The Turn of the 21st Century Part II

“Preach it! Sing it!” howled Bolivia as it fell to the floor in convulsions and started speaking in tongues.

“We are their successors! The defenders of their truth! We are the chosen ones! Hey, Bolivia.”

“Yes Venezuela?” replied Bolivia as it miraculously snapped out of its trance at Venezuela’s word.

“Did I ever tell you about that time that I was in the countryside, and I needed to go to the bathroom, but there wasn’t a toilet for miles?”

Everyone in the room gave Venezuela a very quizzical look.

“Ummm… no you haven’t,” replied Bolivia, not quite sure of what to make out of the turn in Venezuela’s sermon.

“What is wrong with that country?” whispered Portugal to Brazil.

“Oh this?” replied Brazil. “Yeah, Venezuela’s train of thought has a habit of suddenly and inexplicably derailing. The funny thing is that it doesn’t even notice when it does. It just goes on with its diatribe like it’s the most natural thing in the world.”

“I was in the farmlands after eating an unholy amount of rice and beans,” continued Venezuela. “And, wouldn’t you know it, they all wanted to come back out the other end. Well, there was no bathroom anywhere to be seen. All I had around me was the beautiful countryside. So, I jumped behind a palm tree, and relieved myself of my business. Just as we should relieve ourselves of the Evil Empire’s machinations!”

“Oh why don’t you just shut up already!” interrupted Spain.

Stunned, Venezuela ceased its rant.

“Yes please!” agreed the U.S. “My God… that country never stops talking gibberish. But getting back to the matter at hand, the Soviet Union and East Germany categorically do not exist, and therefore should not be at this meeting.”

“Since when do you judge whether or not a country can exist?” asked the Soviet Union.

“Since my inception. And you don’t. You imploded in 1991 and East Germany united with West Germany back in 1990.”

The two autocratic megaliths were soon wrapped in conference.

“Alright,” said the U.S.S.R. “We’ve come to the conclusion that you might have a point there.”

And East Germany the Soviet Union instantly disappeared from the meeting in a poof of common sense.

“That was positively silly,” said the U.S. “Does anyone else have any issue they would like to bring up?”

“I want more money,” said the U.A.E.

“Yeah! Me too!” concurred Great Britain.

“And me!” shouted Italy.

“Well, alright then. I’m actually glad you brought that up because I just so happen to have something that could make us all a whole hell of a lot more money!” beamed the U.S.

“What is it?” asked Qatar.

“I’ll show you,” replied the U.S.

The United States opened up its desk and pulled out a large black box. A collective “Oooh” arose from the other countries.

“What is that?” asked Greece in a hushed, almost reverential tone.

“This,” replied the U.S. “is my money box.”

“How does it work?” whispered Poland as it tried to catch a glimpse over the United States’ shoulder.

“It’s actually quite simple,” said the U.S. “I open the lid, dump some money into the box, close the lid, wait a couple of seconds, open the lid back up, and voila! More money appears in the box! Allow me to illustrate.”

The United States removed a one-dollar bill from its wallet, put it inside the box, and shut the lid. A large group of countries crowded around the U.S.’s desk, waiting to see what transpired. After a few moments of tense anticipation, the United States reopened the box. The crowd surged forward.

“What happened?” asked Nigeria.

“Did it work?” asked Peru.

“Is there more money?” asked Thailand.

The United States plunged its hands into the box, lifted its arm up, and triumphantly waved two dollars in the air. The crowd of countries immediately burst into cheers.

“I want to put my money into the box!” shouted Oman.

“I do too!” said the Ireland.

“Me first!” said the Portugal.

“No, me!” insisted Iceland.

“Whoa, whoa! Hold on everyone,” said Australia.

The other countries paused.

 “Let’s not commit ourselves to anything rash just yet. We don’t even know how this box actually works.”

“I already told you,” said the U.S. “You throw money into the box, close the box, open it back up, and more money appears.”

“Ok,” said Australia. “I understand that. But what are the actual mechanics that create more money after you place the initial amount?”

“Closing the lid,” replied the U.S.

“No, no,” continued Australia. “You’re not understanding the question. What actually happens inside the box once you close the lid?”

“It makes more money,” said the U.S., starting to get annoyed.

“Yes, I get that,” said Australia, rubbing its forehead in frustration. “But what processes inside the box actually produce the additional money?”

“Oh that?” the U.S. “I’m told it’s incredibly complicated.”

“By whom?” asked Australia.

“By the people who created the box,” said the U.S.

“I see. But they didn’t actually tell you how its internal workings operated?”

“No, I guess they didn’t,” responded the U.S. growing more irritated.

“So you actually haven’t the slightest clue about how that box works?”

