Thursday, November 05, 2009
"Good news! The ChurchState has found cure for death!"
Cora read the news on her EyeStream as she ate breakfast. She wasn’t entirely sure that it was good news, seeing as the tower she was in was almost full and it was getting harder and harder to get a marriage license or breeding permit.
Of course she would never say anything out loud about her doubts, the ChurchState was always watching and listening for DeathCriminals as they were called. According to church historians there used to be people who knowingly and willingly sought out the death of others. Cora had seen the ChurchStates propaganda reels showing government run death camps and the burning of living people in giant crematoriums. There were riots and race wars where people murdered their neighbors, and wars between the small countries over food and resources. There was even the rumor that women would pay to have living children cut out of them and murdered by people who called themselves doctors!
All that changed when the LifeChurch finally overran all of the countries governments and showed the people a new way of living, a new way of thinking. The LifeChurch's founder was a great scientist who discovered how to harness the power of Algae to create an endless source of food and energy and even how to make durable plastics so that mankind no longer had to fight over agricultural land or non-renewable resources. Almost everything in the modern society revolved around the Algael tanks.
The first thing that the LifeChurch accomplished once it became the ChurchState was to start to abolish death in all of its forms, but especially the murder of humans. Of course this meant there would have to be some changes in how people lived. The ChurchState would have to monitor its citizens closely to prevent DeathCriminals, and so they developed the LifeMonitor system.
Implanted in their forearm as infants the LifeMonitor had audio receivers that heard everything and a vidcam that watched the persons every move. They also monitored the heart rate and the biochemical levels. The LifeMonitor could even dispense medication directly into the bloodstream if necessary and was loaded with a fast acting tranquilizer, which could be triggered remotely by any LifeOfficer in case they needed to immobilize the subject for committing DeathCrime.
Cora worked in an infirmary as a part of her medical internship. She was very careful knowing that medical workers especially ones who worked with the elderly were closely monitored less they turned to DeathCrime to shorten the suffering period of their terminal patients.
She took the elevator from her room on 4blue level to the infirmary floor of her tower. Each tower had one, but she was fortunate to be living in a tower that also housed the biomedical research labs. Why the cure for death might even have been found in her tower! Some day she would work in the research level if she was lucky, but for now she was in charge of caring for the elderly patients who’s lives were on the decline. Unfortunately there were far to many people in the medical field in her tower. Everyone was hoping to work on the research level but few would ever make it. Some would be transferred to other towers, but many interns would washout of the program just be given jobs in Algae processing, or air decontamination or some other meaningless grunt task.
When Cora arrived fifteen minutes before her shift she was surprised to find the director waiting at the check in station. "Greetings my girl! You’re the early bird and so you get the worm so to speak! Come with me, you wont be working on this level today we have something special for you my girl!"
Cora was nervous as she followed him, but he kept up a brisk pace and nattered on about trivial matters as he led her up two floors and into the wide double doors of the LifeMonitor implant research laboratory. Cora was overwhelmed as the director led her into an office where he introduced her to two doctors in lab coats. They both had very distinguished titles in the research department and Cora had read an article about one of them in the LifeScience magazine. They were all smiles as they told her how they were working on the next level of implants to replace the current LifeMonitor that was in use.
They slid her into a chair in front of the desk as they explained to her what they needed. "There have been many refinements and improvements over the previous models, and we are ready for human testing at this point. Of course we’ve completed the animal testing phase and the new monitor is completely safe. We have another intern from the Microbiology department who is going to be a tester too, but we wanted a male and a female for this phase of testing to ensure that hormones levels do not inhibit or alter our results."
"If you agree to be a part of this phase of testing you will be the first person to get the revolutionary new 'LifePlant' as we are calling this model, it has many new features including memory enhancement, health monitoring and this model is where we have made the breakthrough that will halt the bodies aging, in essence it stops death by assisting the bodies cells in making perfect reproduction and ending the decay process. You will be written up in every medical journal and be in all of the future history books! Not to mention Vid interviews etc. You will be quite famous!"
Cora was wary, knowing that there were probably many more features that they weren’t telling her about, features that worked towards the ChurchStates benefit and not her own, but she figured that she didn’t really have a choice, if she declined to be a test subject they would find a way to make her suffer for her choice. They could have her demoted, moved to a lower level of the tower and even charge her with DeathCrime. If she complied she might get a room raise, a promotion and have her career on the fast track. She signed the paperwork without really reading it, after all she wasn't bargaining for a contract so much as submitting to her duty.
The next morning Cora was taken to surgery, along with the young man named Lucas from microbiology. They were sedated and two surgeries were preformed on each of them. One to remove their old LifeMonitors, and the second to install the LifePlants into the base of their brains. Eventually a receiver station would be built into every tower that would relay between the implants and the monitoring computers, but for now they each had a wire coming out of the surgery site, which went to one palm sized monitor which would display the data received from the implants.
They were kept sedated for two days while tests were run on the implants and the equipment. Their dreams were viewed; their unconscious thoughts were recorded, and displayed on the monitor for the excited scientists to peer at. Surprisingly there seemed to be some overlap between the two signals, the dreams correlated with one another and their thoughts followed similar lines. The scientists did not know if this was a form of telepathy educed by the LifePlants or crossover within the monitoring device.
When they were finally allowed to waken the subjects were both confused, Cora complained of a splitting headache and said she felt like someone else was moving in her head. A couple of times she reached out and knocked things over with her right hand as Lucas was trying to move his left. After a while they seemed to calm down somewhat and the doctors gave them time to adjust. They would have to be careful of the wires they were warned, the monitor would be connected to them for a while since they had to keep track of their progress while the receiver station was being designed and built.
