This story is the proud recipient of the Character Writer of the Week award, 09 AUG 08. Thank you to all of the readers, who helped to make it happen!
"First, I would like to thank you all for coming."
It was silly, of course. Nobody was there as a personal favor to the man in the white coat.
"The crusades of the middle ages..."
Already, they were restless. They were not interested in the crusades. NOBODY was interested in the crusades. Most only recognized it as part of the title of an Indiana Jones movie.
"The atrocities of the Holocaust."
Slightly more interesting and relevant...but still, nobody was here for a history lesson. Many were already regretting their appearance at today's event.
"The bombing of Hiroshima."
A bulb flashed. Probably an accident...some photographer's finger had slipped.
THERE it was. 9/11. The attacks had happened more than a decade ago, but 9/11 still sold newspapers. It still sold 30-second spots in the nightly news. It was better than sex...some people objected to sex on TV. Nobody objected to 9/11.
"These are just four examples...four dark moments in history. There are plenty more to choose from. Slavery. Genocide. Even catastrophic natural disasters. What do these have in common?"
He waited. Naturally, nobody bothered to even think of a response. It was rhetorical...and besides, they were being paid to ASK questions, not to answer them.
"They were all preventable. Simply different choices made...different people in charge...different weather conditions...different..."
He produced a single, beautiful butterfly, seemingly from nowhere.
"Different flaps of a butterfly's wings."
He released the butterfly, which landed on the podium.
"I am sure you are all familiar with the so-called butterfly effect...how a butterfly flapping it's wings on one side of the world can change weather patterns and create a tsunami on the other side. But the problem with the butterfly effect, of course, is that it's all hypothetical. Or...rather...it was."
"Ladies and gentlemen...may I present to you...the Butterfly Device."