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Asteroid

By Doug Hawley

 

Image by Mert F. Tosun

 

I’m Bill Bane.  I wasn’t there at the beginning of this story, but the participants have filled me in to the best of their ability.  I had full access to all records of the event.  I take responsibility for any errors in the narrative.  Because I had done some writing during brief intervals of sobriety before the earth was hit, I was asked by Duke and Sally to tell the tale.

 

Ray detection

 

The outer space probe Arrow detected an increase in cosmic rays traveling towards earth beyond the orbit of Pluto.  The intensity of the rays increased by a factor of ten and then Arrow became silent.  NASA made the report to the White House with the rather panic-inducing possibility that the rays could wipe out all life on earth.  One sardonic joker in the inner circle said “At least we don’t have to worry about asteroids anymore.”  NASA hedged its bets by saying that the best case was an interruption in all electronics.  After all, the incident was unprecedented, so no one could say with certainty what the results would be.  Not that it helped, but they narrowed the cause down to two or three supernovae observed in historic times.  Some true believers at the highest levels of government wondered if their death would be from the star of Bethlehem.

The leading edge of the rays was discovered at ten times the distance from Pluto.  President Burton had no idea what to do.  His skill set was campaigning, raising cash and pushing expensive bills without any way to pay for them.  His appearance as a light skinned black version of former president Eisenhower was comforting to most of the population.  One thing that he did do well was pick men who were knowledgeable and skilled.  As a result, he put Chief Of Staff and former general Duke Hanley in charge of liaison with NASA chief Sally Olsen.  They got adjacent rooms in a mid-level chain DC hotel to keep people in government from wondering what was happening.  Each took open leaves of absence.

Preparation

At their first meeting, they appraised each other before speaking.  Sally saw someone who reminded her of one of her favorite Hallmark movie actors who usually played someone’s best friend.  She didn’t talk much about her Hallmark addiction.  Duke was surprised to see what appeared to be a tall, short haired Filipina.  Duke recovered quickly and asked “Level with me, how bad do you really think it is?”

“I think that it could be comparable to one of the great asteroid collisions with earth that caused mass extinctions like the one that killed the dinosaurs.  Unlike an asteroid collision, the deaths won’t happen immediately, plants and animals will die slowly.  What cosmic rays do is mess with the DNA.  Not only will there be a massive die off, there will be mutations, mostly fatal, some neutral, or even improvements.  We’ve got eighty days to prepare.”

“So what can we do about it?”

“The greatest effects will be on exposed life and that at the higher elevations.  It wouldn’t be practical to get lead suits for everyone or move them all into caves.  Even if everyone stayed indoors, it wouldn’t save the plants and animals we live on.  Being indoors wouldn’t be perfectly safe for people either.”

“So far you have told me what we can’t do about it.”

“Are you religious?”

“No.”

“Me neither, so praying is out.  We can probably save some people from death by moving them into caves or fortified structures.  Long term, after the rays have passed, the problem may be with finding suitable food for those that survive the initial barrage without getting cancer.”

“It sounds like we may end up with some healthy people, a lot of ill people and not much future.  How do we choose the people to save, what do we do about the ill people and how do we get to long term survival?”

“I can’t answer the first part.  As for the second part, it depends in part on how many we save.  If most of the people die, there may be enough resources to go around, particularly if you like eating cockroaches.  Seriously, if there are a lot fewer people, it may be easier to feed them with surviving plants and animals.”

“OK, Sally, you’ve given me enough very scary information to try to build a plan around.  I’m going to need to call a lot of people tonight, so let’s call it a wrap.  Do you want to meet in your room tomorrow or back in my room?”

“Your room is fine.”

At the next meeting, Duke summarized his plan.  “We hold a worldwide asteroid preparedness drill.  The leaders that we can trust will be apprised of the game, others will get the cover story.  We will explain that buildings and caves will be used to protect people from the effects of a possible asteroid impact.  We’ll make a survey of buildings which offer the best protection and find the best routes for getting to those buildings.  The caves will be reserved for personnel deemed necessary for humanity’s survival.  Under the cover of the ‘drill’, we’ll provision those caves as best we can.  My idea is to accept that millions, if not billions will die, but I can’t see anything better.  Informing the world that we’re going to be hit by massive cosmic rays is folly in my mind.  Clearly, this is the Cliff Notes version.  What do you think?  I’d love for you to tell me it’s a crackpot idea and you’ve got something much better.”

