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The green light

And the solution for overpopulation

By Salomé SaffiriPublished 3 years ago 6 min read

A man sat slackly in an armchair, enveloped in the darkness of his apartment. He was taking a swig of cheap rum for every name that was announced on tv. He was shaking his head in a tipsy haze, leading a quiet, incoherent argument with the tv announcer.

Alex Bennett, Three twenty-seven Woodland Avenue, Jackson, Michigan four eight nine one two

The anchor announced regretfully biting his bottom lip for a moment. And looking slightly above the camera he repeated:

“Alex Bennett. Of Jackson, Michigan State”

The man in the armchair proclaimed “Hear-Hear”, raised his bottle and took a swig- "Everyone wins"

“Evelyn Miranda Myers, Seventh Street North, Santa Rosa, eight seven one two one, New Mexico” He casted his eyes down once more and grimly repeated:

“Evelyn Miranda Myers''

In the City of Santa Rosa, on Seventh Street North, inside a dark apartment a blonde woman gasped and covered her mouth. Her husband squeezed her shoulder. When the name was announced again the couple heard their neighbor scream. The couple exchanged terrified looks.

Everyone who was near a Television was glued to it.  All across the United States, across the oceans in every direction, on all the continents; Whoever had a television- turned it on. All because precisely two decades ago scientists of the world put their brilliant minds together and calculated that by the year 2140 the world will be so overly-populated that all the people of the world would have to join a global war for resources from the day we were born.

The Governments of all the countries chose their solutions: Sweden suggested putting several generations of different age groups in induced coma for two decades to balance the population growth. Russia proposed separating the nation in two, the ones who live underground and the ones above. China supported the honorable and voluntary suicide, with the government covering the debts, burials and family expenses. Germany revisited the solution of executing sickly and old. And The United States, those old gamblers, proposed a peculiar game of chance, terrifying in its simplicity.

“Every year” proposed the USA “each state will execute a lottery game. The random draw will help choose the people who will have to be executed."

The computerized program was unbiased and un-hackable. It didn't see names, but saw encoded bits. It didn't spare the young or the imprisoned, the sick or the dying. The program was the ultimate impartial judge, who called for the big and important people and poor and miserable equally. Nobody was above the law, nobody could get outside of it.

The American nation riled and roared

“Just a hundred from each state!”  assured the US government throwing their clean hands in innocent defense “Not less, not more and everyone wins” And that’s where the census had really acquired it’s full might.

There was a reimbursement, of course: The family or the official partner of the deceased received a one-time payment of ten thousand dollars and half the income the executed person was bringing home on monthly basis, until the would have been age of the deceased of fifty-five.

The Americans shrugged and nodded their heads to each other:

“I guess that’s fair” They all said in unison, and the tiny voices of those who didn’t agree were drowned in the angered screams of greedy and scared masses.


The Japanese picked up the concept with enthusiasm and made a fun tv show of it. Lots of colors and loud noises. Lots of balloons and... lots of spectators

You picked the wrong door -you die! You ate the wrong cake- you die.

Big cartoon eyes flying around, funny noises- if you’ve never seen a Japanese tv show- check it out. They truly made it entertaining, it seemed that even the contestants enjoyed it.


In the US - you couldn’t resist, couldn’t bring up your rights and cite the amendments. They made it seem like everyone wins- except a handful of people, and they were sincerely thanked for their sacrifice and awarded honors.

At first there were protests, months-long riots even, but they subsided and then completely stopped after the law had proved that everyone was equal. One day they came for the senator and gave him a month to get the affairs in order. A month.

Then a rappers’ name came up in the lottery and the paparazzi broadcasted him being presented with a letter, receiving the honors and then leaving him standing in the doorway of his Santa Fe mansion wide-eyed and gape-mouthed. It was mulled over in the news daily, discussed on live-shows nightly, with the fake laugh in the background, until soon it became a part of everyone’s life. You thought about it, lived it and slept it.

Regular people were tracked down to be presented with the “special" green envelope from the mailman. Mailmen had it the hardest- becoming the official messengers of death. As soon as the homeowner noticed the famed green envelope mixed in with the junk mail, they pulled out their shotguns and didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger on the lowly government workers.

Unfortunately, the mailmen were just that, and not any deciding part of the government. They were simply the first ones to know, who on their route was the unlucky recipient. They cried and banged their hands on the stirring wheels, when seeing a name of a friend, a neighbor a relative, but there was nothing else they could do.

You couldn’t hide in the underground bunker, because your next of kin will be taken. But the government didn't really dwell on the details too much, they quickly moved on to the backup name, then the next one, then next, until one hundred state representatives were gathered.

We made it public. At the end of the year, the chosen ones appeared in the court, after putting their affairs in order. They were offered to go quickly and painlessly, with a drug shot, said to bestow euphoria in the last moments of life.

Some went quietly and demurely, without a fight, like mute sheep. Some fought till their last breath and were subdued and disposed off in a dishonorable manner; some chose to say a few words, hoping it would change the bitter outcome of their fates or leave an admonition.

It was exactly a year after the drawings. The man sat in his armchair, watching the live broadcast. Eighty nine people were lined up in front of a podium. When their turn came, they were awarded a medal of honor and a handshake from the president, then they descended and were led to a separate room where the shot was administered outside of the camera's eye. The green light above that special room would turn on for everyone to see when the shot had been administered and a gentle “DING” would announce it.

The man in the armchair opened a bottle of rum. His knees shook as he watched people on the TV approach the podium one-by-one as if it was some sort of perverted graduation. “DING” and he took a sip. A moment of silence and the next person ascends the podium to shake the Presidents’ hand. “DING” and the man in the armchair took a sip.

“I’d like to say something”  Said a young man coming up to the podium, he couldn't have been any older than nineteen. The president nodded and took a step back allowing the young man access to the microphone. The man took in a full breath and dug his white fingers into the wood of the pedestal:

“FUU…” he began exhaling

“DING” the green light turned on, announcing the room availability and the confused young man was led off the podium mid-sentence.

“I thought I had more time..” He muttered quietly, turning his head to the guards on both his sides. They carried him under the elbows to the green room, his feet slackly shuffling along “I thought… I had more time…”

A moment of silence had passed and again the green light turned on above the door with a "DING"

Short Story

About the Creator

Salomé Saffiri

Writing - is my purpose. I feel elated when my thoughts assume shapes, and turn into Timberwolves, running through the snowbound planes of fresh paper, leaving the black ink of their paw prints behind.

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    Salomé SaffiriWritten by Salomé Saffiri

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