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An Elegant Solution
February 25 2010

By Carl Macek from an original idea by Stan Slavutsky

The military helicopters approached the isolated island around midday. Spiro Mizrahi was waiting on his family’s private helipad to greet his unexpected visitors. Still, he wasn’t all that surprised when the small delegation, led by one of the Government’s Deputy Directors of Environmental Affairs, disembarked. He had fielded these impromptu visits by government officials ever since his company ceased its day-to-day operations eleven years ago. He had no idea as to the reason for this particular visit, but was fully prepared to reject any offers the Government was going to make without even a second thought. However, common courtesy demanded that he should, at least, hear them out. If nothing else, the Mizrahi family had always been courteous.

“Had I known that you were coming I would’ve had lunch prepared.”

“We don’t want to take up too much of your time Mr. Mizrahi,” the Deputy Director proclaimed, “it’s just that the Government’s in a bit of a bind and your family’s company came up…”

“My father and I decided to close down Mizrahi & Sons over a decade ago.”

“We know. The decision to shut down your family’s operations caused a bit of a stir back in my neck of the woods. Still when it comes right down to it, no one was better at deep-sea mining than the Mizrahi family.”

“Since you are aware that we no longer engage in that type of work, I really don’t see any reason to continue this particular conversation.”

“You must realize that we have come a long way to speak to you and your father. Our presentation won’t take long. And if after you hear what we have to say, you still feel the same way, then we will leave with the promise to never bother you again.”

“When you put it that way, how can we refuse? Besides you must be starving. Tell me, when was the last time you tasted fresh, spiny lobster?”

“It’s been quite a while. In fact I didn’t know there were any left.”

“I think our chef can rustle up a few. The good thing is, they don’t take too long to cook.” Spiro smiled and led the small delegation off to his waiting hovercraft.

Spiro had lived on the island his grandfather had re-named Utopia nearly his entire life. The only time he left his family’s tropical paradise was when he was asked to personally supervise one of Mizrahi & Sons many mining projects. Alex Mizrahi, Spiro’s grandfather, had moved the base of his company’s family-owned business to this remote island shortly after the global population crisis forced world leaders to take the radical step of disbanding all national governments and replacing them with a single global governing body tasked with the unilateral goal of enacting programs and policies to insure the stability of the human race. It was a calculated strategy, deemed necessary by the ruling class, if humanity was to survive.

The first legislation that came out of this new world order was compulsory population control. The newly formed Government accomplished this by administering drugs designed to chemically neuter the population. Then, based on an arcane mathematical formula, each year a certain number of men and women would be culled out of the general population and allowed to procreate. However as part of the process, the Government dissolved the long-standing notion of marriage and the family and replaced it with a form of institutionalized human husbandry. Under these new regulations, once a child was born, it became a ward of the state. The Government did a remarkable job in selling their policy. Most people took to the Government’s plan, hook, line and sinker, as the only way to insure the future of humanity. Alex Mizrahi was part of a vocal minority that did not see things the same way.

Ironically, Mizrahi’s lucrative mining business provided a unique service to the Government. It was one of a handful of companies with the ability to successfully extract rare earth elements from deep-sea hydrothermal vents. In fact Mizrahi & Sons held over a dozen patents for systems and specific machinery necessary for deep-sea mining. Adding to their company’s mystique, Mizrahi kept the location of their mines secret. Some of the REEs that Mizrahi extracted from a number of unidentified underwater hot spots were used for military and basic industrial applications; however a few of the elements they mined were necessary components in the prophylactic chemical cocktail developed to control the population.

Mizrahi & Sons used the money they got from extracting and refining these rare earth elements to buy and develop Utopia. Alex’s goal was to create a safe haven far removed from the rest of the world. So, as long as Mizrahi & Sons provided what the Government required, the authorities turned a blind eye to Alex’s blatant disregard of their desperate, draconian policies. Looking back now, after nearly one hundred years, Mizrahi’s original decision to move to the island could also be seen as calculated, perhaps even diabolical, act of civil disobedience.

