Monday Stories: Red Button


A young man stands alone on a pier. His dark eyes watch the people pass before him. Some are early morning runners. Others are families enjoying the first morning of vacation. The man leans forward on the railing. The thick, gray coat snaps in the wind.

A second man joins the first.

Like the first, he wears a long coat. Unlike the younger man, he is old with long hair and a full beard. Several minutes pass with only the sound of seagulls to mark the time.

“Have you decided yet?” The older man finally asks.

“No.”

The younger man looks at the sky. He pulls out a small device. It is a small box. One side sports a single red button. The other side has a green switch. The man looks at the small item in his hand.

“Such an innocent device.”

“And that troubles you?”

“What do you want me to say?” He snaps angrily, “If I use this device, hundreds of thousands of people will drop dead. Without warning. Without any sign of foul play.”

The old man smiles weakly, “Or let them live and watch them turn. And then watch them destroy the world.”

“But it isn’t their fault.”

“But the choice still remains.”

The younger is silent for a moment, “It was easier. Before.”

“Oh?”

“Fight this group. Eliminate that enemy. Hold this stronghold. That was a lot easier.”

“You have been preparing yourself for ten years.”

“I know but it doesn’t make it any easier.”

“But that is the choice. To choose to save the majority at the price of a handful. Or to step back and not play god.”

The younger man laughs, “But if I don’t make a choice, I am still playing god.”

“Yes.”

“Is it a promise?”

The older man raises an eyebrow. The younger one inhales deeply. Slowly, the man lets the breath out slowly. He turns his attention to the harbor. A heavy tanker moves through the water. The younger man looks at the box.

“Will they turn? Possibly? When they turn, they will attack first their friends and family. Then they will attack those closest to them.”

“But I have to kill them? Why me?”

“The device is keyed to your DNA.”

“Of course it is.” He sighs, “Why wouldn’t it be.”

The man looks at the device. The green latch pulses green. The red button glows slightly. One side shuts down the devices implanted. The other triggers the devices in the body. The man rubs the thumbs on the two triggers.

 

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