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The Right to Bear Amish

Apparently, there are five elements to writing fiction: setting, character, plot, point of view, and theme. Apparently, you can’t really have a story without a plot. Apparently…

SETTING

Ever since the Amish had miraculously won the war, no one in the world was allowed to use modern technology, and Fergus was fucking sick of it.

There were still a few neutral countries in West Africa who had abstained from the war and consequently still had internet, but with no one left from the western world to scam online, they really had no use for it.

Eighteen months after the war was over, Fergus still didn’t understand how the Amish – a very small minority of non-violent, traditionalist Christians living in remote communities of the eastern United States, who never really bothered themselves with the happenings of the rest of the world ­– had conquered the entire planet and forcefully converted us to their humble, traditional, simpler way of life.

No one could explain how it happened. And without Wikipedia, no one could find out.

Apparently, there was an Armenian historian in Yerevan putting quill to scroll just as fast as he could to record the natural chain of bizarre events that led the Amish to victory in WWIII, but it would still be a while before the printing press (a large group of fellow Armenians who took the historian’s work at the end of the day and rewrote it word-for-word on more scrolls) would be ready for publication and mass distribution.

Until then, the masses would just have to assume that it was the Amish colonies’ determination and can-do attitude that beat their enemies’ tanks, nukes, machine guns, and relentless air strikes.

Of course, the hipsters, anarchists, hippies, electrosensitivists (people who are severely allergic to modern technology) and other minorities were quick to not only adapt to the Amish culture, but fully embrace it.

“This is great,” they exclaimed. “This is just the reboot that modern society needed,” they exclaimed. “What do you mean, we can’t listen to Spotify?” they exclaimed. “Fuck!” they exclaimed.

It wasn’t all bad, though. Alcohol, thank the Amish lord (his name is Cale, apparently… at least that’s what someone told Fergus, and he can’t verify it online so for the time-being Fergus had to take their word for it), was still permitted under Amish rule.

It was touch-and-go for a while; the New Order isn’t as progressive as the Old Order. But eventually, the topic of alcohol was debated by a panel of X Factor-esque Amish judges, and it passed through to the final round in which humanity was now living, with no television, no internet, no social media, no cars, no social media, no smartphones, no tablets, no social media, no drum and bass, no cat videos on YouTube, no social media, no social media… like I said, it wasn’t all bad.

And even Fergus had to admit, it was refreshing to step into his favourite watering hole and see crowds of people chatting, laughing, interacting, enjoying the live band (usually a cappella), drinking, eating, flirting, hooking up (which now meant arranging to meet someone at a specified time and place, rather than swiping right) and countless other things that had been lacking in recent years.

Speaking of coming home from work, the new Amish overlords had been kind enough to try extremely hard to ensure no one lost their jobs in the messy transition period between modern living as we know it and the new modern living of old fashioned living.

They said they were fully committed to accommodating everyone as best they could in this ugly phase of transition, and prevent any job losses… Can you believe that?! Fucking jerks.

Retail and hospitality, for example, ran exactly the same as before ­– they just smashed the fuse box and carried on as usual in the candlelight. EFTPOS? Sorry, cash only. Tell you what though; you can have this flat-packed IKEA kitchen in exchange for three carrots and that llama you so elegantly rode here on.

And thus, bartering was reborn in the western world. Needless to say, the big banks weren’t happy about this. In fact, most of the massive corporate chains struggled.

They were alright for a few days, until the international shipments stopped showing up. Then the staff realised they weren’t going to be able to access their electronically-transferred wages, and they stopped showing up too. Finally, the customers stopped showing up when they realised they no longer had any need for cute, quirky, electric lanterns they found on page fourteen of the catalogue, because now they needed real ones.

No, for all their SEO content, targeted marketing campaigns, board meetings and spreadsheets, the big-name corporations actually lost to the little guy for once. They were the first to go, while the small, independent, family-owned businesses faired a little better.

The great recession of COVID-19 was still fresh in people’s minds at this point in history, and yet many of the lessons learned were irrelevant because this time it was a different beast. It wasn’t so much the small communities that were suffering as it was the Apples, Amazons, VISAs and Alibabas.

