The idle Progville citizens began their vote. A chaos ensued complete with shouting, debating, crying, whining, screaming, kicking, more whining, gossip and the tiniest flickers of rationale, each and every voter attempting to hold-their-own opinion amongst the blithering of the crowd. Few had reason nor thought as to why they thought the way they did, the majority, like the stock markets of the old times, merely based their vote on whether or not it would favour them in relation to popularity; and thus, from afar one could watch as the Mexican-wave of opinion rolled throughout, one side barking ‘No!’ and the others a ‘Yes!’, the pendulum had been cast and now all there was to do was wait.
‘Seriously, Chem, look for a fucking exit!’
‘Well what’s that going to look like…’
‘If I’m honest with you here, no one really knows, but it definitely doesn’t look like Democracy!’
‘Huh, what you chatting about mutt?’
‘Oh, I’ll explain once we’re outside this dump.’
The citizens continued their democratic wailing long into the night, all the while Chem and Narax wandered the streets shadowed by no one. Peering into window after window, display after display, their eyes attempting to fixate onto a morsel of authenticity.
‘Narax, what’s happened here…’ Chem stated whilst gazing upon a ‘sculpture’.
‘This is what they call art Chem, a strange mixture of consumer capital and virtue signalling.’
‘A’right, I get it, you’re smart. Explain’
‘This sordid mess of wires and rust Chem is now…art. It is the end of the line in terms of democratic creation, for once the democracy is in place there is only one direction down which to travel, especially in terms of public display.’
‘And that direction is?’
‘The expansion the state, or in this case the ‘ville’ of Prog. That is the democratic process keeps on striving towards a bureaucratic nothingness of inefficiency, virtue and egalitarianism.’
‘For someone who licks his own balls you sure do use a lot of fancy words…’
‘This ‘sculpture’ wasn’t born from some creative act Chem, it was born out of the artist’s lust to signal virtue…sorry, to signal to his fellow man that he ‘gets it’, that he’s ‘in’, that he will abide by the latest social fad, the latest minor grievance. An artistic act tied up both in virtue, but also red-tape, for to display anything external to virtue becomes an impossibility, for it simply will not be shown. And thus, the majority of art within a democracy, unless historic, is merely nothingness, proof only of democratic assimilation.’
‘And the eggy-tarian-ism?’
‘Egalitarianism, put simply, is the belief that all are equal.’
‘Ok, what’s wrong with that?’
‘Nothing’s wrong with it…it’s just not true. Nothing’s wrong with saying these apocalyptic wastes are lovely, or men and mutts are the same, nothing at all…it doesn’t make those statements true though.’
‘So, you’re saying you think some people are better than others?’
‘No. Why do people always assume this. The problem lies herein: Once everyone is equal to one another, once ‘equality’ is achieved – which is impossible by the way, I hope you can see that – everything that someone wants to be tolerated, needs to be tolerated and thus has to be tolerated. For if all are equal my dear Chem, then no need, want or desire is of greater importance than the next and thus the all of everything must be tolerated.’
‘And what the hell is wrong with tolerance?’
‘Because tolerance as a condition of government eventually comes to be used as a political tool. If those with the power, the know-how or the numbers wish to enact something they needn’t worry about laws, legislation or thought, no, all they need do is make it widely understood that to stand in their way is to be intolerant. And to be intolerant is to be many things…’
Chem lets out a long sigh ‘Such as…’
‘Well to be publicly intolerant is to draw scorn from your neighbour, to be known as the mean spirited ‘-ist’ of society, it is to quickly become marginalized and no longer listened to. A rigorous or lawful intolerance is to walk on a tightrope, for if you win your case then it’s only a matter of time until you’re outed as something-or-other, to lose your case is to lose all political footing…and in both cases it is to align yourself, once again, with those deemed ‘fringe’, radical or dissident a priori.’
‘What’s a priori?’
‘Knowledge of something prior to experiencing it. To know someone is bad without even hearing their case. A sad state of affairs indeed. And thus why we’re currently searching for the way out…’
‘Narax, have you ever been jolly?’
‘…very briefly, when I was a pup. Now, what’s this here?’
Chem and Narax had stumbled upon Progville’s rear entrance, or their exit. A strange, multi-layered contraption, filled with gears, levers, small screen-based inputs, a questionnaire, a depository and bundle upon bundle of wires.
‘Looks like we got two choices here Chem, back the way we came via the maddening crowd and packs of wanderers, or out through this…thing.’
‘I think we shou-’
‘Ha! There was never a choice, I’ll take my chances getting garotted by wires before facing that intolerable mass again.’ Narax said.
Narax looked back upon the crowd one last time before swiftly stepping into the exit-contraption. Slowly moving each paw onto a patch of uncovered ground.
‘Ok Chem, hurry up.’
Chem followed in Narax’s footsteps, holding his rifle to his chest as he lifted a bundle of wires over his head.
‘I’m in, now what?’
‘We try get to the other side of this thing as quickly as possible.’
Both Chem and Narax began making their way through the contraptions mechanisms and wires, quickly interrupted by a polite, yet machinic voice…
“Hello Gentleman and hound, how are you?”
The small display screens littering the contraption clicked on, each loading into:
E X I T – P R O G R A M
“Nothing to fear. This is merely a series of questions and tasks. You’ll be out before you know it.”
‘Chem get a fucking move on, this strangely gracious robot is freaking me out.’
“Question 1: Why is it you wish to leave?”
‘Do we answer Narax?’
‘No, just move…and watch your footing!’
“Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. Question 1: Why is it you wish to leave?”
Chem and Narax were roughly 10 feet from an opening before the wiring began to contract.
“You will be detained if you do not answer the questions. Question 1: Why is it-”
‘Quick, think of the answers it wants to hear…needs to hear!’
The wires slowly beginning to constrict Narax’s legs.
“We just wish to visit another town, we’ll be back!” shouted Chem.
“Question 2: On a scale of 1/10 how would you rate your stay?”
“Errr…7, 7 out of 10!”
“That score is rather low,-” The wires tightened “-why is that score so low?”
“Wrong score! Wrong sco-” Chem attempted to shout whilst a cable fastened around his neck.
“Question 2: On a scale of 1-10 how-”
“10. 10 out of 10.”
“Fantastic, and finally what improvements could we make to our town?”
‘Say something menial Chem…something material that won’t change shit!’
“You could have a…a cleaner gate!”
“Thank you for volunteering your time to take part in our quiz. Now if you wish to donate some DNA for our records please say ‘Yes’.”
“Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. If you wish-”
‘Chem, haven’t you worked it out by now…’
“Oh for fuck’s sake…YES!”
Two needles extended from either side of the contraption, one for both Chem and Narax, slowly sliding into their legs, before retracting back into the walls.
“Thank you once again, and have a nice day.”
The contraption quickly shut off before any questions could be asked. Chem and Narax tore the wires from their bodies, and Narax looked back through the machine, witnessing a small screen slide along the wall of Progville and out of sight. The duo exited the contraption and the town, heading off into cinder-world.
The screen slid along the wall of Progville until it reached the front gate, where it slid into the hands of the mutated floor guard, the captain.
“Those fuckers said our gate is dirty! 10 out of 10 again though.”