[Short Story] The 2016 Simulation
I picked up the board warily. Our show's ratings were sprawled across it. "The producers are not happy, Gorn. They're asking us to do something about it."
I shook my head, before standing up to face Balk. "You know we can't do this." It was a conversation that we had too many times before.
"When we first started the show... When I first proposed the show's concept, we agreed that it has to be free from any editorial intervention," I continued. "The whole idea was supposed to be a natural study of itself, of how organisms evolve on a planet like Earth, and it HAS to be left to its own device in order for it to be a legitimate study. The television is just an added perk!"
Balk gave a very long sigh. "I know, Gorn. I know. Your job as a scientist requires you to stay truthful to your methodologies. But think about the bigger picture here. Who do you think pays for all the equipment in this lab?"
He gestured wildly across the room. "The lights, your food, the rent and your expensive computer? They all come from the show, the producers that market this show. Without the ratings, you'd be forced to shut down in a week!"
As much as I hated it, Balk was right. Maintaining this simulation was no easy task, considering how long we have ran it by now. 1400 years in total. I sunk to a nearby chair, having to face the prospect of interfering with a supposedly pure study again.
"Do you remember the last time we tried this?" I asked aloud, hoping that my producers could hear me, even though there were only two of us.
Balk nodded his head knowingly. The last time we intervened, we started the first modern global war. A crazy shooting got so many nations fighting against each other. Ratings did go through the roof , and excitedly, we thought we could create more interest in our project by further intervening, leading to a second world war and accelerating the discovery of atomic bombs.
It was only when our simulation sat on the brink of destruction, with the prospect of an atomic war, were we able to convince our producers to stop. But by then, reality in our simulation has been altered so drastically that nuclear threat is part of the new fabric of the world.
A familiar pat broke me from my daydream. Balk was standing next to me now. "You do know that immortals like us get bored easily, having lived for so long, facing the same thing over and over again. We need that extra kick every now and then, a reminder or mortality, which your universe so aptly provides."
I hated it when he makes sense.
Balk continued. "And right now, the viewers need another climax, something to excite them, or we would all risk another millennium war again amongst ourselves. And you need the money to continue funding your research. It's a win-win situation for us."
I looked at Balk, defeated. There was no way I could out-talk him on this. I brought up the holographic projection of the upcoming events in the simulation. "There is a major election coming up in the USA and from how the simulation is performing right now, it seems that this is the ideal point where we can shake things up a bit, to keep viewers interested."
Balk stepped excitedly next to me. "And I have just the suggestion on how to do it." His tentacles started scribbling around the projection, making suggested tweaks to the simulation.
"What if we plant the idea of running as the president in one of the most incompetent reality stars, who stands against everything that this is for, lets say this guy with this funny looking hair," he brought up a projection of a man in a business suit, "and we do our best to ensure his victory? Like eliminating any possible opponents in the race?"
"Letting him win? I know my simulation, Balk, a guy like him is not what the simulation is used to," I tried to object, but was quickly cut off.
"Exactly! What we need now is something completely unexpected, something dramatic, to mix things up! An unexpected twist, shake-up, you would say. This is how my show can get higher ratings and you can study how the natural reaction to your stimulation!" Balk's voice was ecstatic. I could only shrug in response.
I looked at the glowing projection of this man, the one they called Trump. "You do now when we introduce outlying variables, there is a very likely chance that we risk permanently shutting down the simulation right? Like what happened last time with the atomic crisis? These guys have tons of nuclear bombs lying around." It was my last defense.
Balk just walked up to me, all smiles now, putting two of his tentacles on my shoulders, "I'm sure your simulation creatures know better than to vote for someone like him, if they're so logical and rational as you make them to be."
He collected his clipboard, before making his way to the exit, "Besides, what better way to have your simulation end than with a bang? We could always start another one, as this Earth simulation is getting quite old and boring already, anyway."
And just like that, he was gone. I stood there alone, facing the tweaks that Balk has suggested to the system. Giving one last sigh, I hit the bright red button that read "Execute."
P/s: There was a writing prompt on this so I decided, eh why not. Since I’m already complaining about the situation so much. Source of the prompt can be found at https://www.reddit.com/r/WritingPrompts/comments/5bzv2z/you_are_a_scientist_in_a_different_universe_where/