“Ok, that’s enough of that,” said the U.S., positively agitated. “All I need to know is that it makes me a truly stupid amount of money.”

“Stupid indeed…” muttered Australia.

“I put money into the box, and out comes more money. And who here doesn’t like money??” asked the U.S., turning to the gathered nations.

A shout rang up from the countries around its desk.

“Well then,” said the U.S. “Everyone put your money into the box!”

Almost all the world’s nation lined up and placed their money inside the box. The United States closed the lid as they waited in elated expectation. After the lapse of a few seconds, the U.S. opened the lid to the applause of everyone in the room. It reached into the box, groped around, and turned white as a sheet.

“What’s taking you so long?” joked Great Britain. “Too much money in there for you to pull out?”

“The money…” stammered the U.S.

“Yes! The money!” shouted Austria. “How much money is there?”

“None,” whispered the United States.

“What’s that?” asked Jordan. “Speak up!”

“The money… It’s…it’s…it’s all gone.”

The room burst into a panic.

“What do you mean it’s all gone?” demanded Portugal angrily.

“I put all of my money in there!” cried Iceland and tears started to stream down its face, “I have nothing left!”

“This is going to be the ruin of us all!” exclaimed France.

“Everything is lost!” said Spain.

“I'm going to kill something!” shouted Honduras.

China, however, eased back into its chair with a giant grin on its face as it watched the pandemonium.

“What are you so happy about?” demanded Japan. “Our money is gone! You’re in this with the rest of us.”

“Oh not at all,” responded China with a chuckle. “I still have an obscene amount of the United States’ own money. I couldn’t lose it all if I tried.”

“Someone please end it all!” cried the U.A.E.

“What am I supposed to do??” begged Iceland. “I have absolutely nothing left!”

“I’m going to light this desk on fire!” shouted Greece.

“Alright, alright everyone,” said the Germany as it took the matches away from Greece and tried to calm the other countries down. “We need come together and try to fix this. Let’s pool our resources and get ourselves out of this mess.”

“I agree with Germany,” said the United States. “I am sure that we can come to an arrangement with some of your neighbors, Iceland. Panic is not going to solve anything right now.”

“This is your damned fault!” shouted Italy. “You’re the one that told us to put out money in that box, when you had no idea how it worked!”

“Well, in the United States’ defense,” said Australia. “You didn’t know either. No one made you put your money in there. You did it yourself.”

The room quieted down a little.

“Alright,” said Germany. “We European powers have been hit pretty hard by this disaster. Let’s clean our house up. Iceland, you say that you lost all of your money?”

“All of it,” moaned Iceland.

“I believe that the Netherlands and I can be of service,” said Great Britain. “We will lend you some money, but you have to promise to give it back later.”

“Yeah, yeah!” said Iceland. “Just give me the money.”

“But you have to pay it back,” said the Netherlands.

“Of course, sure!” replied Iceland.

“You promise?” asked Great Britain a little skeptically.

“I promise, I promise!” insisted Iceland.

“Alright,” said Great Britain while handing Iceland a stack of money. “Here you go.”

“Oh thank God!” exclaimed Iceland, fingering through the bills.

“So when are you going to pay it back?” asked the Netherlands.

“Pay what back?” asked Iceland.

“The money we gave you,” said Great Britain.

“Oh that?” asked Iceland. “Yeah, I already spent it all.”

“You spent it all??” asked a thoroughly surprised Great Britain.

“Yeah, it’s gone,” replied Iceland.

“But we literally gave it to you not ten seconds ago!” exclaimed the Netherlands.

“Well…it’s gone,” said Iceland.

“When are you going to pay it back?” asked Great Britain.

“Well, first I need to decide if I want to pay it back,” said Iceland.

“What do you mean you need to decide if you want to pay it back!” yelled the Netherlands, “We lent you money. You said you would pay it back. And now you go off about deciding whether you want…”

“Shush!” interrupted Iceland.

“Shush?!” exclaimed Great Britain. “How dare you shush…”

“Shush!” repeated Iceland.

“What do you think you’re doing, trying to shush us?” demanded the Netherlands.

“I need to decide if I want to pay you. The way I do that is by going into a trance,” replied Iceland. “And I can’t do that unless you shush!”

Iceland sat down on the carpet and closed its eyes as Great Britain and the Netherlands watched on in frustration.

“Well?” asked Great Britain after several minutes went by in silence.

“Don’t make me shush you again!” replied Iceland. “Anyway, I’m almost done.”

A few more minutes passed as the Netherlands and Great Britain became increasingly agitated.

“Godammit Iceland!” shouted Great Britain in desperation. “Come out of your stupid trance, and tell us if you’re going to pay us already!”