“Could you get me a drink while I think about it?  How about some scotch?”

“Glenfiddich 18 coming up.  We seem to have a well supplied bar.”

Sally drank about half of her drink and said “I think that what you are trying to do is to get prepared while keeping the real reason secret to avoid panic.  Is that right?”

“Yes.”

“I agree that your goal is sensible and your approach reasonable.  I’m afraid that I don’t have a better idea.  My guess is that you need to work on the details and I need to talk to my people at NASA.”

The next day while Sally was talking to NASA, Duke ran his plan past the President.  Burton said “Fine work.  First rate.  You go ahead and handle all of the details.”  Burton’s response was just what Duke expected, since the President always had others do the heavy lifting.

Duke then made calls to three cabinet secretaries to prepare them for the job ahead – Jackson at Defense, Williams at State and Gomez at Interior.  Jackson would organize the logistics of moving people into safer areas and obtaining food and whatever would be needed for a lengthy stay in shelters, Williams would contact the leaders of other countries with either the true story or the cover story and Gomez would inventory shelters and caves around the country.

At that point Duke noticed he had never asked how long it would take the cosmic rays to pass.  It seems that somehow he had been distracted, probably by Sally.  He immediately called Sally to get the answer.  When he asked, she was equally dumbfounded that he had never asked and she hadn’t volunteered the information.  She was distracted too.  “Crap, Duke we have to get our heads straight.  The rays will pass in a month after they start.”

Over the next month they jointly kept up with the preparations.  As expected, a lot of people doubted the cover story, but oddly no one guessed at the truth.  Both the left and the right wings kept coming up with conspiracy theories claiming that the real reason for the exercises was to enslave the public.

The thoroughly ignorant wondered why the government wasn’t doing something to destroy errant asteroids as was done in the movies “Deep Impact” and “Armageddon”.  Exasperated, but patient government official had to keep repeating why the methods portrayed in those movies wouldn’t work in real life.

While the physical work was being done stockpiling medicine and food, and preparing hardened sites for protecting important people, the VIP committee consisting of Duke, Sally and the cabinet secretaries Jackson, Williams and Gomez concentrated on the list of the necessary survivors.  Farmers, engineers from all disciplines, physicists, chemists, medical personnel and mathematicians were at the top of the list.

The first draft was disproportionately Asian and Jewish given their prominence in the sciences and medicines.  Everybody, including the female members Olsen and Williams, insisted on more females.  If the cosmic catastrophe was bad enough to kill all of those that weren’t completely protected against the rays, women would be more important to repopulate the world than males.  Jackson complained about blacks being shortchanged and Gomez argued for more Latinos.  After much haranguing and consulting data bases, the essential list was completed along with alternates for those on the list that wouldn’t go to the shelters or were otherwise unavailable.  The rest of the available safe spaces were filled by a random selection of those deemed young, healthy and multi-talented.

Aftermath

In most cities there was enough capacity in fairly well shielded buildings to shelter the urban population, but many people were not convinced to go to them.  Many stayed home and many were outdoors when the cosmic rays hit earth.  Previously appointed wardens moved as many as possible into some kind of shelter.  When nothing else worked, the cosmic ray warning was used.  There were so many skeptics, that the second class shelters weren’t filled.

In most developed countries the majority of the population had some kind of shelter for the month of cosmic ray bombardment.  Less developed countries were less lucky.

Assessment

For several months after the rays passed through there were no obvious health problems.  Electronics recovered nicely.  The major reaction was relief, but George Hughes, a celebrity trial lawyer, filed a class action suit against just about everyone involved in the planning.  All of those involved in the planning had been indemnified against damages by executive order, so the suit was filed against the Federal Government.  After both sides had their say, the Supreme Court threw out the suit, claiming that it did not have jurisdiction.  Hughes didn’t really care, because he only filed suit to get free advertising.  He was happy to see his surgically thin body and full set of hair in ten different publications.

 

Over a hundred websites were developed to claim that there was no increase in cosmic rays despite every reliable scientist acknowledging the major increase in rays.

After consulting with Hanley and Olsen, Burton gave a speech starting with “Yes we may have over-prepared, but would you have wanted us to under-prepare?” and went on to praise the work of the cosmic ray team.

