Working Chapter 2 of my Is it for us alone? novel in progress
Up to a point our One Man was only interested in furthering his own knowledge of the universe and indulging his own curiosity – there was no desire to share or impose what he learned with the world. No, he was the world and it took something quite significant to change his mind.
At this point in history, the human race was reaching its peak as far as population. Even with a population count about to swing downwards there were problems abound – people were living longer, the rate of decrease predicted to be slow and dwindling natural resources. Short of a cull there were no suggestions, practical or impractical. The three largest economies and populations in the world met to discuss this problem in secret and explore the available options – from the realistic to the desperate.
These were no ordinary negotiations – there were no boundary disputes or racial tensions, nor were there tensions between the three parties at all. They all wished that their countries, their people would continue to thrive on Earth together. Still, a solution had to be presented to deal with the overbearing population issue.
Of course no solution was presented (beyond the obvious) to this age old question of population control. No population willingly submits to its own thinning – no matter what any sci-fi short might say. No, people will not sit down and allow themselves to be killed en masse without putting up a fight or someone putting up a fight on their behalf.
“Perhaps we could relocate certain groups of people to some remote islands,” the President suggested.
“Far too messy, and besides, what purpose would it serve – they would still require food and energy that we don’t have,” the first Prime Minister responded.
The President was silent, not presently wanting to lead the room to his ultimate preferred solution. It was a disgusting thought and he was not the type of man to suggest such a thing – to agree with, to drag others into, but not to initiate. They all knew that there were many paths that could have been taken. This was unfortunately the key issue. If someone had taken the lead generations ago, the ultimate solution could have been avoided, but as it was there was only one, ugly choice left. Presently this idea hung in the President’s mind like a condemned man at the Tyburn Hill – struggling to get out yet unable to escape an ultimate end.
Luckily for his own conscience, the second Prime Minister chimed in, “I think what Mr. President is angling towards is that if they were somewhere remote, the solution would be more…manageable.”
Silence pervaded the room. These were not inherently evil men, but they felt there was no choice and so acted accordingly. They all knew – the President, the Prime Ministers and their aides – that ‘manageable’ meant in terms of the logistics surrounding the cull that their silence had agreed to.
The first Prime Minister decided the first to show any signs of moral outrage, but subdued it was. In the face of the most systematic and planned destruction of human life since the Holocaust, he decided to show his moral outrage in a fervour unbefitting the occasion by suggesting simply that they all break from the discussions in order to clear their heads. Perhaps, he so pessimistically noted, they could see if there was in fact some other solution they could devise to this global problem. After all, they had all agreed that they were all great people, so if any group could devise a solution it would be them.
So, each of the President, the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister filed out of the conference room chattering away with their respective aides into their individual bunkers within the larger bunker the talks were being held in. Options and strategy had to be discussed with their wider body of advisers. Indeed, they would also have a spot of well-deserved food and refreshments – talking about such horrible things, even when they go unmentioned, can be so taxing on the human mind and body.
Years ago, when there had been a real threat of all out war, the President at the time had commissioned the bunker to be built within a great mountain up North – an impenetrable command center in a place no one would ever suspect. The space where you could actually live and work were limited – but there were enough provisions for a hundred years. Through expert diplomatic negotiations and the final belief that mutually assured destruction was in no ones interest, the war was averted and this bunker all but forgotten until a need for secrecy arose.
For approximately a decade, tensions had been mounting in every country around the world with all of them eyeing the resources and strengths of these three countries. It was only a matter of time before the powder keg would blow leaving war and disease the run their rampant course.
Undoubtedly there would be something of the human race left after this, but that is all they would be. Civilisation. Everything built up decade after decade would be lost. This, anyone could easily argue, was no a desirable outcome. The moral question then falls down to the basic tenets – do the ends justify the means, or must the action itself be right?
Experts had met at forums for years to discuss potential ways to solve or at least mitigate the problems that would be caused by over population and the over population itself, but nothing stood out as both practical and effective. And so, the three leaders decided that their countries, their citizens were worth preserving and that they had the power to do so. The terms of the summit were as ironclad as such a gathering can be. They agreed that any solution must be approved by all three leaders to be implemented – the meeting in itself was controversial enough so there could be no loose ends. Each leader was permitted two advisers in the room – one civilian and one military.
As it has been too frequently throughout the history of humankind, the fate of the many lay with the few.
The President sat in his room with his two chosen advisers in silent, each sipping their chosen tipple from silver flasks. None looked like a man who was prepared to make the ultimate decision. They were all so shocked and horrified by the idea of what they had all but agreed to would entail. They were no evil men and their resolve in the matter was not strong – they racked their brains for alternate paths, but could only find those that had become impassable long ago.
Another gulp collectively.
“How much time do we have?” the military advisor questioned the room.
“Nothing specific was agreed,” the President replied having misunderstood the question.
“About a decade in the worst case scenarios that have been modelled, but things will become unruly quickly,” the civilian aide offered as an alternative response.
“Oh,” the President sighed, “that time.”
He sat staring at the floor for a time before finally saying the unspoken, “We have to kill them. OK?”
After all of the silence throughout the conference and the shocked thoughts swimming through all of their minds, there was no hesitation once the idea had been put forward in plain terms.
“OK,” they replied.
‘Them’ remained a largely unknown quantity at this point, with ideas having ranged from the homeless, the sick, certain nationalities, but nothing definitive as they still believed there might be another answer. Now they had decided the fate of ‘Them’ in that small room I the North. One man had condemned more than a quarter of the Earth’s population to death. All that his decision had invoked was a detached chorus of ‘OK.’
The President strode away from his earlier reluctance and repeated what he had stated in his room to the two Prime Ministers. Their relief was noticeable – while they would now agree and plan out their particular brand of genocide, they had not made the initial suggestion. The decision, they felt, wasn’t really theirs. This was a small distinction, but something that eased their souls just enough to keep on their course and live their lives.
“My military advisor had hypothetically questioned how we might implement what is now our chosen strategy – do we now have any suggestions?” the first Prime Minister asked.
Quickly the second Prime Minister began to brain storm, “First we must ensure that our nations’ borders are protected and perhaps those of some nations with strategic importance.”
He paused to gather his thoughts and then continued, “General – how long would it take to secure our borders using the new shield technology?”
“We have many of the modules already produced so it would mainly be the installation – perhaps just over a year.”
“And I presume this could be done discretely General?”
“Of course – particularly with help from our allies.”
Dark planning, but with the spigot open there was no stopping the creative energy from flowing in the room. It is a remarkable thing that what the human race is best at is inventing methods for killing one another.
The room was abuzz now that the moral hurdle had been jumped, but a doubt lay in the mind of each person. Despite the absurdity of their current enthusiasm they were not evil to the core – they had simply rationalised something because they had been forced into a decision by the neglect of their predecessors and a desire not to see the end of human kind.
For days they hammered out details and coordinated logistics. When it was time to leave and implement the plan there were no outspoken second thoughts or last ditch alternate plans, simply silence that screamed, “we don’t like this, but it must be done and done well,” and they were gone to start building fences.