Dispatches from the wilds of Proseambique – The line

He surveyed the killing fields with a grim eye – his men were doing their work with a brutal efficiency. There was a certain magnificence to them, the synchronicity of their movements, the clean ordered lines of their uniforms, the moonlight gleaming off their polished boots and well-kept weapons – moonlight, because there were some things one simply didn’t do in view of mother sun. Even with the absolute rule he held over the tiny nation, even knowing that by now his subjects were so acclimatised to the barbarity that there was nothing they wouldn’t let him do to them, still, he knew, there were some things that were to be done in the dark, and the dark alone. He thought back to where it had all began, the sort of man he was then, the sort of man he was now. So much, he knew, had changed. Even he did not know what he was any more. This had certainly not been his ambition. It had not been his dream. But the more he had pushed, the more they had given. He found himself amazed by the complicity of mankind. Every day he thought “surely… surely now they will stop me.” But with each passing day their complacency seemed to grow, and they let him go a little further. He had started to reach the point where it was a struggle to imagine even greater atrocities that he might heap upon them, but he was fortunate in that the human mind is a boundless font of cruelty. So it continued and the world watched, pretending not to see, protested, pretending to care, did nothing, pretended it was trying.

He thought back over the long chain of events that had led to this point. The elections, the unexpected victory, the radical policy initiatives, the apathetic press and the uncaring public. In some ways, he felt, it wasn’t really his fault. The whole time, part of him wanted them to stop him, wanted them to stay his vicious hand, wanted them to drag him screaming from his office, and throw him to the gutter. But they didn’t. They wouldn’t. He looked into the eyes of the man his soldiers were lining up to die. “This” he thought “is all your fault.” The man stared back, uncomprehending. He could not understand, this man, the cruelty was beyond him. He did not understand the brilliance of it all. He did not appreciate the art of what was happening. He didn’t see why it had to happen. He just stared back, not angry or defiant, not even really sad – just resigned. Then he wasn’t anything at all, and the smooth operations of the vast death machine prepared the next victim. It amazed him how little they seemed to care. He thought again of how it had all begun. Perhaps he had taken it too far. That was, he knew, a tendency of his. The worst part, however, was knowing how few people would ever understand – ever appreciate it all. No-one, perhaps, but him, and even he sometimes wasn’t sure what it was he was doing any more. He sighed. It was hard, some times, being such a good satirist.

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Published in: on January 25, 2008 at 11:22 am  Comments (1)  
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  1. “He looked into the eyes of the man his soldiers were lining up to die.”

    Should this be “kill”, do you think? Also, this sounds hauntingly familiar, like you’ve stewed on a passing thought and let it marinate on the bus trip home, and then this sort of thing happens. Just think, if you lived somewhere really convenient, you’d never enjoy this level of minor internet celebrity. (Which consists, apparently, of just me. But still! That’s something!)


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