This is the way the world ends...

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This is the way the world ends...

Post by Ayvaen on Mon Oct 20, 2008 1:11 pm

Wanna make 100k?

Fallout 3's release got me thinking: I love apocalyptic scenarios, especially the cleverly insightful ones which draw from the flaws of modern society as their inspiration.

I'm going to hold a very simple contest: come up with and shortly detail an end of modern society scenario (there can be survivors, or not), and the person who comes up with the best (in my opinion) will win 100k gil. It can be humorous, it can be serious, but it comes off as too preachy (i.e. cliche popular religion tripe) I doubt I'll enjoy it much.

So lets see those entries, you have a week.

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Re: This is the way the world ends...

Post by DarkValkyr on Tue Oct 21, 2008 9:18 am

Hn, I'm quite interested in this one. At least its for the 100k. Though, my views are very often naive in nature and might be unrealistic as well. But, I do know my share of literature and the world, so I'll do my best to make an entry as soon as my exam week is over.
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Re: This is the way the world ends...

Post by Reinbach on Wed Oct 22, 2008 1:00 pm

You can forget about fire and brimstone. You can certainly put away your copy of Red Dawn. No, the world will end much more stupidly. Our iminent deaths will be the result of a bureaucratic foul up.

The world will end when a clerical error inadvertantly triggers the dogs of nuclear war and complete devestation/irradiation of the world. This doesn't have to happen in America, but for the purposes of this thought excercise, let's use America.

Picture if you will, Johnny Dumbass (Pronounced "Doo-mah"). Johnny always wanted to be a soldier but his father, Reginald T. Dumbass, concerned that his son would empathize with the first hand grenade he saw and blow himself up attempting to save it, sent him to an Ivy League special education program. While in college, Johnny joined the ROTC! "Ha!" Johnny said. "When I graduate, I'm going to join the military and become an officer! Beat that, Dad!" Reginald T. Dumbass, knowing there was no way he could stop this had a moment of clarity and tied a rope around his neck and jumped off a chair because he would rather die than live in a world where his son handled live explosives.

And so Johnny Dumbass joins the military, and becomes an officer. Now he is 2nd Lt. Jonathan Dumbass. After being useless at everything he tries, the military eventually decides to put him some office somewhere where he'll never be able to hurt himself or any thing that might actually be good at hurting other people. Johnny actually performs decently well at his tasks, and gains a few token promotions and commendations. Johnny's feeling pretty good about himself and throws his weight around the department whenever he can, just to show the little people who's boss. Deep down he knows he's not important, but to make up for it he tends to behave even worse.

One day, Johnny decides to ask that pretty secretary out on a date. To really impress her, he'll use uncle sam's dollar and treat her to a nice, expensive lunch. So he goes to pull up the appropriate form to Request Petty Cash, form 34-BR-9-i-F-H/6, but accidentally pulls up the form to Launch All Nuclear Weapons At Any And All Countries The USA Does Not Like Or Has Ever Disagreed With Us, form 34-BR-9-j-F-H/6. Due to the classified nature of this form, it's marked only by it's form designation. Johnny thought there was something a little weird about the form until his mind wandered to last night's episode of Greatest American Dog distracted him enough that his hand just kind of filled the form on its own. He used his power to rush this form through.

One bright light in the department noticed this form had been erroneously filled out, and sumbitted a form that would allow the highly dangerous 34-BR-9-j-F-H/6 that Johnny filled out to be incinerated, but that form was lost behind a file cabinet and the 34-BR-9-j-F-H/6 went through. Launch time is T-1 hour.

As the president is alerted to this, they will probably be outraged unless his underlings inform him during his naptime. Assuming they don't whisper the news to him while he's sleeping then run out of the room as he groggily waves his hand and tells them to "go away, I'm sleeping", the president will gather everyone to the war room and they'll argue about it.

"Isn't there anything that can be done about this?" the president will ask.

