Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Twenty Third Entry: Teasing the Piranha

November 17th

Alex has made no headway on his idea about electing a new leader for Mallville, but lets face it, that wasn't legit anyway. He just wanted to use the idea that Kaur would not allow an election to be a shit-disturber. Kaur has not made any sort of public response yet, but I'm sure he will soon; he pretty much has to.

It went down like this; Alex led a small group of supports into Hashmir's office. The group consisted of me, Gerry, Maria, Sharon, Tara, Benny, and Rosa. We marched straight past his assistant, a short little Asian woman named Holly Tanaka who we used to see following him around in her crisp little uniform with a clipboard like an obedient puppy.

“You can't go in there!” Holly yelled at us, rising from her desk. She didn't pull her sidearm, she didn't need to, there were two other security officers flanking the door to the office, both were armed with what I am pretty sure from my years of playing video games were MP5s, although I couldn't tell you what variation they were.

Interesting note, it was not Hashmir's Head of Security office that we were entering; Hashmir has taken the old president's office for his own. Dennis Henry was the president of operations and the head of the council, but his name was already gone from the door, and had been replaced with Kaur's

Alex did not let the gun-toting officers even slow him down, he opened the unlocked office door, and led us all right past them without even the slightest thought that they might actually shoot us. I was not so sure, but he was right.

The president's office puts Alex's to shame. It's almost three times the size, and actually has windows. It's located right over Mallville's main entrance, the one at the center of the shopping area, and it looks out over the public parking lot. I have to say that this is a bit of a dumbshit move on Kaur's part, as he would be easy pickings for a sniper, but then Kaur does seem to excel more in deviousness than he does in actual smarts.

Kaur's new desk also put Alex's to shame; it's this big heavy thing made out of dark wood as opposed to the flatpack Ikea-style desk that Alex uses. In front of the desk were three chairs for visitors, made from the same dark wood with burgundy cushions on the seats and seat backs.

There was a big couch along one wall, upholstered in dark brown fabric, with bookshelves on either side. I noticed that any actual trace of Mr. Henry was gone, as the bookshelves now held framed pictures of Hashmir with and without his security officers, as well as one of him with the governor. There were also various certificates, the kind that businesses give to employees instead of any real recognition for the work they do.

Across from the desk, next to the door to the outer office, was a big plasma screen television mounted on the wall with a small cabinet under it, no doubt containing at least a DVD player. There were a couple of doors on one wall too; I'm guessing a closet is behind one of them, and probably a bathroom behind the other.

“Hello there, Mister Sigler, I was not aware we had an appointment today,” was how Kaur greeted us, looking away from the flat screen monitor on the top of the desk.

“You know, we don't, but this seemed like such a gosh-darned good idea that I had to share it with you,” replied Alex with much fake cheer.

“I have a few free minutes,” said Kaur, in equally fake cheer. He clicked his mouse a couple of time, and then reached over to turn off the computer monitor, “Let us hear this great idea of yours.”

“Thank you, Mister Kaur,” replied Alex, “So it's been a couple of weeks since you have officially installed yourself as our leader-”

“I was the obvious choice,” interrupted Hashmir.

“Well now you see, that's the thing. Not everyone thinks you are the obvious choice. In fact there seems to be a large number of people who do not think there actually is an obvious choice. I should think that so much uncertainty about you being our leader would make eventual dissension a possibility.”

“It seems to have already made it self known once,” replied Kaur.

“No doubt. Which is why I have an idea on how to make sure the leader of Mallville is not a matter in dispute, but is someone who everyone can acknowledge is the leader the people want.

“And let me guess, that leader would be you?”

“Not necessarily.”

“Stop wasting my time, Sigler, get to the point,” Kaur's cheerful facade dropped to reveal some naked annoyance.

“Well, this is still America, and the way we decide our leaders around here is by open and free elections. We should hold a vote and let the citizens of Mallville pick our new leader.”

“I suppose you would run?” asked Hashmir.

“ I would, but I am sure others will too.”

“So with the world being overrun by flesh-eating corpses, you want us to put aside all work towards surviving this to start campaigning for votes? And who would run things while we are all fighting it out, who would be making decisions?”

