“Eleven thousand five hundred ninety-one. Eleven thousand five hundred ninety-two.”
Salva sweated. Her ragged blouse molded itself to her chest but she ignored it. She had a job to do, an important job, perhaps the most important job in the history of mankind.
“Eleven thousand five hundred ninety-three.”
The number kept growing. The numbers had to keep flowing. If they didn’t, people would die. Each number she added, was one more life spared.
“Eleven thousand five hundred ninety-four.”
A yawn fought its way out of her, blurring her surroundings. She pinched herself to stay awake. This was far more important than sleep. How long had she been awake? It seemed like forever.
“Eleven thousand five hundred ninety-six—no wait! Ninety-five!” Salva cried.
A mechanical voice, meticulous in its pronunciation spoke for the second time, “ERROR. REDUCING POPULATION TO LAST CORRECT ANSWER.”
In an instant over eight billion people were reduced to their component atoms.
Wishing that she were one of them, Salva wept.