Every country that matters has nuclear weapons. It seems every nation on earth is racing to acquire the most atomic destruction possible. But why? There are no huge wars going on anymore. They are simply terrified of the chance that their ally will turn on them and nuke their land. So, to defend themselves, they create as many nuclear bombs as they can to assure that if their side suffers then the other side suffers even more.
This is what is known as M.A.D, or Mutually Assured Destruction. Some say this is our world’s fate. Over thousands of years, humanity has risen above all other species on this planet and became the rulers of the earth only to end it in the fires of self-brought destruction. Eventually every species goes extinct whether they disappear from the earth peacefully, or become eradicated by some force of nature out of their control. But we all know this is not how humanity will vanish from the planet. Our end will not come from nature’s cruelty, it will be from our own.
Some people think otherwise, that humanity will never go extinct. Or that we will disappear like all other animals on this planet. One thing is for sure, it’s a topic none of us want to think about. People don’t want the idea of our extinction lingering in their minds. Everyone wants to die peacefully on their own accord. But at this rate, no one is going to die peacefully or by their own consent; they are going to either die or live because of my decision. It’s not fair on both sides. I have a choice whether or not to start a nuclear war.
My name is Matthew Castelle. I am 38 years old, I have a wife and two children both younger than ten. I have recently become the 55th president of the United States. It’s the year 2095. The world’s resources are depleted. The only places on earth that still have working oil fields are Texas and a few Middle Eastern countries. There are no edible fish in the ocean anymore. How is this possible? Ever since 2050 the demand for more food grew as we struggled to feed the world's growing population. Since the land was already being taken up by new cities and civilizations, people turned to the sea. They were greedy with the amount they took. People thought there were so many fish that it'd be impossible for them to be gone. For awhile, they were right, yet only a few years later nearly all species of fish were put on the endangered species list and soon many became extinct. But the demand was still high. I guess you could say we ran the ocean dry.
There is more sea than land all over the planet because of our lack of control over global warming. Of course global warming has been a problem since the creation of gas powered engines. It worsened when the population increased. When we needed more livestock and cars. For most species, a growing population is good, but in our case it made everything so much harder. Like all of humanity before us, we managed to adapt. We used less and less gas and used more of the immense power of radiation. Which only worsened the paranoia of the people.
Plants are scarce, and worst of all, tensions between countries are high. The world’s population is about 15.4 billion people. We have less land and more mouths to feed, and everything that’s gone is gone because of us. It’s truly the worst time to be president.
I am the one who’s supposed to lie to the hopeless people of my small, compact nation. Tell them we’ll be fine, that our scientists are working on ways to get more resources and protect what little we have. When really, they have no ways to improve our situation. It sickens me.
Every country is now trying to defend their resources, so they create more and more nuclear weaponry to ensure they can protect it. The whole world’s paranoid that its neighbors are going to invade and destroy their land, their people. It seems my country is too. All people talk about is their fear of other powerhouses such as China or Russia. They want our country to bomb them, make them completely unable to strike against us first. Rallies crowd the streets, the people hold signs reading, “China before us!” The countries they wanted gone were numerous but it was mostly aimed towards the most powerful nation, China. It truly isn’t their decision if we tip the uneven scale of peace or not. It’s mine and mine only. I am the leader of this country, so I will lead it to war or possible destruction.
I’ve been putting it off for the longest time, but now it’s time for me to make a decision. These thoughts raced through my mind as Alfred, the governor of war, came into my office.
“Mr. Castelle,” his strong voice seemed to crack with age. “The marches are getting out of hand. It’s time for you to make a move before it gets too bad.” I stood looking out the window of my office at the crowds of people.
“I know why you came in here, Alfred.” I told him coldly. “You won’t sway my thoughts in any way.” Alfred stood positioned tall in front of the door. His scared face wrinkled in disgust.
“Sir, this is one of the few times the public is right.” His voice struggled to stay calm. “We’ve been getting more reports of nuclear bomb testings, and Chinese airplanes straying closer and closer to our territory over the Pacific. You know they’ve already decimated the U.K., and they won’t hesitate to do the same to us. Your people are scared, they want something done to ease their paranoia. It’s time you address it like a leader would.”
“What do you suggest I do?” I scoffed turning away from the bright window. “Provoking a war between us and the most powerful country that exists isn’t going to help our situation.”
