This year, I've already made five attempts to be shortlisted with a furious fiction story. So far, I haven't been successful to reach the top, but I did make the longlist three times already: in April with The Day Jay Stopped Jaywalking, in May with The Tourist Trap, and now with the July assignment. I'm quite proud of that achievement, given that English isn't my mother tongue.
These were the criteria for this month:
I didn't mean my story to be about politics, but this is what I came up with:
The face of the blue-blooded child turned crimson with rage.
“I am the king of Utopia,” the little tyrant shouted. “I can do as I please.”
“But what you're asking is impossible, Sire,” his Prime Minister replied.
“No, it's not,” interjected the PM’s contender. “Where there is a will, there is a way.”
“If there were a prize for the best kingdom in the world, Utopia would certainly win it,” the PM argued. “The country is thriving, the fields yield bumper crops year after year, the treasure chest is abundantly full, and your subjects are as happy as any ruler can expect. Why would you want to change that, Sire?”
“Because the people complain about the taxes,” his contender answered in the king’s place.
“My idea is brilliant,” the child king yelled before the PM could disagree. “We stop collecting taxes and we give all the gold we have to our citizens. They will never complain again!”
“Obviously, we’ll ask for something in return,” the PM’s contender specified. “In exchange for gold, we’ll require them to give up all the property they own. Going forward, we’ll charge them for every service they use.”
“Indeed,” the king nodded. “It's a fair measure. Instead of having to pay taxes spent on things they do not need, people will only have to give money for the stuff they really want.”
“That’s madness, Sire,” the PM shuddered. He had been appointed by the boy’s father, the former king, a wise man who had died too young. He couldn’t imagine any politician willing to risk his country’s prosperity, only to gain more power. He was no match for his rival who was exactly such a man.
“You are fired,” the young king decided. He pointed at the now-former PM’s contender and said: “You are my new Prime Minister. See to it that my orders are carried out.”
“Thank you for your confidence, Sire,” the new PM rejoiced. “I’ll start working on your plan right away.”
By the age of sixteen, the boy was no longer king. The new PM was no longer PM; instead, he became the president of the People’s Republic of Utopia. The treasure chest of the country was empty, the pockets of the president full.
“Do you think people are better off now?” the old PM asked his successor.
“Of course not,” the president replied, “but that’s a small price to pay for progress.”