The Button: Part One


“The note said “ever” four times. Now Thomas knew this was serious. This button, simple as it may appear, was dangerous”

Colin Bergen, Staff Writer

So. Where to begin? Or, perhaps a better question: why are you here?

No. I’m serious. Why are you here?

You don’t have to answer me. I can’t hear you, after all. I’m just a piece of paper, I’m not going to talk back to you. Unless you were under the impression that I did, in fact, talk back to you. In that case I recommend that you go see your psychiatrist immediately.

I believe that I have a pretty good idea why you’re sitting there, reading this. You want to hear a story about a button (don’t we all?). You want to know what made such a menial object important enough to be put in the title of this surely to be bathroom-read of the century.  You want to know what sort of terrible and wonderful events surround it. What people were involved, how they were involved, why they were involved, and if such an involvement is appropriate for your children to see.

You want to read a story.  You want to read a story worthy of your precious bathroom time. You want to read a story of myth. Of legend. Of romance. You want to read a real story. A story of trial and adventure, a story of love and love lost, a story of shock and heart-flopping horror, a story of great struggles and immortal in-your-face triumph!

This is not one of those stories.

No, this is the story of a man named Thomas.


Thomas is a man of 30 years of age. He is not too thin, too fat, too tall, too short, and certainly not too handsome. In fact, at a first glance, you might have assumed Thomas to be the most underwhelming person in existence. And you’d be right. However, under the surface, Thomas possessed a remarkable gift, one talent that no one possessed and that no-one else could hope to ever surpass him in. And that was his gift to have the strangest and most unfortunate things happen to him. Awful car-wrecks. Bombings. Natural disasters. Unnatural disasters.  The raid of mildly-aggressive Platypeople in 1998, an event that scientists agreed was “highly unusual”.

Oh yes, he’d seen it all.

But nothing, absolutely nothing, prepared him for what occurred on that fateful day.

It was the 1st of May, 5:35 P.M. He was just on his way to his plain, unremarkable home from his plain, unremarkable job when a mysterious object came hurdling from outer space, and crash-landed right in the middle of his foyer. Now, when Thomas arrived, he was naturally shocked, not because a mysterious object from space crash-landed into his foyer, but because that  mysterious-object had killed his beloved goldfish, Herbert. Herbert had been his lucky goldfish. A whole month had gone by without incident thanks to dear, dear Herbert. Thomas was crushed…but not as crushed as dear Herbert.

Before his soul-rending sadness could sink in, something caught Thomas’s eye. The smoke cleared, and the object came into view. A box. A small, smoldering metal box, as gray as lead. On the side, labled in bright white embolden letters said, “op Sec”. It was difficult to read all of it, but he knew it was undoubtedly French.

He hadn’t the slightest idea why a French “op Sec” box has crashed into his humble abode, but like a fly to a fluorescent, Thomas couldn’t help but be drawn to it. Some part deep down within him pushed him to touch it. No, to open it. It was here after all, what harm could come from just one, quick peek?

He slid off the lid.

Much to his relief (and to some mild disappointment) the box did nothing, and after several minutes the box still did nothing, so without further delay he set the lid down on the floor, and looked inside. In there, among a crowded pile of packaging peanuts, was a lonely red button that was no bigger than a small coin. Thomas didn’t know what to think. It was obviously important, this button. Why else would it be in an “op Sec” box? Yet, it seemed so insignificant, so pointless. Perhaps he was missing something.

He gingerly reached into the box, and as careful as he could, he lifted the button by its short black pedestal.

Thomas still didn’t get it. It was small thing, made of cheap plastic.  That was it. It wasn’t even attached to anything. No sort of cool device or doo-dad. It was practically nothing. Thomas was just about ready to toss the thing aside, when his eye caught the glint of white paper. Eagerly, he slid it from the box. It was an official document! He knew that because it had all those stamp-y things all over it. You’ve seen the sort. The paper read as such,

Please, be considerate to yourself, your neighbors, and the very fragile existence of the world we love and inhabit. Never ever, ever, ever, press this button.


The note said “ever” four times. Now Thomas knew this was serious. This button, simple as it may appear, was dangerous. After all, it had outright murdered Herbert, and it had only been here for a few minutes. The man realized what he had to do, to protect the world and dear Herbert’s memory. He would watch over this button, guard it from all the evil hands of the world, no matter what sort of absurd chaos fell upon him. He vowed this.  And so, he promptly returned the button carefully to its box and hid it away in his broom closet, the one place he was absolutely sure nobody would look.

The first day then passed without further incident.


On the morning of the second day, Thomas made sure everything in his house was secure. He locked and bolted every door, shut every window, and wisely hid his house key in a remote area. Satisfied, Thomas left to go to work. Ten minutes later, someone was at his door. Mr. Silverson  was a fellow neighbor and president-for-life of the home owner’s association, a position he happily elected for himself. Silverson was a man defied by pride and want. Even though he made a healthy sum, he still asked his neighbors for everything. People knew his routine. He’d come to your house, with a smile as artificial as a car-salesman, and proceed to prod and beg until you inevitably succumb. Unfortunately for Silverson, there was no-one home to prod. Damn, he thought. He really needed that vacuum. It was his rug, you see. It was in dire shape after his last in-door lawn party, and his vacuum was simply too fantastic to be wasted on such a menial task.  So, he took matters in his own hands.

He lifted welcome mat, and quickly swiped the key. Once inside, he was met with a disturbing sight. A hole in the ceiling! Silverson surveyed the damage with sheer disdain. He’d have to file a strongly-worded complaint about that.

He looked about the stale white walls of Thomas’s home, until he finally found the broom closet. He immediately went and popped open the door.  That’s when he saw it. A small, peculiar metal box. H is discovery sent his mind reeling with questions.

