A Squid in the Polls


London is afire with political sentiment. The streets bristle with slogan-emblazoned newspaper stands, each one a miniature bastion prepared to repel supporters of rival candidates with vicious verbal barrages and occasional hurled fruit. The Dauntless Temperance Campaigner! The Implacable Detective! Feducci! Their names and faces are posted on every available surface. Urchins fold pamphlets into planes to pelt passers-by, mostly indifferent to the politics but eagerly seizing the opportunity to cause chaos.[/i]

Gideon Stormstrider weaves through the surging crowds, valiantly attempting to shield himself from the worst of the bombardment with a floral-patterned umbrella. He is mostly unsuccessful. “Politics,” he says to nobody in particular. A few passers-by look at him with concern. “It’s all the same, isn’t it? Whichever candidate we choose for Mayor, we’ll never make any real progress while we’re under the thumb of the Masters.”

Halfway across Flowerdene Street a ripe tomato slips past the shield of his umbrella and catches him in the face, bursting into a smear of unpleasant juices. Gideon looks around him for the perpetrator, muttering unpleasantries under his breath and wiping off the worst of the fruit residue with an irretrievably dirty handkerchief. Seeing no sign of his assailant, he continues down the street until he hears a sound that sets his teeth on edge – a high, thin warbling much like a balloon being deflated, coming from a nearby alley.

Gideon puts on his clockwork monocle and valiantly peeps round the corner of the alleyway. A Rubbery Man, accosted by a pair of street thugs! The suited cephalopod cowers on the ground and continues to screech, its tentacled face quivering. One of the thugs is tall and thin, the other short and fat. The tall one rifles through the Rubbery’s suit pockets for valuables while the short one brandishes a knife nervously at the unfortunate squid, seemingly unsure how to shut it up.

Gideon is not one to go picking fights, but he has a certain fondness for Rubberies and a certain dislike for uncultured brutes like the ones that burned down his old University department. This demands action.

“I say! You there! Step away from the Rubbery!” he barks down the alley, brandishing his furled umbrella at the thugs. It could be said that he cuts a dashing figure, silhouetted against the bright opening of the alleyway, but such statements would be quite immodest.

“This ain’t your concern, mate,” says the tall one.

“Aye, best walk away while you can,” says the short one.

“And let you steal from this innocent Rubbery Man? I think not!” Gideon advances down the alley. The short one charges, brandishing his knife. Gideon sidesteps nimbly and raps him sharply on the head with the umbrella, and the short one drops to the ground.

Gideon advances. The tall one takes a step back and hits a brick wall. He turns around in panic, then nods grimly, draws a pistol from his back pocket and fires.

The gunshot is deafening in the enclosed space. Powder smoke fills the air. When it clears, Gideon is still standing, his unfurled umbrella held out like a garish pink shield. “Bulletproof lining, rapid spring deployment. Marvellous! My modifications worked! I had my doubts myself, you know – I thought ‘Perhaps I’m over-designing this umbrella a tad’ – but it seems it was a success after all!”

A Sceptical Reporter’s hand shoots up in the front row of the sparsely occupied auditorium. “Is this at all relevant to why you called us to a press conference to announce a Rubbery Man as a mayoral candidate?”

Gideon paces back and forth on stage. “Yes, yes, I’m getting to that part! You should have some more appreciation for the craft of storytelling, being a journalist and all. This is all relevant character development! How can the public believe in our candidate if they don’t understand why I believe in it?”

The Sceptical Reporter sighs and sits back, wishing she were somewhere else. But the editor of the Strident Bugle insisted that every facet of the election should be covered, and so here she is, listening to a madman rave about his magic umbrella while his candidate squirms wetly on a bar-stool next to him.

“Anyway, where was I? I seem to have entirely lost my train of thought. Ah, yes, the tall one. After that… I believe I gave him a good drubbing, and then helped up our Rubbery friend here from where he lay in the mud of the gutter. It was that day that we developed a bond like no human and Rubbery have before. At that fateful moment, I understood truly what it was to be one of the downtrodden, the oppressed, the very dregs of society. I am proud to call Squidley Johnson my brother!”

