The Coolest War
By William Hrdina
"In the early 20th century, technology advanced to the point where it became clear one of two concepts would come to define our future evolution: robotics or genetics. Most folks believed, sooner or later, one concept would prove itself victorious- and all of human history would spin out from the victory.
As they almost always are, most folks were wrong. Although not in the obvious way. They were right that robotics and genetics would be key- and they were right the results would change the course of human evolution. But they were wrong in thinking one concept would be victorious over the other- because the race ended in a tie.
The tie led directly to the Coolest War.
Please don't misunderstand me. The Coolest War was terrible. It was also extremely short- only 24 hours. And, of course, we won. But over the course of that one long day, all over the world, hundreds of millions of people died. If you include the aftermath- its safe to say somewhere in the vicinity of a billion people fell. This means the Coolest War killed more human beings than the black plague, AIDS, country music, and cancer combined. Not cool.
We call the Coolest War the Coolest War because of how it was fought- not because it was fun. The most famous documentary about the war, entitled, predictably, "The Coolest War Movie" remains the highest grossing film in history- making Star Wars look like an indie film Lucas shot in his Cousin Louie's basement."
Jeremy Ploitman smiled his professional, fake smile at the group of uninterested teenagers standing in front of him- and tried not to show the nerves he was feeling. Kids could smell fear- all of the tour guides said so- and no matter how hard he tried, Jeremy didn't think he would be able to completely disguise his own. The Star Wars line was supposed to make the kids laugh. Or at least grin. It did neither. He could feel their attention waning.
The nerves Jeremy felt were perfectly natural, today was only his 14th as a Coolest War museum guide, and this was the first tour he was being asked to run all by himself. He'd delivered the Star Wars line lots of times with his trainer standing at his side- and every time he got a laugh- now- nothing.
It didn't help every move Jeremy made was being scrutinized by Natalie Morales, his supervisor. Any screw-ups he made would be caught, cataloged, and put into his performance report. Natalie was a notorious stickler for every word of the "customer/information liaison protocols". The museum job was a good one, it took him almost a year of stalking the head of human resources to secure it, and he didn't want to lose it again on his first day.
With no real alternative, Jeremy pushed on.
He said, "The popularity of "The Coolest War Movie" is largely attributed to its extensive use of actual combat footage taken during the worldwide battles." He turned and indicated the oversized monitor panel built into the wall behind him, a still photograph from the movie appeared.