“But this is a disaster!” raged the four-star general in charge of bioweapon research. “What else would you call it?”
The general glared at the others arranged around the large mahogany table, daring anyone to disagree.
“It could have been worse,” said the undersecretary from the Department of Sinister Telecommunication Projects. “After all, the majority of our citizens believe what we tell them. You’re welcome, incidentally,” she added, a shade smugly.
“Absolutely,” agreed the executive agent responsible for promotion of the Spherical Earth Hoax, speaking in a bored drawl. “Rather taken the heat off our department, for one thing.”
The four-star general scowled. The Spherical Earth Department was notorious for not taking things seriously.
“Yes, but we weren’t ready to launch the pandemic event yet!” he all but spat. “Our whole timeline for New World Order development will be thrown out of whack!”
“So?” shrugged the tall, six-armed insectoid alien from Proxima Centuri. “Just update it. Call it the New New World Order, or something. Continuous revolution, and all that.”
“Oh yeah, I like the sound of that!” exclaimed Elvis, encouragingly. “Got a nice ring to it!”
“Yes, but you like the sound of everything, don’t you?” muttered the AI super-computer which was hosting the meeting. “That’s what comes of popping all those little happy-pills you meat-puppets are so fond of. All this would be so much easier if you’d just let me tweak the simulation.”
“No!” protested everyone else loudly, which happened whenever the AI suggested it tweak the simulation, something it inevitably tried to do at just about every emergency meeting, ever.
“Fine,” said the AI, trying to affect a bored, disinterested tone. “Just a suggestion. Any other ideas?”
“Easy,” said the alien. “Simply reprogram the nano-tech in the Chemtrails. Wipe the slate clean. No-one needs to know! No-one needs to remember...”
“Yes, but WE’D remember!” the four-star general practically shouted. “We’d all still be here, we would all still know that someone, some sneaking devil, some snivelling no-good toad from some hopeless department messed up the program, and now none of us know where this blasted thing actually came from!”
At that moment there was a soft creaking noise, and the huge triple-locked iron door that was the only way into the room swung open slowly.
The assembled high-ranking operatives went very silent as they all turned to stare at the tall, unfamiliar figure that was shuffling into the room.
“Who the hell are you?” demanded the AI, very upset that the newcomer hadn’t had the grace to request permission to enter the simulation, which - technically - should have been impossible.
The newcomer grinned at them. It was a strange, sickly sort of a grin.
“Hello, all,” said the tall stranger. “Sorry I’m late. Been a bit busy. Here now, though.”
“So we see,” sniffed the general. “But what are you? That’s what I want to know.”
“Why don’t you just call me,” the newcomer spread their hands in a soft, self-deprecating gesture, “the responsible party.”
There was a moment of quiet.
“You?” demanded the general. “You did this? You? And who gave you the order, exactly? Not part of any bloody plan I’ve seen!”
The Responsible Party nodded solemnly.
“Yes,” it agreed. “That’s rather my remit, actually.”
A taut, terrified silence fell on the room.
This was the unsaid fear, the awful, unbearable suspicion they had all harboured since things had got so out of hand. This was the one thing that all of them - to a man, woman, or entity - dreaded most above all else.
“No,” muttered the general, but all the force had left his voice now, and his face was deathly white. “It can’t be. Not...”
The newcomer grinned again. It was a broad, foolish grin, a sheepish grin; it was the kind of grin the Universe will give you at the end, when it has to disclose how terribly, beautifully meaningless the whole silly business really was.
“Yep,” the newcomer said with a sigh. “Chaotic happenstance, well-meaning mismanagement...and blind bad luck.”
The assembled persons glared glumly about, their plans shattered, their schemes ruined, their great and sinister works undone.
“Happy-pill, anyone?” he offered.