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Benjamin Mercer

The Adversaries: A Short Story Collection

The Master.(32 minute read)

To the reader, a forewarning. The Master in this piece is its protagonist, its principal and unprincipled character, the fictional British parliamentarian Kevin Spatznick. In accordance with its deliberate style, which might be described as that of a voice novel, this character assumes the role of narrator. The character in question is a particularly nasty individual, and so, readers are advised that this story contains unpleasantries, vulgarities, and much that – I hope – will cause offense. In order to comply with the guidelines of this project, I am required to point out the obvious: none of what follows should be considered 'incitement'. The views of my fictional protagonist are not put across in the hope that the reader will be inspired to emulate him, therefore the charge of incitement cannot apply. Whilst The Master fits into the broader thematic framework of this collection, and its primary purpose is to reflect the fact, one of its secondary objectives is to illuminate a simple yet oft-forgotten truth: that cultural prurience regarding speech and expression may alter the patterns and means of their public forms, but it does nothing to alter the fact of private belief. Finally, any resemblance between the characters and events portrayed herein to disgraced British politicians and their shenanigans, specifically politicians who, until recently, held prominent posts as heads of Select Committees, and whose surnames may or may not be Vaz, are entirely deliberate. The Master is a caricature, and necessarily relies upon distortion and parody of the real in order that some broader truth be transmitted.

“Where do you think most of the poison is coming from? From the dispossessed and the never-possessed. Do we want… more of the bastards out there?” - Former Prime Minister Sir John Major, explaining his reluctance to sack disloyal members of his cabinet. “And so, the evidence we’ve compiled...
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The Pact(3 minute read)

To the reader (and myself), an apology: Time constraints prohibit me from uploading entries in their proper order. The theme of this work - the relationship between opposites - necessitates a specific pattern. My first piece, The Master, will - in the final iteration of the collection - be followed by one called The Oblate. This pattern, of one theme followed by its opposite, will continue. After The Master, The Oblate. After the Machinist, the Botanist. After the Rogue, the Lore, etc. However, given how little time I have left, I thought it better to submit what I have and when I have it. And so, this piece - The Pact - having been completed some time ago, must be submitted now in case nothing else is finished by the cut-off point. Still, there is some happy concurrence with the overarching theme. Whilst The Master is voice fiction, The Pact is verse fiction - almost, but not quite, the opposite in style and form. It's written in alternating stanzas of pentameter and tetrameter, with the former being dedicated - mostly - to the elder brother and the latter to the younger. (This is, in part, to demonstrate the relationship between the two; one more fully formed and capable of instructive exposition, the other youthful and impressionable and innocent, without the means for equivalent expression.) This pattern is broken only when stanzas are narrative alone, but it is a consistent rule for dialogue.

The Pact. Told once, told twice and told again: Love, or so their mother said (She told them once and thrice again), Love is boundless in its proper way; It’s meant for boys and girls with mutual flame. But not for them, she said near twice a day. “But why,”...
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This cohort ended on 31st October 2016

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