Alex Mizrahi gave his family and the people who worked for him the choice to live the way humans were supposed to live; free from artificial birth control and the tyrannical measures enacted to redefine the concept of human interaction currently implemented by the Government. It was shocking to the authorities and petty bureaucrats, when virtually everyone associated with Mizrahi & Sons chose to follow their leader and reject the plans implemented by this new world government. At the time of the move, Spiro’s grandmother, Kalista, was pregnant with her third son, Christos. And in the 45 years since Spiro was born, his close-knit clan had lived outside of the immediate jurisdiction of the Government, and, for the most part, under the radar of media scrutiny. Naturally, news centering on Mizrahi’s company was classified. Only a select group of people in the inner circles of the Government knew about the true nature of Utopia. In fact, the only time that word leaked out to the general public regarding Utopia was when a powerful tsunami, triggered by a mishap at a rival company’s similar seafloor mining operation, slammed into the island destroying nearly eighty percent of the population including a few visiting Government dignitaries. Shortly thereafter, Christos Mizrahi, now in charge of the company’s business affairs, decided to completely shut down their mining operations to concentrate on rebuilding their island home. The ramifications of this change in the status quo were devastating to the Government’s ongoing plans.

Christos was seated in a powered wheelchair on the lanai of his sprawling family estate when Spiro arrived with the Government delegation. He was cordial but seemed slightly distracted during the introductions. They all decided to hold off on any business until after they had eaten lunch.

“Let me be blunt”, the Deputy Director began after carefully choosing a cigar from Mizrahi’s well-stocked humidor. “We need you. And we’re willing to do whatever it takes to get you back. Even if that means helping you rebuild your hundred or so acres of paradise, contrary to our Government’s public policies.”

“Do I have your permission to speak freely?” Christos asked the Government official after glancing at his son.

“Certainly. We didn’t come all this way just to stare at each other across the table.”

“Good. First, let me start by saying I don’t like you. Well, maybe I should say I have no respect for people like you. It’s nothing personal. I just don’t find people like you - people who follow a ludicrous policy without any personal investment in the outcome - to be all that interesting.”

“I never saw that coming,” the Deputy Director joked.

“I always thought your Government would be the one to drive the stake into Utopia’s heart. But I was wrong. Instead, nature did your dirty work for you.” The emotional implication of this final thought caused the old man to begin crying.

“What are you talking about?” The Deputy Director asked.

Spiro came over and handed his father a pocket-handkerchief.

“When the tsunami hit us, I lost not only my mother and sisters, but also my wife and children. It was the same for everyone who lived here. Most of the men were on assignment when the tidal wave struck. Therefore, even though a few men had been rotated back to visit with their loved ones, the bulk of the casualties were our women and children. It was almost as if the most valuable and vulnerable citizens of Utopia had a target painted on their backs.”

“I had no idea.”

“I don’t believe you!” Christos choked out the words.

“The dream of Utopia is over,” Spiro said with finality. “Putting up a few buildings can’t replace our solitary hold on humanity that was lost when that tidal wave washed our families out to sea.”

“Your situation poses an interesting problem Mr. Mizrahi. But don’t be so quick to dismiss our help. We are, after all, the Government.”

Christos calmly folded his son’s handkerchief and looked over to the Deputy Director. The expression on his face was one of sadness and bewilderment.

“What are you trying to say?” Christos ventured. “The Government has come up with a way to bring back the dead?”

“You should be ashamed of yourself,” Spiro added, “Surely you can see that my father is not well. It is cruel to toy with people’s emotions.”

The Deputy Director took a long draw on his cigar before responding. He was calculating the risks-versus-rewards that his offer would entail. The Government had given him carte blanche in regard to his negotiations with Mizrahi & Sons, and now he was about to test the limit of his power. The anticipation of what he was about to say felt liberating to him.

“No, we haven’t come up with a way of bringing back the dead, that would be completely contrary to our goal of population control as well as a scientific impossibility.”

“Then what?” Spiro asked.

“What if I told you the Government was fully prepared to provide you with fresh blood?”

“What does that mean?” Christos offered with renewed curiosity.

“To you, Utopia was the last place on Earth where people could act like human beings. Am I right?”

