Episode 1: The Campaign, by Arod Serling*
Opening scene: Rural state rally, small town folks and area farmers in attendance. A candidate for office is at the podium. To the left of the stage are two of his aides.
Candidate: “If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of ’em, would you? Seriously. OK? Just knock the hell—I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise. I promise.”
Cut to Narrator standing at undetermined location, presumably at the rally.
Narrator: The man at the podium has recently announced that he is running for the highest office in the land. The tall gentleman to the left of the stage is Michael who is attempting to control his candidate, a reality TV star. Next to Michael is a young intern named Billy. He wants to get some experience in political campaigns. They all think they will be heading to the nation’s capital when in fact, they are about to enter “The Twilight Zone.”
Fade to opening credits, theme music. The scene will resume at the same rally.
Candidate (speaking on his own popularity): “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
Billy (to Michael): Did he just say he could get away with murder?
Michael: All politicians are getting away with murder in one way or another.
Candidate (speaking about opponents): “How stupid are the people of Iowa? How stupid are the people of the country to believe this crap?”
Billy: I am unclear. What is he saying? The people of Iowa are stupid or the other candidates are speaking crap? (Pause) Both?
Michael: If you are unclear, so is everyone else. Don’t worry about it. We can spin it whatever way we want.
Candidate (speaking on ISIS): “I know more about ISIS than the generals do. Believe me.”
Billy: What could he know about ISIS that the generals don’t know?
Michael: Look, you ask too many questions. Just watch and learn. It’s all a television show and he’s the star. (pointing to the candidate on stage).
The candidate is giving the cheering crowd two thumbs up. Fade out for a commercial break. “The new Twilight Zone is brought to you by Preparation A, for those nasty flare-ups”
Episode resumes with quick shots of various rallies around the country.
Billy (to Michael in South Carolina): Did he just give out the real phone number of the opponent?
Michael (laughing): Yeah, that should generate some press.
Candidate (to crowd trying to eject protester in Missouri): “Part of the problem and part of the reason it takes so long is nobody wants to hurt each other anymore.”
Billy: More violence?
Michael: Whatever works!
Candidate (at another rally): “Do I look a president? How handsome am I, right? How handsome?” (Looking smugly at the crowd) “I feel like a supermodel except, like, times 10, OK? It’s true. I’m a supermodel.”
Cut to Billy shaking his head and Michael laughing.
Candidate (in New Hampshire): “That could be a Mexican plane up there. They’re getting ready to attack.”
Billy: That can’t possibly be a Mexican plane and they certainly are not going to attack.
Michael: The crowd doesn’t know that. You can say anything, no matter how outrageous, as long as you are willing to stick with your story.
Quick cuts to various rallies. The candidate is always looking smug and/or giving a thumbs up to the crowd. The crowds always seem to love whatever he has to say.
Scene: Hotel room at debate site. Michael and Billy our waiting anxiously for the event to begin.
Michael and Billy
Billy: I don’t have a good feeling about this. I mean he would not even practice for the debate. How can we get the message across if he is not prepared on the topics?
Michael: Don’t worry, if he doesn’t have an answer, he will just change the subject and throw some dirt on an opponent.
Billy: But some of those things he says are not true. That will not work in a debate.
Michael: Of course it will work. These are not real debates, they are reality TV shows and we have the star. Just watch.
Cut to the television studio where the debate is underway.
Candidate (replying to a Senator in the debate): “I never attacked him on his looks and believe me, there’s a lot of subject matter there.”
Cut Back at hotel room.
Michael: See Billy, he did not have to actually answer the Senator. And take a look at the Senator’s face. This is hilarious.
Cut to television studio.
Candidate (referring to female primary opponent): “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!”
Billy: Do you think insulting a woman like that is good? I mean, even if it is an opponent, people might get upset.
Michael: His fan base will eat this up and who cares what the others think. We are well on our way to success. A few more debates like this, a few more rallies and he will have the nomination. From there it is just a few easy steps to victory. I don’t think there is anyway we can screw this up now. The fans love us, we are getting a lot of press and the ratings are good. Best show in town!
Billy looks lost in thought for a moment. Then finally speaks.
Billy: I think I should leave the campaign now. It is not really what I expected.
“You can not leave the campaign now. You know too much…”
Michael (angry): You can not leave the campaign now. You know too much, and nobody likes it when someone can give away the magician’s tricks. Our candidate has a way of getting even with people who cross him. You are in this until the end. I wouldn’t bring this up again if I were you.
Camera settles on Billy’s astonished face as the Narrator speaks over this shot.
Narrator: Billy wanted to learn politics and make his way to the nation’s capital. Instead, he found a permanent address in The Twilight Zone.
*Arod Serling is also the Narrator and Executive Producer of this program.
Candidates quotes courtesy of: “The 155 Craziest Things Trump Said This Election,” Politico Magazine, November 05, 2016.
This short story originally appeared on SERENDIPITY (teepee12.com).