I wrote this story some years ago, but recently decided to post it on social media, before current world news made it strangely appropriate. Several people asked for a follow-up; watch this space for developments. 😉
Johnny had always been a wimp, which was not surprising considering his upbringing.
His father walked out when he was three months old, leaving him in an all-female household; just his Grandmother, Mother and her two older sisters, with no male influence.
As a toddler he preferred dressing up in clothes from the aunts’ wardrobes to playing with toy trains or soldiers. When the women watched a weepy film he would unashamedly cry at both the sad bits and the happy endings. He was useless at sport, always found with his head in a book, and never seemed to have any close friends.
He passed all his school exams with flying colours, and went on to university where he gained a double first. Even there he was always a loner, and never got involved in the wilder side of student life. His lack of a girlfriend gave rise to discussions about his sexuality, especially when a known homosexual was sometimes seen in his company.
It was through this acquaintance that he first became involved in politics; an unlikely turn of events for someone who was so painfully shy. Perhaps that was why he never reacted to the media, and gradually made his unassuming way through the ranks until he ended up in a very senior role in the opposition.
By the time he was in his forties the country reacted against the governing party, and after a landslide victory he found himself as deputy prime minister. Eighteen months later the Premier was killed in a car crash, and Johnny’s photo was on the front page of every newspaper as he assumed the role of leader.
Until then he had been one of those people the public at large vaguely recognised, without being able to identify exactly who he was. The gutter press dug for gossip, but unable to find any scandal resorted to making up stories to fit the few facts available.
Gradually his face became more well-known, but still little was understood about the man himself. Whether he was meeting foreign dignitaries with an abhorrent reputation for civil rights, doing walkabout meetings with single mothers complaining about their cut in benefits, or conversing with elderly people in hospital his demeanour remained the same.
It was impossible to know what he was really thinking. His quiet smile and non-committal response made him a perfect diplomat, but the press found him hard going. He never did or said anything to make the headlines; the only things worthy of reporting were purely factual details of conferences with heads of state, which made very boring reading.
With the world gone mad, power struggles resulting in wars, and coups in several developing countries, the world press focussed on which major power was supporting which dictatorship, rather than the steady and stable economic growth his policies were producing in his home country.
Overnight everything changed.
Gradually reports came in of strange events happening all over the globe, from the depths of the African bush to the wilds of the Australian outback. News progressively drifted through from China, Russia, and New York. At first the testimonies were confused and contained little verified information. The one common factor was a sudden explosion, followed by the appearance of gargantuan craters from which blue volcanic ash erupted.
As the intelligence and military forces of the various countries investigated, it became obvious that the chasms were several miles deep, and that each sent the radiation monitors off the scale. For once the various countries had to forget their petty differences, and unite their resources to overcome this common, unexplained enemy.
With the new co-ordination between major powers, wars ceased, neighbour supported neighbour, and harmony finally existed between the nations of earth. Scientists forgot the need for personal glory, and there was a freedom of shared information such as had never before been seen in the history of mankind.
As spores rose from the depths of the various chasms scattered across the world, the radiation spread over thousands of miles. World leaders met regularly to discuss how to overcome the threat and restore a safe environment. The hospitals were overwhelmed, and the population suffered in agony before dying in their thousands. The differences between black, white, Muslim, Christian, city dweller or peasant, all ceased to be important. This was the world, fighting for survival.
With the best brains in the universe unrestricted by red tape, a device was produced which, although untested, was expected to neutralise the effects of the devastation produced by what was now widely accepted as visitors from another galaxy.
The dilemma facing the major world leaders was whether to implement the mechanism which would destroy the alien species, but might result in mankind being wiped from the face of the earth. The opposing train of thought was to let people die in the short term, in the hope an alternative means could be found to protect humanity, and allow communication with a species from another world.
Although Johnny’s country was only a minor player, he surprisingly received a unanimous vote to have the final say in the decision to be taken. Perhaps politics was not yet totally reformed, and despite the outward show of unity none of the major powers had complete trust in any other, and needed an insignificant scapegoat.
So it was that on the 11th June 2025, Johnny the wimp, who cried at sad movies and used to dress up in women’s clothes, became literally the most important person in the world. Who would have believed that this shy, introverted man now had the eyes of trillions of people awaiting his final decision, which one way or another would change their lives forever.
Even when he was poised over the crater which was to be the subject of the final experiment, his expression was inscrutable. Under his finger was the button which would release the hoped for remedy, and allow the human race to continue.
For long, long seconds Johnny looked at the button under his thumb, knowing that the mission could be aborted and he would be cheered by 50% of the world population.
For the first time ever in his public persona, Johnny was seen with tears in his eyes.
He pressed the button.
© Voinks April 2017