Sally told Duke “Better than I predicted, worse than I hoped.”

Julie Lanson, the secretary of Health and Human Services, decreed that a sample of those who had the most exposure to the rays should be medically examined.  Of the three thousand that were examined, 20% were found to have cancer and all had changes to their DNA.  From those statistics, she projected an extra 2.6 million would have cancer in the US alone.  The increase in cancer shut up most of those that claimed there had never been excess cosmic rays, but created a health crisis around the world.  For countries without much health care, the richer nations sent tons of pain killers because the richer nations had their hands full with their own health care.

Lanson instituted a triage approach to the cancer crisis.  Those that had a good chance of a cure would get normal treatment.  People with a possibility of recovery were put on a waiting list and those who were terminal were placed in hospice treatment.  Given the huge influx of those to hospice treatment, a crash program to train hospice staff was initiated.

Not only humans had health problems.  17% of mammals that lived above ground died within three months of the bombardment, according to Under Secretary of Agriculture Jay Simmons.  Other forms of animals either were underground or underwater, protected by scales or feathers or simply more resilient like the infamous cockroaches.

The effect on plant life was, in a word, ‘bizarre’.  Some plants such as squash and cauliflower died out completely.  The ‘supertasters’ that could not stand the smell and taste of certain healthy foods were pleased, until they heard that seeds for all of the dead species were held in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and had not been harmed at all by the cosmic rays.  Some tomatoes grew so large that their stems could not support them.  An apple variety grew as large as cantaloupes.  A few poisonous plants were no longer poisonous, and some that had not been were now.  All animals and humans had to adjust to a moving target as to what was edible and what wasn’t.

People adapted to six-legged cats and purple oranges and the other changes that continued to appear.

The initial media reaction was to proclaim that this was the worst disaster ever to hit the planet.  The reputable fact checkers “Reality Inc” immediately started to research the claim and ended up classifying what came to be known as “The Bombardment” as only number seven on the all time worst list after some plagues, wars and influenza epidemics.

Bad Politics 1

The size of the catastrophe was enough to get the owner of the huge Lucky Penney casino in Las Vegas, Jason Atkins, to start another political party, Revolution.  Atkins claimed that he would have handled the crisis much better than Burton, not knowing that Burton adhered to his hands off policy during the crisis.  Atkins said he would have built underground caverns large enough to hold the whole US population.  Despite the impossibility of his idea, he got a large following from the ignorant and the paranoid and he threatened to run against Burton in the next election.  There was no doubt that there was racism involved.  Burton’s pale skin and blond hair were enough to gain him support among some Americans.

As Atkins’ following grew, President Burton called in Hanley and Olsen.  “Let’s be honest.  I’m not too bright, but I’ve got a way with people.  People love me from the time that I played “The Benevolent Billionaire” on TV ten years ago.  As long as things are going well, I have my staff and cabinet officers handle things, and I get the credit.  Everybody wins.  I was fortunate to come into office when we were at peace and the economy was cruising along.  The bombardment made it clear how useless I am and I don’t want to sink to the level of that Atkins moron just to stay in office.  My one great talent is evaluating people.  Both of you are qualified to be president.  If one of you is willing, I’ll appoint you Vice President and then resign.  Don’t worry about Jenkins, he’s tired of his do nothing job and wants to return to his family and start the Jenkins Foundation.  Feel free to consult with him, but nobody else.  Why don’t you two talk it over and get back to me tomorrow.”

Later, Sally started off with “I just want to go back to NASA.  You’d be great as president and please don’t think that I’m doing this for you.  A scientist has never been a president for good reason.  The people want someone who is a leader, not a thinker.  Oops, I didn’t mean that as insult.  I mean someone who is not JUST a thinker.”

“If I do this, I could appoint you to some office befitting you talents.”

“Nope, when our relationship becomes public, you’d be charged with nepotism.”  They had become engaged during The Bombardment when they realized that they wanted to spend their lives together following their many previous romantic misadventures.  Duke had made the mistake of marrying a woman that turned out to be a racist and Sally’s success and beauty had led to her intimidating almost all men.

“I guess that some military men have made good presidents and some haven’t.  Nobody has done it since Eisenhower.”

“Plus, it’s too late to be the first woman president.”

