Russell blinked, once, twice but the message on his watch didn’t change. “The High Counsel has approved your request. Please report to Elimination Chamber #378 within the next 24 hours.”
A huge grin spread across Russell’s face and he turned & looked out the window at the green glow of the sky. It was a beautiful summer day on the planet of Baird. It was a beautiful day to die.
The exodus from Earth to the planet Baird had been a huge blessing. Earth was almost uninhabitable. Between the ravages of war and the constant rape of the planet’s resources, it’s surprising that there were any Earthlings left to rescue at all. The citizens of Baird welcomed the Earthlings with open arms.
The Earthlings were given viable roles in society in a relatively short period of time. Life had been good for Russell and Marilyn since their arrival on Baird.
Marilyn was gone now. She was carried into an Elimination Chamber more than four years ago, much to Russell and Marilyn’s relief. The parting was bitter sweet.
It turned out that the atmosphere on Baird extended the lives of Earthlings by 100 years or more. When this was discovered, at first it was celebrated. But as the Earthlings started to age, they realized that even though their bodies were failing, they continued to live.
Russell wondered if the people of Earth would have been as anxious to come to Baird, had they known that extending their lives would be as disastrous as it ended up being.
The atmosphere did not stop the ravages of disease. Russell’s once lovely wife Marilyn, ended up almost doubled over and could no longer walk. Her vision was gone. Her hair fell out and the cancer ate at her body a little at a time.
Russell was now 102 and the memories of Marilyn were becoming dim.
The only way to die on Baird, at less than 100 and some years old, was to either blow your brains out or be decapitated. Which happened more and more often these days as the Earthlings became Seniors.
The Bairds’ put their best scientists to work on the problem, but there was nothing anyone could do to change the effects of the atmosphere on the Earthlings. Returning to Earth was not an option.
The High Counsel had many meetings once the incidents of suicide started to climb at an alarming rate. That’s when they built the Elimination Chambers. They would grant an Assisted Suicide if the Earthling was beyond 90 years old and could show justifiable cause.
The Elimination Chamber would simply scatter your atoms out into space. A quick and painless end to life. You would spend eternity among the stars, Russel lovingly told Marilyn.
The Earthlings stopped reproducing once they learned their fate. They were a dying species.
For those that could not wait for the approval of the High Counsel, they took their own lives in sometimes gruesome ways. The Bairds’ loved showing the headless bodies of the earthlings on the evening news. They would stand over them, pointing with their furry blue hands and shaking their large egg-shaped heads.
At first Russell couldn’t deal with the attitude of the people that welcomed death. But after Marilyn got really sick, he understood.
Russell was fortunate. He still lived in the same house that he and Marilyn had shared for close to a century. His friends were either dead or too crippled to visit.
Russell and Marilyn had had 3 sons and Russell depended on them more and more these days. 2 of the 3 boys, although aged themselves, were still healthy enough to get around.
Connor, the oldest, couldn’t deal with the crippling effects his age had on his body. Jarod, the baby, at 70 years old, found Connor one day with his brains splattered across the kitchen walls.
There were no tears for Jarod. Russell’s family knew it was a blessing that Jarod was no longer suffering.
Russell was trying to decide who he should call with the good news first. There wasn’t much time. He had a million details to take care of and the boys would want to celebrate his last day on Baird.
** I’m going to enter this little story in a writing competition. It’s different from anything else I’ve ever written. It’s at 690 words and my limit is 700. If you would leave me some feedback about it, I would greatly appreciate it! Thank you! Penny