Who Wants To Live Forever? tapes by: GF Willmetts (short story)

June 28, 2015 | By | Reply More

‘I’m going to keep a recording of our conversation in case anything is brought to issue later. It will also demonstrate that you were not under any duress or other issues. Is that OK?’

‘Sure. It protects both of us.’

‘You’re an unusual case, Mr. Glade. A few generations ago, people would have given anything to live forever. Now the opportunity is here for everyone so we can get around the inherent sterility and yet you refuse.’

‘So they send me to you, a shrink.’

‘I’m just here to check that you’ve made the right decision. No more. You’re certainly of sound body. The treatment would curb any potential future illnesses. Our scan and examination of your family history reveals that you would have some serious complications in old age. Even cancer, now the ends of the DNA strands will regenerate should stop that. If anything, its quite revolutionary. I’ve been given the treatment and it hasn’t changed me. In fact, I feel even more energetic because of it.

‘And you don’t mind being frozen in your current physical state? You still look like you’re in your fifties.’

‘Young psychologists don’t have as much authority than we older looking types. No doubt, somewhere down the line, I will have some plastic surgery to look a little younger…I’ll have a long time to make up that decision.’

‘Despite the fact that over a few years, you’ll revert back to your current look?’

‘With extended life. no doubt someone will figure out a way to fix that. But I’m here to talk about you not me.’

‘Of course it’s relevant. With the treatment, we’d be the same. I could be seeing you or someone like you for centuries if I never resolved any of my issues.

‘The drug is only given to willing people. It was decided by committee that to give it to those who won’t have it shouldn’t be pushed. I’m here to make sure its your decision and not coerced by any other party in either direction. We don’t want a reverse of the assisted suicide situation happening again.’

‘So its not given to anyone unwilling? What are you afraid of?’

‘It’s the act of free choice and making sure it is free, especially with the advie given. Unfortunately, the drug won’t last for more than two months and can’t be made again.’

‘And you can supply the world at one go?’

‘It’s only a quick jab. Fast as a standard inoculation but the enormity of it means people have to be asked because it is…if you forgive the pun, life-changing. Don’t forget, the population is already reduced. The various plagues have seen to that. Radiation sterility from that oh so brief atomic war saw to the rest. It might take a millennia to resolve these issues without the drug, mankind is doomed. Can’t you see the morality of just keep going, even just to save the human race? You must have read the literature or saw the various features on screen.’

‘Government propaganda.’

‘World-wide? Even the contrary countries and those at war with each other have put aside their self interests in this. Anyone can still be killed but not by natural means and, frankly, most of the warmongers are gone. Life is too precious now.’

‘Couldn’t do anything else. They had the war kicked out of them. Not many left from that and that’s what brought us here in the first place. Would the drug be available for everyone if this hadn’t happened?’

‘You feel resentment then?’

‘Doesn’t everyone?’

‘By living forever, you could have a better opportunity to make your point.’

‘Everyone else can do so as well.’

‘Well, that’s democracy for you. More time to do it in. Everything is possible.’

‘Too much time. I think boredom will kill me.’

‘A lot of people say that. But look at it from the opposite direction. At least you’ll have the time to contemplate that in. There’s never enough time to do everything. With the drug there is.’

‘People will use it. There will always be something else to fill the time.’

‘Start another war, you mean? This drug won’t stop that.’

‘Indeed it doesn’t. It only gives long life, not immortality. As I said, you can still die.’

‘That would get rid of the boredom problem and reduce the population even more.’

‘Now you’re being really cynical. You haven’t got that religious bent by any chance? You know, man can only live three score and ten. The Old Testament had some people living for many centuries after that which weakens that argument.’

‘Do I look that religious? They were using a different calendar back then.’

‘I checked my notes which says you aren’t religious but there’s always a change of heart at this stage when you might be looking death in the face a few years from now.’

‘What about this unnamed drug itself? If it’s so important but of limited use, why hasn’t it gotten a name? We didn’t suddenly create it. Didn’t it exist before the war?’

‘Indeed it did but its intention then was as an anti-radiation treatment but only has a number. As we’d managed to avoid a nuclear war for so long, it hadn’t been given full field tests and kept frozen. When we dispensed it, we discovered the longer life aspect and found a way around our current sterility problem. With only enough for two months, it hardly seemed appropriate to give it a name right now. Maybe later.’

‘So keep some of the drug frozen just in case other people like me change our minds later?’

‘As I said. There’s a limited supply and it can’t be refrozen. Certain chemicals used could only be got from certain countries which are now radioactive and therefore contaminated. We have to wait a long time for the half-lifes to drop significantly to go in and harvest anything.’

‘So what’s wrong with hibernation? There’s been some great strides in that process.’

‘And who will be around to get you walking in a millennia’s time? Suspended that long you’ll face weakened muscles and shrunken digestive system. I haven’t even gotten to the damage to your nervous system. In short, there’s no guarantee that you’ll survive.’

‘Time travel?’

‘Hah! That’s a good one. We can go forward if our spaceships were fast enough but we could never take enough people. It would be easier to find another planet than come back…assuming we could create a generation ship even if we can’t procreate. Of course, if we took the drug, then that would ensure we would survive the trip and think of the boredom on a spaceship. I see you hesitating.’

‘Couldn’t that be used as an alternative to just staying on Earth?’

‘Only for a few people. We haven’t enough resources left to take everyone.’

‘Why not just preserve the gene stock and attempt in vitro when the radiation dies down?’

‘Like the suspended animation issue, you need people here to raise them. It is something that we’ve got prepared but it needs us to do it and raise them when the time is right. Better to use an organic womb than a test tube. We can’t do that without any people around.’

‘It’s a circle dependent on the drug. But why keep as many people alive?’

‘It ensures that there is a wide enough gene pool. It’s not like we have billions of people any more. We’re down to several million on each of the remaining continents. If it hadn’t been the discovery with this anti-radiation drug, the numbers would be even less now. In some respects, we have enough viable land for the remaining population until a time when these lands are no longer radioactive or we find a way to speed things up. All we need is time.’

‘The drug allows people to live in the radiation zone, can’t they? Why not leave the non-radioactive areas for us short-lifers? We might still be able to breed if left alone.’

‘A life of orgies. I doubt if that would change anything. Apart from sterility, radiation is also likely to produce multiple mutations. We might well be able to live in mildly radioactive areas but there are some limitations. None of which will ensure pure bred humanity. We have no idea what prolonged radiation exposure will do even with the drug protection. The drug ensures our DNA stays straight until we can breed again. It’s all virgin territory…sort of.’

‘You’re trying to beat me down, aren’t you?’

‘I’m trying to give you what all those who opt to take the drug get…hope for a better tomorrow. Not to mention, most of your arguments against the drug are without foundation. We just have to be there to receive it. Life is too precious to lose it.’

‘Can I see you tomorrow? I want to think about it.’

‘Sure.’

An extended pause.

‘CUT!’

‘How was that?’

‘Stop recording. Fine, sir.’

‘Y’know, Harry, this is getting ridiculous. Here we have a drug that will give prolonged life to a time when we can restore fertility and yet the number of people who want to live forever is smaller than those who just want a normal lifetime.’

‘There’s no pleasing some people, Tom. When are you down for the treatment?’

‘Y’know, I haven’t decided myself yet.’

 

end

 

(c) GF Willmetts 2015

all rights reserved

ask before borrowing

 

Category: Scifi, Short fiction

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About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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