The call to the vice president affirmed that Jenkins was fully behind Burton’s plan.

See The New Boss Different Than The Old Boss

The shuffle went smoothly.  With Hanley as president, Atkins’ appeal was blunted without having Burton as a target.  Atkins was not smart enough to find out that Hanley was a major force behind the preparation for The Bombardment.

Bad Politics 2

With the myriad problems with the health of people, animals and plants, the Federal and State welfare bills increased by 50%.  The discontent from the poor led to the “Eat The Rich” movement, which everyone assumed was metaphorical.  Sandy Bernard’s plan was to expropriate any business making more than a million dollars annually and run it by the government.  It helped that he kept his twenty year model and three million dollar house hidden while he campaigned.  As the new movement gained millions of followers, Duke became frightened about the total collapse of the country if Bernard prevailed.  In desperation, he convened the titans of industry and the idle rich.  He gave them an alternative:  “You stick with me and we double your taxes and you donate half your liquid assets to charity, and you get to keep the rest.  Try to block me on this and you get Bernard.  Which is it?”  Enough of them stuck with Duke to mitigate Bernard’s appeal.

After thirteen months with no new threats and with the recovery going well, Duke got a call from Gomez saying “Super humans have taken over Eastern New Mexico.”

Your storyteller Bill Bane enters the picture.  I witnessed the rest of the story and I’ll tell it as I witnessed most of it and was told the rest.  My perspective changed a lot from pre to post impact.

 

For me it started with the announcement that there would be a worldwide drill to prepare for a possible asteroid impact in the next year.  At the time, I assumed that it was more government lies.  I didn’t trust anything that I heard coming out of politicians or the lamestream press.

 

My wife had divorced me years ago because of my continuous anger and fights both verbal and physical.  All I could get were menial jobs because of my drinking.  I lived in a cheap one bedroom apartment in the Parkrose area of Portland, Oregon.  Bane was the name of the game for my whole family of losers.  When I picked up a few bucks writing pulp fiction for genre and men’s magazines, it went for booze.

 

I bucked all of the government rules during the active part of the drill.  I wandered the streets and broke into the houses and businesses of those I considered fools for seeking better shelter.  To further show my defiance, I ran up and down Sandy, the main drag through town, nearly naked.

 

At the end of the drill, President Burton, the lying bastard, admitted it was all a ruse to cover up for something else – a cosmic ray bombardment.  He must have thought we’d believe a second lie.  He even found a bunch of science toadies, the same scamsters that tried to sell global warming, to back him up.

 

Things started happening which made me start to question my skepticism.  A book on cosmic rays made perfect sense to me and before that, gravity had been a mystery.  Rather than my usual breakfast, lunch and dinner of burgers, fries and cokes, while watching TV, I started a vegan diet and exercising.  In a few weeks, I had lost thirty pounds and was running ten miles a day.  The few hairs on my head multiplied and came in curly.

 

The change in my relationships was less quantifiable, but just as real.  As I became friendlier and more generous to those around me, they were kinder to me.  With my new attitude, and svelte body, I noticed babes eyeing me.  Previously I only got lucky with lushes at closing time.

 

At this point, my drinking was confined to a healthy glass of red wine with dinner.  I had moved on from being a counter worker at Burger Biggy to become a beginning ad writer at the international firm Sheridan & Philomath.  With my new charm and intelligence, I was hired on the spot despite my abysmal work record and education, and could afford the best food and drink.  For nostalgia, I went to my old watering hole, “Inn Between”.  I saw most of the usual barflies, except for Jodi Mitchell, the drunk in residence.  I asked Shep, the owner and bartender, what happened to her.

 

Jodi Too

 

“Weirdest thing, she started talking funny, like a high school graduate, drank less and less and then just disappeared.  None of my rummies have seen her for days.”  Shep must have been treating himself because he was slurring his words.

 

I had a glass of the best red that they had, “Bleeding Gums”, and left for the last time.

 

Even before I saw her again, I concluded that she had the same kind of transformation that I had.  When I did see her, it was at our library, the kind of place that neither one of us had ever been before.  I literally bumped into her coming around a shelf in the astronomy section.  As I picked her up, we simultaneously said “Cosmic Rays”.  I’m not sure how I recognized Jodi – she had lost thirty pounds since the last time I had seen her and her skin was no longer jaundiced, but had become a healthy pink.

