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149. After completion (IV)

I arrived at the Hall of Reflection slightly earlier than usual; as I stepped from the car my foot caught in the gutter, flushed with rain water. The water spattered up my grey suit; it was a slight embarrassment, but, with luck, it would dry in the entranceway. I shivered in the air; winter had come and the car had been covered in a screen of ice this morning, but I also shivered from anticipation. Today was a day of achievement, at the great doors of the Hall of Reflection I paused to check my papers. I had checked before leaving home; I checked in the car; and now, before the black-uniformed sentries, I checked again. As I stepped into the concrete corridor, the building shook slightly—a car bomb, quite distant.

“The problem is well-known now,” said the Rezident, standing before the podium in the Chamber. “For centuries men struggled to understand the recurrent crises in Western civilisation—men like Spengler and Toynbee, but their approach was crude. The solution really lay in the blood; or, to be precise, in the genes—in the families. We discovered that the West is divided between two great extended families; along with one interloping family that will not be named here.” There was slight laughter at this; even those men destined to know still held to the old taboos as regards “them”. “The West’s fundamental instability is due to conflict between these two groups; even our current troubles…” as he spoke the building shook from another car bomb “…lie in this unconscious dispute. But we have a solution; and, unlike in the past, indiscriminate murder will not be required…but I will let the professor explain…”

I stood before the Council of Twelve; behind them, in the shade, were the President’s Guardians. I clicked the presentation on and outlined the technical details. “Simply,” I said, “the problem lies with a few hundred family groups, not even the entire familial group; about 200,000 individuals—the heads, if you like. If we eliminate these families from the gene pool the algorithm predicts that the West will enter a stable period—conflict, collapse, and decline will effectively be eliminated. We will enter a golden age. By running a recursive analysis, utilising elements of the I Ching for training purposes, Lilith identified the relevant family trees…” The Council applauded, lightly. The Rezident stood: “So you see, brothers, that a very modest elimination program—the details are already in hand—will change our prospects completely,” he gave a forced smile, to reveal sharp teeth that shone milk-white under the Chamber’s incandescent lights.

“The era of crude methods—of gas chambers and concentration camps—is over, even the drones that were used during the viral period, with their ‘network analysis’, were nothing compared to the sophistication of the professor’s system,” said the Rezident. “In another six months, it will all be over,” he added; and, with that, he gestured to me. I returned to my seat. “Run the program, Lilith,” said the Rezident. The computer screen blinked purple.

“The first families to be removed,” said Lilith, “can be found at this branch.” The screen zoomed closer and closer down upon the web-network of lines and connections. At last the nodes resolved into individual blobs and the blobs into identification card photos. My breath drew in sharply and I became cold as I saw the photo cluster Lilith had alighted on. I saw a face quite like my own, though sterner and twenty years younger; I saw a face that had touched my lips last night in bed; then I saw the face that met me this morning in the mirror. “The program will start here, so it seems,” said the Rezident. I felt a hard coldness at the side of my head, the alien sensation from the muzzle made my hairs stand on end before the impact from the bullet, my skull’s silent implosion—after the hammer-like intrusion, just blackness and then, slowly, terrific light.

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