The Bearer: Background

On Alternate Earth, studies and cases have shown that a small percentage of the population (10%) is responsible for 90% of the bad luck.

These people are targeted by bad luck, almost by cosmic forces: they are struck by lightning out of a sunny day, hit by cars whose brakes give out, and slip on banana peels in a no-eating zone.

Perhaps the luck is equalized somehow, because these people generally survive or are compensated for the situation.

The general populace once labelled these people as 'clumsy airheads', but following some high profile cases, they have since come to be known as 'Bearers', generally ranked class-F through class-A, each about 10x rarer and with worse luck than the next.

Most of the time, disasters from Bearers do little harm to others, and class-F through class-B have relatively tame bad luck, ranging respectively from the frequent stubbing of toes and slipping on bananas, to occasional injury and minor destruction of property.

Class-A bearers have a grade of bad luck involving weekly escapes from death, ranging from car crashes, apartment fires, and lightning strikes.

However, at a level 100x rarer and deadlier than class A, Class S Bearers are very rare, sitting at 1/100,000,000 people but are disproportionately represented in history: The Explosion of Black Tom Island (1875), the gunpowder explosion of Abbeville (1773), multiple unstoppable wildfires, the 1987 Stock Market Crash, and a failed rocket launch that killed a cow in Cuba (1986), to name a few.

Eventually, the world came to know about the potential disasters that could be wreaked by a single bearer in recent times, in Robert's Case (Misc section). After being hit by multiple tsunamis, hurricanes, and other natural disasters caused by one Bearer, the governments decided to change their stance on bearers, to prevent similar tragedies.

Summary: Bearer Information

Tetroid vs Earthquakes in Damage

  • A Bearer's bad luck is related to the recently discovered Tetroid Waves
  • The Bad Luck rating can be measured from Tetroid waves
  • E is 10x more bad luck (Tetroids) than F, D is 10x stronger than E, and so on.
  • The Tetroid rating from F to S can be equated to local earthquakes (diagram above)
  • All humans emit tetroids, Bearers are simply humans with more Tetroids
  • It is easy to track Bearers, especially B to S-class, but Tetroid waves can be blocked by some common metals
  • Blocking Tetroid waves does not prevent disasters, but does impact interference (see below)*
  • The strength of Tetroid waves emitted prior correspond to the bad luck event that will ensue
  • Luck seems to follow laws of conservation; an event of bad luck is equalized by almost equal good luck eventually
  • A Bearer can emit Tetroids above their class when in distress, and generally the event triggered aims to solve the Bearer's problems
  • Tetroid wave interference happens when two or more Bearers are nearby
  • Paradoxically, destructive interference (cancellation of bad luck) happens when multiple Bearers share similar harmonious emotional states
  • Conversely, constructive interference (amplification of bad luck) happens when multiple Bearers are emotionally chaotic


How should the World interact with Bearers, knowing that their numbers are steadily increasing, to best mitigate global and local disasters?

The best answer would also be humane, properly integrate modern society with the Bearers, and prevent unwarranted discrimination where possible.

Also, out of interest, who is responsible for the compensation, in the even of an accident? Will insurance rates for Bearers be disproportionately high, or will a common fund exist to support them?

Note: This happens on Alternate Earth, in reality we unfortunately cannot blame stubbed toes on Tetroid waves.

Misc: Robert's Case

The following case is for background and humor, does not provide too much for question details:

Up until a certain historically significant case, Bearers were not well-quantified or tracked. Domestic Class-S Bearers were not well-monitored or mitigated, and many remained unknown.

This all changed after a case dealing with Robert 'Bob' Murphy, a seemingly ordinary, if not bad, conductor, who, unknown at the time, was also an S-class Bearer. After a failed concert, the depressed Bob was further implicated by an issue with pyrotechnics, which resulted in multiple casualties and many injuries. Following which Bob was framed by a Syndicate organization, and, charged with multiple murders, sentenced to the electric chair.

As it turns out, Bob was certainly a bad orchestra conductor, but a good conductor in general; on the hour of his scheduled execution, a critical lightning storm erupted and struck the facility and multiple backup power plants, during which Bob escaped electrocution at the chair for electrocution from the sky. Seizing the chaos, Bob escaped the facility.

All following attempts to capture Bob were primarily successful, but no results at containment or execution worked: prison vehicles carrying Bob would get flat tires or get into uncanny accidents. Eventually the government gave up and decided to just exile Bob into the ocean with some supplies and a fishing boat, hoping he'd maybe drift onto the shores of their rival country. This was their worst idea yet.

Bob had the bad luck to end up in several tsunamis and hurricanes across the world, causing immense damage to multiple countries, before the United Nations, after an intense investigation, unanimously agreed to compensate him and exonerate him of the crimes he did not commit. To this day, Robert Murphy lives somewhere on an undisclosed island in the Bermuda Triangle.

