It’s been three decades since the earth was destroyed by the super solar flare leaving the planet completely uninhabitable. Mankind was fortunate enough to foresee the event 5 years in advance and build The Ark, a large spaceship capable of sustaining a population of 1 million people. Of course the population must be controlled, which led to many people being forcefully sterilized. But it seems this method was not enough as the population has exceeded the ships limitations and now the food supply is starting to run low.
The Ark is currently drifting on the outer rim of the asteroid belt in the solar system. The asteroids have been providing the ship with many resources for several years, but food is a resource that the asteroids are unable to provide. Now that it has become exceedingly apparent that the food supply will run out in approximately one year, hard decisions lie ahead. A council of 9 elders will ultimately decide the ship’s fate.
The Commander of the ship, Paul Jackson, is heading to a meeting with the Elder Council to discuss solutions to the population problem.
“Commander! Here is the file you requested. It contains all the details of our food shortage along with statistics of our current rations program.”
“Thank you, Lieutenant.”, says Jackson. “Wish me luck. I’m hoping the decisions made at this meeting will not be as drastic as I’m foreseeing it to be.”
“You’re a smart man, Commander. If the Elders are to be convinced by anyone, it’s you. Good luck.”
Jackson approaches the entry way that leads to the large dome room on the upper deck of the ship. He takes a deep breath and enters.
“Commander Jackson. Welcome.”, declares Elder Julia. She’s a sweet old lady in her 70’s. Here pure white curly hair reminds Jackson of his own grandmother when he was 8 years old still living on Earth.
“Surely you’ve been briefed in detail about our grave situation?” Asks Elder Reyes.
“Yes, sir. And I believe the solution will be…” “We will decide what the solution is, Commander. You are here as a messenger to give us the current status of the situation.”
“Yes, sir.” replies Jackson.
“Reyes, Commander Jackson is here to tell us the details, but I believe it would be wise for us to consider any advise he can give us.” states Julia.
Reyes, with an irritated look, concedes the point. He has never been one to trust the judgement of others over his own, but he admires Julia. After all she is his wife.
“Well Commander, what is your recommendation?” asks Reyes.
“Right now our population has exceeded it’s limits by 49,731. At our current rate of food rations distribution we are expected to run out in about 1 year. I believe the best solution would be to put a complete ban on repopulating and reducing the current rations to just 1 serving a day. This, by all means, should keep everyone alive and functional at required levels until the population reduces naturally to the ships limitations.”
“And how long will this process take before the population is brought back down?” Asks Julia.
“My advisers and I have concluded the population should be back within the ships limitations within 7 years.”
“7 years!?! And that’s if everything succeeds in the way you proposed it. What happens if our farms don’t produce as much as usual in one of those years? It has happened before.” snaps Reyes.
“Yes, sir. And that was 10 years ago, but we survived. It is a risky plan. But any course of action at this point will have risks. I believe this course to be the most humanly decent course of action.”
“Don’t start talking about morals Commander! This is about the survival of the human race!”
“Enough!” shouts Julia. “Whatever the solution is, we will not be able to reach it if we lose our temper.”
“Thank you, Commander. The Elders will now counsel with each other and send for you once we have reached a decision. You are dismissed.”
Commander Jackson nods and walks out. He is apparently worried about the Council’s decision. Especially the influence Elder Reyes has over the others. There is nothing left to do now except wait.
To be continued….
She watches as they force her family in the airlock along with countless others. She wants to save them, but some unknown force is preventing her from moving. She screams in her mind, but no sound comes from her mouth. One of the armed masked figures surrounding her closes the airlock containing the masses of people. The terrified expression on her mother’s face holds her gaze until finally the full horror is realized as the masked figure presses the button and open’s the outside door to the ship. In an instant the group is sucked out into space as she let’s out another silent scream.
She sits up quickly in a cold sweat. Heart racing. Tears in her eyes.
“Just another dream.” she thinks to herself as she tries to calm herself down.
This is the third time she has awoken with the same horrific dream this month. She knows there has been a growing concern about the population on The Ark. Perhaps these dreams are just her worse fears being played out in her mind, but she doesn’t believe these nightmares to become a reality.
“Anya? Are you awake?” She hears her mother calling to her. “We need to get ready in a hurry. It’s rations day.”
Anya hates this day of the week. It’s not enough having to fight the huge crowds to collect her families weekly rations. They have to be extra vigilant on returning to their cabin. There seems to be more and more food muggers these days and their opportune times to strike are of course on one of the two ration days each week. The penalty in getting caught for such a crime in these desperate times of the growing food shortage is death, but on ration days the crowds are so thick the muggers rarely get caught by the guards.
As Anya gets up and walks into the small dinette of her families 3 bunk cabin, she suddenly gets an overwhelming sense of dread and fear as she recalls her recent nightmares, becoming visually apparent of her feelings.
“Are you ok?” her father asks. “You look a little pale.”
“I’m fine.” Anya responds. “Just didn’t sleep well last night.”
“Another one of those nightmares?” He asks. Anya nods with a sigh.
“I know they’re just dreams. But they seem so real.”
“We have some good moral leaders on the Elder Counsel. What you envision in your dreams will never come true. Now, we need to hurry so we can beat the crowds. Don’t forget your I.D. badge.”
The citizens of the Ark must rely on their I.D. badges to receive their rations. If these badges get lost or stolen, a citizen could potentially go two weeks without rations before their badges can officially be replaced.
As Anya and her family arrive at the rations distribution center they notice the rations are not being handed out yet.
“They’re starting rather late today it seems.” says Anya’s father.
“They’re going to make an important announcement before they distribute today. It seems the Elder Counsel has made a decision to solve the population problem and that decision apparently effects our rations.” states a nearby citizen.
As the crowd becomes more restless, an official finally gets up on the podium in the front and speaks into the loudspeaker.
“Citizens of the Ark, as you are all aware, the Ark is currently affected by a growing population problem which is causing a gradually increasing food shortage. Due to this growing concern, the Elder Counsel has made steps into ensuring our survival with the minimally possible casualty risk. Starting today there will be a complete ban on human reproduction. Any person that is born after 9 months from now will not be issued an I.D. badge and therefore will not be taken into consideration when distributing rations to that family, and the couple that reproduced will be forcefully sterilized. If you are currently pregnant, you will need to register with the DPM(Department of Population Management) in order to ensure you are not affected by these penalties.
“Secondly, in order to prevent a greater food shortage, starting today all citizen food rations will be decreased to one ration per person per day. This will ensure…” The crowd erupts in uproar.
“Everyone, please stay calm!” the official shouts. This does nothing to calm the crowd. Part of the crowd starts becoming violent. Soon people are pushing and falling to the ground. Anya’s father tries to grab her and her mother to get them out of the crowd, but his grip is broken by a violent shove as Anya is knocked to the ground where she hits her head becoming unconscious.
To be continued…