Sunday, March 29, 2015

Pleasing a Dictator Is Harder Than It Looks

March 20, 2015,
13:22 local time,
Outskirts Marketplace,
15km from Cuttack, Orissa

Today was a downcast day at the market. Normally, March was supposed to be the beginning of the “wet” season, with an average rainfall of 5.1 inches, with that total increasing until October. However, several heatwaves descended upon Orissa from the northern deserts, meaning that an uncharacteristically hot and dry month was the result. Barely half an inch of rain had fallen this month, and it showed in the crops, many of whom the Oriya had hoped they could start planting now but with the ground insufficiently nourished, there wasn’t any water to feed the seeds.

Thus, for the past few weeks the Oriya went about their day to day lives without much food. Many knew to “stock up” during the dry season and wait for the rains to grow the crops they needed and feed the elephants, but without the rain, there was not much hope. Thus, the Oryia Republic relied a lot more than usual on the foreign aid it received, which in 2014 amounted to the equivalent of over US$13.4 billion.

So while the marketplace remained open, very few vendors had much to sell, opting to spend the time visiting each other’s stalls (all of which doubled as tents, with them being the vendors’ living quarters) chatting amongst themselves and trying to make jokes about their bleak situation, which only provided momentary relief. Kids could be seen running around the stalls, many of whom playing an Oryia equivalent of “cops and robbers” yielding little more than branches, which was a joy for the parents to watch, even if they knew their youth made them too young to “appreciate” the conditions they really lived in.

As the noon hour passed and the people made do with what little food they had- and, in these circumstances, people were more than willing to share, knowing that a smaller pittance shared equally trumps the inequity of some eating while others didn’t- there was little people could do besides sit and wait...and then it came.

In the distance, the roaring engines of the food trucks could be heard, with the noises getting so tantalizingly louder as they approached. The trucks may be rusty, with several well past being on their last legs, and their cargo would be riddled with bugs and slime and other nasty stuff the Oriyan elements couldn’t prevent from landing on the food, but the Oriya did not care. For them, the sight of the trucks was all that mattered, because with the trucks came the knowledge that the food the crowd so desperately wanted and needed, was well within reach.

Eventually, the drivers of the trucks would park and enter into their open flatbeds, ready to dispense their load. The people gathered en masse around them, all eagerly outstretching their hands and pushing each other just to get a closer spot to the loot. There was supposed to be a structure where the Oriya were supposed to line up and receive their food one at a time, but as the drivers themselves knew, that would be an impossibility when you have a village that’s been starving for a week. So the drivers did what they always did, grabbing the care packages and carelessly tossing them into the crowd, as the people fought to be the one that grabbed the lucky package. Several would get broken and others would become useless by getting trampled on, but the drivers didn’t care- whatever the villagers could salvage they’d split amongst themselves anyway, once they came to their senses and overcame their starving anamalistic urges.

In all, some 500 loaves of bread, 500 bushels of corn and 1500 2L bottles of Pepsi were handed out, all compliments of Love, the Virtue organ responsible for international charity. As the goods were distributed, a camera was rolling with a Mongol narrator, Ganbator Enkhtuyaa, or simply “Enkhe”, happily telling her audience- the millions that watched Virtue’s video aggressively shared across social media- that this was yet another example of the good that Love provided. The viewers, drawn in by Enkhe’s bubbly personality, her bright, white smile, boldly black hair and glisteningly smooth ivory skin that gave her supermodel good looks, would mostly all lap it all up, believing the cheery video and the happier people that populated it, because the image was only one of unending positivity.

It never occured once to these people- the video’s viewers or the aid recipients it showed- that everything about the video, from the setting, to the people involved and the overall setup, was over the top and planned so that it could appear the most positive depiction possible. The truck was actually supposed to roll in two days ago, but overcast skies meant the video makers wouldn’t get the bright, sunny display propaganda videos demanded. It also never occured to the people that, despite getting a week’s worth of food, they weren’t likely to receive another shipment for a month, if they were lucky. Meaning in about a week or two’s time, the aid receipients would be back to where they were before the trucks came rolling in- tired, hungry and deflated, with all the positive energy the video created was a sham.

