine, he told me all about it. One of the great minds, besides me, everyone says; great mind, good personal friend of mine, Paul Manafort. Send him to McDonald’s. He knows what I order.”

VP Pence doesn’t bother to hide his sigh. “Mister, ah, President, sir, Paul Manafort is sitting in a federal prison and facing over 300 years on charges related to working for the Russians. The witch hunters say he had something to do with Russia invading Ukraine before he worked for you.”

“Never heard of him,” Donnie announces and throws his tiny hands in the air. Socky has gotten used to these sudden jolts, but he’ll never enjoy them. Good thing he doesn’t have a stomach, or the nausea Socky gets from Donnie’s wild gesticulations might have messy consequences. “I don’t know why you keep bringing up these people I’ve never heard of,” Donnie whines. “It’s very unfair, very unfair to me. Why would you assume I know these unimportant people nobody ever heard of like Paul Manafort? I want you to tell George that I want—”

“George Papadopoulos already pleaded guilty.”

“Terrible name, Parseldorfaldus. I wouldn’t know since I never met him, but very low energy, Pavalomidong. Every time we talked, no energy. Not like me, I save my energy, never exercise so I don’t waste it. Send Rick, he knows what I like.”

“Rick Gates?” Pence casts his gaze about the emptying conference room as if hoping someone will come save him from the conversation. Probably his wife… er, “Mother”… in Socky’s experience. Far as Socky can tell, Vice President Pence operates his daily life with the same level of independence from his wife as the average four year has from mommy, and with about the same level of introspection over his doings, let alone empathy for others. Not that the latter bothers Socky; it’s just that he’s seen Pence’s dull eyes on men running ovens in death camps. Such a man can be useful, kept in his place. That said, Socky has been uncomfortable to notice how the vice president pitches a tent each time Paul Ryan pays a visit, but that’s a whole other topic. “Rick Gates pleaded guilty and turned state’s witness in the baseless witch hunt.”

“Fake Rick! Rob Porter?”

“Left because the media found out he was a wife beater.”

“Biased liberal media, discriminating against American shirts. Rex Tillerson?”

“Called you a, uh, fucking moron, end quote, and quit.”

“My lawyer, Michael Cohen. Loyal for years, my old fixer, Cohen. Send him.”

“You dropped him as your lawyer after he got raided by the FBI.”

For christ sake, DAH-nold,” Socky finally speaks up in the Putin voice. “Just makez Sarah do eet, like rest ov d’e dirty vorkz.”

“Make Sarah do it,” Donnie repeats. Happy to finally hear the name of someone who still works for them, the VP immediately orders an aide to track down the press secretary so she can order one of her aides to drive to McDonald’s for the president’s lunch. “Nailed it,” Donnie says and plods back to the Oval Office. Soon as he’s back behind his usual desk he pulls out his phone and goes to Twitter. “Getting… fish delite… for… dinner,” he verbalizes as he pecks at the on-screen keyboard. “MA…GA. Not mafia. Fake spellcheck. MA…G… Not mama. I think the China is hacking my phone to make my spelling not good. M… A…

(As it happens, the Chinese government is one of several dozen groups currently monitoring the president’s unsecured smart phone, though they’re hardly using that access to sneak typos into his tweets. Like so many of his generation, Donnie’s understanding of the digital world leans more toward superstition than science. Being an immortal cosmic horror from beyond this reality, Socky isn’t particularly savvy about internet security either. Mostly he views Twitter as a waste of time that could be better spent annihilating all life on Earth with nuclear hellfire.)

With Socky residing over his left hand, Donnie finds it easier to lay his phone on his desk so he can hunt and peck his way through tweets with his stubby right forefinger. Smart phones are new since last time Socky raised hell on Earth, but he’s seen others use them one-handed. Most can manage to type by thumb with the phone in one’s palm. Maybe Donnie’s hands are just too small, his fingers too stout.

