The Gauntlet Challenge - Vigilante Summons

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A couple of weeks ago, we threw down the gauntlet to our readers and writers.

After the editors stopped hopping around (the gauntlet was left over from Malabarista's collection of medieval armour) we sat back and waited for the submissions to roll in. And roll in they did. Apparently, we were right: You folks know how to fix the world's problems. And you can do it in a thousand words or less. We are proud of you – if occasionally alarmed by the suggestions.

Pinniped, usually shy with his opinions, takes a bold stance here. Read and comment, please. We hope the Government are taking notes.

Vigilante Summons

You have been chosen for Vigilante Service. Your name was randomly chosen from the list of people who are registered to vote in elections.

Jury Service is an important public duty, but it doesn't really do the business these days, so we're giving Vigilante Service a punt instead. Lots of other people have been asked to consider the outcome of a criminal trial in the Crown Court, but you're different.

You are the sole UK citizen chosen this week for Vigilante Service and you will have an opportunity to redress the inevitable shortcomings and occasional defective outcomes of the rest of the legal system.

In the accompanying parcel, you will find a call device. If you press the red button, you will be attended by an Officer of the Court who will be in close but unobtrusive proximity for the next seven days. You should not be concerned about this. He or she is there for your convenience and protection, as are the heavily-armed policemen. We haven't lost a Vigilante yet.

The parcel also contains a revolver and six cartridges of a special calibre. This gun will not accept any other ammunition, and so you have a maximum of six shots with which to (quite literally) discharge your civic responsibilities. You can shoot whoever you like, and you will not be required to justify your selections to anyone. You will be exempt from any legal consequences, provided that you shoot to kill. Please endeavour to deliver each kill-shot efficiently, as secondary action to finish the job is unseemly and the Human Rights people really don't like it much.

Our only request is that you should select your victims thoughtfully. Please note that it's generally simpler if you limit your attention to British citizens, but if you feel you have to exact summary justice on foreigners, then we'll do our best to keep up with you and fight off the bodyguards. We encourage a voluntary quota of one overseas mission per week, in order to minimise expense to the taxpayer and declarations of war. Shooting people who are under the age of say, twelve, isn't really approved of but, yes, we do understand that disrespectful children can be very annoying. Accepting payment for killing people is definitely bad form.

Please note that you don't have to shoot as many as six people, and indeed you don't actually have to shoot any. Most Vigilantes just enjoy a nice quiet week off work, in fact, and many of them never even load the gun at all. Don't be too concerned if killing people is not for you, since the simple fact that you just might do it will keep many noses clean. The very existence of people like you keeps scoundrels out of public office, moderates the behaviour of celebrities and has been shown to lead to vastly improved service in restaurants.

In one week's time, your Court Officer will discreetly approach you and relieve you of the firearm and any remaining ammunition. In exchange you will receive a cheque compensating you for all reasonable expenses incurred in pursuit of your vigilante responsibilities. Then you're done. You get to keep the nifty call device as a souvenir.

If you would like a virtual tour of the vigilante system, featuring photographs, spoken commentary and comprehensive text in an interactive environment, then visit Further information is also available on the Court Service website at

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