Author : Cliff Cymrot

I once thought living forever was a gift. We all did. At first it was the rich and affluent that benefited from nanobots (bots); those impossibly complex micro-machines. They cured disease, maintained proper hormone levels, repaired damage, even healed wounds so fast that blood was kept from bleeding out (heaven knows I’ve tried). Finally, they repaired telomeres; those ends of chromosomes that gets shorter with each cell division which is the cause for aging. Immortality, achieved at the tiny hands of mechanical bots coursing through the veins of humans. After several hundred years the technology was produced at a price everyone could afford, unfortunately. Bots were then passed from mother to child, reaching all of humanity.

(I lift the shovel)

At first no one realized how society would be drastically changed. After accidents no longer killed people, or time, society cast off currency, crime, and violence. There was no need for such things anymore. After 500 years of living, who cared about petty arguing, theft, or acquiring as-seen-on-TV rubbish. The world was heaven. No more death, no more suffering. This was gratefully accepted, at first…

(I shovel some dirt)

It didn’t take long, perhaps the first thousand years or so, before immortality began wearing on the individual. Life was empty without the prospect of change. That’s when the rebellion occurred. No one really remembers the exact date but it did start somewhere in France. Someone decided living for 800 years wasn’t that appealing anymore and stepped in front of a car. Their broken body lay there lifeless, long enough for those around to see breathing had ceased. And then it happened, the body convulsed, the sound of bones realigning and lungs filling with air emanated from the human. They were alive. Amazingly enough, instead of this causing reassurance, fear spread like wildfire. For the first time in eons humans realized something precious was taken from them, freedom.

(I continue shoveling)

Soon, tens of thousands attempted all manner of scenarios from jumping off the side of buildings to ingesting household cleaners. Each time the person recovered, with less time between the cessation of bodily activities and normal functionality. This continued until the rebellion terminated. Nanotechnology is remarkably resilient and adaptive. The bots saw our attempts at self-injury as something that needed to be fixed and inhibited that part of our gray matter that desired such foolishness. We became unable to end the game we created. Every time someone tried, they were immediately restrained from continuing in thought, their body would just not listen and even the desire would dissipate. Though bots can’t stop all desire, I’m proof of that.

(I watch as dirt piles up)

We are prisoners of heaven. No one has attempted to cease human function in ages. But I know we are all thinking it. I know the topic on the tip of everyone’s tongue. I know the secret desire of every last human being even if we can’t act on it. I also know the answer. See, the bots have a simple code they live by, to protect their human from harm. So no one is able to harm themselves if the thought is to end their life. However, they seem completely unable to stop someone else from doing it. And that’s when I came up with a way to save humanity.

(I pat down the dirt. One place for the head, another for the rest of the body. The bots can’t fix that).

One down, 10 billion to go. Good thing I have all the time in the world.

Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows