Thursday, January 28, 2016


By David Barber

"We hold this truth to be self-evident, that no one desiring rule over his fellows should be admitted to public office.
Which means the last person you want in charge is someone who enjoys power because... What?, don't print that. Wait, no. Halt."
Jamie waved his essay away. News about the war crowded onto the big virtual display above his bed. He'd put it on override because this was the first time he'd been old enough to vote, but also because the Public Office generator had appointed Mr. Blount as this year's President, and Jamie couldn't get over how random it seemed.
Mr. Blount filled the display, looking as frazzled as he did by the end of term. Jamie's new Me-Filter cut in.
The President — former chemistry teacher of Jamie Sands — speaking live about the drone strike.
"It seems that a majority," began Mr. Blount.
"— including Jamie Sands — voted to launch an attack. I think — Jamie Sands — hasn't thought this through and someone will live to regret it. Or not live, as the case may be."
Absently, the President took off his glasses and cleaned them on his tie.
Jamie still couldn't decide whether Jamie Sands sounded better than just Jamie, or even if he should try a tag.
"...against a regime terrorising its own people with chemical weapons. We've all seen the pictures, but even with technology as advanced as a drone-flock, it's never that simple, and..."
Mr. Blount lost the thread, like he used to do when asked why anyone needed to do chemistry.
"But this is the most democratic nation on Earth," he began again. "And this is what the majority -including Jamie Sands — have decided."
The news-stream was replaced by a message from the sponsors.
Now, thanks to Me-Filter know-how, the effects of YOUR vote can be experienced at first hand, INSTANTLY!
Citizens — like Jamie Sands — who voted FOR the strike can piggyback a micro-attack drone. The first ten thousand to press the RED button on their handset will be able to follow the progress of their OWN drone.
Years of gaming paid off, Jamie expertly hit RED and his virtual display faded into monochrome.
Target information down the left of the screen placed the drones close to the position of the infamous 1st Chemical Warfare Regiment.
Changing direction so abruptly the picture leaned, the flock swept above the rooftops of shanties, across a dry stream bed, then over dusty hillsides where children pointed, their faces tilted skywards.
Jamie's eyes widened in excitement as the range unreeled to zero. The flock dived towards a column of parked military trucks. Fleeing soldiers were already falling as drones began to strike home. The picture zoomed in on a soldier flinging away his helmet, gun and gas-mask as he ran.
"No, no," Jamie shouted, as his drone seemed to hesitate. "It's a trick!"
The man dodged past a surprised child holding a soccer ball, and the boy flapped his hands as if warding off a wasp, his face blurring into pixels as the drone darted in. Then the display exploded into darkness.
Jamie Sand's drone has found its target.
Jamie stared at the blank screen for a long time. Eventually it timed out and defaulted back to his essay on democracy.

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