A few years back, my wife and I started watching a show, Call the Midwife, on Netflix. It was about midwives in London, I think (I’m confident about the midwives part, it’s the London part I’m unsure of, doesn’t matter…). This was about the time I really started getting into making stuff in the garage, so I stopped watching long before she did, I don’t know what all happened in the show. And that doesn’t matter. What matters is the idea it gave me.
Well, calling it an idea may be a bit much. It gave me the potential for an idea. What I have now is the lil’ zygote that could eventually become a full fledged idea. I don’t know if this would be a story, like a short story? Maybe a comic book? Just a weekly comic strip? A movie? Either way, I’m not in a position to turn it into any of those things at the moment. I’ve just got the zygote right now. Are you ready for it? Buckle up, because I’m gonna flesh out some details as I dive into this…
Imagine with me a world, not to dissimilar from our own. In fact, it’s almost identical to ours. People are expected to contribute to society. Kids go to school. Adults go to work. Taxes are paid. Folks hang out. There’s still pizza. And bacon, of course. See, it’s mostly the same.
Well, except for the midwives. Of course this traditional role still exists. Just… differently. Ask any midwife, and they’ll tell you it’s what they’ve always wanted to do. They don’t recall how they became a midwife, but they sure are glad they did. Helping to bring new life into the world is a great responsibility. And being able to keep tabs on those lives as they grow into dutiful adults, what joy! Oh, yeah, so a midwife now is essentially like a parole officer. Not a perfect analogy. You’re still free to go and do whatever. But you can’t miss your yearly check-in with your midwife. Or they’ll come find you, and the conversation has a much different tone than when you come to them.
Oh, also, people now seem to stop aging somewhere around their mid-life crises. It’s different for everyone. But death from “natural causes” apparently is not a thing anymore. Why? Well I don’t know, I’m not an age-scientist! What matters now is the overpopulation risk. While you can still die from being a dumbass, in general, people stick around a lot longer than they should.
So, what to do about that? Have you ever read the short story The Lottery, by Shirley Jackson? It’s like that, only, globally. And also there’s no big to-do about it. No one knows when it happens, or exactly how often. And the winners aren’t named publicly. (Maybe it’s an algorithm? That’d work, right? It’d be ripe for story elements, anyway. Maybe a plucky hero discovers a problem with the calculations a la The Good Place, which is a great show, and you should watch it) Obviously, someone has to then deal with the lucky winners of this process. And onto whose shoulders would that task fall? Isn’t it clear by now…
The Midwives. They brought you into this world, they can take you out.
That line is what the idea was initially. Until I sat down to type up this post, I didn’t know anything more about the idea than that single line. I hope I’m not alone in thinking how cool that is. One group of people, responsible for the beginning and the end of lives. Sure, there’s a lot of questions that would need to be addressed for this universe to work. What about babies born without midwives? That certainly happens. What if a midwife goes rogue? Decides they won’t end lives, just help start them? Or vice versa? Lots to think about.
But what do you think? Is this worth exploring further? What should it even be? Like I said before, I don’t know the best medium to deliver this story. It could even be a fun setting for an RPG campaign, if you’re into that sort of thing (player character’s are the midwives, will they be delivering babies, or swiftly dealing with the Lottery Winners?). There’s a comment section down below, tell me what you think. This is an idea that’s so very low on my priority list that I’ll have plenty of time to decide what (if anything) to do with it next.