Cutting Back

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

An important meeting is taking place.

Submitted: February 11, 2018

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Submitted: February 11, 2018



Cutting Back.

He waited until the assembled had somewhat settled. There was a certain satisfaction to be gained from watching their discomfort and confusion. He could see them whispering amongst themselves, trying to figure out why they had been called there; far easier to cope acceptably if they knew what they were going to be presented with.

Well, not this time. All of them present had been kept firmly outside of the loop.

He let them stew for a few minutes longer before walking in as though he had just that minute arrived. They all stood, pretending respect if not feeling it, and only sat back down when he had taken position at the head of the table. He lowered himself on to the chair, and they all sat.

For a moment he allowed himself to picture the strings of his puppets. They knew who was in charge, who was the master puppeteer, and if he was challenged he would simply fetch some scissors, snip those threads and stand back to watch those puppets fall.

Good morning, Sir,” from each and every one. He didn’t answer but nodded his head in acknowledgement.

I’m sure you are all wondering why I called you all here this morning.” He looked them in the eye, one after the other, but no one actually answered. “We are here to talk cutbacks.”

That was a shock they’d not been expecting. In fact, to the contrary, with all of the threats and instability they had been predicting and pushing for recruitment on a large scale. War tended to decimate the armed forces so it stood to reason they’d need more men, more women, trained quickly to take the place of those injured or dead.

But sir...with all due respect, that is not what we need. We need more in our defence forces, not less.” A man in a smart uniform, well decorated with badges, could not hold his silence.

He looked hard at the man, raised his eyebrows. “Don’t forget who’s in charge here!”

That one remark silenced all the other questions, disagreeing statements, that might have been forthcoming. Those around the table stared at it waiting for what was to follow, all clueless of what it could be. Had he finally gone mad? Snapped? Got lost in LaLa Land?

People make mistakes....human error, it’s called. Maybe a result of poor training, or perhaps of poor judgement. The result is always the same. Failure!”

A pause, he had his audiences attention with just those few sentences. He also had their confusion and he relished it; a part of his power that he could never get enough of.

Humans can pause when immediate action is called for. It could be from empathy, from cowardice; hell, some even feel guilt. This effects their efficiency and can lose or win a war. That is why I am going to introduce sweeping cuts to all of our defence forces, effective immediately. If you look to the papers in front of you, each has been provided a figure....”

But, Sir....”

No interrupting, if you please, gentlemen.”

Again he allowed a few seconds for the assembled to settle before he resumed talking. “You will make those cuts, but, believe me, there will be no reduction in our defence.” He discretely pressed a button and down from the ceiling they descended, one for each gathered man, drones, armed and deadly.

Meet your new fighters. Ones free from human error. Ones that don’t need paying or expect pensions. Ones that will carry out my orders the instant that they are given. They feel neither compassion or remorse.”

They were almost silent as they hovered beside their given target’s heads. There would be no words of disagreement, no dispute at all. This was one change that he could implement without meeting any resistance whatsoever.

Now, gentlemen, if you would all like to pick up your pens and sign your names, you will be escorted to the door. You will then instantly carry out my orders or else....”

The single remaining drone took aim at a portrait hanging from the wall, one of his predecessors, and fired a single shot which tore in to the canvas face right between the eyes.

The gathered figures remained speechless after he had vacated his seat. Stunned into silence, perhaps; shocked to obedience. Either way they would leave and those orders, for better or for worse, would be implemented immediately. They just had to come up with some sort of believable explanation.


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