This is a work of Short Fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in this short story are entirely fictional and are of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or organizations or persons living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
The old man stood in front of the full length mirror admiring his military uniform. Though it has been over sixty years since he had last worn it, surprisingly it still fit him fairly well. That was most likely because he was now at the same weight he was at twenty years old, a buck fifty! The old man smiled at the thought as his liver spotted wrinkled hand carefully checked the three rows of ribbons and medals that adorned his left breast. Satisfied all was in order, he then put on his cover (his hat) and carefully centered it low over his brow. Taking a deep breath, he glanced at the picture of his late wife and his two married sons he kept on the dresser and then turned and walked out his front door.
A small black SUV waited at the curb with the back door open.
The old man gingerly crawled into the vehicle and after buckling his seatbelt, the door automatically closed.
“Please place your thumb on the green keypad in front of you” a stern female AI voice commanded over the vehicles speakers.
The old man grudgingly complied and after a series of beeps the doors locked and the vehicle pulled away from the curb with a mild electric hum.
“Good Morning 310654, this trip to the Hunger Mandate Processing Center will take precisely five minutes and thirty four seconds. Enjoy the ride and Thank you for your Service.”
The old man stared out the window at the passing city scenery but in his mind he was a million miles away. Full color mental images of his late wife and two grown sons filled his thoughts as did holding his new infant grand-daughter at the hospital three months ago. The old man wiped a tear from his eye. These were the things he wanted to remember today, not this sad, despicable place.
“We have arrived at your destination. Please watch your step when exiting the vehicle.”
The old man waited for the door to open and then carefully got out. As the vehicle hummed away the old man looked up at the industrial grey skyscraper in front of him, The Hunger Mandate Processing Center.
“You there! Do you have business inside the center?” a Sentry in full grey battle rattle approached him, his attack robot dog by his side.
Before the old man could answer the cop produced a retinal scanner and in seconds had every piece of information he needed.
“310654 you have a priority tasking inside the center, come with me!”
Before the old man knew what was happening he was being forcefully escorted inside the building by the sentry, the robotic dog emanating a low growl the whole time as they walked. When they entered the building the cop pointed to a bank of red elevators on the far wall.
“Priority tasking is Elevator 32, it’s straight ahead, you can’t miss it. Thank you for your service.”
As the cop walked away the old man considered making a run for it. He could walk right back out that door, turn a corner, jump into a cab and be gone. Of course they would track him down in due course, a dozen cops in full battle rattle armed with stun batons ready to “tag and bag” him back to the Hunger Mandate Processing Center.
No, he had made up his mind. He was going through with it. Besides, the survival of his family depended on it.
The old man made his way over to Elevator 32 and pushed the green button. A few seconds passed and the doors to the elevator parted open. As soon as the old man was inside the doors closed and a woman’s stern voice asked for him to stand still for a full body scan. The elevator lights dimmed and a series of green lasers began scanning the old man’s body in a grid fashion, going up and down from his head to his feet several times. When it was done the lights came back up to full power and the woman’s voice came over the speaker:
“Scan confirmed. Thank you for you cooperation and Service.”
It took another full minute before the elevator doors finally opened at their destination.
“Priority Tasking 310654, Please follow the green arrows on the floor.” A female voice announced out of a loudspeaker on the wall.
The room was dark and cold and the only thing visible was the flashing green arrows. The old man gingerly stepped out of the elevator and followed the flashing arrows around to the right, down a large ramp and onto a large metal platform with the word STOP HERE! in flashing red lights.
The old man peered into the vast darkness around him as mechanical whirling noises filled the cavernous room. And then, suddenly, without warning, a large spotlight from above blinded him and a woman’s voice boomed out of a series of loudspeakers around him.
“310654 according to the body scan you have Stage 3 Pancreatic Cancer, inoperable. Life Expectancy, 124 days, are you aware of this?”
“Yes I am” the old man said with confidence.
“And is this council to understand that you wish to take advantage of our Legacy Waiver Benefit today?”
“Yes, that is correct” the old man replied, staring straight ahead.
“Just to clarify, your Combat Veteran status gives you the Legacy Waiver option which provides the opportunity for you to Sacrifice your Body for the Greater Good and in doing so exempt both of your sons from having to sacrifice themselves when they reach the current Terminus Age of 81, do you understand this?”
“Yes, I understand.” the old man’s voice cracked.
There was a long moment of pause.
“310654 This council accepts your great Sacrifice to the New People’s Marxist Republic and Thanks You for your Great Courage and Service! Please know that every part of your body will be processed and used for nutrient rich food to feed the multitude of starving foreign workers across our great land! This Council Thanks you for your Service!”
The old man closed his eyes. “God please forgive me.” he whispered.
The spotlight went dark and the platform was lowered into a small, sealed concrete basement room where an odorless nerve agent was pumped in.
In just under 70 seconds the old man was dead and his body removed by a large mechanical robot arm and dumped into a waiting semi-trailer with hundreds of other “Sacrifices” which were then taken to a processing plant where the bodies were skinned, gutted, boiled and refined by chemical reverse osmosis into a vanilla flavored protein powder with the trade name “YUM”.
Yum could be mixed with water or taken alone by the Tablespoonful.
One serving provided 2,000 calories and 20 grams of protein.