Orders from above

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“This is Captain Alice Bohr sir. Submitting my observations for you to make a determination regarding mission go-forward sir.
“Major Bob Schrödinger here Captain. Please go ahead.”
“As you know Major, I have been instructed to inform you that I can accept only one answer. There are only two possibilities: yes or no.”
“I understand Captain. Please go ahead with your report.”
“The situation has deteriorated since my previous report sir.”
“Go on.”
“Temperatures at the poles continue to rise. The likelihood of worsening catastrophic atmospheric conditions has increased sharply. Loss of biodiversity is escalating rapidly – one thousand animal species have reached extinction since our last leap twenty-seven Earth Days ago. Threats to human life are on a steep upward trajectory. Despite ample food resources, over one quarter of the hominid population are starving, with one dying every four seconds.”
“And their response Captain?”
“Local administrations continue to ignore dire warnings planted by our covert agents on the ground. Primitive economic and political interests remain the primary driver for intraspecies hostility, with spiralling likelihood of cataclysmic inter-region clashes. There are increasing efforts at administrative, corporate and affluent civilian levels to explore further afield with a view to colonising Earth-like planets. The predicted intergalactic impacts are significant and worrying Major. We have reached a critical nexus.”
“I see no reason to divert course Captain.”
“I understand sir. We have done all that we can. Set course sir? I will need you to give me the absolute binding order – yes or no.”
“My order is y…”
“Sir, I’m receiving an urgent intercept from Officer Eve Hawking. A human offspring has just been born in a remote Rohingya village in Myanmar.”
“Is this information mission-critical Captain?”
“I’m relaying this as it comes in sir. On current calculations, in Earth Year 2072, this progeny will invent a solution sir.”
“How probable is her life course setting Captain?”
“Assuming she survives, it is 98% certain sir. Moved by the historical records of her people’s genocide in the latter quarter of EY2017, it becomes her life’s work.”
“And the likelihood of success Captain?”
“The dispatch is referring to it as a ‘glitch patch’ sir – a 100% complete solution.”
“Planet-wide deployment via an airborne pathogen in late January EY2072. 100% population infection within five days. Incurable. Causing a congenital mutation to be passed on in all cases.”
“And what exactly is this panacea Captain?”
“Universal consciousness, sir. Every human will simultaneously share their experience with every other human in real time. By our calculations, once the pathogen infects 100% of the population, the resulting correction is instantaneous sir. In later historical accounts, it will be referred to by the moniker ‘Empathy 1.0’.”
“Extrapolations Captain?”
“All good sir. Empathy 1.0 appears to self-mutate over progressive generations to include a form of compassionate mindfulness towards all living things.”
“And the broader implications Captain Bohr?”
“A complete reversal on the predicted interplanetary impact of humans – from entirely negative to universally positive.”
“A moment please Captain.”
“Sir, we are about to enter last-phase countdown, after which mission abortion is impossible. I have been instructed to request an absolute answer from you: yes or no. Your order sir?”
“The answer is no Captain. You do not have go-ahead to complete the mission on this rotation. Stand down Captain Bohr. Maintain invisibility shield on the Nibiru Planet Reset Device.”
“Confirming the abort codes have been entered sir. Further orders Major Schrödinger?”
“Monitor likelihood of the offspring’s survival. Review again in twenty-seven Earth Days. What currently is the probability of the child’s survival Captain?”
“0.0007% sir”.

About the Author: 
Anne Casey’s writing has been published internationally in newspapers, magazines, journals and books. Salmon Poetry published her book, 'where the lost things go' in 2017. She is a Glen Phillips Poetry Prize 2017 finalist; and short-listed for prizes including Cuirt International Poetry Prize, and Eyewear Books Poetry Prize.