The King's Man
To be the King's Man you must subject yourself to a series of four tests. Each test measures your loyalty to the King. All possessing, revered to the utmost, the King will not tolerate dissidence. Selflessly, sacrificially, you must give yourself to the King. To be the King's Man requires perfect fidelity and the will to sustain it.
The King welcomes candidates possessing a wide assortment of backgrounds, but the criteria for passing each test never change. The four challenges present a harrowing trial, but you will find the experience not so insufferable that you will forsake so coveted an office.
For within the Kingdom there is no more honored station than that of King's Man. The King is the Kingdom and the Kingdom is the King. Together, they are the most vital of all charges. There must always be a King's Man or else the King and the Kingdom will be exposed to external threats.
During the undertaking of the four tests, it is recommended that you remind yourself that your transgressions are demanded by the King's irreproachable demands. Hurt and betrayal are not the objectives of your actions but rather the consequences of a screening process guarding an imperative office. There exists no demonstration of mental endurance that is more impressive than qualification for the position of King's Man.
The first test requires that you transmit to the King information damaging to your most faithful friend. The King will muster his resources to maximize the harm owed to disclosure. The information and names of associated persons will be publicized near and far. If there was either an implicit or explicit agreement between you and your friend that the information should be kept secret, the existence of such a pact will also be emphasized in town squares and flyers.
The King will not accept a frivolous secret, a white lie, an oddity of minor embarrassment. Your friend must suffer due to your betrayal. Inducing a suicide attempt on the part of your friend as a direct result of disclosure is sure to favorably influence the King's assessment because the King's evaluation is based on the damage you are able to cause.
Therefore, if you present false information in response to the first test, it must be an appalling untruth that will pain your friend to an extent satisfactory to the King. Again, the reason is that the impact of your action, rather than the substance of the disclosure, is the barometer of success. Indeed, you may be compelled to lie if you are unaware of damaging information regarding your closest friend. The undeserving are not immune from humiliation.
Thus the first test challenges the aspirant's creative ability to injure. You must be attuned to your target friend's most sensitive vulnerabilities. You must understand which of these insecurities is most titillating to society, meaning you must perceive which single feature of your friend is mostly likely to be first abhorred, then eagerly devoured, then digested, and finally spat out to the four corners of the land.
As for sharing information regarding a mere contact rather than a close friend, the King will tolerate no such evasion. You must prove the longstanding friendship between you and the victim of your disclosure. You must proffer evidence of the many good times you have shared and instances of unmistakable mutual affection, appreciation, and trust. To prove your betrayal, you must first prove your love.
Upon completing the first test, your role in the disclosure will not be divulged to the public-at-large. Process of elimination may reveal your identity to your friend, but elseways transparency is withheld to later in the series.
For the second test, you must permanently deprive your family of its most treasured possession. The effective King's Man views relatives as thieves who rob the King of total devotion. You must tear yourself away from blood ties before progressing.
"Possession" includes your relatives themselves. Thus, for example, killing the adored infant who carries your surname or slaying your brother's only child are not uncommon methods for passing test number two.
As during test number one, the aspirant must invest considerable time, effort, and observation into his bid. The King will not be satisfied with a localized loss; the whole family must suffer. You must ingratiate yourself to your family in order to identify its cornerstone. You must know that which it holds most dear and that with which it is unable to part. Intimacy is the only access point to widespread trauma.
The King will maintain vigil over your path of destruction to determine whether the family is able to mend. The most successful aspirants cause cracks that fan out and outlive the causal deed. You must not only break the family, you must see to it that the pieces will not fit back together. The ideal result is to eliminate the family as a definable unit. The King will deem an outcome sufficient only if there is no foreseeable recovery. It is advisable to remember that family allegiance was a pact you were born into and did not negotiate.
Covertness is necessary, because, as in the first test, your role in others' woe shall not be deliberately shared at this stage.
The third test demands that you cause grievous harm to a stranger. This interval largely operates as a control on the prior two tests. The King must be convinced that your misuse of friends and annihilation of family were not motivated by vendettas intertwined with your personal relationships. Alternatively, the King must be assured that you do not harbor petty grudges that might interfere with your singular duty to the King. The King must be satisfied that even if driven by nothing but the King's desire you are willing to disregard the satisfaction of others.
Here the odds mount against you because, unlike the previous two tests, the King chooses the victim. Thus the imagination must be utilized to not only reach the opaque stranger's fears, but also extend beyond those fears that the stranger is prepared to resist.
Beware: Lethal violence is by no means a foolproof tactic. An enterprising King chooses a stranger who pines for death. For instance, the King may order a candidate to inflict misery on a stranger stuck in a vegetative state, thus coercing the candidate to first revive and then destroy. As during each of the first three tests, your identity remains hidden to the public.
The fourth and final test incorporates elements of the previous three tests. Where your challenges formerly consisted of disclosing a friend's most sensitive information, dispossessing your family of its core, and brutalizing a stranger, you must now personally visit each of your surviving victims and other affected parties. You must describe in detail your relevant action and punctuate the meeting by defining your motivation: the office of King's Man.
The fourth test is intended to remove the final barrier separating you from absolute allegiance to the King. During the previous three tests, though surrendering your friends, family, and the stranger, you nevertheless preserved your anonymity. During the fourth test you are at last holding up your hand as the mastermind of their suffering. You are declaring to the King that you will openly serve him regardless of opinion directed towards your conduct. It is your time to stand up and be counted.
Despite the logistic simplicity of the fourth test compared to the previous three, many aspirants find the final hurdle to be the most irksome. It is advisable to rate your reputation as far less valuable than the people whom you have already ruined for a higher purpose. It is suggested that you prepare for test four by reminding yourself that the worth of being King's Man is in part owed to the difficulty of maintaining your resolve in the face of emotional impediments, namely, guilt.
Above all else, you must keep telling yourself that there is a King demanding your unadulterated submission. Reiterate ad infinitum: The King is the object of your loyalty and your loyalty's manifestations, not your own self-interest. If there were no King, there would be no King's Man. If there were no King, the four tests would be but exercises of wanton cruelty. Therefore, never ask for an audience with the King.
Ned Thimmayya's latest fiction can be found in Slice Magazine, Flapperhouse, and Bards and Sages Quarterly (forthcoming). His legal scholarship has been published in the Pace Environmental Law Review and the Brooklyn Journal of International Law.