"No sir," one of his generals will say. "The paperwork is rock solid." Those will be the last words he ever says as he is engulfed by six or seven mushroom clouds from the retaliatory strikes from every other nuclear nation.

Thus the world has ended.

Aliens who have been watching us this whole time from afar in their flying saucers or interoceters or whatever, will watch in horror. Eventually they'll get a fragment of a radio signal containing Ella Fitzgerald, singing the way I've always imagined angels sing, as she belts out the George and Ira Gershwin classic, "Summertime".

One alien will turn to the other and say in his horrendous and foreign alien tongue "well, they were a planet of gigantic retards, but at least they invented jazz."

Keep in mind, that the US, Russia, the UK, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Isreal all contain varying numbers of nuclear weapons, but roughly the same percentage of idiots.
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Re: This is the way the world ends...

Post by Sabriel on Wed Oct 22, 2008 5:43 pm

A highly contagious virus mutates and runs rampant throughout the human population, infecting everyone on the planet in only a single generation. It is not a very successful virus as it has a mortality rate of 75%.

The remaining population is not left unscathed, though they have survived, all human reproduction has ceased. The last generation has expended a great deal of time and resources dealing with the dead and making an effort to circumvent humanities new restrictions. Cloning is a slow and some-what moderately successful band-aid for the situation, but without true genetic diversity scientists predict a slow, gloomy extinction. Without a population to maintain the infrastructure most land has returned to the wilds. Religious extremists from every faith who believe that now are the 'end times' and some Neo-Wicca Super Hippies who believe the 'spirit of the earth' is purging the plague of humanity work tirelessly to thwart every effort towards a solution.

Things do not look good.
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Re: This is the way the world ends...

Post by Jenice on Thu Oct 23, 2008 3:07 am

~cModernSociety();
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Re: This is the way the world ends...

Post by DarkValkyr on Fri Oct 24, 2008 11:45 am

Torn and tattered, all codes scattered.
Hammered by all, the order shattered.
This gory bloodshed, when does it now end?
...
and so passes, the era Dwapar.
-The Blind Age, Mahabarata

The world begun in peace.
The world became turmoil.
The world entered an age of loose ties.
Then the world entered an era of war.
Within us is a dark cavity, blind and obscure.
At the very moment when all things important are at stake,
All things beautiful, benign and tender.
Virtue, righteousness, ethics --
All these embellish the lives of kings.
But the lives of the others, spent in an empty corridor as subjects --
What is there for them?
Bladed smiles, stained hands, half-truths stain their values.

Even righteousness, they who fight for their own rights,
would take their brothers and sisters' lives away,
for this 'righteousness'.
What is right? What is wrong?
They've gone astray. In nights of entangled affections, of shrouded emotions.

The earth sheds tears. Their mothers shed tears. They themselves shed tears.

But everyone is a blind, barbaric beast. A savage descent awaits.
Whatever means to attain their 'righteousness', they will do.
From the sky rains fire. The earth will be barren, and vipers will slither in the soil. The rivers, dry.
No edible vegetation will grow. No form of animals will sustain life.
Babies will be born defected, mutated, deranged.
Women will wail.

In the moment of truth,
The order, the ethics -- all these are swept away by the poisonous tides.
As if the dam had been broken - and the lapping tongues of water take it away.
For this 'righteousness' of theirs.
From the bushes were roaming wolves and jackals, open mouthed, voracious eyes.
Blood, only blood, only blood was their virtue.
Slaughter, only slaughter, only slaughter was their virtue.


Only in the last minutes of mankind's life,
Would they finally drop down,
swollen in wounds, wallowing in pus, spit, and mucous,
from gashes, bleeding incessantly, and say,
"Never have I shed a tear for any of my lost sons,
but for you, my affection is unfathomable!
What have I!..."

On everyone's mind, did their own curse loom.
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Re: This is the way the world ends...