Since then, governments around the world have changed their stance and system on the treatment of Bearers, hoping to prevent a similar tragedy.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ +1 just to celebrate a well-formed, readable, and detailed question. Cheers. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Oct 3, 2020 at 22:38
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    $\begingroup$ @JBH Thanks! I have trouble with keeping my wording concise at times, so I appreciate your positive feedback :). $\endgroup$
    – Enthu5ed
    Oct 3, 2020 at 22:56
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    $\begingroup$ One use for Bearers under S class might be product testing. l remember a short story where they put these "accident-prone" people in a lunar colony and sent them products to be tested. If the products survived the testing (and the testers survived the products) then the products passed. $\endgroup$
    – NomadMaker
    Oct 4, 2020 at 6:13
  • $\begingroup$ @NomadMaker ah yes, literal murphy’s law testing, good idea :) $\endgroup$
    – Enthu5ed
    Oct 4, 2020 at 7:22
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    $\begingroup$ Many people in history (sailors in particular) really did believe that certain people brought bad luck and had to be driven away (or worse). timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1885/03/06/102957718.pdf $\endgroup$ Oct 4, 2020 at 15:58

4 Answers 4


Two Roads:

There are two directions your society can take with regards to bearers, and it somewhat depends on how the actual "ability" functions. The tetroid wave situation is complex, and I think only you fully understand it. Both of these solutions can be applied, or can be exclusive. It's up to you.

  1. Exile: If the ability doesn't effect disasters outside the bearers, find a geologically stable place isolated from the bulk of humanity and offer a sliding scale of requirements and incentives to these folks to go there. S-scale people might be required to go there but offered vast sums of money in compensation for their troubles, in the same way a typhoid carrier might be required to isolate from those who are at risk. Those with the mildest cases will have no requirement, but will be offered lucrative jobs and compensations to go there. This will be a shifting solution, as asteroids crash there, aliens show up, and hurricanes materialize out of no where to lash (for example) the Aleutian Islands or Siberia. Concentrating these folks may magnify the effect (additive), or bad luck/good luck might cancel itself out and these folks will balance. If there is a hereditary element to this, there is a risk in concentrating this much potential into one breeding population.
  2. Control: If there is a net total of good and bad luck in the world, and these people just concentrate it, then use them as a guide for these forces. Hurricanes will track towards them, so shift weather patterns to end droughts or avoid direct impacts on major cities. In a real crisis, an S-class talent can probably avert a nuclear attack because the bomb will fizzle out. Nations can pay into an international fund and buy, sell, and trade bad luck in the form of residence for these folks. Cuba gets hit with hurricanes all the time, so why not get paid to sponsor people, then make your nation hurricane-proof?
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Good answer! I especially like the prospects of guiding disasters using the help of the Bearers. I can clarify the wave interference to be simpler on the question though. it’s just a matter of when Bearers are experiencing similar emotions, they cancel out each other’s bad luck $\endgroup$
    – Enthu5ed
    Oct 3, 2020 at 19:08
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    $\begingroup$ @Enthus3d "Your mission, should you choose to accept it. Save Brent and Nancy's marriage. The fate of the world depends on it!" ;) $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Oct 3, 2020 at 19:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Enthus3d A world filled with drama. And yes, you would need to pair S-classes together, or carefully constructed communities/cults. Special intervention teams with combat/relationship therapists. SWEET! $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Oct 4, 2020 at 4:51
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    $\begingroup$ News: Marriage Counselor Wins Nobel Peace Prize! $\endgroup$
    – NomadMaker
    Oct 4, 2020 at 6:10
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    $\begingroup$ I can see a metorite coming to fall on Bearers island. The good luck is that it will wipe all humanity but red pandas will survive. $\endgroup$ Oct 5, 2020 at 15:15

Vigilantism, Genocide & Eugenics

I'm sorry to basically go full Nazi on the first answer here.

History shows us what happens when we scapegoat a particular group of people as being responsible for all the suffering in the world. Replace "The Eternal Jew"-style propaganda with "Here is this scientific proof that this group of people are making your life worse". You've basically got a "just add water" holocaust ready-to-go, without the need for a propaganda ministry.

