Ghosts

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Chapter 23 – “Declarations”.

The water lapped back and forth as the ocean of Halcyon rolled freely by. Henry Poole contemplated the water as he watched its journey. His light-pink shirt billowed in the warm wind. He bit his lower lip, with frustrated sadness. Left alone in the gardens, he battled back his emotions, disappointment reaching a pressure point. Several minutes passed as he leant disconsolately against the ornate gilded railing.

Without warning a hand rested on his back. He turned swiftly, paranoia making him jittery.

‘Balev, I’m not in the mood,’ Poole spoke angrily, lashing out and pushing the man’s hand off his back.

‘You’re Prime Minister. It’s your job to be in the mood,’ chimed back Georgi Balev with a cheery smile which irritated Henry Poole even more.

‘Are you having a laugh?’ the politician slammed back, his anger vented.

‘Why would I be?’ Balev, peered down at the water, leaning over the railing and staring straight down as the water crashed inwards. Henry Poole sighed deeply next to him.

‘It’s my job for little time more, and you know it. We can both see the future. My time is up.’ Balev smiled as Poole said the words.

‘Given up have you?’ Balev teased.

‘I will wait until the last moment but unless you have changed the minds of the people, we are following a very linear path, and the control is not mine.’

‘You need a vote-swinger.’

‘I have none. Do you?’

‘My people are still undecided. I, as their employer can make my point, but I cannot enforce a vote out of someone. They would choose theirs, our, and your fate.’

‘And if they decide upon picking Benedict Valon?’

‘I move to plan B.’

‘Which is?’

‘Ahh, telling you of that would depend on what you, Henry Poole, have considered doing should the election go against you?’

‘It is going against me. It’s over. Even the fat lady is singing a sad song for me accompanied by an even sadder tune from a violin.’ The man bit his swollen lip once more.

‘Who rules this land?’

‘The people, it’s voted upon. And I lost.’

‘No votes have been made. Do they need making?’

‘Yes, we are a democracy.’

‘Who says? You? Me? Valon?’

‘The people.’

‘Bah, the people don’t really care. Democracy means nothing to them. Give them a wage, food and shelter and they are happy no matter who runs the sectors.’

‘Still, we are a democracy.’

‘What if we weren’t? Would you rule?’

‘I rule because I care for the responsibility, and I take pride in ruling.’

‘Do the people take pride in you?’

‘Apparently not.’

‘I am not siding with Valon. I will have to look at other options.’

‘Like what? Move CEOL elsewhere, to a different sector?’

‘Why, it would cost too much? I’d have less power with more settled rivals.’

‘What then?’

‘I will not pay the tax that Valon proposes.’

‘He will react to that.’

‘And what? I won’t quake. He will send in Zylinski’s forces, will he? And what?’

‘You cannot fight the powers that be. He has the army.’

‘Ha-ha! They have the Dead to fight against. He is unable to impose sanctions. Anyway, I have a proposition for you. You may not like it, but it is a hypothetical situation. You may respond as you feel, and nothing further comes of it. If you agree to my proposition, then excellent, if you don’t, then we speak no more of it, and my actions are mine to own. Time is precious and I need an answer today, for tomorrow is a new dawn for Halcyon. I bring new changes for the people.’

Balev waited throughout a silent minute before telling him of his proposal. As the water lapped softly Balev left the man to contemplate his suggestion. The deadline came. The deadline passed by.

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