I never intended to be a prophet. The thought never even crossed my mind. And that’s saying a lot considering all the thoughts that do cross my mind.
All I ever wanted to be was a librarian. I know. Kinda weird. But I like books so it seemed like the logical thing to do. I was ready to apply to the town library first thing out of highschool, but what do you know? These days you have to get a master’s degree—not a bachelor’s, mind you, but a master’s—before they’ll even consider you for a position. Talk about a bummer.
I have to confess that even after the horrible blow at the Maggie Connor Library, I still had a pretty optimistic view of the world. It is the 21st century, after all. Science, medicine, psychology, technology, you name it—they’ve all come so far. The future can only get better from here, right?
That’s what I thought before Beautiful Hearts.
Now I stare the future in the face every single day, and –I can tell you—it’s not going to be pretty.
“Danny,” I say, stepping toward the 3-year-old who stands precariously on the edge of a chair. “Get down.”
Danny smirks at me. “No, I don’t want to.”
“Get down, Danny.” I draw my words out slowly, hoping that somehow—magically—the added length of the words will heighten the power of persuasion.
“Then you’ll have to sit in time-out.”
“NO, I WON’T!”
“Yes,” I say. “You will sit in time-out.”
He jumps off the chair and charges through the maze of toys, overturned chairs, and other children with all the skill of a professional running back.
That’s when I see Jason raising the toy hammer over Allie’s head.
“Wait!” I say, but I am too late.
Good ol’ Beautiful Hearts Academy.
I never intended to work at a daycare just like I never intended to be a prophet. But fate has a way of throwing you into circumstances you never intended.
Allie is crying like everyone she loves has died, but the truth is a foam hammer can’t hurt all that bad. I try to comfort her, anyway, but Jason nearly pushes her off my lap to get my attention.
It’s turned out for the best, really. Without this job, I would never have suspected the awful truth that the future is festering all around us, waiting to burst forth in unimaginable horror and destruction.
As part of the human race, I feel that it is my duty to warn you of our impending doom: in about 15 years these “beautiful hearts” and many more like them from childcare centers across the globe will be unleashed upon the world.
And we will be lucky if any of us survive.
“Miss Mollie! Danny pushed me.”
“Danny, did you push Jason?”
“I wanted that car. I had it first.”
“Did you push Jason?”
“It’s a good car. It’s red. It goes really fast. I wanted it.”
In 15 years you’d better hide all your stuff because if anyone sees it and wants it, you’re a dead man. It will go something like this . . .
You’ve just had a party at your house, and your friends are all leaving. But Jake has a suspicious-looking object sticking out of his backpack.
“Hey, that’s my laptop!” You yell, tugging at it.
“I had it first!”
“But it’s mine.”
“I want it.”
And then you’ll start fighting, and one of you will end up dead. I estimate that about 45% of the earth’s population will be wiped out by violence that results from people not getting what they want.
“What do you want for Christmas, Danny?” I ask, trying to distract him from the red car.
“Santa’s going to bring me a bow, and I’m going to shoot the door, and it’s going to burn the whole place down!”
“You got to shoot them,” he says.
“No. The cops are coming. They’re going to put you in jail. You got to shoot them.”
“No, Danny,” I say. “The police are the good guys. They protect us. We need to be nice to them.”
“No,” he says. “They’re bad guys. They’ll put you in jail. We got to shoot them.”
A small percentage of students will grow up to be police-hunting psychopaths which means that law enforcement won’t be around to protect us from the I-didn’t-get-what-I-wanted killers.
“Wake up, honey,” Anna says, holding the toy frying pan as she leans over Karis. Karis lies on the floor, her eyes squeezed shut. “You want Mommy to make you some breakfast, honey?”
Karis’ eyes pop open as she jumps up. “Yeah!” She goes over and sits at the little table.
Anna turns back to the toy oven and starts mixing ingredients. “Mommy’s going to make some pancakes. We got some skittles and some jelly beans and some m&ms. What do you want in your pancake, honey?”
“I want icecream!”
