excess humanity

short stories collection - a compilation of my short stories.


The point was nearing when humanity needed to optimize the population. And so the question arose: how many humans do we need?

The screen’s glare sneaked into every corner of the room. It was imposing, a Goliath that filled the Davids below with unease. And that unsettling feeling had more to do with the power of its soon-to-arrive message than its physical manifestation. You see, i was part of a UN committee that was tasked with determining the number of people that we needed on Earth. You might be asking, what exactly does this entail?

Around a decade ago it became apparent that we were fast approaching an era in which every person would be wired up and the efficiencies a single person would be able to achieve made many others…permanently redundant, in the gobbledygook of consulting. As the world was running out of valuable resources, it was decided by the UN permanent security council, with China and India abstaining, to initiate a committee that would determine what cap to set on the human population going forward.

The process for choosing the members has been lost, the records undoubtedly destroyed the second the list went out. Many joined reluctantly, aware that they were unlikely to lead a normal life afterwards. Some, like me, relished the opportunity to finally sweep up the trash that had come to consume the Earth. They provided us computing power to rival the leading tech firms of the time and it allowed us a enormous playground where we could finally test many economic and sociological hypotheses. But we weren’t quite prepared for the actual physical part of being in a committee, thinking it would be like most others assembled up to that point.

We were sequestered inside a room. The only time we left was to sleep in rooms down the hall. Food was brought into the common area for us. The entire experience was suffocating and slightly maddening. We had no ability to communicate out—only the ability to take in the world. And so we read, discussed, conjectured, modeled, analyzed, validated, cross-validated, regressed, debated, yelled, slept, pontificated, cheered, cried, theorized, drank, and finally entered our results into the final simulation. And waited.

It had probably been a couple months, but we wouldn’t know, there were no clocks here. Only the gray granite walls, plush lavender seats, and endless rows of computers. Every once in awhile the main screen would flicker on, some incoherent line of text scrolling across, and then it would shut off. Some people took to scrolling the Net, absorbing more information than they had time to decipher. Others would sink into the over-sized chairs and make small talk, what little there was to make. The chips, which most people had implanted before their teens, made information retrieval and exchange so absurdly rapid that the previously time-consuming, and very human, art of wasting time watching inane videos or chatting with friends had become rather quaint and antiquated. Nevertheless, we tried to keep ourselves busy in the intervening time. Then, that day arrive.

The screen continued getting brighter until it became hard to look at. Then it abruptly turned off, the afterimage nothing but a large red smear across my field of view. Several people nearby started rubbing their eyes and then it happened.


The number hung in the air. For several seconds, nothing happened and the room was silent. And in that silence, i heard the barely audible *click* *click* *click* of all the rooms doors locking.

“NO ONE IS TO LEAVE THIS ROOM UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE!” a voice boomed out. Several people had already darted for the doors at that point and banged on them to no avail. This wasn’t surprising. We had decided the fate of billions. They would likely disappear us rather than allow the world to do it. How the results of the simulation were to be executed was beyond our purview.

While others around me panicked, i walked over to a nearby computer and flicked on the screen. I’d customized one of my rigs to have the newscast from several different countries on live feeds.

“Breaking news! UN DEATH”—that is what they had taken to calling us—“council has announced only 2.9% of the world will be allowed to live!”

“Noticias! El concilio del UN dice que solamente 2.9% del poblacion tiene el derecho a vivir...”

And it continued to arrive in all forms, languages, and types of exaggeration. Over the next several months, a series of skirmish wars broke out—most notable between coalition lead by the USA and Russia against an alliance between China and India. The latter accounted for nearly a third of the world’s population at that point. Easy pickings for those wishing to meet our target number.

Now, you must be viewing this memory chip long after the next series (of rather unseemly) events transpired. And, sitting on your pedestal of hindsight, you are blaming us for our subsequent…actions. But you must be unable to fathom an over-crowded, resource-depleted world. A world that had just been transformed yet again by a technology that made people extraneous. That was the time we lived in and measures had to be taken. Even if that meant indefinitely relieving excess humanity.

bahanonu [at] alum.mit.edu

additional articles to journey through:

killer's army
21 december 2009 | short story

The trees flew past us, the wind almost drowning out the roars, hisses, and howls that permeated the area. The gun felt cold in my han[...]d; it weighed me down and got in the way of my agile attempts to slip through the undergrowth. To my left was Marsha, like a sly fox she twisted and turned to avoid everything Nature did to obstruct her path. To my right was Judy, her movements labored owing to the gash running down the side of her leg. It oozed green and yellow puss—we may have to kill her before she turns. The twigs and branches continued to rip through my clothes and skin, yet it was nothing compared to the terror that drove us forward. The howls grew louder and the falling of trees could be heard behind us.

Perhaps the pinnacle of my horror stories, it is a relentless, fast-paced tale of zombies, an accident in the making and a mysterious man. There are two independent stories being told, but drawing the link makes everything much more satisfying.

the evolving style
29 march 2012 | design

This website was built from scratch using only Notepad. While it would have been easier to create the site in Dreamweaver or another pr[...]ogram and then upload it, I wanted to learn first-hand about the steps involved in web development. The site has allowed me to hone my design skills, both aesthetically and organizationally. This is an essay detailing the evolution of the website.

This was an internal document for me to keep track of what I was changing and why, but decided to reword it and make it an article. Hope you like it.

from the archives: poems, part 1
24 march 2013 | poems

A couple of my old poems from way back when, with minor edits. Enjoy.[...]

simrun: stage one
18 february 2013 | short story

I bobbed my head up and down, the music reaching a crescendo. My arms lay stretched out in front of me and I did a few punching motions[...]. Rotating my head, I look to my left and right then down at my feet. My laces were undone. And the clock was ticking. 3. I gazed into the distance, where the crowd had gathered. Whooping and yelping, they were in a ravenous mood today. This was to be the big race. Not the championship. The Championship.

How would you respond to a simulated race gone awry?

©2006-2018 | biafra ahanonu | updated 31 january 2018
biafra ahanonu