“Luckily for you,” responded Iceland. “I have completed my trance and have come to a decision.”

“Which is?” asked the Netherlands.

“I’m not going to pay you.”

“You asshole!” shouted the Netherlands. “We’re going to sue the shit out of you!”

“We’re going to squeeze every last penny out of you!” added Great Britain.

“Alright, keep it down over there,” said France. “Figure your issues out yourselves. We have other problems in Europe.”

“Yeah!” said Greece. “I have absolutely no money left!”

“Me neither!” chimed Ireland.

“I need money too!” insisted Portugal.

“Me too!” said Spain.

“And me!” added Italy

“Dear God,” muttered Germany. “This is insane.”

“But we need money!” insisted Portugal. “Please help us!”

“Fine,” said Germany after a pause. “I’ll help you.”

“Oh thank God!” said Spain.

“But only if there are some fundamental changes in your behavior.”

“Like what?” asked Ireland.

“Like no more shopping sprees,” said Germany.

All five countries groaned simultaneously.

“Oh, come on!” exclaimed Greece.

“Don’t you ‘come on’ me!” replied Germany, turning sharply at Greece. “’Come on,’ my ass!”

France did its best to suppress a snicker.

“I’m serious!” continued Germany. “And no more cooking the books! You tell me exactly how much money you have. No lying.”

Another groan.

“Am I understood?”

Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, and Ireland nodded their heads dejectedly.

“I said, am I understood?” repeated Germany.

“Yes, Germany,” they replied.

“Good. Now come over here and I’ll hand some money.”

They shuffled to Germany’s desk, received their respective bundles of cash, and shuffled back to their chairs.

Tunisia stood up to speak.

 “I believe that we North African Nations need to create a greater…Pardon me,” said Tunisia as it adjusted the traditional Arab noose that it wore around its neck. “It is my belief that the North African countries should… Wow this thing is annoying.”

It readjusted the noose once more.

“As I was saying, the North African…” the noose tightened around its neck, stifling its speech.

“Oh, forget this damned thing!” exclaimed Tunisia, finally ripping the noose off of its neck and throwing it on the ground.

A collective gasp went up from the countries in the room.

Tunisia stood over the rope, looking down on the instrument that had caused so much pain and suffering throughout its life in shocked disbelief.

“Wait,” asked Egypt hesitantly. “Can you do that?”

“I guess so,” replied Tunisia, still struggling with the gravity of the act it had committed.

“Then I’m taking mine off too!” shouted Egypt. It took the noose off its neck, and danced around it in elation. The United States and the European countries could only look on, shocked at the unexpected turn of events.

Taking heart at the success of Tunisia and Egypt, several other Arab countries also began to battle against their nooses.

Yemen’s contest commenced in a relatively peaceful manner. It calmly tried to loosen the knot, and slip the rope over its head. However, noticing the jeopardy it was in, the knot suddenly tightened around Yemen’s neck, almost choking it. Yemen, however, turned equally violent, and in a very dangerous move, pulled out a knife and starting to cut through the cords, pricking itself and drawing blood.

Syria’s knot also tightened at the first sign resistance. It fell to the floor as a cry for help was stifled before it passed its lips, but refusing to give up the fight, it resolutely continued in its effort.

Bahrain started to loosen its noose, but was stopped by Saudi Arabia, who slapped its hands away and forced the rope back into its original position.

Compared to their compatriots, Jordan’s and Morocco’s nooses were much looser, and complacent with the relative comfort this provided, they chose to not try to remove them.

Still bearing the scars around its necks from its last attempt, and fearful of the harm another undertaking would cause, Algeria only watched as its neighbors fought for their freedom.

Libya’s struggle turned particularly vicious as its noose tightened to the point of asphyxiating its victim. It desperately tried to pry the rope off its neck, but it soon became horribly apparent to the other countries that Libya was doomed to lose its fight.

Shamed by their slow reaction to Tunisia’s and Egypt’s actions, and resolved to not allow Libya to perish in front on their eyes, Great Britain and France decided to try to enlist the United States’ help.

“Hey U.S.!” said Great Britain.

“What do you want U.K.?” responded the United States while working on a crossword puzzle.

“Libya is going to die it we don’t do something to help it.”

“Oh, that’s nice,” mumbled a thoroughly absorbed U.S. without looking up.

“I don’t think you understand the gravity of this situation,” exclaimed France. “If we don’t move now, Libya will die in front of us.”

“Balderdash!” cried the United States.

“Excuse me?” inquired France, taken aback.

“Yeah, 8 Across: Balderdash,” said the U.S. “I was stuck on that one for a while.”

“For the love of all things good!” replied Great Britain. “A country will expire before our very eyes if we don’t help it!”

The United States was too busy staring listlessly into space to respond.

