It was summer in the northern hemisphere of the third planet from the star Sol. The days were what the local inhabitants would have called “beautiful” if they took time from their struggles and concerns to notice, but they rarely did. Most were too busy collecting lucre or devoted to their petty, self-interested pursuits of little real consequence to notice anything that actually mattered; but like all things, that couldn’t last.
And it didn’t.
It was on one of those fine days that the alien starships, for that was the only thing they could be, appeared in the skies above the little blue world. There must have been hundreds—no, thousands of them. They were huge– larger than cities, casting tremendous shadows on the Earth as they hovered overhead, offering a relief from the summer heat that few found comforting.
Their appearance was utterly awe-inspiring, especially considering the absolute silence in which they moved. Shouldn’t they have made some sort of noise? A hum? A whistle? Shouldn’t the very land quake at their subsonic vibrations? Something?
Not a sound–making them all the more ominous. What were they here for? What did they want? Our oil? Our water? Our women? Directions? A snack? Tea and sympathy?
No warning of their approach had been given—they were just suddenly… there. Not a missile battery, laser beam, nuclear bomb or other man-made threat assailed those ships from space, for obviously they were not of the Earth. Humanity’s toys of destruction were mysteriously unresponsive that fine day. Besides, attacking the ships would have been utterly futile, probably even impolite, and definitely not in the best interests of humanity, for although nobody knew it just yet, these ships had come not to conquer but to save.
Every eye of every person on the Earth was turned toward the skies at the impossible but long expected ships from another world that floated cloud-like above the planet or looking into a deep dark hole in which their owner hid. There were few other responses– maybe a scientist here and there muttering “fascinating!” in oddly muted and almost reverent tones.
Before anyone had a chance to speculate; before any government could announce any emergency procedures; before any doomsayer could proclaim the obviously nearing end; before any long-time UFO conspiracy theorist could even say “I told you so…”; the ships settled quietly to the ground, or rather lowered large pseudopods to the ground without damaging any structures or harming any living creatures.
It was obvious to everyone on the little world that either every greatest hope or worst fear they’d ever imagined was about to come true. Only a fool could think otherwise.
The people didn’t have to wait very long to wonder what the visitors wanted. No sooner had the ships more or less touched down than every radio, every television, every loudspeaker on the face of the planet uttered a message, perfectly spoken in a language that was appropriate to the listener–often in different languages from the same device:
“People of the planet Earth. Do not fear us. We have come from many distant worlds to bring you a warning and to hopefully save you or at least some of you.”
“Your planet is facing a dire calamity and utter, imminent destruction, a threat so extreme as to imperil your entire species, your world—indeed, your entire solar system. We know this with absolute certainty. Our models have been developed over many centuries and have predicted the demise of countless civilizations, but they are difficult to understand. Your primitive science cannot begin to describe the nature of the threat we foresee and likely be unable to do so for many more of your centuries—explanation would be a waste of precious time. And your species does not have much time. We can either explain this danger to you or save you—it is your choice. Suffice it to say that you can live in ignorance or die in understanding. We repeat: the choice is yours.”
“We have come on a mission of mercy to save at least some of your kind.”
“We understand that you may mistrust us. We have observed your kind from a distance for many years, and we appreciate your fears—you are a most untrusting species. We have seen your “science fiction” films. We have seen the horror of your recent history over the last century. You are a young species and not yet matured. We had hoped to have many more years for you to grow and to learn before we visited your planet, but this emergency has forced us to contact you now and not in the manner nor time table we prefer.”
“We feel, in spite of your species’ penchant for paranoia and destructiveness, that you are worth saving. You have much potential and are worthy of rescue even though you are so immature and ignorant.”
“We have intervened to save many other races from similar fates in the past and have met with success where we were able to act.”
“We are all that stands in the way of disaster for your kind. Your trust is all we can ask and expect. Please, for your own sakes, let us help you.”
“We will now open doors on our surface nodes and allow entry to those who would leave this planet—‘Earth’. We will not force anyone to board—whether you leave or stay is entirely your choice; but your safety depends on some of your kind leaving your planet.”
“On entry, please proceed up the interior ramps to the large, central holding areas where your needs will be met during your exodus. Our only hope is that we can get enough of you away before disaster strikes.”
“Remember that we could easily force you to behave as we wished—as you saw, your weapons proved ineffective against us when we arrived. Force is not our way. We would rather that you choose survival and act as that motivation dictates.”
