The Last Mortals (short fiction)

It looked like water, but if you drank it, you would live forever.

Dr. Brendon pointed his gun at Karen. “I can’t let you walk out of here with that.”

She held the vial between her finger and thumb, casually, as if it wasn’t the most valuable thing on this world at the moment. “Don’t be stupid, Ben. We’ve worked too hard on this, spent too many year. Now you’ve changed your mind?”

“I’ve thought about it,” he said. “We’re talking about a world where nobody dies.”

People will still be able to die. But now it will be a choice.”

His hand was shaking so much, she was surprised he hadn’t shot her yet. “That’s a terrible choice to force on somebody.”

“It’s a terrible choice to take away from somebody,” she replied.

“Think of the consequences.”

She smiled. “There are always consequences, Doctor, whether we act or not. Why are your hands any cleaner of the misery this could remove than mine dirty with all the misery it might cause?”

Dr. Brendon didn’t have an answer. He didn’t lower the gun though.

“We weren’t meant to live forever.”

“You don’t know that. Maybe there’s a plan here, and maybe you and I are part of the plan.” She set the vial down on the counter and removed her coat. He almost shot her then. “Right now, a good person is dying, and this can fix that. Are you willing to tell that person they should die? It’s easy to shoot me. Could you sit every person down who is struggling for another day and tell them you don’t care?”

“You’re twisting things,” he said. “You can’t change the world without thinking about what it means.”

“Funny. I thought that was the history of the world.”

“Karen . . . ”

“I did it already. About an hour ago.”

She hit a key on her computer and the screen lit up, showing the formula, no doubt spread across the internet, out of their hands because it was in everyone’s hands.

He shot her. Twice. He didn’t realize he’d done it until he saw laying on the floor. He dropped the gun.

She sat up and poked her fingers through the holes in her shirt. “Hmmm. Works even better than we expected.”

“Karen, you don’t know what you’ve done,” he said.

“I know what I’ve done. I don’t know what happens tomorrow because of it, but who ever does?”

She put a hand to his cheek. He grabbed her wrist. “I’ll never forgive you.”

“Yes, you will,” she said. “It’ll take some time, but you will.”

She placed the vial in his hand, closed his fingers over it, and walked out of the lab.

He stood, staring at the computer, clutching the vial in a tight fist. He thought about throwing the vial against the wall.

He didn’t.

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One Comment

  1. Posted June 16, 2014 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    Yes! It’s about time!! I am so happy and proud for you!!!

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