“What is the meaning of this?” Judge General Jorrin demanded.
“What is what?” Norrim responded.
“What is this, this, this, recusing yourself from the Thorogon case?” The Judge General reasserted.
“Oh,” he frowned, “that.”
“So?” Jorrin tapped his foot impatiently.
“I feel he has valid points,” he averred, “and I cannot, in good conscience, preside over his sentencing.”
“The law is clear on these things, Nor,” Jorrin remanded him, “one simply cannot ignore the law.”
“But laws can be unjust and unethical,” he admitted, “and thus wrong to uphold.”
“This falls under neither,” Jorrin frowned, “you should know that. Now, you are in peril of being convicted of aiding and abetting.”
“No, Jor, I am not,” he shook his head, “and I am right. As was he. Some things should not be subject to law. Not even when it is meant to preserve us. Thorogon comes from an age before the law. A time when immortality was still new. He is not a willing participant in this world and that, alone, should stand for something.”
“It doesn’t,” Jorrin stated coldly, “since he lived when the laws he now seeks to break were made. Where was his voice then?”
“Ask him,” he shrugged, “though I would wager he voiced his disapproval and found his voice unheeded.”
“And now?” The Judge General insisted.
“He has voiced his disapproval in his opening statements with truths I cannot deny,” he looked away, “ones I cannot ignore for law’s sake.”
“Then,” Jorrin scowled, “you are done as a judge.”
“So be it,” he stated, resigned, “it was bound to happen at some point.”
“That kind of thinking is apocryphal,” the Judge General growled, “and undoubtedly heretical.”
“Apocryphal my ass,” he smiled involuntarily, “and no more heretical than our supposition of the role of God.”
“But we have become gods,” Jorrin snorted, “there is no need for a deity above us. We have supplanted all other deities. We are the very God you speak of.”
“No, Jor,” he shook his head, “we are not. Nature, the world around us, and the universe are the gods we have always sought.”
Thorogon paced in his cell, contemplating his fate. He smiled. They had no choice but to execute him now.
He would remember when these cells were first designed. He had helped design and build them. But that had been centuries ago.
Then, they had not been intended to hold people like him. People who sought to retain their mortality through dying at their natural times. No, they had been meant for incorrigibles. Those who refused to stop murdering, raping, and stealing.
Not for those who had felt that they had lived long enough. Or a bit too long. And he had lived way too long.
He had opposed the laws that forbade self-euthenasia once immortality was the norm. Yet, when it all began, immortality was not the norm. It had been the exception.
It had begun with a single person. Over time, every generation had at least one. Then, more and more people began to show up as immortal.
But it had started after mankind had become immune, through medical advancement in creating vaccines, to everything including cancer. From there, life expectancy grew by leaps and bounds. Yet, death had remained a constant.
In the beginning, laws had not forbade death. It had forbade only murder and maltreatment. And though it was illegal to medically assist in suicides, it was not illegal to commit suicide.
He remembered those first years. Immortality was a novelty. It was new.
With immortality came elongated reproduction cycles. Women began having babies at all adult ages, even ages past what had been menopause. Slowly, the population rose.
Humanity was curious about it. What would it gift them? What would its price be?
Once the newness had worn off, boredom set in. there was no thrill. No logic.
What should have been a blessing was more of a curse. Life unending was so unnecessary. So illogical.
And then, the laws began to change. Life was for living, the authorities had said. There would be no desiring death.
And so, it became illegal to commit suicide. Or even to desire death. Boredom became illegal.
But without death, there was a threat of overpopulation worse than any scientist in the past could have dreamed of. There was also the threat of complete depletion of food and water.
And yet, they foolishly passed laws that forbade suicide. These laws caused a surge in population that caused them to pass more laws, reminiscent of ancient absolutist China, that limited births and pregnancies.
The fools. Those laws had not worked before. They wouldn’t work after being implemented.
High Director Landor was beside himself. Laws long held as infallible were now being challenged. Laws that had been meant to bring harmony and unity.
They had not brought either. Instead, they had brought the opposite. And caused some to question the ethics of those laws.
Too many were now questioning the morality of them. The rightness. The validity.
What made it bad was that he couldn’t blame them. Immortality was both a blessing and a curse. The birth laws had been meant to limit the population in a way that would preserve natural resources, they had not.
Food was running low. Available space for farming was almost nonexistent. And wild game was now extinct.
Without war, abortion, and natural death, there was nothing to thin the population. A population that continued to climb. A population that had no purpose anymore.
And a population without a purpose was bored. Too bored to enjoy immortality. Too bored to appreciate its existence.
Why had nature also removed the need for food as well? It would have solved many of the problems now being faced. The same events that now threatened to cause humanity’s extinction.
Even he understood that. And yet, the laws were still in place. Still condemning thousands to death for mere thoughts.
Morally, it was wrong. Legally, it was right. Ethically, it was against all that was natural.
And yet, even his very thinking could send him to his death. Just knowing the truth. Just admitting the truth.
In order to change his possible fate, the laws had to change. But could they be changed in time to spare his own life? He sighed.
That was a good question. And one he didn’t have the answer to.