Midnight Jolt Run

Caffeine tastes better when the city's asleep


Posted by Fiss on June 17, 2018

By Christopher Brummet


“Well, Joe, I’ve got some good news. And I’ve got some bad news.”

“Seems like news always does that,” Joe McDunn said, not daring to look down at the folded newspaper. Even as he handed over his dollar-twenty-five for the special weekend edition, he could see the titular headline announcing that the votes were in. “It’s decided then.”

“Sure is,” the newsstand owner nodded back in the dim morning night. “Everyone will know in an hour or so. You’re probably the first who has a copy in their hands.”

“Thanks, I’d better head back,” Joe said, looking towards his home instead of the headlines. “Think I’ll read it in front of the family. They deserve to know when I do.” It sounded noble when he said it like that, anyway.

“Here,” the owner said, handing him a rolled up poster. “For the resistance,” he winked. “Just in case.”

Joe nodded, then began walking, newspaper tucked under one arm, poster in the other. He wondered what his wife and daughters would say. Good or bad, at least they would have the news at last.

Almost a year ago, June 20th, 2021 “The Event” happened. It had been a beautiful summer Sunday in Newfoundland, Canada, and families everywhere were celebrating Father’s Day. Dads, Granddads, Uncles, Mentors, Father-Figures and all manner of household patriarchs were being honoured for their quintessential Dad-ness as had been tradition for decades. The Event occurred quite by accident, though. A large percentage of Dads started telling jokes at around the same time.

The wave of Dadjokes crept across Canada as the Earth rotated. Quips, bad word-play, silly innuendo…all was showcased in this amazing moment of Fatherly Synergy all across the nation. But, as their collective punchlines, puns and verbal punishment all culminated to fruition in the span of a single heartbeat, a collective groan roared across the province. Moms, Kids, Partners, and all manner of family and friends promptly reacted to the Greatest Dadjoke Wave ever, and produced a power far more destructive than even the worst Dadjoke on its own.

“The Event” had begun in the East.

As the groan travelled west, it was strengthened by yet more groans and cries out for ‘Dad to stop it!’ Eventually, around Toronto, the pressure wave reached fifty decibels, and when it reached Edmonton, windows started shattering out of skyscrapers. The Rocky Mountains were shook loose of all their snow, causing massive avalanches and flooding across the parks and foothills as the wave passed through. As for the unfortunate souls in Vancouver? The poor bastards are still trying to rebuild.

They called it “Dadmageddon”

The Power of the Dadjoke had been unleashed upon the world, and wisely, the world beheld it in fear. Immediately after the nation’s ears had stopped ringing in pain, a new cry echoed out: “Ban the Dadjoke!”

Dads everywhere responded immediately: It was unconstitutional! What about freedom of speech? What about the way kids grinned despite the jokes being cheesy and horrible? Ban groans instead!

But for every Grandpa defending his use of ‘Rectum, dang near KILLED’um!’ or a wise uncle who had mastered the subtle art of “Hi Hungry, I’m Dad!” there were equal numbers of flustered Wives, Grandmas, Children and Life-Partners of all genders who had heard one Dadjoke too many and longed for the day where they wouldn’t smack their own foreheads in disgust at a pun.

In the government, laws were drawn up, motions were passed and the process began. Debates raged for weeks in the House of Commons. Finally, the public was asked to weigh in, and a suitably polarized survey came back…nearly half the nation wanted this dangerous (and annoying) form of humour banned, while the other half relished it, and promised never to blow up Port Hardy ever again.

Not wanting to alienate so many voters, the government set up a referendum to get the people to decide. The Good News was that it would now be for the people to decide. The Bad news…depending on who you asked…It was now in the hands of the Dads and their victims to decide.

As the referendum date approached, advertising went wild! TV and radio ads were purchased, billboards were erected, and polls showed shifting loyalties back and forth as everyone debated, discussed, and plotted…it was too close to call.

The day came. Joe McDunn and his Wife both voted. They never talked about it afterwards, but Joe hoped that the glare Trisha McDunn kept giving him when he giggled and began a knock-knock-joke was one of begrudging acceptance, and not a wish for revenge.

Exit polls were equally tight, but there was enough margin of error to allow for either side to win the day and become law. Dadjokes would either be forever banned as ‘Destructive Speech’ or forever protected as Free Speech.

The counting was done by computers hidden away at parliament, far from the Radicalized Dads plastering posters (like the one Joe now held) promising to ‘Keep Calm and Joke On’ even if the art-form was banned. Likewise, a secret cabal of Moms had tried to tamper with the ballots last week as they were printed, editing the text on the paper to read: “Do you want your wife ever to ever make love with you again? BAN DADJOKES!” A vicious, but effective campaign. Luckily it was caught before it got to the printers.

Realizing the potential for a huge public backlash no matter the outcome, the results were to be sent to nationwide newspapers for the morning edition…mainly so the government’s websites wouldn’t crash.

Joe walked up the steps to his home with a sigh. He still hadn’t had the courage to read the result alone. For better or worse, good news or bad, he would learn the fate of his jokes with his family by his side.

He opened the front door. Trisha greeted him with a carefully reserved kiss in her nightgown. Their daughters, Sally and Suzie, sat at the kitchen table in their pajamas, stopped pretending to eat their cereal.

“Daddy!” cried Sally excitedly. “Well? Can you still tell jokes?”

“Of course not, his jokes are terrible!” the younger Suzie hissed back.

Joe took a deep breath and opened the paper in his hands, reading it quickly. After a moment, he lowered it, wearing a neutral expression. Trisha steeled herself for the verdict. “Well, honey? Which is it? What did the nation decide?”

“Well,” Joe said, taking a deep breath. “I’ve got some Good News…and I’ve got some DAD News!”

The groan of the three girls nearly tore the roof off.



Studio Shinnyo 2018.  Khattam-Shud, EOF.
Posted under Short Stories

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