This is a work-in-progress  fictional story. Copyright 2014 by John Burgeson

Chapter 1. Miami Beach, March 26, 2086, 8:45 PM.

George and Cheryl Stewart sit comfortably in adjoining reclining chairs on the balcony of their Hotel Hilton suite. It has been a glorious day seven of their honeymoon; tomorrow they will fly home to Kansas City and begin their lives as a married couple. They gaze at the ocean as they talk about their life to come, whether or not they had conceived a baby during their passionate holiday. It is a warm evening; the full moon is just rising. They are as happy now as they ever will be.

There is something different about the moon. Two words become visible, “THE END” they read. “Oh no,” George mutters; “now we have ads appearing in the night skies!” Cheryl takes a picture. They continue to look; no more words appear. In five minutes or so, the words fade away. All is serene, but they both have an uneasy feeling.

Going inside the room, Cheryl switches on the TV. Some inane sitcom is airing; nothing new.  Just before she can tune a different channel, a news flash report comes on. A bewildered news anchor reports what they have just witnessed. He has about as much information as they do. A hastily called up astronomer appears and though he speaks in very somber and scientific terms, in sum he can add no more to what the Stewarts already knew.

The morning papers are full of conjecture about the event.  Very few, of course, have seen it; there are, however, a few photographs of the event. SOMETHING happened!

George and Cheryl fly home the next morning. There is little discussion among the passengers; the general consensus is that it was an experimental ad. Because they had actually witnessed it, they take it more seriously.

The TV mentions it only in passing, although one station features two very erudite academics who declare, confidently, that it was a man-made phenomenon and could not possibly be supernatural. 

Chapter 2.  Downtown New York City. March 27, 9:00 AM.

The first symptoms are seen in an in vitro clinic, where, over the span of 24 hours, all attempts at human fertilization suddenly stop.  Internet blogs quickly report the failure, replicated at other clinics across the country. By evening it is worldwide news.. For most people, however, it is not significant; a few clerics remarked on it in their Sunday sermons, mostly referring to it as an act of God. In vitro fertilization iis not considered of great importance; many people regard the end of it, when they think  of it at all, as a good thing.

Chapter 3. The obstetrical clinc of Martinez and Keen, Kansas City, April 5, 2086. 11:30 AM.

Nancy Dangerfield frowns at her phone. By this time of the day there are usually at least a dozen calls from women seeking confirmation of their pregnancies. Just before lunch a call comes in. Cheryl Stewart is seeking an appointment.

But Cheryl’s call will be the last. Obstetrician offices all over the country are not receiving new clients. This news spreads rapidly in the medical field and then to internet blogs, most of which get the real story wrong.

April 7, 2086. The internet, press releases, TV news and "knowledgeable" pundits from all over the globe can hardly focus on anything else

April 14, 2086. There is now no doubt. The world's reproduction rate has definitely reached zero. There are no new pregnant women. Obstetricians begin looking for other careers. Some preachers, those who have as much effrontery as they have a lack of science and self-doubt, confidently proclaim it is "God's Hand in punishment.” A number of mega churches hold massive prayer meetings, after which it may be presumed that most of the congregations go home to bed.

Chapter 4.  Through December 28, 2086.

Experiments are made on other mammals, primarily on primates, specifically on chimpanzees. No comparable effect is noticeable. As far as scientists can ascertain, the difficulty affects only humans. Experiments in human cloning become widespread. They are ineffective. Efforts to revive the thousands of frozen embryos held in storage are also unsuccessful. Conferences of learned scientists are held; many words are spoken and many erudite papers written; no results. Plans are made to investigate the moon’s surface next year. The main focus, after that of finding a cure, is whether the event is artificial (manmade) or natural. Church attendance doubles. A worldwide conference of clerics is held. There is more disagreement than comradeship. It is generally agreed that little of consequence was achieved, outside of the hardening of political and denominational lines.

December 28, 2086. The birth rate declines almost overnight. The last known US birth takes place on December 28, as Cheryl Stewart gives birth to twin girls, Mary and Martha. Journalists are there to take pictures and write their nonsense. 

Chapter 5. 2087

January 1. The US population is 408,080,997 with an average age of 41.1. Due to a 2075 successful campaign to microchip everyone, and a new powerful internet/computer census system installed in 2077, absolute numbers are available.

 

February 4. A worldwide scientific conference is called in London. Many learned people speak many profound words; in the end everybody goes home with nothing accomplished.

March 15. Applications to medical schools quadruple; governments fund new facilities as fast as they can process applications. Four areas of research have been identified:

1. How to restart the reproductive function.

2. Identification of the cause. Is it artificial or natural?

3. How to renew human cloning.

4. How to extend the human life span.

Persons born last year (2086), turn 1 this year. They are referred to as "the babies." Manufacturers of baby paraphernalia begin to retool for other products. Stocks of toy companies tumble, and a recession begins. At the end of the year, the U.S. population has decreased to 402,902,088 with an average age of 41.6.

