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In the year 4,999,999,957, C.E.
Chapter 1 - Saving the Grandparents
By Avner Stein
The year was 4,999,999,957, C.E., or 957 for short. The Messianic age had arrived eons ago. Civilization had finally
decided that there were better ways to spend time and money than to conquer one another. Swords had been beaten
into ploughshares, but who wanted to plant in this heat when you had robots for that.
I know what you're thinking. "Did Jesus come back, or not?!" Well, he came back, but so did lots of other folks.
Resurrection is, after all, a basic Jewish principle. Anyway, there's a more pressing matter.
The sun was predicted to blow up in 43 years. Moving to another solar system was not a technological problem;
humanity had already populated several. But trying to get your grandparents to move - oy vey. They complain you
never call, but try explaining to them that even if you lived on the nearest star, you pick up the phone to call them,
and it takes four years before their phone even rings. Who has time for such phone calls. And the long-distance
charges are, as you might imagine, astronomical, I don't care who your long-distance company is.
You might be wondering, "Won't the grandparents have passed on 43 years hence? Why worry?" But you're
forgetting we're in the year 4,999,999,957, C.E., or 957 for short, and people are living an average of 903 years.
There were even people traveling to Earth to retire! They called it the Sunshine Planet.
So, a team of dedicated scientist grandchildren were trying to figure out a way to keep the sun from blowing up. One
idea seemed promising: replenish the sun's fuel supply by firing those old atomic bombs into it. Even if that only kept
the sun going for another thousand years - a relatively short period of time in astronomical terms - that would suffice
to let the elderly live out their years. Also, new retirees could be prevented from arriving by destroying the worm-
hole to Earth. Of course, that would also prevent the grandchildren from visiting. Perhaps the worm-hole could be
kept active, and new retirees could simply be warned that they would be traveling at their own risk. Also, perhaps a
thousand years hence, a better solution will have presented itself.
The day of the nuclear launch had arrived, with one small glitch. As the nuclear missiles were launched, they were
zapped out of the sky, one by one, by an ancient space-based anti-missile defense system that everyone had been
sure was no longer operational. Fortunately, subsequent launches were hastily aborted until the anti-missile system
could be deactivated.
But as old as that system was, how do you deactivate something that's not even plugged in, and that destroys any
missiles that come near it. For that they needed computer programmers. They would fling computer programmers at
the system, diverting its attention while someone sneaked behind it to dismantle the main circuit board. No, perhaps
that would have been the solution during a less enlightened period of history. Instead, the computer programmers
would remotely command the system to shut down.
However, deciphering the system's ancient computer language was akin to making sense out of hieroglyphics.
Fortunately, someone found a customer-service number in the museum archives. Of course, no one answered on the
other end, but there was an extensive automated menu system that, with patience, brought you to the option: To
deactivate the anti-missile defense system, press "1" now, followed by the pound key.
The system was shut down, the missiles were launched, and the sun was preserved.
from the October High Holiday 2000 Edition of the Jewish Magazine
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