They also never seemed to wonder why the vast majority of the Oryia were essentially homeless, forced to live in makeshift huts or tents based on whatever items they could forage (or whatever items didn’t blow away through the rain), and yet their President, the seemingly indomitable Raju Dash, lived in a sprawling palace that was the picture of opulence. Not only was it built in the finest marbles and stones and contained all sorts of statues- mostly ones that depicted him- the Presidential Palace (located just south of the marketplace) included a large petting zoo, the only portion open to the public, that featured every kind of animal that’s available on the Indian subcontinent. He did pay his staff well, although he didn’t have to, as most of the people that worked for him needed to pay off some kind of debt to him anyway.

Perhaps they didn’t notice because Dash was hardly one of a kind. Of Virtue’s 201 members, 176 received foreign aid from Love, which Virtue proudly boasted was lower than the 182 nations the old United Nations routinely tried to give aid to. The organization argued this is because their funding formula was not as complicated as the UN’s old approach, since Virtue’s funding formula was based on a nation’s total population. Love claimed this ensured aid went to the people that needed it the most, but Love’s accounting books are never opened- except to the highest levels of government- which allowed it to distribute the wealth as it saw fit.

As it happened, the result was that aid flowed almost entirely to the top government officials, who spent what they needed to keep their armies capable of suppressing revolts with the top leaders keeping the rest for themselves. This always ensured that Dash always lived in luxury, all while keeping his own people impoverished and unable to revolt- like the rest of Virtue’s happy dictators. Today, some US$2 million was received by Orissa, but only $7500 went to the people- $10,000 went to administration, another $500,000 each went to the government and the army and the rest went to Dash himself, which he wasn’t impressed by considering he expected more, though there was little he could do at this stage.

After the trucks rolled by the village, one of them drove up to the Presidential Palace to deliver Dash a new easychair, made of the finest leather. As the truck rolled in, Enkhe slipped into something a little more “comfortable”, a tiny red cocktail dress which she wore when she greeted the President, awaiting her in his room after the truck checked in at reception.

“I heard you were coming,” said Dash as Enkhe entered the room and closed the door behind her. The muscular Dash, wearing nothing but a tight T-Shirt and shorts, was nonchalantly sitting on his bed, munching on vegetable snacks and having a protein bar while watching satellite TV.
“You don’t seem too happy to see me,” said Enkhe, who smiled hoping it would lighten the dour President’s mood.
The President didn’t offer much of a response, giving her a short glance and a small huff before resuming watching his show, which was far more interesting to him.
Enkhe was surprised by his reaction, widening her eyes and leaving her mouth agape, but she wasn’t fazed, knowing that the dress she had on was the President’s favourite.

“What are you watching?” Enkhe asked, cheerfully, sitting down next to him and curling up next to his big, beefy arm.
“Oh, it’s just something,” he said, refusing to take his eyes off the TV.
“You don’t know what it is?” The Mongolian beauty then began stroking his arm with her hand, gently, which Dash noticed, though only slightly.
“At this time of day, there’s hardly anything on.”
“Then why don’t I give you your present?” Enkhe smiled, looking at him suggestively as she mouted him and straddled his groin.
The President was unmoved. “My present wasn’t as big as it was before. I’m not sure I want it.”
“Oh come on.” Enkhe started to rub his chest with her hands in a circular motion, feeling every groove of his perfectly sculpted muscles. “You know I can’t control how much the people give you.” She then gave Dash a kiss on his forehead, a smooth, slow sensual one that allowed the President to feel every inch of her soft, comfortably bubbly lips.

The President liked feeling Enkhe’s skin, smooth as silk, on his body, but he wasn’t going to give in to her feelings that easily. He easily had millions of women- many of them as pretty as Enkhe- that were willing to throw themselves at him, so he saw no need to be taken by Enkhe right at that moment.

Enkhe, though, was nothing but determined, deciding to rock herself back and forth, rubbing her groin right against his, hoping to spark a reaction. The President’s attention was piqued when he felt that Enkhe had no underwear on, but he quickly reminded himself that Enkhe planned it that way.

“You’ll have to do better than that if you expect these pants to come off,” said Dash nonchalantly, gently pushing her off of him.

