Incremental Doom by Ian Willey

I was sitting on a bench in the mall watching the fountain when a guy sat next to me and you could just tell he was going to start up a conversation, and he soon did. He held up a small purple ball and said, I have in my hand an Orb of Incremental Doom. Oh, do you, I said. That’s right, he said. When I toss this into the fountain the hydrogen molecules will trigger a reaction causing the Orb to grow one-one hundredth of its size each day until it’s as large as the moon, causing all sorts of bad stuff to happen to the earth. How long will it take before it gets that big? I asked. Your skills in math are poor, he said. There will be time enough for you to forget about it, and then one day you’ll hear about it in the news. After that you’ll still have a lot of time. Doom will come incrementally. So, it’s no different from the way things are going now? I asked. His eyes widened. You have fathomed the truth, he said. He put the ball back in his pocket and stood up. For that I will spare the earth. I don’t believe you, I said. That’s a jawbreaker you have. It is not, he said. Is too. You are a strange man, I said. It takes one to know one, he said.


Ian Willey is an English teacher from Akron, Ohio, who has spent most of the 21st century living in the inland sea area of Japan. His poems were nominated for Pushcart Prizes in 2019 and 2020.



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