The End

If you saw the end of the world coming, what would you do?
Most people would run and scream, or try to fight it or try to survive. But really, there isn’t anything you can do. All you can do is get ready to die.
Humans have never been the kind who were willing to lay down and die.
I first realized what was happening when a “collection agent” came to my door and asked for me. “We’re taking everyone under 25 to the nearest stadium. You’ll know why when you get there.”
I got on the bus they had provided and shuffled my way to a seat in the back. There were a number of kids, who couldn’t be older than 7, who were crying. If I was their age, I’d be crying too.
The collection agent was the only person onboard over 25. He was a short, balding man, who had to be in his early 40’s. His job was to keep everyone content until we got through the process. It’d be easier once the kids got to the stadium. Their parents would be there. And hopefully, their parents wouldn’t be crying.
The collection agent– Gary, Gary was his name. I ought to give him that bit of respect, to use his real name.
Gary tried his hardest to keep all the kids happy by singing and playing games. I played along, because the last thing these kids needed was for the bitter 20-year-old to make them think their crying was reasonable. They were scared. Singing “The Wheels on the Bus” 5 times in a row to make them feel better is the least I could have done.
It was worse than I thought once we got to the stadium. I guess I had expected that they’d have more time to prepare, but the whole stadium was packed to the brim with people. I guess they had to go to red alert. All the billboards said precisely what I knew they would say:
That was when we would die.
I walked to the back of a line for 18- to 25-year-olds, and the reality of the situation hit me. When I heard about the asteroid on the news, the one that would end it all… Well, I thought it would be best to know the contingency plan the government had for that situation. I guess I expected it to be a little less frantic.
The line shuffled forward.
I wonder what my parents were doing at the time. Probably crying, trying to find out what would happen when the asteroid hit. They were probably more worried about their kids and the process. We would be fine either way; they would not.
The line shuffled forward.
The plan was cloning. The government had found a nice place for a space base, and they were going to send clones of every single one of us here (25 and under, of course) to populate the whole thing. The clones would grow to adulthood in a few days, but any children they’d have would be perfectly human and would grow as such. A few astronauts and caretakers would be aboard to initialize the clones when the time was right, and to take care of them at that point. They had to use clones; an embryo is a lot lighter than a person, and that means more of them for population purposes.
The line shuffled forward.
As for us still on Earth, we could go hide in underground bunkers for 50 years while the dust settled and the permanent winter faded away. Oh joy. Maybe my parents would make it to one of those…
The line shuffled forward. The person in front of me went to the agent for testing. I was next. This snapped me back to reality.
“Left hand please,” the agent said, as though it were more muscle memory than actual speech. She pricked the inside of his hand, and the computer near her gave her a long readout of his DNA. “I’m sorry,” she said, “your telomeres are too short for cloning. Next.”
He walked away, somewhat relieved by that answer.
I shuffled forward.
“Left hand please.” I offered the hand, and she pricked the center of my palm. “Your telomeres are within the required range. Please go to the next station.”
I walked to the next area behind her on the field. Telomeres. Of course it was telomeres. That’s why no one over 25 was even considered; the more deteriorated they are, the less your cells can successfully replicate. It would kill the clone.
“Please give me your left hand.”
The agent at this station was a little more direct. I guess he had been dealing with fewer people. He set the machine over my left palm and a series of needles began to puncture the skin.
“Do you know what’s going on?” he asked me.
I nodded. It was hard to say it out loud.
He smiled. “Sorry that you have to deal with this. It must be tough. But just think: another you will be out in the stars.”
“I wish I were out in the stars instead,” I admitted.
He chuckled at that. “At this point, I think most of us would rather be anywhere than here.”
The process finished up and I was free to go.
I was free.
I thought about that; no more responsibilities, no more school, no more work, nothing. For everyone.
It was the end.
I shuffled forward out of the stadium.
Drew Schackmann is a contributing writer for Gutai-Pravda Assembly. You can contact him on Twitter.
© 2015; David “Drew” Schackmann, Jr.

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