“Oh come on you big brute!” Enkhe cooed, leaning in and nibbling on his ear, which just made him more annoyed. “You’ve had a long day...let me take care of you.” Dash just gave her a glance with his eyes and resumed watching TV, which prompted Enkhe to take his hand and thrust it between her legs. She then took his hand and let him feel his way in there. “Come on! I even exercised for you...”

Dash did like what he felt in Enkhe’s genital region, but for some reason, he was still nonplussed. Enkhe was unfazed, again whispering in his ear.

“I even brought Oyuun here,” she said, softly and seductively.

Dash’s eyes widened, his face overcome with excitement with the thought of the blonde Oyuun’s body thrust right in his face. She was a portly woman with a very round figure who wore her hair in a ponytail that made her look like one giant baby. Her obesity would usually repel even the most desperate of men, but Dash was different. He was aroused instantaneously, and dropped his pants as soon as Oyuun, dressed in the skimpiest of bikinis, walked in, with Dash’s grin wider than the horizon.

“Shall we get started?” Enkhe said, as Dash forewent an answer and decided to start passionately kissing her.

The Explosion That Started a Revolution

March 6, 1992
23:16 local time,
Town outskirts,
Thule, Greenland Province, USA

“Crap,” said Tarak, recognizing the unmistakable throttling sounds his snowmobile was making. Forced to make a stop, Tarak slowed his vehicle down, coming to a full stop by a snow bank before turning off his engine. He took a look around the exterior of the machine to see if he could find any evidence of leaks, but after a few fruitless minutes, Tarak shook his head and grimaced.

“Stupid machine,” he said angrily to himself while kicking a small piece of ice. “I had this serviced last week…how could it possibly fail now?” He popped the engine hood and took a deep breath, which left a burning sensation in his throat due to the extreme cold, before grimacing, as he was now forced to take off his gloves just to look around the engine and see if he could find the source of the problem.

As he was checking out his snowmobile, he thought he felt the wind pick up a little. Already gusty, the wind seemed to pick up in speed with each passing second, a phenomenon that struck Tarak as odd. Eventually, rumbling permeated the air, with the strength of the air beginning to crescendo. “The katabatic wind was yesterday,” said Tarak, whose confusion was starting to display. “We usually don’t get them two days in a row.”

Then Tarak popped out from under his hood and took a look, taken aback once he left the underside of the snowmobile and got to see what was actually happening.

“What the heck is that?” he said in astonishment.

Crime-fighting, the Arlynali Way

November 16, 2014,
04:29 local time,
Mount Cameroun,
Buea, Arlynal

“Come on,” shouted a burly African man in Cale Quentin’s ear as he shoved Quentin forward. “We don’t have all day!”
Quentin groaned, but offered no resistence, surrounded by four guards who had menaced him for hours. The Mexican’s feet, stripped of his shoes, were lined with cuts and scrapes from being forced at gunpoint to walk up the heights of Mount Cameroon, with Quentin barely able to make much progress due to the shackles affixed to his feet. He had interconnected shackles around all of his limbs and his neck that allowed for some movement but not much, with a shock collar placed around his neck. As he looked skyward, he could see the bright lights of Orion shining down on him, the constellation’s full regalia on display.

Oh Orion, thought Quentin, how can you stand so tall and so brave when facing such adversity? How I wish I had the strength you have, so that I too could face Taurus and Hydra and vanquish them both, instead of me crawling here, crawling to my certain doom. Quentin then began to cry, overwhelmed by his feelings. Oh how I wish I could strong right now, just so I could vanquish my foes and defeat the evil that lies before me!

He sobbed uncontrolably, collapsing into the ground bereft of any energy. He then grew nauseous, vomitting after realizing all the fear he was experiencing, before stumbling up to all fours. He still didn’t move, taking several deep breaths to compose himself, which earned Quentin a strong blow to his head by the butt of the burly guard’s rifle.

“Quit your whining, wimp,” snarled the burly guard, before realizing it’d be a lost cause. He groaned as he motioned his assistants forward, and ordered them to pick up Quentin and carry him up the mountain, since it became clear Quentin didn’t have the strength to keep climbing.