“Look at all my retweets,” Donnie coos to himself as he scrolls down the page. “Number one on Twitter, most popular; it was a contest but everyone knew I would win, very big poll, most voters ever. Everyone loves my Twitter, except people who don’t want the truth, fake Americans like Hillary Clinton and that kid crying on the magazine cover next to me. Those are crisis actors, believe me, I know actors and these are fake immigrant kids; but the rest they say I’m the bigliest tweeter, my page is very popular, believe me.”

If anyone notices Donnie does everything with one hand, nobody says anything. Maybe they assume he had a secret stroke years ago; that would explain some things. To most onlookers, Donnie’s left hand is a match for the right; no one Donnie comes into contact with is powerful enough in the right arts to see Socky’s true form unbidden. Donnie seems not to worry about the sacrifice of his appendage, and early on only worried that someone would notice. Now it’s like he doesn’t give the loss a thought because nobody else can see anything different about him.

No one disturbs Donnie for what feels like hours; it’s executive time again. Nobody bothers getting the president involved in actual governing anymore unless it’s legally necessary. Everyone working in the White House has already learned that lesson the hard way. Though Socky’s noticed that getting things done around here has gotten progressively more difficult since nobody worth a damn wants to work in Donnie’s White House anymore. Outside Donnie’s family, even the usual asskissers have mostly fallen away in recent months.

“Have you ever thought of what it would be like,” Socky makes about his zillionth attempt just to pass the time, “how good it would feel to watch them all burn?”

“I’m burning them now, all of them, so much burning, you wouldn’t believe it how much.” Donnie’s squinty view stays locked on the phone screen as he prattles. “Ask Rocket Man about burning, I burned him. I made peace with North Korea, nobody thought I could but I proved them wrong, many pictures of handshakes. Now all their rockets are for peace, Rocket Man pinkie swore. So I’m sending him this Elton John record. Can I not burn them, everyone says I burn the best. I burn the best, they all say.”

“Yes, we should burn North Korea.” Socky grins, sensing an opportunity. So far Donnie’s Twitter feuds haven’t amounted to much strategically—well, not in Socky’s favor, anyway—but if he could lure Kim Jong-un into another spat… “I hear Rocket Man is trying to back out of the deal we made, to make a bad deal with us on the nuclear.” Hey, Socky has learned that sometimes you have to play to your audience. “We have to be strong and decisive. We have to burn them, not just with words, but with actions. Like a strong man. Everyone will think we’re such a strong man then. All we have to do is…”

Socky leaves the words hanging in the air, waiting for Donnie to claim them. To utter them, and make real the spell. Does he see those slug lips squirm apart to form that buh sound? To finally take up the purpose for which Socky made him what he is today? For the briefest instant Socky feels the eschaton coming, manifesting in the Oval Office—

Then the door opens, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders creeps through with her eyes on the carpet. To envision Sanders, imagine the kids from South Park standing on one another’s shoulders to fill out a dress, with Cartman wearing a wig and make-up to play the head. Chief of Staff John Kelly follows, shoulders already tense walking into the room.

“Oh, goddammit!” Socky howls.

“Mister president,” Kelly begins.

“LoOk,” Sanders butts in. “We have bad news about your McDonald’s.”

Donnie’s insomnia-creased eyes glare up from his phone in a sudden rage. “What? Where’s my fish delight and burgers? Sauces?”

“Mister president.” Sanders gives Donnie her famous smokey eye. “Let me make it clear that we made every attempt to get your fishwich. We—”

Donnie plops to his feet, jowls stretched in rage as he screams, “Where. Is. My. FISH. DELIGHT!?” Socky wavers at the end of Donnie’s arm as, far as the human onlookers can see, the president clenches both his adequate fists in rage.

