The Story of Kathryn Jenkins
It was a cloudy October evening. The sky was gray with smoke. Kathryn tucked her hair behind her ears as she gazed at the Liz Torg City skyline from the balcony of her luxurious sixth-story apartment.
Far beneath her there was a dirty old man clothed in rags. He appeared to be begging for money. Kathryn sighed. There were always people begging for money these days. Ever since Evelyn Winarsky had become the leader of Anti-Oppressionism, social inequality had been a huge problem. Of course it had been before then, but that was to a lesser extent. At the present moment, the ten wealthiest people in Anti-Oppressionism owned more money than the lower sixty percent. Kathryn desperately wished there would be a change in administration, despite the fact that she herself profited from Winarsky's reign.
Suddenly, her thoughts turned to Arnold, the man with whom she was in love. Had he gotten accepted to Stilker? Was he even still planning on going for his doctorate? Most importantly, did he know she liked him? These questions raced through Kathryn's mind as the first droplets of rainwater fell upon her forehead. Perhaps she would call him and find out the answers. But no, that would seem out of place. They were mere acquaintances; the two had been part of a study group organized by a mutual friend back when she was in college. In fact, he probably didn't even remember that she existed.
It was starting to rain harder and harder. Kathryn walked quickly into her bedroom, changed into her pajamas, and sat on the bed. On the table next to her bed sat a rough draft of an opinion column she wrote for the local newspaper. She glanced at it, then sighed. She was never allowed to voice her actual opinions in the newspaper; the editor had threatened to fire her the last time she had attempted to do so. That day he had given her a long lecture on how the expression of her opinions would cause CompCorp to lose business and how this would cause it to stop sponsoring the newspaper.
Kathryn got up and started walking around the room. If only she could start her own newspaper, or at least find one with some respect for free speech! But no, she said to herself, there are no newspapers that'll accept you for who you are, and you don't get paid for starting your own. With that in mind, she sprawled out on the bed and fell asleep almost immediately.
It was two o'clock the next day. Kathryn, having skipped lunch to visit a friend, was hungry and therefore stopped by a coffee shop for a sandwich and something to drink. As she started on her sandwich, a tall man who Kathryn recognized as Arnold walked through the door. Immediately, Kathryn's heart started beating faster. Should I say hi to him? Does he remember me? Will he—
"Hello, Kathryn." He walked to her table. "Mind if I join you?"
"N-n-no, not at all. Wait…you still remember me?"
"How could I ever forget you? You were in two of my classes, you organized like a zillion protests….Oh, and by the way, did you ever get that newspaper position you wanted?"
"Yeah, but it sucks. Censorship is rampant at The Daily News."
"Yeah, I suppose the media has to print what the corporations want them to print." He paused. "It's sorta sad, in a way."
Kathryn nodded. "Very sad. Incidentally, did you get accepted to Stilker?"
"Yeah, but I might not be going. Maybe I'll defer a year and apply again—I've always wanted to see Enviro Forest."
"I've heard the scenery's beautiful there."
"It is. And the people are all really happy and compassionate. But go a few miles past the EF-Americom border and the sky's filled with smoke."
"Sorta like how it is here."
"Yeah, I can't help thinking Anti-Oppressionism's becoming more and more like Americom, what with the recent abolition of minimum wage and all." Arnold frowned. "Oh well. Hopefully some left-wing candidate will get elected the coming election year."
"I doubt that'll happen," replied Kathryn. "Nobody stands for the people anymore, only for the CEOs who've bought them."
Arnold grasped Kathryn's wrist and looked into her eyes. "You know, it'd be nice if you ran for leader."
Kathryn smiled. "Thanks, but I'd never get elected." She swallowed the last bite of her sandwich. "You know, I really must get going. Nice talking to you again."
"Hey, could I get your number? That way we could get in touch later."
"Sure." Kathryn scribbled her phone number on a napkin and handed it to Arnold. "It's 271-8281. Area code 343."
"Okay, mine's 314-1592, same area code. Can I borrow your pen?"
"Sure." Kathryn handed Arnold her pen; Arnold then wrote his phone number on another napkin and gave it to her. "Well, see ya."
Arnold returned Kathryn's pen. "Bye," he said with a smile.