“You would, of course. You would be our interim leader until the election, and then, provided you win the election, you would truly be the leader of the people,” explained Alex, already knowing what answer he would get.

“You are absolutely insane, do you know that, Sigler?” asked Kaur.

“I've been told that before, but I do think this is one of my saner ideas.”

“I can only imagine what other ideas you are comparing it to. There will be no election; we cannot waste our time bickering with each other and making campaign promises that cannot be kept. You yourself should be too busy for this nonsense, what with supplies in Covenant itself becoming scarce.”

“Oh yeah!” exclaimed Alex, as if reminded of something, “ I wanted to talk to you about those little secret runs you're doing with your little soldiers? Scavenging is really my department, and if you're going to be doing your own little separate runs, I think you should be doing them through me. What if I send a group to someplace that your security forces have already scavenged? Then I will have wasted time, fuel, and put lives at risk for nothing.”

“That is not a discussion that I am prepared to have in front of an audience.”

“Speaking of scavenging,” It was clear that Kaur was starting to tire of Alex's antics, so I decided now would be a good time to assert myself, ”You know, Sharon, Maria, Gerry, and I would like permission to transfer back to Scavenging. I think any punishment you wished to inflict for our insubordination before has been more than appropriate by now.”

“We've learned our lesson,” contributed Gerry, “ We will be good little boys and girls from now on.”

“While I am glad to see that you have come to understand why you need to follow orders, I am sure that Mr. Montoya cannot spare you, especially not with the recent losses that the clean up division has suffered.”

“No,it's fine actually,” replied Benny, “There has been a drastic drop in the number of undead as it has gotten colder, and it's easy enough to recruit new people if the need arises. Plus I think that their skills are better suited for scavenging anyway, and as you said, Hashmir, supplies are becoming harder to find, so the more people looking the better off we all are.”

“Fine, whatever. Work it out with Sigler,” exclaimed Kaur.

“So We've been asking around, and there seems to be a large segment of people who like the idea of an election,” Alex started back in.

“A lot of those same people do take issue with the legitimacy of your role as our leader,” added Tara.

“There will be no election!” Hashmir yelled, pounding a fist on his new desk, “Anyone who wants to question my role as leader will be dealt with! Anyone who does not like the way I lead can get the hell out. All of my decisions will be based on what is best to keep Mallville strong, and anyone,” he looked directly at Alex when he said this, “and I do mean anyone, who interferes with that will be dealt with appropriately.”

“What if the people really want an election though?” asked Sharon.

“The general populous of this community don't know what they really want.”

“But you do?” I asked.

“Of course. They want to feel safe and secure. They want somewhere to sleep and food to eat. Anything beyond that is a bonus,” explained Hashmir.

“What about freedom? This is still America,” asked Benny.

“This stopped being America when the government lost control, not that the freedom so many of us took for granted was real, or even deserved, in the first place. We were a decadent society of fat lazy whiners, watching our television, eating our McDonalds, only bothering to notice the problems of the world around us when it interrupted American Idol, or meant we had to pay more for gasoline to put in our big road behemoths,” Kaur was practically frothing at the mouth at this point; I think he must have been running this through his head for quite some time, just waiting for the right time to bust it out.

“I think you're selling Americans a little short,” said Alex, taken aback by the sheer ferocity of Kaur's rant.

“Like hell I am! Look at them!” he exclaimed, motioning first to me, and then to Sharon, “They were the future of this country; people with no motivation, no drive, sitting around eating junk food, playing video games, and watching damned cartoons, and it was our generation that let it happen. We allowed this country to become so weak that when something happened we were completely unable to respond to it.”

“Excuse me for not memorizing 'The Zombie Survival Guide',” spat Sharon.

Alex recovered his composure again by this point, “So are you saying that we should tell people there is to be no election?”

“You are to tell people nothing. You are to do your jobs as you are instructed by me. There will be no election, and anyone who has a problem with that may leave and try their luck out there, “Hashmir motioned to the window behind him, “ Now you will get out of my office, and if you ever come in here again without my permission I will have my officers shoot you! Do you understand?”

