Another lottery, another king, and I’m sick of it all. On the screens I can see their faces, shiny with excitement, drooling with the possibility, whispering,
“It could be me!” And it could.
Anyone of those thick, unimaginative yokels could be making up laws by the end of the
week. Or promoting their cat to be foreign secretary. Like last time.
Nobody remembers how it used to be, the dignity, the order, the logic of it all. Instead a
random serf takes my rightful place, and I’m supposed to celebrate them, bolster their
ineptitude. Behind me there’s a cheer as the balls spin and the machine spits out another number. Soon, somewhere around the country some schmuck will shout with glee,
“It’s me! It’s me! I’m the ruler now.”
And we all hail our new leader, however much of a fool he may be.
Nobody else remembers aristocratic rule. I was taught about it in secret, I couldn’t show my
peers those gilt-edged picture books that explained my importance. I tried to instill their
adoration with subtle manipulation, but they had been brainwashed with delusions of equality and understood nothing. Instead I would hide with my books and dream of the life I should have had; how the eyes of the proles would shine, how they would doff their caps in an instinctual movement. Instinctual, because this is the truth they try to deny: hierarchy is not some arbitrary human notion, it is an evolutionary need, seen in every species. Gorillas,
elephants, wolves; animals have been practising genetic modification for millennia. Alphas
breeding with alphas to create strength. No king was ever an accident, they were destined.
And we took this fine, natural system and wrecked it, forced ourselves to walk this crooked
path. Turned power into a lottery that anyone can win.
I watch the screens and nod thoughtfully, as if I care. I have to pretend, I am a member of the supreme council, an overseer. They’ll tell you that nepotism is no longer a thing, but I am proof that is wrong. A member of my family has always sat on the supreme council, because they have to give us something, a cheap token of respect.
The final ball has fallen into place; the cheers have reached a new pitch. One of the
number-crunchers is checking and rechecking until he comes up with a name,
“Frankie Arlett,” he says blankly. He doesn’t need to pretend enthusiasm, it’s not expected of him.
“Frankie Arlett!” says John, a fellow council member. “Isn’t that just a name you can trust?
Frankie Arlett, he’ll be the best ruler we’ve had.” Nobody points out that since all the other
lottery elected rulers have been so hopeless, Frankie can’t be any worse.
“He sounds wise, don’t you think he sounds wise?” says Penny, clasping her hands together.
“Wise, but not too lazy,” adds Brett, with a tinge of doubt. Sometimes I think Brett has a little more spark than the others, the ability to see a hint of truth through the demented fog of optimism.
“I can just sense his presence, can’t you?” that’s John again, dribbling his emotions all over the place.
Frankie Arlett’s name has already been sent to every piece of Internet-linked merchandise in the land. Coffee mugs now say ‘King Frankie!’, Balloons flash the words ‘All Hail King
Frankie!’ On screens in every street, on every motorway around the country, the words ‘King Frankie, long may he rule over us!’
We have half an hour of platitudes before a number-cruncher pipes up,
“I think Frankie is a woman. She’s a queen,” before he hurries away. Panicked reprogramming of merchandise ensues. My colleagues realise that perhaps relying on feelings alone is unwise, and start checking Frankie’s details.
Of course there are restrictions for who can be chosen. No one under the age of eighteen. No one who’s in punitive stasis. No one senile. Still there are always new issues appearing, we had a leader some years back who had a thing for little girls. While he was busy changing
laws to lower the age of consent and releasing all his paedophile friends from stasis, we were frantically trying to fill out the right forms to get him de-throned.
I flick through Frankie’s details, 26 years’ old; part French, part Armenian. A sales assistant, the masses will like that, they feel cheated when anyone close to aristocracy gets in. Of course they don’t see the irony that the only people they don’t want in power are those with the ability to rule running through their blood.
Queen Frankie has appeared on the screen, she’s hooked herself up to her webcam and is
giggling hysterically. I give her two weeks before the giggling becomes a breakdown. I’ve
seen her kind before; they accuse my ancestors of interbreeding, but look at what cross
breeding gets you. Her genes are all over the place. There’ll be another lottery in a few
A few days later…
As I walk towards the throne room where the new queen awaits, the effort of restraint pounds my head. I keep my feet light and my face polite. Reduced to this: a pleasing minion, careful not to offend. This is not right. This is a travesty of civilization. We have become our own satire.
It may be my job to nurture and coddle the new rulers, but it is my moral duty to unseat these weak pseudokings. To trick and confuse until they tumble from the throne. I don’t know how many times I must do this before they finally see the pointlessness of their system. A hundred? A thousand? My patience will outweigh theirs, it’s in my genes.
And there sits Frankie. The giggle has gone. Her face seems as guarded as my own. As
Penny, John and Brett bow and scrape adoringly, I stand back a little. As an advisor to the
throne, I will be seeing plenty of Frankie. Until her reign crumbles to dust, I will facilitate,
but also I will push and trip, I will sneak.
I keep a bland smile on my face to show willing, no doubt she’ll be too involved with herself
to notice my lack of subservience.
John is fussing about her culinary tastes, what kind of pillows she likes to use, does she have any dietary requirements? It’s ridiculous, what could a serf know of the range of quality bed-wear available? Somebody introduces me, I can barely summon a nod. But maybe that’s as well, to wobble Frankie’s confidence a little. She listens to my name and then looks thoughtful,
“Ah yes,” she says, “the royal bloodline. I’ve been reading up about you.” And there’s a
glance, betraying something shrewd, as if she spots the glint beneath my polite façade.
“I see all the previous lottery winners have failed under your guidance,” she says. Her eyes
narrow, she smiles sweetly, then leans close to me and whispers,
“But not me, sunshine.”