The ceiling fan creaks as its turgid blades spin half-heartedly. Gravity pulls close the stifling air, stretching it heavily across the sweat-ridden figure laid out upon the sofa like a corpse.
“Grooover…” it moans, scrabbling feebly at pinstriped fabric. “How did it come to this?”
The figure collapses again, spent, and silence settles once more upon the room. Save for the humble squeaking of the ceiling fan, all is still. It is curious, then, that the figure should have gone to such lengths to address an empty room; but who can know what thought flits through the head of that richly-dressed and languid form? Let us leave it to its ruminative huddling for the moment.
The room which it inhabits is expensively appointed, outfitted with the sort of furnishings designed to impress rather than satisfy. The dark purple carpet is impractically soft; the leather armchairs so deep one could sink in and be lost forever; and along the wall beside medieval paintings stand proud oak bookcases lined with dusty tomes unread in this life or any other. There is wealth in this room, and taste – but the sort of taste arrived at by well-funded trial and error. Here is intimidation by furniture, status carved from stately trees. One does not visit this room – one is suffered to be entertained.
“Grover…” comes the moan. “What happened to it all?”
This time, the figure’s plea does not go unanswered. The tall oak door swings inwards noiselessly, allowing through a short, bald man clad all in black. A true gentleman’s gentleman, he does not so much enter the room as insinuate himself into it gently, treading upon the impossibly soft carpet bearing a silver tray. Upon the tray is perched a frothing stein and a plain white card, steepled carefully in the middle.
“Master,” Grover says, “they have arrived.” Like the Red Sea before Moses, the fingers of the hand flung dramatically across the master’s face part slowly, and his rheumy eyes focus on the white card held before him. Then, the ancient orbs light up, glinting as they haven’t done for a year and more. The huddled figure struggles, bone-white soul patch wobbling on a weak, unsteady chin.
“Well, don’t just stand there, Grover! Send them in! But help me up first.” Pillows propped; frothing tonic administered, the master reclines upright as Grover ushers in the three awaited men, who approach the settee with measured steps and respectfully bowed heads. Luxuriously maintained beards sprout forth in bushy abundance from their three unshaven necks.
“After a year and a day, you, my three disciples, have returned. Tell me, what have you found upon your journeys?” The three disciples, dressed in fedoras and calf-length camo pants, exchange uneasy glances but do not respond. The master inspects each of them in turn, then addresses the youngest of the three. “Come, Brother Bluepill, what say you?” Brother Bluepill bows his head more deeply.
“Master, I have traveled across the world and seen all there is to see. I have attended comedy shows and variety nights of every flavor, across the many continents. Everywhere, it is the same.”
“What is the same, my brother?”
“The people laugh at women. Female participation in comedy has never been higher, and even our carefully-maintained culture of sexual discrimination cannot control it.”
“Troubling, indeed,” replies the master, stroking his soul patch thoughtfully. “Brother Trilby, I trust that you have better news?” Brother Trilby sucks the warm air sharply through his crooked teeth before responding.
“Master, I’m afraid I don’t. Our upper-class white male allies in world government are finding it harder and harder to assert authority. The people keep demanding obscene things like equal rights for women and recognition of minority groups. In some places, they even threaten to elect women to positions of leadership. Somehow, our grip is failing.”
“What?” quavers the master, flustered. “How could this be? We gave them supply-side economics and the chance to dial back society to the bloody 1950s, and they ask us for more? Ungrateful swine! Brother Smug!” barks the master, suddenly. “Report!” Brother Smug trembles slightly, all evidence of his namesake flushed before his master’s rage.
“Master, I bear even grimmer news. Everywhere, traditional gender norms are shifting. Individuals with the audacity to embrace pronouns we never gave them and, even worse, renounce the sacred gender dichotomy are not only being tolerated, but actively encouraged! I fear if we continue down this path, the entire basis of masculinity upon which our society’s survival depends will be destroyed.” Brother Bluepill and Trilby feel the blood drain from their faces, and even the master seems a little pale.
“Masculinity… threatened? No! We can’t allow it!” He collapses back upon the sofa, defeated.
“But master, what can we do?” chorus his disciples, discomfited by his reaction.
“Listen,” says the master, “I have not been idle while you’ve roamed. Using my immense wealth and power, I have had built for us a spaceship, one that can go beyond the stars and find a planet uninfected by diversity. We will take with us only men who recognize their natural-born supremacy, men who aren’t like other men. Together, we will re-establish a society built upon a principle that has worked for all of history: rule by the male sex.”
His disciples cheer, taken by their master’s genius. Before them reclines a true visionary.
“And what will our glorious vessel be called?” asks Brother Bluepill, reverently.
“The Patri-Ark,” replies the master, eyes blazing. “Grover, prepare my things!”
As Grover bows and heads for the door, Brother Smug looks puzzled.
“But master, if everyone we bring is a rich white male with the same standards and values as us, what will we do all day? Who will we complain about?”
The master frowns.
“Oh, shit,” he says. “I hadn’t thought of that.”