Population Deficit

Happy wedding couple sharing champagne
Publish 25 October 2023


A college couple graduates and marries one another, while making career decisions, as a busy maid of honor offers supportive suggestions.

This story mashes up numerous social and ethical issues building up to a dramatic science fiction conclusion.

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Ringing Wedding Bells

The rain drums on the windows as Yvonne stands before the mirror. A deep frown rests on her face, and she cringes as the wind howls. Her eyes still glimmer in the warm glow, and she flattens her frown, sighing.

“I paid far too much money for this dress to be soaked through and torn up by the wind,” Yvonne says, slouching her shoulders.

Her friend, Maggie Tanner, pauses dusting eyeshadow on her eyelids and snaps her head over her shoulder. “Don’t despair. Nothing can ruin these plans,” the supportive friend replies. “Today is not about the rain. It’s about you and your love for Randy.”

Yvonne’s wedding gown rustles as she steps over to the window, pouting at the dark clouds billowing in from the east. “It just feels like a bad omen.”

Maggie tuts. “Always so negative. Try to reign it in.”

Yvonne flushes. “It’s my wedding day! I’m allowed to be nervous.”

Maggie marches up to her friend, tugging at the hem of her dress, smoothing out ruffles and then places her hands on Yvonne’s warm cheeks. “You may enjoy today as well. You are marrying Randy, your college sweetheart. Smile!”

Yvonne schools her face into a beaming grin. But it doesn’t quell her thundering heart. The sense of foreboding haunts her for the entire day, even as she claims the words, “I do.”

Tough Family Choices

Only a few months after the wedding, the all-too distinct nausea plagues Yvonne for several mornings in a row, prompting her to take a pregnancy test.

“Randy, can we talk about the results? You don’t seem happy.”

“I’ve received the job offer we’ve been talking about. I’m meeting with one of the district managers at the airport to sign the papers over lunch today. This job will have me flying all over the country. I won’t be home often enough to help,” Randy counters.

She chews her lip, gripping the scolding mug of fresh coffee. “I don’t know what to do. We haven’t discussed plans for my own career.”

“Why don’t you talk to Maggie while I prepare for my appointment?” he says, brushing loose locks behind her ear. “She always has good advice.”

Anticipated Words

But Yvonne can practically hear what Maggie is going to say before she even spits out the words. The two friends stroll through their local park, sipping coffees from their favorite barista.

“It sounds like you’re not ready for a family yet, Yvonne,” Maggie presumes while pursing her lips in concern. “I really think you should prioritize your career now. You can always begin a family down the road when you’re in a better position.”

Yvonne projects a staccato laugh. “I knew you’d say that. My trusty friend, always climbing the corporate ladder.”

Maggie shrugs, gulping her coffee and sliding her sunglasses on. “It’s part of my charm.”

Population Deficit

Yvonne laughs again while extracting her buzzing phone from her pocket. As the person on the other end speaks, her face falls—the color draining from it. Her knees buckle and she hits the grass.

“What is it?” Maggie asks while reaching to steady her friend.

Yvonne doesn’t respond. She hangs up and drops the phone. Her lip quivers as a scream rips from her throat, animalistic and feral.

She can’t even utter the words. “Not him. Not him. Anyone but, him!”

At that moment, Yvonne receives a news alert of a gunman at the airport. The FBI and Homeland Security are mobilizing forces there.


Return twice weekly for miniseries. Any relation to actual persons or events is coincidental. Login provides the most immersive experience. About 2900 total words. Audio may include sound effects that alter reading time.

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