The plague struck swiftly, perhaps not by human standards, but certainly quickly enough to sicken three-quarters of the people of the Earth within fifteen years. At first the disease seemed very widespread and indiscriminate, but five years into the plague, the CDC’s Chief Epidemiologist, Dr. Sandra Fry, determined that it was most virulent in high population centers with a heavy industrial base.
The nation with the largest number of deaths by year five was China, which correlated very highly to their level of pollution and generally poor environmental standards.
However, as the plague progressed, the Euro-Asian continent fell, as did North and South America. By year ten, four billion people were dead. Disposal of the bodies in any civilized manner was impossible due to the shortage of manpower and resources, so they were bulldozed into mass graves.
By year twelve, the long fight against the disease was over, not because we had won, but because all modern medical research facilities were depopulated. All the doctors and researchers were dead. It didn’t matter. In twelve years, scientists around the world were just as puzzled regarding the origin of the plague and just stumped as to its cure.
Year fifteen. There were less than 2 billion people on the planet, all of whom either natively resided in forests or jungles or the deserts or the other wilderness areas, or those people who had seen the signs and retreated there from their urban centers and suburban communities.
People were safe in the wilderness. People were safe when they lived by farming, hunting (for food, not for sport), gathering, letting the land nourish them rather than people exploiting natural resources for comfort and material gain.
As post-industrial man faded, so did the plague. The wilderness people didn’t get sick, and with the long passage of time, the Earth began to heal. Climate stabilized to a level that would sustain life. Rain forests began to recover, ice packs built up again. and man lived in balance with the environment.
The Earth was pleased with man again.
We all realize that our planet is a living biosphere, but what we are not aware of is that it is also a conscious and intelligent spirit. Like any patient parent, she allowed us to abuse her, far more than she probably should have.
But at the point to where she was not going to be able to continue to sustain life, she fought back the only way she could. She stopped the abuse by stopping the abusers. She allowed a disease to evolve fatal to humanity, but just enough humanity to stop the damage to her body, her soil, her plants, her air.
Now her children were living with her again in harmony. It had been centuries since the plague ceased, and the wilderness was consuming the ancient cities, the factories, the server farms, the solar farms, all the technology that had made our world ill.
Humanity was growing again, spreading out across her face again, claiming her lands, trading with formerly distant brothers and sisters.
Earth would watch and wait. If her human children continued to live in balance just as all other life lives with her, she would keep them safe.
But should they become arrogant and greedy again, she would discipline them, perhaps this time leaving even fewer numbers alive.
I know that because I’m a social and fiscal conservative, people probably assume that I am against protecting the environment. And yet I’ve written quite a number of pro-environmentalist short stories and flash fiction on this blog. I’m a conservative in the sense that I believe in conserving our natural resources and being good stewards of what we’ve been given. I believe it is not only possible but likely that human beings can seriously, perhaps fatally, damage the biosphere.
I also believe in the Messiah in a Jewish sense, that he is the ultimate “fixer” and he will come to repair the world. I wonder what shape our world will be in with he finally arrives? Maybe we should start helping him fix things before he gets here. Couldn’t hurt.