Within the dream, I woke up in the morning to the sounds of chattering coming from the living room. Seemingly the entire neighborhood was gathered around the television. My father saw me and said, "America is over."
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was on TV addressing all Californians. The news was grave. Our state was officially broke. The governor felt that we deserved to know the real reason why, and he warned us that the truth would be shocking.
According to the governor, all of the present problems in America and the world were orchestrated by Martians running things behind the scenes. The White House knew all about it, and had been letting it happen for years now. Our leaders had sold us out because they were cowards kowtowing to Mars. Gov. Schwarzenegger had been grappling with a crisis of conscience ever since he learned the truth when he took office. He had finally had enough. The Governator would be beholden to no one, and California was now the resistance.
Everybody gasped in stunned disbelief, but Gov. Schwarzenegger insisted he had proof, and he warned us that it would be shocking. He signaled to cut to the alien footage.
But what played was just a bunch of clips from his old movies. It wasn't even Total Recall. It might have been Predator. Or maybe it was Commando. There were mesmerizing shots of him in the jungle firing some heavy-duty guns, but they didn't even show what he was shooting at. There were no Martians.
I was perplexed, but the crowd voiced no objection. On the contrary, I heard shouts of "I knew it!" and "It's about damn time!" Reacting to the cheers on TV of his newly energized audience, Arnold nodded and then raised his hand to call for a hold of applause. The next steps would be difficult, he informed us, but ours was a righteous fight. With that, the address was over, as the governor had a lot of working out to do.
The broadcast cut to the usual talking heads discussion. Except that it wasn't Fox News or CNN. It was Maria Shriver and Danny DeVito. Mostly, they just repeated the governor's own assertion that we would overcome this adversity through unity. Somebody tried to change the channel, but every station was either the same thing or dead air.
Our governor had decided while we slept that we were no longer Americans. Now he was asking for our support and solidarity as Californians.
I pulled my brother aside and asked him what he thought. He wasn't sure whether to believe in the Martian story, but he didn't think it mattered. He pointed to the television. On the screen was a map of the United States. California was blue. Everything else was red. Our sides had already been determined for us by our borders. Our beliefs were moot.
Before matters could develop much further, I woke for real, glad to still be an American.