Interview between Charlie Gracie and Kieron P Baird about The Button.
CG: What was the inspiration for this story?
KB: My inspiration for “The Button” lies in the distant past. I don’t know why but for whatever reason, “20 Words for 2020” made me think of a science teacher I had in 1st and 2nd year back at high school. Let’s just call him Mr E. He came out with some really random stuff. He was the first person I heard using the term “social experiment”. This was well before everyone on YouTube was saying/doing it, so it wasn’t exactly an everyday phrase. My micro fiction is based on one such theoretical (I hope) study he had in mind.
One day he was telling me and the other folk at my laboratory pod about another one of his social experiment ideas. He said about wanting to setup a nondescript, completely bare, white room with only one door in or out and no windows. It would contain nothing except a big button and a simple printout on plain white paper reading, “Please Do Not Press the Button or the World Will End”. We all remained deadly quiet, as we wanted to see where this was going but nodded along to show we were all following.
So, he continued, detailing that various people from his past classes over the decades would be ‘asked nicely’ to participate. Individually, they’d be taken to “The Room”, and the door would instantly lock behind the lone ‘test subject’ Once locked in the ‘participant’ would be left to their own devices and unwittingly monitored by Mr E. After a set amount of time, should they read the sign and not interact with the button, “like a good, respectful pupil”, the door would unlock and they’d be free to leave. However, should the person ignore the sign, things would take a sinister turn.
What happened if you pressed the forbidden button was this: a secret panel, on which the warning note was taped, would slide down, revealing Mr E in his hidden room. Holding a shotgun and more than willing, apparently, to promptly proceed to blast their head off. In Mr E’s own words, “Well…it would be the end of your world wouldn’t it. You’d be dead…”. He added some gun cocking gestures and blasting sound effects for good measure, to help us all really visualise the scene.
We all sort of looked at each other awkwardly as he burst into hysterical laughter and kind of just joined in, a bit sheepishly or perhaps nervously. It’s a memory that’s always stuck with me but this is the first time I’ve attempted to put it into my own words. Admittedly though, it was a challenge to condense it into 20 words!
CG: How long have you been writing?
KB: I’ve always had an imagination and enjoyed talking with family and friends about ideas, dreams, philosophical outlooks, observations of the natural world and strange scenarios etc. that all stem from the creative side of my brain. Though it is only rather recently I’ve started writing formally. It’s proved a great creative outlet.
Late 2017 was probably the first time I began writing something that wasn’t study related or some part of everyday life. I began with poetry and for a long time I focused solely on that. Everything was pretty much self-taught regarding poetry techniques and styles. Then, from late 2018, I branched out into writing micro fictions, flash fictions and short stories too.
Eager to progress on my writing journey, I’ve completed some creative writing courses via distance learning. Science was my original field of study, so going back to the fundamentals helped. Thankfully, I’ve always enjoyed reading books, first along with my Mum, until it was a sort of chapter for chapter deal. Naturally, from there I went on to reading books by myself. I actually ended up dating a woman that worked in my local library. She’s now my wife, so that definitely kept me reading later in life too. So, I suppose I unwittingly learned a few things along the way regarding storytelling, exploring concepts, creating worlds and character development.
Long story short, I know more now than I did when I started writing but I’m still learning to this day. I suppose that’s true regarding many things in life, you always keep learning along the way.
CG: What are you working on just now?
KB: I’m always working on various flash fictions, short stories and poems. I’ve had some success with getting my poems and stories published in 2020, so I would like to keep building on that. My ambition is to one day publish a collection of paranormal, cryptid and folklore inspired stories. Additionally, it would be nice to release a collection of either nature or gaming related poems too.
There is a novel idea I have, that I’ve been working on for a while, on and off. It involves a squalid flat, zombies, a traffic cone and questionable decisions by the protagonist Darren. Thought it was worth a mention.