So very near the goal. One more was all it would take. It had proved so easy.
Very few people could resist. Certainly not the very young. They were so trusting and… compliant. It would be better to wait.
Pale silver light from the full moon shone through the shutters, striping his bedding with pearly beams. He sighed and turned over restlessly. It was no good. He would have to get up.
Eumala-45 hadn’t been sleeping well since this whole Silica-24 episode had begun and his insomnia had been worsened by the suspicious looks he’d been receiving all day.
To cap it all he had just heard a noise coming from outside. He moved to the window and glanced through one of the gaps between the slats. There, clearly illuminated in the moonlight he saw Tyr-10 trudging across the herb garden towards the tool shed. What on earth was she doing? It was three o’clock in the morning.
Gentle snoring emanated from Dihyd-52’s room, and since the young man was loathe to disturb his host, Eumala-43 decided not to wake him and trod lightly to the main door and let himself out. He turned the corner of the principal residence and trotted towards the tool shed.
On reaching the door he heard the sound of objects being dragged about.
‘Tyr-10? It’s me Eumala-43. What are you doing?’
No answer. The sounds continued. Eumala-43 nudged the door open with his knee, his eyes straining in the darkness. He sensed movement at the far end of the shed where he could barely discern a figure with its back to him doing something near one of the support beams.
‘Tyr-10? What’s going on?’
The person either hadn’t heard him or was resolutely ignoring him.
‘Tyr-10! What’s going on?’ he repeated with considerably more authority.
Still the figure continued, oblivious to the boy’s presence. It seemed to be holding something in its hands. Cursing the obscurity Eumala-43 commanded, ‘Computer, lights!’
Instantly the shed was flooded with brilliance. Eumala-43 threw his arm up over his face to protect his eyes from the brightness. Painfully he screwed up his face and peeped out of the tiny slits of his eyelids. As the image swam into focus he was shocked to see Tyr-10, completely naked, climbing serenely up a ladder with a length of rope in her hands. Struggling to make sense of what he was seeing the young man stumbled towards the girl.
‘Are you okay?’ asked the bemused boy. He reached out to tap her on the leg but she lashed out furiously shattering Eumala-43’s nose and sending him sprawling to the dusty floor. He yowled in pain and clutched at his face trying to stop the blood that seeped through his fingers.
Without even glancing at him, Tyr-10 lobbed the rope around one of the rafters and caught the noose with her free hand. In one easy movement she slipped it around her neck and tightened the knot.
Glassy, unseeing eyes peered out blankly under her impassive brow as she turned and stepped off the ladder.
Stupefied, the black boy heard the sickening crack of the girl’s neck snapping. III
The foreigner’s guilt was undeniable.
There had been no recording. Neither child had been wearing their ORS since they had both left them recharging by their beds. Every scanner in the compound, however, confirmed that there was no other human presence in the barn at the time of Tyr-10’s murder.
The African could offer no credible reason for being in the shed alone with the naked young girl or for having a broken nose. He had been found in an acute state of shock, shaking and staring at the girl’s dangling and twitching corpse when Dihyd-52 had lurched groggily into the shed after being awoken by a scream.
But the boy would not admit to it. He kept spouting some nonsense about sleepwalking.
There was no other option but to have him returned to Kenya where he would be chemically castrated, lobotomised and spend the rest of his days toiling in the dirt with the agricultural robots.
CeeDee-257 browsed the delicate yellowed paper that she had removed from its hiding place within her chambers. It was her most valued possession. The document had been passed down from generation to generation since the Sacrifice.
Now it looked like she would be able to pass it on in her turn. She knew the hastily, hand-written text by heart.
‘TOP SECRET – Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Berlin, Germany. 12 June 2027. Dr. Gillian Carmichael. Chief Science Officer
To whomever reads this.
As part of the development group, I guarantee that everything that follows is the truth. It will be covered up but whoever survives this has a right to know what we did.
I was in charge of creating the ‘cure’ to Earth’s illness.
History is supposed to think that the this mass sterilisation was voluntary. That’s how we’re supposed to sell it.
