The Button

By Vonn Frey


        Once upon a time, in the middle of a city, there was a button. No one knew where the button came from. All they knew was that there was a note attached to the button that said if anyone pressed it the entire universe would end. Most people gave the button no heed but one man named Thrisk took the button very seriously. This is due to how when he saw the button it gave him nightmares. Thrisk tossed and turned in his bed faced with an unimaginably massive universe expanding out before him. It was beautiful and imposing, an indomitable force. But then with a single press of the button the entire thing disappeared like the screen of a TV turning off. He woke up in a cold sweat. So he took to patrolling the button, keeping any pranksters who wished to press it away. 

        He built a tent around the button, taking donations to get food deliveries whenever he could. When people asked him why he was patrolling the button like this, he told them his story. He was earnest and persuasive enough that after a few months there were five people patrolling and living near the button in the city with more to come. This was when the mayor took notice. One guy living around a button was fairly harmless but five and growing was worrisome. The group was told that they couldn’t live in public space and needed to leave. But the Button Guard, as they called themselves, did not follow their request. So the police came. 

        The fight was hard but surprisingly, the group was able to fight the first wave of police off. The battle was not without casualties. A few members of the group, including the founder, were killed. This made them a martyr, and what had once been a small group making sure the button wasn’t pressed became a full organization and militia fighting back the police. The small war continued for months until the militia had taken over the city. The media started covering button guard more prominently and as a result more members coming from outside the city joined.. All these new members meant that a small number of them did not actually believe in the cause. Because of this, a leader was elected, and harsh discipline was implemented so that nobody could even think about pressing the button. 

        Meanwhile, things were escalating as the country’s military began attacking the city. The button Guard was holding them off on their own, but just barely. Seeing an opportunity to weaken the government, foreign nations began sending in support. As the war escalated, people began protesting the war, asking the government to let this button institution stand. Because they weren’t gaining much ground, the government decided to give it a try. Soon, the first of many wars had ended, pressing the button had become illegal, and the Button Guard was given federal support. 

        Even though the war was over, the Button Guard continued to protect and run the city, living spartan lives with heavy discipline on all its members. Their lives were miserable but at least they were doing it for the greater good.  The leaders of the organization began initiatives to have the city make some money, beginning industries and taking donations from all over the globe. They were sitting pretty at the top with all sorts of luxuries. Years went by like this until another button appeared far off in another country. Following the Button Guard’s example, another Button Guard was set up. 

        Nobody minded until this second Button Guard grew substantially and started asking the original Button Guard for resources. The leaders of the original Button Guard, not wanting to give up any money or power, claimed the other button to be a fake made just to get the donation money. The two went under bad terms, and the members of both, who were miserable, were perfectly fine with having someone new to hate. 

        When even more buttons started appearing, their respective guards were also hated. Tensions rose until one day, a member of the original guard attempted to infiltrate one of the other guard’s defenses and press their button to prove it was fake. This person was stopped, but the conflict they caused had only just begun. The Button Guards declared all out war on one another, their members hitting each other constantly with full force. Thousands died every day, but all the guards were experienced in warfare, so for a time, the forts held. But in a war like this, where no one would yield, they couldn’t hold out forever. Their defenses were whittled down until finally, one day, the guards rose up for one final assault. 

        With pure brute force, each guard advanced, using their numbers to absorb as much damage as they could. Who cared if their members died? If one defending soldier could kill a hundred before being brought down, as long as there was one person left to press the enemy button, it would be a victory. 

        Eventually, one button was pressed. A fake, the heretics fraud was exposed. Then two buttons fell, then three, and then, after all that, the final button, the original button, was pressed. The entire world seemed to brace for impact…but nothing came. The button was fake. It had always been fake. All the death, all the murder, all the hatred, all the sacrifices of personal fulfillment, and all the self-inflicted pain in the name of discipline was for nothing.