Ripped from today’s headlines! Most of these Panel 350s are sci-fi, but this might actually be happening right now. I read that we something similar right before we invaded Iraq, because only the US of Fucking ‘A is bad enough to weaponize telemarketing.
Just to recap: This is Panel 350, Panel’s foray into flash fiction. All stories (more or less) guaranteed to be under 350 words!
The ringtone was a tinny, midi version of a beautiful, traditional folk song. The Finance Minister, in whose pocket it rang, turned ashen.
The Dictator stared at him across the table. “Were you expecting a call, my friend?”
“It … it is just my wife,” the Minister stammered.
It was ostensibly a cabinet meeting, but there were more guards than government officials. The officials on either side of the Minister leaned slightly away. Everyone knew who was calling.
It was the American CIA. The Americans had determined to dethrone the Dictator, but their military was too weak to do it directly. Their spies had somehow obtained all mobile phone numbers in the country, and were offering princely sums of American money to anyone who would assassinate the Dear Leader.
The Dictator now flew into a rage any time he saw someone talking on a mobile – he couldn’t bear to see any two people talking together at all. His entire government had ground to a halt.
“You all have blood on your hands,” the Dictator said. It was a familiar refrain. “If they take me away to the Hague, all of you will hang, too. You, minister –“ he pointed to the stricken Finance Minister “- I remember holding a young girl down while you …”
The Dictator described the crime in graphic terms, wrapping his audience to him in bonds of guilt. It didn’t matter that the Dictator had insisted the Minister commit the crime. All were guilty.
“Dear Leader, I …” The Minister could form no words. And in the silence, everyone could hear the soft buzz of a half-dozen mobile phones on vibrate.
The Dictator pulled the gem-encrusted pistol from his hip and shot the Minister four times in the chest. Then he attempted to go on with the meeting.
The guards dragged the still-gasping Finance Minister out of the hall. The other misters knew: They could all be next.
But if they tried to assassinate the Dictator, they’d get no second chances. They’d better not miss.