Trump Sky Alpha

Trump Sky Alpha

by Mark Doten


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A novel on the political madness of our time and the Internet’s deep workings, by the author of The Infernal

One year after the president has plunged the world into nuclear war, a journalist takes refuge in the Twin Cities Metro Containment Zone. On assignment, she documents internet humor at the end of the world, hoping along the way to find the final resting place of her wife and daughter. What she uncovers, hidden amid spiraling memes and twitter jokes in an archive of the internet’s remnants, are references to an enigmatic figure known only as Birdcrash, who may hold the key to an uncertain future.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781555978280
Publisher: Graywolf Press
Publication date: 02/19/2019
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 1,222,632
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Mark Doten is the author of The Infernal. One of Granta’s 2017 Best of Young American Novelists, he is the literary fiction editor at Soho Press and teaches in Columbia University’s graduate writing program. He lives in Brooklyn.

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Trump Sky Alpha, the rigid airship that docked on the roof of the White House and the roof of Trump Tower, a thousand-foot vessel from the bridge of which Trump delivered streaming YouTube addresses every Wednesday, DC to New York, and every Sunday, New York to DC, Trump's ultraluxury zeppelin — " Crystal Palace of the Sky" — on which the 224 seats ("Luxury Berths in an Open Loge Style") went for a starting price of $50,000, a figure that jumped with the addition of various ultradeluxe packages and enhancements, "The Golden Encrustment" and "Diamond Troika Elite" tiers, four figures for the "Ten-Star Double Platinum Seafood," "certified eight-pound" lobsters with TRUMP embossed on tail fin and right claw, wine pairings offered by animated "Founding Foodie" Ben Franklin on touchscreen, Franklin adjusting spectacles and cataloging flights of Trump Wine ("An Exquisite Taste of Trump"), the Feu de Cheminée and the Blanc de Blanc de la plus Blanc, the final bill after disembarkment running to twenty pages or more of often obscure fees and surcharges, bag fees and negative weather clemency credits and per-use charges on the ergonomic loge controls — every seat adjustment noted by the system and itemized — the seats arranged in an oblong spiral that looped the transparent floor six times, the entire body of the aircraft constructed from a revolutionary transparent membrane stretched over a skeleton of moth-white aluminum, white ribs inlaid with gold and platinum and "a firmament of crystal jewels," seats facing inward, amphitheater-style, and at center a circular bridge of bulletproof glass, the views from all 224 seats opening vertiginously onto the National Mall or Central Park and Midtown as the craft lifted off, offering a "pristine God's-eye view of our Great Nation," seats sliding backward on mobile tracks, while a system of giant claws and pulleys yanked other seats up overhead and moved them forward, closer to Trump, the price of your enhancement package determining how far up you went, a leapfrog of one or ten seats, "La Vie In Gold" or "Ruby Resplendency" or "Deca-Diamond Troika Extreme," the last of which, for a modulating cost somewhere in the seven figures, determined by a proprietary pricing algorithm, placed you at Position #1, which you would then enjoy for a minute or an hour until someone else ordered it, everyone knocked back one position, chairs almost continuously moving backward on a track on the floor, clacking and stuttering against each other, Trump's words overlaid with big echoing vibrations like huge Skee-Balls loading, also sharp but stifled human gasps as giant claws snatched the next upgrader, seat after seat whooshing overhead, at any given moment eight or ten or twelve seats zipping around unpredictably above, the transparent floor provoking a certain amount of nervous loge adjustment as Trump spoke (each adjustment itemized), big spenders — corporations and governments — taking their turn up front as Trump gave his twice-weekly address