The First Immortal

The future has no hovering cars and the separation of the classes is not determined by how far in the sky one lives. First contact has not been made, no alien invasion has enslaved mankind and there are no robots posing as humans. No one figured out the mysteries of the space-time continuum and came back from the future and altered anything. We do not abandon the earth and live on colonies within or outside our own solar system, nor do we have the means to do so. For a matter of fact, all space exploration and programs have ended, who cares about life on Mars when so little populates the earth now.
The future is different in a way that the possibility of what could be is so beautiful you try not to think of it too hard because it makes your soul weep. The world is so close to the utopia promised in the religions that no longer divides us or bring forth war. The world figured out that all men really are created equal and it didn’t matter who you bowed your head to or got on bended knee for: God, Mohammad, hell, even Darwin. In the end life is all that matters. In other words…we all agreed to disagree. It took a near E.L.E. for the world to see the light. E.L.E. stands for extinction level event for those of you that don’t know, and we have the government to thank for it. Which government…well, that’s still being debated since no one is stepping up and staking claim. I’m sure that the powers at be still argue and point fingers behind closed doors. Maybe amongst the great and powerful someone even knows, but for those of us that live outside the gilded cage of government buildings we are on a need to know basis and like so many other things, we the people, have decided that there are more important things to ponder upon. Like the phoenix, mankind rose from the ashes of its own destruction; reborn, fresh, shiny and brand new.
There is no more war, no hunger and almost no sickness at all. The diseases that plagued us; from cancer and AIDS to high blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes…all cured. Health care is free. Education is not only free, but top notch for any person who wants to go. Crime is at an all time low, meaning it’s damn near non-existent, it only took giving people the means to adequately provide from themselves and their loved ones: food, shelter, clothes. Who knew? There are no moguls or super-rich. Forbes list would consist of no one or everyone. Teachers make the same as doctors, who make the same as the guy who bag groceries or push carts at the local grocery store. There are no borders, no countries, no presidents or royalty. We are one people governed by a council of five individuals. Representatives from the places left with the majority of the world’s population.
Somewhere, someone created the virus that got us all on the same page. Speculation included but was not limited to: terrorist attack, mishap at a military facility of a bio-weapon, accidental contamination at pharmaceutical company or research facility and of course, a plague sent to punish mankind. Regardless of how it was released or what divine being sent it, after the rioting and looting, after the National Guard and Marshal Law, after the protesting and rebellions and the end of what history calls the World’s Civil War, those of us left…came together.
Our enemy is known as the L-Virus. Some are immune, others are not. But being immune doesn’t guarantee one will escape the arms and embrace of death. . There are scientists working around the clock to create vaccines for the virus that continue to mutate. This is how all the other, lesser diseases were cured; accidents while we searched for our salvation. We’ve given up hope on a cure, and even the holiest of us left pray not to the gods, but to the men and women that work tirelessly trying to keep up with the creation that some are considering reclassifying as a new species.
As wonderful as the things that are no longer here and what took its place; as terrifying as what left us in this state of almost utopia, what kind of future would it be without evolution? What does this word mean to you? What do you see when you think of it? Is it the ape-like creature that straightens and become modern man? Does it go further back to the organism that became the fish that became the land animal that became the ape-like creature? Does it take millions of years?
In 1951, in a time that is so alien from how we live now, and the actions of the people something we cannot fathom, the most important person known to mankind walked among us. This person’s life brought death but is also the reason we survive. This person’s gift lives in all of us, not metaphorically but literally, as the cells taken from what our society calls “Alpha” is used to create the vaccines that keeps humanity alive.
God may be a man, but our world’s miracle is a woman.