People working in I.T. or computer-related jobs were fucked. Suddenly out of a job, there were hardly any positions being advertised on SEEK or INDEED. Actually, there were no positions being advertised on SEEK or INDEED, because there no longer was a SEEK or INDEED.

Anyway, that’s the setting set – now for some character development. So, who the hell is Fergus?

CHARACTER

Fergus was the kind of idiot who was smart enough that he didn’t actually need to be one. Nor did he choose to be an idiot, or just fall into it through apathy.

Nope, Fergus just had an uncanny knack for pulling out a crucial piece of scaffolding just as his life was starting to take some form of respectable shape, toppling the whole thing over and starting from scratch.

A prime example of this is his first girlfriend, Lucy, who Fergus catered to day and night throughout his early teens. Finally, Fergus chucked in the towel in favour of getting drunk and smoking weed with his friends all the time, just as Lucy was suddenly ready to lose her virginity.

The result? Within a week of giving up on all that hard work he’d put in, Lucy had found a new boyfriend and was riding him in the back of his car after school every day while, 200 metres away, Fergus was smoking bongs behind a bush, quickly learning that blowjobs were much more satisfying than getting high.

Subsequently, it wasn’t until Fergus was three years into a four-year university degree that he finally lost his virginity, and unfortunately it was to a very domineering woman who took up so much of his time and energy that (through fear of going back to the life of abstinence he’d only just left behind) Fergus gave up university to juggle his girlfriend’s high-maintenance mood swings full-time.

When this girlfriend eventually left Fergus for a guy who had finished his degree and therefore had a more respectable job than Fergus’s current title of Department Store Stooge, Fergus finally completed his final year of university… seven years to complete a four-year course.

All is well that ends well, and these unfortunate happenings had all served as learning curves that eventually led Fergus to an impressive job as a JavaScript Developer for a well-known and highly-respected company, and the promise of a well-rounded life.

In other words, it was just about time for Fergus to pull out that crucial piece of scaffolding and helplessly watch his life topple down all around him. This time, however, he didn’t even need to wreak the destruction on himself – the world went ahead and took care of that for him.

Fergus’s very first day as a JavaScript Developer was the day the Amish declared war.

PLOT

There isn’t much of a plot for this particular narrative, sorry… just some pub banter dialogue, along the lines of the following:

“You’re late, bro,” Marcus muttered as Fergus entered the bar and bustled over to his friend’s table.

“How can you even tell?” Fergus replied.

“Because unlike you, I swapped out my Casio for a traditional watch that the Amish are accepting of… and willing to repair.”

“Yeah, well in case you haven’t noticed, the exact time of day isn’t as important to me as it used to be,” Fergus scowled.

Marcus shook his head. “Please, no. Not a word about your old job. Not today, Fergus, I need a day off from your usual whinging.”

“Are you kidding me?! It was a four-year computer science degree,” Fergus exclaimed. Someone in the corner of the bar glanced over at the two of them. “I’d just become a working professional… I mean, literally, I just made it.”

“Yeah, I know man,” Marcus said. “But it’s done. You gotta learn to adapt. Take what you learned in those four years of computer science and transfer those skills to something else.”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know, Fergus; whatever people did to get by before the twentieth century. Didn’t you ever watch Game of Thrones?”

“No, I was only halfway through season one when the Amish attacked,” Fergus muttered as he lifted his glass. The man in the corner of the bar watched Fergus sip his pint of beer.

“Well, first of all, you missed out big-time. And also, they all had hands-on jobs like me, fixing up houses and being blacksmiths and shit.”

Fergus and Marcus had known each other since high school. Marcus went for the tradesman path, which was proving to be a very smart career choice post-Amish invasion.

But why am I telling you all of this? You already know all of this information. It was in the brief provided to you earlier today, along with all the instructions that had led you to be sitting in the corner of the bar, watching Fergus and Marcus enjoy their drinking session.

POINT OF VIEW

You can tell these two are dear friends from long before the Amish Revolution, just by the way they engage each other in such strong conversation. They’ve been swapping anecdotes for three hours straight, only pausing to order fresh pints or pop to the bathroom.