 

Later over a blackberry smoothie, we compared notes.  She said “I started exercising and stopped drinking.  I’ve been working on anything from the library and Wikipedia that is of interest.  I understand multivariate calculus now, but failed algebra before I dropped out of school.  Now I eat lots of fruits and vegetables and no red meat.  My mind and body have completely transformed since The Bombardment.  The only thing that makes sense is that instead of being unaffected like the majority or sickened like millions, our DNA has been improved.”

 

I told her “Pretty much the same story for me.  How about we study together to absorb anything that will be useful or of interest to us?”

 

“Sounds good, let’s start tonight.  What sounds like fun, eastern thought, or organic chemistry?”

 

“Let’s start with eastern thought and then alternate between science and culture.”

 

“Let’s make it a three cycle rotating with physical skills as a third option.”

 

“I like it.”

 

We continued like that for weeks.  The most pleasant study was tantric yoga.  Although we had several drunken hook-ups in our prior existence, they were nothing like our new physical / spiritual relationship.  We learned that we had become yogistes and Buddhists by independent discovery.

 

We concluded, accurately, if the two of us had evolved, there must be others.  We read stories in the news about the town drunk in Dodge, Kansas becoming mayor after turning her life around completely in a short period of time.  A mediocre sprinter at the University of Oregon recently set the world record in the 100 meters with the phenomenal time of 9.5 seconds.  So far the public was curious, but the number of articles was fairly small.  We correctly assumed that many of the evolved didn’t want to go public out of fear of the reaction to their status.

 

Evolved organized

 

Jodi got the idea of forming a ‘club’ of the evolved.  In order to do that, we put blind items in major newspapers reading “Feeling Better, Doing Better?  Tell your story to PO Box 5820 Portland, OR 97218.”  We got responses about broken marriages being healed, weightlifting records being set, solutions to previously insoluble math problems and other stories of improvement.  Most of those that wrote to us had improved intelligence and were smart enough to know how it had happened.  In order to stay in touch with what turned out to be thousands of the evolved, we set up a ‘dark’ website ‘Better’, but in this case not one to abuse children or sell drugs, but to find out more about the phenomenon.

 

While we were working on that, I decided to find out what was going on in my body.  That was one of the few things that I couldn’t determine on my own.  A trusted doctor checked me out thoroughly and found several anomalies:

 

I had an increased frontal cortex compared to the norm, the ‘human’ part of the brain, which made me smarter;

My brain stem, the ‘reptile’ part of the brain, was reduced from the normal, which reduced my animal behavior such as territoriality;

My muscles were converting to more chimpanzee like, making me stronger;

Also chimpanzee like I had become hairier, something I had not previously noticed with all of the other miraculous changes; and

There were other changes to my organs which were unexplained improvements.

 

Jodi then checked in at the same doctor and found similar improvements.

 

From the various responses we got from our survey on the dark site ‘Better’, we found that some of our respondents had similar results from their doctors.

 

Most of the evolved had kept their heads down, but a few were doing incredible things in public, too many to recount.  The five foot tall white boy that could dunk two handed and block LeBron James; the five year old that accurately corrected his first grade teacher on many occasions and the forty year old woman that high jumped more than two meters.  It was too much to keep secret.  Social media started it and newspapers began to catch up.  A few people came up with the truth, but there were more with conspiracy theories – mad scientists or a government project to produce super soldiers.

 

New Mexico

 

After checking the twitter feeds and reading some newspapers, Jodi said “New Mexico”.  I immediately knew what she meant and agreed.  We’d have to raise a lot of money, but we could start a colony in Eastern New Mexico.  I thought of Mike Wilkie.

 

Mike was a good friend from working with him on an ad for Gold, his huge software company.  He was a very happy guy who had the phenomenal fortune to marry a second terrific woman a few years after the death of his first wife.  With his big local company that had, unlike most others started in Oregon, stayed local and his beneficent civic engagement, he was the most popular man in town.  Because the ‘new’ me could match him in intelligence and sophistication, we had bonded immediately.

 

He was not at all surprised when I told him my plan to start a colony of the evolved in Eastern New Mexico.  He had already divined what was going on with the new and improved humans.  “Great idea Bill.  Eastern New Mexico is known for being the safest place in the US and still has low land prices.  People want the beautiful mountains, not the monotonous plains; but it will be fine for our purposes.  I think that I can stake you to enough money to get started.”

