by Edmund J. Janas, II

A short story about the end of the world and what humanity values. This may be the very first short story co-illustrated by Dall-E Mini Artificial Intelligence (So much for human progress)

Synopsis: The animals of the barnyard offer a warning to Douglas of the impending doom of the world and humanity. They recount the events of Elon Musk’s escape from the exploding rocket and his subsequent skid across the country. They explain that he was rambling about how he was wrong and how he needs to save the earth. The animals saw the whole thing and offer to testify in court. Douglas radios in to report that Musk is alive and may be in mental distress. The animals tell Douglas that they know the world is ending soon and that humanity is to blame. They plead with Douglas to warn humanity and try to save the earth.

“It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the passing of 10,000 passengers
aboard Elon Musk’s Megarocket, Idiot 1. Bound for the Mars Colony.John
Kipping, WKLAS L.A.: “Bodies strewn from the coast of Mexico to
Boston’s North Shore, and I don’t think we need to remind our viewers
that these weren’t just ordinary humans, these were largely 3,000
celebrities who agreed to colonize Mars preserving the best looking
humanity has to offer.”
“Yes, John, the manifest for Idiot 1 included 3,000 social media
influencers, a roster of many actors, musicians, sports heroes numbering
in total 6,000, the remaining 4,000 were stylists, make-up artists,
roadies, nannies, caddies and personal assistants.”
“This just in…breaking news from Elaina Rodriguez in Boston.”
“Hello John, sources say that….Elon Musk’s escape pod did manage to
clear the doomed explosion but the elderly tech genius is missing and
presumed dead after impacts.” John spoke into his earpiece. “Impacts,
don’t you mean impact?”

“You heard right, John. According to initial reports, his escape pod
fell into a water park and slid through and like a stone, his pod
skipped for two thousand miles through the Midwest until he landed in an
old barn in Idaho, leaving a trail of death in its wake.

“So it would appear that made for a slow and painful death for the
elderly Mr. Musk?”
“Yes, a video stream from within the escape pod shows the space pioneer
was completely conscious and screaming for dear mercy through his entire
45-minute skid. In which time he did come to several epiphanies. Here’

“Oh dear Lord God, Sweet Baby Jesus, spare me! I’ll be your faithful
servant; I’ll be a wise dutiful steward of the earth’s resources. I
swear it’s not worth it…I was wroooo-oooong!!!!!”

“What do you think he meant by that cryptic message?”
“Experts are still trying to piece that together, John.”
“Any word on what caused Idiot 1 to es-plode, Elain?”

“Initial reports are, it seems a fire tornado was spawned by a gas
explosion in the Gulf of Mexico and hurled a rock or projectile into the
Megarocket that held all 10,000 lives. All are presumed dead except for
space pioneers Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.”

“Isn’t it amazing that these elderly pioneers were limber and responsive
enough to make it to their escape pods? They’re the real heroes here.’
“Inarguably, John.”
Elaine continued, “There were grievance counselors on hand to help those
with at least ten thousand social media followers. A true…loss for
humanity.” Elaine’s voice cracked, choking back tears.
John’s face turned grim. “We now have to cut to the President who is on
the scene at Cape Canaveral, Florida”
“Dear fellow Americans. It is with a heavy heart that I come to you
today with grave news. At 08:00 hours, Megarocket Idiot 1 ran into a
plasma storm in earth’s upper atmosphere. The craft was chock-full of
celebrities and their assistants when it was struck by discharge from
the storm. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos were fortunate enough to make it to
their escape pods in time. Likely due to their expert skill and
thousands of hours of preparation, but I’m sad to report that the other
19,998 passengers aboard the Megarocket died instantly…or slowly during
their 200,000 foot fall to earth.”

“Mr. President! Mr. President!”

“Are there any plans for a coordinated response to the situation? Any
national strategy or plans to help the world carry on?”

“Look, there were a lot of millionaires and billionaires on that rocket.
Men, Women and Non-Binaries looking to make a fresh start away from our
planet. Those proud Americans dreamed of a better world, where they
could live without plastics, real work, and avoid the sad eyes of
endangered animals. We owe the crew and passengers aboard Idiot 1 a
great debt. They showed us that we could learn to love a lifeless red
rock more than a baby dolphin.”
“Mr. President! Mr. President!”

“There are rumors that Mr. Musk’s DNA will be scraped off the interior
of that old barn in Idaho to clone him….and that Bezo’s brain was also
retrieved from the Indian Ocean and frozen. Is there any validity to
these reports?”

“I can neither confirm nor deny those claims, but I can tell you this, I
think it’s time we deal with environmental issues confronting us. For
too long, we ignored the thousands upon thousands of species
disappearing. We ignored the whales, the songbirds, and the dolphins
dying off. But now this is serious. We have multiple millionaires
scattered in low-earth orbit, tossed onto cellphone towers, into diners,
and romped through water parks. Over the past twenty years, we’ve seen
insect populations plummet and entire ecosystems collapse, and now this
unspeakable tragedy. I think the American people are finally ready for
action on climate change.”

Meanwhile, Douglas from the Department of Genius and Job Creator
Preservation was assigned as lead investigator on the case. It was Task
Team A’s responsibility to retrieve Elon’s sludge from the crash site.
When Douglas arrived, several workers were huddled in the middle of the
old barn chuckling at Mr. Musk’s 45-minute rant.

“Back to work ladies, gents and nonbis, this is no laughing matter!”

The investigators scurried back to scraping a thick goop covering just
about every surface in the barn.

