How to Make the World Burn

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Ira and Lynn sipped water as they took a break from their workouts.

“I’ve decided to run for politics,” said Ira.

The news startled Lynn. “I didn’t peg you as a civil servant.”

“I’m not really. You know when you go to a bad movie and walk out half way through? That’s what the world’s become.”

“And you’re the disgusted spectator.”

“With this movie, there’s no walking out. It’s reality, so we’re stuck with it,” said Ira.

“What party are you with?” asked Lynn.

“I’m independent.”

“What’s your platform?”

“I want to outlaw caffeine,” announced Ira.

Lynn laughed out loud. “Why would you do that? Nobody’s going to vote for you.”

A glint sparkled in Ira’s eye. “I want to watch society burn.”

“You’re an anarchist.”

Ira ignored the comment. “Can you imagine what would happen if caffeine was illegal? It would be chaos.”

“Why are you so eager to destroy civilization?”

“Why save it? The government is corrupt beyond repair. So is the banking industry. A racial war is about to break out. There’s global terrorism. Iran is on the verge of having nuclear weapons. North Korea has them, and almost the means to lob them over the Pacific Ocean. And don’t forget, Russia wants to take over the world. Again.”

“You’re a real wet blanket, you know that? I don’t think things are all that bad,” said Lynn.

“Where’d you get that idea, from the late night comedians you listen to for political analysis? They’re idiots. Well scripted, but idiots all the same.”

“So how does your plot help anything?”

“Every race, every culture is addicted to caffeine. It’s the world’s most consumed drug. Think about it. Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world,” said Ira. Her eyes flared as she spoke.

“People will adjust once the caffeine is out of their system,” said Lynn.

“But it won’t. It’ll go underground like alcohol during prohibition. Criminal networks will form. The very fabric of society will rip apart at its seams. It’ll burn to its foundations.”

“You’re twisted,” said Lynn.

“I know,” sneered Ira.

“You’re scary,” said Lynn, standing up, “but I’ll admit, you’re no scarier than any thing else that threatens the world.”

Ira giggled.

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Essentials For Urban Survival

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“Whatcha doin’?” asked Tyler. He walked in to find Sabine packing a box.

“I’m making a survival package for Carson,” replied Sabine. She carefully placed underwear beside a multipack of deodorant in the box.

“You’ve covered most of the essentials, I see,” said Tyler.

Sabine smiled. She reached in her purse and pulled out a stack of ATM receipts. Wrapping an elastic around them, she tucked them between packages of instant noodles.

“What’re those for?” asked Tyler.

“Emergencies.”

“What kind of emergencies need ATM receipts?” asked Tyler.

“Haven’t you ever found yourself without toilet paper?”

“You gotta be kidding,” said Tyler.

“What would you do?” demanded Sabine.

Tyler scoffed. “I use my hand like every other guy.”

“That’s disgusting!”

“Hey, hands wash. Who knows what ink and diseases you’re leaving behind with those receipts,” said Tyler.

Sabine cringed. “I can’t believe we’re talking about this.”

“You brought it up.”

Sabine stopped packing and put her hands on her hips. “No I didn’t. You did.”

“Oh, right.”

The two stood in uncomfortable silence for a minute.

“Anyway, survival is rough. You have to be resourceful,” said Sabine.

“Not to mention brave,” added Tyler.

“That’s right,” said Sabine. “Especially in the civilized world.”

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The Special Sense

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“Do you actually believe there is a God?”

The question lingered in the room as all eyes fixed on Horatius. He shrugged it off and said, “Yeah. Why wouldn’t I?”

The others cackled and chortled.

“Because there’s no evidence to suggest God exists. I don’t see any,” said Drew.

Horatius sat up in his chair. “I have a theory about that.”

“Alright, let’s hear it,” said Janet.

Instead of speaking right away, Horatius paused to choose his words carefully. “Not all people are born with the ability to sense God,” he said.

“A sixth sense? C’mon,” said Drew.

“Call it whatever you want. It’s like any other sense. Some people have the ability to taste and hear, some don’t,” explained Horatius.

There was an awkward silence as people stared at each other incredulously.