Chapter 6, 2088

March 18. A moon landing is made. Despite extensive exploration, there is no trace of the message.

December 31. The babies of last year are now toddlers, age 2. They will have no younger siblings. They are, of course, "special," they get their heads patted or stroked often. Baby foods leave grocery store shelves, except in very limited quantities for special needs adults. Those particular businesses will continue to the end for some older folks.  Pictures of babies are a widespread commodity.  The failing toy companies produce millions of doll babies, and it is not at all strange to see young women walking them, many quite lifelike, in strollers

Chapter 7. 2089

Persons born in 2086, now 3, are no longer toddlers. People begin to call them "Youngsters" and the label will stick. A good thing has happened; almost all of them are now in a stable family, as adoptions peaked last year. There are now very few “poor” kids; everyone is seen as precious. US population has declined to 392,612,406 with an average age of 42.7. The economy has leveled out as less spending needs to be made on young children (there are, of course, none under 3). The doll baby runs its course and toy companies crater.

Chapter 8.  2090.

The youngsters turn 4 this year. Preschool enrollments drop as fewer candidates vie for a place. The US population is now 387,420,020 and the average age is 43.2.

Chapter 9.  2091.

The Youngsters turn 5. They are getting the best education of any generation. Day schools are coming to an end. Research continues as more med school graduates go into the labs. No results. There is another worldwide conference. Much is said; nothing done. Only this much has been established:

1. Human cloning does not work, even though cloning of other mammals is now done with ease.

2. No other species, not even monkeys, or chimps, are affected in the least.

3. All attempts to revive frozen embryos have failed.

4. Human sexuality remains unaffected.

As the conference ends, a great wave of sadness sweeps over the nation.

Chapter 10. 2092.

The youngsters, now 6, entere first grade this fall as kindergartens begin to close down. Production of contraceptives is down by 50%. The population has dwindled to 377,188,250; average age 44.2.

Chapter 11.  2093.

Kindergartens are gone now and there are very few first graders. Toy manufacturers are still in business, but the handwriting is on the wall. There is a surplus of teachers and teacher colleges close down.

Chapter 12.  2094.

There are now more medical researchers than ever before. They are not finding anything. Many elementary schools are trying to retain teachers by going to smaller class sizes. Most youngsters are getting a better education. The population now stands at 366,909,535 with an average age of 45.3. The youngsters are 8. There is a booming market in pictures of babies and young children. Teachers are seeking new careers.

Chapter 13. 2095.

The Youngsters entered 4th grade this year. Many elementary schools close down as they consolidate.

Chapter 14. 2096.

Some small towns are now empty as rural infrastructures begin to fail. There are 356,633,395 people left; average age 46.3. There are now no children younger than 10.

Chapter 15. 2097.

The Youngsters enter 6th grade this year. The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts begin planning for a shutdown.

Chapter 16.  2098.

As the Youngsters become 12, baseball’s Little Leagues are planning to disband. There are still 346,359,359 people left. The average age is now 47.4.

Chapter 17.  2099.

Wildlife begins to increase, particularly in the west. Feral cats are on the increase.

Chapter 18.  2100.

The Youngsters are now 14. There are no more children. The 21st century staggers to a close. 346,087,434 people greet the 22nd century, average age 48.4. Most Elementary and Middle schools combine.

Chapter 19. 2101.

The auto industry is preparing for lean years ahead, although sales are still high. There is little demand for SUVs and other high capacity cars as 2-seat roadsters are suddenly popular. The traditional family, husband, wife and children, is becoming rare.

Chapter 20. December 2102.

The last power plant is built. There will be no need for more.

December 2103.

The Youngsters turn 17. Most go to college, often medical schools, although hope is fading for finding a cure. Almost all secondary schools are shuttered or converted to other uses. A milepost is passed as the average age is now 50.0. There are 320.686,729 people left. High School football is now a memory.

December 2104.

Colleges are preparing for cutbacks in the next few years. It is uncertain how long college football will continue.

December 2105.

Major League Baseball is thriving, but the handwriting is on the wall. There are 310,451,568 people left, average age 51.1.

December 2106.

Automobile production is off 20% The Youngsters are 20 now. Everyone is an adult. There are still laws concerning minors on the book, but they are of no interest anymore.

December 2107.

Auto production plummets another 20% as Nissan, Chrysler and Honda go under. Sales of sport cars are drying up. The population is now down by about 25% to 300,187,707 averaging 52.1 years of age. McDonald’s raises wages as there are no more young people to staff their businesses. Many small businesses are going under as unemployment reaches 12%.

December 2108.

