The End of the Whole Mess * Stephen King

The Story

In a little town there were two brothers. One was bright, one was a genius. Howard and Bobby got along like the house on fire and the older brother could feel only awe and amazement when looking at the stuff his little brother invented.

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When he was small he came up with an airplane design that had the wings backwards saying that’s how all airplanes should be as that’s how hawks take off after catching their prey. He blanked out the TV channels and put in his own show featuring the effects of beans on their father and other jokes.

As he grows older, he grows quieter – much like the younger sister in the Secret life of Bees. He realizes that the world is a scary place, filled with bad people and starts feeling the need to change it.
Much like Crake he has a solution for human violence.
While doing sociological research in Texas, Bobby used crime statistics to create a sort of topographic map which displayed a geographical pattern of violent crime. Examining the map, Robert noted diminishing levels of crime centered on the town of La Plata. When he arrives to investigate, he finds that this town has never had any violent crime. Bobby is ultimately able to determine that the cause of the non-aggression is the presence of a chemical unique to the town’s water supply, a phenomenon that is mentioned in (but had nothing to do with the causations of) King’s earlier novel It. Even minimal exposure to the chemical will calm down an angry person or animal, and Bobby has been able to isolate the chemical and reduce it to concentrated form.

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Several months later it is discovered that, to the Fornoys’ horror, there was another constant about La Plata that was not studied until after the substance was released. It does eliminate aggression, and increases calm, but it does the job too well. It builds up, out of control, in a subject’s system, ultimately giving them symptoms resembling dementia or Alzheimer’s disease and eventually resulting in death. Howard’s journal entries after this point begin to include increasing amounts of grammar, spelling, and other mistakes, eventually devolving into incoherence as Howard succumbs to the effects of the chemical. It is implied the human race will also eventually die out as adults start to forget how to care for newborn children.

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Connections

the-end-of-the-whole-mess.jpgThe premise of the story was also part of the plot of the 2005 film, Serenity. The colonists of the planet Miranda released a chemical into the atmosphere that suppressed all aggression, causing the population to become placid to the point of not performing any tasks at all and peacefully dying where they were. An additional twist came in that the chemical affected a portion of the population in the complete opposite way, driving them mad, and creating the Reavers.

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