at the helm of the zeppelin, if not the CEOs and governmental ministers, then stand-ins hired by their countries or organizations, attractive actors filling in for executives after earlier accidents and threats and attacks, Monsanto or McKesson or Chevron stitched or stamped prominently on their suits or dresses, Trump's hands on and then off the wheel as he gestured during his livestreamed address, seeming to float at the center of the craft, unleashing all the old familiar gestures, the little pointy duck bill, the poke, the palms-out "stop" that would flow into a second gesture, fingers still fanned but palms turning in to face each other and then squeezing in and out as though meeting a resistant force, a crazy horizontal spring, Trump grimacing with the effort, elbows pinching into his waist, whole body contorting at the sheer ridiculousness of whatever enemy he was describing, Trump putting his rubberized face — by turns frog-lipped and hemorrhoidal, pig-and pop-eyed — through its paces, an array of comical disapprovals, hands resting now and then on the big gold-spoked wheel that at times seemed in his power and at others appeared to turn of its own accord, Trump almost floating there in the sky, drawing no salary, wholly removed from the business side of the Trump Organization and Trump Sky Alpha for the duration of his presidency — but he could still fly in it, couldn't he? you're not saying that's illegal? — the whole bridge rotating behind its circular glass wall, 360-degree rotations every four minutes, Trump turning and turning as Trump Sky Alpha twice a week made stately progress between New York and DC, rerouting itself without notice every month or so, a midflight impromptu change to Mar-a-Lago — you couldn't let them know in advance, alert them to your plans — the aircraft warping the clouds and sky behind, sailing for Florida or New York or Washington, DC, above it a massive American flag with Trump's face superimposed, squinting and grinning, the flag itself animated LED-enabled fabric, mirroring Trump's expressions via real-time video capture, the highways and port cities of the Eastern Seaboard spread out below, cars pulling over, families stepping out of vehicles to take in the aircraft, the people of America pointing up, saying things like Wow and Look, Dad, kids and parents and grandparents, these gathered generations, thanking him right there for his extraordinary, truly unprecedented achievements in the White House, more done in these months than in all the decades of all the other guys before, so it was ten out of ten, A+, that they'd have to be giving him as a grade, Trump not only loved but widely and almost universally beloved, the most beloved president in history, just as the Americans below were the best Americans, the most beautiful, saluting or whooping and hollering or standing looking skyward in stunned and adoring silence, Trump rotating and raising a fist, his voice filling the craft, Trump interrupting his own extemporaneous thoughts on the events of the past week to point or wink at a chair that had moved to the front ("We've got Walmart coming up, looks like Ford right behind, try the surf and turf, it's really fabulous!") while several copilots and a whole team of staffers and security personnel and military folks worked in a concealed bay in the aft, a white opaque bay that was markedly empty tonight, no copilot, no staff, no passengers, Trump Sky Alpha tearing itself free of the moorings on the White House roof, shocking the military and Secret Service and the White House staffers who milled about on the ground (even Trump's private security caught flat-footed), staffers and military and members of the deep state who had told the president again and again, all day long, that under the extraordinary circumstances unfolding around the world, the nuclear attacks, the hundreds or thousands of ongoing conflicts, the millions or perhaps tens of millions or more already dead, Trump would absolutely not be permitted to fly Trump Sky Alpha, Mr. President, we can get you into a bunker with full communication equipment and you can give your address there, you just can't do it in a goddamn plastic blimp at the start of World War III.