The World Powers had been discussing the problem of over-population for years. Everyone knew that over consummation was leading to a global catastrophe and so the greatest minds
were set to solve the problem of how to radically reduce the number of human beings on the planet.
Myriad suggestions were mooted: mass exterminations by air-borne viruses, tactical nuclear strikes, poisoning the water supplies. None of them would guarantee success and most of them posed serious environmental issues.
The idea was to save the planet, not destroy it completely.
At first they thought that people might sign up voluntarily for sterilisation if they were granted a fabulous life of leisure in return. A sort of collective act of castration, solidarity for the planet, followed by a 70-year-long party? Not a bad deal, right?
Surveys were surreptitiously carried out that showed only 8% of people would be prepared to do it.
Far too few – we needed 97% or more.
If they wouldn’t do it voluntarily then how?
Then someone came up with the Covid-19 vaccine idea. How about disguising a sterilising agent within a vaccine?
So that’s what we did.
First we needed to work out whom to spare. A simple table was drawn up based primarily on IQ level, with a score of 130 required as a minimum. In addition, we added sporting prowess, genetic suitability, (no evidence of undesirable traits within the previous three generations for example), sexual orientation (no homosexuals of course!), physical beauty, specific talents in other domains.
Eventually we came up with a simplified test.
Everyone on the planet had to do the test. It was disguised as a strictly medical questionnaire but in reality it assessed a plethora of different factors.
Those with the desired score were to be given a placebo, everyone else got sterilised.
It was rolled out world-wide to doctors who within six months had ‘vaccinated’ 99% of mankind. Only a tiny handful of people knew what was actually being pumped into people’s veins.
Three months later, there was panic in the maternity wards since there had been no new births. A month after that is became official. Anyone who had been vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus could no longer reproduce.
You know the rest of the story. There was mass panic.
There was anarchy.
Those who could breed had to go into hiding. We were protected in bunkers and then had to dissimulate our fertility.
I was one of the ‘lucky’ ones. I’m a brilliant scientist! I was smart enough to have the right to breed. I have a beautiful daughter but she has never left this Institution. Will she be smart or beautiful enough to have kids herself?
What the hell have we done?
I will give this letter to my daughter. If she is lucky enough to have children then I hope she passes it on to them.
There is nothing more precious than the truth. Gillian Carmicheal
Guaranteeing that this priceless artefact be passed on to CeeDee-257’s future offspring had not been easy. She’d had to use all her skills to hack into the Central Reproduction Authority’s main computer and modify ever-so-slightly the algorithm determining the breeding levels in Nouvelle- Aquitaine in order to do so.
She felt a twinge of guilt when she thought of how she had lured the children to their deaths.
A tragic loss of life.
It had, however, taken planning and talent to slip an untraceable subliminal voice into the songs that the children had listened to on their ORSs. She knew very well that all the young people of the region had to study certain local folk music as part of the Test, yet she had selected her the song and her victims with the utmost care. Falling as it did within her remit as Chief Child Psychologist, she had legitimately been able to scrutinise all the dossiers of potential victims to determine those easiest to persuade through hypnosis to do away with themselves.
Getting the children to undress before committing suicide had simply been a red herring, encouraging people to think of a sexual motive where there was none.
And the investigators, so unused to this sort of crime, didn’t have the slightest clue what had happened or even where to start looking.
The communication device bleeped. CeeDee-257 knew that this was the conversation where she would be informed that she had been selected to add her genes to the Pool.
She would affect just the right amount of startled incredulity.
‘What? I’m at the top of the list? But I’d given up hope years ago! … Yes, of course I would still like to breed. With whom? What…you have the list there?…Well, now you come to mention it, there was a boy I met in Yorkshire a few years ago. His name? Yes, I have it here somewhere…’
She pretended to push buttons and gave them the name.
‘What, he is also eligible to breed? Would I like to establish an Occupancy with him in Yorkshire? Well, I’d need some time to think about that. Could I get back to you?’
Tears of joy trickled down CeeDee-257 fleshy cheeks as she carefully slipped the priceless letter from her ancestor into its plastic protection and waddled over to her travel case.
She would take this precious testimony with her to her new home in Yorkshire where it would wait. Ready to pass on to her child.