ONE

Newspapers are no longer paper and I’ve long since stopped trying to figure out why they’re still called by the outdated name. It seems some habits are impossible to break. I hit the button mounted on the arm of my overstuffed, well loved, leather-like recliner-type chair that also doubles as my bed and I named center control, to learn the happenings that have occurred while I slumbered. Hitting a second button, the recliner lifts my head while also folding into the chair that I spend most of my time in when I’m at home. The keypad on the other arm has an array of uses; from flipping pages of the newspapers or books I read to changing TV channels or activating the phone system. My tiny space is wired for sound throughout, so when a call is made you are no longer tied to one place or held hostage to a device.
Reading current events is more like taking advance genetics. The council and scientists update the world news organization at the end of each day in new developments, be it good or bad. Today the news is mediocre. No, a vaccine has not been found for the newest strain of the L-virus but the few that have been found have been taken to Quarantine. Quarantine is the hospital the government created, first to study the virus and then to try to beat it when it became obvious that there was no escaping it. The name itself gives away the mentality of those left behind in the wake of the deadly virus. The single three syllable word lacked everything the monikers of yesteryear hospitals provided; names memorializing those that provided advancements in science, a promise of a better tomorrow to the human race, the saints that provided hope. There have been no known outbreaks in a week and the powers at be are hopeful that the latest mutation has been contained. Words like confident, certain and absolute have all but been erased from the vocabulary. There is nothing finite when it comes to the L-virus.
In other news MIC-U has developed upgraded software and RFID chips to take the place of the ones that were installed last month. I’ll wait. It didn’t take me long to realize that, like calling the news delivery system a newspaper, technology does not change. It is almost guaranteed to come out with something better in a week…a month tops. There are new gadgets that makes life easier, if that’s what you jones for. You won’t find me complaining about the latest, greatest invention the gods and goddesses of MIT, Steve-Wayne University and MIC-U create, but being one step ahead of certain death has a way putting things in perspective. Therefore my faith and devotion are for those deities that reside in the rooms and halls of John Hopkins, Johnson College, and Gey University. Who cares about the latest upgraded RFID chip, new retina implants or the possibility of personal cellular phone modifications if you can wake up one day and find yourself with a case of the sniffles and you know damn well the common cold and any other ailments that had similar or same symptoms were eradicated decades ago.
Finally in world affairs, Councilman Winters gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Weighing in at seven pounds and ten ounces, it is expected the councilwoman will name the new addition as her successor. Mother and son are doing well, name TBA. I guess our new way is a little monarchy in this regards, but believe me, there are no tyrants, no power-plays, no one party or person that holds the illusion they are more important than the next. That time has passed.
Caught up on current events I stretched and switched the clear acrylic monitor on the far wall from print to broadcast news. I’m not a morning person but I hate to waste the day so I usually get going around seven. Folding my blanket, I stow it and my pillow in the compartment in the back of the recliner and switch the sound and volume controls to play the newscast on the surround sound. There is no local news, nothing local ever changes and the anchorman on the television is known the world over, ANC is the only news network. This morning’s split screen shows the faces of Elaina Weston, currently the only female news anchor and a white haired gentleman whose dark skin is so contrasting it’s shocking, the combination just looks plain weird.
“Horizontal gene transfer is the primary reason for bacterial antibiotic resistance and plays an important role in the evolution of bacteria that can degrade novel compounds such as human –created pesticides and in the evolution, maintain, and transmission of virulence,” the white haired man identified as Dr. Eugene Phelps by the red bar beneath his imagine says to a nodding, agreeing and seemingly understanding Elaina Weston.
See…told you. Any and all information is shared, down to the molecular level when it comes to the virus and the attempts and progress to find a cure. I don’t know if everyone gets it. If they don’t, it’s not for the council lack of trying.
The slightly accented voice of Dr. Phelps and countless others like him (both with and without accents), have become the soundtrack of our lives. News broadcasts are played everywhere. There is no escaping them. On the monitors of the public transit that we all now take, the restaurants and bars we frequent, the stores that we shop in. If the council or network runs out of new stuff to report they replay the old. I imagine first words are no longer mommy or daddy but mutated and virus.
Only half paying attention because, do I really need to learn horizontal gene transfer at seven in the morning, I go to bathroom, brush my teeth and make myself a nice cup of coffee before I pull out the leather bound journal that I think of as my old life. One that I lived before this two room apartment, before the call center I work in, before the people I now call my friends. One that I have no memory of. My name is Olivia Freeman and six months ago I woke up alone, confused and with retrograde amnesia. I have absolutely no memory of my life before that day. None. I didn’t even know my name. I found that out from the letter that was left next to the bed I never use. The journal was beneath the letter and is not written in my handwriting. It was authored by the same person who’d left the letter.
I think of the author as my father and in the six months I have gotten about half way through reading the journal. Why so long? Well, for one, my father was a genius and even though I have no memory of my life it became obvious I too had some smarts. The entries are complex formulas and equations, detailed descriptions of research and experiments. While I tune out the good Dr. Phelps, in truth, horizontal gene transfer is not far removed with what I am replacing it with. Because my father was a geneticist and today’s continued lesson is, in layman terms, the lifespan of DNA.

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