This is the second of two different types of stories. Both have the same writing prompt which is a story about how a cookie can cause chaos. Artwork by Adobe FireFly.
-*From The How Did We Get Here Series*-
Mara stared in disbelief at the giant screen in Times Square. The news ticker scrolled: “Wall Street Crashes. Dow Plummets. Cause Unknown.” People were running around in a frenzy, cars were honking, and sirens blared in the distance. She clutched the half-eaten chocolate chip cookie in her hand, her eyes widening as she realized the impossible chain of events she had unwittingly set into motion.
Mara, a junior programmer at a cybersecurity firm, was having an awful day. Her code kept breaking, and her boss was breathing down her neck. All she needed was a break, so she headed to her favorite bakery.
Across the street, in a small nondescript office, an elite team of stock traders were executing high-frequency trades. Their algorithm, “Bullseye,” needed the internet connection to be flawless. Every millisecond counted.
As Mara walked into the bakery, she couldn’t resist the smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. She bought one and decided to sit at the café corner to savor it.
Feeling whimsical, she took out her phone and connected to the bakery’s WiFi. She posted a photo of her cookie on Instagram with the hashtag #TheCookieThatSavedMyDay.
Little did she know, the bakery’s WiFi router was on its last leg. Her upload pushed it over the edge. It crashed.
This bakery, due to a quirk of geography and infrastructure, shared an internet junction with the building across the street—where “Bullseye” was executing trades. The momentary lapse in connection triggered a fail-safe, sending “Bullseye” into a sell-off mode to minimize risks.
Within seconds, other trading algorithms interpreted this as a sign of impending market doom and began selling off, too. The cascading effect was instantaneous. The Dow Jones plummeted, causing widespread panic.
Mara finished her cookie, oblivious to the traders across the street pulling their hair out and the news reporters scrambling for an explanation. As the world around her spiraled into chaos, she simply thought, “Well, at least the cookie was good.”