• Published 29th Dec 2013
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Obiter Dicta - GhostOfHeraclitus



A collection of short stories, vignettes, and deleted scenes, mostly based in the Civil Serviceverse and tending to be either slice of life or comedy.

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Civics

Civics

a politically charged vignette

“Elections? You want to know about elections? Well,” Dotted Line gave his audience a long, beady-eyed stare and shrugged, expressively, before continuing, “that isn’t difficult.”

He started stomping back and forth while the ensorcelled microphone tried to keep pace, clattering on its tripod in the manner of a fawn first encountering ice.

“First, you have to have political parties. Now to get these, you have to take the absolute worst of equianity. The craven, the venal, and the mad. Mostly all three. These genetic defectives, these dregs, these bastards we call politicians. Then, these politicians group up—each according to their own specific kind of madness, criminality, and general wretchedness. Now these groups are like a secretive, recalcitrant mixture between criminal gangs and cults, and you call them political parties. Though, I hasten to add, not the fun kind of party.”

Dotted stopped, allowing the microphone to catch up—if it had been enchanted to pant in exhaustion, it would have—and gestured wildly with his hooves.

“And these—these venal, cowardly, malign entities are the bearers of the future of Equestria. It’s in their hooves. But! You have to pick which hooves, see. So you get this other group who are, to the last equine, completely ignorant. Couldn’t tell a constitutional amendment from a hole in the ground. Don’t really know which party is which, couldn’t tell you really which one is in power or what it did, and are fuzzy on what, precisely, they’d want one to do in the first place. These, now, these are the voters.

Dotted paused and took a few ragged breaths. He took a sip from a glass of water, looked at it suspiciously, and took another sip.

“So! Now you have to start the campaign. In this, what you do is, you line up the PR departments of all these parties and they scream lies at each other. Just lie after lie after lie, at the top of their lungs. This goes on for about six months, by the way. The journalists—a coalition of compulsive scribblers who vary between malignant, misinformed, and misdirected—carefully write all of the lies down and these get delivered to the voters for study in the form of thin sheets of traumatized tree known as newspapers. The voters then, after their best attempt at careful consideration—which is about the length of the average bowel movement—misunderstand half of them, and forget the other half, replacing it with a tissue of fancy, fiction, and… and wild surmise.”

Dotted changed the direction of his stomping in mid-stride causing the microphone to trip and catch itself on its own cord. He swept around to suddenly turn to his audience.

“And then—THEN we get the elections. Oh yes. In these all the voters—well no, not all of them, just the ones who had nothing better to do that day like washing their mane, trimming their hedges, or staring, unblinking, at paint as it dries—so these, these extra-idle voters show up at their designated voting stations, get a piece of paper, and are given a bit of privacy in a booth to do their voting. Here, behind a curtain, away from prying eyes, they pick one of the parties they know nothing about to do something they can’t conceive of, for reasons utterly opaque to the rest of equianity and not entirely clear even to themselves. Rumor has it that cosmic rays, phases of the moon, and weather forecasts for continents long since sunk all play a vital part in this mad, deranged process we call democracy. They then take this piece of paper, and put it in a box. Once the day is over, all these pieces of paper are tallied up and counted and tabulated, and we get to know the results, which is to say which group of gormless malicious idiots will attempt to ruin Equestria next. By the morning each paper declares the result a disaster and hires, presumably, escaped mental patients to explain how such a disastrous and unprecedented result came about. These rants, raves, ramblings, and attempts at prophecy then become gospel truth in political circles for the next four years when the WHOLE BLOODY THING STARTS OVER AGAIN.”

Dotted’s gray telekinesis aura picked up the glass, held it as it trembled gently, and then downed it in one go. He grabbed the microphone which couldn’t dodge aside fast enough, and grasped it as if it was a substitute for a neck he wasn’t allowed to wring.

“Your options,” he said, with bleak intensity, “are these. You can be in one of those parties and lie. You can be a voter, and be lied to. Or you can be a civil servant and spend your life cleaning up after things like this. None of these options offer so much as a shred of dignity or sanity. We are, all of us, utterly doomed. Any questions?”

The foals in the audience burst into tears. Behind them, the teacher quietly buried her face in her hooves.


“So we’re scrapping the Civil Service Community Outreach program, then,” asked Balanced Ledger, adjusting her glasses.

“Oh yes. Schools won’t play ball anymore,” said Spinning Top, serenely. “Completely scuppered. On reflection, perhaps we shouldn’t have sent Dotted just after an election. What a shame,” she finished, primly.

“Shame,” asked Ledger, “Didn’t you hate the idea?” She blinked at Spinning with the same perplexed expression she used for particularly recalcitrant differential equations.

“Dearest Ledger,” said Spinning Top with the sincerity only available to born liars, “I am sure I have no idea what you mean.”

Author's Note:

Note that this is not the story I promised. That's being written. Up to about 1000 words so far. This is a completely different story I wrote in July and then utterly forgot. Um. Sorry.

Much thanks for Bookplayer & Bradel for pre-reading and Ferret & Oliver for providing motivation and encouragement.

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