A short story by BlameSaiki.
~Note: So, about a year and a half ago, I wrote a story about a drug that essentially terrorizes humanity until the very end. With everything that’s currently occurring around the world due to COVID-19, I thought it would be a good idea to revisit one of the very few stories that I’ve been rather proud of finishing. It just always reminds me that we must appreciate any time that we have together with our loved ones. We never know when the next time we’ll see each other will be or even if there will be a next time. Here is part one:
“Will this really be the last one? We can’t let this happen!”
“I know. But, even with us four, there’s no way we’ll be able to make it in time.”
“But we still have to try!”
“Listen, there’s just too much land to cover in such a short amount of time, and everyone else is either too weak or sick to even try to help.”
“I hate this. This wasn’t the outcome we wanted. It’s all our fault.”
“Hey. You know damn well this isn’t what we made it for. So, stop talking like that.”
The two of us stand there alone: me, feeling incredibly guilty despite his words, and him, looking annoyed that I had defaulted yet again to feeling this way.
“I just can’t believe that this is really the end,” I whisper. “I never thought it would actually happen during our lifetime… Where did it all go so wrong?”
I take a look at our immediate surroundings, at the inconceivably barren land that stretches out as far as the eye can see. It’s unbelievable to think that this was once a rainforest not too long ago.
We are on the brink of extinction. Ninety-eight percent of humanity has already been wiped off the face of the planet, along with all other forms of life. Whatever creature or specimen might be left is virtually undetectable now. We’re all that’s left, and that’s apparently being taken care of at some point today.
It’s terrifying to know the day you’ll die, but it’s even worse when you know the day that humanity will change from an endangered species to an extinct one. Not a single person that’s left will be able to survive what’s coming today. This is it… our last moments on Earth, and it’s all our fault. The four of us are unquestionable to blame for this. But, for some reason, my brother thinks otherwise. He’s not a firm believer of the whole “humanity will be the cause of its own downfall,” yet here we are, clearly doing that very thing.
While the human population had still been flourishing well into the billions several years ago, the four of us had strived to somehow help our fellow brethren. We knew that cures for certain diseases were near impossible and well out of our reach with the limited technology that we had available to us, so we, instead, decided to attempt to create a way to make it easier for those who were terminally ill. We wanted to make their last moments be as painless and soothing as we could possibly make it.
My brother, my best friend, the man who would later become my husband, and I all tirelessly worked together on a chemical formula that, in theory, would initially cancel out a person’s pain sensors and nervous system. It would then slowly take away their five senses and would eventually shut down each organ one by one. Because the person would no longer be able to feel anything by that point, they would, therefore, not feel any type of physical pain when their time came. It was the simplest way we could think of for not only the patients themselves, but for any family or friends that may be present during their final moments. There’s nothing worse than watching someone die in horrible pain.
My brother and I had reluctantly pulled the plug on our grandmother during my late teenage years. That act caused her to suddenly go into violent convulsions. It took multiple doctors and nurses to hold her down until she passed. It was a moment that would stick with my brother and I for the years to come. I can still hear her involuntary screams of pain even now.
From that day forward, we desperately wanted to rid that type of suffering from the world, and the other two in our lives thankfully shared our dream.
We weren’t professionals, by any means, and we were working with no type of funding or backup. We were entirely alone, so the furthest we figured we could get would be creating the chemical formula and, if we were really lucky, perhaps even a single prototype. We knew that there was no way that we’d ever have the opportunity to legitimately experiment with it the way we wanted to, let alone ever begin to mass-produce it.
That’s when the second cogwheel of humanity’s fate began to turn.
A company none of us had ever even heard of approached us out of the blue one day offering their indefinite aid. They had somehow gotten the word of our theory and of what we had managed to accomplish on our own over the span of five years. They offered to buy the rights to the formula, advising that they could finalize and progress everything for us by using the tools and resources that they had at their disposal.
The sudden offer took us all by surprise. On the one hand, they were a small start-up company with little to no history despite their unnaturally high number of sponsors behind them. But, on the other hand, they undoubtedly had the means to perfect what we could not. They would surely be able to create and distribute our medicine to anyone who needed it around the world in a short amount of time. It was a tempting offer.
Despite that, I had a nagging thought at the back of my mind that I couldn’t seem to get rid of no matter what I tried. That feeling manifested in me from a quote that I had once come across on the internet by a Dutch politician named Gijs de Vries, “If information ends up in the wrong hands, the lives of people very often are immediately at risk.”
I promptly informed the others of my incessant worries. We all agreed that on the contract we were signing to sell our formula, we would also include the condition that the use of that very formula, in whatever form, would be prohibited in waging wars. None of us wanted our hard work to be used to start wars with other countries, much less our own. That’s not what we had spent so many excruciatingly long hours creating it for.
The company agreed to our condition without a second thought, putting us at ease.
On the year anniversary of us selling it, the first missile was launched. The world was shaken from this sudden development. Everyone believed that it meant the start of World War III, but nothing followed.
After some thorough investigation on our part, we discovered that this had been a type of ‘experimental test’ for a rapidly emerging company. Our stomachs dropped when we read the company’s name. It was the one we had done business with the year prior.
According to the documents we managed to find, they had altered the formula in order to make in an airborne medicine and, in turn, had made a grave mistake in the second half of the calculations. They had accidentally, or maybe purposely, removed the medicine’s major function of shutting down a person’s pain sensors and nervous system. Their version sped up the process of the other two. In other words, the people who had been affected by this first missile had not only succumbed to very painful deaths, but their final moments must’ve been spent in indescribable fear due to losing their senses within seconds of their bodies beginning their shut down process.
This missile wiped out about five percent of the population on the other side of the planet from where it had been launched. Unfortunately, that meant that it had hit where most of our loved ones resided. We had all lost parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends, neighbors… They had all been instantly taken from us in the first attack.
Although this didn’t start World War III as many had feared, it was, of course, seen as a terrible act of terrorism by the entire world. The United Nations was in an uproar. Almost every country was adamant about getting rid of the company that had somehow grown large enough to be capable of something to this scale.
It has been unanimously decided that the company and all of its members would be terminated, whatever that meant.
However, something drastically, and very abruptly, changed their minds. Nobody outside of the members directly allowed into the United Nations Headquarters knows what was discussed, or even what exactly occurred inside that building during their final meeting. Every country part of the United Nations voted to back this company up at once, eventually gaining the support from non-United Nations countries, as well.
It was the first time in history that something like this had ever happened. They all strangely agreed with the company’s warped views that if they could work on this formula a little bit longer and essentially perfect it to their standards, then it would become the ideal tool, not weapon, to save our planet.
According to their worldwide announcement that immediately followed, it was the most human option to save humanity from themselves, something that confused us all… even now.
It’s now several years later and we’re currently down to about two percent of humanity left, and the fourth missile is about to be launched… the final nail in our coffin.
TO BE CONTINUED IN PART TWO.