“Well yeah, if that's the way you feel,” started Alex, “but-”

“Get out of my office!” bellowed Kaur, pounding a fist on the desk and overturning a cup of ballpoint pens, Some of the pens rolled off the desk to land softly on the office's beige carpeting.

“Well, I can tell where I'm not wanted,” said Alex in mock indignation, but with a grin on his face, “Let's go!”

Alex led us all out of the office, past the scowling faces of the two MP5-toting security officers and a very pissed looking Holly Tanaka, and out into the hallway.

“Well that went well,” commented Gerry once we were a little ways down the hall.

“It really did though,” said Alex.

“How's that?” asked Maria, “He threatened to have us shot.”

“The way I see it, there were two possible ways that could have gone that would be in our favor,” explained Alex as we walked, “The first would be if he had actually agreed to an election, in which case he would almost certainly lose as long as he did not have his opponents killed.”

“And the second?” I asked.

“The second would be for him to flip out, start making threats, and generally act like the homicidal motherfucker that he is.”

“I fail to see how that is a positive outcome, man,” said Benny.

“It's simple. Rather than let us go around talking crap about him refusing fair elections, he's going to almost certainly make some announcement himself. Once he does that, it's just a matter of figuring out who's against him, and getting them to side with us.”

“It sounds like you're planning a coup,” commented Rosa.

“Coup is such a nasty term,” said Alex, still grinning, “I prefer the concept of undermining his leadership until he has no choice but to step down. Besides, he has most of the guns, a coup would probably be short and foolish, at least right now.

“So what do we do now?” I asked.

“Well, you guys can go clean out your lockers since you are not my problem anymore,” said Benny in a not unfriendly way.

“And after that, we wait and see what Kaur does. If he reacts the way I think he will, it should at least be a laugh,”

“Are you sure that teasing the piranha is a good idea?” asked Gerry

“No, not really, but I don't have any better ideas that don't result in us getting shot, do you?”

“No, but I'm not convinced that this is not going to result in our getting shot.”

“Better dead than red.” quipped Alex. He was in front of me, but I'm pretty sure there was a grin on his face when he said it.

“What?” asked Gerry.

“Are you implying that Hashmir is a communist?” asked Maria.

“No,” answered Alex, ”I'm only saying that it may be better to risk our lives for what is right than to cower under the blankets hoping the bogeyman will go away. I don't want to die, and I certainly don't want any of you to get hurt, but we just sit by and let him be in charge that is what will happen. He's a sick man-”

“And you are the picture of mental health?” I asked,

“By comparison, yes. He will get us all killed. He may look at everyone here as helpless sheep, but they're not. Even with the end of the world going on around us, Americans still want to be free. If he keeps cutting that freedom away things will come to a head with or without my help.”

“But you intend to help it along anyway?” asked Rosa.

“I intend to make sure that people like us at least have a fighting chance. If we do not act, then what'll happen will be like to the villagers attacking Frankenstein's castle with clubs and pitchforks; only this time the doctor has an army of machine gun-toting soldiers protecting him. I would like this to be peaceful, but if it can't be, then we need to have a realistic possibility of victory.”

“You may be just as dangerous as he is,” I said.

Alex stopped, turned, and winked at me, “Maybe, but I'm likable.”

“That's arguable,” I replied

After arriving back at Alex's office, we all went our separate ways. It wasn't a bad day overall, not only did we not get shot, but Tara and Sharon managed to not attack each other.

I went back to Tara's apartment with her, and you know what? It's starting to smell up there. It smells like something died in the hallway outside her apartment. Of course my worry is that a zed is up there somewhere; Tara agreed that she has been worried about it too, so we went door to door checking on everyone. Surprisingly, we caught everyone in, and while they all admitted to smelling it, they all stated that they did not know the source either.

We'll have to bring it up with Alex, I would say that this is a Facilities issue, at least until we actually figure out what it is. Once we find out what is causing the smell, it may very well become Benny's problem, which makes me glad to be a Scav again. Until the smell starts getting into Tara's apartment I'm not going to stress over it too much I guess.

Tara and I have managed to come across a bunch of decks of cards, and we're going to try and get the Rogers and the Trevors into an epic game of Spite and Malice. I'm actually looking forward to this.

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