Sinister didn’t like being in charge. People in charge tended to get lynched by the hoi polloi, the unwashed masses.
He hated the common folk. Yet, in a way, he depended on them. Who would wash his clothes and farm his fields and make wine for his pleasures?
These tasks were beneath him, but they were perfect for the simple mind.
Yet, there was a serious problem.
The system of government had settled on a peculiar situation that seemed to work just fine: the kakistocracy, and the aristocracy. The latter was simple, just as before, the best bloodlines of the wealthiest and most important families ruled the day-to-day of the factories and the information systems.
And the kakistocrats, well…
They were in charge.
But being in charge was not the best job in the world. Not in this world.
See, the man in charge was blamed for everything. Everything. He was, after all, in charge.
The common folk couldn’t possibly understand how market dynamics and other variables shifted some decisions and whoever was in charge simply had no other course of action. They just needed a scapegoat, and there he was, on display, in full view in holograms and streaming vids all over the planet.
The kakistocrat was hated. He, or she, no sexism there for there were some pretty vile kakistocrat women in their short careers, was the face of the government. He was not protected. He was not under security, not even a single bodyguard, let alone the drones and the information defenses and the anti-air guns protecting the aristocracy.
No, the kakistocrat was on his own, vulnerable. Even a cripple could just waltz in and beat the heck out of him, stab him, string him up and hang him on the porch of his own house.
Nobody, and I mean nobody, would blame the common man who had done such a thing. The kakistocrat, was after all, the worst person on the planet. Period.
And Sinister was the next in line.
So, it was in his best interests to keep the current kakistocrat alive and well, ’cause he was next. He could avoid his fate by being good, just like the aristocrats who pretended to give to charity and give away half their fortunes in big, splashy gestures that got maximum amounts of press coverage. But he couldn’t change overnight, people weren’t that stupid. He could pretend he was good now. But there was no catalyst, no wars going on so he could organise some heroic deed, no major upheavals in the continents, he didn’t even have offspring so he could kill one off in an accident and have a personal tragedy sway the public’s opinion and earn their sympathy.
No, the system worked too damn well. Every aristocrat fought tooth and nail to never fall into kakistocracy, ’cause that put you on the candidate list to rule. And ruling was bad on this planet.
There were rows and rows of beheaded, lynched, burned kakistocrats lining the walls of the parliament. It served as a reminder every time you went in: Behave, or this could be you.
It worked so well, the planet didn’t even have any serious problems for at least fifty years now. But the kakistocrat’s lifespan was short, for some it could be counted in days. Most lived for a few months, Sinister tried to comfort himself by remembering that.
The charity ball was in full swing below him. He just stood on the balcony, dressed in black tie, a champagne in hand. “Bring me something stronger,” he snapped at the waitress, and threw the champange on her face.
“What would your Lowness like?” she asked, holding the tray, dripping all over.
“Just get me a whiskey.” He dismissed her completely.
Sinister turned to the aristocrats below. They were having fun, or at least pretending to be having fun, while at the same time paying 10.000 credits for each plate, casually tossing their wealth in seemingly random but in reality very well organised acts of kindness. There were analysts telling them all the trends, where to spend, which photo would make them more loved.
Sinister couldn’t pretend like that.
Just like Eldritch could not. The leader stepped foot inside the ball, and everyone went quiet. He waved at them a timid ‘hello’ and the aristocrats started to gossip. They weren’t even attempting to keep it quiet, Sinister was all the way up here and he could hear some of the comments.
“Eldritch looks so pale.”
“Think he can make this term? I bet not.”
“I tell you, it’ll be time for Sinister before you can blink.”
Sinister hissed at them and pushed away from the balcony’s ledge. He hated the aristocrats, he couldn’t pretend like that. Pretending to like someone who you’d easily stab in their sleep? How vile was that? And yet, he was the one who was considered the worst.
In his eyes, the pretenders were the worst.
But it didn’t matter what he thought about. Just what the people believed.
And the aristocrats artfully backed away from the worst of their kind, huddling away while pretending to talk business and having polite conversation. And the aristocrat that was singled out suddenly was branded the kakistocrat, given the rule, and tossed to the angry mob when something went wrong.
And the angry mob was fed for a time, and that kept them happy.
And the cycle repeated itself, round and round for two hundred years.
The aristocrats gasped.