“I have to refer you to my previous statement, as I feel I was clear before.” The words are out of Sanders’ mouth before she can think about them. Then she realizes she’s addressing her boss—well, technically—and not the press corps. “LoOk, we sent an aide to the McDonald’s you like, but, ah…” So unused to telling the truth for the president, Sanders finds herself unsure whether she’s supposed to tell the truth to the president.

“If I may.” It’s amazing to Socky that John Kelly still tries. Driving a wedge between Donnie and his fun-ruining Chief of Staff was the easiest part of Socky’s plot; practically happened without his help, in retrospect. Whenever Socky sees John Kelly he can feel in the air how much the man hates his job, a negative charge like static electricity making his cotton threads stand up. “Sir,” Kelly attempts, “the employees at your usual McDonald’s—”

“The good one,” Donnie interjects, “without all the Mexicans.”

“—They figured out from your tweets what you order and when,” Kelly keeps on going. Socky can almost respect this human, if just for his composure. Dutiful to the end, even when that end is so clearly bitter. Another type Socky finds useful. “The employees refused to serve anyone working for you. They wouldn’t make your food.” Still the president gapes at him, citrus jowls twitching as Donnie thinks through what that means. “There isn’t…” Kelly pauses. “You don’t get fish delight today, Mister President.”

“Why don’t you sit down?” suggests Socky, who can sense the vein bulging in Donnie’s neck.

Donnie plops into his one-of-a-kind special executive chair (that Steve Bannon bought at Office Depot and spray-painted gold). With the intricately carved Resolute desk hiding Donnie’s gut so he has some illusion of posture, the Great Seal of the United States emblazoned on the carpet stretching between him and his nervous audience, Donnie looks… just as ridiculous as he always does. Like an orange Muppet who wished on a magic star that he could be a real boy. Socky can’t do much to help that. When Donnie is mad his chin sinks halfway down his neck, and gravity stretches the white sacks beneath his petty eyes. “I want everyone in here. Now.”

Into the Oval Office they plod, nameless aides and lobbyists and Secret Service agents, the girl who answers the phone; the Vice President joins Sanders and Kelly. Donnie stares them all down, dull eyes squinting in what he probably thinks is his hard face. The worst thing Socky could do right now is say something and spoil the moment. The room fills, and they wait. They all know it’s coming.

“How could you do this to me,” Donnie begins, baby carrot finger wagging in the air. “So much, I’ve given so much to all of you, to this company—”

“Country,” Socky reminds him.

“—Company, run the country like a company I said, I came up with that. I have been very successful, just like with all my businesses. They did a poll, and usually the media is very dishonest but this one time they got it right, and I am the #1 country and company runner of all time.” You probably don’t need Socky to tell you there is no such poll. “I give so much and I’m so popular, but you can’t bring me any fish delight. Very disappointing, very weak. Weak, nobody calls me weak. I open my pill bottles all by myself. Everybody says—you know what they say—yesterday I was saying to Ivanka, and—have you seen her, fantastic tits, very professionally done, like her mother’s—I should know because I’ve seen so many tits at beauty pageants. Tits are always better when they’re 15 or 16; by the time they hit 18 they’re already saggy, going bad—Bad like Hillary’s emails,” he recovers, perhaps remembering what audience he’s addressing. Not even Socky can tell. “Have I told you how crooked the media is in all this? Very unfair, believe me.”

As so often happens anymore in the Oval Office, people stare at their feet and maybe glance at one another, but nobody dares say a word. Jesus, Socky thinks, it’s only been maybe three hours since the last time he went off. How are they not used to this by now? Socky wonders if his life has fallen into a rut since he sunk his tendrils into Donnie’s flesh.

Finally the girl who answers the phones, a blonde with a Georgia drawl, is the one out of all of them with the courage to break the silence. “What about a fish?”

“I WANT MY FISH DELIGHT!” Donnie pounds his desk with both fists. Or he would, if Socky wasn’t encasing one of them. Didn’t remember that time! Oh, gods, that is one sturdy desk. Wonderful as that felt, things get even better when Donnie’s arms begin their dance through the air to punctuate his tantrum, and Socky’s world goes to tilts and shakes.

