lb_lee: A pencil sketch of me drawing/writing in my sketchpad. (art)
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This story was prompted by katz of Manboobz, who asked for the scenario, and sponsored by [livejournal.com profile] perchta.  Happy Wealthathon!

We are the Revolution

a poster wheatpasted to the wall, showing three featureless figures all in black against a red background, wielding a gun, a knife, and a garrote.  In white are the words WE ARE THE REVOLUTION.

Every Sunday, on the stroke of midnight, (Greenwich Mean Time) they would assassinate the richest person in the world. Nobody knew who they were or where they came from, only that they were punctual, implacable, and infallible.

And every Sunday, at 12:01, if you tuned to their radio station (which varied as per geography), you could hear their message. The names changed, but the cadence was always the same:

“We are the Revolution, and Mr. Doe is dead. Long live the Revolution.”

It took a while for people to catch on. Even when they discovered the radio stations, they thought it was a hoax, a few coincidences. Then a Spanish telecommunications guru was found beheaded in his bathroom, with the words ‘WE ARE THE REVOLUTION’ scrawled in blood behind him. When Mr. and Mrs. Armitage-Carrington were found in the same way the following Sunday, paranoia began to set in.

The next week, it was a paranoid dictator of a miserable little country that few had heard of and fewer remembered. President Estradille had very little money on the books, but he had land and manpower, so he raised a personal army, sealed himself into a safe room in his fortress, and waited for Sunday to pass. He was found dead of poisoned salmon. And on the radio:

“We are the Revolution, and President Estradille is dead. Long live the Revolution.”

Panic set in.

The game changed with a Mexican stocksman. He took a different tactic. He sold his stocks for practically nothing. He wired money in unheard-of quantities to anyone he could think of, including four hundred and twenty-three charities, libraries, museums, and schools. Finally, concerned that the Revolution wouldn’t be satisfied, he climbed to the top of a skyscraper and began hurling stacks of bills off the roof. When a riot started and the police told him (with some uncertainty) to desist, he set the rest on fire.

Mexico City erupted in mass hysteria, but at midnight on Sunday, the Mexican stocksman was alive, and a US computer guru had been garroted in bed.

“We are the Revolution, and Mr. West is dead,” said the radio. “Long live the Revolution.”

Now it was a race to the bottom. Billionaires hurled themselves into the mad business of trying to rid themselves of their riches faster than their peers. The land-rich frantically tried to give their acres away—only to find the market flooded. Bonfires of money, desperate investments in sure-to-fail stock, donations and laundering and wiring and a million other absurdities. They couldn’t get rid of it fast enough.

The stock market went into a mad tailspin. Everyone was selling, and no one was buying. Companies that under no circumstances should’ve gained the funding to start became blazing successes, then crashed and burned within a week.

And still, the deaths continued. Shareholders, world leaders, landowners, people who controlled something of everything, turned up shot, poisoned, and hanged. No could decipher the criteria the Revolution used to define ‘richest.’ They never gave reasons or demands. Only that same implacable cadence.

Posters began to appear in rough neighborhoods, held to crumbling brick walls with wheatpaste, depicting a dark, featureless figure and the words WE ARE THE REVOLUTION. As economies crashed and people rioted, civilians dressed in black, with gloves and masks, attacked the richest in town. When the police descended, they fought back. Mobs of them appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, and they screamed in one voice, “We are the Revolution!”

Then Pippin Armitage-Carrington became the richest person in the world. He was eleven years old.

His mother and father had been executed at the hands of the Revolution, before the Mexican stocksman; otherwise, they would’ve known better than to give such a huge fortune to one boy. Technically, the wealth was in a trust, kept under lock and key by the family lawyer until he was eighteen, but everyone knew it didn’t matter. The Revolution wouldn’t care.

Gladys Armitage, Pippin’s aunt and legal guardian, tried to get the fortune destroyed, but it wasn’t within the terms of the trust. It was made to conserve wealth, not destroy it. After a few screaming fights with the family lawyer, she had to come to Pippin and say, “I’m sorry.”

Since his parents’ deaths, Pippin had become a hollow-eyed, silent ghost, too sunk in his own private misery to notice anything around him. But now, his expression lightened. He patted her arm and whispered, “Don’t worry. Mum and Dad will be waiting for me.”

His smile was the most heartbreaking thing Gladys had ever seen. She took a deep breath and stood. “Well. It’s my job to give you the loveliest week on record, so you can go to your parents with a smile. Let’s get ready for that, shall we?”

And so they threw a party. They dismissed the household, to reduce collateral, and barred the gates, to keep out the rioting outside. In the big, empty house, they played Donkey Kong, drew pictures, and watched every Harry Potter movie in a row. Gladys taught Pippin how to foxtrot; he taught her how to play Guitar Hero. They ate junk. Gladys read Jane Eyre while Pippin read Inkheart. They told each other every bad joke they could think of, and shared every story they could remember about Mr. and Mrs. Armitage-Carrington.

Finally, it was late Saturday night, and they had run out of things to do and energy with which to do them. They lay on the sofa, exhausted and sleepless, while Gladys petted Pippin’s hair.

“I have some sleeping pills, for when my hip bothers me,” she said. “You can have some, if you like.”

Pippin shook his head. “I’d rather see it coming. You can go, if you like.”

She shook her head. “We’ll be fine, as long as we’re together.”

They lay on the couch, and together, they waited for the Revolution to come.

Date: 2013-08-06 10:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] allie mandell (from livejournal.com)
Oh man! We don't get to find out what happened to Pippin!? Love the ending but dying to know what happened.

Date: 2013-08-07 04:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lb-lee.livejournal.com
Now what would be the fun in that? This way, you can CHOOSE the ending!

--Rogan

Date: 2013-08-07 01:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] aubergine-pilot.livejournal.com
You bastard. I'm at work. Trying to not cry.

and wishing I had that Virginia sprawled on the floor ungracefully icon over here, too

Date: 2013-08-07 04:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lb-lee.livejournal.com
*trollface* Love you too, Lee.

--Rogan

Date: 2013-08-09 04:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] perchta.livejournal.com
this... is awesome!
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