Mignon looked at Elmer sitting in THE SYSTEM’s Multipurpose Virtual Transitioning Easy Chair (MVTEC) across from hers. She had not ever noticed the look he had on his face before, not ever.
They were watching a video about the history of the world. Elmer had been browsing on the virtual video programming chart, looking for history topics. She was not particularly interested in history programs. It required thinking, and thinking was work. She figured since what allowed their ancestors to survive The Final War was taking it easy, she would just take it easy and not think too much. She worried about Elmer thinking too much. She was afraid it would get them in trouble with THE SYSTEM.
But Elmer seemed engrossed in the program, even furrowing his brow. Brow furrowing was very rare with the couple as well as all the others who survived The Final War. That horrible ten-year world changing, cataclysmic disaster had occurred in the last years of the 21st Century. In the following 600 years, the survivors had physically changed. After all, the survivors made it because their only interest was making things easier for themselves. In making things easier, they no longer had to put effort into work, and THE SYSTEM provided all they needed in their SYSTEM living units. Consequently, there was no need to go out, and they began to fill out, their bodies became rounder. So did their heads. And smoother, their heads became smoother, hair disappeared. Their legs became shorter, and once using their fingers to control remote devices had been replaced by sending brain signals to those devices or having them programmed where brain signals were no longer required, their hands became less agile, rounder with fingers becoming stubbier.
The program they watched began narrating the events of the middle of twenty-first century, the Great Thinkers and Doers aided by artificial intelligence, solved many problems threatening the earth and continued to make it easier for everyone when THE SYSTEM was put in place, designed to make things easier.
Mignon and Elmer fit perfectly in the makeup of those who survived. She had noticed in all the programming, the SYSTEM often boasted about its own capability and seemed desirous of making sure all the survivors knew that.
At the outset of the program, it described how the scientists had developed Artificial Intelligence around 2050 to the point they could create an all-encompassing program that would save the world from impending disasters. The Great Thinkers and Doers aided by Artificial Intelligence, had solved many problems threatening the earth and continued to make it easier for everyone. They and AI created THE SYSTEM.
Addressing the threat of global warming, a dome 1,000 miles above and surrounding the earth filtered out the bad from space and allowed the good stuff in. And from below, the bad stuff cleared the filter, but the good stuff remained under the dome, remained in the earth’s atmosphere. THE SYSTEM monitored the dome filtration system, maintaining and modifying it as necessary. Global warming was reversed, and the earth and its climate became stable. The threat of oceans losing water was reversed. Violent weather: tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and wildfires were essentially eliminated.
As this occurred, a trouble began. The ongoing rancor between various groups became less prone to compromise and discussion and became more violent, more sectarian. This enmity grew, and soon there were open fights within all the groups that considered their group and their way of thinking as the one and only right answer. This occurred in all religions, the politics of all countries, between those with different sexual preferences, races, cultures, environmentalists, animal protection groups, and even athletic competition at all levels: all human endeavors that grouped people together.
Radicals on both ends of the spectrum in all of those groups began to polarize even more and violence between the differing ideas created more and more violence. The people in the middle attempted to bring about conciliation.
The first large groups to be wiped out were those very folks in the middle of all the movements. When they tried to mediate the divisions and reach a compromise, but both ends of the groups hated this interference, and both turned on those who were attempting to bring about peaceful co-existence. The middle groups were the first to be wiped out.
One of the few fortunate occurrences when these no-quarter battles grew and became all-out war was that the violence escalated after THE SYSTEM had neutralized all nuclear weapons as well as any instruments of wars that could kill masses of people with a single blow. Fighting was at a personal level.
Regardless, The Final War broke out in every corner of the world. Factions of every sort on religion, politics, international relations, social mores, environment and more became more and more fractious. The unconditional fighting of the fractious groups was more brutal, evolving in hand-to-hand annihilation.
The justice systems in every society had worked so well with so many caveats that every prosecution, every civil suit, had evolved in no one being declared guilty. Recognizing the legal system had become useless, the commoners had become irate and assassinated anyone with a law degree.
Without a method to handle justice, the system gave the bureaucracies the power to administer action against anyone who did not meet their requirements. The resistance against the bureaucracies grew.
For example, the EPA proponents had angered the lumber industry with their demands for reducing paperwork to save woodlands. The latter wiped out the wood forests. Then, the EPA folks and the lumbermen killed each other off in every corner of the world.
And when PETA began to make headway on getting people to reduce the sale of livestock, ranchers and farmers destroyed all the cattle and other livestock. PETA and the agriculture group along with all other groups who relied on animals to make a living slew each other until there was no one of them left.
Other extremes began their own wars with the same result. THE SYSTEM named it The Final War. The conflict expanded world-wide and evolved into everyone fighting everyone else. No one who was the enemy of the others had an ally. It was total destruction.
The Final War wiped out everyone on the planet except one group. This group had no interest in the war and took no political, cultural, or religious stance. All they wanted was to do what they wanted to do and to make everything easy for themselves. Most ignored the real violence and played video games in their shelters until The Final War had destroyed the rest of the humans on earth.
They had no agenda in any of the divisive groups. They just wanted things to be easier. Their parents had been the first to buy any product to make life easier, like programs to perform household chores and self-driving cars. They rejoiced when the work week was reduced to four days, then three, and finally eliminated entirely. They had to do nothing. Life was easy. They had no interest in all the conflicts, and therefore were spared, unlike those who tried to make the extremes reach an understanding.
THE SYSTEM was made for them.
Now, these folks who just wanted to have things easy had it just the way they wanted it. They had no worries. They didn’t do anything because they didn’t have to do anything. THE SYTEM did it for them.
They spent their time telling THE SYTEM through the voice recognition segment of the communication system what they wanted. They played and watched their sports through videos controlling the action, all virtually. All travel and visits to family, friends, and places was virtual. THE SYTEM managed food production and delivered food to these humans via drones into their shelters.
Because these humans were doing less and less, they began to evolve. Their legs began to shorten, and their feet shrunk until the legs were mere stumps. They did not have to go anywhere. Elmer and Mignon were in the eleventh generation of the survivors, the easy living folks.
Mignon was now worried. Elmer was furrowing his brow, deep in thought, working at trying to understand, and working in anything was not part of their ethos. The program was entertaining. She liked the music, but she didn’t really want to think about the implications of Elmer working too hard to understand the reason for the Great War.
She said good night to Elmer and had her MVTEC move into their bedroom, turn on the relaxing music. The MVTEC transformed into a bed designed for her personal comfort. She went to sleep easily.
Elmer sat in his chair, thinking, thinking hard, and working at understanding his feelings about the video. There was something stirring in him he could not define. It was resistance. Generation upon generations ago, he had an uncle who resisted everything. He was labeled a “a contrarian,” someone who did not fit into any niche. Elmer realized the same streak of resistance was in him.
Elmer slowly got out of his MVTEC. That was a most difficult and uneasy thing to do. He found a light jacket on a hanger by the door. The hanger, the door, and the jacket had not been used since he could remember. It was easier to sit in the MVTEC and let THE SYSTEM do everything for him.
It was easier. And that was why he and generations before him had survived The Final War.
But Elmer decided to do something. He put the jacket on. The weather outside was perfect. THE SYSTEM had created that perfectness. And a perfect evening was cool with a slight breeze. A light jacket would make him more comfortable. After all, he wasn’t that far away from wanting things to be easy.
Elmer stood at the door, contemplating what his actions might bring. All of the survivors of The Final War would normally not consider this. But Elmer was different.
Outside was unknown, might require effort. Inside was easy.Elmer opened the door, stepped outside, and closed the door.
It was easy.