They will be:

  • The subject of vigilante attacks. If your existence was somehow causing hundreds of deaths, most moderate people would want to exile you to stop the damage, but some nut will want to kill you. That nutcase may have access to weapons and a Thetan (sorry - Tetroid) detector.
  • In some countries they will be exiled away from population centres, "Ghettos" but further away.
  • Some countries will class them as terrorists as put them to death.
  • Eventually this will become some form of democide - either hidden (eg CIA assassination sort of things), or more like "Final Solution" level horrors, as the Ghettos are silently "dealt with".
  • Researchers will try to detect what gene influences this condition. Pregnant mothers will have their babies screened for it and termination "requested".
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I don’t like the implications of this answer very much, it makes me sad XD. But +1 for considering how the Bearers may end up as the next Pariahs $\endgroup$
    – Enthu5ed
    Oct 3, 2020 at 19:10
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    $\begingroup$ I figured that once the nature of the talent was understood, bias was inevitable. The talent will disrupt efforts to harm these folks, so as in the example in the question, bias will hurt the discriminators as much as the discriminated. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Oct 3, 2020 at 19:19
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    $\begingroup$ People are smart, humanity is stupid. We (as a crowd) will distill the message to its most basic meaning of "bearers bad, get rid of bearers". It will take significant isolation from the rest of the population and time and research effort (including the type done by doctor Mengele) to change to the "what you don't see, you don't think about" and pave the way to selective use of bearers in the larger society. And even then they will still be targets for crusades and social outcasts. $\endgroup$
    – mishan
    Oct 3, 2020 at 21:04
  • $\begingroup$ How about preventative detention, like with some people with mental illness or Mary Mallon? $\endgroup$ Oct 5, 2020 at 6:41
  • $\begingroup$ Good answer considering the natural human response, but cannot accept this as best answer, as this does not fit the best answer criteria outlined (humane and integration), neither does it offer any solutions to mitigate disasters, other than exploring gene changes, and attempting to assassinate Bearers (which will, from the question assumptions, potentially cause even more disasters due to increasing Bearer stress). $\endgroup$
    – Enthu5ed
    Oct 9, 2020 at 18:54

What about The Fortunate?

The fortunate would be the opposite end of the spectrum-the people for whom bad luck simply doesn't happen. They are the ones who could build a rocket out of a tin can and successfully circumnavigate the moon down to your simply lucky people who play a good stock market game or enjoy perfect health. They can be paired with the Bearers in areas or missions, so that the catastrophes that are waiting to happen will have generally fortunate results. So your car crash will unite two old lovers, or the hurricane will lead to policy changes desperately needed for decades, or a dropping of scientific papers will lead to the discovery of an unrealized theory. People who specialize in the measurement and classification of bearers would become popular (as mentioned in Enthus3d's comment in the thread) as they could generally mitigate the worst of the bearers. In this way, the bearers would create the chaos to make changes, and the fortunate would be used to change that negative chaos into a positive force for change.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Essentially, look for the Fortunates? Perhaps some of the Bearers are not Bearers, but Fortunates, and we've missed them this whole time, due to both operating based on Tetroids? Or perhaps, even more mind-numbing... Bearers and Fortunates are the same? +1 for opening up another train of thought in the answers :P $\endgroup$
    – Enthu5ed
    Oct 5, 2020 at 14:37
  • $\begingroup$ Awarded the bounty, for providing different answers/perspectives to the question. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – Enthu5ed
    Oct 9, 2020 at 18:49
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you @Enthus3d! $\endgroup$ Oct 12, 2020 at 14:21

There is a certain amount of bad luck in the world; we need the Bearers, because otherwise we'd be suffering all that bad luck ourselves

Is it true? Doesn't matter! The most humane route for dealing with Bearers is propaganda on their behalf. These aren't the bad guys, these are the martyrs.

In exactly the same way that a lightning rod protects your house by attracting any lightning away from the more vulnerable parts, Bearers attract the lightning of misfortune away from us regular folk. At least, if they're used correctly. Can we position them to make sure that tsunamis never hit nuclear plants or populated coastal areas? Can they keep the tornadoes away from schools and residential neighborhoods?

Sure, for the protection of regular people, S-Class Bearers cannot be allowed to go wherever they like, whenever they like, but competing institutes for probability research, and other governments and private entities, can try to find ways to make use of these living tetroid generators, be it research or an attempt to focus bad luck. They may find themselves in high demand! (What "luck".)

Don't be surprised, for that matter, if some governments even try to recruit such people into military or espionage roles. Especially if tetroid radiation is difficult to detect, and public spaces cannot easily be made secure against incursion.

Obviously, if Bearers become living weapons, this is going to undermine the Bearer-Martyr propaganda, and you'll end up with a complex effect where many of the general public are unsure what to think. But you can certainly start out with benevolent organizations casting Bearers as the people "taking one for the team", not just being the source of others' misfortune.

  • $\begingroup$ +1 for the bits about the propaganda; perhaps an image change could be made to let the Bearers be more bearable for the rest of the population :P $\endgroup$
    – Enthu5ed
    Oct 5, 2020 at 16:44

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