Countdown, Part Eleven

A male wrapped ropes around Sny-der’s body and the man that he could feel strapped to his back. He opened his eyes. A pregnant woman stood guard. He glanced over his shoulder and grimaced at his re-flection in a glass case. Yuck. Of all the people available to get tried up with, why Dread?

The male pulled on the rope. “It’s tight.”

Outside the glass case, a slender wo-man with long brown hair pressed a button. “Your task is complete. You have fulfilled your role in bringing about the reduction of the population. You may reduce yourself.”

The male guard pulled his gun.

“Please do that downstairs. It’s loud.”

The guards both began to leave.

Dread coughed. “Reduce yourself?”

“Unlike the selfish sinners who prize their own lives over the innocent, all faithful servants of Gaia get to choose how we die. He prefers a bullet to the brain. I prescribed an overdose of sleeping pills to his mate. She’ll go to their room, turn on relaxing music, lie down, and quietly drift off the Earth.”

“I assume you’re Dr. Rawlings.”

Rawlings nodded. “That’s right.”

“What are you going to do to us?”

“I prefer company. Once I give Gaia’s final command to her faithful, we die together. Soft classical music playing while Carbon Monoxide floats into the room.”

Is it just me, or is a coo coo clock chiming? “What about the rest of the world?”

“Their due fate for callously ignoring the impact they have on the Earth. They must face the consequences. I have an army with a variety of missions. Some will release fertility-reducing chemicals into the water supply. Others will carry bombs to blow up breeders.”

Dread growled. “You fundamentalists all disgust me.”

Rawlings entered the glass door and pistol whipped Dread. “They object be-cause breeders destroy human life. Gaia objects because they sustain it. Non-persons have carbon footprints, and the organs of Products of Conception feed Gaia’s cancer—us. We must die to save her, and I will see she is obeyed. I’ve created a bubonic plague-small pox hybrid that cannot be cured. Several of Gaia’s faithful will sacrifice the joy of choosing their deaths to decimate the human infestation in large urban areas.”

Billions will die. This whacko lady could topple the Empire in a matter of days.

Dread asked, “So why aren’t you staying around to see your triumph? I’d want to be the last man to die in your position, to ensure all goes according to plan.”

Snyder laughed. “Sir, when that virus hits, she’s going to be the most wanted person in the world. She has the best chance of coming with a cure, and with the entire world dying, the IBI would stop at nothing to find her and make her do their bidding. With her dead, it’ll take years to find a cure. By which point it’ll be too late.”

Rawlings smiled. “The cancerous tumor should shrink by ninety percent, to 600 million humans. The collapse of civil-ization will restore the survivors to har-mony with Gaia.”

Snyder snorted. “What I don’t under-stand is why you’re telling us all your glorious plans like a Matinee villain.”

Dread chortled. “Why else? A lot of work went into this, and few even know what’s about to happen. She won’t be alive to see her infamy. We’re her only shot.”

Rawlings beamed as if Dread were her star pupil. “You understand me, Colonel. Of course, there’s one question you haven’t asked: where is your beloved sergeant?”

I was kind of hoping you’d overlooked her.

Klang! Klang!

Rawlings smiled. “I believe that’s her now, clambering up the air duct.”

Klang! Klang!

Dread sighed. “Exactly what I’d ex-pect of Large Marge Kendell. As subtle as a rhinoceros in a coffee house.”

Klang! Klang!

Rawlings shrugged. “I must give her some credit. She figured out the elevator was booby trapped, knew she couldn’t take the stairs after what happened to Snyder, and is coming to the rescue the only way she can think of.”

Dread snickered. “I bet she stopped to get a double-decker sandwich first.”

That’s enough. Snyder jabbed an elbow into Dread, who screamed in pain.

Snyder said, “Sorry, sir. Muscle spasm.”

Rawlings laughed. “Men, so childlike. It’s quite futile regardless. The grates are titanium, and we found the backpack with the explosive on Private Snyder. She has no prayer of getting through. The other end of the duct has been sealed, so she can’t escape. Now that’s all taken care of, I can relax and edit my speech.”

Rawlings left the room.

The door locked behind her.

Continued Next Thursday

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