Continue reading “Story – Introduction + Changelog”
Continue reading “Story – Introduction + Changelog”
|Friday – Nov 6||Humanity’s Biggest Brains – Humanity’s Final Stand||Interstice 2.1|
|Sunday – Nov 8||The Two Ministers||Interstice 2.2|
Davos, that year, was in full-on panic mode. The Virus had spread out of control. No country had been able to successfully fight it and win. We humans were losing. Mother Nature was winning. Actually, “losing” might be putting it too generously. Team Humanity was getting our assess kicked. Most thoroughly, unequivocally, definitively.
By December, millions of people were dying every week. In every country, across every continent, not a single soul was safe and there was no escape. The Virus killed off men, women, and children all in equal force and indiscriminately; old and young; Black, White, Hispanic, Asian.
And to add insult to injury, at some point the Virus even mutated to where it started killing dogs. Humans couldn’t even protect man’s best friend. That’s how completely and utterly powerless we were. Dogs. Seriously.
We may have successfully fended off the first wave in the spring. But we weren’t ready for the mutated form. Virus: Version Two, I guess you could call it. This new strain that’d evolved was a legit, no-holds-barred, human-killing machine. Every vaccine that Merk, Pfizer, Novartis, or Roche put out would be effective for maybe a few weeks. But then Corona-V2 would rapidly adapt, rendering months of development and billions of dollars in R&D worthless, in a blink of any eye, just like that.
In January, things were looking grim. Very, very grim.
So it was under these auspices that humanity decided to wage one final stand. It’d be a meeting of our Biggest Brains, humanity’s very best, gathered around for one last-ditch effort to save the species.
Long the last bastion of the ultra-wealthy and people who consider themselves the “intellectual elite and erudite,” every year at the end of January, an international cadre of 3,000 participants from 110 countries gather in Davos, Switzerland, to discuss the most pressing challenges and issues facing humanity. The full-name of the invitation-only shindig is “The World Economic Forum,” a self-styled “Meeting of the Minds to Improve the State of the World.” (That’s, without irony, literally the forum’s byline on all of its promotional materials each year.) The event was founded by the German management consultant titan, Klaus Schwab, a man whose intellectual prowess ranged so widely that he obtained not one, but two, doctorates– one in Engineering from ETH Zurich; and the second in Economics from the University of Fribourg.1
Well, if Davos represented the best that humanity had to offer, then that January was most definitely not a good look for the human race.
On the first day of the forum, the world’s leaders convened in the canton of Prättigau, descending upon the small village of Landquart. It was a sight to behold. Helicopters swooped in over flocks of sheep across the rolling, idyllic Swiss countryside. Ducks and wild geese scattered in every direction as the thumping of chopper rotors thundered overhead shattering the alpine silence. Makeshift helipads had been specially constructed for Davos this year as all members had reasonably wanted to arrive individually. No one had chartered Learjets as had been the custom in years prior; eight people to a Gulfstream was simply seven persons too many.
Fading, evening slowly turned to twilight. As night descended, shadows from the tall maples behind them loomed long, spreading across the wooded hill. Nothing escaped. As the sun sunk lower into the horizon, the shadow spread ever farther. Johann sat on the cabin’s porch stoop and watched as the darkness slowly lengthened, swallowing everything.
“Do you think we’re doing the right thing?” he asked. Johann took a long drag on his cigarette. “If we sign onto this, hundreds of millions will die. People with lives. Families, jobs, dreams. With one decision, we’d be taking all of that away from them.”
“If we don’t do this, billions will die. You’ve read the data. You’ve seen the projections.” Beck sighed and ran his hand through his thick blonde mane. “We knew this is what we were signing on for when we joined.”
“But what if the data is wrong? Or if the predictions are inaccurate?”
“They’ve never been so far. Do you doubt them now?”
Johann flicked his cigarette into the darkness and rose to his feet angrily. “Don’t you? This is a monumental decision. Why are we trusting a computer of all things to decide for us? A machine?!“
“It’s because it’s monumental that we’re trusting a machine,” said Beck calmly. “Can you imagine a human making a decision like this? An actual red-blooded, able-bodied person deciding?”
“No… I guess not.”
“If we’d wanted to live easy lives, we would’ve never become politicians, never run for office. I always wanted to open a small café, did you know that?”
Johann smirked. “A café? You?”
“Yes. It would be high in the Swiss Alps. A lovely little timber café. One I’d build with my own two hands.”
“Ja, you cannot possibly be serious.”
“Oh, but I am,” said Beck with a completely straight face. “It’d have a single chimney made of granite. I’d haul the quarry stone up there myself, on a sled tied down with rope.”
“But instead, you became a politician.”
“Yes,” sighed Beck gloomily. “I did. What was I thinking?”
“A thankless and most miserable profession. You know what’s funny? No matter what I do, half of my country hates me?”
“Only half?” Beck laughs. “No matter what I do, well over 60% hate me. There is a permanent 45% who hate me. At least if you believe the polls. No matter what I do, I never win them over. Every election, it’s always the same.”
“It must be your handsome face. They are just jealous.”
Beck chuckles. “I suppose so.”
The two men stood there for a moment, neither saying anything; they simply stared out into the darkness of night.
Johann lit up another cigarette. “You know, my mother, bless her heart, held the most dim opinion possible of our parliament. When I was a child, she was always shaking her about ‘these clueless men’ as she called them. Talking all day and not knowing a single thing about their people. She held enormous disdain for the whole lot.”
“Was she wrong?”
Johann laughed. “No. No, she was not. She was spot on. If anything, she gave us too much credit.”
Now that the sun had retreated behind the hills, the temperature had dropped precipitously. And the night had grown cold.
“I’m heading inside,” said Beck. “You coming? The vote’s early tomorrow morning, after all.”
“I think I’ll stay out a bit longer. Tell Hilda I’ll be right in.”
“Very well. Don’t stay out here too long. These Swiss nights grow cold in a hurry.”