Daniel O’Neill and the Future Generator
Daniel O’Neill came across the booth at Comicon. It was manned by a young woman of about 13. She was certainly no more than 15. Her name tag identified her as Doolchay. The single item displayed on the counter was an elaborate globe.
“How much?” He asked.
“That’s a lot for a globe.”
“It’s a future generator.”
“How does that work?”
“The user makes requests. It makes them happen.”
“The old genie in a bottle.”
“You should buy it. It was made for you.”
“How would you know that?”
“Maybe I can see it in your eyes. Or perhaps it’s your body language that says you are very curious.”
“It’s just a globe.”
“But you are thinking about what you could do, if it was your globe.”
Daniel picked it up and turned it in his hands to examine it.
She said, “The magic happens when you rub your hand across your country.”
Daniel casually rubbed his hand across North America. Nothing happened. He shrugged and returned the globe to the counter.
“Of course, I have to initialize it before it will respond to your touch.” She said.
“Okay.” Daniel raised his eyebrows and spread his hands from his sides inviting her to do something.
“I need your credit card with 10k available.”
“I wasn’t born yesterday.”
“You were born 63 years ago. You’re a techie and you’re intrigued,” she replied.
Those were good guesses but not astounding. He was obviously a techie. Lots of people could reliably guess a stranger’s age and weight. He was intrigued and that is where she had him.
“Look I don’t want to cheat you. I want you to have this toy and enjoy it. I would give it to you outright but I have to pay my bills,” she said.
He put his hands in his pockets but he couldn’t take his eyes off of the globe.
“Give me your credit card and I will give you a demo. If you aren’t satisfied, I give you back your card and keep my globe even though it was built especially for you.”
“No deal,” he said firmly.
“How about a counter offer,” she said.
He picked up the globe and examined it again. “No thanks.”
“You really should see the demo.”
“Not for 10 thou.”
“Come on. Even if I tried to rip you off, which I won’t, you could always cancel the transaction.”
He pursed his lips while he spun the globe in his hands. He could tell the geography was extremely accurate. Finally, he set the globe down and pulled out a VISA card. He held it out. She pointed at the card reader on the counter. He slid his card through the slot.
She punched in the amount. When the transaction was okayed, she pulled a small cube from her pocket. She pressed on the top face and the cube chirped. “Try again.”
Daniel rubbed his hand over North America. A Three-D hologram popped up. A man wearing a black outfit and sporting a goatee and handlebar moustache appeared in the display. He spoke in a deep, cultured baritone. “Welcome, Daniel O’Neill. You have been recognized. We are about to become very good friends.”
The cube beeped again. The hologram disappeared. The globe had shut down.
Doolchay said, “As soon as we complete the transaction, I will turn your globe on so that it cannot be turned off.”
A few minutes later, Daniel walked away with his new toy. Doolchay called after him, “I do not expect any problems but I have provided my contact information in case you need to reach me.”
He turned and grinned maliciously. “What if I cancel the transaction?”
She grinned back. “You won’t. Which is a good. You would not want to find out about my other toys.”
As soon as Daniel got home, he placed his globe on a table in his living room near the other Christmas presents. After the rest of the family had gone to bed, he poured himself a double shot of Jim Beam Devil’s Cut Kentucky Straight Bourbon. He sat and sipped as he contemplated his globe and imagined the future.
He poured another double shot and threw it down. He knew what he had to do. It was time to get to work. He swept his hand from California to D.C. The Hologram with its dark inhabitant materialized just above the globe. “Good evening, Daniel.”
“True. But we have business to conduct. Right?”
“I have a request.”
“Before we get started, there are some things that Doolchay probably did not discuss with you.”
“I can only honor three requests.”
“Can you tell me your name? Or would that count as one of my requests?”
“You can call me Nick. I apologize for not introducing myself earlier.”
“What else did Doolchay forget to mention, Nick?”
“I cannot change the past. The Vietnam War is a set of historical facts that I cannot change. I cannot get you deferred. I cannot even place you in the National Guard.”
“That had not even occurred to me.”
“Once we agree on a future that I am to generate, we cannot go back and undo the changes.”
“I can’t change my mind?”
“Once I have put the future development in motion, I cannot stop it. So no, you cannot change your mind after we have reached an agreement.”
“I want President Obama impeached”
“That is not a good request. The time frame is too short. The House has not shown any inclination to impeach the President. That could be corrected. Two Thirds of the Senate would have to vote for impeachment after the House presented articles of impeachment and the
President stood trial. I suspect that Hilary Clinton would be elected and sworn in before that scenario could play out.”
