Budget Cuts

The man was waffling on about deficit reduction, and gross domestic product, but everyone was tuned in waiting to hear one thing, and one thing only.

“When will he get to the tax cuts?” someone in the room asked.

Everyone just shuffled uneasily. No-one liked to admit this was the only thing they were interested in, and so the question remained unanswered.

It was another ten minutes until he turned his page, and cleared his throat, before getting to it.

“Now, I know a few of you have been waiting for my announcement about the tax cuts,” he said with a shit-eating grin that prompted some knowing laughter in the chamber.

When the TV cameras cut to a wide shot, it was plain to everyone that all of the members on the Government benches were a good three foot taller than those sitting on the opposition ones.

A few people in the room darted quick glances at the higher ups, the minority of the group, gathered at the back, peering easily over the heads of their subordinates. No-one really knew when their society had adopted the height-based ‘meritocracy’, because it was so ingrained in their minds. Tall people were just better, it was agreed. Even when it wasn’t.

The six foot tall man on the TV continued.

“Anyone under five foot four should report immediately to their cut centres, and pay,” the pause he left for dramatic effects was appreciated by no-one. “A further three centimetres.”

Groans drifted around the room, and a few mumbles could be heard. Only the people at the back were smiling.

“Anyone over five foot eight, will not be taxed.”

A cheer went up around the chamber, and was echoed from the back of the room.

“It’s only fair,” said one of them, to the agreement of the others. “Short people can’t contribute to society the way tall people do. And it’s only another three centimetres.”

No-one commented that the short were getting shorter.

It wasn’t the done thing.

The Most Awkward Blog I Have Ever Written

Sometimes you have to step outside of your comfort zone, if only to remember why you defined the borders of that zone in the first place. So it was, that this weekend, I set myself an arbitrary, stupid, and ultimately pointless challenge.

Write and make something.

I set myself a few rules.

  • No preplanning
  • No rewriting
  • Publish it no matter what

It also had to be between 10 and 15 minutes long, and it had to be something that I could make entirely on my own. Imposing restrictions like that, I find, is often a good way of having ideas, weirdly.

The point was to remind myself why it is I like to pre-plan my writing, and to remind myself why re-writing is so important.

That’s why posting this is quite so unnerving. I might as well be showing you my big fat arse.

 

I can already list a dozen things I would do in a re-write, including getting rid of the weird car references at the start, and totally changing how and who does what, as well as doing a few more takes of certain line readings, and you know, getting someone who can actually act.

So, what have I learned from this stupid exercise?

That I need a social life.

The Day After

No regrets.

It was a good mantra to live by, even if it was impossible. Perhaps a better expression of the sentiment would be ‘don’t dwell too much on those regrets’.

As whoopsies go however, this one was a doozy. A real humdinger. It if was a hangover, it would be one that could actually split a head in half, jump on someone else, and send them back to bed for a week.

There had been clues of course.

She recognised them now, in hindsight. The uneasy feeling in her stomach, the nagging sensation in her mind, the big flashing red warning lights. Not to mention the ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ button that she’d blithely pressed Yes to.

It’s not like she could take it all back, so why even bother dwelling on it?

She couldn’t be sure that everyone was dead. She just strongly suspected as much. Knowing it was impossible to undo, all she wanted now was to move past it and get on with her life.

And anyway, you’d think deleting a planet would be a lot harder than it had been.

Plugging one end of her USB cable into the ground, pressing the Delete key on her keyboard, and clicking through a few warning boxes hardly seemed enough.

And then it was gone.

The whole bloody planet.

Wiped from existence. Or maybe just marked as usable on the great hard drive in the sky. Either way, there was no recycle bin big enough for a whole planet. If she could recover it, there was bound to be some sectors missing. Sectors had been missing from it for years anyway, judging by the way things had been going.

No. Best to just forget about the whole thing. It wasn’t even worth figuring out how she had survived, floating in the vacuum of space, somehow able to breathe and not freeze to death.

