These are short stories put up each Friday that you can read for free. By the next Friday the post will be taken down and a new one will go up.
It began in Silas Festerson’s California almond plant.
By that time water production in the Sunshine State had ceased, what with the Great Droughts of the early-2020s.
Festerson had been one of just four California almond growers allowed to transition to inside-only almond growing plants.
Production started off well in 2022, with various new agricultural techniques of soil, water, and compost. This cut down a single almond's need for 1 gallon of water from seed to harvest to half a pint, a 94% reduction.
Americans continued to have their almonds, and at a time when imports had virtually ceased.
World War III had begun in 2017 and though it would peter-out from 2021 to 2029 before starting up again,* the economy of America never really recovered.
What wasn’t known at the time, though it would come out years later, was that a great conspiracy was underfoot at the Festerson Almond Plant.
The conspiracy got right down to basic nutrition, and to the idea put for by early-20th century seer Edgar Cayce, that humans only needed three almonds a day for perfect health.
This idea had gained ground before WWIII broke out, so much so that many were demanding their three almonds a day.
When water shortages hit California, however, it just wasn’t possible to meet that market demand.
At that point in time Americans were eating, on average, 2 pounds of almonds a year. What Festerson realized, however, was that 88% of Americans were eating those almonds in chocolate bars.
So Silas Festerson came up with a plan.
The idea was to stop including the whole three almonds in the chocolate bars, as had been going on via an unspoken rule ever since the Cayce craze began years earlier.
Instead just 2.2 almonds would be put in, effectively depriving people of that 0.8 almond and their chance to overcome all their ailments.
The first batch of these Festerson bars, as we now call them, went out on June 7, 2022.
Nothing much happened…at first.
It wasn’t until the following spring that medical professionals around the country began sounding alarms.
For some reason, cancer rates had shot up 288%.
The CDC was brought in and Congress was called up to investigate. After 14 months of talks, studies, and shouting matches it was revealed that cancer rates had gone up for one reason and one reason only: the sun.
Americans were simply getting too much sun! People laughed and shrugged and said, “who knew?” Life went back to normal, or as normal as it could be with half the people on your block getting sick.
One area of the country that wasn’t getting sick, however, was the area of California where the Festerson Almond plant was operating. In fact, that area had the lowest rates of cancer in the country.
No one put two and two together, however, as no one knew that shipments to the chocolate factories had decreased.
That wasn’t revealed until a disgruntled Festerson Almond plant employee, Damien Hicks, went to the local TV station with the news. It was the night of August 11, 2023.
Usually that wouldn’t have been a problem, what with the Fair Communications Act of 2019 that’d made it illegal to broadcast anything not officially approved by the FCC in Washington, D.C, a process which took seven months on average.
Luckily for Hicks, he chose KTXL, a station that had an anti-government, heavily-alcoholic station manager. The story was run that night and without official approval.
While it’s true that this resulted in that station’s destruction by drone 7 minutes after the broadcast, by that time the news had already gone out to 700,000 people, something that meant the dark net would get word of it.
Ever since the internet had been shut down in 2017 the dark net had been operating. The government had tried to shut it down several times, though this only resulted in new incarnations of the dark net.
Shortly after midnight on the night Hicks had went to the TV station, the dark net flooded its search engines with the Festerson Almond Conspiracy, as it was first called.
By the time breakfast was over several hours later, nearly every American had heard the news.
One of those Americans was Dudley Dodd, at that point still living in rural Pennsylvania and taking care of his extended family as best he could. He’d lost both parents to cancer, his wife, and one child.
When Dodd heard the news over breakfast on the dark net, he called into his job at the local laundry plant and told them he was sick. Five minutes later, after kissing his family goodbye, he started his epic march to Washington.
Thirty-four days later he’d be president…but that’s best saved for our next chapter.