As Kathryn walked hurriedly down the street, she wondered whether Arnold liked her. After all, he had asked for her number and had touched her wrist. But she wondered still more whether Arnold meant what he had said about her running for leader. He could have just been flirting with her. But then again, Kathryn couldn't help thinking that becoming a politician would give her far more political influence than would being an opinion columnist for The Daily News. Even if she was unelectable…well, she could still dream. And who knows, perhaps she was electable after all. She was aware that she had a tendency to be pessimistic; after all, she had thought just the day before that Arnold didn't even remember she existed! The people have got to realize I care about them, she said to herself. I'm running for office.
Two days later, Kathryn was digging through her pockets for a pen when she came upon Arnold's phone number. Perhaps she would ask him for a date. After all, he probably did like her, and she didn't have much to do that day. She grabbed the phone and telephoned Arnold, who picked up the phone immediately.
Kathryn took a deep breath. "Oh hi Arnold, this is Kathryn Jenkins. Would you…er…uh…well, I was wondering if…"
"Are you trying to ask me out? Because if so, I accept wholeheartedly."
"Well, yes, that was my intent."
"Okay, so where and when? I'm free tonight and the day after tomorrow."
"Eh, tonight at seven would be fine. Meet me at the place we met the other day, I'll take you to the movies."
"Okay, that'd be great."
"Well, see ya then."
As Kathryn put down the receiver, she wondered what Arnold would say about her bid for the leadership. A sense of uneasiness came over her. Perhaps he had only suggested she run for leader to be polite; if this was the case, Arnold may well think she was arrogant to actually think she was fit for the leadership! But she resolved to tell him anyway, as she was bursting to tell someone, and Arnold was the only one who might perhaps think she was semi-serious. Besides, Arnold might even be able to help her with her campaign.
Kathryn walked across the room and sat down at her desk. At any rate, there would be nothing to do for the next few hours. On the table was a book she had checked out from the library the previous day; it was titled An Overview of Current Political Issues—1998. She opened the book and began to read.
That night, Kathryn walked quickly to the arranged meeting-place. She intended to arrive ten minutes early so that she would not make a bad impression on her date; for this reason, she had also spent the previous hour styling and blow-drying her hair. As Kathryn approached the glass doors of the coffee shop, she saw Arnold sitting at a booth waiting for her. Gosh, he's enthusiastic, she said to herself. She opened the door; Arnold rushed to greet her.
"Hello, Arnold. Shall we proceed to the theater?"
"I don't see why not."
"Okay, let's go." The two began their walk. "So how was your day?" Kathryn asked after a long pause.
"Well, I had MA 2530 today."
"How was that?"
"Sorta boring, to tell you the truth. At least I'm reasonably good at it. But I'm still not altogether fond of the class or of math in general."
"So how have you been?"
"Oh, I've been reasonable." Kathryn took a deep breath. "I've decided to run for leader."
"As per your suggestion, I've decided to run for leader. You know, leader of Anti-Oppressionism."
Maybe I should help her out with her campaign, Arnold said to himself. I'll probably like her platform, and I do have that money my dad left me. Besides, I want her to like me.
"Oh. Well, I'm flattered that you'd take me so seriously. But in any case, I can help you get your campaign started if you need me. I've got quite an inheritance from my father; I can give you a few million dollars."
"You're playing with me."
"I'm dead serious."
"You'd really do this for me?"
"I'd do anything for you."
Arnold stopped walking and looked into Kathryn's eyes. Kathryn smiled. The two embraced each other and exchanged a passionate kiss, then parted, smiling. "We'd better hurry up," said Kathryn, "or else we'll be late to the movies."
"Can't we just see a different movie at a different time or something?"
"There are more showings around this time."
The two started walking, this time holding hands. "Oh. Incidentally, have you heard that Winarsky's planning on implementing a 10 tax cut for the wealthy if she gets reelected?"
"No, I haven't heard, but that sounds horrible."
"You should probably keep up more on current events now that you're running for the leadership."
"I'll definitely try to do so."
"Incidentally, what party are you running with?"
"I'm not sure. You know, I'm thinking about just running independent. It's a lot easier."
"But then nobody will hear of you!"
"Well, if I tell two friends, and they tell two friends…."
Arnold laughed. "I suppose that might work—that is, if you make your platform appealing enough to the general public."
"I'm a people's candidate. And I'm counting on the people of Anti-Oppressionism realizing this. They're fairly well educated; they wouldn't sink to just voting along party lines or anything…would they?"
