Friday, December 17, 2010

The Potentially Alive, 5

This is the fifth post (out of six) in a short story about how the world ends, or begins. Click on the appropriate link for the first, second, third, or fourth post in the series.


The back of women’s heads surrounded the room, their shoulders sagged as their fingers pounded away slowly at the keyboards in front of them, and nobody at all said a word.

This was the place where history would change—where, according to their boss, metaphysical justice would be enacted. “Were not all men equal?” he had asked. “They would exist as such before long."

A phone rang. Shoulders straightened. Was this what they were waiting for? All they had been told was that “super life-savers” had been created by the world’s leaders and set up at strategic points in every city of every nation across the globe.

A woman stood up and turned military-style toward where the red phone sat on a cold aluminum desk in the middle of the room. As she walked toward the ringing phone her pace was measured—halting, even. But the clicks of her red high heels kept her moving forward, and in time with the last ring she picked it up.


“It’s a go,” said her boss.

“What should I do?”

“Flip the switch.”

You got it,” she replied.

The woman flipped the switch. Her hands let go of the phone. Her head sagged. And then, in time with the others, dropped. The room, like the world outside, was quiet.

Had men wanted peace—and referred to it as stillness? They had it now. Did they wish for all to be equally alive? The world’s leaders had granted that wish for those who wished it, and enforced it for those who did not. Everyone was now equally alive—and all were dead.

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