“Overnight, and against all precepts of logic, Mayor Vyipivkin had turned into a vodka bottle – and an empty one at that. What an inconvenience to befall the mayor of a medium-sized town!”

Despite this opening, the resulting story is not much like Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. Instead it concentrates on the power vacuum the mayor leaves by his absence, on the eve of nationalising the only profitable business in town: a vodka factory. Various trusted comrades scheme in front of him. The mayor overhears all of this, moving from one place to another as he gets collected for recycling and returned to the vodka factory. He is horrified at the level of corruption, and as the end draws near some of the scheming factions plan to assassinate each other.

A cynical, farcical look at endemic corruption, featuring the collapsing of plans and the creating of many more on the fly.

The Bottle: A Provincial Tale by Charlotte Hobson

Availability: print only

Word count: 6,800

Where to find it: Wild East: Stories from the Last Frontier, edited by Boris Fishman, 2003, Justin, Charles & Co.

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