“Keep your goddamn arms still!” Socky yells as he whips past Donnie’s face.

“They are being very mean to me,” Donnie dribbles on. Thankfully, he cools the gesticulations. “Very mean and unfair. This is bullshit! I bet Mueller already knows the Chewcobra and the aliens gave the FBI tools to cheat and spy on me. That’s how they know who works for me and what I order. I want somebody on this.”

“Mister president, I’m still not sure…” John Kelly persists.

“Excuse me,” butts in a man in a grey suit and dark glasses. How do these strangers keep getting in here? “I know someone who does that sort of thing, local. He takes cases other people won’t, weird stuff. Used to be FBI, but doesn’t get along with most feds anymore.” Now who is this? Socky isn’t sure. So many people wander in and out of the Oval Office every week. If Socky had a guess, he’d say this one’s from Blackwater or Academi or whatever they’re calling themselves to avoid bad press this month. Then again he could just as well be the lobbyist from Disney for all Socky knows.

“Good, hire that guy,” Donnie decides without need for further information. “Pay him cash. Now everyone get out of my office, very busy, very important. Somebody order me a bucket of KFC and make sure I get extra gravies with my potatoes. And extra biscuits. And tell someone to bring me a Coke. Now I have very important things to do, solving the nuclear and beating NATO, believe me.”

Happy to be excused before Donnie goes into another spiel, the throng files out the doors to rooms adjacent. Once the Oval Office is hollowed, Donnie dials a familiar number on his phone and taps his free fingers on the desk while it rings. This again, Socky sighs to himself.

“Hello, who’s this?” answers Robert Mueller III, who knows damn well who’s calling him at this number. Mueller seems to know plenty about the president. Too much for Socky’s taste. Socky misses the age when a ruler could hack the head off anyone who got suspicious without making anyone else suspicious in the process. Life was simpler in Earth’s good old days.

“I need you to tell people there was no collusion!” Donnie demands of the special prosecutor. “And you’re fired!”

“There was definitely collusion,” Mueller responds, massaging his temples back in his office across town. “And no I’m not.”

“No collusion!”

“Collusion.”

“No collusion!”

“Collusion.”

“No collusion, you liberal traitor!”

The lifetime Republican and former head of the FBI sighs across the line. “There was no collusion.”

“THERE WAS COLLUSION!” Donnie screams. “AND I’M FIRED!” As the hamster runs on the wheel in Donnie’s head and his brain processes what just happened, Donnie’s jowls drop. “Oh, you’re dispensi—, dispsoapa—, very bad and unfair.”

“I would say ‘What a maroon,’” Mueller responds, “but you’re more of a tangerine.” The line goes dead. It’s not like Donnie’s going to think of a comeback anyway.

“THAT’S IT!” Donnie pounds the desk, though to Socky’s relief only with his free fist this time. “I’m going to tell them all off like they never heard before! I am the boss! Nobody gets me to tell me I’m fired, I tell people they’re fired! I’m in charge!” Donnie reaches for his phone, to let the internet know his most intimate thoughts one hashtag at a time, as he has so many times before. To continue this endless cycle of ignorant rage, of neverending deflection from one embarrassment to the next.

Yet hope burns eternal in Socky’s eldritch core, so he attempts once more: “You should burn them all.” Donnie is already navigating to Twitter, yet Socky persists. “No, really burn them all. In a way that only you can. Isn’t it time somebody put them all in their place, below your feet? Isn’t it time you took your place? Your will is their fate. Burn them.

“Really… burn… them all?” Donnie plops back in his chair. At last he seems to grasp the idea Socky has been hinting at all these months. Oh, it always had to be Donnie’s idea in the end; that’s the only way Socky can work his deepest magicks; and do you know how hard it is to make this dumb asshole Socky chose for a host have an idea of his own? Especially an idea like “I’m going to start a nuclear war.” For a glorious moment Donnie sits still in his special executive chair, reflecting on the possible consequences of his actions for the first time in his life.

