Posted: Fri, June 13, 2014 | By: Culture
by David Saintloth, from SENT2NULL SPACE - fiction
Melissa Corothers sat in the pew of the old church, silently thinking about her brother Alex. Her fingers clutched a cinegram of one of their last times together, a family barbeque taken while she was visiting him here in Colorado.
The cinegram was a compilation of silent scenes, Alex had set the barbeque grill (one of the old kind used for centuries in the Americas) and was hamming it up for the dronecams flitting about before using lighter fluid to ignite the coals and get the cooking on.
He was so happy then.
His life had been quite a ride, born 173 years earlier he’d experienced several revigoration treatments by the time of that barbeque. Yet one would be hard pressed to call him older than 32 at the time of the cinegram. He’d had his last revig. at the time just 6 years earlier and had settled into a mode where he was enjoying looking a bit more mature than he was used to since he started revigoration treatments.
In the background his oldest children Becky and Anne hovered around as their father prepared to do what they’d been enjoying since they were young children about 150 years earlier. To our eyes though they appeared to be about the same age as their father as they also have been performing revigoration since they reached the age of visible senescence for most people in the mid 20’s.
This particular barbeque was a funny one to Melissa as she remembers it was the day that Alex pulled her aside at one point and told her a “secret”. He’d decided that he was going to finally try his hand at climbing Mount Everest, as he said “because why not?”. Melissa didn’t really think anything of it, she’d been hearing his desire to take on the mountain for the previous 50 years and knew that with her brothers statement doing it was only a matter of when, not if. He enjoyed being the daredevil…always did from the time they were kids growing up in the (then) polluted city of Seattle.
Now here she was though, her brother captured digitally in the cycling loops of video displaying on this now fraying at the edges cinegram. A sudden realization that she would never see him again dawned on her, at least not alive and animated and telling jokes about their life growing up in Seattle or his lives raising 3 consecutive families before deciding he wanted to take some time off to live “in solace” as he used to say.
You’d think that after nearly 200 years of life one would get tired of solace but not Alex, he was a loner by nature but had a curious ability to be the life the party if he chose to participate. Alex was the guy who could manifest answers to problems as they presented, as a result his work in the field of synthetic genetic engineering put that amazing mind to work.
A mind which was vastly different in 2318 when he chose to go to Everest than it was when he was born 186 years earlier. He’d gone through several genetic revigorations as mentioned earlier and also went through a few neuronal density modifications to allow his cognitive abilities to be well tuned for the astonishing complexity of building synthetic dna from scratch to express entirely novel enzymes and proteins for the life forms he was designing for that first century of his life.
That and raising his first set of children to adulthood, Melissa remembers how willingly he threw himself into being a father. He didn’t get to his first family until he was 43 years old by biological count and that was 10 years after his first revigoration. He’d made enough of an impact in the world of synthetic bio-genomics by that time that he felt a desire to propagate his native genes to a new generation.
By this time the laws on exclusion for super mortals from child baring had been refined, individuals who wished to bare children could do so in the United States within a 26 year window (which coincided with the earliest legal age that a person could undergo a revigoration treatment) that started with the birth of the first child, in that window the parents could have more children but from the first child they could not undergo further revigoration treatments. The reasoning behind the laws were questioned and formed a great deal of the popular American political discourse from their initial establishment in the 2040’s to the early 2100’s. Some felt they had a right to both bare children and remain vigorated, more conservative folks felt that the right to have children should accompany a certain level of appreciation for the progression of life that had been lost since revigoration allowed any one to be a super mortal.
Alex had no problem with those issues, he knew that he would be able to revigorate after raising the kids and felt that actually looking older than his children afforded certain advantages in social situations that so many people who were revigorating as soon as they achieved minimum senescence window before revigoration was allowed, 5 years after the earliest revigoration age of 25 years old.
That was all in the past, he raised 3 sets of families, two daughters from the first, a son from the second an a son from the third. He was still in touch with his third parental partner but the first two had died in accidents about 60 years earlier. It turns out when you are a super mortal all of a sudden accidents become the more likely way for you to lose your life as aging to death becomes now only an option and not a guarantee.
And so it was how Melissa found herself where she was now, sitting in a field along with other family and friends and looking at an Urn containing Alex’s remains. When he decided to take that fateful trip to Everest to finally attempt the ascent he had no idea that his climb would be attended by extremely harsh weather as they ascended the summit. At some point along the way Alex slipped and fell into a gorge, his mates tried their best to help rescue him but had to quit after several hours as the weather was depositing inches of snow per hour. When the team came back to the spot a day later they found it covered over entirely, Alex Corothers was found later by a medical assistant robot, he died of exposure.
As Melissa recalls the incident and thinks of the pain he must have felt while trapped in that gorge she consoles herself as a tear falls from her eye, the weight of death is ever more heavy when few people chose to age let alone chose to die. At least Alex died doing what he loved but after nearly 2 centuries alive the sting of such death achieves a volume that we won’t fully understand until we are supermortal.