Short Story Fiction / Satire
They Don't Fear Us... But They Should

The citizens were lied to and they believed it. When they finally figured it out, they were pissed off enough to make things right.

It was a small Midwest town called Wayton. It was a fiercely independent town. It had always marched to the beat of its own drummer. Even when much larger towns in the vicinity tried to push their views, their agenda or their politics on them, they didn’t stand for it. Generally, people left them alone.

They don't fear us...Mikhale Bakunin/Wikimedia Commons

It was a small Midwest town called Wayton. Population two thousand. There was no big industry pumping money into the town coffers. Its survival depended on local farmers and a few small businesses. It had always been enough to keep Wayton on the map.

One of the towns strong points was its fierce independence. It had always marched to the beat of its own drummer. Even when much larger towns in the vicinity tried to push their views, their agenda or their politics on them, they didn’t stand for it. Generally, people left them alone. They knew better. That doesn’t mean they stopped trying to push their agenda on them. It meant they knew they would be in for a fight.

One day, the far away town of Bigster decided to cause trouble for many of the small towns in the local county. Wayton being one of them. Bigster decided flies were a health hazard to both people and animals. They had no proof and there was no science to back up their claim. Flies had been part of life for everyone since the day they were born. That didn’t stop Bigster. They passed a county-wide ordinance. It demanded all the nearby towns should protect themselves from this newly declared health hazard.

They demanded everyone to carry a fly swatter everywhere they went. Not just any fly swatter. It needed to be an Acme fly swatter. This was the only fly swatter that would take care of these pesky unhealthy flies. Their false evidence was convincing and many people agreed to their demands.

It just so happened the Acme fly swatter company had its factory located in Bigster. According to the local politicians, that was just a coincidence. It was nothing the good people of the county should concern themselves with.

Bigster sent its representatives to every politician in the county. Their mission was to bribe then into going along with the new fly swatter ordinance. The politicians agreed. They forced the citizens to purchase an Acme fly swatter from their local hardware store and carry it wherever they went. Whenever they saw a pesky fly, they were under orders to swat it. After all, the fly they swatted could have been the one that might have made their neighbor sick.

As Bigster told the citizens, what they were doing was good for everyone. If you didn’t swat flies, you were being selfish.

Many citizens of the county didn’t like the new ordinance. They grumbled. They knew it wasn’t a law, but Bigster had told them flies were a health hazard. So what could they do but get themselves an Acme fly swatter and protect themselves and their neighbors from those pesky flies.

When the citizens went to their local hardware store to purchase their new Acme fly swatter, they didn’t bother to question the fact that the holes in the new swatters were too big. Any citizen who was paying attention could see that the flies could fly right through the holes. They didn’t want to make trouble so they bought the swatters anyway. They were happy they got to pick the color they wanted and many of the citizens decorated them and carried their swatters with pride.

The citizens did as they were told and swatted at every fly they came across. The effort didn’t affect the fly population. But the politicians of Bigster kept telling the citizens they were making a difference.

One day Bigster passed another ordinance. They admitted the Acme fly swatters were having only limited success and they had changed the design of the swatters to be more effective. Everyone was ordered to purchase a new swatter.

Many more people began to grumble. They still knew it wasn’t a law, but since Bigster said they had to do it, they didn’t question it. They went ahead and purchased a new Acme swatter. The new swatters still had large holes but they were now triangular instead of square. Bigster said this would make a big difference. The people believed Bigster. They continued swatting at flies but the new swatters made little difference. The fly population didn’t dwindle.

People were beginning to get tired of swatting at flies. More people were beginning to question the purpose of swatting at flies with swatters that didn’t kill anything. Some people even went so far as to question what Bigster had been telling them about the flies themselves. They were the same flies that had always been around them. What was it that now made them a health hazard?

Bigster was growing concerned at the murmuring of the citizens. They bribed the local health authority to tell the citizens how deadly the flies had become and how they needed to protect themselves with the swatters. Bigster also convinced the sheriff’s department to start fining people who refused to swat flies. Every time Bigster pushed the citizens, the more of the citizens began to say enough.

Bigster was beginning to lose control.

The final straw came when Bigster tried to convince the people a new version of the swatter was needed because the flies were beginning to mutate into a more unhealthy version. They needed to increase the amount of swatting. What they were doing just wasn’t enough.

The little town of Wayton was the first to stand up to Bigster. The citizens just said no. No more swatters and no more swatting flies.

Having to swat flies was not a law and never had been. Plus there was no proof the flies were any more unhealthy than they had ever been. They would no longer comply with what Bigster wanted. The people rule the government. The government does not rule the people.

They had forgotten for a time but now they remembered. The citizens took up their swatters in protest and began marching toward the town of Bigster. Along the way they convinced others to join them. By the time they reached the Bigster town hall, most of the citizens in the county stood alongside the citizens of Wayton.

They stormed the town hall and started swatting everyone they saw. The Bigster officials ran for their lives but the citizens didn’t let them get away. They chased them down. They were captured and hauled off to the local jail. Many called for their lynching but cooler heads prevailed and trial dates were set.

The Acme fly swatter company was forced to shut down. Sporadic rioting broke out. It went on for several days before it was brought under control.

By the time all was said and done, Bigster was nothing but a shell of its former self. It never recovered. The citizens had finally come to the realization they had been lied to all along and they had fell for it.

They had all learned a hard lesson and vowed never to let such a thing happen to them again.

There are still a few citizens who refuse to believe they were lied to. To this day they still carry their Acme fly swatters that never worked and swat at flies that were never a real problem in the first place. There’s no convincing them otherwise. These days no one even tries.

© Copyright 2023 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

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