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Old Man (~1500 wds) (1 Viewer)

StevenW

Senior Member
I give up. I'm taking the plunge even though I'm not satisfied. I'll never be satisfied. Plus I'm trying to make the dang thing shorter. WARNING: libertarian-leaning short story ahead...


Old Man Kaydak had a farm.

All the kids called him ‘Old Man’ Kaydak. Most of the adults too.

No one knew where Kaydak hailed from. Fifty years ago he showed up in this rural North community with his odd name and strange accent and purchased 160 acres of land.

Everyone tried to guess his origins. Some guessed Hungarian. Others, Polish. Still others thought he sounded Mandarin or Cantonese, although he didn’t look Chinese. Someone finally got up the nerve to ask him. Kaydak just smiled and replied, “From far away.”

For fifty years he tilled his land, growing the sweetest, juiciest corn. At the yearly farmer’s October fest he could be seen grilling and serving his ears whole without the need for butter; he could be seen if you happened to be in front of the crowd gathered around his grill. Farmers would routinely ask for his secret. He would give his grin and say, “Magic.”

Kaydak claimed his age in the 70’s. He looked non-descript and could have passed anywhere between forty and sixty. Old-timers said he looks the same now as when he bought the farm. The others scoffed at the notion, but all agreed he was a strange duck.

Although he grumbled, Kaydak dutifully paid his taxes. Income taxes. Property taxes. Sales taxes. Vehicle registration and driver’s license. Business license. Capital gains. FICA.
Then the government told him he needed to buy health insurance, ‘or else’. He had never been to a doctor and never needed health insurance, but he grumbled some more and bought the damn insurance.

Later the government told him he needed to pay a new retroactive tax, ‘or else’. He fumed at the newest ransom note but in the end sent in his tribute.

Again the government told him he needed to pay a new wealth tax, ‘or else’.

Kaydak chose ‘or else’.

The government tried to garnish his bank accounts. They could find no bank accounts. A secret audit was compiled and the IRS estimated a net worth of over five million dollars. An agent was sent to collect.

That Kaydak was a voracious reader of American history and had a quirky sense of humor became known only when the revenue agent returned to his office tarred and feathered.

Thus began the siege.

The government labeled him the next Koresh or McVeigh. The mainstream media called him a greedy rich nut-job who wasn’t paying his ‘fair-share’. Kaydak was able to phone in a radio show. He called himself a patriot. He told a story of leaving his homeland after its government kept taking more and more from its people, and its politicians becoming more corrupt. He came to America, bought some poor farmland in his northern state, and through toil and sweat turned it into a thriving, prosperous enterprise. He never asked the government for anything and made his fortune through thrift and hard work. “Heck,” he said. “Through maintenance and care, I’m still driving my original tractor and pickup. I’ve been through all this before. I finally decided I’m never gonna give any government another penny. Over the years I’ve converted all my money into gold, which nobody ain’t gonna find. I say this directly to the politicians and bureaucrats, ‘leave me alone or you will be destroyed.’”

The media picked up on this and it furthered their beliefs he was a crazy right-wing terrorist.

After a month the government got tired of surrounding a single farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. An example needed to be made.

Agents patted themselves on the back as the ruins smoldered. Sifting through the charcoal and debris, no human remains or gold was found.

A week later, a middle-aged middle manager clothed in a bathrobe and holding a cup of coffee in hand stepped out his suburban front door to retrieve his morning newspaper. He noticed his lawn was covered in leaves. And his driveway. And the street. He looked left and right. The entire neighborhood was covered in leaves. A few of his neighbors were on hand and knees scooping them up. A group of kids was raking up and down the street, filling up garbage bags. He’d never seen kids volunteer so industriously! When he looked down at his feet, his hands began shaking. He was drenched in coffee before he absent-mindedly dropped his cup and fell to his knees.
Five, Ten, Twenty dollar bills. A few ones, fifties, and hundreds. He started grabbing; then rationale reasserted itself into his cortex. He stood and opened his garage. Where he kept his leaf-blower.

Similar incidents occurred all over the country that morning. In every city, every county, and every township. Later estimates counted hundreds of trillions of dollars.
There was a mad scramble to electronics stores, car dealerships, jewelry stores. None opened as all their employees and managers were busy raking up their own fortunes.
Some good Samaritans decided to turn their money in. Few were thanked and a few were arrested for possessing stolen or counterfeit money.

The treasury tested samples of the currency. All had valid serial numbers and all were indistinguishable from the real deal. The inclusion of even one dollar counterfeits was insidious. ALL paper currency was suspect. No one could even use one to purchase a cheap hamburger.

A few businesses tried to open, but they had no idea of what value to now mark their merchandise. $100 for a can of beans? $500?

Over the next several days, American dollars appeared worldwide. It became impossible to pay Bangladesh cabbies with the stuff. Trying to bribe third world police and border guards with it got you laughed at, a dungeon, or a bullet. A minority happily accepted it, but they really needed toilet paper.

The government threw up its hands and against great outcry declared paper money null and void. Only electronic money was now legal tender.

A week later, American’s bank account got inflated by over one million dollars. The stalled spending spree attempted to start anew. Fewer Samaritans stepped forward this time. One poor schlub in Dallas did and got re-arrested. The news networks made him infamous. An online petition circulated to get him sterilized. Several doctors volunteered to perform the vasectomy for free.

