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Born Out of Boredom
by Daniel J. Durand
CHAPTER 1, or, THE CHAPTER BEFORE CHAPTER TWO...
The only page in a ninth grade history textbook, circa 2042.
Never, ever, under any circumstances, should the big red button be pushed. It never ends well, and generally leads to undesirable side effects such as plague, famine, and an irritating ringing noise. Doubly un-advisable would be to press the big red button a second time, but most people avoid a first offense simply because the big red button is labeled, “Do not push.” Most people have their curiosity abated by the non-threatening font the label is printed in, and continue on with their lives. The ones who aren't phased by polite warnings are usually obliterated by the unforgiving force of a thousand suns, delivered by a couple of automated laser cannons designed to politely put an end to needless button pushing.
Once upon a time, it was discovered by the people of the world that all of humanities problems originated from said big red button, and so the governments of the world, after much deliberation and thought over a nice lunch at their favorite restaurant, printed the label and set up the laser cannons. Not long after that, all forms of disease suddenly disappeared. War and conflict followed suit, making way for the first real example of lasting world peace. Everyone became wealthy, healthy, and wise, and all of the pigeons were toilet trained. Life was good, and that was all there was to it.
With no problems to solve, the driving force behind humanity's science and technology all but disappeared. Any new advancements came from a bunch of scientists and engineers who needed something to do on weekends. The military took up paintball, doctors played more golf, and bacon was totally harmless. Utopia had been achieved and for once, everyone was happy. Then people got bored.
The governments of the world, after much sitting around on the couch in the basement idly flicking through television channels and groaning in agony at another I Love Lucy marathon, made a momentous decision; in order to make life livable again, the button would have to be pushed. The people of the world agreed wholeheartedly. A crack team of elite commandos was assembled to do what had once been unthinkable. The media, finally having something to do after so many years of reporting delightful sunshine and beautiful rainbows with butterfly wings, leaped up into the air and collectively yelled “Aha!”
On a perfect spring day in the middle of January, the world's populace gathered around the big red button. Stepping forward, the commandos formed a perimeter around the button, disabling the laser cannons before giving the all-clear signal to the squad leader. The squad leader, nearly trembling with the significance of the moment, hesitated only slightly so the cameras could get a clear picture before slamming his hand on the big red button. Nothing happened.
Looking around at the stunned audience, the squad leader made a quick call over the radio. Engineers confirmed that the button was indeed plugged in, and after careful deliberation the governments of the world said “Fuck it.” Orders went through the chain of command, and a second attempt at pushing the big red button was authorized by the type of people who tend to authorize that sort of thing.
The squad leader followed his orders and pushed the button a second time. Still nothing. He pushed the button a few more times. Then a few more. After checking again to make sure the power was on, it was decided to make one more attempt at pushing the button before giving up for the day. The squad leader gave his commandos a quick pep talk about something motivational and inspiring, then reached out his hand.
His arm was barely extended when the voice of God filled the air.
“You're kidding, right?”
Everyone looked at everyone else before deciding as one that no, in fact they were not kidding, and would like to know just how it could be construed that they were.
“So, you have no hunger, no war, and no poverty,” said God, “you live in the ultimate paradise, and now you're bored with it? Am I getting this right so far?”
Everyone looked at everyone else again before deciding as one that yes, in fact he was getting it right so far.
God stood up a little straighter and scratched his beard.
“Deal with it,” he said.
With that, the button vanished, and the people were left to deal with it.