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Ponce de Leon Was Such A Bloody Idiot

We all want to live forever. But a what cost?

By Frank TalaberPublished 4 years ago 6 min read
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Ponce de Leon Was Such A Bloody Idiot

I screamed in agony for a week; burning, every cell in my body on fire. The injections were easy enough, once a day for seven days. Being strapped up in bed beside several others screaming in a symphony of holy torture wasn't.

"How are you doing, Mr. James? What a cute boy you are." The nurse asked, and like the day before, incoherent dribble came out of my mouth. "Oh, good. I see the treatment is coming along well." She smiled, gave me the needle and quickly left the room before the screaming started again.

Last month I attended the opening of the Washington Time Capsule. Buried for a nearly a hundred years. That was the cool thing to do back in the 1950's. We thought we were so advanced back then. Hell, we think we're advanced now. Fools.

They opened the capsule a year early due to construction of the world's first matter transporter, the Zip Matter Rail. At the flick of a switch you could be deconstructed and whisked atom by atom across the world. Already airlines were declaring bankruptcy. I smiled to myself; something would go wrong.

I stood in the same spot as I did that last day in high school. I couldn't remember anyone's name, except Tanis, the brunette I had the hots for back then. My first love. But I was too shy, never even kissed her. If I lived my life over again. I laughed. IF. That would be the only thing I'd have done differently. I'd have kissed her and whisked her off to the nearest hotel. I mean, who'd have thought I'd be here, nearly a hundred years later, about the same physical age as I was then, only with a lifetime of memories. I was one of the last to take the injections, one of the last Young'n still alive.

If I ever could imagine what it was like to be accused of being a witch in the 1500's and being burned alive at the stake, this was it. I screamed until I lost my voice and then howled some more. But the injections worked and my body began to slowly reverse the aging process. The Ponce de Leon Corporation had found a way to simply flip the age gene and make it go backwards. We became the 'Young'n's as the news media called us. Slowly growing younger every day.

Only they downplayed the pain involved. Said it was worth it if you want to live a second lifetime. In that case they weren't lying. The pain was unbelievable. Some died. Anything to make a buck, or in this case $50,000.00 US, to live the dream of starting over again. Doing all those crazy things most of us too old, but rich, could ever enjoy.

There were a couple of decades where life just didn't get any better. I was 105, backpacked the Himalayas before the devastating 2020 earthquake crumbled many of them. At 110 trekked Brazil's rainforests and watched the last Manatee breath its last breath. At 115 walked the last polar ice cap over the South Pole, and laughably married at 128, for the twenty-eighth time. Cindy was only twenty-eight and I think just wanted me for my money. Didn't care. Yeah, those moments were worth it.

Only the Young'n process gradually began to accelerate. As bones shifted, shrank, rebuilding themselves, taking age away. Pain. I seemed to be in a constant state of agony and it was worse for those who had plastic surgery and implants.

The Corporation's guarantee. To make you younger and live a much longer life. Well, couldn't fault them on that promise. But as the old expression goes 'It's not nice to fool Mother Nature'. Fuck with her and suffer the repercussions. No problem, they said. We'll find the technology to flip the gene back. Only it didn't flip. Apparently couldn't, once the cells were switched into growing younger they began to quicken the process, breaking themselves down into more natural states, the company explained. After a while I began to lose days then weeks at a time. Idiots, we were all bloody idiots.

Sure they got sued, went virtually bankrupt. Then everyone suing became technically minors. The lawyers fought over all of those points in court. I think they were the ones to really get rich out of all of this.

Some governments declared it unlawful for Young'n's to collect a pension; they were still young enough to work and earn their own living. We found out later that we couldn't have kids. One woman was pregnant for nine years as the body fought to evolve and de-evolve. She died and the child was stillborn. Others imploded in screaming convulsions. Most of us chose abstinence or sterilization.

Seared concrete stank the air as lasers eradicated the seal over the Time Capsule. Three-D Vid reporters were in attendance filming as they opened the Capsule to reveal souvenirs and achievements of the fifties; vinyl records of Elvis, Chuck Berry, the song Tequila echoed in the background, a Sputnik replica, a NASA emblem, and an Edsel hood ornament.

Our class put in their own letters written on a typewriter. God I'd seen so much evolution. On the back of mine was a last second hand-scribbled note I wrote before anyone saw me sealing it. 'Wished I'd screwed Tanis Johnson'.

They read it out loud and everyone laughed. I was embarrassed. Not ever in a million years thinking I'd be here to live this moment, or how I could forget her last name.

The crowd parted, a familiar figure walked towards me. Tanis smiled, a Young’n’ like me, she didn't look a day over 140.

We kissed. The crowd cheered and she said, "let's make this a memory worth remembering, while we have the chance." It was the last thing on my bucket list. We were literally, well at least physically, teens in love all over again. I got divorced and remarried in a day. She became my twenty-ninth wife. Aren't lawyers great?

I lost my halo-car's driver's license last week, got acne and pimples all over again and as of yesterday can't walk anymore. On Monday Tanis died and I'd begun puberty. It's Friday and I'm in diapers suckling from breasts I used to once lust over.

Mother Nature still won. Oh well, I gained a few good years. If only Ponce de Leon himself knew what the human race was getting into searching for the fountain of youth.

Some of the Young'n's had died or committed suicide early in the acceleration process, unable or unwilling to live through the excruciating pain. Of course, waivers and flanks of lawyers made sure the company wasn't liable. Technically they owned us and we were legally bound to the Corporation if a ‘cure’ was ever found.

There is one thing they discovered doesn’t age; the brain. As our bodies shrank back to the womb states they came from, the memories of two lifetimes remained intact. 'What could be better?', Some cursed.

Yesterday's headlines read 'Man materialized out of The Zip with one of his wife' s breasts. Still searching who has the other'. Both are suing. The Zip company statement admitting to a slight power fluctuation and that Zip travel is still safer than airline travel. I laughed; little did they know. And now there weren't any airlines around to travel on.

By tomorrow morning all they'll probably find of me is a puddle of protoplasm, a sodden pillow full of tears and echoes of screaming, like all of the others before me.

The nurse strides into my room, armed this time with doctors and reporters. A needle gleams evilly in her hand. God, I hate her smiling condescending face.

I gurgle incoherently, trying to say 'no, let me die'. I try to fend them off with feeble arms, I’ve only newborn peach fuzz of hair left, the rest a pool beside my pillow. Another day would have ended all of this. I am at the legal mercy of the New Ponce de Leon Corporation.

"He's one of the last left alive. Give it to him now." A doctor yammers to the assembled journalists. He spouts about the last minute cure found by some scientist in Borneo, based on primate and iguana DNA.

Ponce de Leon was back in business, now able to flip the Young'n's back to aging. Their scientists claimed to be able to do it on a continual basis. Back and forth, to live forever, they'd be rich again. And all I had to do was sign a blank cheque for more injections.

The only true truth I've ever come to know is that your body never forgets pain. Coldness washed over me as the chemicals flooded in, every cell turned again to fire. I gurgled as the unbelievable agony I never wanted to go through returned, screaming at me from another lifetime.

"Oh God! Make this stop. Let me die and not live again," I tried to yell.

Only the cries of a newborn escaped my lips.

science fiction
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About the Creator

Frank Talaber

I believe in whacking a reader upside the head, toss them screaming into the book, and just when they think they are starting to figure things out toss a curveball. they say that you don't have to be mad to be a writer, but it sure helps.

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