mouthful of molybdomancy

When otherwise healthy people all over the world began dying of heart failure in great numbers, it took scientists and authorities a while to realize what was going on. The dead appeared on all continents, from all walks of life. It was only after some months that the crisis was even noticed; but when the data were collected and analyzed, it was found that someone, somewhere on the planet, was inexplicably dying at a rate of 60 to 100 persons per minute.


When leading scientists discovered that the cause of it was Beatrix Kondo's heartbeat, reactions varied from incredulous to horrified. (Never mind how they discovered this—it was highly technical.) Every time her heart beat, one other human heart somewhere stopped.


World leaders took swift action. A team of assassins were dispatched to take her down. To keep her alive at all were unacceptable; even knocked unconscious, she would kill vast numbers: her heartbeat had already claimed more than 10 million people in three months, by one estimate.


In fact, the first assassination attempt on her failed when the sniper, the man holding the detonation switch, and the poisoner all fell down dead within seconds of each other. Rotten luck!


As for Beatrix? She had no idea at all this was happening until she heard the news the same way as you and I, from television. "But—I'm not trying to kill anybody!" she cried.


There were calls not to panic her. The physical exertion of fleeing, or even the stress of awaiting execution, were certain to raise both her heart rate and thus the death toll. But panic she did. She ran, hid, trembled, bemoaned her fate.


The snipers found her at last. "Terminate on sight," came the order. Just in the time the man took to level and steady his rifle, her heart, beating on, claimed more lives.


"It's not my fault," thought Beatrix, the instant before a rifle bullet cored her skull like an apple.


In the aftermath, there were those who took her story as occasion to reflect on the relationship of free will to moral responsibility—but most of us were just glad to be saved.


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