ALARMISTS • by Barton Paul Levenson

The aliens came down and wanted to help. They gave away free technotricks to big firms like Westworld Petroleum, Royal Dutch Smell, and Coke Oil. The economy boomed and everybody was happy. The aliens just wanted one thing in return — desert land to raise their crops in. “Sure thing,” said the governments of the United States, Saudi Arabia, and 27 other countries with big deserts. The aliens even hired Earth firms to do the planting — Westworld Petroleum and Coke Oil.

But then Dr. Timothy Jansen, a botanist, studied the alien plants. He said they gave off fluorine. He even suggested governments might want to regulate fluorine emissions from the alien crops.

So Westworld Petroleum et al. set up a think tank, the American Institute for Institutional Americanism. The AIIA made blog posts and YouTube videos that said:

99% of Earth’s atmosphere is made up of just three molecules — nitrogen, oxygen, and argon. We feel there’s room for plenty more. Why do the Alarmists fear diversity?

Well, nobody wanted to be against diversity. So the United States and several other governments voted enormous subsidies to Westworld Petroleum, Royal Dutch Smell, and Coke Oil. The GOP adopted the slogan, “Plant, Baby, Plant!” The fluorine in Earth’s atmosphere approached 10 parts per billion by volume.

“100 ppb is the fatal level,” Tim Jansen said in a YouTube interview. “100 ppb of fluorine in the air will kill us all.”

The AIIA made another post:


Their chart showed Earth’s atmosphere as a pattern of white dots. There was one blue dot for fluorine. Most viewers couldn’t even find it. Surely something so small was harmless!

“A one-gram cyanide capsule will kill a 100,000-gram man almost instantly,” Tim Jansen said. The analogy seemed strained, so the governments voted Westworld et al. more subsidies. The fluorine content of Earth’s atmosphere went up to 20 ppb.

AIIA made another blog post:

For sixty years, we have used a compound in toothpaste to prevent cavities. That compound? Fluoride! So how come the Alarmists want fluorine in toothpaste and in our water supply, but not in the air? Isn’t that a little hypocritical?

Tim Jansen said, “Toothpaste has stannous fluoride. The fluorine is bound to tin atoms. Free F2 is not bound, and it’s extremely reactive.”

AIIA said:

Why is “bound” fluorine better than “free” fluorine? Why do the Alarmists hate freedom?

Tim Jansen tried to explain about chemical bonding, but no one wanted chemistry lectures. The fluorine in Earth’s atmosphere went to 50 ppb, then 100 ppb, and then 1000 ppb, and everybody on Earth died of fluorine poisoning. The aliens then moved in and colonized the planet, which had been their goal all along.

Down in Hell, the copywriters for AIIA tried to take out one last ad. Strangely, nobody was buying.

Barton Paul Levenson has a degree in physics. Happily married to poet Elizabeth Penrose, he confuses everybody by being both a born-again Christian and a liberal Democrat. He has more than 80 published short stories, poems, and essays. His novels Recovering Gretel and The Argo Incident are available from Kindle Direct Publishing at Amazon. Barton was banned from entering the Confluence Short Story Contest again after winning first prize two years in a row.

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