“Unfortunately, our ships can only hold one in ten people that currently inhabit your world. We regret that we can only save one in ten of you as we were unable to muster any more of our fleet given the short time before disaster. For our inability to save so few of you, we apologize—even we are constrained by our circumstances and the limits of the resources we can bring to attempt the rescue.”
“Furthermore, due to the immediacy of the threat, we can tarry for only three of your Earth days before we must leave. Staying longer will only endanger ourselves and lessen the chances we can save some part of your kind. We leave it to you to decide who shall stay and who will depart with us, using whatever means of decision-making your kind feels appropriate. Choose quickly. Bring only what you can carry. Boarding will begin immediately.”
“We are the only thing that stands between you and the doom that awaits you.”
People responded as they did to any crisis (it was hard wired into their puny minds, after all, so they couldn’t help it). There were steps to dealing with the inconceivable and most human beings went by the book.
Their first reaction was denial—No, they thought, there must be some mistake! That’s it! Good ol’ Earth, in trouble? Surely you must be joking, right? Surely the visitors must have the wrong planet… Pleas to the aliens by the leaders Earth’s nation-states pretty much voiced this initial sentiment verbatim. The message from the interstellar visitors stubbornly repeated again. And again and again for an hour and then stopped.
71 hours remained before the ships departed.
Maybe they weren’t aliens at all, some people speculated. Who had actually seen any aliens, after all? Many were sure that the Red Chinese had found a way to monkey with the weather (which would explain just how hot things were getting a lot better than that whole “global warming” business—by golly), but it didn’t seem likely that they could build something like this without some news getting out about it somehow. Maybe it’s the evil U.N., some concluded. Now, they might be able to pull it off, seeing as how EVIL they were. And who was behind all those cattle mutilations, anyway? These fellas? How about them crop circles? Anal probes? And who can explain Miley Cyrus?
But none of the theories meshed with the facts. These folks just didn’t seem like the cattle-mutilating and crop circling type. No—denial wilted away very quickly in the face of those dark, ominous, alien craft and that spooky, ominous message, which repeated again.
69 hours remained until departure, and those gaping doors stayed open, insistent and very hard to deny.
Whoever these alien creatures were, they certainly had put a lot of effort into pulling this off. The ships were real enough—people even went right up to them and touched their matte, metallic but oddly organic surfaces and quickly dashed away as if shocked, like some ape challenging an obelisk at the dawn of mankind (but that, too is another story). Some among the curious and brave ventured into the doorways, and even up the ramps for a distance and returned without a scratch– probably the same people, at least they acted the same. Denial was no reason to skip checking things out, after all.
64 hours until departure.
Next up on the ways to deal with the incomprehensible? Fear.
It didn’t take long for almost every television station in the world that could find a copy of the old Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Mankind” to put it on the air (whether as some sort of warning to the populace, a way of letting the aliens know that folks were onto their ‘little game’, or a cynical attempt at dark humor, few could tell). The result was that it whipped everyone into a fine, panicky froth. Old fears quickly gripped many people’s minds—after all, who would want to be enslaved or eaten? People everywhere demanded that their government take action and stop these alien hooligans.
Once awakened by the odor of a heated, caffeinated, beverage grown primarily in the nation of Columbia, the leaders of Earth injected their sweet wisdom to the mix. The political leaders let fly a frenzied cacophony of vitriol unheard of since the days of Kruschev and Kennedy—lots of shoes were banged on podiums and lots of purple-faced threats were petulantly uttered by the chronically small-minded.
First, the leaders filled the airwaves with all manner of threats of every conceivable destructive force. What right did these aliens have to come here and try to push us around and threaten us no less? They’d better learn who they were dealing with—and right quickly, by gum, or there’d be pure heck to pay, by gum… After all, the leaders certainly felt that pushing the people of Earth around was their exclusive right and didn’t want anybody muscling in on their turf.
Lambasts aside, the message played again for another hour.
By about this time, 60 hours remained to board.
Enough was e-n-o-u-g-h. Testosterone levels rose, and backbones stiffened worldwide. A few of the more powerful nations even tried to act on their threats, but their missiles just sat there as they had earlier, while their tanks and planes would not even start. Anger came to the usual dead-end it encountered when it could not find a target. National leaders naturally piddled themselves and cried out for their mommies.
