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Friday short story time: "The Idiot Proof"

After a slightly longer gap than intended, as I attempted to get back into the swing of writing new material for my long-in-progress novel, here is another Friday short-flash story type thing.

This week, with rare topicality, I am hovering around the notion of the Rapture, the religious event scheduled for last weekend. Apparently the righteous were meant to disappear to heaven, leaving the rest of us to wallow in our morally bankrupt filth; I have tweaked the concept a little. I don’t think this qualifies as satire, but I’ve been wrong before.

As ever, more stories are available, and I’ve also posted some mildly amusing diagrams in the last month.

The Idiot Proof

By Nick Bryan

‘Ladies and gentlemen, the Rapture has taken place.’

‘Unfortunately, uh, there seems to have been a slight mistransubstantiation.’

‘I mean, “mistranslation”. Apologies. A mistranslation. The “Rapture” is not a religious event, it just happens to be in their texts. Like, y’know, the Bible and those other ones. It turns out, people were judged not on their spiritual worth, but their intelligence and practical usefulness.’

‘If you can still hear this radio thingy, then it appears you are officially an idiot. God has spoken. We are not sure what will happen to the world now, but there are reports of plummeting hygiene standards in restaurants, plummeting survival rates in hospitals and plummeting helicopters flown by co-pilots who cheated on their exams.’

‘Without intelligence, how will we cope? Of course, since no-one understands how to use a condom anymore, the next generation will be here shortly, but will humanity survive long enough? The answer will be difficult, almost as difficult as the rhyming dictionary I used to write this broadcast, and…’

At long last, Bob Slarne turned off his radio. They had been repeating the same report for the last week anyway, except during DJ segments. It turns out, even in a stupid-powered society, you could find someone to dribble inanely between songs.

But if the news reporting became sloppy and not authoritative, the masses complain, even though they couldn’t do better themselves without spending hours upon hours on research. So the news reports became less and less frequent.

Many, unmotivated or simply uninterested, had stopped turning up for work. But Bob, a government minister with a sense of duty, continued to slave. All his Cabinet colleagues were newcomers, the other incumbents having disappeared during the qualitatively assessed Rapture. It turns out that even if some politicians are myopic, very few are stupid.

Un;uckily for him, Bob was. He’d had excellent advisors, surfed through democracy on sheer charisma; the man could give a speech, even answer questions efficiently, but when it came to preparing material or governing, he had people for that.

Make no mistake, Bob had been insulted when the Rapture left him behind. He’d known he wouldn’t be winning Mastermind, but hadn’t realised he was a certified moron. Still, couldn’t argue with the Almighty.

And worse still, since he possessed experience and token leadership skills, others kept looking to him for guidance. In fact, he had no sooner leaned back in his stately leather chair when the phone rang.

Bob knew it would be a request for help, because it always was. He just didn’t anticipate the scale.

‘You’re through to the Minister, how can I…’

‘Minister! Bob! It’s Zack!’

‘Sorry, who?’

‘The Minister for Defence!’

Bob was in his late forties. But somehow the Minister for Defence was a twenty-six year old called Zack. Even in a society devoid of intelligence, Bob couldn’t understand how this had happened. Still, even if the irritating spike-haired kid had all the gravitas of a Vodafone salesman, the news he carried did a lot of the work for him.

Bob’s rosy complexion whitened and he leapt up, not even grabbing his trusty suit jacket before fleeing the room. He bolted past his startled personal secretary, who was too useless to use Excel or access her email, and rushed down the corridors until he encountered Zack, who was sweating so profusely that his hair was beginning to droop.

‘What the hell?’ Bob gasped out, between heart palpitations. ‘How did this happen?’

‘The… um, the… foreign people called.’

‘Which “foreign people”?’

‘I… I think all of them?’ Fucking hell, Bob thought, how was he in the same IQ league as this man? ‘They called saying they’d had enough of boring diplomatic tension and were going to launch the nukes at us.’

‘Which nukes?’

‘I… I think all of them?’ Jesus christ.

‘Okay, fine, what can we do?’

‘Could we maybe… launch our nukes at them?’

‘I’m not sure that will defuse the tension or save us, Zack!’

‘Well, you come up with something better then!’

‘Off the top of my head, I believe it would be more prudent to…’

And on that, it ground to a halt. The kid had uncovered his weakness. Bob could talk a good game, but now was the time to back up big words with big ideas, and he just didn’t have any.

‘Could we…’ Bob summoned up his entire reserve of acquired knowledge. ‘Duck and cover? Is that how they did it in the old days?’

‘Oh, don’t be so stupid,’ Zack sneered at the old man, ‘I’m not hiding under a table and fucking waiting to be atomised!’

‘Could we… ask the public? Maybe one of them has an idea?’

‘We’ll all be dead in minutes! We hardly have time to set up a PO Box!’

‘What about Twitter? Isn’t that how the young people communicate nowadays?’

‘No, don’t be so…’ Zack paused. ‘Actually, that’s quite a good idea.’

But before Zack could put it into practise, there was a tap on his shoulder and a whispered voice. ‘Uh, Mister Minister? I got this note, I’m not sure what it…’

Well versed in the uselessness of secretaries by now, Bob reached past his ministerial colleague and snatched it. As he began to read, a grin formed. ‘Apparently a series of nuclear weapons have exploded in their silos during an attempted launch towards the UK by…. France?’

He looked up at Zack. ‘So it was France?’

‘Oh. Maybe.’

‘Wow. The stupid people there must still hate us. Good job they’re too thick to launch a nuclear missile.’ Bob grinned.

Zack smiled too, although it was more of a smirk when he did it. He looked like he’d just sold a 48 month contract on T-Mobile, complete with the insurance. And Bob felt saddened, not just because of that (although Zack was a prick), but because he himself was still here.

Because that Twitter idea had been a good one, even if he did say so himself. Part of him had hoped that would finally tip him over the intelligence boundary and allow him to be Rapturised up with all his former colleagues. But nothing came. Either he still wasn’t good enough, or there was no chance of redemption for idiots who bettered themselves.

As ever, above story copyright me, please don’t steal it, email me first if you do and sorry if it’s somehow offensive. It’s not meant to be, I come from a place of affection, but I know religion is a tricky area to wade into.


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