Gideon takes hold of one of the Rubbery Man’s arm-tentacles and holds it in the air. The Rubbery stands up and waves with its other arm. A smattering of applause ripples from the more drunken members of the audience. The Reporter’s hand shoots up again. “Is it about my bruises?” says Gideon.


“No further questions on the bruises. So, onto the policies of our esteemed candidate!”

The hand goes up yet again. “Where did you get the bruises, Mr Stormstrider?”

Gideon frowns. “There may have been some embellishments for dramatic effect. To tell the truth, my valiant charge was more like a headlong stumble into the mud followed by a great deal of kicking by both thugs. Our venerated friend Squidley was the one who pulled me from the ground after it had caught both of them by surprise with a fallen piece of lead piping. But the message is the same: the downtrodden shall no longer be ignored! Vote Squidley Johnson for a candidate who truly cares about lifting the yoke of oppression!”

He pokes Squidley, and the Rubbery raises both arms. “Sassafras!” it gurgles. A few chuckles break out among the audience, along with more drunken clapping.

“That means ‘Thank you for your appreciation, and a very good night to you all!’” says Gideon with a dazzling smile. With that, he leads Squidley off the stage.

The Corpulent Manager of the theatre, an impressively rotund bald man with a bristling grey beard, is waiting in the wings for Gideon. He claps sarcastically. “That was a quite a performance, Gideon. I’m honestly surprised the entire audience didn’t walk out in the first half-hour of your life story. Are you sure politics is the right line of work for a man of your talents? Obviously acting is your true calling!”

“Alas,” says Gideon without a hint of irony, “The stage will have to wait, for my heart belongs to the sciences. This job is merely a passion project for a cause dear to my heart. I started this party for the good of all London, but the people who make it work-“

“For certain values of work,” mutters the Manager.

“-are my campaign team. You should meet them! Come backstage with me and I’ll introduce you.”

Squidley hovers awkwardly behind Gideon, wringing its tentacle-hands.

“You come too, Squidley! I’m sure they’ll want to congratulate you for holding up under pressure so well.”

The Rubbery trills appreciatively and slopes off in pursuit of Gideon’s commanding strides. The Corpulent Manager follows at a shuffle, sweating and swearing at the luck that got him into a deal with this lunatic and his pet octopus.

[OOC: This is a reasonably short RP that will take place during the next few weeks as the Election season goes on. Anyone is welcome to join as a member of the campaign team, a heckler or any number of random intrusions.

[i]If you join the campaign team, your motives are your own: perhaps you truly believe in the Rubbery cause (who wouldn’t?) or perhaps you have your own reasons for installing a pliable and incomprehensible candidate in the seat of Mayor. If you’re interested, post an introduction to your character below as Gideon, Squidley and the Manager come to visit you backstage, or register your interest in the Google Doc.

[/i] The campaign to elect Squidley was doomed to failure from the moment it began, but there should be plenty of absurdity to extract from it before it crashes and burns.]
edited by JimmyTMalice on 6/25/2017

Now THAT is a candidate we could get behind.

As the trio of individuals head to the backstage, one corner comes alive (even more alive, at least) with the sounds of screeching, chittering, squeaking, and nervous muttering. A small army of animals and assistants fills a section designated with some rope and a handwritten sign as “Consulting”: rattus faber in military uniforms are busily arguing over maps of the city’s streets, sewers, and rooftops; volunteers from Benthic and the Young Stags stand around nervously being fitted for armour and weaponry; some cats lounge in the rafters and offer sarcastic commentary as they keep an eye on a silver-eyed woman idly talking to a hand-mirror; an especially large monkey bangs away at a typewriter about recent changes in candidate popularity…and at the center of it all stands the Debonair Sharpshooter, large black-and-ribboned frame moving from group to group as he calls for the most recent polling data and debates field recruitment strategies. The long rifle strapped across his bat threatens to knock a brace of spy-bats off their perches as he turns sharply to face the candidates. His face goes from intense concentration to sudden relief, and he extends his hands to greet Squidly and Gideon.

