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Rated: E · Assignment · Fantasy · #2215045
Grundle becomes Mayor of Halfway.
I. Who Stole the Tarts?

2. "Rule 42" - "All persons more than a mile high to leave the court" - as judge of a fictional town of choice, create a rule 42 of your own that all citizens must abide to. Failure to do so should result in...? (blog entry or short story <1000 words)

Rule 42

When Grundlebletch the troll and the Gecko arrived in Halfway, they found the town in turmoil. It was the day of election of a Mayor and, as they discovered after extensive enquiries, there were no candidates for the job. There were lots of election posters on the walls and fences but they all had a blank where the prospective mayor’s face should be. Apparently, no one wanted the job and fights had begun to break out when a likely incumbent had declined too vehemently.

“Why doesn’t anyone want to be mayor?” asked the Gecko of a passing constable. “Is there something awful about the post that is putting everyone off?”

“Ah,” said the policeman, “it’s one of our town customs that has resulted in the impasse. I have heard that elsewhere a mayor is treated with respect and it is even illegal to insult him. But we have a tradition that the mayor must be insulted at every opportunity. It was thought that, in this way, he would not get ideas above his station, but now it has backfired and nobody will submit to such treatment.

“The last mayor had to be allowed to step down after he burst into tears because someone called him a buffoon. It wasn’t the insult that broke him as much as it being the straw that broke the veldskoen’s back.”

“I thought there was no such thing as a veldskoen,” said the Gecko.

The policeman shrugged. “It’s just a figure of speech.”

At that point, the troll interrupted. “Wot abaht me?” he said. “I sorta fancies bein’ mayor.”

“Are you serious?” asked the constable. “It’s a good job, apart from the insults, but everyone gets worn down in the end. You need to think long and hard about it first.”

The troll grinned. “When did I ever think first, eh, Gecko?” His friend laughed.

“Well, if you’re certain about this, I could show you the way to the Town Hall,” offered the policeman. “They’ll show you how to get your name on the ballots.”

And so the deed was done and Grundle’s face began to appear on all the posters. In very short order, the election was completed, the troll returned unopposed and he was led by the city officials to the front steps of the Town Hall, there to be installed as Mayor of Halfway. The Gecko watched the ceremony from a seat of honour as the personal friend of the successful candidate.

After a few speeches by various administrators and secretaries, the Acting Mayor approached with the mayoral chain of office. With due solemnity, he placed this around Grundle’s neck and pronounced, “All hail the new Mayor of the fair city of Halfway.” The troll bowed as the crowd shouted their approval.

When the noise abated, Grundle took a step forward and began his acceptance speech. “Thank yer orl for this ‘onour,” he boomed. “I shall do me best to live up to the trust yer ‘ave placed in me. Now, wot’s orl this I ‘ear abaht it bein’ a custom ter insult the Mayor?”

There was silence for a while as the crowd realised the enormous size of their new Mayor. Then a voice came from deep amongst the citizens. “It’s not a custom. It’s a rule.”

“A rule, is it?” said the troll. “Show me where this ‘ere rule is writ.”

A bespectacled little clerk disappeared into the Town Hall and emerged again after a brief wait. He was staggering under the weight of a great, black book he carried. This was placed on the dais. The clerk opened it and turned to page two. He pointed at a sentence written in a flowing script. Grundle could see that it was the last rule written in the book.

“Well,” announced the troll, “If it is a rule, it must be obeyed. Oo’s goin’ to be the first to insult me?” He glowered at the officials, then turned to glare at the crowd. Silence reigned.

For fully a minute, Grundle waited. Then he drew himself up to his full height and said, “If no one will obey this rule, it must be a very bad rule. I thinks we should change it. Are we orl agreed?”

There followed a chorus of hundreds of voices, all yelling their approval. The officials nodded their heads.

“Good,” continued the troll. “Now wot is the number of the rule?”

The clerk stood on tiptoe to read the book. “It’s number 41.”

“Then we will ‘ave a rule number 42. It must say that rule 41 is not a rule anymore, it ‘avin’ been kicked aht by orl the peepul together.” He paused for a moment before continuing, “Also, it will order that any hoffence against this rule will be punished by banishment to yer neighbourin’ tahn o’ Bytheway.”

He spread his arms wide as he faced the crowd. “Arfway is nah the town withaht insults,” he declared.

Word Count: 822
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