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Chapter 38
October 15, 2017

It's the End of the World as We Know It, And I Feel...Like Ordering Takeout [ARNS]

by MARA VERHEYDEN-HILLIARD, Alternate Reality News Service War/Disasters Writer

The greatest fireworks display in the history of the world happened yesterday. Most people just think of it as a nuclear war, but many of the survivors considered it the best light show since they closed the planetarium in their city/state/country/continent.

It started innocently enough: United States of Vesampucceri President Ronald McDruhitmumpf got the munchies while he was tweeping in the middle of the night and decided to order Chinese food. He must have dialled the wrong number, though, because he was connected to North Korean Gentleman President Dictator Kimsongfaluson Mah-Jhongg. President McDruhitmumpf insisted on ordering General Tso's Chicken, which Gentleman President Dictator Kimsongfaluson interpreted as an insult to his military. The exchange got heated, and eventually nuclear.

It seems likely that North Korea fired first, requiring the United States to retaliate. China, seeing much of its border with Korea destroyed, retaliated against the Vesampuccerian retaliation. As the United States retaliated against China's retaliation retaliation, Israel, assuming that the nuclear exchange was about them, dropped nukes on surrounding Arab nations. Meanwhile, the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, realizing that its nuclear arsenal would go for nothing if it wasn't used right away, bombed Panama, South Africa and Luxembourg.

"That will teach those Luxey bastards!" Fenwick's Prime Minister Rupert Mountkilamanjoy cackled maniacally just before he drifted into a coma.

North Korea's lonely little nuclear missile tried to make it to the Vesampuccerian mainland, really, it did: it thought it could, it thought it could, but, no, in the end it couldn't, so it landed on Ottawa, Canada instead. Washburningdington was levelled in the first volley of rockets from China; President McDruhitmumpf survived because he was working at his Mara-Lara-Dingdong resort at the time the bombs started dropping. "People complained that I was spending too much time away from the Grey House," he gloated. "Well, who looks like a loser, now?"

The President was confident that the United States of Vesampucceri would be able to rebuild. "Okay, sure, California dropped into the ocean and New York is a smouldering pile of rubble. But, on the plus side, that's just that much less opposition to my agenda. Which has changed, by the way. Oh, yeah. Now, it's: 'Make Vesampucceri Function Again.' Got a ring, doesn't it? It'll look great on a baseball cap!"

A slightly the worse for being charred Senate Minority Leader Chuckie Schumaihargowmer (the other two Senate survivors were Reduhblicans, so even a nuclear war didn't shift the balance of power, although divisions within the much diminished ruling party remain strong) coughed. Coughed loud. Coughed long. We'll assume for the sake of argument that it was a cough of disapproval, although it could simply have been a sign of immanent congestive lung failure. Coughs can be surprisingly uncommunicative that way.

"You comin' fer my Pez dispenser collection?" said an Iowa farmer who would only identify himself as "Billy-Bo-Jo-Bob" as he brandished a shotgun in my direction. "Cuz that may be the only nutrition fer miles around, and I ain't sharin'!"

I assured him I was just a humble journalist come to ask somebody who voted for President McDruhitmumpf what he thought of the man's performance, you know, given the destruction of the world and all. Not lowering the shotgun a micron, Billy-Bo-Jo-Bob answered, "That there President McDruhitmumpf said he was gonna sap the sewer. I didn't think it would take a nucular war to do it, but I do believe he has kept his campaign promise. So, good for him. Now, are you gonna get offen my land, or do I have to introduce your backside to some Prime, Grade A Vesampuccerian buckshot?"

Did the escalating war of words between President McDruhitmumpf and Gentleman President Dictator Kimsongfaluson lead to a situation where a minor disagreement about a midnight snack could end in the annihilation of the world? If so, the President has no regrets. With a shrug, he said, "Sure, I would have settled for sweet and sour pork ribs. But, that would have made me look weak in the eyes of the guy taking orders at the Chinese restaurant. When it comes to the food you put in your mouth, there can be no compromise!"

[EDITRIX-IN-CHIEF'S NOTE: You may be relieved to note that all of the Alternate Reality News Service reporters on Earth Prime 1-6-6-5-8-2 dash omega survived the nuclear blast. I'm not - damn cockroaches! - but you may be. My intention was to leave them there to survive the nuclear winter while replacing them with much more eager - and cheaper - new recruits. Unfortunately, Pops Moobley pointed out the clause in our contract with the reporters' which clearly states, "Management shall be estopped from leaving employees to survive nuclear winter and replacing them with much more eager - and cheaper - new recruits." Killjoy unions! So, we have relocated all of our reporters 1,237 universes to the left charm (Earth Prime 1-6-7-1-8-2 dash psi for you multiverse nerds); it is exactly the same as this universe, but without all of the worldwide death and destruction. In the multiverse, we can do stuff like that. If that's clear, you'll have to excuse me - I need to slap some sense into whoever negotiated our contract with the reporters' union!]

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