Post by Ayvaen on Mon Oct 27, 2008 11:20 am

I'm not happy with the current number of entries, as such I'm extending the deadline another week.

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Re: This is the way the world ends...

Post by Wendell on Thu Oct 30, 2008 4:25 pm

It started small, as most things do.
Just a simple idea, whispered between a few.
It gained so much speed that who could say
Who really came up with the idea that day?

Still it travelled fast, this rampant thought.
Against its infectiousness others' valiantly fought.
But it seemed there would be no stopping the words
For those who believed made sure everyone heard.

Once everyone knew, there was no other choice.
This thought that had gained such a very loud voice
Compelled them to put its' idea to the test
And prove once for all that it was the best.

With fervor the people worked toward this end
Never thinking of what could be 'round the bend.
Too late some saw consequences to their actions
Which caused quite a number of bad reactions.

"Stop!" They cried out. "We need to desist
Before what we've made begins to resist."
Still others lay blame at the feet of each other
Forgetting their own role in causing this blunder.

Warnings unheded, they didn't stop there-
'Twas not long before sounds of war filled the air.
The things they created were the things that they fought
But hardly a soul could withstand their onslaught

Mercifully quick the war it was ended
The dead on the ground, bloated, distended.
The machines looked around, not a soul left alive
Their programming said but one thing: Survive
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Re: This is the way the world ends...

Post by Verence on Sat Nov 01, 2008 3:11 am

Science. That was the credo, way back when. Physics, chemistry, engineering, experimentation, empiricism. They built planes, cars—Lots of cars. You can still see plenty of them out on the Ruined Stretch. The only limit to what they could figure out was their curiosity, and they were curious as a monkey in a banana plantation. Discovery stacked on discovery and that bastard hairless ape called mankind went from grubbing dirt for food to nearly grasping the stars. That lasted about up until they hit something that science simply couldn't handle.

The thaum, they called it. They weren't happy with making things go, with making things blow up, with making things do whatever the hell else they wanted. They wanted to know how. They wanted to know why. Groups got together with all the money and fancy equipment you could ask for, trying to break bits into smaller bits until there was nothing left to break. When they got that, they'd try to break it too, just to see if they could. They figured they could explain all sorts of things this way; gravity, mass, time, dimensions, whatever other bells and whistles the world has. Don't ask me how, I'm no scientist.

They got interesting results. Ridiculous results. Impossible results. It turns out when you get down to the bottom of life, the universe, and everything, you find exactly what it is you expect to find... No matter what that is. In other words, they'd found that the underpinnings of the universe respond to us. That we can influence them just by thinking. By believing.

Science turned on its head, but righted itself quickly. Progress hummed along as they found ways to harness the reaction, to amplify it, to shape it. They called it 'Thaumic energy' because 'magic' sounded ridiculous. Everyone knew what it was anyway. Nobody could quite believe something so impossible at first, but it's awful hard to say "I don't believe in faeries" when you've got one staring you in the face. Progress exploded when they noticed parallels between new research and ancient alchemical writings. Turns out that hooey about the Philosopher's Stone wasn't just a pipe dream – In fact they named the first stable amplifier in its honor. The Sopholith. Before the march of the thaum, entropy, conservation of mass, the laws of Newtonian physics themselves went out the window like yesterday's paper.

Thaumic catalysts sprang up left and right in the cities of the world. Think of them as coal furnaces for thaumic energy. In reality, they were more like lightning rods... But I'm getting ahead of myself. It was a second Industrial Revolution, and things were shaping up nicely. Unfortunately, not everyone plays nice. Back in the dark ages, terrorism was unheard of. One man with a sword couldn't threaten any more than another man. Then came guns and things got stickier. When it got easier to get ahold of explosives, things got stickier still. When one man with an amp and a bit of education can hold half a city hostage with earthquakes and freak electrical storms though, they were pretty much fucked. All it took was a handful of incidents to get the world leaders baying for blood. Well, some of the little guys happened to like seeing them off-balance and thumbed their noses. Cue invasions, enter military thaumic technology.

