They were prepared for an alien invasion and for a pandemic, but not at the same time.
In: 5000 Writing Prompts by Bryn Donovan
“The first step to avoiding the end of civilization as you know it is really simple. You need to recognize what you’re up against. If you know the threat you’re facing, then you can beat it. The following handbook will help you to assess the situation correctly and provide valuable information on how to deal with any world-ending threat.”
The system ‘Guide to Avoid Total Annihilation’ played its program on the big monitor in front of him. Troy found the soft and warm voice that came out of the speaker rather appealing and nodded in appreciation as he drank from his coffee. Desk duty was better than listening to one more of Gina’s stupid stories, even if it would be a busy day. But he had total confidence in G.A.T.A..
“You can fill out the questionnaire if your situation is still unclear. If you already know what is going on, you can enter the code on your keypad.”
Troy skimmed over the content table on the large screen. It baffled him how many different scenarios the makers had thought of. “A rabid weasel becomes president and threatens to start a world war,” read Troy out loud to himself. “How can that happen?” Troy snorted, but then he remembered the seriousness of the situation they are in.
“What was our problem again?” He shouted across the open office space.
“A viral disease broke out in Central Europe and spreads quickly around the globe,” answered Jeff from the far corner of the room.
“Ah, right.” Troy drank another sip from his coffee and punched in the code for ‘Global Pandemic.’ G.A.T.A. started.
“Diseases are evolving fast, and an outbreak might be scary at first. But rest assured that you are just a few easy steps away to contain the situation. First, you have to make sure it cannot spread any further. Infected must be quarantined. Don’t be afraid to put a whole region on lockdown if there are too many. In the meantime, scientists work on finding out more about the disease.”
“Uhm, Troy. I think we might have a problem.”
“What is it?” answered Troy while making sure to take notes of the steps G.A.T.A. suggested.
“We have made contact with aliens. Several large U.F.O.s are hanging in the skies over every major city.”
“Gimme a sec.” After a quick search, Troy had found the code for ‘Alien Contact’ and added it to the list.
“Contact with an extraterrestrial lifeform is a difficult situation. Especially while dealing with a pandemic. Under no circumstance, you should assume that our rules and conventions for communication and thinking also apply to them. Make sure to get the best linguists and communication experts on the case to find out the purpose of their visit. If they respond aggressively, continue to put in the code for ‘Alien Invasion’.”
Another of his colleagues called across the room. “Large creatures are rising from the depth of the oceans and start to wreak havoc on coastal areas.”
Troy added ‘Kaiju’ to the list.
But the news came in fast.
“And Zombies swarm North America.”
“Giant spiders and killer bees terrorize the people in Australia.”
“Volcanic activities in Yosemite.”
“A meteoroid is approaching Earth.”
Troy entered all the codes.
G.A.T.A. had gone silent. But Troy was confident that it would find a solution. It just had to. That’s what it was made fore. Then the screen flashed.
“Dear customer. Unfortunately, your situation cannot be solved by any calculation. Enjoy the rest of your life, however short that might be. Thank you for trusting us.”
Then the screen went black as G.A.T.A. had apparently short-circuited itself.
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Writing time: 20 minutes
Editing time: 35 minutes
I decided to have a little bit of fun with this prompt. I thought, why stop at two events? I just realized while typing it out on my computer that I might have taken the idea a bit far from the scenario given by the prompt. BUT I like the story so it’s okay.
With a Sci/Fi background in mind, I set the story up in some kind of agency that is responsible for dealing with cataclysmic events. There is potential for adventure and heroic stuff, but I wanted it to be an everyday 9 to 5 job. Plain and boring. Sitting at the desk the whole day, dealing with typical office shenanigans and technical issues.
How is humanity prepared to deal with any situation? Of course, they have an app. Or some kind of advanced software. I’m not entirely sure how to call any of those things anymore and I’m so far from living in the future!
Of course, the programm is equipped with every data necessary to deal with any problem. But with every new piece of information coming in, even the super high tech computer reaches its limit. To the point, that the machine commits suicide by short-circuiting. That’s a thing futuristic machines can do, right?
Poor Troy probably has the worst day of his career. Fortunately, it’s also the last. So no damage is done, I guess?
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