58 hours were left.
In short order, the scientists of Earth gathered together and tried to talk some sense into these creatures. If you could just try to tell us why we’re in such deep trouble, maybe we could find another way, the people, the scientists and the leaders pleaded. Couldn’t you at least tell us something about yourselves? The only result was that the alien message was repeated again for another hour. Come on, the scientists whined in manner that always used to work with their parents, the least you can do is tell us about the threat—at least try to start explaining it to us. Please? Again, the message was repeated for another hour.
54 hours were left after this episode.
At the same time as these attempts at redemption were applied, people begged their gods for deliverance, promising all sorts of future sacrifices of time, money, personal pleasures, and the like, if only their god or gods would deliver them in their hour of need. Churches and synagogues were packed to the brim, mosques were jam-packed, and ashrams were standing-room-only. No thundering voice boomed from the sky; no burning bush uttered instructions; no first, second, third or 12th coming of any savior occurred. After being ignored for so long it seemed that deities were fresh out of miracles and certainly short on deliverance. Humanity was on its own.
Some in the infotainment realm felt that the situation took in-depth analysis—they tackled the crisis by turning to rational (and irrational) thought and constant yammering. All the talk shows and news programs ran “special reports” about the “alien crisis”. Ultimately and as usual, even the windbags proved to have no more of a clue than did anyone else. The new clothes of most pundits, experts, and radio talk show hosts turned out to be no clothes at all. The empire of talk was just air.
If anyone had cared to notice, day one of three had just slipped by…analysis paralysis was firmly in command.
48 hours remained until rescue faded away. No sign of forcing the issue appeared from the alien ships. They could have easily dispensed an army of bloodthirsty spider droids by now to make their point, but they just waited, repeating the message for those who cared to listen.
On the second day, most of humanity momentarily gave up. All the media and voices of the people rose up everywhere in an anguished “we’re screwed,” (or something very much like that with minor variations in content and delivery).
After a relatively brief interlude of self-pity, most people came to the conclusion that they might still have a chance. Maybe their only salvation was to abandon their planet and to accept the offer of the alien visitors. One needed only to look at the extraterrestrial technology to come to the conclusion that these aliens had to know what they were talking about. Right? Well?
40 hours remained to escape.
Don’t let anybody tell you that the people of Earth were slow, dull-witted hairless apes recently descended from trees. Don’t let them say that they had an intense penchant for sporty cars, useless gadgets and would fall for any sales pitch involving things they didn’t need– that they were creatures who never applied their intelligence to real problems. Certainly not! Humanity did not require a diagram showing that keister (A) was about to come into close proximity to sling (B) to wake up. Nobody had to draw these folks a literal picture, by god. The time to act was now.
36 hours remained to catch the last train out of town. Half the time allotted had been pissed away in inaction.
The governing bodies of Earth’s nations pivoted quickly gathering the best minds available and to ask their advice on maybe kind of abandoning the planet. These relatively rational creatures made it plain that the exodus should be an ordered affair and set about planning to make it so. Rather than letting just the powerful and mighty escape Earth’s fate, wouldn’t it be best to save the best and brightest and determine a fair means to select those who would survive– to insure that everyone had the chance of survival, equally?
In some Hollywood ending for this story, those best minds would have found some way to save all the people of the Earth or at least have saved the children or the kind-hearted, but in reality they had as much genuine influence as Emperor Norton the First had on the governance of San Francisco. There were other forces at work than mere rationality. Many of the politically strong had debts to certain members of their constituency—the powerful, the moneyed, the famous and, of course, themselves.
Regardless of what was fair and right, these were the people most entitled to salvation, for what was survival without leadership and merit?
So, the rich and famous were granted prime position to board the alien ships which, as they were quick to point out to anyone who noticed, was only right given their unique talents and abilities. Of course, they brought their wealth and treasures, certainly gems, gold, art and fine wine and automobiles would be of value where they were headed, among the survivors even if the aliens did not value such things. The nobler elements of our race were, of course, flown right into the cavernous ship bays in their personal helicopters, which they insisted should be taken with them. Of course, they did only bring the bare necessities—their furs, and jewelry, their wine stocks, their cushy rides and whatever other possessions would make the next world bearable. Maybe a few more unfortunates might have to be left behind because of the space required, but weren’t there enough unfortunates in the world? Shouldn’t the finer things be preserved rather than the grubby masses that never contributed a thing to mankind other than their brutish existence?
