The Vanishing Mediator

Having fun on the internet.

funky mortimer

An Easily-Distracted Tale by Chris/0

The Emir of Groovefunkistan was not widely known as a patient man.

Since inheriting the position after his father’s death, the current Emir had made holding court an adventure in yelling, disdain, and general surliness. For months, the young ruler’s ministers (whom he had similarly inherited) were entirely devoted to the problem of cooling his head enough to allow the emirate to function normally.

For, you see, his judgments were so outrageously unfair that they were reviled equally by the upper and lower classes. In disputes over borders of property, for example, he would simply annex the land for the government. Which he, of course, was the embodiment of.

And so it went for disputes over money, food, ownership of animals, contract law, consumer protection, and divorces.

The ministers knew that such cross-class unity could only lead to revolution. And they did not want to be around when it happened.

What had worked best so far was advising the Emir to treat holding court as a game. For each proclamation, he was given certain goals to achieve or wise, historical leaders to emulate.

Limited success was better than no success at all, the ministers had decided.

Today, however, was different.

The Emir had come to them himself and said that he had his own goal to achieve on this day. The minsters were shocked at first, but quickly demanded to know just what this goal was.

Originally, the Emir explained, he had simply been looking for examples of other great men who had taken their examples from literature. This was to make sure that the ministers were not leading him astray, in which case he’d simply have ordered them killed.

Fortunately, he found that it was common. He told with great excitement the tale of a man named Eugene Schieffelin, an American who had the goal of importing to America every kind of bird mentioned in the words of Shakespeare. Back in 1890 he released 60 starlings into Central Park, in New York city. A year later, he did the same thing with another 60. This came from a single line in the play Henry IV, Part 1 in which a character named Hotspur says, “Nay, I’ll have a starling shall be taught to speak nothing but ‘Mortimer.’” The starlings actually went on to become a serious pest in America. But more importantly, their numbers increased to around 200 million. A great multitude from such humble beginnings.

The ministers did not have the heart to tell the Emir that the Shakespearean origin of this man’s actions was probably apocryphal. Whatever motivated him to do good was itself good, they reasoned.

The Emir said that he would do the same with judgments, instead of birds. He had studied deeply the decisions of great historical compromisers like the Hebrew King Solomon and the Japanese Ōoka Tadasuke. He wished to do as Schieffelin had, and bring their legendary equity to Groovefunkistan.

He wished to create perfect fairness.

The ministers could hardly argue with this. Their own goal was to forestall revolution; perfectly fair judgments would go a long way toward this. So they brought before him a particularly difficult case.

On one side, a commoner. On the other, a nobleman. Between them, a large tract of valuable land that had been sold to both, due to the acts of a man who was not so skilled at drawing maps. Less so, even, now that his hand had been cut off.

The Emir listened intently to both sides, nodding his head and asking pertinent questions. A first. The ministers were encouraged.

When both men had spoken their piece, the Emir sat back in his throne for a few moments, lost in thought. Then, suddenly, he stood up and turned to his ministers.

He asked them to beatbox for him.

This was not an entirely unusual request. Every subject of the emirate learned how to beatbox at a very young age. In fact, a few of the ministers had been beatboxing champions in their youths. One started out by supplying the kick bass. Another jumped in with an 808 clap, and still another with a dry snare. They went down the line, each minister adding a new instrument until the break was complete.

The Emir tapped his foot to the beat, waiting until the synth was added. Then, he began to dance.

It was a spectacle that awed the commoner and the nobleman alike. Few outside the royal inner circle ever were privileged enough to see the Emir dance. Even the ministers had not seen the current Emir go to it with such wild abandon before. As befit the professionals they were, though, the break did not falter.

The Emir was fluid. He transitioned from the Lawnmower to the Fishstick, from the Shopping Cart to the Running Man. He dropped down into the Caterpillar, then sprang up into the Watusi without missing a single beat.

As he danced, his body began to glow. White light first oozed, then poured, out from his very core, where (according to the Groovefunkistanian faith) his soul resided. The light grew brighter and brighter. All present in the room had to shield their eyes, lest they be blinded. For several minutes, the only evidence of the Emir’s presence was his rhythmic breathing and the shuffle of his shoes against the floor.

Soon, though, even those stopped. The light began to fade from blinding to merely glowing. The ministers felt it was safe to open their eyes again. But when they did so, the Emir was gone.

Scientists would later describe what happened as this.

The Emir’s dancing caused a fundamental imbalance in the vibrations of the local superstring membranes. This resulted in a supersymmetric inversion flooding the space around the Emir with exotic matter. Such an exotic maneuver forced open paired wormholes, each corresponding to a different electromagnetic charge. The matter that composed the Emir was duplicated and sent through the wormholes, likely to alternate universes, separated from our own by infinitesimal—though untraversable—distances.

At the ministers’ puzzled looks, they provided a simpler explanation: The Emir’s dancing was so funky that it tore holes in spacetime.

The wave function that was his proclamation did not collapse before being split. So it was not until he reached the destination universes that he stopped dancing and ruled. In one, he ruled in favor of the commoner. In the other, the nobleman. But in both, his ruling was deemed to be equitable, and his dancing was deemed to be excellent. Revolution was prevented. The Emirate was saved by his fair judgment, regardless of how he actually judged.

And what of the original Groovefunkistan?

With no one in a solid leadership role, the nation was set upon by its neighbors to the east and west. After a short time, it was consumed by them; divided down the middle into regions of equal area.

Perfectly fairly.