“Great news, word just got in from this morning’s survey of the docks: approximately forty-two percent of the dockworkers around Wolfstacks are not in immediate favor of bludgeoning a candidate who had more than three tentacles to death so long as they had the right political message! I really think we can get the Zee vote if we push harder on the ‘not a zee-beast come to infiltrate our homes and eat us in our sleep angle’. Speaking of which, how did the speech go? I hope it went well, Society popularity is not looking good. The Carnival and Mutton Island are long shots due to the ‘Rubbery Lumps’ core issue, the Flit’s looking like it could go either way, Parabola is just barely not in favor on the basis of travel restrictions, and we’re still waiting for results from the Colonies, Roof, Bazaar, and the other city districts. I really think we could lock down the Deep Neath vote with a little touring campaign, the missus is doing her best in Flute Street but the Nadir keeps forgetting our messages and the lacre-cults are too busy contemplating the infinite despair of the universe to listen to us unless the candidate speaks directly. Do you think you could get Mr. Johnson to agree with an interview with a Stone Pig? That could turn the entire sector around with the right boosts…”

In the midst of jabbering about polls and volunteers and species popularity, the Sharpshooter notices the Manager. He bows and doffs his hat. “Hotshot Blackburn, political consultant for Mr. Johnson’s campaign! This election may be a sham, but we have just the right candidate to clean this place up – and I’ve got the contacts to spread Squidly’s message all over London and beyond! My ladyfriend was quite taken by Mr. Johnson’s passionate rhetoric, and once I heard him speak, well, I could not help but join at his side! And Mr. Stormstrider as his manager, you know he’s in good hands.”

Either in the background or the shadows, a figure stands. Not exactly noticeable from a glance, excluding the fact they appear to be tossing crumpled up papers in a circular fashion.

Silently (apart from the frequent paper-noises) staring at the trio (they don’t notice), the figure mutters to themselves.

&quotJuggle the paperwork, they said. It’ll be intellectual, they said.&quot

This is something I can get behind; no more hiding my spouse in public.

(that thread about the best thing to come out of the election?

this is easily the best thing to come out of the election)

[quote=Teaspoon](that thread about the best thing to come out of the election?

this is easily the best thing to come out of the election)[/quote]

I agree.

Signed. I’ll do my best to spread the word.
How many signatures are we aiming for?

“Your move.”


“Ah. Devious. I suppose my bishop will have to lay his life down for the cause. A shame. Let’s see what you make of this, then!”


“You’ve got some trick up your sleeve, haven’t you? I know that look. Yes, that one there.”


“Don’t play coy with me. Check.”


“Ah! The master plan revealed! Well played, Squidley.”

Squidley clears away the chess pieces and begins resetting the board, smearing the scintillack pieces and the chequered surface with wet slime.

“You know,” Gideon says, leaning back in his wicker chair, “I think we’ve got a good chance of clinching this election. The time is right, you know. The people want a mayor who truly understands them, one who isn’t afraid to face the Masters head-on.”

Schlorp?” Squidley’s face-tentacles quiver in agitation.

“Don’t worry your head about it. The Bazaar will be like putty in your tentacles. The Masters are a load of old softies, really. No shapeful disgrace this time, my friend! Ah, waiter! Could you get another Greyfields for me, and a bucket of raw fish in brine for my friend? Thank you.”

The waiter scurries off back inside the Hard Luck Café, where his compatriots are watching the odd pair out on the terrace playing their increasingly slippery chess game.

“Shall I be purple this time? No? Blue, then? Fair enough.”

An abandoned broadsheet lies folded on a nearby table. While waiting for Squidley to make his first move, Gideon hops over and grabs the paper. “Have you heard about the Institute of the Neathbow’s new discoveries? They say that cosmogone lenses could be used to create light-amplification devices. I wonder where they could have possibly got that idea from. I’d be tempted to sue if it wouldn’t just create more paperwork for dear Vela. She already works too hard, you know.”

Gideon makes his move, then returns to the broadsheet. He unfolds it with a flourish to look at the full back page, exposing the slogan on the front to Squidley: FEDUCCI WINS LANDSLIDE VICTORY, GAMBLERS VINDICATED! The Rubbery Man warbles in dismay, but Gideon continues reading choice snippets from the articles on the other side.

“Marvellous Geraniums. I wonder what makes them marvellous enough to advertise in the Panoptical Mirror-Mag of all places. What is the press coming to?”


