To the world, a message from God

The first Emergency Broadcast System test

“Hey Tom, it looks like the front end is almost good to go.”

Johnny finished his last line of code. Excitedly, he ran the compiler to see if all was functional.

Tom nodded quizzically. A working interface was the easy part. The difficulty was reverse engineering the Omniscience API — a process which was almost complete.

What Tom, Johnny, and their crew of hobbyists were doing was going to change the world. It all stemmed from an event that occurred 50 years earlier, a moment that made Tom never forget the Emergency Broadcast System.

The Emergency Broadcast System (EBS) was an emergency warning system in the United States, used from 1963 to 1997. The EBS was established to provide the President of the United States with an expeditious method of communicating with the American public in the event of war, threat of war, or grave national crisis.

On February 20, 1971, Tom was a 7-year-old boy watching Saturday morning cartoons. At precisely 9:33AM, the EBS played the wrong tape during a test of the system. As a result, an EBS activation message authenticated with the codeword “hatefulness” was sent through the entire system, ordering stations to cease regular programming and broadcast the alert of a national emergency. A cancellation message was sent at 9:59 AM EST; however, it used the same codeword. A cancellation message with the correct codeword, “impish,” was not sent until 10:13 AM EST.

This event was a false alarm, and exposed major flaws in the system. After decades the EBS was replaced entirely by a streamlined system known as the Emergency Alert System (EAS). The difference between the two systems was drastic.

The EAS’ central control was powered by remote satellite that had the power to suspend the operations of AM and FM radio stations, VHF, UHF, and cable television. As of May 31st 2007, the EAS also forced private digital radio and satellite television broadcasters to participate.

But there were other undocumented powers the EAS had that were farther reaching. It had the ability to send simultaneous text messages to every device connected to the Internet, including cell phones, desktop computers, and gaming consoles. It could send messages to technologies considered obsolete: fax machines, teleprinters, vibroplex morse keys.

So efficient was the EAS that other nations based their own national warning systems on it. Each nation routed their own system through a dedicated satellite switch — which was a failsafe in case of any terrestrial communication jammers. Every warning system utilized the same API.

This was known as the Omniscience API.

It took 25 years for the Omniscience API’s reverse engineering to near its completion. It had to be done in secret lest the authorities got wind and unceremoniously brought it down — replacing it with a back up. For this reason, only Tom and and Johnny knew exactly what the Omniscience API was. The rest of the team simply knew they were doing God’s work.

When the reverse engineering was complete — thoroughly tested and deemed cross compatible — Tom and Johnny brought the whole crew together.

“To be compatible with as many communications mediums as possible, the message will need to have less than 100 characters. Here’s what we got.”

The projector flashed the message across the whitescreen:

This is God. If you don’t stop all your wars within a week, I’m just going to end the world.

Rashid had a question. “How do we make an allowance for a specific deity’s name?”

“There’s an insert function that automatically maps itself to the target’s higher power along with the language translator,” Tom answered, “If the target doesn’t believe in a diety, we adjust to near equivalency.”

Cindy, the beta tester, followed up. “What happens after that week passes? Assuming all the wars end: how long until tensions boil over and war breaks out again? Assuming the wars don’t end: how will the world react when there is no divine retribution — since we are not God?”

“If it doesn’t work,” Tom answered, “Either everyone’s going to have to sort out why God is allowing wars to go on, or they’re just going to have to question God altogether.”

Johnny paused for a moment to choose his words. “Of course, this is a big crap shoot. This may result in nothing, but we have to try for the good of humanity.”

One month later, a young man stirred his long island ice tea in the back of a Miama night club. “Hey remember when we all received that barrage of text messages?”

“Yeah,” his friend laughed, “I’d like to meet the guys who pulled off that prank.”

Hey mom! I’m on TV!

When I was a child, I thought a video camera was following me everywhere, and my story was being broadcast on someone else’s television. I thought the reason I couldn’t see the camera was for the same reason the characters on television couldn’t see the camera either.

It was only later that I realized no one was watching me on television.

It was only recently that I realized Google is watching everything I do on the Internet — so we’ve come full circle.

The Exorcism

I witnessed an exorcism.

Here’s how I’d describe the experience:

  • Person being exorcised was a small college girl, no more than 110lbs.
  • She started talking in a deep, throaty, menacing voice lower than a typical man’s.
  • Her eyes kept rolling to the back of her head.
  • The girl had crazy brute strength. She threw a big football player 6 feet. After that, it took six strong men to hold her down.
  • She was talking in a glossolalia

Apparently, this episode was triggered by traumatic childhood events. Honestly, it could be she was just dealing with mental health issues. That kind of thing, though cannot account for what I saw this girl do.

I don’t know how someone who’s never exhibited any athleticism in her life could magically start contorting herself like a circus freak, nor do I understand how someone so tiny could suddenly become a championship power lifter.

Here’s what I do know, though.  She seemed better for it. That year, she met her future husband. They’ve been together for 11 years, and now have two lovely daughters.

The Water

When I was 12-years-old, it was the perfect place to go exploring — and get lost.

On a typical foray into Burns Bog, I encountered a hippie-type fellow by a creek. He was shaking uncontrollably, almost in a convulsion — but he seemed all too aware of the creek.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“The water,” he replied in a panicked voice, “It’s going to eat me!”

“Why don’t you just walk away from the water?” I inquired further.

He seemed ponderous for a moment. “Because if I do that, it will sense my vibrations and attack!”

I thought that was funny, then walked off. 20 minutes later, I came across a bucket — and had a brilliant idea. Filling up the bucket with water, I walked back to the panicked man.

Walking towards him, he seemed more frightened than before. But that didn’t stop me. I dumped the whole damn bucket of water over his head.

“AHHHHH!” he screamed.

Then he rolled over, and he started violently shaking. He was shaking so hard, his eyes rolled back. Immediately he started gargling as though he was drowning.

Just then, another bearded dude — this one with glasses — popped out of the trees.

“What the hell did you just do?!” he screamed.

“I was just having a little fun with him!”

“FUCK!!! YOU LITTLE SHIT! Jimmy was just coming down from his acid trip!”

I felt something well up inside me — I knew I did something horrible. And I ran the fuck away never to return.

To this day, I don’t know what happened to that guy.