Short Story: All The Angles

Everything’s perception. Or a matter of it, anyway. I knew that even then. I know it more now. For the bulk of my life I’d been learning more and more about perceptions, perspectives. The “views” of situations. The “angles,” as some would say. The “spin” others called it. So, when the end of the world was in sight, I’d seen it coming.

How? Simple: over years of training to recognize varying angles, I learned one simple reality. That, as it happens, is the reason people are told to examine things from multiple angles. That, as it happens, is to learn to distinguish fact from fiction. In simplest terms, by viewing all the angles, we humans see the truth– because it’s consistent no matter the angle.

So before belaboring the subject any further, let’s just say, I’d learned to see well. In all respects, I had keen sight. I saw the proverbial tidal wave from far off. It had been rising for months. The tides had been drawing back. Little-by-little, the sands lengthened. Day in, day out, the water receded.

I suppose this build-up lasted years, really. There’s some argument there, no matter the angle. One could argue the first moment after the previous tidal-wave was the true start of the next’s build-up. Conversely, the build-up could’ve been said to begin the moment before the wave first struck the shore. No matter what side you viewed it from though, a single fact appears; world’s-end was coming.

No matter the arguments about it, the build-up did have milestones. Those stones are obvious, in reflection. Even then, there was a scent to them– like oncoming rain, but the bad kind that makes you dread breathing.

Politically speaking, world’s-end was the result of a misstep. The Americans had always had two left feet. They’d proven, time and again, their “moral majority,” was anything but. No matter the angle, they were shown to be prone to making missteps. Everyone’s bound to make ’em though. No harm, no foul, right? Especially when glass-houses and stones are so plentiful, right?

Maybe. That’s an argument for another day. Or not– after all, the world’s over, and there’s no-one left to argue. Semantics. The point: the Americans started it. They’d made their mistakes. Those mistakes piled on. Often. In the end, they found themselves with a third-world dictator in charge.

At least, characteristically speaking.

The man wasn’t really a third-world dictator. He could’ve been. Everyone agreed on that. The angles too. Speculation says we’d have been better off if he were. He wasn’t. Problem was, America was still a super-power– or as much as there remained one in those days.

That moniker had been fading. The world was industrialized. More than it had ever been. The African bush had freshly-paved asphalt. Desert oases had turned to fuel stops.

In other ways, the moniker was as strong as ever. Most of all, with regard to militaries. Those of keen sight saw where madness might form. Those without, sensed its death-toll in the air’s copper-taste. Whatever the angles of the human species’ end eventually show, they’ll agree it was spectacularly dreadful.

Surprisingly, the cause wasn’t full-blown nuclear war. People had come to expect that. Personally, I was somewhat looking forward to it. It wasn’t zombies either. Another thing we’d come to expect. Then again, there were enough of those walking around– we called them voters.

No, in the end, it was just missteps and mistakes. Nuclear weapons were involved, but not in the apocalyptic exchange we’d expected. What happened was this:

The US screwed up. They sent the CIA into the mid-east to do some things. Secret things. Eventually, the CIA used what they’d gained during that doing of things to send some mercenaries to North Korea. Those CIA “assets” had a period of doing, too. Somehow it was learned the assets were CIA, and were wreaking havoc on the “glorious leader.”

North Korea was angry. North Korea was “Best Korea.” Best Korea made threats. China disavowed Best Korea. Everyone had known Best Korea had nuclear weapons. They weren’t much. “Baby’s first” nukes. Then again, a nuke’s a nuke, right? Right. Dangerous. Deadly. Best Korea’s nukes couldn’t go far. They didn’t need to.

Best Korea, in its infinite wisdom, nuked Other Korea. Specifically, Seoul. As it turns out. Baby’s first nukes were enough to completely irradiate Other Korea. The world turned against Best Korea. They were finally tired of Glorious Leader’s shit. Both he and Best Korea were wiped from the Earth like shit from a bunghole.

This was a problem for one, simple reason; the US was not involved. Russia was not involved. China was not involved. Although, China wanted to be involved, they weren’t. Too many people owed them too much money. They didn’t want to owe them more. Unfortunately, wiping clean the shit hole that was North Korea had shown the allied-nations, spearheaded by the UK, that they had power.

The UN didn’t quite like that. China didn’t quite like it either. The US liked it even less. Russia only pretended to like it because the US didn’t like it, but privately condemned it too. Soon enough, the UK and its allied-nations thought being able to wipe clean parts of the world without Super-power assistance was a pretty good thing. Everyone else still didn’t like it.

So what happened? How’d the US screw that up? Well, the US had a third-world dictator as President. That meant a super-power was being run like a third-world country– even deeper into the ground than it had been. In the process, it racked up a sizable debt to all of the other nations on Earth.

And, another misstep and mistake later the angles come in again. They’re important here. Regardless of arguments, they all show one thing: a mistake was made. China got pretty pissed about that mistake. Because China was pissed, Russia was pissed. Because China and Russia were pissed, the UK and its allies acted like they weren’t pissed. Actually, they were pretty pissed too.

The UK. They’d done a lot for the US. Naturally, they decided to show how big a fuck-up the US had made. They did so by tanking the US economy and liquidating the assets leveraged against the US debt to the UK. Russia and China, smelling money, did the same thing.

The UK got angry: they’d been trying to prove a point. Russia and China were being bullies. America was now a depressed wasteland. It had become the third-world country its president always hoped for. Incidentally, he died of a kind of dysentery not found in first world nations. Irony is delicious that way.

Anyway, the UK, Russia, and China decided to argue for a while. Then, they decided they were all angry with each other. Then they decided to fight over the scraps of the US. Then they decided to fight each other in Europe. By the end of it, 98% of the world’s population had been conscripted, drafted, and killed in the longest, bloodiest war ever conceived.

No matter what angle you look at it from, that’s pretty amazing. All that death. All that chaos. All that civilization. Gone. Beautiful, in a way.


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