And who were the leaders who granted first access to the entitled to tell them to leave these amenities behind? Were they expected to walk to their destination? Perish the thought.
Government and military officials themselves weren’t to be left out. After affording their true constituents a comfortable lodgment about the alien ships, they were easily able to gain the same for themselves.
If one thing was certain, it was that all the people who survived would need governing and discipline. Why, without sound government, the survivors would be nothing more than a rabble! This meant, of course, that the dear leaders would have to survive, and so they brought along a healthy entourage of troops to secure their places and menials to enact their future edicts.
Nearly every national leader, and government mucky-muck (elected or not) was able to find their way aboard with the promise to lead the survivors of their great nation, faith or race into a bright future beyond the end of the world.
They soothed the masses that had so far been excluded from the exodus with fine words of duty, sacrifice and calm assurance that some form of what had been normal would continue. If the words were backed up by a burst or two of automatic weaponry, surely the people could understand that some violence was necessary to insure the basic need for leadership. If a few died on this soon to be abandoned world to make room for the powerful, their sacrifice was not in vain—sound guidance before and after departure, in the ships and on the ground would be the key to survival.
Just like the wealthy, the famous and powerful, their brethren the cheaters and swindlers of the world were also able to find first-class seats on the ride to the stars. The captains of industry, financial wizards, oil barons, lawyers, evil database software CEOs, telecommunications magnates, multimedia heads, executroid honchos of every stripe—all found quite comfortable accommodations. And why shouldn’t they? The very fact that these people had lived so well here on earth proved that they had a right to survive—they were the fittest here, and so they should live on to be the fittest where they were going. Natural law demanded it of them. How selfish would it have been of them to deny the other survivors their enlightenment and industriousness! The readership of Ayn Rand novels were well represented.
Religious leaders everywhere were quickly given places aboard the ships, too. The survivors could not be expected to muddle on without spirituality, after all. Carried on the very backs of their followers, they were it is said, called by their God(s) to board the alien vessels and lead the surviving members of their flock in to the Promised Land. And how fine they looked, indeed, in their $9000 suits, delicate silks and mitered hats of crimson—ready and willing to make that greatest of all sacrifices– to leave this “world without end”. It truly broke their hearts (as evidenced by their tears) to leave this perfect God-given planet to lead the faithful to the stars as they had here on the doomed Earth.
So, 1% had been saved, there was still room to save another 9% of the human race.
Seeing the gaping maws of the alien ships open to them, and the apparent escape of the elites, the vast majority of humanity also turned their footsteps and wheels toward what they now realized was their only salvation.
Thus began the final day before departure.
There was little violence at first; but the calm did not last very long. The pace of the masses toward the boarding ramps started out as a walk, but it quickly turned into a run and, in a matter of a few short hours, a rout.
As order eroded, panic set in. Once everyone came to the conclusion that seating was limited and filling quickly, the exodus became a world-sized game of musical chairs.
First there were words, then fisticuffs, and then knives and guns and bombs as mankind marched toward its only salvation. No one wanted to be left behind, the message from the aliens firmly in their minds– this world was doomed. Get on board or die was the clear message, and if getting on board involved a little mayhem or murder, what did it matter?
Organized militia groups did well in the boarding—they had long ago accepted that killing massive numbers of their fellow men was necessary to protect their race, beliefs or (one true) way of life. At long last, they could band together and put their hard-earned skills to practical application– all those hours in the woods training now had a practical application.
Once aboard the ships, these groups were quickly able to establish their own little nation-state enclaves. If they didn’t like the minority groups of people that tried to get onto “their ship”, they just whipped out a little “ethnic cleansing” to make the mix of human stock more to their liking. After all, why should they have to share their ships with their long-hated inferiors? At last, their futures would be uncontaminated by the existence of the hated enemies of their race, culture, creed, clique, or sewing circle.
People who did not accept the idea of queuing did well in boarding the ships, too. Quaint concepts like order, kindness and mores were all well and good when seating for a movie, but that crap wasn’t going to keep anyone alive, was it? After all, that sort of out-dated thinking never even got them to work on time, how was it going to save their butts? So, they just piled their clothes, TVs, mother’s china, and video game consoles into their SUVs and drove right onto the ships while talking amongst each other on their cell phones (thankfully, there appeared to be four-bar service on board). Their spoiled children sat in the back seats playing video games and watching DVDs while snacking on sugary treats and asking the eternal “are we there, yet?”
