Our Immortal Souls by Phil Richardson
Amanda hesitated before she entered the house; she did not know how she was going to break it to Corwin. First, he wouldn’t believe her and, most importantly, it had dire implications for their future. She opened the door and stopped for a minute to look at the mail on their entranceway computer.
“Very retro,” Corwin had said when she had suggested having a MailCom in the entranceway because it would be like the old days when the mail was dropped through a slot in the door. The MailCom printed out mail, put it in an envelope and sorted the mail into “Junk,” “Business,” and “Personal.”
I hope this gets improved in the next century. I thought that by this time, we would have made more progress but … no flying cars, no holograms. All we’ve got is immortality.
“Is that you, dear,” Corwin called from the living room. “How was work today?”
“Work was fine,” she said. “Although I’m getting bored with behavioral modification. People haven’t changed that much in the last hundred years … something happened today, though. I’m not sure I should tell you before supper.”
Corwin came bustling out of the living room. As usual, he was dressed bizarrely; a pair of scotch plaid pants (from his clan, he said) a toque jacket and white tennis shoes. He tried so hard to be different. His figure was, like hers, slim and athletic; it was programmed into their genes and didn’t require a lot of tending.
“The company decided to do random testing.”
“What difference does that make? You haven’t done drugs in a couple of hundred years.”
“It wasn’t a drug test. It was a pregnancy test and … now the government knows, my colleagues know and my boss knows. I’m pregnant!”
Corwin was dumbfounded. He stood there and literally started shaking from head to foot.
“How could you? You bitch. You deceived me. Who is the father?”
“You are, my dear. They do the DNA test simultaneously with the pregnancy test and there is no doubt — there is never any doubt — you are, will be, the father of our child.”
Although it did not seem possible for Corwin to shake any harder, he did.
“But we only have sex once a year and we both take the pill, and it’s guaranteed …”
“Remember that night I told you I had a sex dream. Well, maybe it wasn’t a dream …”
“Is it a boy or a girl?”
“They won’t say. They don’t want the chosen parent to know he or she is going to be eliminated until after the baby is born. I’m sorry to put you through this, but you know the rules about pregnancy.”
Corwin did know, and that was why he was shaking. If a woman got pregnant and the baby was a boy, the man had to die, and if it were a girl, the woman had to die. Population balances had to be maintained. Otherwise, because of immortality, the earth would be overrun with people. If a baby were born, someone had to die. Balances had to be maintained.
“I don’t want to die,” Corwin lamented. “I’m too young to die.” In fact, Corwin was 300 years old but no one walked willingly into the disposal chamber. Immortals were hard to kill, but the government had finally discovered a way. Each victim was put into a flash freeze chamber. That would not be enough to kill an immortal, however. The next step was to immerse the body in hot water immediately, so that it disintegrated — leaving nothing. Only the monitoring microchip implant remained. Then the water was emptied into the sewage system, which effectively dispersed it.
Corwin began walking back and forth in the room waving his hands in the air as if warding off a cloud of mosquitoes. His face flushed, and his eyes mirrored his desperation.
“Stop it, Corwin,” she said. “You’re acting crazy.”
“I am crazy,” he said. “What good is immortality if you know you are going to die?”
“Maybe there’s a way out …”
“How? The government knows you’re pregnant and abortion is illegal. There’s almost no one who will perform it anyway. Just last week they executed a doctor for performing an abortion.”
“We could fake your death — say you jumped into a volcano. It would be hard, but we could do it …”
Corwin stamped his foot and said, “They would stop the GovStip — our whole pension — when I’m pronounced dead. Remember when Sonja jumped into the volcano. Her husband had to sell his apartment because he didn’t have enough money left. We just don’t seem to have a way out. I’m going to read the rules again and see what I can find.”
Two days later Corwin was still going through the “BabyRegs” as most people called them. There was a lot of genetic stuff he didn’t comprehend and some references to diverse distribution that he hoped he understood.
“It says that although births are strictly forbidden, there are some exceptions that have to do with gene pool enhancement. Not enough bright people, not enough mechanical skills and, not enough dreamers. I wonder what that means.”
“It means we’re in trouble still — neither one of us scored in the ‘bright’ category on the test. We’re both klutzes when it comes to fixing things, and I don’t know what they mean by ‘dreamers.’”
Corwin looked up “dreamer” on the Internet, and then they searched the results together. Wikipedia produced, “An impractical person, an escapist, a person who has bold or highly speculative plans, a visionary …”
“I guess it means people who don’t think logically …” Corwin said.
“How could that be?” Amanda asked. “Logic rules the world. What good would a dreamer be?”
“Yes, Amanda,” Corwin said. “Dreamers don’t produce anything except, I guess stories and books and stuff like that — even art. I guess to prove you’re a dreamer, you have to write a book or, God preserve us, a poem. I never did understand poetry.”
A Lesson from the Road
Our Immortal Souls
Maps and Miracles
Tailing the Blond Satan
Into Open Hands
Drill & Kill
[ Back to April ]