When the world was finally destroyed it was not because mad war-mongers clashed, gritted their teeth and decided that this was it – do or die. And so they brought about that final apocalyptic cataclysm.
No. When that final moment of humanity’s ultimate demise arrived it was also not due to a natural disaster– flood, fire, meteoroid, monster hurricane, stray comet.
Nope. It was not even due to alien invasion.
It was none of that.
The world ended when Jarvis Villum, a software maintenance technician carelessly set off the ‘Destroy World’ function on the new Missile Defense 5300 system, which launched 6,574 nuclear-armed missiles that were so quick in their mission that few people, except the President of the United States, had time to say what the POTUS did say at that final moment, which was – ‘uh oh.’
Cliff Younce, the project manager of the Missile Defense 5300 system, had prided himself in his cost-conscious approach and was a great follower of market-based economies, taking pride in his hatred for every aspect of the government that paid his salary.
The information systems companies that Younce contracted to create the system were all small, relatively unknown upstarts that seemed to have grown out of thin air just to bid on the project.
One, in particular, included a 17-year-old hacker named Gif Cobin, his older brother Troy, and their mascot, a dog named Mr. Chips. (It was a sad day when the world ended since this story could have been about those three and would have been far more entertaining in an ‘everyone loves dogs and hackers’ way.
Unfortunately, when the specs for the Missile Defense 5300 system were laid out, the sheer quantity of contractors involved (321 to be exact) precluded an effective coordination of effort and so when the Beta version of the software when into production and was declared operative, there were the usual glitches and bugs.
Stray lines of code that performed no apparent function littered the programming. Work-arounds abounded to make up for the lack of functionality.
Meanwhile, nobody noticed that the ‘Destroy World’ function which was initially intended as a joke, was not only implemented but was painfully easy to access to the point that every ten minutes, in maintenance mode, an automated voice asked “would you like to destroy the world today?”
On the world’s final day, Jarvis Villum, without irony – or seriously thinking at all – said, “Ok.”