Devices | StoryPoem | Todd Crawshaw
03
Jun

Devices

I was detained and held captive by a man who sought to conquer the world. He had stockpiled an arsenal of weapons dating back to the birth of civilization – Babylonian spears, Roman catapults, Samurai swords, medieval crossbows, grenades, missiles – a virtual museum. These trophies of war were hung from ceilings, displayed in glass cases, mounted on pedestals – dominating each room and hallway with their towering size or their strength in number. I was taken, along with others, to an enormous drawing room walled with tapestries depicting famous battle scenes. Our charming captor encouraged us to pillage with abandon his plentiful liquor supply. He regained our attention by sounding a Chinese gong belonging to a once-powerful dynasty. He unveiled his intent by stating: I am prepared to use whatever means it takes to accomplish my goal. The Caesars and Napoleons had their chance and failed. Now it is my turn. Think of yourself as my honored guest and not as my prisoner. Help yourself to the hors d’oeuvres. I am testing a theory which, in a manner of speaking, you have fallen prey to. It is my belief that unless we are threatened by a force greater than ourselves – such as aliens from another solar system, or from God Himself – we will never abandon our aggressive nature and live harmoniously. Meaning, we are on a path of extinction. Despite our inflated brains and feelings of entitlement, we remain savages. We fear the stranger, his unfamiliar look and his thoughts. In truth, we fear ourselves. Look around at the physical differences. Listen to the cacophony of my words being translated to expose our language barriers. The sound is enough to drive one mad, this babble – is it not? Please, be seated. It makes no difference which chair. Notice the red button. But do not touch it, yet. You sit in an unprecedented position of power that will determine our collective fate. I will explain. The force that is greater than ourselves has arrived. Godlike, but not so alien. You ask, the red button? No, it is a means to an end. Nor should you presume the others in this room are your enemy, all seated in chairs adorned with colors different from your own, like a flag representing customs and traditions of a country foreign to you, who also find themselves self-appointed, crowned, upon a throne. By chance? Or was this preordained? Does it matter? Yes, yes, I digress. The point is this: One push on the red button will cause a chain reaction of atomic explosions that will annihilate human life on Earth. Think what this would achieve. No more wars, no more suffering. World peace! This is no joke. Unlock the safety. It is located next to the button on the underside of your chair. But first, look into the eyes of the stranger beside you who has the same decision to make. Realize the threat they possess is equivalent to your own, then see them as someone you love – a mother, father, child, husband, wife. And apologize to them first before you put us all to sleep. Now, I bid you good night and leave you to your own devices.

Excerpt from Light-Years in the Dark: StoryPoems (see more)
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photo-art design by todd crawshaw
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