I walked down the street and my mind wanders in time. So much has changed, so much is different from my youth. I don't mind the looks. Someone my age is so rare these days. Only 1% of people were immune to LRV: Longevity Reduction Virus as the medical types called it. We, the Immunies, called it the Logan's Run Virus.
Generations before used to complain about the youth obsessed culture we had. Now we have something of an age obsessed one. Old people are watched like we are celebrities. Its so strange. If you live past 40, you are guaranteed employment. Guaranteed company. Guaranteed, well, everything. Your knowledge and experience are worth their weight in gold.
Yet, its not without resentment. The young, those who have not yet passed their 40th birthday, often lash out. Especially those in their late 30s. Its understandable. They are facing their mortality and there are no assurances for detecting who has immunity and who does not. Genetics tests seem to indicate there are a whole slew of genes needed to survive...and even with CRISPR, we've had deaths attempting to make people immune: too many people with needed knowledge died when LRV broke out.
About 10% of those who face their 39th birthday snap. They go on rampages and especially hunt down Immunies. Half go into a huge hedonistic phase. That's how Las Vegas and Miami survive, I suppose, since the collapse of the elderly population has radically changed so much.
When LRV hit, almost half the United States died within 72 hours. So many dead bred so many diseases and even more died. We fell from a population of 320 million to 150 million in less than a week. And we had it easy. In Japan, the population fell from 120 million to 40 million. Russia was even worse, from 145 million to 40 million. Mexico fared better: only falling to 80 million. China was in the middle, falling to 700 million people. The whole world fell to 4.8 billion people. It had not been that low since I was a kid.
The death though...the death...
I hobbled on. My mind was wandering. The Immunie problems...the afflictions of old age.
People had kids much earlier now. They almost always started at 16 and had three. 16, 18 and 20 was the normal pattern for Americans. Some did two. Some had four. You might see your youngest have their first child. Maybe. If you were lucky. Then again if you were an Immunie, like I was, you'd grow old enough to see great, great grandkids, if not more. If you could live to 100, you could see six generations...
Here in California, the population didn't fall, really. A third of the nation lives here now. New York City was the same way. Other places too. But much of the nation was empty....so empty...not like it was when I was 40.
heh. One of the big employers of Immunies was as extras in movies for period pieces. Yes, yes, computers and all that. However, with the disruption...we lost a lot. Even with the robots. It takes a smoothly running trade and industrial network to keep them running.
I need to focus. Focus. Its important today.
Reclamation was a huge industry. Think of what Detroit went through before LRV and make it a national and even international problem. Nature helped. But we wanted to make a cleaner world.
I arrived at the house. Its the week of my grandson's 40th birthday. The entire family, his grandchildren, his children and younger siblings and myself, we had all gathered. The LRV rarely hit exactly on your 40th. It was a week, plus or minus normally. If you survived a month after your birthday, you were an Immunie.
Families always gathered together. It was a celebration of their life. A wake a person could participate in. Then, 99% of the time, they died at the end. If they did NOT, then the party got really wild.
His father had not made it. My son. His aunt had.
She was waiting for me at the doorstep. We hugged tightly. She had her own daughter go through this and die too.
I would do my sad best to celebrate his life in the manner of the modern world. I remembered the before. And I remembered...
I remembered and teared up. A time when parents died before their children, and certainly would not outlive their grandchildren. Or even, potentially, great grand children.
My daughter gave me a sad smile. She knew. She understood. She wiped my eyes kindly and I composed myself.
Then we went in.