Iqhq - Prologue

by Kerrin Tarr


Inspired by today's global events and a recent achievement of my own, this dystopian novel begins with a Mensan taking matters into his own relentless hands regarding the overgrowing population of the world.



The sun had not long set on a day where people were still adjusting to Daylight Saving Time. For those who had appointments to attend to that Sunday morning, this meant lying in bed for an extra hour; night shift workers would technically benefit from an earlier finishing time, while children would be under the influence that they had somehow earned the privilege of staying up later than usual. The streets of Uxbridge - a town situated roughly eighteen miles west of London - had been suffused by many youths from a range of ages as well as a variety of costumes. Richard Grader was almost half way through making himself his usual Monday meal; the bacon had been sizzling, the water was boiled ready in the kettle after he was melting two tablespoons of butter in a saucepan on a low heat. There was also a few hundred grams of fusilli pasta sitting in its own pan on the hob. Once some milk was added to the paste-like texture he had made with some plain flour, he began to consistently mix those three ingredients together until there was a knock at the door. "Fuck it," Grader exclaimed. His visitors' timing was most inopportune as he was sure his wife wasn't meant to be home this early. They knocked a second time, leaving Grader to carelessly drop his wooden spoon on the side in case she had prematurely finished work. Walking through the dining room and into the hallway, he walked past a yellow Taekwondo belt hanging above a mirror where he would run his finger along it whenever he was home alone; it was his good luck charm, a recently developed habit that he was not yet comfortable telling anyone. Besides, he had a slight superstition of possibly jinxing it. Just beside his front door was a tray of homemade treats. Opening it, there stood three short people, each holding a different coloured bucket. "Trick or treat?" The children shouted, happily. His first thought, however, was that this expression they used would be a good example of using an interrobang. "You want a treat? Here you go," Grader said, turning to one side to pick up a tray of fake toffee apples. "Here, take one each." The shortest and youngest of them - wearing a vampire outfit with fake blood painted below her lips - approached the treats first and shyly took one for herself from Grader's extended arms. "What do you say?" The tallest one reminded. "Thank you!" The child that was only a couple of inches taller than the youngest was next. He wore a Darth Vader costume with a built in voice box. "Thanks!" "That's all right," Grader replied, half wanting to add the name of Anakin to what he said although he couldn't be sure if it'd be a spoiler for any Star Wars fans present. Finally, the oldest reached forward with his exposed skeleton morphsuit and thanked Grader before grabbing a treat with his phalanges. Grader placed the tray back down and quickly locked the door behind him. Unbeknownst to those trick or treaters, they were inevitably going to be biting into a toffee onion. He despised the idea of children walking the streets and knew better than just telling them not to do it. Normally, the majority of parents would be strict about talking to strangers let alone taking sweets off of them, but yet they were allowed to do so on this particular night called Halloween, and - in the eyes of a child - right at the door of many strangers. He believed Halloween was a moronic tradition that contradicted certain morals of parenthood and therefore, believed the best way to directly teach these kids was by passively inducing a fear - or at the very least, a strong dislike - into them via other means, hence the toffee onions aiming to put them off wanting to accept things from strangers in the future. Once Grader made his way back to the kitchen, he looked up at the clock - 5:14pm. He hoped that the milk in the mixture hadn't started to curdle and instantly resumed mixing it to test its progress. Considering there were roughly fifteen minutes to go until the ITV news at five thirty, he disregarded the idea of starting again from scratch. He believed that if he was going to get ill from eating it, then so be it; nothing would get in the way of him viewing the news as he watched it religiously every evening it was on. Eventually, the fusilli was soft enough to start dishing up his dinner with a couple of minutes to spare. The TV was already set to the right channel with the volume on high so that he could hear it from anywhere in the house. Sprinkling some salt, chilli, and garlic seasoning over his macaroni cheese, he turned everything off and grabbed a fork before hurrying back to his living room while the adverts were still rolling. His lounge contained some neglected decorations, including dated pictures of him and his wife of seven years. A couple of twelve inch tall pewter dragon ornaments faced each end of his TV which stood atop a glass stand with several horror DVDs on display below it. At the moment he sat down on his black leather recliner, the last advert came to an end which brought a rewarding sense of satisfaction due to the convenient timing of his food being made. "Today," the female reporter said, "we see Britain's oldest Remembrance Poppy go on show to the public, ninety-five years after it was first picked." The screen turned from someone selling red poppies on the street to a cafe full of writers. "Will you be writing a novel in thirty days? NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow for writers from all around the world. "And who will be the baby who takes our world's population to seven billion? The global squabble to claim the glory of this symbolic birth. "Hi, I'm Faye Barker and this is the ITV news at five thirty on October 31st, 2011." By this point, Grader had already tucked into nearly half of his macaroni cheese; he didn't mind not paying full attention to the initial highlights as he would be seeing those topics in more detail soon enough. However, he was particularly interested in the latter mentioned topic. "Ladies and gentleman, she has arrived," Faye continued, "Danica May Camacho was born in the Philippine capital of Manila, one of several babies around the world considered to earn that once in a generation title of representing this outstanding milestone." Grader's fork hovered slightly away from his mouth while he remained focused on Earth's upgraded status. "Now, the last time we reached that billion milestone regarding our planet's population was in October 1999, just twelve years ago." Grader's thoughts began to veer off course as he was personally concerned about whether our home planet was ready to accommodate so many people. The website, , will have showed him exactly how many people that would be. First of all, there will be a greater threat to the environment with heightened demands of the Earth's natural resources which includes oil, natural gas, and even water. Other resources that were under pressure from the growing population were coal, phosphorus - essential for plants to grow - and other rare elements including Terbium and Scandium. Richard Grader continued to watch the news but his mind couldn't shift that worrying feeling of future scarcities that could, in time, halt generations. What if there comes a time when the Earth reaches eight billion . . . With the exponential growth almost out of control, it will undoubtedly cause problems that desperately need to be solved sooner than later. Grader believed we need to do more than simply colonise other areas of the third rock from the sun as well as the hope NASA shares for Mars and their missions to create a civilization on another planet. Grader concluded his thoughts with a simple sentence but with emphasis on the second word. We only need people who know what they're doing . . .

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