Thomas is keeping secrets? From me? A slow burn made its way down his body. What right did Thomas have to know something he didn’t? He was the president! If anybody had a secret, it was his obligation, his job, to know about it! It was written in the neighborhood covenants, after all.

This simply would not do.

Without further delay, Silverson removed the box from the broom closet, and slid open the lid. The sight of the small, plastic button perplexed him, as it did Thomas. That was, until he read the note.

Now, the button frightened him.

It was obviously capable of terrible power. Why else would it be here, in this hiding place, accompanied by such a well-written warning? This button had to be the work of some deranged mad-man, or some power-hungry lunatic with the intelligence and tenacity to construct something so great, so powerful, so awe-inspiringly terrible that it would win him the world.

And Thomas, of all people, was the one who had it.

Silverson knew what he had to do. He needed to take this button away, and fast. Thomas couldn’t handle the responsibility of this weapon, and lord knows what sort of malevolent thoughts lurked behind those plain, stupid eyes of his. And so, Silverson quickly returned the button to its special “Op Sec” box, tucked it under his arm, and went back to his home. After he got his vacuum, of course. And the duster. And the dust pan. And, while he was at it, a few wheels of cheese. He was a pretigious member of society, after all. To be without several wheels of fine cheese, well, that’d just be silly wouldn’t it?

Along his  way home, his mind could not help but linger on thoughts of button-induced Armageddon. Oh, what horror awaited but a single press! Fire. Earthquakes. Brimstone. His well-maintained lawn, no more! The thought was simply too much to bear…as was all his borrowed equipment, for that matter. He struggled with the awkward load. His cargo kept jostling about in his arms, and his precious wheels of cheese slid from their tower on top of the box and neared ever closer to the edge.

A few things to understand about Mr.Silverson:

  1. He often overestimated himself.
  2. He had a severe back-problem.
  3. He didn’t know he even had a back-problem.

Until now.


A sharp pain shot through Silverson’s spine. His blood cooled, and his face boiled as it contorted with pain. His frame turned stiff, and his torso bent in on itself. All his borrowed loot fumbled out of his grasp, and came crashing unto the street below. Silverson shrieked cursed a fowl curse at the absent Thomas. It was his fault, after all, for not having any duffle bags. The poor hunch-backed man stomped and strained, as he desperately tried to squeeze his spine back into place.

As you can imagine, it wasn’t the most ideal time for the garbage truck to arrive.

Silverson continued to struggle. The truck driver danced to Take on Me.

Despite all his efforts, the bones simply refused to yield.  He strained harder and harder, devoting all of his focus and energy into freeing himself of his geriatric prison…which left him blissfully unaware of the cruel fate that awaited him.

Then, a low rumble made its way into his ear. The road began to shiver beneath his feet, as the metal monstrosity came closer to its prey. At last, he lifted his head and saw two blinding lights closing in.

He had only a moment for one last thought.

Godamnit Thomas!

The truck rumbled past, and the poor man‘s body came crumbling over the curb.


Neither Silverson or death could believe in his luck. Rather than falling into the path of rubber-treaded doom, he instead stumbled back against the curb, tumbled over and landed back-first on a neighbor’s angelic green grass. The garbage truck rumbled on its merry way, the driver now bopping his head to more classical compositions. Bon Jovi sure had a way with a guitar, didn’t he?

The sheer shock of near-death left Silverson paralyzed on the soft turf for several minutes. When his senses finally came back to him, he rose. Much to his shock, the fall had not only saved his life, but also had remedied his aching back. He couldn’t help but let out a stunned laugh,as he looked over the scene of his averted fate. “It was a shame most of the supplies were ruined”, he thought to himself. But, he knew he could always borrow from somebody else if he needed to.

Then a thought slapped him across the face.

The button.

His eyes darted throughout the street.


The box had been in the path of the metal beast, and was brought into its gaping maw. Yet, it seemed to have been left completely unharmed. It was just…lying there, snug and perfect on the asphalt. Just waiting to be borrowed.

Silverson couldn’t resist. He dashed to claim his prize.  Once in his grasp, he held it close to his vision, and giggled with victorious glee.  At that moment, he knew that he had to be the luckiest man alive.

At least, he would have been, had he remembered the recycling truck.


Thomas was baffled. How could this have happened? He had been careful, hadn’t he? Hid the loot, locked the door, and threw away the key and all that jazz? He was sure he had.

And yet, there was the box, lying beside a morbid red-smear on the black top and amongst the scattered remains of various household appliances.  Thomas stood by quietly as they scraped SIlverson off the road, and thought about where he had gone so horribly wrong, as well as just how much he pitied the poor sod who Silverson last borrowed from. Eventually, Thomas came to a conclusion: the broom closet is, in fact, not the best place to hide a weapon of mass destruction.  With that decided, Thomas retrieved the box from the crime-scene (he was sure the police wouldn’t mind), and resolved that he would find a proper safe for it tomorrow.

And so, the second day passed.

-A Parting Gift-

You have reached the end of part 1. Congratulations! I know it took much focus and expended bathroom-time to bring you here.  Here, for all your hard work, I’ll give you a little reward:


You have permission to stop reading!

Well, look at that! Aren’t I generous? I’ve given you the ultimate pleasure of not delving any deeper into this fantastically miserable story. Hard to refuse an offer like that, isn’t it?

Isn’t it?

You know, if I were you, I’d set this paper/tablet/computer/otherworldly portal unto the ground, stand up from whatever surface you happen to be sitting on, and walk away. Then I’d forget all about this story, and move on with my life.  I really would if I could. Honestly.

Please, I insist. Go right ahead and take this once-in-a-lifetime offer. You won’t regret it. Believe me,

You don’t want to go any further than here.

You don’t.

…Do you?