And if the drivers of those gas-guzzling behemoths ran over a person or two en route, so what? The victims were going to die anyway, right? Besides, who was going to put the drivers in jail? Duh, like hello: N.O. consequences!
As the more accessible ramps became full or were blocked with the bodies of the less fortunate, people headed for ships in neighboring towns, causing a mad cross-country demolition derby of ultimate destruction. Families were split apart in the rush to board or get to another ship. Mothers abandoned children, husbands abandoned wives and families. Murder and treachery ran rampant among brothers, sisters, family and friends. People traded the lives of their friends and families to gain a place aboard the ships. Anyone who could wield a weapon stood a good chance to make it on board a ship, too. “Devil take the hindmost” was the watchword during that final sad day of boarding. Mercy and kindness were great ways to get your ass left behind, after all. And who wanted that?
In the end, only the meanest, strongest, most aggressive, powerful, crafty, underhanded, self-righteous, pushy, arrogant, rude, morally bankrupt and obnoxious of humanity were able to board and keep their place on the ships. Truly, Darwin’s definition of the fittest. And why not? If you can’t drag your worthless ass aboard a ship, you deserve being left behind, the boarders all thought.
And, of course, they were right.
Those who did not escape either wound up ground beneath the boot-heels of the stronger or lacked the ruthlessness to fight their way aboard in the first place. The ones who surrendered to their fate and didn’t try to leave did their best for those wounded in the stampede, the abandoned children and, for the moment, saved the lives people who, like they, were doomed to remain on Earth. It was a shame, but all that was kind and merciful in mankind seemed to have no place among those who would survive. Maybe this is only right, they thought, wasn’t it the aggressive and the pushy that dragged mankind kicking and screaming to the lofty pinnacle of civilization in the first place?
Others felt that if survival had such a cost, maybe it wasn’t worth surviving.
As it turned out, the 10% of humanity that was able to find a place aboard the ships had resorted to killing, injuring, or abandoning almost 8 times their number to take and keep their places. As a result, only 10% of humanity was left alive to await the doom of the world when the doors of the alien ships closed precisely 72 hours after they had first set down on the planet.
The metallic clang of those portals echoed like a death knell to the outcasts of Earth. Could they hear, this was how the closing crypt door sounded to the dead. Final. Inescapable.
The ships tarried for only a few minutes more before departing, offering no words of advice or farewell to the castoffs– only a claxon sounded wordlessly warning them away. The outcasts moved as quickly as they were able away from the loading areas taking as many of the wounded and helpless with them as they could.
Unlike their arrival, the ships made a tremendous racket of roaring fire as they ascended skyward with their lucky passengers. The mountains of the dead heaped about the bases of the ships were swiftly consumed by the purifying flames. Soon, the stench of the bodies that had begun to arise was gone, although no smoke rose to cloud the skies—at least the end of the world would not be hastened by disease…
The remaining people of the Earth watched the starships climb into the sky with teary eyes. All hope was gone—which was oddly enough a comforting thought, considering the disaster that “hope” had reaped. They then turned their hands and hearts to the work of making the coming final days peaceful comfortable.
Aboard the ships was a riot of celebration. The fare and provisions promised by the aliens were plentiful, and they’d earned their rightful places to survive. The future for the rescued was bright and promising.
A happy ending for all.
“Whew—that was close,” said Admiral Bleezax to Captain Fnurdlor, second in command of the starship Ploob4gratz, flagship of the Galactic Union rescue fleet.
On the bridge’s view screen, the tiny planet fell away like a beautiful blue and white ball dropped into an inky abyss, its star becoming ever more difficult to discern from its billions of siblings. The dozen or so crew aboard the bridge busied themselves with the tasks that prepared the ship for the long journey ahead. There were many planets to save; but the distances were vast and time was short.
“In another 30 or 40 local years, that planet would have been doomed,” Bleezax mused looking over a flex-film printout on the mission’s effectiveness while absently munching a peri rind with hir third glorsak.