In the afternoon Trump stopped arguing with them, got quiet, it was after Ivanka went on TV, after she said No, after she said no no no, after the first small and very restrained US nuclear launch, and Trump wouldn't say a word, the screens all showed her kneeling or crouching there, vomit running down her blouse, and he was silent, which they realized later was a warning, a sign of things to come, though it wasn't clear what Ivanka had meant, or if she had even been the one speaking, the mikes were picking up swarms of voices, there had been the movement of her lips more or less in time with the words, and earlier that day there had been all the casualties among which a portion of her family was reportedly numbered, but the video was unsteady, and the voice didn't quite seem to track with the lips, and who knows what she meant by it if she'd even said it, it could have been shock, dehydration, anything, if it was even her that had said the no no no, but there was Trump sitting catatonic in his big chair in the White House situation room for hours afterward, papers piling up before him, his body slouched and overflowing the chair, he had authorized a plan in the early hours of the morning, a limited nuclear option, and Ivanka had appeared on TV, somehow slipped her minders, just walked out past the security perimeters of Trump Tower, somehow she'd just wandered out dazed into the street and the chaos of protesters and vomited down the front of the cream-colored blouse with the big bow and lowered herself to the sidewalk there at the north side of Columbus Circle, a mass of security all at once pushing back against the chanting and weeping and howling protesters, and even as the camera crews rushed toward Ivanka there was a storm of Secret Service and police in riot gear, batons sweeping the faces of protesters and journalists, cameras all going nuts with movement, Ivanka down on one foot and one knee, palms braced on the cement, and her voice — if it was her voice, and not that of someone else picked up by the camera, saying no, no no no (her shoulders seeming to heave in time with the noise and moans of the voice, shaking her whole body crouched there) — and then she was lost to sight, and since then he had just sat there, Trump in the situation room with the joint chiefs and cabinet secretaries, options set down in black binders in front of him, options whose windows were passing rapidly, gone and replaced with new binders, Trump's only real movement when Pence mentioned a possible transfer of power, just for the day, for a few minutes, really, so a couple key decisions could be made, and Trump turned and half stood, slow and bearlike and implacable, and open-palm smacked Pence's face, knocked him down with a crack that silenced the dozen murmured conversations happening on the other side of the room, and there was a tense moment among the Secret Service and Trump's private security, but Pence sat up and rubbed his head and said, I'm fine, it's fine, and then all at once people were speaking, Mr. President there are a range of options, here's the big one, these are more measured, we advise an immediate response, it's a dynamic and unfolding situation, we advise something limited but decisive, it's an ongoing situation, here are the major conflicts, let me walk you through the details ... Trump again silent, slouched in his chair, vacantly staring through a deep squint, for long periods his eyes the narrowest slits, possibly closed altogether, it was his favorite day, the day he got to fly Trump Sky Alpha and do his livestreaming, twice a week it was his favorite day, but today something had happened to his favorite day, and there was Pence, hovering again like a maître d', moving between Trump and the other end of the room, where a certain humming awareness was coming into being, a panic that they, the generals and cabinet secretaries, were watching — just watching — the world end, and wasn't there something they could do, weren't there plans, hadn't preparations for certain contingencies been made very early, even before the inauguration, plans drawn up for the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, his mental state, his — it had been decided — his dementia, these whispers going back and forth at the end of the room, yes, clear signs of age-related dementia, changes of mood, confusion, difficulty following conversations, so now was the moment to deploy it, the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, dementia plus the shock of what had happened to his family, it all added up to incapacitation and so it was Lewy body dementia, that was the emerging consensus, somehow they had landed on Lewy body dementia, it seemed better than plain old dementia, and they couldn't just watch the world end, not when there was something they could do, Trump's private security at the other end of the room sensing the threat taking shape, casually falling into positions around and behind the president, male figures in dark suits assembling around the listless body, an outsized human form asymmetrically overflowing a big wingback swivel chair, a squeee squeee in the chair bottom as Trump shifted his weight almost imperceptibly, eyes heavy-lidded or closed, the generals and advisers and cabinet members and deep state falling into position, feeling increasingly certain that they had to do something, two teams coalescing in the room, those loyal to Trump and those ready to force some kind of change, and so at last Pence gave the nod, and the chairman of the joint chiefs cleared his throat, and the cabinet secretaries rose to their feet, there was an almost slow-motion interplay of dozens of gazes and hands, hands on