"Well, the education system has drastically worsened in recent years…."
"That's true, I suppose. Maybe I will run for the Liberal Party nomination. Those Ultra-Libs nobody's ever heard of."
"I'm sure they'd be more than happy to support a candidate who's really a liberal."
"Eh, hopefully." She smiled. "Or maybe they'll just tell me to fuck off and join the Ultra-Libs."
Arnold smiled. "I somehow doubt it."
"In any case, we appear to be here. What do you reckon we should see?"
Kathryn was lying on her bed at eleven o'clock that night. Aside from the conversation on the way to the movie theater, the night had been rather boring; the movie had been another one of those children's movies about a guy with superpowers trying to prevent an evil villain from achieving world domination. She vaguely wondered if she and Arnold were a couple now. Then she laughed. That is so elementary school….
In her hand was the $2 million check Arnold had written for her. She glanced at it. Maybe I'll spend it all on yard signs, she thought to herself. But no, I'd have to make a campaign website too, and allocate money for transportation….Hmm. Maybe I should get a book on how to run for leader. Nah, not enough money. Then, she had a brilliant idea. She would rent a helicopter and drop leaflets on people's lawns encouraging them to vote for her in the primaries! That ought to do it, she said to herself. But I'll also have to make a campaign website. With that thought in mind, she turned off the light, rolled over, and fell asleep immediately.
Two days later, Kathryn was sitting at her computer designing her campaign website. On her desk was a copy of An Overview of Current Political Issues—1998; it was this book that had provided the essential template of her website. Kathryn was currently writing an essay on why it would be unwise for Anti-Oppressionism to invade Enviro Forest and on Anti-Oppressionism foreign policy in general. God, I never thought running for leader would be so much work.
Suddenly, a thought occurred to her. She opened her desk drawer, took out her checkbook, and wrote a $2 million check to Jenkins for Leader, the campaign fund she had set up the previous day. She folded it up and put it in her pocket.
Kathryn then glanced at her computer. The essay was half-finished. Perhaps I'll take a break for now, she said to herself. She typed "Currently Under Construction" at the top of her webpage. She then turned off the computer, flopped on her bed, and turned on the TV.
"In other news, campaign advertising hit a new low yesterday as Kathryn Jenkins, currently running for the Liberal Party nomination, dropped green campaign leaflets on several towns, causing a major traffic jam on Route 72 as citizens rushed home to sweep their porches."
"Sure got her message out though, didn't she?"
"Yeah, the latest poll of registered Liberals showed that a whopping seventy-six percent of them would vote for Jenkins if the primaries were—"
Just then, the phone rang. Kathryn switched off the TV and ran to pick up the phone. "Hello, this is Kathryn Jenkins; to whom am I speaking?"
"Hi, this is Steve Jacobson, CEO of Jacobson Lighting….I was wondering if you'd accept a $10 million donation to your campaign along with the endorsement of the aforementioned company."
"Sounds great…what's the catch?"
"The catch is that if you do this, you've got to promise to cut taxes for the wealthy by 10 percent if and when you get elected."
Kathryn hesitated. "Well, I wish I didn't have to do this, but quite frankly, I need the money, so sure."
"Great! How can I pay you?"
"A check would be fine. Just come 'round my house tonight at seven or so…the address is Room 602, 2718 Complex Coast, Liz Torg City. I'm on the sixth floor."
"Wonderful. I'll see you then."
Kathryn started walking to her bed when the phone rang again. She picked it up immediately. "Hello, this is Kathryn Jenkins. Who's speaking?"
"Hey, this is Gabrielle Karczewsky from TANF, Terminate Abortion Not Feti. I'm here to offer you $8 million dollars if you promise to outlaw abortion except in cases where the woman's life is threatened if you get into office."
I may be pro-choice and obsessed with social inequality, but I sure ain't stupid. I've just got to get elected this year, no matter what it takes. "I'd be happy to accept your offer."
"Excellent decision. How can I pay you?"
"I'm accepting checks and, if necessary, cash. You can come to my house around six to give me the money. My address is Room 602, 2718 Complex Coast, Liz Torg City; I'm on the sixth floor."
"Great, I'll see you then."
The phone rang yet again just as Kathryn had set it down. Maybe I should just disconnect the damn thing, she said to herself. She picked up the phone.