“No!” Anna puts her hands on her hips. “You have to eat your skittles first.”
Twenty years from now, those not suffering from diabetes will have already died from extreme sugar overdose.
“Okay, guys, time to go to the bathroom,” I say to the two-year-old class.
I line Aubrey, Zach, Lilly, Connor, Wesley, and Marissa up against the wall. “Sit here until it’s your turn.”
Unfortunately, half of these guys aren’t potty-trained so I have to change their diapers.
“Lilly, come here,” I say. “Let me change your diaper.”
Lilly waddles over. I lift her onto the changing table and get started. That’s when I hear the stall doors slamming and Aubrey giggling. I glance over my shoulder. None of the precious, little dears are sitting against the wall. Connor is opening and slamming the middle stall door repeatedly. Marissa’s chubby form is sprawled out on the floor face-down making bathroom-floor angels. Aubrey and Zach are dipping their hands and splashing in the toilet bowl. And Wesley—where is Wesley? I scan the room with my eyes.
“Aubrey and Zach, get out of the toilet!” I say, still madly searching for Wesley.
Wesley appears from behind the trashcan, an old diaper in hand, the contents thereof dripping down onto his shoes.
Needless to say, hygiene will be grossly undervalued, resulting in widespread disease. Up to 30% of the world’s population will die from exposure to germs that might have been avoided via common sense.
Back in the K-3 room, I lather my hands and arms and face and shoes and pants in hand sanitizer.
I catch sight of Micah sitting all by himself in the corner, his hands feeling all around his neck.
“Micah, are you okay?”
“It won’t come off.”
“My head won’t come off.”
Another 20% of the world’s population will die from trying stupid things.
“Miss Mollie!” Anna storms across the room.
“Yes?” I don’t really want to know the source of her rage . . .
“Jason won’t be the daddy!”
Not only will much of the earth’s population be wiped out through violence and disease, but there won’t be many, if any, new children to repopulate the earth. Here’s why:
Guy: Hey, she’s my best friend!
Girl: Yeah, he’s my best friend!
Girl: You’re the prince, okay?
Guy: I’m not the prince. I want to be the dinosaur.
Girl: No, you have to be the prince.
Wedding . . . interrupted by:
Guy: Hey, preacher! She’s not being my best friend!
Girl: I don’t want to play with you right now.
Guy: You’re not my best friend!
Girl: Come on, girls, let’s go play somewhere else!
Marriage won’t be successful at all, not even at getting started. So, yeah, not many new kids. And the few new kids that do make it aren’t likely to survive, being especially vulnerable to the I-didn’t-get-what-I-wanted killers.
The clock ticks slowly, an eon between each tock. The noise that has steadily grown all day leaves me numb. Everything is a blur.
I feel something pinching my wrist. It’s a toddler’s hand. “Bite-bites!”
The herd of toddlers joins the wailing. “Bite-bites!” “Bite-bites!”
In the end, when nearly everyone in the world is gone, those few who are left will become horribly depressed because there is no culture left. It will be like this:
Your friend comes over. “Bite-bites?”
You nod your head. “Bite-bites.”
You both go to the pizza place and check out the menus. The waitress comes around. “Bite-bites?”
“Uh . . . Bite-bites.”
She scribbles on her pad and returns twenty minutes later with your plates.
But then the guy across the aisle stands up. “My bite-bites!”
“No! My bite-bites!”
A fight ensues. Someone leaves with the food. And someone is left on the floor–the newest victim of an I-didn’t-get-what-I-wanted killing.
Suddenly the noise level skyrockets. I realize that a mob of angry 3-year-olds is stripping the wall of its décor. But it’s 5:05, and I was off at 5:00. I smile at my co-worker and dash for the time-clock.
Contrary to popular belief, the world is not getting better. It’s about to become a very ugly place. It’s time to prepare ourselves for the end of the world as we know it. I recommend buying a cabin in rural Alaska. Stock up on books. Learn to live off the land. Get a nerf gun . . . or two . . . or three. And don’t dare come back.