In time, all were given the choice: city, or exile.

Those who chose the city lived lives of comfort surrounded by poisons. While they wanted for nothing, they were helpless to stop the calcium from leeching from their bones, the tumors growing quick and strong in their bowels, the wasting lungs that coughed away their lives one spasm at a time. They bore the full brunt of their choice.

Nor were the exiles any different. Cut off from the city, they were forced to fall back on the ways of their ancestors, hunting and scavenging what they could. Farming was out of the question, as the ravenous creatures of their poisoned vale were merciless. The exiles lived under clean skies and with clear waters but they were forever beset by predators and death by acute, rather than chronic, disease.

For that was the choice: health in squalor with the likelihood of a sudden and intense death, or ill health in luxury with a long lingering decline into the grave. In this, the founders were remarkably prescient: the agony of both was equal.

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!