"Good afternoon, this is Karen Dobbik. I'm representing the Anti-Oppressionism Workers' Union."
"What do you want?"
"I'm here to offer you five million dollars provided that you institute a ten percent tax hike for the wealthy alone, implement a minimum wage, and reintroduce welfare if you get elected this coming election year."
She's only offering five million dollars?
"I'm very sorry, but I'm going to have to decline your offer."
"That's fine." Karen hung up.
Kathryn disconnected her phone for the night and opened her web browser. She sighed. I've got a lot of editing to do tonight, she said to herself.
Four weeks passed; there were two weeks until Election Day. Kathryn had managed to secure the Liberal Party nomination; her main opponent was now Evelyn Winarsky, the current incumbent. Kathryn stretched and got out of bed. Today she was to give a speech on why she was right in stating that Anti-Oppressionism ought to invade Enviro Forest.
She walked to the balcony of her hotel room. It was a chilly day; there was a two-inch blanket of snow on the grass below. Three floors beneath her a small group of Ultra-Liberal Party protestors shouted slogans such as "A vote for Jenkins is a vote for Winarsky" and "Liberals are Conservatives." Kathryn sighed and went back inside. She wished those Ultra-Libs would just shut up and vote for the lesser of the two evils.
Kathryn sat on the bed. At least her website was finished. With the assistance of her huge team of webpage designers, speechwriters, and campaign advisors, she had managed to finish her website just last week while also staying on top of everything else. With that happy thought in mind, Kathryn changed into a business suit and was combing her hair when she heard a knock at her door. She quickly opened it; a short, gray-haired man in his forties was standing in front of her.
"Hey, Ryan, what is it?"
"This guy from CompCorp's offering us fifteen million dollars to promise to cut taxes across the board by another ten percent. I highly recommend you take the offer."
"Okay, I'll take it. After all, I do need the money."
"Okay, I'll tell him that. See you around."
"Also tell my team to update the webpage accordingly."
"Okay, I'll do that."
"Great. See ya." Kathryn shut the door and continued combing her hair. She had to look perfect for her speech that day.
After the speech, Kathryn rode back to her hotel room in her personal limousine. She took the elevator up to her fourth-floor suite and entered her room. She was just about to turn on the television when she again heard a knock at her door. She opened it and Ryan was again standing in front of her.
"Good afternoon, Miss Jenkins. I have two messages for you."
"What are they?"
"First of all, you're up to fifty-seven percent in the polls."
"Secondly, one Arnold Holbrook would like to speak with you. He's waiting in the lobby."
Kathryn looked at Ryan directly in the eyes. "Bring him in."
"I'll do so." Ryan walked away.
As Kathryn awaited Arnold's arrival, a sense of apprehension came over her. She had not called in four weeks; did he still like her? Would he feel that she had betrayed him due to her acceptance of donations from corporations? Were she and Arnold still a couple? These questions ran through Kathryn's head as Ryan escorted Arnold to her room.
Ryan knocked at the door. "It's me, Ryan," he shouted. Kathryn opened the door and looked Arnold in the eyes.
"Hi." She looked away from Arnold; she could not bear to look into his eyes.
"I have come to withdraw my support for your campaign."
"Why would you do so?" Kathryn knew the answer even before Arnold responded.
"Today was the last straw. I was at your speech today. I can't believe you would attempt to make an empire out of Anti-Oppressionism." He paused. "Although I cannot take back the money I have given, I am withdrawing my support in spirit."
"I'm not making an empire out of Anti-Oppressionism…I…you…this relationship is over! Get out of my sight—now!"
Arnold and Ryan quietly walked out of the room, shutting the door behind them. Kathryn started pacing around the room. Perhaps I shouldn't give a shit about this, she said to herself. After all, I've already got his money; this won't impact my campaign one bit. It's a shame he doesn't seem to like me anymore…but then again, one romantic relationship is nothing compared to the future of Anti-Oppressionism…right?
Kathryn sprawled out on the bed. The future of Anti-Oppressionism…what did she care about the future of Anti-Oppressionism? After all, she was planning to cut taxes by twenty percent, thereby worsening the living conditions of the vast majority of the population….Perhaps she was not fit for office. Perhaps she would drop out and endorse Erin Klosowsky, the Ultra-Liberals' candidate. But no, she couldn't drop out, she was an inch away from getting elected, and she just had to get elected….Besides, if she dropped out, Winarsky would probably win. But then again, the Ultra-Libs were right…there wasn't much of a difference between her and Winarsky anyway. With that in mind, Kathryn turned off the lights and fell asleep.