When the guards reached the summit, they were greeted by a Caucasian man, Charlie Fulham, the First Knight of Arlynal, who looked at the guards with a purposeful, intense glare. Fulham wore a full, bushy but groomed beard and goatee, donning a white fedora that complimented his short, light brown hair. He was wearing loafers and had khaki pants- held up with suspenders- and a white dress shirt on, which he usually wore with a trenchcoat but tonight was too hot for that to happen.

Still, the tall, portly but muscular Fulham stood tall and imposing, and the instant Quentin saw him his fear turned into a full blown panic attack, trembling as Fulham walked towards him with a steely glare.

“So, punk,” said Fulham with his strong, gruff voice. “Do you have a name?” Quentin was about to answer before Fulham cut him off, getting right in Quentin’s face. “No it doesn’t matter, because a putz like you only has one name- pathetic.” Quentin grimaced, expecting Fulham to punch him but Fulham walked away instead.

“You’re scared, aren’t you Cale?” Fulham said, letting out a slight sardonic chuckle. “You’re probably going on and on about ‘oh, woe is me’ aren’t you?” He then raised his voice, which caused Quentin to double back in more fear. “Well you shouldn’t think that, because you did this to yourself, and scum like you get what you deserve.”

Fulham then read out a list of names. They represented people killed by Quentin when they bought Quetin’s drugs at the “Love Festival” in Berlin back in August. Quentin had spiked the drugs- which were similar to the ones available in Berlin- with the intention of framing local drug dealers with the deaths so that their drugs would be discredited, allowing for Quentin to peddle his own drugs on the market in their place. The local police did the job Quentin wanted them to do, but Fulham did his own investigation and learned about Quentin’s scheme, precipitating his men to kidnap Quentin and summarily execute him in Arlynal.

“27 people killed, Cale, 27 people!” Fulham said, scolding Quentin. “Even one death is one death too many, but 27...that’s one heck of a ball game. We have a credo here, amongst us criminals, and that’s that we don’t sacrifice the lives of the innocent, especially for our own ends. I mean, Cale, killing the innocent is bad enough...but doing so solely for your own vanity? That’s a very low move...almost the lowest of the low...and tonight you will pay for that.”

As Quentin quivered, doing his best not to get into convulsive fits despite his nerves and the slimey lizard that decided to crawl up his leg, Fulham took out his gun and loaded it. First, he shot Quentin in his lower back, paralyzing him from the waist down and causing him to fall backwards to the ground. Then Fulham- taking his time to do so- took his gun and placed the barrel upwards in Quentin’s mouth, so that it would aim right for his brain. He then slowly pulled the trigger, shooting multiple times to leave no doubt. In seconds, Quentin would be dead, a lifeless husk bleeding from his head and his back. Once Fulham realized Quentin was dead, he pulled out a small tattoo gun and put a small symbol of the Arlynali snake- the national symbol- on Quentin’s left shoulder, so that anyone who would find his body knew that the government was making an example of his abhorrent behaviour.

As Fulham was walking towards his car, his bodyguard, the strong but slender Sally Longfellow, walked up beside him. Dressed simply in a grey tank top and shorts, the young ivory-skinned redhead was still new to her post, but she took to Fulham quickly, which earned the big guy's respect very quickly.

“Sir,” said Longfellow, pondering things upon seeing her first execution. “Not that I think you are wrong to do what you do, but, I must ask- do you ever think that, sometimes, you may need to do things differently? Why must we skirt the law in order to uphold it?”
Fulham paused, ending his walk to look straight at Longfellow, a move that Longfellow repeated. He wanted to comment about how na├»ve Longfellow was, but he realized that the young woman didn’t nearly have the experiences the jaded Fulham had, so it would be of no use to chastise her. He did decide to leave her a poignant remark.

“You know, Sally,” said Fulham with a sigh. “Yeah, sometimes I do wish I could do things differently and that we in this world could stay within the ‘straight and narrow’, but you’re going to have to trust me that things in this world work the way they do for a reason. Because,”

He paused to sigh before wagging his finger pointedly at Longfellow while continuing, urgency creeping into his voice.

“Let me tell you something, kid, about ‘keeping to the straight and narrow,” said Fulham bluntly, “the only thing that’s going to do is get you buried six feet under. If you ever want the future to change, you have to remember that’s how the present works.”