On the fifth of December, 2012, the fates got distracted and forgot to make Mr. Emmett Brown of San Francisco, California blink. Of course, a moment later they noticed, and it never happened again, but the event accidentally caused him to spot a flea that had just been settling down for a pleasant nap. And in doing so, tore a jagged scar into destiny itself and changed the future of the world forever. Here's what happened.
On this fine morning, Mr. Brown had been just about to leave his house for a dental appointment. When asked about the event later, he didn't even recall the flea, which was an insignificant speck in his story. Or so he thought.
Because while this event didn't affect Mr. Brown, it did affect the flea. In fact, after being so rudely awakened, said flea decided to find a more peaceful location to perch, and when Mr. Brown left his house, slipped out beside him.
After several days of wandering, our specimen landed in a charming cafe with plenty of leftover food in which to wallow. And there he lived, at least for the next week, when, on his way to the dumpster, he passed by a spider's lair. And thus ended his life.
But here changed the spider's, because while the flea made a fine meal for the arachnid, when taking its customary after-meal nap, it picked a particularly unstable place to rest, which, in addition to the extra weight from the feast, caused a collapse of the web. It plummeted down. Right into a Ms. Lavender Smith's toast.
Unfortunately, the tagalong wasn't spotted by the bored waiter, who brought the dish out to Ms. Smith as was. She noticed it, and then she, a severe arachnophobe, screamed so loudly that multiple passersby stopped to see who had been murdered.
Among them was a Mr. John Potters, who, in great concern, stopped to stare for a moment or two, causing him to narrowly miss a yellow light, and after a few blocks, another. This culminated in his arriving at his house a full five minutes later.
This turned out to be a good thing indeed, because, as we rewind time slightly, we see that just a few minutes ago Mr. Potters’ young niece, Lucy Potters, had been merrily drawing in his driveway. The toddler had luckily been spotted by her frantic father just minutes before Mr. Potters returned. Had he come any sooner...
And so we see that the merest missed blink has already saved a life, but we're not done yet. Not even close.
You might be imagining that Lucy was the linchpin in this operation, but you would be wrong. Because Lucy ended up dying young, at age seventeen, in a car accident. She couldn’t escape her fate in the end. So, no, Lucy didn’t mother a flock of children who would then meaningfully impact the world through cancer research and philanthropy. If only Samuel Green hadn’t squished that caterpillar… but the world is full of could haves which didn’t. And anyway, her only daughter would have led a great revolution, then her own country, then finally a few strongly disputed acres, in the end inheriting her mother’s sad fate.
But in any case, Lucy worked at an ice cream parlor during the summer of her sweet sixteen. She was lousy at her job, and so it was no surprise when she completely botched Mr. Aaron Brown’s cone, managing to plunge the thing directly onto the freshly-cleaned tiles. In the time it took for her to apologize, grab several napkins, slip, fall, and rise again, Ms. Sarah Carpenter had entered the establishment.
Fifteen months later, they were married. Five years after that, they had a son, a daughter, a puppy, and a house in the suburbs.
It came as no surprise when Thomas Brown joined the army straight out of high school. It had been a life-long goal of his, bred from his mother’s stories of her own brief stint. His hopes and dreams were crushed, however, when he failed the preliminary check-up due to his weak hearing and asthma. Instead, he became an instructor, and his guidance helped many young recruits, including Ms. Melissa Addams, who would have quit the tough camp if not for his mentorship.
Fast-forward a half a year, and her presence on a special team in the remote country of Gruadan saved the group from a myriad of gruesome deaths. She was extremely quick and observant, and spotted a hidden tripwire once, fresh footprints another time, and, most impressively, a clean windowsill in a supposedly deserted house, saving them from an ambush. Thanks to her keen eye, they all survived, and completed their mission of assassinating a terrorist leader who had been planning what would otherwise have been a successful attack on DC.
Now, of course, had this not been prevented, more than half of the house of representatives would have been killed, leading to mass panic, anger, and fear. After a series of rousing speeches from families of victims, survivors, and several different government officials, the US would have gone to war.
Instead, Melissa and her team received numerous awards from the grateful government. Incidentally, this would have happened either way, but the team (excluding Melissa, of course, who would have been working at the checkout counter of a Walmart) would have received them post-mortem.
The war would have been a disaster. Because Gruadan was supported by the much larger Osmona at this time, what started as a fairly simple, if petty, fight of a world power vs. a third world country would get much more complicated.
After their buddy was attacked, Osmona would have demanded we call off the attack. And when we didn’t, they’d have joined in, sending money, officers, and weapons to our enemy.
After that, the fight would have gotten a lot harder, and diplomacy would begin to shatter. With Osmona weapons killing American soldiers, we would want revenge. With American soldiers attacking their ally, Osmona would want revenge.
Then, when a high level government official whose sister was killed in the attack sent an extremely unpleasant and completely unauthorized message to the Osmonan king, war would have broken out.
However, without the sentiment caused by the attack, there was no reason to invade Gruadan. The country had an acceptable relationship with us. Later, when they asked for help in quelling an extremist revolution, we readily agreed, as did Osmona. This started to help repair tensions that had built up over decades of miscommunication and squabbling.
And back to WWIII. Actually, there’s not much to say. Three-quarters of the world’s countries joined the war within half an hour. The first nuclear bomb hit us in forty five minutes. Our first bomb hit them two minutes later. By midnight, a quarter of the world’s population was dead, and a deadly level of radiation covered even Antarctica. Nuclear bomb shelters? A joke. They increased a citizen’s chance of survival by 0.01%. There were approximately one hundred thousand Homo Sapiens five years later. That’s about two fifths of the population of Chicago.
Luckily, all of this senseless bloodshed was averted. Over the following five years, the population grew by about three hundred million. The quality of life continued to improve, as clean energy and sustainable policies were developed. And so life lived on, happily ever after.
Almost eight billion lives saved. All by the blink of an eye.