The Youngsters are 22. Baseball and football have no new talent to recruit, and their quality of play begins to show it. College football prepares to shut down.

December 2109.

There are now 289.959,551 people left, average age 53.2. There is much less road congestion. Home building dries up except for a few luxury residences. People are beginning to move back to cities. Automobile production is 25% of three years ago.

December 2110.

Youngsters are 24. Four-year colleges collapse. A few of the universities soldier on. There is a glut of used cars.

December 2111.

279,749,845 people remain, average age 54.2.

December 2112.

Unemployment reaches 20% and the economy is in serious condition as the Youngsters reach 26. Marriages are now rare. Churches are overflowing. Per Capita charitable giving reaches a new high. Millions of homes and apartments stand empty; there is no need for them. Housing prices collapse.

December 2113.

There are now 269,559,539 people, averaging 55.3 years of age.

December 2114. The Youngsters are 28 now.

December 2115.

As the Youngsters reach 29, a second  wave of profound sadness sweeps over the nation. 259,388,909 people are still around, as the average age has risen to 56.4. Professional sports have continued, but play quality is down, along with attendance. On the plus side, more sports veterans are hanging on to their jobs. Sportscasters see the leagues continuing for at least the next 20 years. They are as well (or ill) informed as anyone else. Some professional psychologists are expecting a wave of suicides, but it has not happened.

December 2116.

Medical school enrollments have peaked and are declining Geriatrics is suddenly a growth business!.

December 2117.

Youngsters are 31 now. Average age 57.5. 249,238,529 left.

December 2118.

80% of the remaining auto manufacturing closes down except for a few specialty machines.

December 2119.

Youngsters are now 33. 234,239,109,410 people; average age 58.5. Sales of soft drinks and candy are dropping sharply.

December 2120.

Averaging 59.1. The Social Security System collapses.

December 2121.

Youngsters are 35. Average age 60.2.

December 2122.

Average 60.7. 223,958,627 left. NFL football calls it a day.

December 2123.

Youngsters are 37. 218,920,729 left. 61.3 average age.

December 2124. Average age is 61.8, there are 213,889.541 left

December 2125.Average age now 62,3 with 208,865,495 left

December 2126. Half the population is gone; there are only 203,849,119 people left, averaging 62.9 years of age. The Youngsters are 40. Major League Baseball continues to hang on; many veterans enjoying long careers. Some of the Youngster AAA and AA players have found positions. Pundits think it has, maybe, five years left. The NBA crashes and burns.

December 2127. 198,841,035 people greet the New Year, averaging 63.4. Professional Hockey is a memory.

December 2128. 193,841,944 people left, averaging 64.0. Wyoming becomes a US territory. Not many folks live in the western states anymore, except for Texas and California.

December 2129. 188,852,627 left, averaging 64.6. The Youngsters are 43. Major League Baseball plans to close in 2139; there are still players but the fan base has largely disappeared. All over America, huge stadiums stand empty and deserted. Even Rock concerts have lost their appeal.

December, 2130. A milestone was reached this year as half the population attains 65 or over. By year end the average age of the 183,873,949 people left is 65.1.

December 2131. The average age has risen sharply to 66.2. There are 178,906,878 people left. The main sport remaining is golf; the number of courses has actually grown a bit. The Youngsters, now 45, love it.

December 2132. Almost five million people died this year; the population now stands at 173,952,470 with an average age of 66.8.

December, 2133. Only 169,011.864 people left; average age 67.1.

December 2134. Nearly five million passed on this year, as the average age of the 164,086,281 left increased to 67.9.

December 2135. Now 159,177,060 left, average age 68.5. The Youngsters have turned 49. There are talks going on about how to care for the few people who reach 100.

December 2136. The countdown continues; 154,285,660 left averaging 69.1.

December 2137. 149,413,643 people, averaging 70.2, greet the New Year. Youngsters are now 51

December 2138. 144,652,703 left, averaging 70.7.

December 2139. 139,734,593 left, averaging 71.4. Major League baseball calls it quits. There are still guys who want to play, but the fan base has evaporated. The Minor leagues also went out of business. There are still as many church leagues as ever.

December 2140. 134,931,033 left, average age 71.9. Youngsters are 53.

December 2141. 130,153,671 left, averaging 72.5. Roadways and bridges are beginning to crumble, as the supply of young and strong workers ages. People are moving east and south. The western states, even California, are largely barren.

December 2142. 125,153,671 left, averaging 73.1. Youngsters are 55.

December 2143. 120,684,216 73.7

December 2144. 115,995,840 74.3

December, 2145. 111,341,055 74.9

December 2146. 106,722,001 75.5

December 2147 102,140,971 76.1 Youngsters are 60.

December 2148. The population drops below one million to 97,600,496 averaging 76.7.