Which was, all things considered, a success. A huge success. The conflict was over in record time. Only problem is that it was so successful that things got a bit out of hand. Century-old stalemates and grudges flared back up with the promise of a quick and easy fix via complete, instantaneous annihilation. People used to live in the Radiant Wastes, you know. They called it Israel back then. Or was it Palestine... Nobody could really make up their mind. Anyhow, things were a mess on a global scale for a while there until an emergency summit put some regulations on how and when you could blow people up. The Brisbane Convention or something. Not important.

Things got a little... Strange in the aftermath. Folks complained about weird noises, ground zero of the bigger blasts took to glowing at night. They became known as the Glows. People who wandered out to have a look didn't always wander back, and the ones who did sometimes came back... Changed. Some in ways indefinable, some in ways horrifying. Turns out time and space itself warps like wire in a blender when you toss around too much thaumic energy. This was the first big red flag that maybe the thaum wasn't going to usher in the golden age people seemed to think it was, but by then it was already too late.

The first catalytic meltdown came scant years later. Like a chain reaction, they went off one by one by one, all across the globe. Refugees from the meltdown sites, the ones still sane, the ones still at all able to talk about what they saw, insist they saw creatures in the wreckage. Creatures not from around here. The thought of it was ridiculous, just like the thought of the thaum. Once again, they were surprised. The new Glows began to slowly spread. From them came the Critters.

I hear they call them Bogeymen in the British Isles, Wendigo up north. A few melodramatic sorts call them Wraiths. I don't care what you call them as long as they stay the hell away from me. The only thing we know about them is that we don't know a damn thing about them, and the farther away they are the happier we are. No two are the same, far as we can tell. We think they're alive, they move around and make noise. Truth is we don't know. They seem only half there, spectral.

While back, a religious group decided they must be the lost souls of the people killed in the meltdowns. They got a huge following too, I guess if you can believe in magic then you can believe in anything. Said we needed to atone somehow, apologize, show them the way to the pearly gates since they seem to've taken a wrong turn and wound up here. Great idea, really. Would've been fantastic if it worked. There are still a few survivors from the Great Reconciliation, but we mostly keep them tied down so they don't hurt themselves.

I've been to the edges of the Glows myself, and I have a theory. I don't much share it because it's not very encouraging and good news is scant enough these days. When you get to the edge, the land starts to change into bizarre, twisted things. But if you look far enough, it stops being so hodgepodge. It's nothing I've ever seen, but it makes sense in its own way. Something's changing here to there. Weather's been odd everywhere – We know, we still have enough communications to talk to others around us. Not much, but it gets us by. We're not going extinct, not by a long shot. At least not yet. We've lost our cities and a chunk of our population. Daylight hours fluctuate more than they ought to. Seasons come out of order. Crops are failing. And the damning thing is, the Critters look more and more solid by the year.

So close to the Glimmersands, survival ought to be impossible. The land's near poison here. The rest of the folks in the enclave don't know that and I'm not going to tell them. We're surviving, but only thanks to the skeletons in the closet. Thanks to the Sopholith. It changes our dim little reality into something livable, and it's changing me too. I can't go out without heavy gloves anymore. I tell people I burned 'em bad on the machinery that keeps the place cozy. The machinery that conked out a good fifteen years ago. They accept it. They don't have a lot of choice.

Problem is, I've been hearing strange sounds sometimes. Faint ones. Seeing things out of the corner of my eye.

I don't even know why I'm writing this. Maybe it's to ease my conscience. Maybe I'm hoping someone will find it. Either way, it's better to die screaming than to face the slow madness hunger and cold bring. Or so I thought. I told the rest of the haven that we got the machines working again. God help us all on the day they find I've lied.
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