The room was warm and inviting, bookshelves lined with the epics of old and trade paperback comic books. A fireplace crackled. The echo of Lakshmi’s outburst lingered for only a moment.
“Please, my dear, the name is PsychoPompador,” the man sitting behind the big mahogany desk said, lightly adjusting his huge mane.
“What you’re doing is going to end all life on Earth!” Lakshmi shouted.
“The lab results say differently, sweetie, and I tend to trust Science more than a temporary transfer research scholar from New Delhi,” PsychoPompador said, pursing his lips smugly.
“Then trust this,” Lakshmi said, pulling a snub nosed revolver out of her waistband. “You have the power to stop this, Mr. Trent. You can…”
“It’s PsychoPompador!” the man screamed, slamming his fist on the desk. “Darling,” he continued, putting his hair back in place. “It can’t be stopped now. I have the will of the people behind me. Everyone wants super powers and I aim to give it to them. How can you deny them that?”
“I don’t care about that. Fine, whatever, everyone gets powers, but in the process you will sterilize every living thing on Earth. I’m not going to let you Children of Men the whole planet!”
“One more pet name and I shoot you on principle.”
“But… research lady… the process is harmless. Life altering and extremely traumatic at the molecular level, but perfectly harmless. See, when the wave from the Origin Point makes contact with the target cells, the recombination process will reroll the genetic dice and give everyone a new…”
“I was the lead designer on the Origin Project, I don’t need you to mansplain it to me,” said Lakshmi.
“You know, adding man to words doesn’t automatically make it worse. For example, manwich. Okay, forget that example.”
“Argh! You’re the most annoying human being I’ve ever met! Why did I think reason would work with you?”
“My ex-wives ask me the same question,” said PsychoPompador.
“Mr. PP?” a voice came in over the intercom.
“Go ahead,” PsychoPompador said.
“A Dr. Capitan on the line for you,” said the voice.
“Thank you, Charlotte dear.”
“Tell him to shut it down,” said Lakshmi.
“Hold on, I’ll get to you in a minute.”
“Do you not understand that I have a gun on you?”
“Cap, my man! How we doing over there?” PsychoPompador asked.
“It’s terrible! The whole thing is going to blow!” came the doctor’s reply.
“Whoa! Slow down. What’s going on?”
“The Stability Matrix is failing and the Unstable Molecules are going haywire! It’s only a matter of time before the Prim Particles escape containment and bombard the Minus Zone singularity tunnel!”
“Oh my god,” Lakshmi whispered.
“That’s bad, right?” PsychoPompador asked.
“We could be looking at a cascading failure scenario. The forces involved could tear the planet apart!” Lakshmi exclaimed.
“Dr. Kaur? Is that you?” Dr. Capitan asked.
“You’re a doctor?” PsychoPompador asked.
“Karl! You have to stop the generation machine before it’s too late,” said Lakshmi.
“I don’t have the codes. Only PsychoPompador can do that,” said Dr. Capitan.
There was a tense silence as they waited for PyschoPompador’s response.
“All ahead full, Cap! Let’s make history!”
“But sir! The” *click*
“Ya gotta take risks if you wanna be great,” said PsychoPompador. Lakshmi fell to her knees.
“This was not how I pictured my day going,” she said.
“Look on the bright side. Now everyone can say they got their powers from a lab accident. What’s more comic book origin than that?” He pulled a remote out from his desk and used it to open a large curtain. “Come have a seat. Front row to the next great stage of evolution. Humanity 2.0.”
Out the window, Lakshmi could see the building where the main engine of the Origin Project was being run. A subtle rumbling shook the building, making the scotch glasses on PsychoPompador’s desk tink against each other.
“No! I won’t let you!” Lakshmi said, putting the revolver right on PsychoPompador’s temple. “You have one last chance to stop this before I blow your brains out!”
“You’re not a killer, my Indian beauty. You never hurt a fly in your life.”
“If it’s to save the planet then… then…”
The building housing the Origin Project disintegrated, pieces of it flew up into the atmosphere. Then the atmosphere split, revealing the blackness of space beyond. The earth shook violently, knocking everything in the office down. Then…
> The chandelier hanging above PsychoPompador’s head fell, shattering into a million pieces. Lakshmi screamed and ran from the office. The quake ended soon after. Lakshmi was questioned by authorities, but as the whole thing was circumstantial, she was free to go. The wave that spread from the Origin Point did not give the world super powers. Instead it managed to eliminate every disease known to man and six months after the accident, not a single death from natural causes or disease has occurred. Lakshmi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work, circumstantial as it was to the effect of the wave, and recognized internationally for her achievement. Mr. Trent, president of Roger and Will Co. faded into obscurity.
> Lakshmi returned home to be with her family in India. She missed them terribly and since she was basically set for life in the newly minted field of hyper-physics, she could write her own ticket. She met a wonderful man, a young doctor, who loved her and cherished her for the rest their days. Many years later, the world’s population was nearing a total of 100 billion. Without death, the number rose very quickly. With tons of resources no longer being directed at medical cures, the new goal of science was solving the population crisis. At the age of 532, Lakshmi and her husband were at the forefront of the fight. Without enough food, water and clean air to go around, people were starving by the billions and without death, the starving and the thirsty lived in a tortured state of semi-life, unable to be free of the unending pain of hunger.
> Lakshmi despaired. All her work, all her accomplishments had led to this. A world so perfect and pain free that its inhabitants suffered tremendously. 600 years after the accident, Lakshmi tried to take her own life, but was unsuccessful. She now lives with her loving husband and children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren who care for her while she lingers in a vegetative state. Waiting.
+ The chandelier hanging above Lakshmi’s head fell, shattering into a million pieces. PsychoPompador laughed. This was just how lucky he was in life. The quake ended soon after. Authorities congratulated PP on his bravery in the face of adversity. The wave that spread from the Origin Point had done more than he could have ever hoped. The world now had a population made up exclusively of superhumans. PP was given every award known to man and then some. President Trump abdicated the office of President and gave it PP by presidential directive. Now head of America, PP went on to unify the rest of the world under a banner of friendship, trust and mutual respect of PP’s absolutely perfect hair.
+ A monument was raised to honor the girth of PP’s genitalia. The monument was built to last until the end of time. At the age of 100, PP decided that he had done enough as President and that it was time to retire. A chariot of fire pulled by sexy angel women carried him up through the clouds. Up there, he contemplated his life, his career, his accomplishments. He realized that even though he was the most powerful person to ever walk the face of the planet, everything that had led him to this point had been because of other people. Nothing he’d done, yes even the accident, had been because of him alone. So he decided to undue the results of the accident in order to prove that he was everything that people said he was.
+ PP spent a century concocting an antidote to his superhuman condition. Once he had finally cracked the code, he took the antidote and became human again. His first goal was simple, climb Mount Everest. How hard could it be? When his helicopter reached base camp, he despaired when he realized that millions of super powered people had already climbed the summit. So he decided he was going to visit the lowest point on Earth. When his diving bell finally landed on the floor of the Marianas Trench he despaired again when he saw the luxury PP Hotel that he’d forgotten he’d commissioned a long time ago.
+ After a dozen other similar attempts to do something, anything, because of his own talent, he finally accepted his mediocrity and died of acute ego failure.
And so it was with billions of other people, all simultaneously stuck in a bubble of their own design, unaware of the world around them. Many died when the moving vehicles they were in crashed. Millions more starved to death. So ended the human race.