Anna Wiki would disintegrate today. Tonight rather. At precisely eleven fifty-nine. She would miss her next decade by a second. Her last instant on earth would see her as a long-retired seventy-nine years old record-keeper. Then, pfft! Off to the great wizard. Or whatever lay ahead. She was not the least bit nervous. She had known all her adult life that said life would come to an end at that moment. She had chosen so. Like every other human in her world, she chose her moment. A small price to pay for a life free of disease, hunger, fear, and economic uncertainties. How did folks in the past lived and managed the horrible diseases that befell them? Dementia? Alzheimer? Pandemics? Cancer? So many ghastly conditions! Yet, even with all sorts of health issues, those ancient people wanted to live very badly. Suicide was rare if history was true. Sick children! Anna had never seen a sick child but she could not imagine anything worse. Food banks? It boggled the mind to know that humans once begged for nourishment. Losing their employment? How could a person lose something so fundamental as a personal contribution to society? In 2146, those things no longer existed. You lived a healthy, plentiful, safe, productive well-balanced life and at your chosen time, it ended cleanly and swiftly. Anna was not afraid. She had an excellent whiskey to accompany her along with memories of a rich meaningful life. She planned to celebrate her vanishing with both. Especially the whiskey.
Sitting in her favorite comfy chair, she thought back to when she had been a child; freedom to roam, playtimes, inventing games with all the other children in the Grow Home. She had lived there from age two to seven at which time she had moved to the Learn Home where schooling had rhymed her days. Mornings were devoted to academia and afternoons were reserved for practical schooling. Together they combined everything the youngsters needed to assimilate to become functioning adults. Of the Birth Home, she did not remember much. What was to remember from your first day to your second birthday? She knew, of course, that she was born on a Tuesday at one forty-five am, in the year 2067. Since Lifegivers did not raise children, the newborns were taken to the Birth Home to be cared for by the Surrogates. These women had been chosen to take babies from the diaper stage to the walking stage. At which point came the first displacement of one’s life; On to the Grow Home, under the loving supervision of the Caretakers to socialize by playing, learning to control one’s emotions, share, and all basic functions such as hygiene, tidying up, and eating. At seven, came the second displacement when entering the Learn Home, this one ruled by Educators. Men and women who were passionate about transmitting knowledge and know-how to future adult citizens.
The last year spent at the Learn Home has been the most exciting for Anna; she had discovered her love for History early on and all her final exams placed her in line to be a Record-Gatherer. She remembered her happiness at being told she could begin training after the mandatory farming semester contribution. At the graduation ceremony, the Young Learning Citizens, the YLC, became Young Adult Citizens or YAC. To mark the passage, they got to choose their surname. Great care went into this endeavor as this was their first grown-up decision. While first names were randomly given, the chosen name became their identity. As a future Record-Gatherer, she had chosen the name of the twenty-first-century encyclopedia that humans created. It seemed quaint today but then, it was a goldmine of facts about a massive variety of subjects. Anna honored this by adopting the moniker, grateful that servers existed and that some record of life before the blast of 2021 had remained. It made her job as a Record-Gatherer easier.
Her team’s greatest coup had been the discovery of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in 2104. Every plant known to man had been preserved for future generations. When the nuclear 24-Hour War started, the vault’s remote northern underground location had saved it from annihilation thereby ensuring the survival of biodiversity. The humans who worked there lived as a micro-society until Anna’s team found them. Quite a few of these pockets of survivors had been found over time. The shock was always mutual; being found by other humans was traumatic for people who believed themselves alone on Earth. Locating fellow humans when none were expected was also traumatic; distrust of outsiders was rampant among the isolated communities. Who could possibly trust humans after the Great Annihilation? Eventually, as more and more loners were located, their integration had become easier as previous loners eased them in. They formed a new profession; The Includers.
When the team finally located it, after years of deciphering clues and recreating information from bits of old drives, books, and anything that hadn’t become dust after the blast, (decoding was a labor of love; it required patience and devotion to the subject) Anna had cried silent sticky tears of relief. Standing in front while the door was being slowly opened by the people inside, she couldn’t imagine the treasure that lay beyond. Her team had camped in the frozen wilderness for five days before they were allowed in. Meeting the Vault society had been the richest experience of her life. So much to share! So much to impart! To this day, most of the fruits and vegetables they cultivated originated from these ancient seeds. Her stay at the vault had lasted three years.
Once back to the city of Verdia, Anna had settled into cataloging the sample seeds that were brought back and assisting various farmers with crop planning. After the seeds of the ancient had been mastered by all, her work shifted to supervising the collection of data from different sources. At age seventy, she had retired to become a voluntary caregiver to the free-roaming animals of the city and yesterday had been her last day of petting and training. As she sat in her cushy chair, a big yellow tabby was curled up in her lap. Tomorrow, when The Housekeepers would come around to gather her atoms, the cat would be rehomed or choose to live free. Her belongings would be redistributed, her little dwelling would go to someone else.
She looked at the photograph next to her whiskey. Her companion, Vito Zebra had, at her insistence, left her to participate in a mission in the Costa jungle. Only sixty-two, he still had many years of contributions ahead of him. They had loved each other so much. Goodbyes were said, the final coupling accomplished. She had not wanted him there. She wanted only herself, the cat, and her memories.
The Housekeeper unlocked the door, opened it, and entered. She perused her surroundings. There they were; Anna Wiki’s atoms, neatly gathered in a small puddle on the chair. The cat looked at her, blinked, and walked out. She paused for a moment. Anna had been a great contributor to humanity. She carefully aspirated her atoms, sealed and marked them, as protocol dictated. She went out and signaled the team to begin the removal of objects. As she left the front courtyard, the cat stretched, looked at the house one last time, and walked away.