“So why hasn’t science discovered this sense?” demanded Janet.

“Why are all scientists atheist?” added Drew.

“Actually, those questions are related,” said Horatius. “I think universities are like monasteries for atheists. It’s where they gather to explain things they can’t remotely comprehend. And why haven’s scientists discovered ‘God-sense’? Probably because they don’t even know what they’re looking for. Like a blind man trying to discover colour.”

Drew’s face burned red and his eyes flared. Janet held him at bay. “Wait. Let’s assume for a second that God is real. Why would he or she not give this special sense to everyone? That’s not exactly fair, is it?”

“Maybe, maybe not. That’s what faith is for. You have to trust people who have God-sense. It’s really no different than placing your trust in a surgeon to save your life or an engineer to build things safely,” said Horatius.

Drew couldn’t contain his rage any longer. “You may have this God-sense, but you don’t have enough sense to understand that no one likes you.”

Horatius blushed. “Well, you know what they say, ignorance is bliss.”

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Senior Moment

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Grant spotted Bud across the office. “Hey! You got a minute?”

“What?” said Bud.

Grant’s jaw dropped open but nothing came out.

“Well?”

“I forgot what I was going to say,” said Grant. “I completely blanked.”

“You’re having a senior moment.”

“I guess. That happened to me yesterday, too.”

Bud chuckled. “I think that’s the first sign of senility.”

That made Grant blush. “I can’t believe I forgot.”

“Next time write it down.”

“But I just thought of it. I mean, I barely had time to remember it. That’s so frustrating,” fumed Grant.

Bud started walking away. “When you think of it, let me know.”

“You know what’s gonna happen. As so as you leave it’ll come to me.”

“Are you expecting me to wait until you remember? I don’t have time for that. Then again, you could say that my leaving is paramount to you remembering what you were going to say in the first place. You are in quite the quandary.”

“Do you suppose it’s ageist to call it a ‘senior moment’?” asked Grant.

“Is that what you wanted to say?”

“No, just killing time until I remember.”

Bud shook his head and walked away.

Grant slumped into a nearby chair. “Sometimes I hate my brain.”

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Results

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When Derek woke up at his desk, sweat poured down his face.

“Thanks for joining the rest of us at work,” scoffed Zac.

Derek ignored the jab. “I just had the weirdest dream.”

“I’m so happy for you.”

“No, man. I’m serious. Barak Obama and Adolf Hitler were hippies cruising around in a VW van,” said Derek.

Zac stared intensely at Derek. He pulled out a note pad and pen.

“They were following a giant rabbit that was crapping radioactive nickels. One of the nickels bounced off a mountain side and landed beside the sun. There was something about it that made everything grow bigger.

“Suddenly, the whole world was like a tropical jungle. All the sand melted into glass. It was freaky watching the ocean crash on the glassy beach. People skated everywhere on the glass. It was like a super highway.

“I got into a tractor and tried to drive inland, only to realize I was on a yellow rhinoceros. It’s long horn turned out to be a perfect toothpick, which made be feel so much better.

“When I got off, I was back at home, but had a different family. I had no idea who they were, but they knew me. Instead of giving me a hug, they attacked me. That’s when I woke up. What do you think it means?”

Zac said nothing in reply. He left the room and pulled out his cell phone. “We’ve got our first results of the drug trial. It worked perfectly. He had no idea what happened. No, he was completely oblivious,” he said. “It’s early, but it’s looking very positive.”

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Ben’s First Law of Overcoming Stupidity

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When Janette met with her cousin Ben, her head was still reeling.

“I can’t believe what just happened to me. You know Bay Street? It’s a oneway heading downtown. I almost hit someone head-on who was going the wrong way. Right in the middle of rush hour. Can you believe that?” asked Janette.

A sympathetic smile widened across Ben’s face. “That’s the first of Cipolla’s Five Fundamental Laws of Stupidity. Everyone underestimates the number of stupid people in circulation.”

“What laws?”

“Dr. Carlo Cipolla. He wrote ‘em back in the seventies.”

“Never head of him,” dismissed Janette. “Know the worst part of the whole thing? The idiot who nearly killed me was the CFO of the company I work for.”

