Story: Machiavellian Times

And now here's some of my work, a short story originally published in 1996 in Time: The Book Written in a Day, p.68, CARAD books, Rhayader, Wales. ISBN 1-900879-00-X. Click here to purchase.

The book was a project by an arts group in Rhayader to envision the bold plan to produce a book in a day, an anthology with contributions from members of the community on the theme of "Time". I gave it a pop, and what you will read below is the result of my endeavours, which appeared on page 68 of the tome.

I'm proud of this piece. It was the first piece to appear in a book with an ISBN number; to me at the time, that meant I was a real writer: I could add an ISBN number to my CV. Bear in mind that the piece was written a long time ago, by a naïve sixteen year old (me). I hope you'll find it has aged well and is still readable. If I were to rewrite it today, there'd be some things I'd certainly change; I seemed to be (and probably still am) in love with the word "indeed", amongst other things, but let us read on to see what and how I was writing many, many years ago....

Machiavellian Times

We send greetings, from your past, to you, our descendants. The year is 2176. We record this message on the first of January, and will seal this message, a copy of today’s newspaper, and several other items, inside a time capsule.

Today, in the late twenty-second century, many of man’s problems have been overcome. Financial problems are a thing of the past, and space travel is an everyday occurrence. Indeed, it is becoming increasingly common for people to live here, on the Moon, and commute daily to Earth to work.

Scientific advancements are being made all the time: Now the longest it will take anyone to travel to Mars is a month, and the outer planets are only a year away. This is a major advancement on the Voyager probes of the late twentieth century, which took a decade on their journey.

Other major discoveries are being made, such as the admission by the scientific community of the existence of ghosts. Obviously, it will be well documented in your era’s equivalent of history books (we use data chips, but still call them books), so we shall not go into that in depth.

Sociologically, humans have evolved, with single parent families and everyday occurrence. Indeed, it is rare for a person to make a life-time commitment to another, as solitude is a much sought-after thing in this solar system, in these times of meteoric rises in population.

Yes, our children, are your text books will tell you, the population today is in excess of sixty billion, and because of the ineffably high number of people, there is virtually no land for agriculture, and all attempts at farming the sea have failed. Indeed, the situation has become so drastic, even the richest people (and everyone today is rich) are starving, and crime are committed all the time in the name of food. The worst example of this is of a group that were so hungry that they turned to murder and cannibalism. They were stopped within a few days, but any heated discussions took place high up in the World Government whether they should be stopped, as they were reducing the population.

Our Offspring of Time: we speak to you through the ages only hoping for forgiveness, for we, at the highest positions of the World Government have committed the most heinous of crimes: we condone the murder of millions of innocents.

Although we were seen to take a stand against the gang of cannibals, we have employed assassins all around the world to rid the land of excess people, and it is slowly beginning to work. Just last year, a large area of land was cleared in Africa, after its inhabitants mysteriously disappeared. The land is now being farmed intensively.

But assassins on the streets are not the only way we deal with the population. Only the Government knows this, but regularly, spaceships loaded with people leave for Pluto, going to live at the colony there. But there is no colony on Pluto, and an accident always occurs, and it is always fatal.

We have also engineered incredibly terrible diseases to attack the population, but fortunately (for them), the diseases do not spread easily.

So, our Children of the Future, you now know the truth as to the sudden population drop we are planning for this year, and we only wish for you absolution, but we feel so wicked and sinful for our acts that we believe we shall never obtain exoneration.

Farewell, our unborn descendants. We only hope you will never have to go through such Machiavellian times. 

© Damon Lord, 1996