December 2149. 93,103,388 averaging 77.3

December 2150. 88,652,699 remain, averaging 77.9.

December 2151. 84,251,728 78.5

December 2152. 79,904,060 left, averaging 79.2. Youngsters are 65. The auto industry is gone, although there is still a demand for used cars. There is a spurt in the sales of sports cars.

December 2153. 75,613,693 79.8

December 2154. 71,384,988 left averaging 80.4

December 2155. 67,222,520 left, averaging 81.1. There is a massive national effort to tear down all the fencing, particularly barbed wire, in the nation’s farmland. It is one of the last projects of the Federal Government.

November, 2156. The final Federal vote is held; a president and small Congress are elected.

December 2156. 63,131,039 left, averaging 81.7.

January, 2156. The last order of the U.S. Government is to close it down. Some State governments still continue, but without real power.

December 2157. 59,115.554 left, averaging 82.3. Youngsters are 70. Roads and highways have crumbled and city to city travel is often dangerous. Massive fires hit the cities and the few firefighters left can’t cope with them. The western states are all now territories, with few residents. There are still some church leagues playing baseball.

December 2158. 55,181,634 83.0. The talks about caring for the older population, which began in 2135, are now a prime concern. The initial plans are for new retirement facilities to be built, but then it is dropped to the maintenance of presently standing buildings, primarily in the warmer states. New England is mostly people-free.

December 2159 51,335,344 84.3

December 2160. 47,582,916 85.0

December 2161. 43,930,652 85.7

December 2162. 40,385,051 Averaging 86.4 Youngsters are 75.

December 2163. 39,953,293 averaging 87.0

December 2164. 33,643,061 averaging 87.7

December 2165. 30,461,897 averaging 88.5

December 2166, 27,416,994 averaging 89.2. There is an effort to stockpile provisions for the end time. With power plants failing, refrigeration technology is only employed in a few cities where the authorities have developed electric power plants that will last another 30 years.

December 2167. 24,525,375 averaging 89.9. Youngsters are 80.

December 2168. 21,764,358 90.6

December 2169. 19,171,397 91.4. Airplane service to Europe ceases; there are still a few domestic flights.

December 2170. 16,743,460 92.2

December 2171. 14,486,715 92.9. America’s cities are now largely ghost towns, and there are only a handful of country folk.

December 2172. 12,406,354 93.7 Youngsters are 85. The movement of most people to the retirement homes in Southern large cities is underway.

December 2173. 10,506,377 94.5. Satellite services fail and there is nobody left to repair them.

December 2174. 8,729,285 95.3. All but a few golf courses close.

December 2175. 7,255,704 96.1. The last church league baseball league closes.

December 2176. 5,904,005 97.0. All airplane service stops.

December 2177. 4,729,944 97.8. Youngsters are 90.

December 2178. 3,726,657 98.7. deer, wolves, and bears roam freely over the land.

December 2179. 2,884,335 99.5

December 2180. The average age of the population of 2,190,770 passes 100 and stands at 100.4 by year end.

December 2181 1,631,611 people are left, averaging 101.3

December 2183. Still 1,190,984 left, averaging 104.0. The Youngsters are 95.

December 2183. The population drops under one million, at 851,771. Average age is 104.9. Nearly everyone now lives in a retirement home.

December 2184. Still 596,693 left, averaging 105.8.

 December 2185. Now 409,289 left at an average of 106.7

December 2186. 274,674 remain; averaging 107.6

December 2187. Now only 180,021 people left, averaging 108.5. The Youngsters are 100. Austin, Texas, has turned out to be the last city of refuge.

December 2188. 114,991 averaging 109.4

December 2189. 71,496 averaging 110.3

December 2190. 43,031 averaging 111.2

December 2121 25,072 111.5

December 2122 14,081 111.8 Youngsters are 105

December 2123 7,594 112.0

December 2124 3,916 112.2

December 2125 1,921 112.7

December 2126 891 113.4

December 2127 The Youngsters are 110. All 388 people, averaging 113.7, now live in a single building in Austin, Texas.

December 2198 158 113.9

December 2199 Average age is now 114.5. The last 59 people left are now gathered in a single story retirement center in Austin, Texas. Due to careful planning, they will be OK as far as food and shelter for at least four more years. Very few are ambulatory.

December 2200 20 114.1. The last male on earth dies.

December 2201 6 114.8

December 2202 On January 1, 2203, The last two Youngsters, Mary and Martha Stewart, age 115,  sit together in the center. They were the last born and are the sole survivors. Martha passes away at 10:00 AM, leaving Mary, who whimpers quietly into the void, thinking of her barren life without a family.  The last human sound on earth, at 4:15 PM, is a deep sob, with no one left to hear it.

But Mary is still living. There is a knock at the door.

THE END

 

 

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