“Yes.” Both Mizrahis answered.

“And the tidal wave took that all away?”
“Get to the point!” Spiro demanded.

“I am here to offer you as many young, fertile women as you require to rebuild your dream of paradise. Provided that your company resumes its mining and refining operations to the levels they were at before your shut off the tap.”

Christos and his son were speechless. The Deputy Director sat back and took another long draw on his cigar. He knew by their reaction that he had them hooked.

“Let me get this straight,” Spiro began after the implication of the Deputy Director’s offer finally sunk in. “You want us to extract the chemicals you need for your global birth control program, and are willing to pay for it with human lives?”

“Everything and everybody has a price. Yours just happens to be…”

“No!” Christos interrupted. “Forgive me. But what you propose has nothing to do with my father’s dreams. Everyone who came to Utopia did so by his or her own free will. We have no interest in rebuilding our society through human trafficking. Accepting your offer would transform our dream into a nightmare.”

“I understand your concern, but if you’d at least hear me out.”

“I said no. Get out! I’ve heard enough!”

“Father, maybe there is something in what the Government is proposing. I would like to hear more. Perhaps there is some way to keep the dream alive.”

Christos turned away from his son snapping his arm with a dismissive gesture. The Deputy Director took this as a sign to continue.

“For the past few years a growing number of malcontents have been cropping up trying to throw a proverbial monkey wrench into the Government’s business. The media does its best to underreport the activities of these radicals. They don’t want to be accused, by us, of adding fuel to the fire. Up ‘til now, we have been sending these malcontents to penal facilities that we’ve constructed on the moon and elsewhere.”

“You’re serious?” Spiro gasped.

“Dead serious, Mr. Mizrahi. So, what if instead of sending the young women we’ve gathered up off to some dreary 8’x8’ cubicle on the dark side of the moon, we gave them the choice to come here and assimilate into your crippled society. Fresh blood, so to speak! No issues of slavery or human trafficking, no boundaries crossed. It is an elegant solution. Don’t you think?”

“That way the bastards kill two birds with one stone?” Christos nodded to his son.
“And you would do this, even though it goes against everything your Government stands for?” Spiro asked.

“All we require is that you inform us of any births that take place. That way we will be able to adjust our population matrix.”

“And the children will be free to live here with their parents?”

“Of course.”

“What’s the catch?”

“Excuse me?”

“Once word gets out about what you’re doing, then what would stop your so-called malcontents from coming here on their own en masse?”

“What makes you think anyone will know what’s going on? That will be our little secret. If a likely candidate doesn’t accept our offer she will be sent off to the penal colony. And that will be that.”

“How many women are we talking about?”

“Currently there are one hundred and forty-nine women awaiting processing. With more on the way.”

“Do we have to accept them all?” Christos asked.

“We would leave that up to you. You can vet them however you like; Take all of them, or only choose the ones who match your criteria.”

“Why now?”

“Truth be told, our own efforts at procuring the rare earth elements we need is not working out to our satisfaction. The purity of our raw materials is insufficient to create the desired results. Somehow your company always managed to produce a much higher-grade product.”

“Don’t you see the irony in all this?” Spiro speculated. “The one group on Earth capable of providing you with the means to carry out your goal of population control is diametrically opposed to that very same underlying policy.”

“Stranger things have happened, believe me.”

“And what if we say no?”
“Then Alex Mizrahi’s dream of Utopia ends. Maybe not today, but from the look of things, very soon.”

“When do you need our answer?”

“First, understand that this is a one time offer. And as such, I have been ordered to stay here until you have come to a decision.”

“And persuade us to do what is best for the future of mankind?” Christos added smugly.

“Actually to be able to clear up any further questions you may have. The final decision is yours.”

“Then if you will allow us some time to discuss this in private?” Spiro asked.

“Certainly, take your time. My men and I will wait to hear from you at the helipad.”

