The cold steel doors slammed closed again.
I distinctly remember thinking that night that it didn’t seem like a moment since I had locked up the night before. This was always the case when living by routines and, more so perhaps, a sign of age.
I double-checked every single lock around the place.
That was my evening routine those days. Not that I had unlocked much in the day.
I thought, “This isn’t a home. It is a bunker.”
After several Millennia, it was ironic that we had become cavemen again.
“What we need are a few bloody good wars. That has been the problem for too long now.”
“But war was horrible,” She replied as I followed my routine.
She always said that, but she couldn’t remember the things that I could.
I tried to explain to her that men were actually designed to fight and kill each other. That is what they are made for. Mother Nature naturally provides more men than women simply to allow for the excess of men to fight and kill one another or to be slain in the process of hunting and gathering. That leaves an equal number of men and women. Everybody is happy. Simple.
There hadn’t been a proper World War with many thousands of men killed since 1945. That was 110 years ago now.
So, eventually, we’d decided that we were all on the same team and had managed to stop clubbing each other to death for meaningless reasons. But what had we achieved exactly?
Were things actually better? Things were very different. But I had to wonder if the world really had become a better place?
Well, there was no more of that needless waste of precious resources, energy and even innocent life. But there lay the problem. Despite nations effectively living together in peace, and with most diseases now eradicated and infant mortality all but eliminated, life had begun to overtake death in popularity. Then, of course there were those certain cultures deliberately mucking about with genetics some time ago to favour male babies, being historically worth more than females. Now look how things had turned out. How wrong could they be?
She was correct, of course. I know war is horrible. Millions of years of human endeavour had finally seen an end to famine and energy shortages. World peace was achieved. What had we made for ourselves exactly? People like us, the lucky ones, perhaps even the “chosen” ones living in hiding.
I was 120 years old and was probably as fit and active somebody 50 years old just a couple of generations ago. We had come a long way. People like me had seen a lot and can still remember how life was before.
“I’ve told you. There were times when life was so hard for men and there were so many wars going on at the same time that there were actually more women than men. Women actually found it difficult to find a husband. Can you imagine that? You see nowadays, you girls are so damned precious we have to keep you locked away safely.
“But we are no better off than prisoners. We are not free like you…”
“men,” She was about to say.
I sympathised. She wasn’t wrong. Yet I hardly felt very “free.”
I checked the final few security systems, made sure that all the dogs were loose and did a final artificial intelligence scan of the grounds and surrounding area. Control was handed over to my three security robots.
“It is for your own good. You know that”
Only then could I relax. It was then thirty minutes before my bedtime and felt content that I could pour myself a drink and settle back, too tired to do anything better. Pathetic. What a life.
“It is for your own good. Go on. Bed time now, sweetie.”
I made sure her room was locked.
Was I her father or her prison warder?
A prison. Where all the scum are free on the outside.
Ironically about a hundred years ago, men were becoming obsolete. Parenting couples were neither getting married nor living together, nor were they staying in heterosexual relationships. Women were beginning to have babies artificially without the need for men anyway. It just wasn’t natural.
Scientists explained that due to environmental damage, the artificial chemicals and hormones we pumped into our farm animals, our unhealthy twenty-four hour frenetic lifestyles and most of all people “messing about” with nature, human reproduction was being altered in a serious way.
Historically we should have been producing 6% more male offspring than female. The mortality rate of men at all ages is higher than females and that was always the magic percentage to keep things in balance. Before we knew what sort of a problem we had, we were approaching 12% more male babies than female. Globally, this figure was increasing alarmingly by about 1% a year. As these male babies reached maturity things really started to break down. Fewer babies were being born overall due to a generation of fewer women to bear them. Incredible pressure was put on older women to produce more babies using all manner of cutting-edge scientific gender selection techniques in attempts to have girl babies. Male babies became aborted and abandoned like farm cats. They were often neglected as unwanted gifts, seen as some sort of consolation prize.
Many young men were frustrated to say the least. Polygamy was rife. Women could have their pick.
Round about that time I distinctly remember seeing press headlines about a tragedy where a whole school class were tragically killed in an accident on a school trip. The press constantly emphasised “Thirty children including a thirteen year old girl have died tragically en-route to their holiday destination. She (and her classmates) were travelling…She would have been fourteen in two months and was about to enter university.” Everyone knew her name and details but the rest of the class were largely to remain anonymous.
A dark trade of child traffic arose. Baby girls became traded in a very black market. Then came the kidnaps. Young girls of all ages were frequently snatched, and never ever seen again. Proud parents had to hire full-time bodyguards for their toddlers.
Female babies became a rarity, a collectors’ item. By then, even with our science, one-in-twenty births were a major achievement. After hundreds of years of male babies being the preferred gender for many cultures, suddenly things began to turn right around. One-in-forty heralded the beginning of the end for us.
My opinion is that they spent too much time and effort worrying about human extinction and effort by incubating babies in synthetic wombs rather than correcting the imbalance.
A predicted huge increase in homosexuality inevitably came about but not enough to curb the needs of the remaining male population.
Instead of women being treated as a rare endangered species, then in an ironic way like the long extinct African elephant, they were poached, gratuitously used and needlessly left for dead. Why?
Well. That was the reason that we had to live like we did, in our “prison” home.
There were just the two of us. I had moved as far away from population concentrations as I could. I had made sure that as few people as possible could track our physical presences, and as simple a ploy as it seemed, I kept my daughter disguised. The place was built into the side of a mountain and there was only one physical way in.
As was usual, I don’t remember the very moment I fell asleep.
There was a massive crash. The front door was blown in. It must have been cut open with a silent laser while I slept. Then my door was through. Robot feet were on my chest. Torches were in my eyes. Stunned and blinded, I instantly knew who it would be.
Two policemen and two robots were above me. As I could make out silhouettes, I saw a full four guns pointed at my head.
“You are under arrest. Wow. We’ve been looking for her for eight years since the kidnap ”
She would have been far safer with me. I worry what will happen to her out there.
“Is that the end of your statement before the Court?”