Phalanx for Nothing

Flash Fiction Month 2015, Day 30

Challenge #13: Write a fantistorical story utilizing elements of satire. It must feature four elephants and a turtle.

“No more roadworks, no not nada! No more roadworks, this is Sparta!”

“Ugh.” Xerxes slapped his royal palm to his royal forehead. “Seven hundred Thespians. You’ve got seven hundred Thespians with you and that’s the best chant you can come up with.”

“What do we want?” shouted Leonidas.

“No highway through Thermopylae!” came the crowd’s response.

“When do we want it?”


Xerxes turned to the head secretary of the Department for Whipping People. “Did you tell them that the construction of ‘Hoplite Speedway 2’ would create 300 jobs?”

The secretary of the DWP flipped through his notes. “I copied all the relevant information onto the shell of a live turtle and chucked it into the Aegean Sea.” He shrugged. “Every other turtle passed the message on successfully. At least, we’ve never received any complaints about it.” He paused. “Not by turtle, anyway.”

Xerxes frowned.

“Job creation probably isn’t high on the agenda here,” added the secretary, hastily. “Our new job match system is extremely efficient.”

“Ah, yes!” Xerxes nodded. “Everyone who registers as ‘out of work’ gets a job as a slave. That does seem to be going rather well.”

“The problem undoubtedly lies with some other department,” agreed the secretary.

Xerxes fondled the jewelled hilt of his sword. Perhaps some further “budget cuts” were in order. “You, minister for transportation.”

“Aah!” The minister did an involuntary little hop. “I mean, yes?”

“Did you make the Spartans aware that HS2 would be wide enough to accommodate four elephants at once?”

“It was on the same turtle as the other stuff,” explained the minister. “Because efficiency.”

That made sense. “So why are they still kicking up a fuss? I don’t get it.”

“Maybe that’s because you’re a tyrannical ruler with absolutely no understanding of how ordinary people live?”

“Who said that?” demanded Xerxes.

“Just some local nut,” said the secretary of the DWP. He squinted at the face in the crowd. “Socrates, I think.”

“I don’t know anybody who has even one elephant!” shouted Socrates. “Let alone four!”

“That’s the problem with this rabble,” said the secretary. “No spirit of aspiration. Skivers, every one of them.”

“Look!” said the minister for transportation. “Most of them didn’t even bother to put pants on today.”

Xerxes could—regrettably—see what he meant. Clearly these people could not be reasoned with. “My second-hand German water cannons will blot out the sun!”

“Then we will protest in the shade!” shouted one of the Thespians. “Or…rain?”

“Ugh.” Xerxes facepalmed once again. “I hope nobody’s writing this stuff down.”

If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can find my work from previous Flash Fiction Months collected in these books:

OCR is Not the Only Font Cover REDESIGN (Barbecued Iguana)Red Herring Cover (Barbecued Iguana design)Bionic Punchline eBook Cover

Click any cover to download that book in your choice of format.



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