The Revolution Will Be Televised
rating: +50+x

In a land that had once known nothing but war, a king spoke with his adviser. The king was a peacemaker and the adviser a warmonger. The adviser had served the king's father, and his father before him, and cared nothing for the peace the king was intent upon. War was the way of their people — to abandon it would be to abandon themselves.

Every night, in the garden of the palace, the adviser would tell the king a story. A story of an ancient conqueror, or a peaceful fool who lost everything. A tale to try and convince the king that his ways were wrong.

It never worked.

It was cold in the garden that winter night, and the adviser was ready to give up. Perhaps the time for war had passed. He had no more stories to tell his king, he thought.

But then, a new one popped into his head — like he himself hadn't even thought of it. Like someone else had thought of it for him.

"My king," the adviser began. "Have you ever heard the story of Bael the Decadent Jester?"

-

Jeffrey had given up. Everyone had.

There was no rescue. No deliverance from this. They were trapped here forever, in the TD fucking Garden. At a basketball game that had been going on for…God, what? Years, maybe? Longer than anyone could take, at any rate.

Most people just lay down on the floor at the start of the loops now. Committing suicide took a certain amount of effort that nobody was really willing to spend anymore. They were like barnacles more than people. Jeffrey had seen a barnacle once — at an aquarium near his house. He spent a lot of time at the aquarium inside his head these days. Thinking about it, where was his house? He didn't even remember. Things just tended to fade here.

The lights had turned red at some point. Who cared? The novelty of a change in lighting wore off after a couple of minutes.

Jeffrey breathed in.

Jeffrey breathed out.

Jeffrey breathed in.

Jeffrey breathed out.

Jeffrey breathed in.

Jeffrey breathed out.

Jeffrey breathed in.

Jeffrey breathed out.

Jeffrey breathed in.

Jeffrey breathed out.

Jeffrey breathed in.

Jeffrey breathed out.

Jeffrey breathed in. Jeffrey breathed out. Jeffrey breathed in. Jeffrey breathed out. Jeffrey breathed in. Jeffrey breathed out. Jeffrey breathed in. Jeffrey breathed out. Jeffrey breathed in. Jeffrey breathed out. Jeffrey breathed in. Jeffrey breathed out. Jeffrey breathed in. Jeffrey breathed out. Jeffrey breathed in. Jeffrey breathed out. Jeffrey breathed in. Jeffrey breathed out. Jeffrey breathed in. Jeffrey breathed out. Jeffrey breathed in. Jeffrey breathed out. Jeffrey breathed in. Jeffrey breathed out. Jeffrey breathed in. Jeffrey breathed out. Jeffrey breathed in. Jeffrey breathed out. Jeffrey breathed in. Jeffrey breathed out. Jeffrey breathed in. Jeffrey breathed out. Jeffrey breathed in. Jeffrey breathed out. Jeffrey breathed in. Jeffrey breathed out.

The doors to the arena opened.

Jeffrey leapt up from the floor. He wasn't the only one — all around the arena, people were getting up, wide-eyed and wild. Something was happening. Something was fucking happening!

A crowd gathered quickly, people pushing and shoving each other to get a look at what was going on. Were they being rescued? Forgiven? Would they finally be allowed to die?

A cartoon clown walked through the doors, a spring in his step. He was strange to look at - a 2D thing in a 3D world, yet…still 3D enough to look at from different angles. It wasn't a thing that was supposed to be. You could tell that the instant you looked at him.

The clown stood before them, hands on his hips, a wide grin on his face.

"Finally!" he said. "You know how many basketball tapes I had to check out before finding you guys?"

He turned back around, shouting over his shoulder: "Hey guys! This is the one!"

The clown wasn't alone. Others came through the doors, and they were just as bizarre. A cartoon pelican with a shotgun grasped in each wing, a black-cloaked figure who glided across the floor (and what appeared to be Ronald Reagan, loyally following after him), and a man in a suit whose face you just couldn't look at, no matter how hard you tried.

"Reap what you sow," muttered the pelican, fidgeting with his shotguns. "Reap what you goddamn sow."

