It was staggering, really. Staggering wasn’t even a word that could describe it. Maybe there was no word. As someone who had been a forceful proponent of the anti-natalism movement, Cora Devenal was especially horrified by the “milestone.” It was as though all of her breath was wasted on telling anyone she could what they should have known already. Not that all breath from a human mouth wasn’t a waste anyway, an absolute siphon on the planet. She wondered how they could even accurately track that there were eight billion suckling maws—think of all the “undocumented” people in this world. The unaccounted for. In other words, those who couldn’t “make capitalism work” for themselves. Cora was barely able to herself, and she was technically supposed to be someone of “privilege”—better known as a middle-class white girl.
And yet, the class one is born into isn’t necessarily what they’ll remain in. Particularly for the generation that grew into “working age” after the 2008 financial crisis. A very mild way to phrase it. It wasn’t just a “crisis”—it was a motherfucking cataclysm. One that, as usual, the government chose to gloss over in their bid to assure the masses, through the mouthpiece of George W. Bush, that “capitalism is the greatest system ever devised.” Cora, unfortunately, was forced to watch the capitalism-touting speech at her Republican parents’ house (because, obviously, she had to live with them after graduating from college at the same time as all this shit hit the fan). Even if she had left the room, she would have still been able to hear Bush’s faux-Southern drawl trumpet the many merits of “free enterprise.” How it allows “people the freedom to choose where they work, what they do.” Of course, Bush, being born with a silver spoon stuck up his ass, couldn’t possibly understand that capitalism allows absolutely no freedom, only slavery to making a fucking dollar by any demoralizing means necessary.
Cora wasn’t willing to do that after she already attempted to “play the game” by securing employment at the “exotic dancing” club located just off the freeway thirty minutes from where her parents lived. When they asked where she went at night, she spared them by saying she was visiting “a friend.” Which wasn’t too far off from the truth if one counted ogling men throwing money at her as friends. Her parents, being repressed and sexually awkward, wouldn’t probe further into it, lest Cora reveal she was whoring it up with a gentleman friend (and many of them). But no, she was just whoring it up without being touched or fucked at a gentlemen’s club. And being in that setting only confirmed Cora’s asexuality all the more. A component of her general disgust with humans. How they were nothing but hole-filled husks of need and drainage. Not just drainage of the Earth’s resources, but of one’s emotional resources as well.
After enough nights spent disrobing at The Tasty Pasty, she had to quit. For her own mental preservation. She needed to recharge. Alone in her room. Or rather, the room her parents allowed her to stay in until she figured out her “next move.” Which she wanted to be nothing more than death. Cora was, after all, of the firm, Chris Korda-backed solution, “Save the planet, kill yourself.” Yet she was ultimately too callow to drag the knife or pull the trigger. Or even, as Pierrot le Fou once did, light the wick to the dynamite. And that made her all the more contemptuous.
In 2010, the year that would, as humanity later found out, kick off the road to one billion more people shat out of a vagina in the span of twelve years, Cora finally managed to move into her own place. Achieving this after she finagled what she believed to be the perfect situation for someone who wanted to participate in capitalism as little as possible while still being “on the grid.” That meant working in a national park as, what else, a park ranger. Although the management at Sequoia National Forest had stressed to her that she would need to be responsible for a variety of “intense tasks,” including “fire suppression” and “law enforcement,” Cora really just rambled through the woods all day communing with nature. Not having to deal with people, for she knew all the paths to take to avoid them. If they got lost without her “guidance,” they were merely due their Darwinian comeuppance anyway.
Never would she have dreamed of leaving such a post were it not for the cruelty of fate. The sadism of destiny. How else could it be explained that she was laid off from her position as a result of the usual budget cuts California tended to favor? The only place left on this planet that Cora could go was to her sister’s apartment. More specifically, her sister’s apartment in New York City.
Jane Devenal couldn’t have been more dissimilar to her older sibling, but she was sympathetic toward Cora not wanting to move back in yet again with their parents. One tour of duty was agonizing enough, and Jane figured that, just as it was for everyone else who first arrived to town, it wouldn’t take long for Cora to pin down some kind of employment. She couldn’t have been more mistaken. For she hadn’t taken into account how ill-suited to the New York environment Cora actually was. Especially having just come from the serene, otherworldly isolation of the forest. Initially, Cora tried to go out during the day, but found that it gave her an onslaught of anxiety intermixed with extreme repugnance. All of these gross hordes vying to get their piece of the capitalistic pie. Running around looking less dignified than chickens with their heads cut off.
So it was that a week of being in “the greatest” city in the world sent her packing for the hills. Cora left in silence in the dead of night, not bothering to inform Jane of her intended plans or potential whereabouts. Last Jane knew, Cora was somewhere up in Canada. How she managed to survive, or even if she was there legally, was a mystery. One that got debunked a few days after the UN’s announcement of the eight billion mark. Jane received a call from a law officer in Nova Scotia. He informed her that Cora’s remains had been found on a farm in Grafton, and that they would like Jane to come up and positively identify the body. Jane didn’t ask how she was expected to do that if there were only “remains,” but she didn’t argue. Instead, she felt intense guilt. As though she had failed her only sister by not moving out of New York and trying to accommodate her temperament elsewhere. Cora would have told her that there was nowhere on this godforsaken rock that could accommodate a so-called temperament that was related solely to despisal for human existence. Her own included.
All these people, what was wrong with them? How could they possibly go on living with the full awareness of what leeches they were upon the Earth? Leaving no room to breathe for other humans, let alone other animals of a nobler variety. As the autopsy would reveal, Cora decided it was finally time for her to walk her talk (unlike that little bitch, Greta, who was just as much of a wastrel as anyone else). That she could no longer fathom the idea of being one of billions of scourges upon Mama Natura, and it was time to do something, however minuscule one suicide is in the grand scheme, to take her stand.
A majority—eight billion, to be semi-precise—found life worth living. Worth continuing, even through all of its miserable conditions and its ridiculous laws designed to suppress, subjugate and collect money from those who didn’t have it. But eight billion (now 7,999,999,999) assholes can’t be right. If they were intelligent, sure, maybe Cora could try to hear what they had to say. To listen to all the reasons advocating for the “importance” of human life. Alas, they were nothing more than a sea of dolts drowning her in their incompetence and material worship. Until, at last, it was her turn to drown them out as she exited the realm, shuddering violently before a permanent relief set in. Oh, how one’s death truly was the opposite of their birth.