"Scientific Progress Goes 'Meh'"
The team of scientists waited in position for the first official human testing of their long-awaited Apathy-Inducing Pulse. The animal trials had gone well and hopes were high in the room. The subjects at the other end of the hall, standing each on a red X, were a selection of passionate volunteers; among their number were a pair of opposing sports fans, three extremely enthusiastic evangelists of different faiths, and a well-known infomercial host who wanted to get into the minds of his most intractably apathetic viewers so as to learn how to sell even to them.
The countdown completed, and the Apathy-Inducing Pulse emitted from the room's apparatus, a soft but basso profundo hum that seemed to propagate through the thick concrete walls and floors, and the chest cavities of all the room's occupants, as much as through the air.
The team of scientists would have been ecstatic to see how effective their invention was. The sports fans had stopped trash talking in mid-sentence. Two of the religious enthusiasts' mouths hung open but no more scripture citations emerged, while the third, whose posture had been one of silent prayer, slowly slackened to a neutral stance. The infomercial host displayed approximately zero of his usual manic energy.
The scientists would have been ecstatic, that is, had one of their junior technicians not jostled, just that morning, the shielding that was meant to protect them from the Apathy-Inducing Pulse's effects, which jostling clearly merited a closer examination of the shielding but which the technician had been too naturally apathetic to bother with.
So everyone, test subjects and scientists alike, shuffled on their feet or sat or stretched out on the floor to stare at the ceiling. No one moved to turn off the device; they couldn't bring themselves to care one way or another whether the pulse continued or stopped.
A custodian entered after several hours, when the room was supposed to be empty, and immediately lost track of why he ever would have wanted to mop these floors. They all remained until morning, and were then joined by several eager (until they came through the door, that is) interns. By this time, many of them were dimly wishing there were snacks and a TV to watch, but without nearly enough volition to get up and look. The phone rang. No snacks came. The phone kept ringing.