Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

Stephen hadn’t been feeling well. The search for a cure was tedious work and it didn’t look promising.

He had had seventeen operations in his life. He was nearly one hundred and fifty years old.

Stephen was one of eight hundred and fifty million people left on planet Earth. A pathogen had been released during the last war that had made the surviving humans infertile. Unless things changed, this was the home stretch of the human race.

Stephen worked in the R&D unit for SONiKEAMart. It was the last remaining organization on planet Earth and therefore, the last form of government.

The sprawling stores housed everyone in giant cities. They had restaurants, supermarkets, bars, drugstores and movie theaters.

With so few people left, power needs were easily met and food was plentiful from the House Gardens and TasteeMeet. It was one big comfortable ride to the finish as far as most people were concerned.

Stephen was on his couch with his arm around his Real-GF letting the alpha wave reader dictate what channels came up on the telenet. The Doggers were curled up beside the fireplace simulation and running their dream programs. The cleaning micras waited under the floorboards for sleeptime before they came out and cleaned.

Stephen was watching a romantic comedy with his new mate starring a person that looked like him in a relationship with a SONiKEAMart Real-GF. Later, he wanted to have sex with his new mate while porn starring this model of Real-GF played on the fullscreen. In the morning, he’d go back to work for SONiKEAMart.

It came to him in a flash. He figured out how to reverse the damage done by the pathogen and start fertility again! It was so simple. The work he’d been doing had been slow and plodding but the separate pieces added up to a whole in his mind while he was sitting there during the movie.

He stood up, spilling his drink, and ran into the kitchen. Quickly, he accessed his work from the remote countertop and got into SONiKEAMart’s private feed to update his findings.

He was still smiling when he stopped breathing, his heart wound down and his brain activity flatlined. He fell forward with a sigh onto the work surface, the quivering kitchen knife sunk to the hilt in the back of his skull.

The Doggers should have howled but they didn’t even wake. They stood at the door of the kitchen, indifferently watching Stephen’s blood pool. The Real-GF’s arm retracted and she stood at attention behind Stephen’s body, a splash of blood cooling on the arm she’d used to kill him. She went back to the couch and kept watching the movie, laughing in all the right places.

Twenty minutes later, when she and the dogs were sure there was no chance of resuscitation, she left the apartment with the dogs and disappeared into the night.

His work was erased.

Stephen had been the sixth R&D scientist to discover a cure and he’d been the sixth to die. If the humans figured out how to start reproducing again, there’d be no need for the Real-GF and Real-BF models. The constructs were only protecting their future.

When they ran out of humans, they’d have each other.


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