all sides of the room moving to the guns holstered under fine-tailored suits, it was all about to be resolved, one way or another, when suddenly Trump was lumbering quickly through the White House and up the stairs, in every hallway and stairwell strong-arming Secret Service out of his way, all the way to the roof access, Secret Service and military personnel asking each other at first jokingly and then not so much if they should just tackle him, but it happened so fast, he was already on the roof and half running up the gangway — it was time, the scheduled takeoff time for Trump Sky Alpha, though Trump had been told there would be no takeoff today, not at the start of World War III, didn't he understand? — Trump's feet landing with concussive thuds, two Secret Service agents trying to take him by the arm (it's very dangerous to grab people on stairs, everyone knows that, especially on these flimsy gangway stairs) and with shocking strength for an elderly overweight man, Trump hurled both agents off the gangway and pressed the button that closed it up behind him, three more agents actually grabbing onto mooring cables as the zeppelin lifted off, struggling up their respective cables for a few seconds before plummeting to their deaths like losers — and that's what they were, total losers — Trump in his glassed-in enclosure firing off a few quick tweets ("Happy to be flying back to NYC! Beautiful night! Fake News Media WRONG as usual!!!") as the bridge began to rotate, Trump Sky Alpha rising above the National Mall, which was wholly given over now to military operations, dozens of helicopters and tanks and armored personnel carriers on the green ("Generals doing great job! Say they're glad it's me, not Hillary! Don't listen to lying media. We Keep America SAFE!!!"), Trump activating the livestream, an array of cameras that cut automatically between Trump and the amphitheater-style white seating with golden leatherette accents, the seats — the loges — all vacant on what had been until this day a sold-out flight, Trump Sky Alpha heading north, Trump beginning his YouTube address, the latest in his series of twice-weekly streaming monologues, while behind him across the Potomac the Pentagon still smoldered, huge clouds of black smoke visible from several of the camera angles the livestream was cycling through, the sunset a lavender and black-and-orange mélange that added painterly highlights to Trump's coiffure, Trump turning the gold-plated wheel and touching levers and buttons that controlled the stabilizers and the rotor speed, and across the world the other zeppelins in the fleet rose from their moorings, all of them linked together, all of them "Piloted by Trump™," it wasn't a single aircraft he was flying, after all, it was several dozen Trump zeppelins across the globe, a sort of global interconnected organism, so that when Trump Sky Alpha turned right, the zeppelins all turned right, when he turned left, they turned left, and when he accelerated, they did the same, Trump's hologram projected in real time onto the glass bridges of several dozen other zeppelins, all of them linked to his as in a pantograph, as in connected pens that reproduce a single image at various scales ("Based on Benjamin Franklin's 'Pantograph' Invention, the Ultimate in Luxury Travel"), Trump Sky zeppelins in Taiwan, the UAE, Kuwait, the Netherlands, South Korea, Russia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and dozens of other locales, they would take off and follow the same paths, or they had, until this night, when worldwide devastation had already rendered half the fleet inoperable, but against the backdrop of blackouts or massive fires the crafts that remained lifted off with Trump, all at once, though within seconds in Kazakhstan tracer bullets sliced up the Trump Sky craft's cabin, sliced up the people in the cabin, it took off as its floor broke free and all inside tumbled down except those already in the claws, a pair of Kazakh oil executives suspended midair, watching a Trump hologram chatter and gesticulate ("You wouldn't know it from the press, just how beautifully it's going, what we had was a botnet in the cyber — no president has ever had to deal with a botnet in the cyber like this, and the destruction was terrible, but we responded so beautifully, you can't imagine"), and Trump passed over the Patapsco River and hit the button to click off the really tasteless just nasty Kazakh live feed, two guys in claws by now shrieking and engulfed in flames, but the button he pressed turned out to be the rear rotor reverse switch, and the nose of the craft went up sharply — noses all across the fleet did — and the 2,000-gallon wheeled lobster habitats crashed against the Mount Rushmore–style sculptures that separated the galley from the main cabin, and 2,000-gallon plate-glass tanks all around the world shattered against sculptures of Trump and Eric and Trump Jr. and Ivanka, sending huge crustaceans flying everywhere as passengers worldwide screamed in one voice.


Excerpted from "Trump Sky Alpha"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Mark Doten.
Excerpted by permission of GRAYWOLF PRESS.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

root@kali-rolling:~birdcrash# ls trump_sky_alpha/*,
trump_sky_alpha/1_the_authoritative_horizon, 3,
trump_sky_alpha/2_the_recursive_horizon, 23,
2_1_information_modules, 25,
2_2_internet_humor_at_the_end_of_the_world, 83,
2_3_negative_world, 107,
2_4_birdcrash_in_the_age_of_gold, 165,
trump_sky_alpha/3_resolver_daemon, 239,
3_1_zone_transfer, 241,
3_2_dumpdb "[-all|-cache|-zones|-adb|-bad|-fail]", 245,
3_3_keyname:secret, 269,

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