Sunday, September 4, 2011

New Story: The Benevolent Dictator

The Benevolent Dictator
                Scanning across the beaten courtyard, and through the crowd of equally disheveled citizens, the robed man of advancing years thought of the best way to address them. The warriors within the crowd were bruised and bloody, returned after several months of clashes with neighboring empires. They waited and listened to their leader, some nearly collapsed from fatigue. This was the moment they were waiting for, a declaration of peace after constant fighting. Their gracious and proud leader was about to bestow peace to each of them, as a right and privilege for the people of Coastal Ridge.
                "Hmm, how can I say this so they'll all believe me, I ever so would like that? They should like that too. What they don't know won't hurt them. Alright, I have to say something, haha, they're waiting," the benevolent dictator thought to himself, having drawn out the people's attention long enough. His face was red, his neat, black, beard was moistened with sweat. He shifted his feet and swayed back and forth, briefly, to calm his nerves. The oak stage creaked slightly as he moved; the stage mounted cameras were pointed at him, transmitting his speech to the homes of every person in the city on closed circuit television. He started to speak:
            "The battle is over, the fighting has ended. We've fought to the end, and lost many a brave Coastal Ridgian. However, we also fought towards a goal., excuse me. We fought toward peace and prosperity. The marches begin tomorrow. We shall circle the city, woman and children dancing in bright clothing, banners, balloons, and curled ribbons. Following the parade we'll enter the time of 10 year peace. To celebrate our victory I commissioned the building of a large housing unit, grand enough to accommodate every one of you! That is my offering of rest for the battered soldiers and families of those who could not return. We shall rest with them in mind. Now go! Rest up for tomorrow's festivities, up the hill to the Somnipost, you will find a bed of your own. Lay on the softest matress you have ever experienced and sleep sounder than ever.” He extended an open palm to wave them goodbye, crimson velvet flapping with the motion.
                The citizens solemnly looked toward one another; very few smiles were present, except for Bob, their cheerful leader. His large, tooth-filled grin beamed at them. They regarded him with apathy, he kept smiling.
                “Don’t be afraid, when have I ever led you astray? Wait, don’t answer that, haha. Here! Follow me, right up this blue cobble stone road.” He leapt off the stage and darted through the crowd. Such energy for a sixty year old man! He threw his robe to a guard as he passed by, revealing his motley attire. His blue coat tails danced in the wind as he ran. His gold tie caught the sunlight of a late afternoon. The sand underneath his green shoes lifted into the air and formed little clouds. He slid to a halt before the blue road and turned back, catching his breath and scanning the crowd once more. “Come on! What are you waiting for? I have dinner waiting for you, just follow me.”
                The morose crowd must have caught some of Bob’s energy, they started moving. A line formed and started towards the hill. “That’s it! Right this way.”
                They followed Bob up the slope. The Sominpost could be seen in the distance. A tall, ornate building, fixed with gargoyles, smoke stacks, arches and towers. There weren’t any windows on the front, but maybe there were a few in the back. It looked interesting. The large, front door was royal blue. It must’ve been one hundred feet tall. The building itself, well, a good guess would be something like two thousand feet, able to easily accommodate the forty thousand some odd people living in Costal Ridge. The building shone in the setting sunlight.
                They reached the top of the hill. In the distance was Bob, out of breath and panting. He held the large door open with one hand and waved the citizens in with the other. “Right this way, don’t be shy. Please remove your shoes and place them in the chute on the left side of the lobby. Following that process, approach one of the kind and gentle computer kiosks, there are five hundred in this room, and say your name into the microphone. Like this...” He waved in the stragglers and bolted to the nearest computer, swinging his arms wildly as he ran, with the utmost of excitement. He grabbed the gold plated microphone and announced with authority “Robert Olivio the third.” After a short pause the computer responded in a pleasant voice: “Good evening Bob, your suite is ready for you, proceed to the second floor, room two one two.  A monitor in front of him displayed: Floor 2 Room 212, in fancy type.
                He smiled his obscene smile and turned to the crowd. They nodded and shuffled to the computers. The air was filled with the happy, simulated voice of the computers and bland, careless voices of humans. There was also the occasional misting of lavender spray into the room and the crackle of wood burning in the fire place. They all breathed in the calming aroma of lavendar. Bob smiled and nodded.   
                “There are six elevators in the lobby. With your room number in mind, please enter an elevator and it will take you to your peaceful room. From there you may rest. Also, for those who are hungry, feel free to tell your personal computer what you would like to eat. Your choice of a delicious meal will be delivered to you, free of charge of course, haha.”
                The process went smoothly. Speak into the microphone, enter the elevator, rest, eat, and fall asleep. More and more shuffled into the Somnipost. Bob directed them all. The last person checked in at four in the morning. Bob remained standing the whole time. He greeted the small boy with a large smile and a pat on the back. The boy eventually made his way to the elevator. “Phew, finally, I thought they would still be coming in tomorrow. Now it’s time for the real treat.” He sprinted towards the western wall of the lobby and jumped through it. The hologram of a fire place and mantle did not hurt him in the least.  He landed in a large control room. “Computer, I shall dictate my commands now.” “Yes sir,” the computer responded happily.
                “Two parts amino acid, tranquilizers, water vapor and one part dream inducing neurotoxins, the harmless variety. Are you getting this? Ok, good.”  Small vents in the bedrooms piped in aerosolized chemicals. The sleepy inhabitants breathed in the mixture and drifted off into a controlled coma.
                “There, they should be safe for eternity. This is absolutely perfect. Why enter ten year peace, when you can have eternal peace? Now I can begin phase two.”

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