 

“What can I do for you, Mike?”

 

“I wouldn’t worry about that right now.  Maybe Gold can be the software of your evolved geniuses.”

 

When I told Jodi, she said “You can’t have all of the fun Bill.  I’m going get on “Better” to see who wants to join us and work on the easements and purchases that we will need.”

 

As we worked on that with as much stealth as possible, the word was starting to leak out – “Super Men And Women Among Us” read an Oregonian headline.  As always, a lot of the reporting was wrong.  There were reports of invisible people, people that could lift Cadillacs (in reality, nothing larger than a Mini) and walk through walls.  The reports got exaggerated to the point of suggesting that some of us were X Men or part of the expanded Fantastic Four.  Sorry, none of us can violate physical laws.

 

As expected, the New Mexico locals became suspicious within a few weeks, so I took the direct approach and called Ray Guiterrez, the New Mexico governor.  After a quick explanation of the benefits that our little colony would bring to Debaca and Chaves counties and New Mexico as a whole, we had no more obstruction.  The grants to education, the much increased tax base and the prospect of the biggest scientific and cultural centers in the US were all he needed to hear.  As expected, he checked with Wilkie to confirm my story.

 

The cat was out of the bag.  Jodi decided to call President Hanley to get ahead of the story.  It was our good luck that Duke Hanley had replaced President Burton.  Burton was something of a likeable buffoon, but Hanley was about as smart as any of the unevolved.

 

Jodi – “Mr. President, I’m so happy that you took my call.”

Duke – “I should be honored to be talking to one of the evolved.  Call me Duke.”

Jodi – “OK.  First, what do you know about the evolved?”

Duke – “I think that you are like the children of Einstein, Schwarzenegger, and the Dalai Lama, due to the effects of The Bombardment to your DNA.

Jodi – “A little fanciful, but a good short description.  Does the government have a policy towards us?”

Duke – “I’m leaning towards benign negligence.  Maybe your New Mexico colony can lead the way to worldwide peace and prosperity.”

Jodi – “As long as there are the unevolved, that won’t happen, but maybe we could help a little.  So you would not disturb the colony or the evolved that choose to live outside of New Mexico?”

Duke – “That is correct.”

Jodi – “Thank you so much, I’m so glad we got this straight.  If you don’t mind, I’ll sign off for now, but I hope that we will stay in touch.”

Duke – “I forgot to ask, are you the leader of the evolved?”

Jodi – “We don’t have a leader.  Any one of us could have called you.”

Duke – “My assistant will get back to you on how to keep clear communication.  Signing off on this end for now.”

 

Public reaction

 

A few days later as the evolved went about their work, the phone rang and Sam Hawkins answered because he was closest.

 

“Hello, this is Jonas Atkins of Flocks News.  To whom am I speaking?”

 

“This is Sam Hawkins.”  Hawkins recognized Flocks News as a purveyor of the sensational and outright lies.

 

“Are you the leader of the evolved?”

 

“We don’t have leaders.”

 

“Is this some sort of cult or new religion?”

 

“No, just a bunch of people trying to improve the human condition.”

 

“If it is not too private, what kind of sex goes on there?”

 

“Consensual and age appropriate.”

 

“Could you tell me anymore, our audience is intrigued?”

 

“I’ll explain it if you tell us all about the sex practices of the unevolved.”

 

“What are your politics and religion?”

 

“We don’t have any.”

 

“Who does the work and who runs things?”

 

“When something needs to be done, somebody does it.”

 

“Well, thanks for your time.”

 

We evolved didn’t know it because we didn’t follow news programs which mostly wasted time on politics and celebrities, but Jonas Atkins’ next news program “What You Need To Know Now” spent all of its runtime exposing the evolved colony as “A godless conspiracy much like Jonestown or the Rajneeshpuram.”

 

Attack

 

In response to the program, a militia of thousands organized and attacked the colony.  Some hated anything that they didn’t understand, some loved violence, and some wanted spoils.  I’m not surprised that they confused the intelligent with the defenseless.  We tried not to kill anybody.

