I’m watching a flat screen television, and on the flat screen television is another flat screen television that shows an image of all the states. Some states are blue, some states are red, but all states are peppered with little dots that denote locations of Denny’s. Next to the flat screen—the one on TV, not the one in my living room—stands a news reporter.
He touches one of the states, and the screen zooms in so that the state fills the screen and now all that state’s counties can be seen, some colored blue, and some colored red. He touches one of the counties and the screen zooms in yet again so that houses can be seen, some blue and some red. He touches one of the houses and now the rooms of the house fill the screen, some blue and some red.
He touches one of the rooms, and the room grows large so that now two people in the room can be seen. One person is blue, the other red. Then he touches one of the people, and now we can see inside the person’s brain. Some of the brain cells are blue, and some of them are red. Most of them are green.
A second news reporter comes over and tries to touch the screen. The first reporter slaps the hand away.
“Only I can touch the magic screen!” the first reporter says, and the awkward moment that follows is mercifully interrupted by an exciting ritual. There are loud noises and fireworks, dancers and clowns, fire-eaters on stilts and acrobats, and above them all a graphic that reads “Projection!” It is announced that one of the states is projected to be painted in a certain color even though only 2% of the votes have been counted.
The channel goes back to the reporters. The first reporter toggles the screen between this election and the election of 1840, when there were fewer states and more log cabins. The second reporter has a black eye but tells us that we are now going to hear from a correspondent in one of the voting precincts.
The image shifts to a large cat with a poofy face. It has green eyes and white whiskers that radiate in perfect symmetry. Behind the cat are people trying to clear a paper jam from the vote-card reader.
The second reporter speaks to the cat. “Tell us, what are you seeing in terms of voter turnout?”
The cat licks one of its paws, and then rubs the paw over its face a few times in a circular motion. Then it looks back at the screen and blinks.
“Yes, that seems to be the story we’re hearing all over the nation tonight.”
My TV goes back to the first reporter with the magic screen. He is showing what the electoral situation might look like if Florida was rotated 90 degrees towards the Gulf of Mexico.
Then the image on my TV shifts to the headquarters of one of the candidates. From the sequence of percentages that flash at the bottom of the screen, I can tell, using a slide rule, that this candidate is about to have a lot of free time. But the people at the campaign headquarters still wave their arms and go “Whoooo” when they see themselves on the big screen.
I eat another piece of leftover Halloween candy. There is a small mound of wrappers next to the bowl.
We’re back to the first reporter with the magic screen again. The screen is frozen at the election of 2612, with water covering most of the coastal states, and their votes tallied by counting the bubbles that rise to the surface. The second reporter is trying to help by sticking a pen into the restart button at base of the magic screen, a terrifying treatment for the first reporter, who apparently forgot to save his work.