Billions in Need

[ -7 billion]

“Huh?” Murphy sat up straighter in his seat. It was the first time he’d seen negative numbers on the website. It was a lazy Monday morning that didn’t need him at work; he was awake early anyway. He found himself browsing the web and ended up at the relatively new Timeline site.

The site was old enough that the novelty wore off for the public, but it was new enough that Murphy only visited a few times. He’d never heard of anyone talking about negative numbers.

“Maybe it’s a glitch,” Murphy deleted his decision and typed a new one. “I have decided to have pizza for lunch. What are the casualties of this decision?” he typed. The question didn’t need to be that formal; ‘pizza for lunch?’ would have been enough. However, he wanted to be extra careful to avoid the glitch.

[7 billion] appeared in the answer box.

“What the hell?” The answer confused Murphy, but he realized he did not use a timeframe when he asked the site about his neighbor.

“I have decided to kill my neighbor, Mr. Lopez today during lunch. What are the casualties of this decision?” Murphy elaborated on the question that gave him a negative answer the first time.

[ -7 billion] it replied again. Murphy stared at his question for a moment, then changed it.

“I have decided to kill my neighbor, Mr Lopez, tomorrow during lunch. What are the casualties of this decision?” he typed.

[7 billion] appeared in the answer box again.

“Is the timing that important?” he wondered then typed different variations into the site. “I have decided to kill Mr. Lopez today at dinner time. What are the casualties of this decision?”

[7 billion] it answered.

“I have decided to kill Mr. Lopez today at 1 p.m. Casualties?” he typed. Now that Murphy was confident the site was not glitching, he did not feel the need to continue being formal. 

[7 billion].

“I’m killing Mr. Lopez today at noon. Casualties?”

[ -7 billion].

“Alright,” Murphy sighed, shrugged, then glanced at the clock. “I have a few hours to kill before I…,” he interrupted his own thoughts by asking the site another question.

“I’m killing Mr. Lopez in ten minutes. Casualties?”

[7 billion].

“Yep, I’ve got time for breakfast first.”

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