The great thing about Summer is it weeds out the weak and the undeserving. True blistering heat will keep human beings inside and that means there’s fewer of them where I want to be. Also, humans, for reasons that escape me, link hot coffee with colder weather, so even though caffeine is a coolant, there are fewer people where I like to write.
There’s a story forming in my head, again, but I’m ignoring it until I’ve finished writing the one I’m on now. I’ve about killed off everyone on the planet and the few survivors are banding together to try to make something work that doesn’t look like what happened before. Odd, isn’t it? When it comes down to a handful of survivors trying to pull together to drag the human species away from extinction, you agree with me automatically that the first thing we would need is a hell of a lot fewer people, wouldn’t you?
Unless you want to sit there in front of your computer and help me cull the humans out, which I suspect would be as uncomfortable as it would be revealing, it’s better to have a device that does this for us, randomly of course, and then we play the hand we’ve been dealt. Imagine a world where there is a bio weapon created in a lab that kills within forty-eight hours or less. It’s highly contagious and the people who mean for it to spread have agents that book themselves on a dozen flights to a dozen cities and then to a dozen more. Everyone who breathes the same air as these people will become infected and infectious. In two days the first people start dying and the rest start freaking out. The survival rate in one person per every million. The dead bodies, the surfaces they touch, and everything around them remain infectious for one year. The plague also kills all the farm animals; cows, chickens, horses, sheep, pigs, and goats. It also kills dogs, cats, and a few more species of mammals. One out of every one million humans will survive.
Two women from Georgia are holed up in Canada and they remain there for two years. The plague is gone, totally gone, but so are most of the people. And who would be left? The entire population of Georgia would be nine people. Out of that nine, how many too old, too young, too crazy to be of use or help? The entire population of the United States would be about three hundred and forty people. Most scattered out so far that it would be impossible for them to find one another.
Yet people in remote areas who did not have any contact with other people for the year it took for the bioweapon to die out, live on. Small villages, communities on the edge of civilization, those people intentionally off the grid, and First Nation peoples in Canada that had warning not to allow anyone in or out, survive.
The biggest problem is trying to figure out how many viable males and viable females we would need to survive. If the two woman find a village of three hundred people, that means about a third would be two old, so there’s a hundred viable people, fifty of each gender, and as the years pass there will be another hundred coming into the system.
Would it be enough? Would survival of the species be enough to make three hundred people band together and go through rebuilding a society or would there be those who simply gave up, or even those who thought that humans are a really bad idea?
“Excuse me,” a young woman interrupts my writing. “will you plug me in?” and you know, it has to be tough for a woman to approach a guy in public to begin with and suddenly I’m looking at her and I want to ask, “Would you breed with a stranger to save the human species from extinction?” but all she wants is access to the electrical outlet on the wall near me.
But what if a young woman thought we were worth saving? What if she saw our species staring down being an evolutionary footnote and all that we’ve done, what good we’ve done, would be gone forever, and wanted to help make sure that we continued? Surely, in a village of three hundred people there’s someone there she thinks, “Well, I guess he’s better than extinction.” And in history, when pioneers set out and colonies were formed, how many women looked at a man and thought something quite similar to this?
There’s an epiphany in here. When failure means the end of everyone then there’s a certain sanctity to breeding. It’s not just for fun and not just to keep one family alive; it’s having everyone’s eggs in one basket, no pun intended. Babies are an investment, and moreover, children have to be taught things that they will need to know because in a very short time they are going to be all there is. Women have to be protected from dangerous occupations when they’re pregnant and they have to be kept safe to feed babies milk. Suddenly, you get a society formed around stay at home moms and it really does take a village.
Yet in this new nation, formed around three hundred people, with some knowledge there are some other people out there, very few, so very few, what are the laws on immigration? Surely the village needs new people, but how is this gauged? A civil engineer would be great, that is, if there were any real need for roads and bridges and there was the material and time to build. A doctor would be great but would you really need someone with a degree in Public Relations? An airline pilot would be useless but someone capable of flying a single engine float plane might be worth his, or her, weight in fur blankets.
There’s a lot to think about here.