You didn’t realize what you’d signed up for, but you had your suspicions…

First, there was the alarmist uproar over genealogical surveys in the early 2000s, the intense scrutiny of ancestral charts. One case in particular amazed even you: a staggering amount of people descended from a chance meeting in Louisiana, circa 1649.

Enough to fill a country—even a planet. Or what was left of it…

Then came the legislation of 2012. It was after the polar ice caps had melted, the floods had receded, and the survivors had to report for mandatory gene scans. People were traced, tagged, and ordered to report to The Center for the Study of Population Control Protocols on a monthly basis. While irony abounds in retrospect, the government subsidies for mandatory surrogacy for viable embryos was enacted around the same time. Unfortunately, those records were destroyed by ensuing rebel forces.

Following the Legislation of 2012, was an addendum to the constitution in 2015, to resurrect a somewhat improved variation of FEMA. It was in 2020, or thereabouts, that the wormhole project was unveiled.

Or maybe it really was just a time machine after all…

It’s quite clear now that you didn’t realize what you’d signed up for, but here you are in 1649, and it’s muggy in Louisiana, but not nearly as sweltering as it is back in 2022. You’re holding the targets’ reproductions in your hand, scanning to the left, the right, hoping to intercept at least one of them in order to prevent the massive weight of their descendents from coming into being.

And then you see HER! The sparkle in her eyes, the curves only slightly hidden by her voluminous skirts. Jet black hair curled just right and cascading over her shoulders. The scent of lilacs, while initially cloying, seems to add to her allure.

You pocket the targets’ images, approach her, flash your most winning smile, a bit self-conscious of your expensive dental work. Oh how she blushes as she accepts your name, your arm, then a walk toward a shady bench in the park. HE passes by moments later, and you tilt your hat to him as he looks on with envy.

You are relieved for the duration of polite banter, basking in the glory that was the Old South with its thinly veiled etiquette dashed to the cobbles while you awkwardly ask to call on her again the next day.

This relief takes awhile to dissipate, like the dust kicked up by the trammeling of horse and carriage. When it does, you still haven’t realized what you signed up for until this moment, when I arrive on your porch, declining the offer of a cold glass of lemonade, although my journey has stirred up an awful thirst.

I watch you—but not without compassion—as images of your wedding, the birth of each of your eleven children, the births of each of your fourteen grandchildren grow misty before your eyes as you finally recognize me from the cubicle down the hall at The Center for the Study of Population Control Protocols.

As aforementioned, I am not without compassion, and so send you back before I crack, then pour, the vial of genetically-altered bacterium into the town’s water supply.


# # #

An Unauthorized Report From The Center For The Study Of Population Control Protocols by Terrie Leigh Relf
originally published October 21, 2009



Terrie Leigh Relf lives in Ocean Beach, which is in San Diego, CA. She is on staff at Sam's Dot Publishing, where she edits Hungur Magazine and The Drabble. Recent releases include Blood Journey, a vampire novel co-authored with Henry Lewis Sanders; The Poet's Workshop--And Beyond; and two poetry collections, Jupiter's Eye and My Friend, The Poet, and Other Poems About People She Thinks She Knows.

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visit her Big Pulp author page


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