The invitation laid on his dresser like a scab begging to be picked. He couldn’t stop looking at it when h

The glorious sunshine hit the western edge of the crowd shortly after dawn, only after it cleared the deep and tall bank of trees on the east of the park. They were there to celebrate and so welcomed the warm sunlight with cheers and outstretched arms.

The leaders took the stage within moments, earlier than planned but eager to take advantage of the positive feelings in the crowd and turn it to their advantage. No one in the audience knew what was about to happen; Indeed, only a handful within the government knew the extent of what was planned. It was happening nonetheless.

“Blessed morning, everyone” the Premier said with reserved joy. He was known for his stoicism through both good times and bad and so giving too much emotion would be out of character. “We are honored to have you joining us this morning.” A wave of applause nearly deafened everyone on stage. They were thrilled.

“Today we are announcing a new set of guidelines by which you can live your best lives. We know how hard you all work to maximize work/life balance, practice minimalism while also being valuable consumers and otherwise seek to embrace the whole of life, not one specific viewpoint or mantra. You all are shining examples of living your best life, both spiritually and physically.” His tone was warm and loving. He’d practiced getting it just right for weeks. Now it was time to change to something more cold and calculated.

“That’s why today we are seizing all your property. As we speak, federal agents are claiming everything you own, either physically or through paperwork. You now, to be clear, own nothing.”

A ripple of disbelief went through the crowd. What was he saying?

“If it’s any consolation, you set yourself up for this. Registering your purchases and connecting them to the network allowed us to pinpoint everything you own. These are choices you made to offer us the means by which to seize your property and now we have done so, with the help of the companies who sold you those products to begin with.

“There is no recourse, no appeals process.” His tone once more became warmer and friendlier, the teacher talking to a favored student. “This is for your own health and well-being. While so many of you embraced a well-rounded lifestyle, others persisted in abuse. Abuse of goods, abuse of drugs and alchohol, abuse of food. They went too far. The only way we could ensure that no one took it too far was to eliminate the temptation completely.”

The murmurs in the crowd grew louder. He could see some people leaving, likely running home to see what was happening and put up a token fight. The prisons would be filled within two hours.

“Don’t worry. You won’t starve, nor will you lack for anything. Beginning today, all you need will be provided by the Administration. We already keep you safe from other threats, why not from the threat of either starvation or obesity? Details on how this will work will be distributed by the staff stationed at all the exits.”

More and more people were streaming out. He estimated less than 90 seconds before a full-fledged riot would erupt and so, just as planned, wrapped up his speech. “All for the state, all from the state.” That motto would soon appear on buildings and other structures. It would be printed in newspapers and broadcast on the network. It would be everywhere inside of a week, inescapable.

He moved off the stage into his private transportation. As he zoomed away he wondered how many of the rioters, either here or elsewhere, would have to be shot. Some projections he’d seen estimated roughly 45% of encounters would turn violent. That was a small price to pay for finally executing a plan he’d begun three decades earlier, though.

The park where he’d spoken faded into the background. He allowed himself a rare smile. There was beauty in chaos, particularly since only that lead to progress. And this was progress.