Okay, now here is my last story of the year. It is a Science Fiction Story, based on factual events and probabilities. Tree limbs, a faulty relay, and the Sun, have fired warning shots, but still we ignore them. Until…
The Mediator sat quietly in front of the room. It was on the Seventieth floor of an Old Manhattan Landmark. Forty people sat around in a circle. Few of them, if they stood up, would tower as much as five feet tall. All were thin. All were long. Even though they stood only five feet tall, or less, their limbs were exceptionally long. They looked kind of like that old cartoon character, Gumby, if he had been made of pipe cleaners instead of rubber.
Each of them had a Land Line open in front of them, and for one of the few times in the last Century, the room was lit. That alone was a dead give away that something big was going on. Since the Silence happened in 2019, there hadn’t been a lit room in a tall building more than a handful of times.
It was only 2069, but so much had changed since The Silence, that nobody alive in 2019 would have recognized any place on Earth, nor would they have recognized the people sitting in the circle as their progeny. Had a person from 2079 met an average human from back then - well, they would have been frightened out of their minds.
The stories of greed, waste, selfishness, and callous disregard for the Earth or other Humans was evident in the destruction around them. Humans had evolved more in three generations, than they had in the previous 300,000 years. They had no choice if they were going to survive. It got close. Real close.
The forty people in that room, took almost a year to get there. Travel was difficult, dangerous, and scary. Only by land line had the survivors of The Silence found there were other people in other places scattered around the globe. The forty people in that room represented the 40,000 people left on the planet. I told you…it was close.
Within a year of The Silence, there were no humans left on any islands, anywhere. Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, Greenland, the Philippines, Japan, all bereft of human inhabitants. Most died in the first week from starvation, or mob violence. Months later genetic mutations killed off most of the newborns, and billions succumbed to the long term affects of the burst of electromagnetic radiation from The Silence.
It took a decade for the Population of the Earth to drop under a hundred thousand souls, and five years after that, it got down to the thousands. It took more than 20 Centuries to go from a 100 million to 8 Billion, and only a decade to drop back to 20,000 people on the entire planet. The Children born in 2029 looked nothing like the children born in 2019. The children born in 2040 were the first New Humans. In 2040, there were 3,976 New Humans on the Planet. Now, the Mediator glanced around the room, these forty people, and she- represented the forty thousand New Humans living now. There were no more Humans left born before 2019. And very few of the first wave of hurried adaptations, in just two generations, just two- Humans went from what they were, to what they are now: The New Humans. Only New Humans were at the meeting.
This meeting had two items on the agenda: moving everyone on Earth what used to be South Eastern Untied States, or to gather everyone in that narrow belt from France, across Germany, and into Poland, that offered the least radiation from the Sun, and the best climate for their bodies. The Forty would decide, the Mediator would break any tie.
Because each land line went back to the meeting halls in the areas where the Forty came from, and all New Humans were super sensitive to select bands of frequencies, one land line could reach the entire clan- without a speaker phone. Just leave the phone off the hook, and they could hear each word clearly up to almost a mile away. No one was a mile away from a landline for a meeting. Everyone on Earth, was listening. They knew what happened when folks did not listen to what they heard.
The other item on the Agenda, was how to explain The Silence to future generations. Evolution and Fear had set the birth rate at just a bit above zero. Never again would the Earth hold billions, or even millions. A previous meeting of the Forty had set the final growth projections at 100,000 people - period. Evolution had made giving birth a choice. The New Humans could not get pregnant, nor deliver a live birth, except by conscious choice.
Sex was no longer for procreation, it was only for recreation. Nature had never found a better way to bond, than sex and community. So both were dominant genes in the New Humans. Jealousy, envy, anger, selfishness, and possession had all been bred out of the New Humans. Only emotions that served to enlighten, enrich, or empower the entire Human Race remained. A Human transported to 2089 would look horrible to a New Human, and would seem to be both irrational, and insane- to a New Human.
They would simply take the old human out to the Bands- the areas where the Sun’s radiation reached the surface of Earth. The old Human would just fall asleep, and within moments all of the molecules would degrade, and a puddle of protoplasm would sift into the soil. That hadn’t been done in more than thirty five years, but if they found any old Humans in caves or shelters - they would cherish them, learn what they could from them, and if they showed signs of imprinting from that old Era, coaxed out into the Bands.
Only the Mediator and three of the LandLine holders had witnessed a Banding. It was a bitter sweet feeling. To take one of those towering heavy beings, being filled with individualism and ego, out into the Bands was not a task taken lightly. It was necessary, but with each of the fewer and fewer Old Humans being found in isolated nicks and crannies around the world, what is what like before the Silence had drifted into myth, and some small archives of historical facts.
