1024 Words

Werld Peas

Cliff J. Frog

Peace on Earth had been achieved and kept for decades. It had been discovered by accident, naturally. Some researchers looking to find a way to produce edible weaponry had stumbled across The Solution. All you had to do was allow everyone a day off every month.

That was it.

For it to work, it needed to be everyone: all emergency workers were off, the police were off, doctors, nurses, pilots, chemists, teachers, quantity surveyors, everyone.

Nothing was open for business.

Nothing could be bought or sold.

Nobody could get anywhere.

So people stayed at home and relaxed with everyone else. And this was enough to ensure world peace, this one global day off. This and the guarantee that no one would come to any harm on any of these 12 days a year.

Well, how could they?

People couldn't become ill, because there were no doctors working.

No one could get in an accident, because all the hospitals were shut. (Shut and empty: everyone in hospital on one of these days became well enough to run jump and smile and spent it with their families and loved ones.)

No one died, because there was no funeral home open, just as no one was born due to all the midwives being off.

There was no crime because there were no police around, no fires because there was no fire brigade. Nature even calmed down on these days, and nowhere in the world could there be a tornado or a hurricane, an earthquake or a volcano, a flood or forest fire, because all the people monitoring them, and the emergency workers on standby, were too busy having a barbeque or a picnic or a volleyball tournament.

It was neither hot nor cold, no matter what the month or what it was like the day before.

War became a thing of the past because everyone just waited for these twelve times a year when they could just sit and not worry about anything all day, and nothing seemed more important than that.

People were focused and revelled in these days off. No pain was felt anywhere, no suffering inflicted.

Religion and politics became useless, more excess evolutionary baggage.

Not even an argument could be started on one of these days. The only hint of heated debate was when people talked over why no one had thought of this earlier. It seemed so simple. But people always got to the 'who cares oh well...' shrugging gesture soon enough, and went about their day.

Right after the first day everyone had known. Even governments the world over had agreed in unison. That hadn't happened since the world had agreed on what day it was.

The armed forces of every nation had set about melting down all weapons to make friendship rings. Missiles and rockets and fighter planes and tanks and aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines and guidance computers and rifles and hunting knives all became thin bands of coloured metal on fingers the world over, and edible weaponry never was invented.

The head of research for that particular project, Colin Kamzeijrec, had said on the day after the first Peace Day that it never even occurred to him to question the merit of edible weaponry. He just set his team to work on building a probability programme for the lab computer to see what kind of materials would stand up to all kinds of intricate tests, such as whether a structure made of Hob Nobs would hold together in sub-zero temperates, fire a round of marzipan-tipped hollow points and still taste nice when dipped in tea, or not.

They were weeks into their research and on the verge of pulling together some draft designs, when a young idealistic lab assistant asked the computer the odds of peace on Earth. The computer had frozen, panicked everyone, and then printed out on a strip of paper give everyone a day off every month. This of course was ignored, Colin and the young idealist too relieved that the computer hadn't broken to really understand it.

So words came across the screen asking them if they believed it or not, and that if they didn't they should press the 'day off' key on the keyboard and see what happened then. They had never noticed this 'day off' key, but it was there now and so they pressed it. The computer asked if they were sure they wanted to go ahead since this would necessarily mean that they would be out of jobs within the week, and they had said yes, might as well, and pressed it again.

There was a slight whirr, then a spark out of the side of the computer as it died at exactly 9.59am on Monday 27th May 2002. A minute later, over in Kiribati, Tuesday the 28th May had just started, and the Christmas Islands became the first nation in the world to experience the first global day off. The idea occurred to everyone at the same instant, then spread over the world engulfing everyone, until 24 hours later it reached Apia in Samoa. 24 hours after that, the first global holiday was over, and the world had already decided on how to proceed.

Colin and the idealist would not know about it until the media figured out something was happening, which took longer than normal due to the fact that all the reporters were having a day off in each country it worked through, and so couldn't tell anyone about it until the next day, by which time everyone else had already experienced it. They were worrying about how to tell the project manager their computer had melted. They decided to not tell him until the next day, which was fortunate: if they had told him immediately, the computer would have been thrown out and would not have been installed at the Natural History Museum in London, just underneath the Diplodocus.

They went about their work until they went home, continued to do what they always did until shortly after midnight when a thought entered each of their sleeping heads.

Tomorrow they would have the day off.

Copyright ©2003 Cliff J. Frog. All Rights Reserved.

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June, 2003
Issue #81

1024 Words