Sinister went back to the ledge to see what the fuss was about.
A commoner had walked in the ball, holding a knife. “It’s your fault!” he cried out, and everyone went quiet.
Sinister hurried down the steps, practically jumping over them.
“You closed down our hospital wing,” the dirty man sniffled, waving the knife around, “and she didn’t make it.”
The aristocrats went “Oooh,” but did nothing. They had bodyguards, they had drones, they had security measures that could stop this man in a matter of seconds.
But they didn’t.
Eldritch had his hands in surrender, stepping backwards. The aristocrats opened wide around him, none came to his rescue. No, no, this was bad. This was really bad. If Eldritch was gone before Sinister could make his move and get out of the kakistocracy, he would be next in line!
And that would be very, very bad.
Sinister stepped between them, arms in the air. “I’m not threatening you. But I can’t let you harm Eldritch.”
“Why not? It’s all his fault,” the dirty man cried out, tilting the knife to the side.
“Not really. The downsizing laws were voted by many people, not just Eldritch. He signed it, yes, but he didn’t really have a choice in the matter,” Sinister said, then pointed out a few of the aristocrats. “In fact, these two proposed it. Yes, the ones who earned millions out of the new law, and who are now throwing a few tens of thousands in your face, pretending to be good.”
The aristocrats gasped. This was too shocking. “A member of the aristocracy would never accuse another of such things,” one of the accused said.
“Of course. Not in front of the dirty commoner, no.” Sinister showed him with his hand. “But you’ve already pushed us out, me and Eldritch. We are the kakistocrats, the worst of the worst.” He opened his arms wide, presenting his chest.
“What are you doing?” Eldritch hissed.
“Shut up, you’re as good as dead, anyway. I’m trying to save my own ass,” Sinister whispered at the ruler standing behind him.
“You-You’re trying to confuse me…” the dirty commoner said, rubbing his head. Dandruff fell from his hair, a few good shakes and it would have seemed as if it snowed.
“No, I am not,” Sinister said with clear words. “These are trying to confuse you. Every year or so, they push out one of them to the side, paint him black, call him a kakistocrat. And every year or so, you, the people, come demanding someone’s head. And they serve it to you on a platter.”
“No! Mary is dead!” the dirty commoner screamed in Sinister’s face. “I don’t care what you say, it’s his fault. He’s in charge, and it’s his fault.”
“Oh, my poor man. It’s really not his fault,” Sinister said softly, trying to explain how things truly were to the simple man.
He got stabbed for his efforts.
In retrospect, he should have seen that coming. Holding his wet belly, his white shirt absorbed the red blood in a big stain.
Nobody came to his aid.
The dirty commoner chased Eldritch around the ballroom and caught up to him, then stabbed him about forty-seven times. Sinister could hear the screams and the cries of his fellow kakistocrat until he died.
Sinister pressed his guts back into his belly. The pain was unimaginable. And he hadn’t even had a decent drink yet.
What a mess.
The dirty commoner dropped the knife, held his head with his bloody hands as if the demons were trying to get out of his ears, and stormed out of the ballroom.
Nobody stopped him.
He had just killed a kakistocrat, and that’s what kakistocrats were for.
Drones hovered up ahead, recording.
The hoi polloi would be hearing about this very soon, in a few minutes after the aristocrats had edited out some bits they didn’t want everyone to know. They couldn’t leave what Sinister said to get to the media now, could they?
No one would believe him, their propaganda had been that good, but some nutjob might get the wrong idea. Or, the right idea.
That they were all kakistocrats, and they were all cut from the same cloth. Just because you cut a piece of it and threw it in the fire every now and then didn’t mean that anything changed.
All you got was some pretty colours in the fire as the fabric burned.
Sinister felt the ballroom going dark around him. He could barely hear what the aristocrats were arguing about. In a moment of clarity, he managed to focus on two powerful ones, the ones he had accused earlier on.
They were arguing because the one nominated the other for the kakistocrat vote.
The vilest of the two spat in his face.
The aristocrats raised their hands in ‘aye.’
It was unanimous.
There was a new kakistocrat in town, ready to take the reigns, no matter how much he didn’t want to.
Sinister mumbled his last words, but everybody was too busy to listen. “My reign must be a record, it was what? Two minutes long? Ha. Ha. Joke’s on you.”
He let his head fall back and died.