“You are correct, captain,” Fnurdlor agreed, wishing the admiral could avoid eating on the bridge—(it undermines discipline, you old flarknard), “they may not have even made it even that long. Their resources were on the very edge of depletion…” Glancing at the monitor by hir station with hir third eyestalk, Fnurdlor added, “Admiral, we are now outside the oort cloud of the mission target system. Shall we proceed with the next phase?”
Admiral Bleezax was so engrossed in the report that SHe was momentarily unaware of Fnurdlor’s query. Hir fendals were twitching as SHe reached for another peri rind from the bucket kept full by hir Antillian bosom’s mate’s tentacled ministrations.
“I hope we were able to get enough of them off that planet,” Bleezax bleated absently, “it was their only chance.” Realizing that Fnurdlor was awaiting hir response Bleezax looked up with hir second and fourth eyestalks and said, “Yes, yes, by all means, Misteress Fnurdlor—proceed.”
Fnurdlor used one of hir many dangling, dripping appendages to press a button on the console at which SHe was more or less seated.
Outside the Ploob4gratz, in the cold darkness of space, the cargo hold hatches of the flagship and all her sister ships simultaneously opened, silently expelling their newly acquired human cargo into the vast cold void of outer space.
Not a scream was uttered in that vacuum, not a cry was heard, for space has no air to carry the sound of any scream, voice or to breathe for that matter. The oddly shaped bags of rusty seawater that were the human passengers quickly boiled away the 80% of their content that was liquid—leaving frozen, dry husks on contorted stick frames.
As with the normal condition of life, there was only momentary struggle and pain. Soon, the firmament was again filled with peace, silence and stillness as it always had been.
All was again well.
“Well, my gentlethings,” Bleezax said proudly looking at the ghastly expulsion on the main view screen, “we’ve saved another planet from certain destruction. We’ve given those pitiful creatures a fine second chance that may make them worth contacting in another century or two. You will all be mentioned prominently in my report to fleet headquarters—so don’t be surprised if there is a commendation or two in the works. Well done.”
Rising noisily from hir command pedestal, Bleezax said, “Set our course for Epsilon Indi, Misteress Gfurz8pak. Misteress Fnurdlor, you have the com. I’ll be in my quarters writing my report.” Bleezax turned on hir treads and left the bridge in the capable appendages of hir crew.
Far behind the fleet, the lonely inhabitants of the third planet of the star Sol slowly got over the shock of those 3 days. At first, there was a brief wave of violence and looting in the aftermath of the ships’ departure, but that quickly passed. After all, what was the point? With most of the people dead or gone, there was more than enough of everything to enjoy and share in the handful of days old Earth had left in her. Besides, the violence that marked the evacuation haunted the memories of the remaining people—waking and sleeping. They were appalled that mankind’s time on the planet Earth would have such a terrible, shameful ending—punctuated by the bloodiest 72 hours in recorded history. Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot—none of these despots had wreaked so much death and destruction. There really wasn’t any room in peoples’ hearts for more strife—only shamed grief.
After a few days had passed, they sent their voices to the heavens over every frequency of the radio spectrum begging for more ships to be sent before the calamity could finally strike. After all, the disaster had not happened yet—the ships were so fast and the aliens so powerful, surely they could come back for another load?
But the poor earthlings never received a reply. No more ships, no “more help is on its way” replies, nor even a “we’re busy, you shut up down there!”—just the same silent sky that had reigned before the rescuers had come.
Eventually the outcasts came to embrace the fact that they would share the fate of the place that had birthed and nourished them. They thankfully greeted each new day as the blessing it truly was and with the all-too-accurate realization that it could well be the last—which only made each day the sweeter.
They worked, they played, they raised their children and they died but always with appreciation for what they had. And they waited for an end that did not come. Soon enough they came to not expect it at all.
The funniest thing came about, though. As the final days of Earth stretched into the final years the people found that they were leading a lot less stressful lives than they had before the rescue. The planet, which had been getting warmer, got cooler; nature started making a comeback; driving on the freeways was no longer a nerve-shattering hell-ride; people showed courtesy and respect to one another again—the world just seemed to be in a lot less of train wreck. Somehow life just seemed, well, better living day-to-day enjoying what life had to give.
As they reflected on what had happened, many people thought that their newfound happiness was owed to having fewer people around—that fewer people made for fewer problems. But others thought it wasn’t that there were fewer people around at all, they came to believe that it was the kind of people who had stayed behind that made things better.
And, of course, they were right.
And they didn’t ignore beautiful summer days anymore.