Fiction: Game Theory

lionOne night when the moon was full and the park was empty the Council of Zoo Beasts and Unincorporated Animalia met outside the concession stand to elect their executive board. Ineligible on account of having already served two terms, Lion Claude presided as election commissioner.

The first position under consideration was zoo archivist. Elephant Newton declared his candidacy and, naturally, ran unopposed. “The voters have shown their homage to the adage,” began his acceptance speech.

“It’s a lie. You forgot my birthday last year,” his wife chimed in. “Whiskers told me he had to remind you the night before.”

“Rat!” Newton bellowed. The pavilion shook as he stomped off after Whiskers, who scurried evasively between the pachyderm’s pounding feet.

Nominations for the position of secretary stalled as the aspirants struggled to demonstrate adequate proficiency with a pencil or a suitable substitute writing implement. A motion to postpone discussion had at last been proposed when, before it could be seconded, the proceedings were interrupted by a cacophonous crescendo of caws, roars, squawks, shrieks, hoots, and other hullabaloo crashing through the front gate.

A herd of lions, giraffes, zebras, gazelles and wildebeests came to a halt before the electoral council and assembled in disciplined formation.

“Good fauna in captivity!” cried the leader, a ferocious zebra who, from the look of the jagged scars peppering his muzzle, had indubitably earned his stripes. “We bring you liberty.”

“I beg your pardon?” said Claude.

“The ship lies ready, the hour of freedom draws nigh.”

“We are in the middle of a meeting,” said Claude. “If you wish to contribute to the discussion you must first add your name to the speakers list.”

“Come, you oppressed citizens of the animal kingdom. We bestow upon you the gift of self governance. High thee to the harbor before the tyrant hominoids take heed.”

“Excuse me, sir, you are out of order,” Panda Patches interceded.

“Where is the leader of your resistance movement?” the zebra whinnied. “We must conduct a swift evacuation of the prison.”

Claude explained, “You have surprised us mid elections. We still have to vote on the positions of secretary, publicist, treasurer, security, internal and external vice-president, and human relations before we begin to deliberate presidential candidates.”

“There is no time. We must leave at once.”

Claude explained, “Sir, we are civilized creatures of an urban republic. To abridge the democratic process would be a barbaric violation of our compatriots’ right to due representation.”

The legion of wild beasts pawed the ground impatiently. Disgruntled snorts echoed among their ranks.

The zebra gave a signal with his foreleg. The wild beasts moved forward and surrounded the assembly. “By the Edict of Nature of 1827, we are authorized to employ physical force in the protection of our home range, to which your continued state of captivity has been deemed a threat. We must send a clear signal to mankind that the capture and imprisonment of animals is unacceptable.”

The wild beasts pushed and prodded the zoo animals. They growled and threatened and pushed and prodded feverishly, but to no avail. The zoo animals sat down between the picnic tables and refused to be budged.

It was then that the rooster from the farm-in-the-zoo vociferously announced the impending dawn.

“Withdraw!” the zebra commanded. “Our enterprise is in vain and we shall soon be discovered.”

The ruckus of the retreating animals resonated throughout the zoo. Then, they were through the gates and the din gradually faded into the distance.

“Motion to suspend elections until tomorrow,” offered the polar bear.

“Seconded,” chorused several voices.

“All in favor?” asked Claude.

This was greeted by a rousing refrain of “yeas.”

“All opposed?”

Not even the horse voted nay

“The motion passes. Elections will resume tomorrow after close,” said Claude. “Meeting adjourned.”

There were several minutes of polite conversation, until the sentry pigeons informed the congregants that the morning zookeeper would be arriving shortly.

Saying their last cheery goodbyes, the animals returned to their habitats, where they awaited another fine day at the zoo.

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