The occupants of room XXX-9 sat in stunned silence in the darkness.”As you can see,” Dr. Marshall droned. “We anticipate population centers to be most affected.”
“How many?” President Bailey whispered.
Dr. Marshall clicked to the next slide.
A pie chart titled, “Projected Outcomes of Affected Populace,” appeared on the screen.
“Twenty-two percent of the population will be incinerated,” his monotone permeated the room. “Forty percent will be exsanguinated. Twelve percent will experience permanent pneumonia and eventual death. The rest should survi-.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” the President shot up. “How can you be so calm? Seventy percent of the population is going to die?” He collapsed into his chair. “And on a slideshow,” he wept into his palms.
Dr. Marshall fixed his gray eyes on the Chief Executive.
“Sir, I am afraid I do not understand. The slideshow is an efficient form on information dissemination.”
(Oops, I posted this one to another page yesterday. Sorry, y’all.)
(Ooh, this one has a longer tale in it, I think. That is one of the best things about doing this project. So many of these wee stories give me ideas for longer narratives. Dr. Marshall seems like a bizarre character, doesn’t he? Brilliant but with almost no emotional intelligence. He might appear in some other story, someday. 🙂
The challenge in this story was to figure out how to talk about these potential deaths by whatever weapon in a way that would smack of military speak as well as scientist speak without becoming a caricature. )