ILLINOIS STATE PAIN CITADEL - Tensions were high at the third presidential debate Monday evening, as candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump found themselves suddenly abducted by shadowy, leather-clad figures and secreted away in the depths of the labyrinthine Illinois State Pain Citadel.
The Pain King himself chose to moderate the debate, roaring with malign laughter as his snickering servants shackled Trump to a ghastly spiked altar and trapped Clinton within a rusty cage of cold iron. “I think it’s very important for the American people to hear the anguished cries of the politicians who seek to represent them in high office,” the Pain King told reporters, resplendent in his red and black spiked armor. “It’s not until a man lies broken and bleeding before you that you truly understand him, understand what his leadership will mean for your country.”
Seven Approved News 6 reporters long ago captured and imprisoned deep within the Pits of Mortifaction were given a special reprieve to report live on the debate. “Please kill us,” explained special election correspondent Michael Cobb, still visibly bleeding. “Don’t make us go back there.”
The debate was not without controversy, however. Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway slammed the Pain King as “biased,” citing his donations to the Clinton campaign. “The Pain King likes to pretend he’s an impartial harbinger of terror and agony to the American people,” Conway told reporters, “but he has a long history of providing Democratic politicians with valuable political hostages and carved bone ornaments to ward off electoral failure. It’s disgraceful.”
Pressed for comment on these allegations, the Pain King chortled with glee and activated the shock collar around the Approved News 6 correspondent’s neck.
The debate began as cloaked, chanting ghouls carrying braziers lit gnarled torches upon the blood-soaked walls of the Pain Citadel, shedding rare light upon a place normally cloaked in impenetrable darkness. The Pain King lounged on his throne as the candidates made their case to the American people, feet propped up on the back a squirming, gagged figure that bore an uncanny resemblance to Trump’s previous campaign manager Corey Lewandowsky (declared missing earlier this month).
Clinton surprised critics by finally detailing her Contamination policy, a subject she evaded in previous debates. “There’s no question that without the Old Forest and the Department of Necromancy, Mutilation, and Bone Rituals, we are at a disadvantage when it comes to countering the growing epidemic of Contamination within this country,” she told the audience, as the Pain King toyed idly with a red-hot branding iron. “We are short on allies and we are short on time. That’s why I’m going to begin negotiations with the Blood-Soaked Maidens of the Cold Sword to allow the Dark Secretary of Deschutes National Forest to coordinate with the Department of Blood, Sex, and Death, to make sure we have trained, REDACTED troops capable of carrying out Procedure 6 wherever and whenever it needs to be performed.”
Trump was quick to condemn Clinton’s plan. “This woman wants to let a bunch of foreigners ruin America,” he declared, struggling to pull free of his chains. “The answer is in the Crimson Cube, guys. I’ve been saying this for years.”
Trump then repeated the phrase “Crimson Cube” over and over for the remainder of his allotted time, voice slowly lowering in pitch until the very walls shook.
Both candidates were careful to avoid angering the Pain King, a notoriously amoral man with the absolute power of life and death over millions of souls. “I don’t believe sanctions are the answer,” Clinton said when pressed. “I think, look, I think we need a serious, bilateral dialogue with the Pain Citadels. Obviously there are issues between our governments, such as the unrestricted and arbitrary abduction of Americans citizens to be imprisoned and tortured indefinitely, a role that under our system of government is supposed to be filled by the Department of Pain. But I think these are issues that can be resolved to the satisfaction of both parties.”
Trump, by contrast, openly praised the Pain Citadels. “I love your work. It’s a great thing you’ve got going here,” he told the Pain King, as a blood-red raven perched next to him and stared him in the eye. “This, this is the power of private enterprise, folks. This is what smart people can do when they’re not burdened by government regulation. That woman sure likes to talk about the Department of Pain, but the reality is that the Department of Pain is much less effective — it’s true, look it up — much less efficient than private enterprises like the Pain Citadels. We should be rewarding these great innovators, not burdening them with high taxes and regulations.”
The debate concluded when figures in waterlogged robes, last seen at the presidential debate in the Forbidden Lands, emerged from a mirror the Pain King had foolishly left uncovered. The figures held the Pain Army rapt with deep, forlorn chanting while freeing the presidential candidates, and retreated back into the mirror, Trump and Clinton in tow.
At press time, the seven Approved News 6 correspondents were crying and pleading for mercy as the Pain King’s numberless legions chained them and drove them back into the darkness.
Rebecca Rosenwolf is Approved News 6’s election correspondent. A veteran of political reporting, Rosenwolf has held positions at many networks, often simultaneously, and frequently competing with herself for the 8:00pm EST timeslot. She is the author of several banned books, and lives in Los Angeles with her wife Jess and four ferociously loyal panthers.