Political Puppet

“What about the explosion at the factory? Are you saying he made that happen? Or the high school massacre?”

Jason’s conviction died a little at the sight of her blazing eyes. The answer was an emphatic yes. He fervently believed that this smoke-and-mirrors charlatan’s maniac followers had set the fire that destroyed the factory in Northampton, and he had no doubt that the troubled teenager who’d murdered his classmates wouldn’t have done so without Lombard’s ridiculous predictions. But he wasn’t about to say so. Adrian Lombard had captured the heart of the country with his sweeping, frighteningly accurate predictions he attributed to a simple application of logic, human psychology and a scientific method he had yet to disclose. The current election was a joke. He and his collection of fanatics had no policies, no principles, not a single useful thing to offer the electorate. And yet they were standing in every constituency, propagating the idea that Lombard’s supposedly infallible prediction science could replace politics.

Josie turned and stomped away, slamming the door behind her. Reluctantly, Jason followed, planning to stop by the Wrap-It-Up shop on the way.

Five minutes later he stood in the crowd, feeling a chill that neither his chicken wrap nor the brilliant sunshine could thaw. Adrian Lombard stood on a box, an actual soap box, smiling and talking as he always did: like a man with the answers to questions other people don’t think to ask, but just as humble as aw-shucks and fiddle-de-dee. His white hair was slicked back, his pinstriped suit like something out of the 1800s. Jason couldn’t decide if the old man made his blood boil or freeze in his veins. By his side was a large box with a clear plastic screen with hunched little figures hanging by strings inside. Jason felt an involuntary shudder as he recognised Lombard’s puppets, the little marionettes he used as a children’s TV presenter fifty years ago, brought along to enhance the impression of a trustworthy old man.

“When you’ve got science,’ Lombard was saying, his grin wide and pleasing, ‘what else do you need? We can predict the problems we face. We can predict the issues we’ll be facing in two years, ten years, a hundred years! What do we need politicians for? What’s the point of them when we know what’s coming and how to deal with it? And when we reach a problem,’ he paused dramatically, his grin widening even more, ‘we’ll science it until it’s a solution!”

The crowd laughed and clapped like this was the most divine revelation.





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