You and I in a little toy shop,
Buy a bag of balloons with the money we've got.
Set them free at the break of dawn.
'Til one by one, they're gone.
I stared at the two nations. America had his eyes narrowed at Russia, who was holding a little remote in his hand. On it were two buttons- one green, the other red.
If he put any more pressure on his thumb, the world would be destroyed.
A little thing called 'mutually assured destruction.' Basically, it meant if either side acted, everything was lost.
The USA and Soviet Union were deep in the Cold War- both had huge stores of nuclear bombs ready to use. Both sides knew that if they actually started to fight, the world would be plunged into nuclear winter and every human life would be gone.
That would happen since so many explosions at the same time would cause an ash cloud so thick it would block the sun.
And it was all based on a rumor.
Back at base, bugs in the software.
Flash the message, something's out there.
Floating in the summer sky,
Ninety nine red balloons go by.
I could scarcely believe the two were willing to throw everything away, but they were two of the most stubborn and proud nations I had ever met.
I sighed and pleaded once more.
"Guys, do you really want this?! The world- just because you have the power to destroy it does not mean it's your right! Would you look me in the eye and say that you're fine with your people being massacred just so you can keep your pride?"
Neither moved an inch, but I saw a faint shadow of doubt cross Alfred's cerulean gaze. Ivan let his gaze flick towards me for a second and I hoped the desperation shining from my own eyes would be enough.
It was a few moments of tense silence before I tried again, my voice soft and sad.
"And it wouldn't even matter because you'd be dead as well. And so would I."
Ninety-nine red balloons,
Floating in the summer sky.
Panic lads, it's a red alert-
There's something here from somewhere else.
The war machine springs to life,
Opens up one eager eye.
Focusing it on the sky as
Ninety-nine red balloons go by.
A trickle of sweat ran down America's face but he kept his eyes trained on his enemy. He clutched an identical controller to Russia and the finger on the red button was trembling. I stared at it and realised how close he was to cracking and pressing it in a panic.
"Alfred, Ivan! Please see reason! This entire war is based on mistrust! Neither of you started it; and both of you should end it! If I go and draw up a document, will you both sign it? You must agree to first."
I waited. The tense atmosphere grew thicker by the second and I started praying.
"Think of those innocent lives, thrown away from your spite. Alfred, that's not what a hero does to his people. That's what a villain does."
I could tell I was close to getting through. "And Ivan. If you want friends, this is not the way to get them. How could you ever rule the world if there's nothing left of it?"
He bit his lip, and the finger on his trigger twitched. America let his gaze drop to the floor. I could practically see the thoughts as they raced through his head.
Ninety-nine Decision Street.
Ninety-nine ministers meet,
To worry, worry, super-scurry.
Call the troops out in a hurry!
This is what we've waiting for
This is it boys, this is war
The President is on the line
As ninety-nine red balloons go by
One last attempt before I gave up and left to say my goodbyes. I sighed.
"There is nothing worse to do than to press that button. Nothing. But fine... If you want to toss the lives of seven billion innocents away, do it. I'm here to make you see reason but that's failed so goodbye. I hope you're happy. Don't regret the decision you make today."
And with that, I turned and walked away, opening the thick concrete door of the room and giving one last, sad smile before closing it gently. So... There was nothing to be done.
The world was to be destroyed, all of the animals, humans, pants and everything else killed because two people didn't trust each other.
Ninety-nine knights of the air,
Riding super high-tech jet fighters.
Everyone's a super hero;
Everyone's a Captain Kirk.
With orders to identify, to clarify and classify.
Scrambling in the summer sky
As ninety-nine red balloons go by...
Ninety-nine red balloons go by.
My footsteps echoed as I slowly ascended the stairs, the cold air chilling me. It was damp and depressing, and I let a single tear slip.
It seemed kind of unfair that the world could be obliterated at the touch of a button; all of our successes and achievements wasted because of pride. I saw now why it was a dealt sin, and realised just how overlooked it was.
The others affected the individual. Pride affected everyone.
I sighed and pushed open the door leading to the cold streets of Berlin. A glance behind me and the door had vanished, looking just like every other section of the wall towering into the sky.
People were huddled together, crying and trying to offer mutual comfort. They knew. They could tell that the world was coming to an end.
Ninety-nine dreams I have had...
Every one a red balloon.
Now it's all over and I'm standin' pretty
In this dust that was a city.
I sat heavily on a bench, fiddling with my scarf and watching the snow drift down from the thick grey blanket of a sky. Would it look like that when the ash erupted? Or would I be blind and deaf, choking and clutching my throat and trying to catch a last glimpse of another living face?
Footsteps crunched up to me. Not that I cared, though, since it was probably just another lost soul, drifting aimlessly around like a forgotten dream. But.. No.
These steps had a purpose.... Both sets.
I lifted my head, cautious hope exploding into joy when I recognized the two men in front of me.
Alfred had his head bowed, looked ashamed and tears trickling down his cheeks. His bottom lip quivered.
"I... I'm so sorry. We-" Russia cut him off, voice shadowed with pain.
"We are not going to be doing any of the fighting. You are right. Nobody wants to die. But if he tried anything..." The Russian cast a sadistic smile at his fellow nation, who shivered slightly.
"Y-yeah. But... We have to go and tell our bosses. Goodbye." He nodded to me once, before stiffly turning around and hurrying off. Ivan smiled at me, this one sweet and remorseful.
"Da, we must. Farewell. And thank you for telling us. Both Alfred and myself needed to hear it."
I nodded once.
"Goodbye, Ivan." It was all I could say, with tears of joy choking my throat. The moment he was gone, I took my head in my hands and wept happily. The world would continue, lessons learnt and it could be forgotten.
If I could find a souvenir,
Just to prove the world was here...
And here is a red balloon-
I think of you and let it go.
I smiled and traced a petal of the sunflower happily. A voice echoed in my head, you really must thank Ivan for this. He's had trouble with growing them recently, and this is so large!
I gently placed it down and picked up something else. A note- from Alfred.
Listen, I never did thank you for stopping that war all those years ago. You... saved the world, I guess. So thanks. You're a hero!
With love from the Hero.
PS I hope that when it happens, you feel the love and gratitude of everyone. Goodbye.
I let a hint of pain show in my eyes. Had it been so obvious that I was to die soon? Oh well, at least I had the well wishes of my friends.
I gently placed the note on the hospital bed and closed my eyes, listening as my heartbeat grew more fragile.
And the last thing I saw was a note stuck to the ceiling. Thank you.