Would you really want to live for longer? It is an appealing idea to slow down the aging process and retain the good looks and vibrant good health of your 20s, but there is a down side. Imagine having to work for double the amount of years. Instead of spending 40 years of your life caught up in the turmoil and intensity of paid employment, 80 years would be required. After that amount of time, even the most interesting job could become mundane. Maybe we would have to switch careers and go through learning and training years again. Ug!
The above 99-word flash was written for Charli Mills’ weekly flash fiction challenge. You can join in here: https://carrotranch.com/2019/05/10/may-9-flash-fiction-challenge/
Charli’s prompt also inspired the following longer piece:
From the diary of Dr Thompson
It is interesting to see how people cling to life. No matter how dire their circumstances or how old and dependent they are, they don’t want to die. Maybe it is because they are familiar with their current lives and can hope that their circumstances will improve, whereas death is the great unknown. Some people, of course, do not find succumbing to death to be a great leap of faith, but to many, the lack of clarity beyond the grave is disturbing.
I warned the World Government that they could not obviously favour one grouping of people over another when it came to the extension of life. This was more controversial in my view than their plan of genetic engineering to increase human intelligence. In my experience, not all people aspire to intellectual greatness.
The idea of the World Government was simple. Individuals who demonstrated the characteristics of higher performance and productivity were singled out and their personal identification microchips were programmed to use available biotechnology to change the genetic makeup of such individuals’ cells, slowing down their aging process and reversing the negative effects of heart disease and other stress and anxiety related health problems caused by their ambitious, rigidly organised, anxious and proactive personalities. This programme had two major effects on the selected individuals: they aged at a slower rate than their peers and their productive work lives increase from approximately 40 years to over 80 years and the genes that resulted in their high-functioning abilities were exacerbated in their children.
It did not take many years for the people living in the compounds for the unemployed to notice that their working peers were not aging at the same rate as they were. Men and women in high pressure jobs maintained the smooth skin and full bodied and richly coloured hair of their youth for many years. When the effects of time did finally start manifesting in their faces, the changes were subtle. They also maintained their robust good health and did not suffer arthritis, osteoporosis and other debilitating aging diseases. The rumblings of discontent in the ghettos and compounds increased as the inhabitants slowly came to the realisation that they were missing out on the opportunity of an extended life. The World Government denied any intervention in this area of humanity; it was not economical to have the unemployed living for longer. It only made sense for those people who would use this longer life for the benefit of society by increasing their skills and remain productive for longer.
The uprising, demonstration and unrest continued and the government resorted to using the military, a privileged group of men and women with unusually strong bodies, high endurance as well as high intelligence, to control the masses through whatever means they deemed necessary.
The other major issue that arose as a result of this genetic manipulation was that the human characteristics of anxiety and stress, which frequently went hand in hand with high performance and greater intelligence, increased in the children of the genetically engineered workers. Mental illnesses such as depression, PTSD, OCD, panic attacks and other, similar disorders became more apparent and troublesome among the working population. These negative effects had to be controlled through the use of an additional microchip implant aimed at controlling the amount of serotonin in sufferers brains but, the scientists soon realised, that the microchip and other medications only worked to a certain extent. They had a problem on their hands and it was not easily solvable as removing these negative aspects of human behaviour would also remove the personality traits government wanted desperately to retain.