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Sean Vivier is a web developer who moonlights as a ballroom dance instructor and writer. Learn more about his writing at his website: seanvivier.com.

We called them the Decennarchy, since they were a government that appeared every ten years, and because our librarian liked languages. Sure enough, ten years to the day since the last sighting, their domed temple came into being on the town green.
How to describe the Decennarchs? They are like us, but they are not. They are speeding wisps in suits. They are frail and intimidating at once. For their day on Earth, they hurry from one end of town to the other. And they pronounce their laws.
First, they count our numbers, though none of us can guess why. After that, they demand a portion of the fruits of our labor in the last ten years, formulated so that our poorest pay nothing and our richest pay not just a larger share, but also a higher percentage. They also offer a thousand discounts and exceptions that none of us can remember. By their scowls, we can't tell if they hate the poorest among us or the richest among us more.
This is the money they then use to pay us to do their bidding. A few of us, generations ago, refused to heed. The Decennarchs bound them and took them to their domed temple, where we never saw them again. Since then, we've learned to keep our heads down and obey. We just have to survive them a day.
There were the small things that we either didn't mind or were only nuisances. They rearranged the flow of traffic. They gave food to the desperately poor and job training to the homeless. They catalogued every dog and cat in town.
Then there were the things that only baffled. They commissioned works of art, but only from artists in their good graces. They removed certain books from the library and demanded others. They forbade the sale of soft drinks on Sunday.
But they didn't stop there. They stormed into homes and businesses, armed, and confiscated every grain of sugar they found. They licensed speech: no license, no right to political speech. They forbade any and all travel by car, and they herded the adult population into compulsory adult Ed.
Worst of all, after every action, great or small, they made sure to tell us that our obedience proved our worthiness as human beings. Had we disobeyed in even the smallest of things, it would have proven our complete and utter lack of character.
At long last, as even the most patient of us felt our nerves frayed, the evening fell. In the twilight, Decennarchs darted from every corner of the town to the domed temple, like streaks of light. As the sun finally set, the domed temple vanished. The empty green was the empty green again.
After such an arduous day, tradition demanded immediate relaxation. People crowded into bars and clubs and restaurants and friends' homes. Far and wide, it was agreed--sometimes in jest and sometimes in earnest--that the world would be a better place if all governments only came once every ten years.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, December 18th, 2017

Author Comments

When I worked for Census 2010, I began to wonder how the world might be if other government agencies also only came around once every ten years.

- Sean Vivier
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