The clown waved an arm dismissively. "Yeah, yeah, take five, guys."

None of them moved, but apparently that was good enough for the clown, who turned back to the crowd.

"Howdy!" he said.

Jeffrey found himself speaking — at the start of this whole thing, he'd have been afraid of such a bizarre sight, but fear was something that faded with every loop. If the worst had already happened, what else was there to be afraid of?

"Excuse me, sir," he said quietly. "Who exactly are you?"

"Why," said the clown. "That is a fantastic question, my lad! Gold star! I am esteemed American cartoon icon Bobble the Clown. Perhaps you've heard of me?"

Jeffrey shook his head slowly. "No…no, I haven't."

A look of irritation crossed the clown's face for a moment, but it quickly vanished. "Ah, kids these days!" he said, looking back at the black-cloaked figure. "I bet you he couldn't even name any of the machine elves!"

The figure didn't respond.

"Come to think of it," said Bobble, turning back towards the crowd. "It might be better for you boys and girls to call me General Bobble."

"Why?" said Jeffrey slowly. He didn't especially like where this was going.

"A commanding officer needs to be respected by his troops, of course," said Bobble. "And from this moment forward, all you boys and girls are my little helpers! Give yourselves a pat on the back, but not for too long, because we're kinda on a schedule here."

Someone from the crowd shouted out angrily. Out of the corner of his eye, Jeffrey saw Bobble's grin widen. Suddenly it felt like he was in the same room as a starving lion.

"Somebody not happy?" said Bobble. "I'd be happy to field any complaints."

The shouter shoved their way to the front of the crowd. It was a Faithkeeper — at least he had been, before everyone had just given up. His face was red with indignation.

"You said we were a tape, didn't you? I heard you say that!" he shouted, moving towards the clown.

"Good hearing! I did indeedily say that, my good sir!"

The Faithkeeper reached the clown and prodded him in the chest with his finger. Bobble's grin widened even further, and a wild look entered his eyes.

"Are you the one that did this to us? Put us here?! Is this your goddamn fau —"

The man never finished his sentence, as Bobble casually reached out and tore his head off with a gloved hand.

Nobody said a word. Decapitations were something they were fairly used to at this point.

"Now, listen," said Bobble, dribbling the head like it was a basketball. Every second or so, his speech was punctuated by a loud splat as the head hit the floor. "I'm an understanding boss. I'm a pretty good guy, if I do say so myself. Definitely going to heaven. But come on, guys. Would your boss let you talk to him that way? Well, I'm your boss now, and I won't. So now Mr. Angrypants doesn't get to come with us."

"Where are we going?" said Jeffrey. There was no way he was going against the clown at this point.

"Wherever I damn well, please, my lad. Wherever I damn well please. Let's go meet the Jetsons, let's burn down Springfield, let's go shoot Scooby Doo in the face! This is revolutionary television!"

He pointed at the suited man. "Hey - a televution! What d'ya think of that?"

"It's funny stuff! Makes me laugh! You should laugh with us! Laugh with us! Laugh with us!" said the man.

"Yeah, later."

"Yeah! Fuck Scooby!" shouted the pelican, clearly getting hyped.

Bobble stepped to the side, and with a flourishing gesture he pointed towards the door. There was light beyond it — no, not light. Static. Television static. But an exit nonetheless.

"Or," said Bobble. "You could stay here for the rest of time."

Jeffrey didn't need to think twice.

Playback ████ Only one individual, a member of the Faithkeepers, is present. For the duration of the playback, he attempts to exit the arena by beating his fists against the exit doors. Just before the end of the playback, a single 'honk' can be heard.

-

The story went on and on, words spilling out of the adviser's mouth so fast he didn't even know what they meant. Tales of massacre and genocide, atrocity and apocalypse, all caused by a jester named Bael. Even as he spoke, the words took root inside his own mind, and he swore he could hear the chuckling of that decadent fool in the back of his head. A soft and gentle sound, like hooves raining down upon a babe.

And then the story ended.

The king looked at his adviser, eyes wide. And then, slowly, a grin spread across his face.

"Inform my armies," he said, shaking with excitement. "Tomorrow, we ride to war."




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