A Satirical Interactive Fiction Commemorating 2020
This is the continuation of an interactive fiction series. To return to the start of the story, CLICK HERE.
“Springfield, Oregan is the hometown of The Simpsons,” you say.
“Oh, that’s what jumped out at you?” says the man on the phone. “I thought you’d be more interested in the 58008.”
You’re confused. 58008 is just some random zip code.
The Lawrence Fishburne doppelganger says, “If you type 58008 into a calculator and flip it upsidedown … Uh … never mind.”
You sit down to think. What do The Simpsons have to do with the events of 2020?
“They predicted the presidency of Donald Trump,” murmurs the man on your phone. “Maybe the truth about 2020 could be found in one of their episodes.”
You tell yourself that’s just an internet conspiracy theory, along with all the other times The Simpsons supposedly predicted the future.
“Oh?” says the man. “They also predicted that a flu-like virus from Asia would cause a pandemic.”
“No, they didn’t,” you say. As an avid Simpsons fan, you know season four episode 21 featured a flu virus from Japan, not China. And the coronavirus isn’t the flu, no matter how many times people say it is.
“Did you know protests were happening in the very same episode?”
“Sure, but they weren’t protesting police brutality.”
“The protests were still politically-driven.”
“They were mad about a statue of JIMMY CARTER!”
“Who happens to be history’s greatest —”
“STOP RIGHT THERE!”
The tip of the speaker’s sword grazes your throat. You drop your phone and hold up your hands.
“In the name of the Disney corporation, I order to you stop,” says the lady with the sword.
You take a closer look at her. You’ve seen that face before.
Right, she’s the lead actress in that Disney live-action movie, the one that had flopped badly in the fall of 2020. Her name is —
“My name is Mei-Mei,” says your attacker. “In your language, you can call me Pretty-Pretty.”
You were about to speak when you hear a man’s voice …
“Stand down, Mei-Mei,” says the new arrival. “I can take things from here.”
Mei-Mei pulls back her sword and slides it into its sheath. She looks as stylish as you’ve seen her in the movies.
The man walks up to you and smiles. “Hi, I’m Bob Iger.”
“The CEO of the Disney Corporation?”
“Yes,” he says proudly. “And I need your help.”
You’re shocked. A part of you has always dreamed of working for Disney. (Of course, another part of you thinks the Disney Corporation is Satan with a ticker symbol on the NYSE. How you actually feel in that moment is up to you.)
“Why do you want my help?” you ask. “You could hire … anyone you want.”
Bob Iger takes a step towards you. You can’t help but feel he’s intruding into your space.
“I need you to help me fix The Simpsons,” he says.
“Fix The Simpsons?”
Bob Iger explains that The Simpsons had been the Disney’s corporation’s top acquisition target for a long time.
“At first, I thought it was just a silly cartoon,” says Bob Iger. “But when we learned The Simpsons had predicted the presidency of Donald Trump, we knew we had to buy it. That’s why we paid so much money to acquire Fox. We wanted The Simpsons. A franchise with the power of prophecy could make us millions … Well, millions more than what we’re making now.”
“The Simpsons could actually predict the future?” you gasp.
“Sure,” says Bob Iger. “Ivanka Trump in 2028. But our writers had under-estimated the Simpsons’ true power.”
It turns out Disney had been working on a live-action remake of The Simpsons in late 2019. But just like all the other Disney live-action remakes, they somehow managed to screw it up.
“The live-action Simpsons spawned several time paradoxes between the Simpsons timeline and ours. Everything that happened in 2020 — the coronavirus, the civil unrest, Harry and Meghan — all of it is due to the Simpsons prediction machine going haywire in the real world. Bill Clinton is now a slimy green alien.”
You let out a heavy sigh. It makes so much sense now!
Bob Iger places his hand on your shoulder. “We need your help. We need someone with your knowledge of The Simpsons to put the genie back in the bottle. We need you to teach us how to make a proper live-action Simpsons remake.”
You study Mr. Iger intently. He seems sincere, at least as sincere as the CEO of a major corporation ever could be.
“Well, Mr. Iger,” you begin. “I think you shouldn’t be making a Simpsons live-action remake in the first place.”
“Why?” he asks.
“The Simpsons is like Mulan, Aladdin, and The Lion King,” you say. “It’s a big part of many people’s childhoods. You shouldn’t turn it into your cash cow.”
Bob Iger continues studying you intently.
“Slapping CGI onto a property doesn’t make it good,” you continue. ‘It needs to have the same heart, the same soul. Somethings are just meant to be animated.”
Bob Iger’s lips begin to quiver. You could tell your words have struck a nerve.
“I think everything will be ok if you just call off the live-action remake,” you say pleadingly. “Please, Mr. Iger, just let us Simpsons fans rewatch seasons two through eight in peace.”
He brusquely turns away. “I’m sorry for having wasted your time.”
Your heart sinks. For a while, you thought you had actually reached him. Bob Iger looks just as pained as you are.
“It’s not that simple!” he shouts. He sounds like a man who’s pleading with his estranged lover. “The Simpsons live-action remake has to happen!”
He squeezes his eyes shut and tightens his lips. His body begins to shake. He looks like he’s about to explode.
Then he collects his breath. “You just don’t understand,” he says, his voice now back to its regular cadence. “Come on, Mei-Mei. Let’s see if JJ Abrams is available.”
And with that, a helicopter swoops down and escorts Bob Iger and Mei-Mei into the sky. You would never see them again.
You’re left with an uncertain future, a future where a deadly pandemic still rages across the planet and a former American president has morphed into a slimy green alien.
The world that could’ve been …