Grocery stores inflated prices. Foreign manufacturers refused to sell to the U.S. The government stepped in and froze prices. Farmers refused to sell; if they sold at a fixed rate they’d go broke. “Give us gold” they suggested. Instead the government nationalized and confiscated. And the farmers were told to keep farming, ‘or else’.

And the government went right down the line forcing newly made ‘millionaires’ back to waitressing and clerking for $10 an hour. Engineers and programmers were enraged to be forced, some at gunpoint, back to their crappy cubicles and salaries.

A week later, Americans woke up to find something downloaded to their computers and phones. It was an exposé on their local bureaucracies. News, video, and other evidence. This principal was a pedophile. That cop beat his wife and kids. This mayor was embezzling. That judge was on an extra payroll. None were spared. It began with the cities. The next day a new download; this time the counties. Next day the states. Tomorrow, a message said, will be the congresses and President’s turn.

They panicked and shut down the internet. It was for naught. Computer disks and DVD arrived in mailboxes, mail slots, and on front porches. It was a political nuclear bomb. One congressman with a sole history as a ‘public servant’ with no inheritance and never making more than $150,000 a year had accumulated a fifty-million plus fortune. One senator failed to conveniently disclose on a fact finding mission to Thailand a very intimate look into a children’s brothel. The President? It's too horrible to mention here.

Politicians yelled from the stump, “It’s a lie.” Of course no one believed that. Everything was hacked directly from FBI, NSA, Homeland Security, and agencies the public never knew existed. Each disc every American received was personalized with data these agencies had on THEM!

People marched on town halls, state capitals, and Washington D.C. demanding justice, jail, punishment, and an end to the intrusive agencies. Water hoses, dogs, and clubs ended most resistance. In the nation’s capitol millions showed up, dozens were killed, hundreds were injured, and thousands were arrested and jailed.

If the anger previously fermented, it was now being distilled. Emotions simmered and boiled. People were upset and felt helpless. They had given away their liberties and in the vacuum, corruption was eager to take.

A week later, Americans opened their doors. They found a package. They cautiously opened it. Inside was a pistol.

A laser pistol.
 

cazann34

Senior Member
As I read this, I was more than curious about the punchline. One man from the future brought the American government to its knees because of their unquenchable greed for money. I know that sometimes its the journey that is important and not the destination but I found the end wanting.
 
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ZayneJ

Senior Member
I found the end kind of needing of payoff as well, but it was interesting to think about the political undertones of American greed.
 

Silenced

Senior Member
This was an interesting read, I'll have to be honest. I'm also curious to see what would come next in this story.
 

Pelwrath

WF Veterans
Very interesting, yet with time travel there is always the problem of continuity. Is time a unbreakable time line. If you do something, you had to do it and therefore history can't be changed. Or do you have it Like L. Sprague De Camp, in that time is a trunk and if you go back in time, all you do is create a new branch? Or like H.B.Piper and you can't go forward or backwards but sideways to other planes were history is different? What intrigues me more is was he 'fated' to do this or did he chose to?
 

Nevermore

Senior Member
A bit of an interesting critique/satire, though one thing does bug me.

They panicked and shut down the internet. It was for naught. Computer disks and DVD arrived in mailboxes, mail slots, and on front porches.

They panicked and shut down the internet,

shut down the internet,


Remember SOPA? Yeah, nope, when it comes to internet, government, especially American government, is basically powerless.

But even besides that, I thought it was a little bit unrealistic, while still trying too hard to make a point. Still, very good writing, I think, though you may want to watch out for that everpresent one-or-two grammar errors. Probably your best strength here is extremely, violently readable pacing.

Also, an interesting little thing I noticed; this is titled "Old Man", but chronologically, the titular Old Man is so young he's practically in negative years. Hah, negative years. Oh, Willy Wonka, you lovable bastard.
 
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StevenW

Senior Member
I didn't care for the last third, even half, of the story. I seemed to run out of juice; the whole internet shutdown thing was a gasp. I'm hoping for suggestions for changes.

My grammatical errors are usually (not always) in purpose. I also couldn't think of a good title.
 

Pelwrath

WF Veterans
Steven some suggestions. Add some 'meat' to the old man. Did he have any friends? Was there anything quirky about him that would set him off from the rest? How did he pay for this? No SS#? Worth 5 million and no bank accounts, money/income records. This is a nice start but it needs development. The old man as a stranger, hermit, one who's off the grid so to speak is intriguing. Develop it.
 

StevenW

Senior Member
Steven some suggestions. Add some 'meat' to the old man. Did he have any friends? Was there anything quirky about him that would set him off from the rest? How did he pay for this? No SS#? Worth 5 million and no bank accounts, money/income records. This is a nice start but it needs development. The old man as a stranger, hermit, one who's off the grid so to speak is intriguing. Develop it.

Thanks. I was trying to keep it vague and the story short overall. You don't know where the old man came from. He says "magic." Could he be an elf? From another planet? I admit I never considered time-travel. I think I could expand it but without really adding anything.

Keeping stories short is HARD. I remember Heinlein mentioning that and he wasn't kidding.
 

chris-mac

Senior Member
You are a brilliant writer Steven of that there is no doubt. This story started so well and I would have liked a little more about the 'old man' prior to his intricately planned assault on the US elite. The ending was a little limp, and perhaps just a little more thought could have gone into that, but it is in your own admission a rough work, and I would love to read your stuff that you yourself hold in high regard.
 

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