The good news was that first boatload of malcontents arrived at Utopia less than forty-eight hours after Mizrahi & Sons agreed to resume operations. The bad news was that no one on the island was prepared for the speed in which the Government acted. The whole thing took Christos by surprise. In retrospect it was obvious to him that their decision to return to work had been anticipated by the global policymakers well in advance. The Deputy Director explained it away as a sign of good faith. He said the Government would grant Mizrahi & Sons a three-month window to get their affairs in order before they were expected to go back to work. Further, the Deputy Director informed them that once their mining operation was in full swing, another boatload of women would be shipped off to them. Spiro’s personal physician, a resident of Utopia, examined all one hundred and forty-nine women and pronounced them fertile and in relative good health. Satisfied by these results, the malcontents were assimilated into Utopia’s population without further de-briefing. The one thing that had been agreed upon before the women arrived was that they, and not the men, would be the ones to choose their prospective mates.

The next few weeks were a total blur for everyone on Utopia. The women were treated like royalty by their eager suitors. One by one, choices were made and a few weeks later the entire island celebrated a mass wedding and subsequent honeymoon. As luck would have it Spiro was so pre-occupied with getting their mining operation up and running, he was passed over during this initial round of pairings. It wasn’t until the third shipment of women arrived that Spiro finally had the time to devote himself to finding a mate. He was considered a prize catch and was one of the first men selected in this latest round of pairings. Christos chose not to enter the eligibility pool, but rather concentrated on making their business and community thrive. As far as the business was concerned, Mizrahi & Sons output far exceeded the Government’s expectations.
However, Christos knew that the next few years were critical if Utopia was to survive. He hoped it would be easy. Children had to be brought into the world and the new citizens had to be re-educated with an emphasis on human rights. He wasn’t worried about the women getting pregnant. His biggest concern was that the Government had seven generations to indoctrinate people with their monolithic teachings, and he was unsure if things could really be put back on track. It wasn’t long before nature took its course and new generation of Utopians was born. Thankfully, the malcontents were predisposed to reject the Government’s teachings and they embraced their newfound sense of freedom and empowerment. For a while life on Utopia lived up to its namesake.

The second tsunami that struck Utopia was even more devastating that the earlier one. Initial reports claimed that the entire population was wiped out. It was almost as if Mother Nature sided with the Government in so far as the future of mankind was concerned. Almost… but not quite.

The Deputy Director was excited to receive the satellite call from the Chancellor’s office. He had been assigned to lead the Government’s official delegation sent out to inspect the devastation to Utopia prior to submitting his final report, and was told to expect the call. He knew all along that he had made the right decision regarding Mizrahi & Sons a few years earlier. And now, having the chance to personally speak with the Chancellor was the ultimate validation of his controversial scheme.

“Yes Chancellor. I appreciate the fact that you’ve taken time out of your busy schedule to speak with me… Well, so much for Utopia. I know that the decision to trigger the tidal wave weighed heavily on you… But let me assure you that we were able to determine the exact locations of all of Mizrahi & Sons’ deep-sea mining operations and secure the facilities prior to initiating the event… Thank you… Not to sound as though I’m taking all the credit for the success of this mission, but I must humbly agree that the plan to relocate the malcontents as a means to infiltrate the inner workings of these dissidents was an elegant solution to the problem. My only regret was that it took so long to accomplish. We had to be sure that we learned enough so that we could seamlessly take over their mining operation without jeopardizing the flow of raw materials. As you know, dealing with idealists presents its own share of problems… Once we determined what was important to the Mizrahi clan it wasn’t all that difficult to come up with a plan. As far as we can tell, the entire population of the island has been wiped out by the recent tsunami. The remaining personnel who were detained at their various mining sites have all been taken into custody and are scheduled for relocation to our various penal facilities. All in I’d say we hit a home run with this one, sir.”

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Comments from Our Readers

  "How significant it is now that "we haven’t come up with a way of bringing back the dead..." No, such power belongs to just One... It's interesting, however, the direction of Mr. Macek's work as a writer... I guess this may be considered now his last contibution to us fans of his earlier Robotech-related work... Contibution I will always hold dearly near my heart till my last day on this Earth... I thank God for the life of Mr. Macek whose creative work inspired me greatly as I was still a child." - Vicc, April 19 2010 - reply

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