Fables of the Collective - In Which Simple Simon Makes a Law
It was a fine morning in the Kingdom as young Prince Simon walked to school with his friends. He skipped, he ran, he jumped, he played. He and his friends were happy and excited, for it was the first day of their new school. Simon's father had built it just so Simon could go to the finest, newest, bestest school in all the land.
Simon's roughhousing with his friends often got out of hand and today, before he could stop himself, he tripped over a tree root and fell face first into the sidewalk. Damn near broke a royal tooth. His friends, seeing his misfortune -- and in the playful spirit of a fine day -- laughed themselves silly.
Simon, embarassed by his clumsy fall, became enraged at his friends. His friends being too young to be awed by the presence of a Prince, or to tremble with fear at his power, his rage only fueled louder peals of laughter and vicious taunts. Soon Simon, ever sensitive to the foibles of those he would soon rule, and already possesed of a keen instinct to save face, joined in the laughter.
But he did devise a plan. A great and mighty plan. He vowed that someday, he would make sure no other little children could crack their skulls on hard sidewalks. No one would laugh at him then...
Simon had grown up and remembered the vow he"d made that bright day on his way to school. He turned furiously on the little man who tried to stand in his way of his mighty power. He considered firing him, or beheading him, or at least cutting out his tongue, but he had been running short of advisors lately.
"I am the King!" he thundered, still enjoying the sound of his recently acquired title. "I can do whatever the hell I want. This thing is dangerous, and I wont have it in my kingdom any longer!"
"But your majesty," the advisor responded, his head bowed in submission but satisfied that at last he had the king's ear, "it just can"t be done. Not by any human being. Its because of the laws of physics..."
"I make the law here!" Simon was now red in the face and nearly shaking with rage again. "I. Am. The. Fuck-ing. King!" He emphasized each syllable with a finger jabbed sharply into the chest of the advisor. The cowering advisor decided to concede the point and take a different tack. He must not let King Simon make a fool of himself.
"Your majesty, of course you can do it. You are the King. But think of the consequences. Are you sure you want to..." The look in Simon's eyes told the advisor to hold his tongue while he still had one to hold.
What harm could come? the advisor reasoned to himself. He wouldn"t actually do it. He couldn't. Some things were just impossible, even for a King....
It was a bright sunny day. Much like the one on which then Prince Simon had fallen and was made the fool. King Simon thought it an auspicious time to implement his plan. The very thing that had made a fool of him would soon be gone.
"Today," began the King's speech to the assembled masses below him, looking on with a mixture of awe at the presence of the great King, jaded boredom with whatever he might have to say, and eagerness to get out of the hot sun and back to their homes and work. "Today, I will free the kingdom of a great tyrant. An opressor that has brought misery, hardship, and great bodily harm to thousands of people, even to myself as a young child. As of this moment I repeal...."
Here he paused for effect before revealing his plan, "...I repeal the law of gravity." He threw his head back and spread his arms wide to accept the great applause and gratitude that he was sure would be heaped upon him.
A hush fell over the already quiet crowd. They stared blankly up at the balconly from which the King spoke, and looked questioningly about at each other. Simon's advisor hung his head. What he had feared had indeed come to pass. The King had made a public fool of himself. Surely everyone would now see that the King was powerless in this regard.
A young man in the audience -- a physics student at the King"s university, a youth often suspected of independent thought and less than fierce loyalty to the king -- stooped a bit and with a sly grin jumped firmly into the air. To the amazement of his friends, he continued to rise, and before they could react he was ouside the reach of the gaping crowd and beginning to look very concerned. He has not been seen since.
Across the land, some literally very unsettling things began to happen. At the very instant the law of gravity was annulled, twenty-three children had just tripped or fallen, but not yet hit the ground; two airplanes were attempting to land, nine cars were approaching the tops of hills, and one little leaguer was hitting what would turn out to be the longest home run of his young career.
The falling children fell gently or failed to hit the ground altogether, much to their glee and relief. But the airplanes overshot the runway by several miles, only stopping when buildings and mountains impeded their forward progress. Several of the cars sailed from the tops of hills, continuing to climb as the ground descended below them, before running into buildings or power lines. The baseball hit by the astonished little-leaguer left the atmosphere and passed through a cloud of warm, wet debris that was, a few minutes before, a young physics student. All told, over 400 people died that day.
Many were grateful to the King for his bold actions, but across the kingdom it was whispered that the noble experiment was a dismal failure. Strange and dangerous events began were happening everywhere. There was a rumor going around that the breathing difficulties many people were experiencing were due to the planet's atmosphere slowly drifting off into space.
Even so, the King would not reverse his decision, afraid that the public would see that he was wrong and think him the fool. Besides, it was vital that they have confidence in him and his wisdom to guide them through this time of crisis. For a long time he tried to convince them and himself that the new law was succeeding.
He decreed that all people must wear rope tethers whenever venturing outside. He banned all mechanical travel for the duration of this unfortunate, but certainly temporary, calamity that nature had cursed his Kingdom with. He railed against the naysayers and those who sought to undermine his Kingdom by taking advantage of the hardships his people faced - often charging outrageous sums for things like velcro-soled shoes. He convened a panel of his best advisors for the purpose of devising a plan for a dome over the entire Kingdom to keep the atmosphere in (which, fortunately, was never built, since the plan they came up with was made of concrete and had no provisions for ventilation or air recirculation. His subjects would all have died of starvation after the crops failed from lack of sunlight, if they didn't die of asphyxiation first.).
At last he was forced to reconsider. Quietly, and without public ceremony, the King reinstated the law of gravity, his brand new advisor giving a short speech about how the King's forward thinking vision would carry them out of these times of trouble.
It was another fine sunny morning, and the King and his advisor were driving through the streets of the city when the King observed that gasoline was being sold at more than three dollars per gallon .
He mentioned this to his advisor, and said that he was working on a plan to solve these problems. The advisor sucked in a deep breath and looked momentarily concerened. The King stared at him, almost daring the advisor to contradict him. The advisor bit his tongue, and -- enjoying the sensation of having a tongue to bite -- vowed that no matter what happened, no matter how foolish the King might make himself look, the advisor would never, ever, mention the law of supply and demand.