Seyom Brown
Silver Spring, MD


by Seyom Brown

 (Sometime in the post-Trump era) the President of the United States and the President of China hold a Summit meeting  in an Earth-orbiting space satellite --  made possible by a technological breakthrough allowing for normal gravitational-magnetic conditions within the spacecraft, not the characteristic zero gravity and weightless floating around of people and objects.  Thus they aren’t outfitted in special astronaut attire; and all of their movements, body functions and conditions, are just as they are on Earth or in an airliner. The Presidents, both heretofore catering to xenophobic and hawkish constituencies who have been driving them into fateful games of chicken,  hope that the drama of this innovative in-orbit Summit will be so awe inspiring as to create popular receptivity to whatever the two of them negotiate up there. For a while, the dialogue of the Presidents in outer space oscillates between congenial banter, uncompromising assertions of their countries’ clashing interests, and attempts to resolve the ominously-escalating confrontations between their navies in the South China Sea. But they are unable to break free of the zero-sum paradigm bringing their countries to the brink of war. Then, during one of their hostile exchanges, they suddenly being to float weightlessly off of their chairs [as in Peter Pan productions, the lighting and essentially invisible  wires create this illusion of free floating]  The chairs too, and everything not secured to the floor or walls, float around the room. All contact with Ground Control is lost. Flailing around in mid-air and bumping into one another absent the magnetic pull of gravity, the Presidents accuse each other of planning this as a terrible trick. Alternating between paranoid allegations and shared fears of dying in an implosion of the satellite -- pushing each other away, but then hanging on to each other for dear life when the spaceship is shaken by turbulence -- they conclude that the technologists who seduced them into this experiment will destroy the planet, indeed the universe, and that the game of chicken being played in the South China Sea is insane. At last, but again suddenly, they and all the floating objects fall hard onto the floor. Contact with ground Control is re-established, and they are told that the  spacecraft will soon be touching down on Earth. They stumble into each other’s arms like long-estranged brothers re-united; their talk is now about their countries’ mutual survival and security and avoiding zero-sum strategies. But  . . . Exiting from the spacecraft, each is absorbed into his own waiting crowd of officials and media and reverts to the accusations and threats that have been driving China and the United States to the brink of war.

President of the United States President of China U.S. National Security Advisor White House spokesperson Marine officer in charge of nuclear codes "football" Military aide to U.S. President Moderator of "Face the People" TV talk show Anchor on TV news channel Journalists at press briefings U.S. astronaut Chinese astronaut