“Dammit man!” shouted France. “Do you not understand the gravity of this situation?”

Shaken from its stupor by France’s outburst, the U.S. groaned in annoyance as slowly got up from its chair.

“Fine!” exclaimed an exacerbated United States. “I’ll join you on your damned Libyan adventure.”

By the time the United States, France, and Great Britain walked over and began cutting at the strands of its noose, Libya was on the point of death. However, after some exertion, they were able to loosen it to where it was once more able to breathe.

“This is typical neocolonial interference!” cried South Africa. “You Western Powers intervene in our African affairs if and when you please, and only when it serves your own needs.”

“Pardon me,” asked Great Britain as it struggled with the hangman’s knot. “But what on Earth are you talking about?”

“I’ll tell you exactly what I’m talking about,” responded South Africa. “You interfere in our domestic policies at will, you take our resources, and you enslave us with your debt.”

Zimbabwe clutched its chest in pain and fell to the ground next to South Africa as a heart attack wracked through its body.

“You throw your weight around our continent with an unconcealed sense of entitlement,” continued South Africa, barely glancing down at its neighbor’s condition. “You disrespect us, and treat us as disposable pawns.”

Zimbabwe’s eyes rolled to the back of its head as it gasped desperately for air.

“We Africans can and will take care of our own without your meddlesome intrusions!”

“Um… are you going to do something about this?” asked Botswana as Zimbabwe went comatose.

“We are your puppets no longer!” continued South Africa without answering Botswana. “We shall roll over no more!”

Zimbabwe stopped moving as Cote d’Ivoire lapsed into a coughing fit after choking on a chocolate candy bar.

“We are strong!” persisted South Africa. “We will refuse your Western dictates!”

Cote d’Ivoire’s coughing grew louder.

“Well, Zimbabwe and Cote d’Ivoire aren’t looking too hot,” said France. “Why don’t you back your grandstanding with something concrete and help your fellow African countries?”

“I will not take orders from you!” replied an irritated South Africa. “I will not serve as a tool to further your own ends!”

“How about you just use your strength to help your neighbors when they are in need?” asked Great Britain.

“Oh please!” replied South Africa. “Do not patronize me. Unlike you and the other former colonial powers, I do not force my own agenda down other countries’ throats.”

“Well, actually there was that time you invaded and occupied me for 75 years…” began Namibia.

“I said,” interrupted South Africa loudly. “I do not force my own agenda down other countries’ throats.”

“Fine,” replied France as it positioned itself behind Cote d’Ivoire, wrapped its arms around the choking country’s stomach, and gave it a sharp, quick jerk, expelling the piece of chocolate that had lodged itself in its windpipe. Cote d’Ivoire greedily began gulping down fresh air.

“Pontificate all you want,” said France while walking back to help the United States and Great Britain with Libya. “You style yourself a strong regional power. Feel free let us know when you start taking on the responsibilities of one.”

Switzerland raised its hand.

“Yes Switzerland?” asked the U.S. as it looked up from Libya.

“I would like to make a motion to forget our petty differences and join together, not as a myriad of different nations, but in unity to create one great Nation of the Earth.”

Everyone but Germany burst into laughter.

“Oh that was rich,” chuckled the United States while wiping away a tear. “I needed a good laugh.”

Italy stood up.

“I make a motion for a recess.”

“What for?” asked the United States.

“Lunch. I’m starving.”

Several nations grumbled in assent.

“Fine. Would anyone like to second the motion?” asked the U.S.

Somalia, Niger, and Haiti raised their hands.

“All in favor?”

An almost unanimous consent resounded throughout the meeting.

“All against say nay.”

Azerbaijan got as far as “N-” before it was silenced by Armenia.

“Motion has passed. We will now have a thirty-minute recess for lunch.”

Once outside, Thailand immediately snuck out the back gate. Curiosity as to what Thailand was up to got the best of Australia and the Asian countries, which quickly left as well. Torn between continental lines, and after some vacillation, Russia and Turkey followed suit so as to not be left out. With them went the rest of Europe as well as Canada. Noticing Spain gone, Morocco took advantage of the situation to attack Western Sahara, and quickly ran out with its spoils.

South and Central America formed a giant Spanish-speaking power-bloc and invaded Africa. After about five minutes of bloody in-fighting over who had the best soccer team, they separated, but decided to sneak out of the meeting with the intention of sticking it to the United States by drugging its coffee. Noticing that it had been abandoned by the rest of the world, the United States left the meeting hall with the realization that it was probably high time for invading Mexico again.

Forgotten by everyone else, Vatican City remained until ten in the morning the next day. Armed with a new sense of resolution, it finally walked out with the intention of simultaneously excommunicating every other country on the planet.