The Forty had unanimously voted to move to the Narrow Band in what used to be Europe. The South Eastern former United States was a long peninsula with an inland sea and islands. So all would gather over the next year, and migrate to the New Homelands. There would be no more cities. There would be no more Towns. Villages would be the center of each Landline. They would make The Road, and once it was done, live on that 1,375 mile stretch of paradise, at least Paradise for them.
Now, they had to decide how to put The Silence into something children could learn. Although, to be honest, there were no children any more. Infants became full Landline Community Members by age three, and by age five they were as tall as the adults. There were no parents. The community simply gave permission to a female to allow herself to bring an egg to fertilization. She opened her mind, and the combined will of the community, started the fertilization process, by simple ECT impulse to the hormonal centers in her brain. A baby was literally willed into existence. By choice. Not by chance. Since it took all the minds of a community to stimulate that new center in the Brain, it follows that the “baby” both loved, and was loved by all.
The Silence had hit at 1:03 PM GMT time, on Thursday July 2nd, 2019. By Monday, July 6th, more than half the Human Population had died. Civilization only lasted a week or so longer than that. Oh, sure there were hints that The Silence would come, but they were ignored by most of the population of Earth in the early part of the Century.
The Carrington Event of 1859, that brought the Aurora Borealis all the way down to the Equator, and left every telegraph wire north of the tropic of Cancer a fried piece of wire, was well known. How it shut down railroads, stock markets, and newspapers all across the budding Industrial Nations of the World was noted, commented on, and recorded. By the year 2017, few remembered its impact.
In 1965 a faulty relay, a measly 50 cent switch, caused the biggest blackout in History for parts of Canada and the Northeastern and Midwestern United States. In 1989 it was a magnetic storm from the Sun (the very same cause of the Carrington Event), in 2003 an Ice Storm brought trees into contact with Power lines in Canada, causing every major city from Montreal to NYC to go dark.
What happened in those brief events ( the longest lasting only one night, and half of the next day) foreshadowed what The Silence might be like. People couldn’t talk via phone or internet, food rotted on trucks that didn’t know where to go, and drivers who wouldn’t drive them for fear of being caught in a riot. Markets crumpled, and failed. Panic became a common emotion, hospitals were left with only emergency back ups, and many a life was saved with a simple flash light. Mobs of two kind formed: looter/hooligans and Vigilante/Rescuers. One group trying to help throughout the long dark cold night, the other trying to take advantage of both the cover of darkness, and people.
The Silence was a solar flare more than a billion times stronger than the Carrington Event. Not a single satellite survived the initial blast of solar wind. A heartbeat later, the full force of electromagnetic radiation hit. It was catastrophic, quick, and deadly. The first to die were the poor brave people on the International Space Station. They were blinded a millisecond before they were fried. It was a quick death. Was it painless? No one knows.
A full second after the satellites went down, so did every unshielded computer and server on the Planet. Four seconds later, and even shielded computer and servers went down. A minute later, and there were no more servers, or computers that worked - on earth. The WEB, as gone. Only landlines remained, but they couldn’t be used until the storm passed. And that was almost to late.
There is an old saying that Humans were always just four square meals away from losing Civilization. It turns out, that was fairly accurate. By the second day, people were starving to death. By the fourth you could be killed if you ate in public. By week two, you could be killed eating in your barricaded apartment, condo or house. It wasn’t pretty. It was the apocalypse promised in so many scriptures. Humans stopped being human, and became animals with one goal- survival.
The Forty Landline leaders, and the Mediator often had to stop reviewing the documents, or the few surviving films, and let their collective minds calm back down. Man’s inhumanity to man, is not meant for human consumption. The New Humans were driven almost to the brink of mental collapse, but still they forged on. The Silence had to be drawn out in detail. It had to be deafening to New Humans ears, so that the lessons learned would not be forgotten. Mankind, in order to survive, had to become more Human. And it did.
The New Humans folded many times during the meeting, and the listeners thousands of miles away, dropped like flies, as the record of horror poured forth from the speakers on the phones. Relentless in its furious flow of descent from a somewhat decent civil caring Society to sheer survival mode. In less than two years it was over. The Silence had relegated technology to so much junk. It had rendered Civilization from the hands of Humans, like candle fat from a bear. Killing it to make light.
In the end, the Mediator Proclaimed that The Silence would be held (as a Symbol) at 1:03 PM (GMT) on July 2nd every year hence forth. Instead of writing out, and preparing a document with a list of horrendous tragedy after tragedy, as Humans almost became extinct, the New Humans would reenact the Silence. At 1:03 PM (GMT) on the second of July, everyone would move away from each other. No contact with another Human Being for 48 Hours. Only water for those 48 Hours. It was enough.