The Sentence

The courtroom was hushed. As James looked around from where he stood in the defendant dock, he noticed that most of the crowd had the same ageless look as he did. One or two older faces in the crowd were the legacy of the time before the discovery of Anachron rendered aging obsolete.

The bailiff called for all to rise as the judge walked up to the bench, his face youthful but his eyes ancient. James was confident that he’d be free again in twenty years. One of the benefits of the discovery of Anachron was that life sentences no longer existed; with no aging, a “life sentence” of forever was considered cruel and unusual punishment, and so had long been abolished.

The judge sat down, followed by everyone except James. Those ancient, burning eyes looked at him dispassionately. James felt himself shiver slightly, wondering if maybe he had gone too far.

“James Edward Houle, this court finds you guilty of unauthorized reproduction. Under the Overcrowding Act, your child will take your place in society; thus, you will need to be removed from it. Therefore, your issue of Anachron shall immediately cease. Your name will be recorded on the Black List. I hereby sentence you to death by old age.”

The gavel rapped. James felt himself go limp. Old age? He couldn’t contemplate the idea of getting old and decrepit. As he was gently pulled from the dock, he heard the bailiff call the next case.

“Courtney Anne Houle, accused of unauthorized reproduction.”

James collapsed in tears as he passed his wife at the courtroom door.


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