Cora could feel him in there, she knew that he could sense what she was feeling and it embarrassed and frightened her. She could sense what he was feeling too, and that embarrassed her even more. Late that night he had a sexual fantasy about one of the nurses and she felt like ripping the wire right out of her head. At least she was no longer spastically moving her arms when he wanted to reach for something.
The link between them was an unforeseen side affect that the doctors found interesting, but they were assured that once they were disconnected from the monitor the crossover would discontinue. Unfortunately the longer they were connected the stronger it seemed to get. As one of the doctors was checking their progress the next morning he was chatting to them both about how revolutionary this new technology would be and how it would help the ChurchState to prevent DeathCrime.
'Their reading our minds!' She heard it in her head; it was Lucas's voice. She looked at him sharply and imagined projecting the thought 'Don't think it!'
'You know they are, there not happy with us thinking individual thoughts, their going to make it illegal to think bad things about the ChurchState!' 'They already have, and their listening to you now, don't think it!'
The scientist was reading the monitors output, right now it was displaying their vital statistics, but Cora knew that it was possible for him to switch views to see what they were thinking, or to even replay what they had just been thinking, if they went back over the recording Lucas would be in trouble.
How many times in her life had she a stray thought that went against the ChurchState? She knew that if her life had been monitored up until this point she would have been moved to a women’s Correctional tower, and the thought of spending the rest of her life in one of those was terrifying. No one came out of the correctional towers, no prisoners were ever reformed or released for good behavior, and they were so overcrowded the cells were barely large enough for inmates to lay down and made her tiny room on 4blue level seem like a mansion level.
There was no way that she would survive a Correctional Tower and keep her sanity. She would choose death first. 'Don’t think that! Never think that where they can hear it! We have to find a way to shield some thoughts. To cover them up so we don't think them. To stop ourselves before we do!'
'When will they take us off this damn machine?'
'Doesn’t matter does it? With the receiver station being built I’m sure they will soon have a room of monitors and people to man them day and night to record peoples thoughts. How many thoughts will be DeathCrime then? Don’t you think every person thinks about death at one point or another during their lives? How they want to kill their supervisor, or how they wish their nosy neighbor would just die? Maybe they even think about ending it all. They’re all guilty you know... everyone is. Now the ChurchState will be able to pick and choose who to monitor, who to prosecute.'
'What can we do? Its not like we could blow up the monitor, I'm sure the research has been shared with all of the towers, soon there will be millions of people with implants like this.'
'We don’t have to destroy the monitors, just make it look like the implants are a failure!'
The doctor was finished with their vitals, he was taking notes in his padd "Doctor", Cora got his attention as he was so focused on what he was typing into his padd he couldn’t hear her. "Doctor do you think we would be able to walk the halls a bit? My legs are stiff from all of the bed rest." The doctor nodded sympathetically.
"I understand, I’m afraid I cant let you leave this level, but I don’t see why you can't take a stroll around the tower every day, so long as you stay on this level."
Each day Cora and Lucas took a walk, they peeked around and found out where the guards for the level were, and when they passed the emergency stairs. Every day Cora and Lucas practiced trying to close their minds off to each other; they figured that if the other person couldn’t hear them the monitor might not be able to hear them either. Unfortunately the connection got stronger not weaker. As their connection grew they began to feel emotionally connected as well.
'Where can we go? Even if we were to get out of this tower we could never move to another tower without travel documents, and no one survives outside the towers.'
'I don’t know Cora, but anywhere or nowhere is better than here, I just know we have to leave one way or another, and by doing so we have to discredit the LifePlants so that no one will want them.'
'Does it matter what they want? LifeChurch will make it look like the implants are fine and that we were the ones to blame for their failure. They will make us scapegoats.'
'Then we have to find a way that we will be the victims, that they cant deny'
the next week they heard that the receiver station was almost ready and that soon others would be receiving the implant. Cora asked to use a padd and the two of them snuck out and took the emergency stairs to the tower roof where they sat and compiled a letter which would be mass mailed out to everyone on the tower system. The letter told people how the LifePlants changed their emotions, made them long for Death, how they were once proud citizens of the ChurchState but the LifePlants changed their views on society and freedom. How death was preferable to living controlled by computers and scrutinized by scientists.
They shared a long kiss, their first embrace that was sweet and passionate at the same time, and then they approached the edge of the roof. The doorway behind them banged open and a handful of lab coats poured out, they scrambled for the low wall at the towers edge, but suddenly the whole world shifted, and they lost consciousness.
Cora woke in a small cell; the room was completely dark except for the blue glow coming through the meal slot. There was a trough on one side of the slanted floor and overhead she could see a sprinkler. This was a cell in the Correction Tower! She reached up groggily to the back of her skull and found that the wire was no longer protruding from her implant. Lucas was gone from her mind, she reached out a silent scream of his name, and there was no response. She was alone, and with the new LifePlant it would be a very long time, maybe forever.
Begging for death she screamed.
Authors note Image by Jonas Valtersson Photography his website appears to be down but this is his photo gallery on photonet. I thought this would make a good long story or screen play. All of the telepathic dialogue could be recorded for miming on stage. characters could do with a lot of fleshing out, in the origional story idea I envisioned them building a virus to whipe out half the population, but I figured that this would be more dramatic and less putting off for some people. I was trying to use the classic scifi dystopian tool of taking something from our modern society and blowing it all out of preportion to show its most diablical conclusion. For this story it was right to life and overpopulation. If death was abolished all together would the world be a better place? what if the church was involved? Living in Skyrise towers with the whole world covered in one huge city due to lack of space... this is my idea of hell.