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09 March 2006

The Code of Excision

“There are too many short pencils in this cup.” The Imperatrix has her aides sort them into two groups, short stubby pencils on the right, long easy-to-use ones on the left. If there is one thing she cannot stand, it is a stubby pencil.

The short pencils can do nothing about this. As it ever was, so it shall ever be—the Code of Excision. They serve at the pleasure of the Imperatrix. And they know it.

“Wait!” All attention turns to the Ampad pencil who has shouted. “I’m not that short! I shouldn’t be in this pile!”

“What do you mean?” the Imperatrix booms. The pencils’ splinters shiver at her commanding tone.

“Just look at me…I—,” now that the Ampad has her attention, his resolve is weakening. He glances around frantically. “… I’m not shorter than that Ticonderoga over there!”

“Shut up!” hisses the Ticonderoga out of the corner of his mouth.

“It’s a mistake! I’ve got plenty more Sudoku scribbling in me, and I’d be great at that economics project you edit on hard copy, I know it…” But it is too much. The Ampad can’t hold up beneath the Imperatrix’s steely stare; his eyes slide nervously over his compatriots, all of them ignoring his piteous looks for support. If he can’t take this like a trunk, then they will have nothing more to do with him. It is the Code—how dare he pollute their final moments with this unacceptable show of weakness?

The weight of the realm tugs too strongly at the Imperatrix for her to spend much time on such a trivial matter. When nothing is forthcoming from the Ampad, she motions to her aides.

“Hans, you know what to do.”

Her mind is already on other things as the stubby pencils are dispatched to the trash can, the remaining pencils returned to the cup (albeit with a very pale Ticonderoga), and quiet descends once more on the kitchen.

As it ever was, so it shall ever be.