Winarsky vs. Winarsky
By Jennifer Brent
In the light of recent events, we must ask
ourselves a crucial question: Is Jenkins truly
a departure from old ways, or is she just
another clone of Evelyn Winarsky? Evidence
appears to favor the latter perspective. She,
like Winarsky, is intent on cutting taxes by
ten percent for the wealthy and by another
ten percent across the board. She, like
Winarsky, intends to invade Enviro Forest
upon election. She, like Winarsky, caters to
corporations and special-interest groups to
the point that we no longer know where she
truly stands on anything. So this begs the
question of whether the citizens of Anti-
Oppressionism truly have a say in political
"Ugh," said Kathryn while putting her paper down to look at Ryan across the table. "An article like this in the most widely read newspaper in Anti-Oppressionism. This can't be good…."
"It isn't," replied Ryan. "This Jennifer Brent woman may have just brought a few million people over to Klosowsky's side."
"Hopefully this doesn't put Winarsky in the lead."
"I hope it doesn't as well." He paused. "By the way, this reminds me; if you get elected, will you put me on your staff?"
"I don't see why not. Unless you're unqualified, that is." She paused momentarily. "Perhaps you could be my senior campaign advisor if I run for re-election four years from now. I know you can do that."
"That sounds fantastic."
Now all I've got to do is make sure Kathryn gets elected, Ryan said to himself. People think Kathryn's another Winarsky, eh? Maybe I should kill Winarsky. That way the Winarsky supporters will vote for Kathryn and she'll win the election and I'll be her senior campaign advisor four years from now. Sounds like a plan.
Four days later, Kathryn woke up, stretched, and turned on the TV.
"Our top story today: Winarsky, the 1998 Conservative Party leadership candidate, appears to be dead. One suspect is currently being held in custody; his name is Ryan Pwerman and he's a senior official within the Jenkins campaign. DNA testing is currently being done to ascertain the accuracy of the accusations against him."
"Well, this ought to screw up the election!"
"You bet it will, Lindsay. Pollwise, Erin Klosowsky is currently in the lead with seventy-four percent while Kathryn Jenkins trails far behind her at a mere twenty-two percent."
"Looks like this'll be our first third-party leader in…how many years?"
"I believe this'll be our first third-party leader ever."
"Oh my, this ought to be interes—"
Kathryn switched off the TV. It was starting to sink in: She was not getting elected. Her dream would never be fulfilled. All her campaigning, all her speechwriting, all her traveling had been in vain. And now she'd lost a perfectly good romantic relationship just because of something that would never happen.
But wait. Maybe I haven't lost Arnold…maybe all I have to do is do something to make up for what I've done to him. Perhaps I should drop out of this thing and endorse Klosowsky. I wonder if he'd forgive me then…God, I sure hope he would.
Just then, there was a knock at the door. Kathryn slowly rose from her bed and opened the door. Arnold was standing in front of her.
Kathryn was the first to break the long silence that developed then. "I'm sorry for betraying you like I did."
"No, Kathryn, it was my fault. I shouldn't have suggested that you run for leader. Power—and the scent of power—invariably corrupts a person, no matter how well-intentioned he may be. I have made you into a victim of the system, and for this I sincerely apologize."
"But I suppose some good did come out of it. Erin Klosowsky's gonna win now."
"She too has been corrupted to an extent. I've done a little research on her, and found that she's actually an anarchist."
"So I suppose this'd explain why she's running for leader…."
"As I said, the scent of power corrupts people."
"But if she's been corrupted, then why doesn't she take money from special-interest groups or corporations?"
"Well, apparently there are certain things she loathes so much she won't support them even for power. Perhaps as she gets closer to the political scene and power no longer becomes remote but rather becomes more of a reality to her, this will change. Hopefully, it won't, and if this is the case, then some good did indeed come out of this."
"Incidentally, you didn't have anything to do with the murder of Evelyn Winarsky, did you?"
"No, even I'm not that corrupt."
Arnold smiled. "By the way, what do you say we see a movie tonight? That'll take your mind off this mess."
Kathryn smiled back, tucked her hair behind her ears, and looked into Arnold's eyes. "Sounds like a plan."