For the twenty-fifth time, Calhoun watched the universe he created destroy itself. The stages were so predictable that boredom was a constant struggle.
Given Eden, the society would flourish, peak, then self destruct. Every requirement was catered for. Without competition or restrictions, overpopulation resulted.
Freed of hurdles, subjects were free of purpose. Without reason to strive, many withdrew into listlessness.
Freed of the need to search outwards, subjects stared inwards. Subjects became ‘Beautiful Ones’, incapable of anything but preening.
Freed of predators, subjects preyed on each other. Eruptions of pointless violence became commonplace.
Then… collapse. Death.
Predictable. Like clockwork.
(word count 100).
A Friday Fictioneers 100 word challenge from Rochelle Wisoff-Fields Blog (click here to check out all the stories). The aim is to look at the photo prompt, and write a piece of flash fiction inspired by the photo using only 100 words.
I realise my take on this might need a bit of explaining… Its a combination of an unpleasant trip on public transport, The Rats of NIMH, and Kim Kardashian’s widely publicised arse.
When I saw the picture, the first thing I noticed with distaste was the crowd (I’m not agoraphobic at all, I was just fresh from an awfully crowded bus ride into work). This negative association I had with the crowd triggered a memory I had of some research I read about a year or so ago – great article here. John B Calhoun created a Rat utopia (actually, he created 25 of them) – where the rats would want for nothing, clean water, good food, everything was provided – the only restriction was space (it was research into population density).
The outcome of this research was pretty much as I wrote – once they became overpopulated, rat society began to collapse, eventually hitting the point of no return – the ‘behavioural sink’ – where the population decline was unstoppable, because even though rats were capable of breeding, they had lost the societal skills to do so.
I don’t make a practice out of reading obscure research from the 1970’s, rather I stumbled across this when reading up on some of my favourite books and movies. It turns out, Calhoun’s Universe 25 could can be seen in the movie Soylent Green, the ultra violent novel A Clockwork Orange, and was somewhat responsible for inspiring a childhood favourite – The Rats of NIMH.
Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think in the comments.
Oh. You want an explanation for the Kardashian reference…? The Cabinet article I liked earlier provides:
Lone females retreated to isolated nesting boxes on penthouse levels. Other males, a group Calhoun termed “the beautiful ones,” never sought sex and never fought—they just ate, slept, and groomed, wrapped in narcissistic introspection.
A pointless individual, contributing nothing, always grooming…?