In fact, Fergus and Marcus have been so preoccupied with their own ongoing dialogue that they haven’t even noticed you’ve been watching them for as long as they’ve been here.

You’ve been nursing your beer for so long that it has reached room temperature, while you’ve sat quite still and eavesdropped on as much of their conversation as possible.

“Yeah, it’s been nice,” Marcus grins as he slaps his drinking buddy on the back. “It’s been great to just reminisce about old times and not be so negative for once.”

Fergus nods as he drains the last of his pint. “Yeah I know, and I’m working on that Marcus – being present in the moment and all that shit you’re always preaching.”

Marcus chuckles to himself, which draws a frown to Fergus’s face. “What?”

“I think it’s a little late for that, Fergus. You are who you are,” Marcus replies. “What’s that old saying, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?”

You take your cue to leave your lukewarm pint on the table and step outside the bar as Fergus and Marcus gather themselves and make their way towards the door.

THEME

When I half-wrote this ridiculous story four years ago, the moral of the story was supposed to be that we might have taken digital technology a little too far, to the point where it was no longer enhancing our lives, but restricting it.

My suggestion was that we should all remember to appreciate the simpler things in life.

Now that I’ve written the second half of the story four years later, my message appears to have changed to: “people who whinge too much should die horrible deaths”. How the hell do I work those two themes together?

Also, how did you end up in the story? How does your character know more about what’s going to happen than I do, when I’m the one writing the damn thing?!

Maybe I should have kept the theme as something simple, like: “don’t underestimate the Amish”.

A HALF-BAKED TWIST FOR A NONSENSICAL PLOT

By the time Fergus and Marcus emerge from the bar into the parking lot (these days it’s more a spot for people to keep their horses and carriage), you’re in position and ready to go.

You watch the two old friends drunkenly stagger about in the darkness, and realise this is going to be even easier than you imagined. You back away behind the corner as they approach the dark alleyway, and you can tell by the pattern in their footsteps that Marcus has taken his cue to ease off slightly and let Fergus turn the corner first.

Sure enough, an unsuspecting Fergus steps into the alleyway and is immediately lifted off his feet as you plunge a knife (it could almost qualify as a sword, it’s that fucking huge) deep into his midriff and gouge it upwards under his rib cage.

He manages a stifled yelp, but mostly it’s just strained gurgling as his confused and bewildered eyes stare into yours, trying to make sense of what’s happening.

You slide the knife back out of Fergus abruptly, and he crumples to the ground in the shadows of the alleyway beside his favourite watering hole. Marcus watches from just outside the alleyway, hands in his pockets and a downcast expression on his face.

“I’m sorry, Fergus,” he speaks just loud enough for his dying friend to hear him. “You talk too much shit about the Amish.”

Fergus stares up at him, and his eyes bulge with incredulity and rage as he realises his best friend’s betrayal.

Marcus kneels down beside him. “Did you really think it would go unnoticed? You were going to get us both killed, Fergus. I had to rat you out, or else I’d be complicit in your constant fucking complaining about the new world order.”

And then both you and Marcus witness the most bizarre thing. Fergus’s mouth, which is bubbling up with blood, appears to contort itself into a smile.

“I… I’m a… an informant… you fuck… fucking moron,” he sighs and stutters. “My… new j-job… I had to… pr… pr… protect my cover.”

Marcus is in shock as he stares at his best friend. Your mind starts racing. You should have known this. You would have known this if you’d bothered to do your homework. Instead, you just happily took the assignment and licked your lips as you thought about what you were going to do with the money.

Just as it dawns on you that the interests of Marcus and yourself might no longer be aligned, Marcus glances up at you from his kneeling position. You make a snap decision and drive your still bloody knife straight through Marcus’s left eyeball and into his brain, twist it around a little and yank it out.

Marcus collapses on the pavement beside his best friend, and the two of them twitch a couple of final twitches before both leaving this Earth together.

“Shit,” you grimace, before wiping your knife clean on Marcus’s jacket and getting the fuck out of there.

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