“Nick, we have to get that clown out of office. He is ruining this great country.”
“If you want to request that President Obama be removed from office, that future could be generated, Daniel.”
“Before I agree, let me point out that Vice President Joe Biden would then step up to be president. He would probably follow President Obama’s lead as much as possible. He might even find himself in a position to win the upcoming presidential election.”
“No. No. No. Biden cannot be president.”
“But if he did become president and was subsequently removed from office, Representative Paul Ryan would take over the presidency.”
“Remove both of them from office. Is that what you are suggesting, Nick?”
“That would require two separate requests but I believe that would produce the outcome that you are looking for.”
“What about Clinton? She is the one person who would make a worse president than Obama.”
“Anyone who takes over as president in the near future would have pole position in the upcoming elections. Perhaps you should put some trust in God. Unless, of course, you have somebody in mind that you would like to see elected president.”
“All the candidates are clowns. I don’t know who would make a great president.”
“What about you?”
“I would be an improvement over Obama. But I don’t want the job.” Daniel poured himself another round of Bourbon. He sipped that fiery liquor as he considered his options.
“You’re right, Nick. I need to have some trust. Get Obama and Biden out of there.”
“Arrange for President Obama to be removed from office. Is that what your request, Daniel?”
“Yes. Him and Biden, too.”
“As I said, a separate request is required, if you want President Biden removed from office.”
“Alright, make that my second request. Get Biden out of there.”
“Arrange for President Biden to be removed from office. Is that what you want Daniel?”
“He isn’t president.”
“He will be as a consequence of your first request.”
“Okay. Remove President Biden from office.”
“Perhaps you should wait to see how this plays out before you place your third and final request, Daniel.”
Daniel took a gulp from his bourbon glass. His heart was pounding. He was breathing heavily. He needed to calm down. He poured another glass of bourbon. He sipped as he paced around the room. “There is one more thing that must be taken care of.”
“What is that, Daniel?”
“That is a most difficult problem, Daniel. I do not see any good solutions.”
“All we need is a Commander-In-Chief with some balls to send in an army with orders to clean house.”
“Isn’t that what George W. Bush did?”
“And we kicked ass.”
“With all due respect, nothing substantial was accomplished. The most important result seems to be the emergence of ISIS.”
“You can’t blame ISIS on Bush.”
“Not entirely. But he certainly ignored history. The Semites have ruled over that part of the earth for thousands of years. Their great kingdoms dominated the region long before Islam or Christianity or even the Jews. They have survived in spite of every challenge from god and man.”
“They aren’t Jews.”
“The Jews are Semites but so are most Arabs, the Palestinians, the Syrians, the Babylonians, and the Phoenicians.”
Daniel poured himself another round and swallowed half of it in a single drink. His mouth curled into a sneer. His eyes narrowed. He snarled, “Are you saying you can’t get rid of ISIS?”
“No. I am saying that it would take something extraordinary.”
“More extraordinary than an American army and its allies?”
“Much more. And the consequences would also be extraordinary.”
“How extraordinary, Nick?”
“Like nothing that has occurred since the emergence of modern man 250,000 years ago, Daniel.”
Daniel finished his drink. All he could think was “Fuck the consequences.”
“I want you to wipe out ISIS, Nick. We have to get rid of those dirty, lying, murdering little bastards.”
“You are requesting that I arrange an absolute end to ISIS?”
“I suggest that you take some time to think about this request. Perhaps you could come up with a less drastic solution.”
“I want you to wipe out ISIS, Nick.”
“I will arrange for the end of ISIS. That is your third and final request.”
The hologram disappeared. Daniel stood there stunned by the abrupt end to the conversation. He began to realize that he had set in motion events that would solve important problems.
He lay down on the couch to calm himself down. He quickly fell asleep. When he awoke, the sun had risen and his wife was shaking him to make sure he was alright.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“I am more than okay.”
“You finished half a bottle of whisky last night.”
“It helps me think.”
“I have been solving the world’s problems.”
“Good for you. Are you going into work?”
“I think I’ll take the day off.”
“Alright. What do you want for breakfast?”
“You know what – let’s go out for breakfast.”
“That sounds good. I’ll get ready.”
Ten days passed with no sign that the future had been affected in any way. Daniel O’Neill was beginning to believe that he had been a fool to be taken in by that girl and her phony future generating globe. At eleven that morning, news that the president’s plane had exploded over the Atlantic hit the airwaves. All on board were presumed dead.
Daniel had to shut off the news. Along with endless speculation about the cause of the crash and possible terrorism came endless praise for Obama and his accomplishments as president. It was just too much.
Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. was sworn in as the forty fifth president of the United States shortly after noon.
Daniel and his wife, Marie, ate a quiet dinner. She was grieving the losses. Even though she shared her husband’s low opinion of the man, she was deeply saddened by his death. She would have been very unhappy to know her husband’s feelings about the turn of events.
They were startled by a knock at the door. As Daniel went to answer the door, his blood ran cold. Somehow they had found out what he had done. They were coming for him. He knew this was preposterous but he also knew that this was bad news.
Two marines in dress uniform were at the door. “Mr. Daniel Joseph O’Neill?”
“Yes, I am Daniel O’Neill,” he replied.
“I regret to inform you that your son died in the line of duty this morning.”
Marie arrived at this side just in time to hear the bad news. She felt her knees go weak. She grabbed her husband’s arm to keep from collapsing.
“What happened?” Daniel asked as calmly as he could.
“He was piloting the president’s plane when it went down over the Atlantic. Search crews have been at the scene most of the day. They have not found any sign of the plane, the passengers or the crew. All are presumed dead.”
Daniel felt his wife clutching his arm and sobbing with her face buried in his chest. “Thank you,” he said. He shut the door.
He was unable to control his anger. “That bastard. It wasn’t bad enough that he ruined the country. He had to get my son killed. God I hate him. I will never forgive him.”
Then Daniel turned to his wife, Major Daniel Joseph O’Neill, Junior’s bereaved mother. He led her to the couch in the living room. “I’ll get us something to drink”
He returned with two shot glasses filled from the bottle of Jim Beam Devil’s Cut Kentucky Straight Bourbon. They sat and sipped in silence. Her head lay against his chest. His arm encircled her shoulder. His eyes were fixed on the globe.
After two more glasses of whisky, she decided that she wanted to go lay on their bed.
He waited for a while to be sure that she was asleep before reaching over and rubbing his hand across North America from DC to San Diego. The hologram took shape. “Good evening, Daniel.”
“No, Nick, it isn’t”
“Daniel, President Obama has been removed from office.”
“And my son is dead.”
“He died doing his job, didn’t he?”
“There are other pilots. Why my son?”
“Someone’s son had to die. Why not yours?”
“That wasn’t part of my request.”
“It wasn’t excluded. You paid a price to get what you wanted most in the world.”
The conversation went on for some time but got nowhere. Daniel was angry. Nick was unsympathetic.
Marie woke him up in the morning. He could not recall how the conversation with Nick had ended.
The next few days dragged on. Daniel was unable to go to work. He and Marie arranged a memorial for DJ. She got a call from Fox News, where she worked as a stringer. They wanted her to interview President Biden in the oval office. Arrangements had already been made. She agreed. She needed to be doing something positive. She needed to get away from Daniel and their house for a little while.
Two days later, Marie O’Neill was ushered into the oval office where Joe Biden was sitting at his desk. He came forward to greet her and led her to a pair of chairs arranged so that the two of them could talk in a little more cordial intimacy.
He began by offering his condolences for the death of her son. She thanked him. She was trying to come up with a good way to start the actual interview when the door burst open. A man with a pistol charged in. Biden stood to confront him. The man shot him four times. As Marie sat
there dumbfounded and wide-eyed with her hand over her mouth, the gunman shot her twice. Then he stuck the gun in his own mouth and pulled the trigger.
The Fox News camera crew captured it all.
Daniel O’Neill was sitting on his couch, nursing a glass of Jim Beam, when the phone rang. The feeling of dread seized his body again. He picked up the phone. “Hello.”
“Yes, I am Daniel O’Neill.”
“You need to come to the hospital right away. Your wife has been shot. She may not make it.”
He heard his shot glass hit the floor. He hung up and raced out the door to his car. On the way to the hospital, he heard a news announcement that President Biden was dead at the scene of a shooting in the Oval Office. The gunman was also dead from a self-inflicted gun wound. A reporter who was there to interview President Biden had also been shot and was clinging to life.
By the time Daniel reached the hospital, Marie had already been pronounced dead.
Paul Davis Ryan was sworn in as the forty sixth president of the United States shortly after noon.
That night Daniel sat staring at the globe for a long time. He knew that further conversation with Nick was pointless. But he had no one else to talk to. Besides he felt an urgent need to find out was in the works for ISIS. He particularly wanted to know what price would be extracted from him personally.
He gave North America a small, half-hearted rub. It was enough. The hologram and Nick materialized above the globe.
“Good evening, Daniel”
“It’s not and you know it.”