 

The siege of The Colony didn’t last long because we had dug a three meter deep moat on our border.  Most of the invaders gave up on encountering it and left muttering and swearing.  Seventeen jumped in and some drowned largely because of the shock of the cold water.  Sometimes low tech works just fine.  Our housing was far enough away from the moat that few invaders tried to fire in our direction but those that did didn’t hit anything.  For the few that did get across our moat, the electrical grid encouraged them to retreat to the other side of the moat.

We were accused of being barbarians by some in the media.  It was suggested that we should jointly be charged with murder for the thirteen deaths.  The local authorities wouldn’t do anything to us, partly based on legal principle and partly due to the benefits we brought to New Mexico.  President Hanley was one our biggest fans, so he had no interest in pursuing any legal action against us.  He went further and apologized for not stopping the invaders before they got to our colony.

The program

After that interruption we proceeded with our plan to improve the state of humanity.  We were in continuous contact with other evolved colonies around the world, but it wasn’t necessary, because we all reached the same conclusions.

The ways in which we could help the world:

Move non-combatants from war zones.  Nothing could be done for those that insist on fighting and we didn’t want to “destroy the village in order to save it”.  There are very few areas which could easily absorb more people.  Canada, Australia and Siberia are the major candidates.  In each case we had to work on infrastructure and housing plus sources of food and water.

Produce reliable, renewable and adequate energy for the world.  While looking for other solutions, we installed wind, solar, tidal and thermal plants where needed.  Cheap, non-polluting energy in the Middle East made fresh water from desalination available.  Each solution depended on improvements that our best minds produced.

Raise the standard of living for those that need it most.  Getting the noncombatants out of war zones was a part of the solution.  Our energy projects helped the standard of living in two ways, the most obvious being the availability of heat, cooling, stove and lights and the less obvious is access to education and knowledge from the internet.  Evolved volunteers became a ‘super peace corps’ going wherever they were needed and accepted to aid in local projects.

Stabilize the world population.  This was our most difficult goal because of the cultural and demographic problems involved.  Japan and much of Europe had declining populations, but we concentrated on those areas with unsupportable demographics.  For any jurisdiction that would accept it, we offered family planning services.  India and China each had more casualties from the bombardment than the rest of the world.  Both countries were happy with their lower, easier to support economies and were happy to practice birth control.

Educate Women.  This is closely related to stabilizing the world population.  Women who know more are less like to be baby factories dominated by men and they can improve their local economy.

With the idea that we would introduce these programs where they were accepted, they were quickly introduced to parts of Africa, South America, and Asia.  Europe, Canada, Japan and Australia needed fewer changes.  The difference between the adopters and the resisters was that adopters were largely interested in improving their lot, and the resisters did not want any changes to their culture.  In the US, changes were delayed because of an anti-intellectual bent, resistance to birth control and dislike of change.  Further, many thought The Colony was a dangerous cult.

Five Years Later

With the very important help of some benevolent billionaires around the world, we have made some progress.  Many areas have reliable water and power for the first time.  Small, portable houses that supply much of their own energy are being constructed in many parts of the world.  Using local materials and labor has simultaneously increased gainful employment and improved housing.  Women are running businesses and having fewer, healthier children in many parts of the world.

The parts of the world that resisted us are, if anything, worse off, mired in war, overpopulated and sinking economically.  We can only hope that they will eventually see our successes, and learn from them.  Even we evolved are stumped in our attempts to deal non-violently with the entrenched intransigence of the medieval cultures in much of the world, but he US is slowly adopting some of our ideas.

The Future

Our daughter Jeanie is now three years old and intellectually equivalent to a teenager but without the hormonal mood swings.  She and the other children of the evolved are the hope of the future.

The coming years hold so much promise.

 

About the author: The author is a little old man in Lake Oswego Oregon USA who lives with editor Sharon and cat Kitzhaber.  After a career in math and actuarial work, he achieved his goal of retirement.  He now snow shoes when there is appropriate snow, hikes, volunteers and writes.  At least he did those things before the pandemic.  He has around a hundred things published in about two hundred places in many genres, several countries and several genres.  The most published is “smart car” and his favorite is “Old”.
More can be found in the website https://sites.google.com/site/aberrantword/ and the blog https://doug.car.blog/

 

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My name is Jack L. Bryson and I'm the editor of Teleport. I studied literature at University of Montana. I live in Mountain View Ca, and my email is coffeeant1@gmail.com

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