“Yes, yes, I’ll take my turn. Getting the knights out early, I see.”


“Come now, Squidley; we’ve talked about this. It’s not polite to fling spittle all over someone’s face. What’s getting you so worked up? Are you worried about winning? I told you, we have this in the bag. I’ll have you know that I personally gave pamphlets to over fifty people who all said they’d drop old Fettuccine like yesterday’s news and vote for you, and that’s quite a representative sample if I say so myself!”

Squidley covers its eyes with its face-tentacles.

“Just the men I’ve been looking for!” says the Sceptical Reporter, pulling up a chair and producing a notepad and pen seemingly from thin air. “Any thoughts on today’s events for the Strident Bugle?”

“Of course, of course. I’d offer you a seat, but it seems you’ve already taken one. Wine, then?”

“I don’t drink on the job. News is a serious business. Frivolity is reserved for after five o’clock.”

“To business, then!” Gideon raises his wine glass, then pouts when he realises the Reporter has no glass to make the toast.

The Reporter pushes up her spectacles and frowns at the slimy chess board. Squidley gurgles wetly. “What’s the next move for Squidley Johnson, then?”

“Oh, Squidley has plans, alright. Just don’t ask me what they are. As for my side, we’ll be stepping up the campaigning in the next few days – some quite influential supporters have joined us, including one Antonios Methodos, so getting the message of Squidley out will be greatly expedited. I think people really appreciate Squidley in ways that the other candidates just can’t hope to match. They say Feducci is a clear front-runner, but I just don’t think that’s realistic. What kind of Rubbery needs to hide beneath bandages? Squidley is proud of his tentacles!”

The Sceptical Reporter is momentarily stunned. “Have you not seen the polls?”

“I don’t pay attention to preliminary polls – in my experience, they’re hardly representative of the real deal. They’re always skewed somehow. Only the real ballots on the day will tell, madam!”

“…Right. And how will we know when the ‘real’ ballots are in, Mr Stormstrider?”

“Is this your first election? There’s no shame in it. I was a fledgling myself in the election of ’84, running as a small-time campaigner under the Contrarian. I suppose back then they must have had you covering sewage, or bat migration, or something equally dreary. And look at us both now! How far we’ve come!”

“I’m just here to ask you about your thoughts on Feducci’s victory, Mr Stormstrider. There’s no need to make aspersions about my personal life – I’ve worked for the Strident Bugle since its inception, and I chose to work in election coverage because of my interest in politics. I had my doubts about you, but it seems you’re a true politician after all – just another windbag who loves the sound of his own voice.”

“Hroooooom!” burbles Squidley. His tentacles squirm with indignation.

“Feducci’s victory, you say? Pah! Impossible! Hell will freeze over before he dons the mayoral vestment! Squidley, tell her!”

“Throoooooo,” says Squidley mournfully.

The Sceptical Reporter barks a laugh. “Well, I suppose it’s time to pack some ice skates and hop onto the Moloch Street express, because Feducci’s already won! That’s what I’ve been trying to get through your head! Did you miss it right there, on the other side of the newspaper?”

“Feducci… won?”

Yes!” The Sceptical Reporter has worked up quite a flush from the shouting. “And I’ll be quite glad to see the back of you and your frog here! You are the worst, most impossible man I have ever spoken to!”

Squidley stands up abruptly, and lets out a fearsome howl. His tentacle-arms catch the table as he stands up and it tips over, sending chess pieces flying. “AROOOOOOOOOTH!”

The Sceptical Reporter, wisely, flees.

“Are you alright, Squidley? Dear me, look at all this mess. No, you shouldn’t blame yourself. You were provoked. The less said about all this silliness, the better. When all’s said and done, we did what we could. I suppose London just wasn’t ready for you yet. Let’s get that table back up, shall we?”


“There we go. I suppose we’d better gather up the chess pieces too. Another match, then?”


&quotGood, good. The game is on once again, my friend!&quot

Has Squidley any future plans?

I wish it the best of luck, whatever they may be. A candidate too good for Fallen London, he. It. Whatever it may be.

I like to think Squidley will live on in our hearts. And his own heart, of course, that being the natural place for one to live. And you haven’t seen the last of Squidley Johnson. He’s not done with London just yet.