A thought tickled the corner of her brain. The more she tried to focus on it, the more elusive it became, and she had to chase it down the dark corridors of her mind for nearly an hour before she grabbed it by the tail and hauled it into the light.

She smiled.

There was something to it.

It was devious.

It was quite mad.

But it might just solve this whole silly predicament.

And the more she explored it from every angle, the more she could see it was a brilliant solution.

She’d painted herself into a corner.

There was only one thing for it.

She screamed for her Mum.

But sound doesn’t travel in a vacuum.

The Day The President Fell

It started like most days that year.

Horrifically.

But as the day unfolded, and revelation followed bombshell, it felt like the sun had come out from a year long hibernation, spreading its heat and glow, and thawing everyone’s cockles just enough to feel a warmth in the world again.

No-one really knew why they had elected a man with a massive orange for a head as the President of the World. It had started off as a joke. Lots of hilarity was spent on working out how he was talking without a mouth. Anatomically speaking, there was no way he could be making sounds, until we all realised he really was talking out of his arse.

That accounted for the noxious odour that accompanied each and every one of his utterances.

No-one really knew how he had ended up with a massive orange for a head either. The rumour was it had something to do with a rusty, dusty old lamp and a series of wishes, though it had never been proven. He wouldn’t release his wish returns, no matter how hard he was pressed. Curious behaviour for an orange.

Every day the news was bleak. Some scandal or another, slowly unfolding like a slow motion origami flattening, followed some heinous outburst that made the last one seem like a fragrant fart.

And still the man with the massive orange for a head remained President of the World.

It didn’t seem to matter what happened, he just sat there, a massive orange atop a black suited moron. And we all watched on, horrified, unable to look away.

And then he fell.

It happened so quickly that the news channels weren’t actually sure it had happened at all. They kept going over and over it, moment by moment, calling on experts and pundits to analyse ever detail of the event. And still no-one quite believed what was happening. Even the most gleeful opponents had to take a few moments to process it, while the most fervent supporters clasped their chests and wailed about the inhumanity of it all.

It took a few days for the fog to lift, and things started to get back to normal. No-one really mentioned the man with the massive orange for a head again, except tangentially, and with a rueful smile.

We all remember the moment that the President fell though.

The way he stumbled on the bottom step.

The way he toppled over.

The way his head burst.

The way the juice exploded everywhere.

The way to pulp flew through the air.

It was glorious.

Fall Back

Having an extra hour in the day really appealed to Larry. He always seemed so pressed for time these days, and things were getting forgotten. The house needed a lick of paint, some of the pipes were rumbling, the dog needed to be fed, and it was all getting overlooked.

Come to think of it, he hadn’t seen the dog for weeks. No wonder he was neglecting to feed the damn thing. It’s not like the cat ever let him forget to fill up the bowls.

The plan was simple.

Convert to a twenty five hour day.

And if that worked, more time could be had by implementing an eight day week.

What to name that extra day would be solved later. For now though, the extra hour was easy. Ish.

Should he put it at the full end of the day, and have 13 o’clock? He wasn’t sure that made sense. There wouldn’t be a 13 o’clock in the afternoon then. Though, as he thought about it, that would negate the need to differentiate between the two clock cycles. And on the twenty four hour clock, having it at the end would make it easy. It’s just a twenty five hour clock. It’s not like he could put the extra hour anywhere else. It couldn’t go from 1300 hours straight to 2500 hours.

Decision made.

The extra hour goes at the end of the day.

He’d had the idea when the clocks went back, giving him the extra hour in bed. Having that extra hour every day though, now, that would solve all his problems. He might even be able to figure out what that weird smell was.

And he wouldn’t just spend that extra hour in bed, he was determined.

What’s more, he realised he wouldn’t have to build some weird time dilating machine – he could just add the extra hour himself.

The new regime was working well, aside from a few extra lie-ins. He’d even used those twenty fifth hours to good effect at least once. Another episode of Star Trek had been watched, leaving him a good extra fifteen minutes to nap.

Sure, he’d been late for work five times and they’d fired him, but that just freed up more time to do other things.

The plan was working.