And Socky knows he has him, at long last. The time has come.

Donnie stands free of his executive chair, lets all his weight pound down on his calcium-deficient ankles, and opens a drawer in the Resolute desk that has gone ignored since his first day on the job.

Then another. Then finally the drawer he’s looking for. If Socky had breath, it would catch. Donnie’s stubby fingers reach for the metal case that houses the…

“Ow!” Donnie jumps back, and Socky sways with his arm. “It shocked me! Everyone saw it shocked me!” Donnie shouts at the drawer. “I know where you live, electricity. Fake power!”

No, he can’t lose focus now! Not when they’re this close, after all these months. Why is Donnie taking off his pants? Desperate, Socky tries the Putin voice: “You shouldz burn them allz, DAH-nold, burn—”

“Fuck you, fake power!” Donnie screams and jams his penis into the nearest electrical socket.

As any 8 year old could predict, this gives Donnie a shock that blows him onto his back.

Just then the door opens and the girl who answers phones announces, “Here’s your Coke, Mister Pre—” Said Coke drops from her hand unopened. The can rolls across the Great Seal rug till it rests beside the president, who’s spread eagle with dick still in hand. “It almost looks big because it’s in his hand,” she notes before she can stop herself. Then louder: “Hey, um, somebody?” Secret Service rushes in, and paramedics follow.

Unnoticed by anyone in the crowd, Socky broods as he watches the commotion from Donnie’s wrist. He was so close that time.

The paramedics have Donnie up in a jiffy, surprised at how resilient the president seems given his weight and stress levels. Once Socky has his tendrils in someone a while, the host becomes almost impossible to kill. Donnie’s bond with Socky will keep him alive even if he keeps pulling stunts like this. Of course, Socky never leaves a host alive once they’ve served their purpose; an ancient cosmic horror has his pride, after all.

“The crooked FBI rigged my power,” Donnie is already saying as the medics carry him down the hall in a stretcher.

No, Donny’s safety is of no concern. What worries Socky is how oblivious Donnie seems to even the darkest manipulations. It’s not that Donnie is a good person by any means—he’s one of the most terrible people Socky has ever met, and Socky has killed quintillions alongside the worst the Multiverse can serve up. Most of those fiends had some redeemable features to them, some inner drive that brought them to power before power utterly corrupted them in turn. But Donnie? Donnie was born to wealth and power, built a brand around the idea that he was self-made, cheated and lied his way through constant failures, and bought his own hype somewhere along the way. He got into office on an 18th century technicality buried in the heart of US electoral law. From what Socky’s seen—and Socky has seen it all—Donnie’s used his office to advance his personal pettiness and greed whenever possible because a lifetime’s experience as a spoiled brat taught him that he won’t face consequences. And never mind all the things Socky’s heard Donnie say to Putin in private. All of this would make Donnie the perfect host, if only he wasn’t such a goddamn idiot.

Lying on an enormous gut while nurses poke and prod his host, Socky laments that the moment always feels so close, yet ever slips away again. What’s more, Socky senses other forces at work here in Washington, DC. Those forces have been faint till now, but their power is growing. How could it be that this opportunity for apocalypse should feel so preordained, and yet go unfulfilled? Impossible as it seems, Socky can feel his chance slipping farther away daily. If Donnie is going to set off the eschaton, it has to be soon.

What will it take? Socky asks himself, asks the lights on the ceiling, asks this silent Universe he wandered into millennia ago and has been trapped within ever since. He gets no answer. What do I have to do to make him push the button, so I can finally get out of this lame dimension?

“I thought I told someone to bring me a Coke,” Donnie bellows at the nearest nurse, and aides leap to head off the president’s next tantrum.

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