The year is 2065. It is nearly the 40 year anniversary of the Rebirth. There are celebrations planned all around the world that will last through the week. Naturally, there will be no fireworks or balloons or any of the celebratory devices that some of us older people remember from before they were banned. Instead people will celebrate with their environmentally friendly bubbles and compostable streamers.
Against all odds, humanity has survived. Even many of the animals survived, though the polar bears and three different species of penguins did not. Really it was not so hard of a problem to solve in the end. Controversial, yes, but difficult? Certainly not difficult.
The hardest part is trying to teach the children. How do we describe cheese when everyone is a vegan? How do we teach them about the importance of electric cars when it’s all they’ve know? How do explain what grandparents are when no one has them? How do we tell them not to murder when…
Let me back up.
I remember the day of the Rebirth clearly. I was only 10 years old then. I lived with my mother and grandmother at the time. When they came to our door we didn’t understand what was going on, what was going to happen. They asked my grandmother to go outside with them. She never came back in.
We found out later that it was painless. At least they told us it was. I believe that it was, or we would have heard the screaming. You can’t just eliminate 30% of the global population without making a noise if it is painful. And all around the world the same thing happened to all of the old people on the same exact day, yet no one seemed to know about it until it had already happened.
After the news came out on the state-sponsored channel, my mother was furious. It didn’t matter to them that my grandmother ran the community garden, that she had solar panels put on her house, that she drove an electric car, or that she believed in climate change. The world leaders decided that the only way to fix the issue was to reduce then limit the population. The most humane thing to do was to get rid of those over the age of 50. According to the laws of biology and nature, most people wouldn’t reach or live past 50. Those people had already lived their lives and most of them were nonbelievers. At least that’s what we were told.
I wasn’t terribly upset about my grandmother. She was old and the plan made sense to me. I always liked animals and I didn’t want them to die because of us. Plus the hurricanes had gotten out of control. It was comforting to know that the leaders were actually going to do something about it.
The aftermath of the Rebirth was terrible though. Of course we never tell the children about that. As far as they are concerned, people celebrated just as we do each year on the anniversary. But the truth is that people were angry. They demanded answers. They yelled and screamed and cried and protested until the gas-powered cars started getting anchored and people couldn’t drive to the protests anymore. In the cities, many of the protestors were simply killed. It was easy to justify: less people = less strain on the environment. And anyone protesting clearly didn’t believe in the cause enough anyway. Plus who would prioritize the life of a scruffy protestor over that of a baby seal?
Soon people learned to stop protesting. They learned to hide their plastic and garbage and styrofoam and anything else that would get you killed. The effects were amazing though. The world temperature plateaued after just three years. People learned to eat local, seasonal produce, as that was all they had access to. The meat industry was destroyed, and even the black market meat industry was quickly shut down. By simply minimizing human life to the insignificance of an ant or blade of grass (both of which are viewed as much more precious now), all of the environmental issues were solved.
The Rebirth didn’t upset me. In fact, it excited me. Perhaps because I was so young. Perhaps because their indoctrination of the youth was effective. But when they took my mother 8 years after the Rebirth, then I got upset.
I know it was fair. No one is allowed to be over the age of 50. I should be thankful that she got to be 50 and 8 months old. But the effect of the Rebirth had never really settled in until that day. Of course I couldn’t tell anyone that I was upset. That would be an instant death sentence. So I smiled, walking around saying what we teach the children to say now:
When the children ask where the old people go, we are supposed to tell them that because of nature, no one lives past 50. I suppose it’s true in a sense. The nature of mankind is to destroy. We’ve simply gone from destroying the earth to destroying people. Though I guess we were destroying people back then too.
You may wonder why I’m being so honest given the risk of death. The truth is that it is about to be the 40th anniversary of the Rebirth. The truth is that I am 50 years old now. I don’t know what they do to the 50 year olds and I don’t want to find out. I am taking this into my own hands. I don’t want to be dragged out of my home like some of the others. I also don’t want to attempt going into hiding. I’ve never heard of that ending well, though I supposed I never would.
No, instead I’ve decided to end things on my own terms. Of course, I could not find a gun – those are not environmentally friendly enough to exist anymore – but in a true natural way, I’ve foraged some mushrooms, some of which must be poisonous. From nature I came and into nature I go, at the ripe old age of 50 in such a natural death…