“That’s where he hit Elsa, ma cow and blew up!” the thin man in overalls
said as he stood there beside his short and round daughter-wife, who had
this pleased look upon her face. “That was my prized heifer; it gonna
cost you,” she said, swaying as if she had just won the lottery.
“Oh Ma! Not now. We’ll make a million times that selling tickets! But
we’re very grieved indeed, Sir. To think, a multi-billionaire coming to
rest inside Elsa, in this old barn. What the chances?”
Douglas knew grifters when he saw them. “Ah, Sir…Ma’am, I have to ask
you to step outside the barn while our team collects DNA evidence. We
wouldn’t want….” Douglas stopped to look at the odd woman. “DNA

“Of course…wouldn’t want any DNA contamination going on in this barn,
would we Pa!” She said, striking his arm. He let out a chuckle and a
very knowing head nod as the two left the barn arm in arm, tickled pink
that their lifetime of misfortune had finally yielded a beneficial
tragedy. As they were leaving, she slipped in a pile of poo and nearly
fell, but the old farmer righted her and she let out a squeal of
delight. “Whoops! Hiya, Elon!” And the two made their way into their

“Eww! Get this to the lab,” he said as he looked askance at the woman in
a hazmat suit laughing at the screams of the elderly Mars Mayor Musk of
the Mars Colony, watching footage of his descent.

“I can’t believe it; he’s praying!” and she let out a hearty laugh.

“Is nothing sacred to these people?” Douglas screamed, exasperated.

“I mean it, stop playing that damn footage and get this to the lab!”


Douglas looked around to find the source of the sound.


Douglas looked down and saw Mr. Wigleski smiling up at him. In all his
years, he had never seen a pig smile before. He thought he had rather
nice teeth. “Hey,” The pig squinted to read his badge. “Officer…Tait,
is it? Get me outta here and I’ll tell you a secret!”

“I wanna go tooo-ooo! Honk, Honk!” Ms. Elmsworth, the goose, yelled from
her corner. Douglas wondered if he had some bad salsa for breakfastI’m
gonna tell!” Yelled Charles the spider, “I had eight bird’s eye
views of it all,” he giggled as he descended from the rafters of the old
barn and suspended himself in mid-air. And you don’t need to free me
because I love it here!”
Douglas looked a little puzzled. “You know…we can subpoena you all. So
none of that quid pro quo nonsense, so spill the beans!” And with that,
Mr. Rufus, the elderly horse of the barn let out a huge loud fart. “How
you like them beans, Mr. Tait?!” All the animals and the spider let out
an infectious laughter rousing Mr. and Mrs. Churchmouse…who were
reclining in a sardine can nestled in the hay near the wall.

“Don’t tell him anything! He’s the enemy!” Little Cornchic screamed as
he charged Douglas. “Let me go Ma, Let me go! I wanna piece of him!”
Mrs. Cornchic fought to keep Little from attacking. “Oo-oh, I have a bad
feeling about this Mrs. Cornchic said,”

Mr. Rufus grew frustrated and interjected, “Nobody is listenin’ to you
chickes, I’ll tell him! That their sludge ain’t Elon’s….it’s Elsa the
cow’s, Elon Musk is alive dammit!”

“Oh, shit!” Cried Mr. Wigleski. “You blew our one chance to get outta
this pig style!”

“Oh, my! Come along children, said Mrs. Cornchic gathered her brood and
exited the barn”

“Yup, I saw the whole thing. His space ship broke in two and he walked
right through Elsa’s ass.”

Charles the spider recounted. Mr. Churchmouse chimed in, “He was dazed
and confused, muttering something about how he had to save the earth
now, and how he was wrong all along.”
“Yes, all true.” Echoed Mr. Rufus

“And would you all be willing to testify to this in court?”

“Damn Skippy!” Mr. Churchmouse yelled. Mrs. Churchmouse pulled on his
neck fur and said, “Don’t get involved Shaquon! You know you can’t trust
these humans?”

“They’re all not bad; remember that one that rescued you from that glue
trap, Laquisaha?”

Laquisha held up her right stump and reflected, “Yes, thanks…I guess.
But that was a little one, and you know they’re better than the big
ones. You’ve never seen a big one worth a shit, have you?”

And just then, a shadow seemed to move through the barn. It was Mr.
Pimley, the barnyard crow. “He went west!” He exclaimed. And before
Douglas could survey the touraine, Owl Alleyes came down off the rafters
resting upon Mr. Rufus’ head. “He went East, I saw the whole thing. He
went East.” Mr. Pimley let out a huff, “You’re just contradicting me for
the sake of contradicting me,” his tone condescending and snobbish.
Douglas activated his radio: “Attention all units, attention all units.
Mr. Musk is alive. Target is heading east…or west and may be in mental
distress. Put out an APB to all units!”

“Copy that,” a tired voice crackled on the radio.

“Caw! Caw! If I may. We were all discussing it, and we have a message we
would like to get to your kind. The farmers are not clever enough to
hear us, but you seem to hear us quite well.”
Just then, Little Cornchic scurried back into the barn, with his mother
in pursuit. “Come back here this instant!”

“Don’t trust them! They’re supposed to protect us!”

“And there it is, Mr. Tait,” Mr. Wigleski said sadly. “You know how your
kind says we animals have a sixth sense?”

”Yes…I suppose I do,” Douglas stopped writing in his notepad.

Mr. Wigleki’s tail stopped swirling around, and he looked up to Douglas
and their eyes met.
“We are all going to die very soon.”

“When have you ever known his kind…to be kind or care about anything?”
Little Cornchic offered wisdom beyond his weekss. “They don’t care about
Douglas stopped writing and knelt down, and seeing he wasn’t down
enough, he laid on his side so he could better see Little Cornchic.”

“Go on,”

“It’s ending soon; we all know it. That’s why the weather is so hot all
the time. That’s why there are no bugs like the old ones said were so
tasty. My Mama didn’t want me to say nothin,’ says your kind never

“I’m listening now.”