Scifi

Exhausting Existence

Elderly man holding smartphone

A balanced view of population control requires people to forfeit their lives prematurely. One man must make a case for his existence.

Maturity Age 14+

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Ominous Text Message

🤖 “Mr. Langley, this is your final notice. We hope you have enjoyed your stay on Earth. In previous alerts, you were notified of the need to liquidate your assets and distribute them among your heirs. If you have not already done so, your belongings will be confiscated to help pay off the national debt. You have until 6 o’clock to appeal this end-of-life decision. Please reply with a statement of how your life at 65 years adds value to humanity.”

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The heart of an isolated lonely man races as he reads the unsympathetic text message. A day earlier, Marcus Langley had resigned himself to the inevitable. His lower back aches from incipit arthritis. Eyes don’t focus as they did in youth. His wife preceded him in death. It seems that all he has is a large home in which to languish.

Regrettably, he did little to widen his circle of friends throughout life. Instead, his focus was on self—his own satisfaction and despair. But a surge of hope courses through him.

Now Marcus desperately wants to live, contributing to society in new ways. He knows he has valuable skills and knowledge that should still make a difference in the world. He begins crafting his appeal, pouring his heart and soul into it.

But he knows it might not be enough. The government’s population control measures are strict, and they leave little room for sentimentality. Still, he decides to try everything in his power to extend his life. He crafts an impassioned plea, begging the authorities to allow him more time to make a difference.

Lifelong Achievements

While awaiting a response, Marcus reflects on his accomplish­ments. He had always been interested in learning and studied science and business in college. Working among uncredited teams in corporate America, he helped develop life-saving serums.

He launched several businesses throughout life, some of which failed and others succeeded. As technology surpassed his decades-old education, he cashed out to enjoy the things he had accumulated.

As a youth, he viewed death as something distant. Marrying in his 30s, he and his wife opted not to have children. By the time they celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary, Elaine was struggling for her last COPD breath. It was a devastating blow that reinforced mankind’s mortality.

Just 10 years later, he is facing the curtain call on his own earthly performance. But Marcus is not succumbing to disease. To control the global population, every human receives an alert when their time is up.

While holding a framed photo of his late wife, Elaine’s voice calls out to him. “You are the smartest, most caring man I ever met. Are you giving in without a fight?”

Now he needs to stop wasting time and prove his value. Acquired knowledge must amount to something. Which course will impress the AI algorithm? Should he become a local teacher or perhaps a traveling lecturer?

Appeal to Humanity

Marcus spends every moment he has left making the most of his life. He uploads a petition on the internet, and miraculously it gains traction. People from all over the world sign it, urging the government to spare his life.

With less than 10 hours left before his literal deadline, Marcus feels the weight of the clock ticking down. He has spent the last few hours frantically searching for ways to make an impact on humanity. As he paces the room, he hears a knock at the door.

Opening it, he discovers a small group of people, standing on his doorstep. They introduce themselves as members of a local community center, dedicated to helping the elderly find ways to stay active and engaged. “How did you learn of my predicament?” He asks.

“We heard about it through your online petition. With a little sleuthing, we discovered you live near us. If you’re up to it, we want to offer you a chance to make a real impact on the world around you.”

As they explain their program to him, Marcus feels a sense of purpose he hasn’t experienced in years. The community center is looking for someone to teach classes on business and entrepreneurship, skills that Marcus had honed over his lifetime. They believe that his expertise could help inspire a new generation of young people to take risks and pursue their dreams.

Without hesitation, Marcus agrees to join their program. The remaining hours until his deadline fly by as he works with the community center team to develop a curriculum that will help his students build successful businesses. He pours all of his knowledge and experience into the program, determined to make a lasting impact on the world around him. Then he amends his request for an extension.

In the end, the omnipotent AI responder takes notice of the outpouring of support for Marcus. The faceless power grants him a reprieve, extending his life for another 10 years. Marcus is overjoyed with a second chance to make a difference in the world. And he vows to use every moment of his extended life to leave a lasting impact on humanity.

The End

Return twice weekly for miniseries. Any relation to actual persons or events is coincidental. Login provides the most immersive experience. About 900 total words. Audio may include sound effects that alter reading time.

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