WRITING: The Last Reader (An index card novel)

“News 8 has recently revealed serious flaws in the way the FAA licenses mechanics who fix planes.”

# – # – #

The downward spiral continued. At first, schools just papered it over with phony tests and declining scores. But soon, it was official. Future generations were not learning to read. Not that they could not; just that they would not. Large percentages of the population were content to ignore the way data, information, knowledge, and wisdom were transferred. And, it was global; although the debate was over willingness or poverty. Some said it was the iphone. Some said it was TV. Some said it was “society’s fault”. The conclusion was that in “rich” countries it was unwillingness and in “poor” countries it was access. Bottom line: humans were losing their ability to communicate with past generations or with each other without speaking.

# – # – #

John was an old man. Luckily, he’d chosen to live in the Pennsylvania Dutch country. An area that was gently stuck in the late 1800’s. It meant that he could eat locally. Commerce had retrenched into a 1890’s model. Goods and services didn’t move more than twenty miles. Maintaining cars and refining gasoline require people who can read. Humanity had regressed to an oral model of knowledge transfer. People traveled great distances with documents for him to read. There was no electricity anymore; there was no one to read how to maintain the systems. Medical care had regressed to the same era; the medieval apprentice model was in use for training new doctors. Specialists and lab tests were a thing of the past. Drugs were just unavailable at any price. Politics was very local. There was no newspapers; no news and no way to transmit it. Eventually all the ipods and iphones died. There were massive die offs in the cities as people fought for ever scarcer stuff. Turf wars erupted. Refugees from the city, (the so called golden horde), were killed by the rural peasants who had not enough for themselves, their families, and their neighbors. 300 Million become 3 million. Two political parties emerged — the Democrats saying that they had led us to save the planet and the Republicans saying that they had led us back to the simpler time we all wanted. Luckily, there wasn’t much wealth to be political about; politicians starved just like ordinary people, just a little slower. John died that winter of a flu. Some flu or another.

The human population was eventually extinct. A victim of technology and stupidity.

# # # # #

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