The Outpost by Nina Medernach
The outpost had existed for centuries, stocked with soldiers for reasons lost to time. Nothing ever happened in this far-off corner, so at night these soldiers would drink, they would sing, and on especially boring nights they would play a game. They would pick out weapons they liked and they would use them in whatever way they liked, on whomever they liked, and at the end they saw who could come up with the best reason for use. The winners were decided well in advance, for the army cannot afford to have losers.
A Busy Life by Cade Richmond
Autumn has arrived, and the trees have begun to shed their various green, orange, and red leaves. The legislator rushes out of a taxi, spilling their hot latte on their trousers. They scramble to clean themselves up, dropping their briefcase only to see their work documents fly through the air with the leaves. Already late to work, they barely look back as the information departs.
The legislator arrives at the office. Fine mahogany bookcases line the walls and two plush green armchairs sit in room’s center. The legislator takes a seat, unable to enjoy the furnishings with the stacks of papers that clutter their view. They have ten appointments that day and two meetings. No time to focus on their stained attire or the papers they lost.
Another legislator was just fired because they did not submit their briefs on time. No time to linger. The phone rings. The legislator answers but continues to parse through emails. Reception is bad in this basement office and the legislator barely knows who they are speaking with. They are asked for permission to fire. The legislator remains enthralled with their inbox and says, “hold on a minute.” Four warriors were just killed in combat.
The Humanitarian by Elizabeth Bellotti
The Humanitarian brings a family a bag of rice, for they have no rice. And then he notices the well is broken in the town. So the Humanitarian repairs the well. And when he notices the neighboring towns are stealing from the well, he insists on bringing in security to guard the well.
Now the family has well water and rice but not electricity. So the Humanitarian brings in The Company to install the electricity. He brokers a deal with The Company and brings electricity to all the town, for just the cost of some surrounding land. And the Company must protect their newly established land, and men roll in to surround the land.
Now the family has rice, well water, and electricity. And the Humanitarian is praised. All the Humanitarian’s peers hail him for being so benevolent and good.
But the family does not recognize their own town anymore. They can barely step outside their house anymore. The security guard of the well clash with the security guards of The Company, and the gunfire crosses their yard.
And the Humanitarian sits and watched.
The family did not need rice in the first place, for they had lentils. They did not need well water, for they had the city’s tap water. And they had a wood stove, which gave them heat and cooked their food.
Only the Humanitarian insisted they needed rice. And the bag of rice always has bugs.
The Indiscriminate King by Elizabeth Bellotti
There was a man who they called the Indiscriminate King. The citizens called on him for every dispute, for they did not know the bad from the good. Only the King could translate the ancient tablet that contained the rules of the city. And so no matter what, no matter when, he was there again and again.
A Son wanted to kill his father, and so The King sanctioned his anger. And a father wanted to kill his son, and so The King authorized the poison. The King permitted the good, he certified the bad.
This man was no magician, his magic was ever so plain. He used only words and twisted them in different ways. No man was the wiser, except for the King, because he could translate the tablet, however he pleased.