Friday, 14 February 2014

#FridayFlash - Payment Taken

I don't normally do multiple part stories, but this week's flash follows on from last week's story, The Shadow Cabinet. I'm not sure if everyone gets the reference, but in the UK, the party (or coalition) in power present a cabinet of ministers with different jobs who are theoretically responsible for those areas. The party in opposition presents a cabinet of ministers with those same job titles, but in a 'shadow' capacity as they aren't in power, hence 'Shadow Cabinet'. I just prefer my own Shadow Cabinet ;-)

* * *

Prime Minister Etherington sat at his desk, staring at the single sheet of paper in front of him. It was pale cream, edged in a sooty residue that now spotted the ink-stained blotter beneath it. A line of type sat in the centre of the page.

Problem solved. Payment taken.

He didn't need the page to tell him this. He'd been listening to the reports for the last five days. The mysterious plague that began affecting the citizens who'd long graced their Suspicion Lists, the same plague that wiped out the entire Ministry of Secrecy in neighbouring Retirany. The supposedly natural disasters that destroyed whole sections of Retirany's major cities, throwing the entire populace first into uproar, and then disarray. He didn't need to be told why it was happening.

Etherington knew that could be explained by the first half of the message. He slumped forward, his fingers curling into his hair as he cradled his head in his hand. The first half was bad enough, but nothing connected those events to his meeting with the Shadow Cabinet. Indeed, Parliament congratulated him on his decisive action, and the destruction of the threat to the nation. They'd figured out the connection between the two, and didn't seem to question the ethics of destroying the lives of innocent citizens to wipe out an invasion plot. During those first five days, he didn't even question it himself. However, what he did mind, what really bothered him, was the second half of the message.

For every Retiran citizen who perished, they lost one of their own population. Not through natural disasters, or mysterious plagues that could be noticed by one side or the other - they simply ceased to be, winked out of existence without warning or fanfare. Etherington didn't need to know why. He'd asked the Shadow Cabinet for help, and now he needed to reconcile himself to what they'd done. They'd tipped the scales first one way, and then the other. His only advantage was that no one else knew; the moment one of their own population disappeared, they took the memories of their existence with them. No one remembered or mourned them. The nation simply seemed quieter, and less crowded than usual.

Only Etherington knew they had once existed, and now because of him, they didn't. That was the price he'd had to pay.

13 comments:

Helen said...

Well, that is really a cabinet working in the shadows me thinks!

Casey said...

That's one heck of a plague :). Very interesting and creepy.

I also couldn't help thinking that there might have been a delay until they discovered the Ministry of Secrecy had vanished, them being so secretive and all lol.

Sulci Collective said...

I had both the shadowy spooks war on terrorism plus the government's baffling Cobra committee meeting about the floods simultaneously evoked by this tale. Resonates for sure

Larry Kollar said...

What a payment! Balance of power achieved, indeed. "Didn't I used to have a bunch of mates at this pub?"

deannaschrayer said...

At least it's a "clean" way to go :) Great episode Icy!

Stephen said...

To obliterate history (and people) like this is a scary amount of power, indeed. Consider just how many things would need to be altered. A good story, Icy.

TEC4 said...

How terrifying ... to simply "go away" as if one had never been ... Very scary stuff. Good work.

David G. Shrock said...

Nice follow. That is one hell of a cabinet. Thanks for the intro as I was a little foggy on the reference.

Tony Noland said...

I liked the quietly horrible feel to this bargain. I wonder how targeted the removals from his own country were.

Steve Green said...

Now that is the wielding of power... and some.

Cindy Vaskova said...

Scary how it's*puff* and then there were none. Very hushed feeling to this story. Very shadowy indeed.

storytreasury said...

Thanks for the intro, I didn't get that before.

And this shadow council has a scary amount of power.

Katherine Hajer said...

It must be scary if it makes a politician have a pang of conscience (sorry, had to go there). I liked the continuation. The two parts would work well together as a non-flash story.

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