“It was best for her, Daniel. Her heart and her spirit were broken by your son’s death.”
“Which was a sadistic little twist you threw in to make us suffer.”
“Please, Daniel. Suffering is part and parcel of human life.”
“So you’re not human?”
“Of course not. I’m an avatar in a hologram.”
“Isn’t she human?”
“She is not like you. She is immortal.”
“What is the next part of your plan?”
“If you had been paying close attention to the news, you would know that a very large meteor has been knocked off course and is heading toward earth.”
“So you are going to wipe out ISIS with a meteor?”
“Yes, Daniel, the meteor will put an end to ISIS once and for all.”
“One meteor? That’s all it’s going to take?”
“Do you know what happened to the dinosaurs, Daniel?”
“Most people think a meteor killed them off.”
“That is correct, Daniel. One meteor.”
“And what is this going to cost me?”
“This is much bigger than you, Daniel. Everyone has blood on their hands. Everyone will pay.”
“Can you be more specific?”
“I warned you that the consequences would be spectacular. I do not know exactly what is going to happen but it will be spectacular.”
“In about two months.”
Daniel was fishing around for the right question to get more specifics. Nick said, “We will have to end this conversation for now.”
The hologram collapsed and Daniel was left alone in the dark.
Washington was faced with an unprecedented situation. President Obama had not been buried. His body was still lying in state and crowds were pouring in to pay their respects to him. Arrangements had to be made for a tribute to President Biden, who was in some ways a greater figure than Obama. Joe Biden had served as a senator representing Delaware for thirty six years before becoming the forty seventh vice president of the United States.
President Ryan ordered that plans for Obama’s funeral be moved up so that Biden would not have to share the stage with his former boss.
The first order of business for the new president was to end Obamacare. He issued an executive order to cease all federal funding for the Affordable Health Care Act immediately. He urged Congress to send him a bill repealing the Affordable Health Care Act as soon as possible.
There was wide praise for this action. However, he spent most of the day on the phone with governors from 38 states whose budgets were premised on the availability of funding for the Affordable Health Care Act. He also heard from Senators and Congressmen whose phone lines were being monopolized by irate constituents who had obtained their insurance through Obamacare.
President Ryan’s second order of business was bringing charges against Hillary Clinton for security violations. He had to fire Loretta Lynch. He would probably have done that anyway. He had to fire a couple of more senior Justice Department lawyers before he found one who would run the department the way it should be run.
He also ordered an investigation into Donald Trump’s affairs. No one could have made that much money without breaking a few laws.
President Ryan was under considerable pressure to address ISIS and the Middle East in general. His response was to order development of plans for an expedited deployment of 500,000 military personnel to the Middle East. Pushback from the UN, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey and even NATO allies forced him to scale back. Eventually, he brokered a deal for a multi-national force under UN auspices. The plan allowed him to order deployment of 200,000 troops to Iraq to support the on-going confrontation with ISIS.
Under President Ryan’s focused leadership, the UN Deployment Force was formed in a period of three weeks. Troops were being put in positions to form a net around ISIS. The noose would be tightened until ISIS had been strangled.
About that time, warnings about a large meteor on a collision course with earth were becoming more urgent. Most scientists had concluded that ground zero would be somewhere on the Arabian Peninsula. Skeptics insisted that the rock would miss earth by thousands of miles.
Two months to the day after President Ryan took office. A meteor approximately the size of a large cruise ship crashed to earth at Ramadi, Al Anbar, Iraq. It hit with the force of a thousand hydrogen bombs. The impact crater was so big that the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf were fused into a single body of water. Earthquakes reduced cities from Tel Aviv to Teheran to rubble. As the earthquakes propagated outwards, tremors damaged cities and transportation infrastructure throughout the world.
ISIS was destroyed. The UN Deployment force went down with it.
Darkness covered the earth.
Daniel O’Neill sat on his couch in a drunken stupor for a long time. Finally, he picked up the globe. He could not put the conversation off any longer.
“Hello, Daniel. Wasn’t that spectacular?”
“You bastard,” Daniel answered.
“Cheer up, Daniel. You have quite a few years to live yet.”
“I requested that you end ISIS. You have killed us all.”
“Humanity is not finished. At least not in the near future. The dinosaurs lasted 100,000 years after the meteor strike.”
“That is not very comforting.”
“The meteor was followed by earthquakes which led to extreme volcanic activity. It was the volcanoes that poisoned the air and killed off ninety percent of life on earth.”
“Does that mean humans will survive or not?”
“The face of the earth will be renewed. Life will blossom again.” With that the hologram shut down for good.