“This isn’t about starting a war, Mr. Castelle. It’s about preventing one.” Alfred ran a shaking hand through his stark white hair. “You and I both know that China is planning to attack soon-”
“We don’t have any intel suggesting they do.” I interrupted impatiently.
“We have enough! It’s obvious that the nuke tests and planes entering our borders is a threat, and a challenge for war.” Alfred’s whole body shook uncomfortably. “We barely have any land or resources anymore. Just one nuke from them would completely decimate our condense population.”
I looked down at my feet in thought. “They,” I murmured, “could be doing all of that for another country.” I looked up and away from Alfred avoiding his burning gaze. “Canada doesn’t have good relations with them I’m sure…”
“That’s foolish to think Mr. Castelle. Listen to your advisors, we all say the same! Destroy China before they destroy us!” With this, Alfred lost the remnants of his patience. He angrily made his way over to me so he stood only a few inches away from my face. “Do you want all of us to die because of your terrible leadership?” I found myself unable to make any eye contact with Alfred’s vicious stare.
Was I really leading to the destruction of my country? Will my people and my family die because I was too cowardly to kill China’s? My mind was spinning, there must be something I can do.
No one is going to die, no one has to die. I’m not coward, but I’m also not stupid. China may be ambitious, but they don’t want to start a full out nuclear apocalypse. We both know that if either of us make a move, the other will strike back with even more force. I believe they can be reasoned with. I’ll call the leader, Liu Wei. We can work this out. Deciding this, I regained my composure and stepped gingerly back from Alfred. He still seemed to be fuming, yet his face faltered in confidence.
“I have already made my choice.” I told him. I adjusted my black suit and moved over to my desk in the middle of the room. Alfred stood frozen in disbelief. “You are dismissed.” I waved him away. He stayed there for a few moments as if trying to comprehend what I’d just said. Then spun around and exited the room without looking back.
Right as he closed the door, I turned on my Holo-Communicator and dialed in Liu Wei’s contact code. I thought about what I was going to say to Liu. I need to properly address my problems with their aircraft flying over our territory in a way that won’t sound too threatening. The dialing noise of the Holo-Communicator died off abruptly. “That’s strange.” I mutter to myself. Liu never fails to respond. I try to reach him again. After a few moments Zhan Min’s body was projected up from the floor in front of me, but I was expecting Liu Wei to appear, not his secretary.
Her face was contorted in discomfort and pity as she shifted her weight from foot to foot. I cleared my throat before speaking, “Hello Zhan, may I speak to Liu Wei? I have some business to discuss with him.” She reached for something I assumed to be the end-call button.
“He’s busy.” She spat before disconnecting. This definitely isn’t what I expected to happen. It’s obvious what’s going on. Liu’s not busy doing anything. He’s purposely avoiding my call. He could’ve been in the same room as Zhan. The coward couldn’t even look me in the eyes.
I made a very wrong choice I realized. I started to panic, I should have launched an attack. How could I have been so blind? Suddenly, the sound of sonic jets zoomed across the sky. I ran over to the window just in time to see the jets rocket off. Bomb sirens began to go off, and the now screaming crowd of people outside scattered, trampling over each other to get to shelter. The sonic jets were long gone by now.
Then I saw it. A sphere of black was plummeting down to the ground a few miles away. It seemed to float in the bright blue sky until it met the earth. There was a pause. In this moment I knew everything was over. My family, my life, and my country. I was witnessing the beginning of the end, and all I could do was watch in shame knowing I could have easily prevented it.
A brilliant light erupted from where the bomb struck the earth. I imagined my children burning and my wife vaporizing into carbon dust just as all the people, including me, will do. An orange mushroom cloud loomed, reaching for the sky. A shockwave shattered the glass in front of me. Melted shards buried themselves in my flesh as I flew backwards. I could feel the heat from where I was. It burned my skin and I could feel myself begin to blister. Below me people’s screams were cut short while their bodies burned and exploded to carbon dust.
I propped myself up on my elbows. My sight was blurry as I watched another fiery wave make its way with surprising speed towards me. Everything was covered in a red light. Burning bodies and crushed buildings outlined the still growing cloud of radiation in a blazing fury. This was my last sight before I turned to dust.
My name was Matthew Castelle, and I decided wrong.