People hear the budget has stalled. For weeks, they hear of fruitless negotiation, intractable opponents… the words government shutdown start appearing in the press. A whisper at first; the first to suggest it only a few steps away from lunacy, but time marches on, and the thought ripples through the media like a shiver up their spines.
Government shutdown. They start to whisper. Government – shut down. The days go on, and the principal players seem to show little concern for their vessel foundering. Compromise is for the other guys, they tell themselves, their partners in crime.
The days go on. The whispers get louder. The intrenched hold firm.
The whispers become a clamour; the clamour a frantic chorus. The final hours come upon them. They hold. They hold.
Decades without an evil empire to withstand, with no enemy to look in the eye, the old muscles ache for some brinksmanship. They tell themselves they are statesmen. Those old muscles stretch, they strain – but they do not break.
The hour passes. The machinery grinds to a halt. The clamour becomes a roar; an entire army of screaming women running down the street with their throats cut. The end, their death-rattle rasps proclaim, is upon us.
The people listen. They imagine they can hear the sound of the cogs juddering into slumber. The rumble of repressed steam building up, the cracking of pipes, the hissing as it escapes. Like a great mechanical beast in a cage, rattling and bucking, fighting to break free. They see everything coming apart at the seams. How could this be anything, but the end?
No one wants to be the last to catch on to the collapse of civilisation. The rioting starts early, and it starts hard. Those hissing seams are dug into, ripped apart, destroyed.
In truth, a government shut down means they stop delivering the mail & issuing driver’s licenses. So; Sunday, basically.
But come Monday, there’s nothing left to govern.