Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer

My peers are very fond of saying how they ‘were fortunate’ or ‘spotted an opportunity’. The more honest have momentary shadows in their eyes when they say it. The raw truth is that to accumulate this much wealth, we’ve taken opportunities, money, and even lives from others.
Not theft or murder per se, but somewhere along the line we’ve all cut people off from the chance to better their lot. In some cases, we merely committed the crime before they did. But in most cases, they won’t even know what they lost. A vanishingly small number of them are aware. The aftermath of the loss either makes them better people, or makes them bitter people. However, becoming inured to the damage we do is part and parcel of becoming the rich people we are. No, I’m not attempting to excuse myself. I’m as guilty as any of us. My realisations have come via unexpected paths for different reasons.
Interstellar trade allowed us access to riches quite literally beyond our wildest dreams. Except one: eternal life. Apparently, the desire to enjoy your wealth for longer is a common theme regardless of species. The other common theme is that extending lifespans is an incredibly difficult thing to do, and prohibitively expensive to attempt. Many of us have been trying, some more desperately than others. You can buy many things, but you can’t bribe the fears you carry in your mind, and fear of death appears to be rife.
Which brings me to the other problem. Those of us who are truly honest about our methods are frequently less averse to more direct ways to get what they want. Entire research teams have been killed. Family members abducted. The vile game of applied force is a lot deadlier when the only law that can restrain the participants is the one regarding loyalty and strength in numbers.
I’ve spent more on securing and concealing the work than the work itself, and I’ve spent billions on that. After ten years the end result of it all was the discovery that mass and genetics play a huge part in the effectiveness of the treatment. If humans remained the size of twelve-year-olds, we could probably live for hundreds of years. As is, we literally outgrow the means to save ourselves from aging. Despite that, I had the teams persevere. They thought I was desperate to find a flaw in their research. I didn’t tell them otherwise.
A year later, they presented me with a single syringe with contents that literally glowed. Then they told me what it did, and what it couldn’t.
“Providing the recipient is under forty kilos, it will restore the body, but cannot heal brain deterioration or damage. Also, we estimate it will only give an extra twenty years of life, at best. Finally: what it does is not repeatable. It is a one-time benefit.”
I swore them to secrecy, and paid them well enough to keep quiet for a few years. This discovery shouldn’t remain hidden, but I’m selfish: I want a while to enjoy this in peace.
I cried while I took the syringe home.
As I sit and watch Bonta tear about the back field in fierce, barking delight at being able to run freely after so long incapacitated, I finally understand what being wealthy should be about.