17: One And A Million (part 4)

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17.4 Solution

Alternate One: 5 June 2107

"They once said that you could fit the entire population of the world onto the Isle of Wight."

"What?" Krista said, telepathically, from Rio.

"They were wrong. We need somewhere bigger," Morton replied, from somewhere in China. Like Krista he had been jumping around the planet discovering the state it was in and trying to aid the restoration of a network of authority. But the intact population were more concerned with the situation regarding those for whom there was no more help. A million enhanced minds had not come up with a single practical solution to the endless mass of moribund humans.

No matter where each person was located, their consciousness, steeled against the horror, observed a whole world and the death of the people they had failed. That death was everywhere. Seven days of a world full of people too stupid to be even able to fulfil their immediate needs, to eat or drink, were dying like flies. Conversely, the flies themselves weren't dying – they were multiplying exponentially given the abundance of death to feed upon.

Something had to be done fast before the stench enveloped the whole planet.

Morton had requested ideas. The most practical made them feel as if they were committing genocide. Many refused to have anything to do with it, locking themselves away from the rotting remains of humanity, fingers metaphorically in their ears, eyes shut and hoping the problem would go away.

It didn't.

After a few hours Morton approved the least impractical plan.

"Kodiak Island," a girl in Alaska had suggested, with reluctance. "I grew up there. It's both big enough and isolated from the mainland."

She was right.

Morton, Krista and several others initiated a pyramid of minds with Morton electing to head it up to do the deed. Once more than hundred thousand were linked in Morton deemed it strong enough, and the dead and dying were teleported to Kodiak Island.

Once they were done he held the pyramid together and, through it, asked another question: "Do we leave the living to die in their misery or do we end it for them?"

A reply came. "If you had a dog that you knew was going to die in pain, wouldn't you want to ease that pain even if the life was shortened?"

From within the pyramid there came a faint murmur of approval. Few countered it, though many abstained from commenting and a third withdrew completely, Morton felt the pyramid shrink.

Kodiak Island was packed with more than ten billion people, at least a third already dead. A few minutes later they placed a shield over the entire island and changed the atmosphere so that those still living would fall asleep.

Then they released the power of a small sun within the same shield and burned the island down to the bedrock before washing a tide over it to cleanse it.

The problem was solved, but they would never cleanse their minds of what they had done.


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