“That’s Cipolla’s second law. The probability that someone is stupid is independent of any characteristic of that person.”

Janette frowned and her hands shook. “What’re you talking about?”

“It means stupidity is universally and equally proportioned across all socio-economic, ethic and gender classifications,” explained Ben.

“Whatever,” spat Janette. “At least you could give me a little sympathy.”

“What good is that?”

“It would make me feel better.”

“Maybe, but it wouldn’t make you smarter.”

The insinuation made Janette bristle. “So I’m not smart enough?”

“Is anyone? Really?”

Janette simmered. Ben had an infuriating way of putting things in perspective.

“Alright,” she fumed. “Give me some knowledge.”

Ben smirked. “I’ll give you the definition of a stupid person. It’s someone who causes losses to another person or group of people while deriving no gain to themselves, and possibly even incurring losses. That’s law number three, by the way.”

“You memorized that,” accused Janette.

“Of course. It’s important.”

Janette’s eyes narrowed. “Where did you learn this?”

“I’m writing a paper on it.”

“On stupidity.”

“It’s the least studied element of human behavior.”

“And one of the biggest.”

“Exactly.”

“Wait. You don’t think I’m stupid, do you?” asked Janette.

“Of course not. You’re one of the smartest people I know.”

That gave Janette a glimmer of reassurance, but it quickly passed. “If there are so many stupid people, even my bosses, then how am I supposed to get ahead?”

“What? Like, succeed?”

“Yeah. The cream’s supposed to rise to the top,” complained Janette.

There was a long pause as Ben pondered the question. His eyes suddenly lit up. “The cream always rises to the top, it’s just sometimes it needs to be beaten to get there.”

Janette slouched. “That’s reassuring.”

“Just remember,” said Ben. “It’s Ben’s First Law of Overcoming Stupidity.”

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Bat Attack

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“It’s a bat! It’s a bat!”

Dave woke from a dead sleep with those words ringing in his ears.

Beside the bed Jacqueline was covering her head with a blanket. “Is it in my hair?”

“Crap,” said Dave. He turned on the light just in time to see something swoop through the room and down the hall.

“Where is it?” asked Jacqueline.

“It’s in the hall.” He desperately wished it would go away by itself. The bat flew to the door of his daughter’s bedroom and turned back toward him. It made another lap of his room and back down the hall.

“Wait here.” He grabbed a baseball bat and closed the door behind him.

“No problem,” said Jacqueline.

Dave swung wildly at the bat, smashing the hallway lamp shade. Shards of glass landed all around his bare feet. “Great,” he mumbled.

“What was that?” asked Jacqueline.

“There’s glass everywhere.”

“Did the bat do that?”

“Yes,” said Dave. The bat continued making circles around his head.

“Seriously?”

“No. That was me. Can you bring me my slippers?”

“Now? Is the bat gone?”

“No.”

“Can you do without? I don’t wanna come out there,” said Jacqueline.

“I don’t want to cut my feet. Just throw them to me.”

From the behind the door Dave heard a huff. “Fine,” said Jacqueline. A few seconds later two slippers were hurled in Dave’s direction. Dave caught one of them. The other flew past his head just as the bat swerved. The two collided and the bat tumbled to the floor.
“You hit it,” said Dave.

“What?” asked Jacqueline.

“I need a towel,” said Dave. He hopped to the bathroom on one foot.

At that moment, his daughter Becky opened her door, wiping sleep from her eyes. She watched her dad grab a towel, hop down the hall on one foot and throw the towel on the floor.

“I caught it!” he proclaimed.

“You did? Yeah!” cheered Jacqueline. She threw open the door and ran into the hall. Her cheers turned to horror as her bare feet met shards of glass. “Ow! Ow! Ow!”

Dave couldn’t decided if he should grab the bat wrapped in the towel or help his wife. He stumbled forward and collided with Jacqueline. They both crashed to the floor.

Becky watched her parents, writhing on the floor. The bat crawled out of the towel and took to the air. It made laps around the heads of the wounded parents. She took a step back in her room. “This house is so weird.”

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