The Problem With Democracy
It was a bright Wednesday morning at St Adrian’s Independent School. Eleven o’clock, to be exact. The English Teacher, Mr Whittaker, was droning on about the Marxist elements of James Joyce, his words dripping off his grey tongue like drops of stale treacle. Everything was taking place as things always took place on such Wednesday mornings. Lila Woods, a bright eyed and bespectacled girl of about seventeen, was sitting to attention, taking in every dull syllable with all the excitement of a miser going over his bank balance. Joshua Parker, meanwhile, was taking great pleasure in tracking the progress of the hands of Whittaker’s clock. Yes, everything was proceeding exactly as expected. Right up until 11.35 when, to the surprise of everyone, a masked psychopath burst into the classroom, wielding a large hunting rifle.
The Psychopath ordered everyone to line up against the back of the classroom. Everyone hastened to obey, with Mr Whittaker shaking the pupils that had fallen asleep during his lecture and ushering them against the wall. The Psychopath then lowered all the blinds in the classroom, enveloping his victims in total darkness.
“Right,” chirped the Psychopath, pointing his rifle at the huddled mass of terrified teenagers (and one incredibly disgruntled English Teacher), “for the sake of convenience, you chaps can call me Rupert. Nice to meet you! I’d appreciate it if you all played along with what I’d like you to do, otherwise, I’m going to start shooting people, like so”.
Rupert pointed his rifle at Mr Whittaker, who was still a bit annoyed about having his incredibly fascinating lesson on James Joyce’s Dubliners and all its Marxist connotations, and fired. The ashen-faced educator’s skull disappeared in a thick spurt of crimson and his pudgy body dropped to the floor like a rag doll. One girl let out a terrified squeal. One floppy haired boy thanked God that none of the English Teacher’s blood had gotten on his brand-new shoes.
“What do you want from us?” whimpered Lila. Rupert grinned at her. He really was a frightening fellow. He couldn’t have been less than seven feet in height, with shoulders like boulders and gloved fists that looked an awful lot like sledgehammers. His neck was thick and pink and the mask he wore made his face look like a grinning skull. So, it was very brave of Lila Woods to start demanding answers of the hulking maniac. In fact, Rupert was so impressed that he decided not to shoot the girl for her insolence.
“It’s very simple,” said Rupert, “I want you guys to make a choice! I want you to vote, if it’s not too much trouble, for the five most attractive people in the class”.
“The five most attractive people?” said Lila, bemused. Joshua decided, for some reason, that this would be the best moment to soil himself out of terror. His urine splashed onto the polished shoes of the floppy haired boy, who let out a squeak of indignation.
“Yep!” said Rupert, “I want you to vote for the five most attractive people in the class. I’m going to let them live and kill everyone else. If you don’t decide in the next twenty minutes, then I’m just going to kill you all. So, hurry up!”
As you can imagine, this sparked quite a lively debate from Rupert’s hostages, of which there were thirteen. At first, it proved to be quite difficult to make any progress at all. Two of the girls were quite offended at this masked murderer for forcing them to judge one another based on something as subjective as attractiveness. The floppy haired boy was too upset about his shoes to contribute much to the conversation. As the minute hand of Whittaker’s clock crept towards the 12, however, the pupils very quickly started to look at their current situation from a more pragmatic angle. Five of them would be spared, based on the votes of their classmates. If they failed to decide, Rupert was going to kill them anyway.
“I know it’s horrible,” said one girl, puffing out her chest and batting her eyes at the boys, “but we don’t have a choice!”
Lila Woods rolled her eyes. She could already see the writing on the wall and knew that there was no way that she would be chosen to be one of the five “attractive” pupils. She was too ticked off to care. The floppy haired boy was still lamenting the state of his shoes.
Eventually, they settled on a vote. As the class was split evenly between boys and girls, it was decided that they would vote for two boys and three girls. Ironically, this was suggested by Joshua. The stupid boy had convinced himself that, of course, he would be elected as one of the “attractive” pupils and that he would be able to hook up with one of the surviving girls. You can imagine the look on his face when, to his horror, he wasn’t elected to be a member of the “attractive” faction. Lila Woods, on the other hand, to her bewilderment, was. The floppy haired boy was the deciding vote and confessed, still crying over his urine-soaked shoes, that he had always found her to be rather pretty. Once the voting had concluded, Rupert ushered the five “attractive” pupils over to a separate wall in the classroom.
“Now then,” said Rupert, “that wasn’t so hard, was it?”
Lila closed her eyes. She didn’t want to see her classmates being slaughtered-especially the floppy haired boy. Joshua raised his hands in a prayer, very much regretting his failure to spend more time at the gym. Rupert raised his rifle…
… and turned to face the five “attractive” boys and girls. He shot them, one after the other. Lila joined her “attractive” fellows in a bloodied heap on the floor. Rupert screeched with laughter and then, before the rest of the class understood what had just happened, shoved his own mouth over the rifle and blew himself into oblivion.
Written by Rhys Clark