Content warning: Um. vague philosophical horror, also discussion of end of life.
The Arenoraan Treatment was supposed to be the best new thing in the world, or rather, it had been supposed to be the best new thing ten years ago . Ten years before that, ten years before that – scientists had been inching the lifespan longer a little at a time.
The Arenoraan Treatment, it was supposed to be the best; it was supposed to let people live happily at least to their two-century mark, if not long beyond. The assumption was, of course, that while people who were now around 135, 140 were enjoying their extended lives, scientists would have time to figure out the next step in immortality.
I was only 90 at the time, but I was looking forward to it. Only ninety still sounded amazing to me, because at fifty-five, I’d been starting to fall apart. Now here I was, ninety, and nothing ached and nothing creaked and I was down to one pill a day, and that was a multivitamin supplement.
It was really starting to look like I was going to be part of the generation that kicked off immortality, let me tell you. We were all watching eagerly as the first people to receive the treatment, the one who’d been in their late hundred-and-thirties and especially the one woman who’d been a hundred and forty-three, got closer and closer to 150. Were we going to see a new hurdle crossed? Was this the –
Well, of course you know it wasn’t the thing that did it. You’ve read your history books.
So you know that Taylor Dunbridge started screaming on her hundred and fiftieth birthday at 7:05 a.m., her time, and you know that she more or less didn’t stop for a year.
I mean, her voice gave out after a bit and they kept her on fluids in a soundproofed room while someone took notes, and after a while, she came back to herself enough to write things, but from what the scientists could get from it, the stuff that they posted when it was every day, you know, on the newsfeeds, she was seeing, well, something horrible.
They tried to gloss it over later, when Ms. Dunbridge came out of it. When she looked – well, not “good as new” and not like a twenty-year-old or anything, but she was functional and still alive and looked like a healthy and well-kept fifty or fifty-five or so.
She wouldn’t talk about it, not to anyone, so for a few years, all we had to go on was those early news feeds.
Oh my god. Help me, help me, can you see it? Can’t you tell? It’s horrible.
And then those breathless readings of her notes. This one, she’s drawn something like a face, but it’s got seven eyes, can you see? And I think it looks angry. Is it angry, Ms. Dunbridge?
Of course, Ms. Dunbridge could only gasp at that point, but she nodded, oh, did she nod.
The furor had almost completely died down by the time the next one, that was Chester Hartman, turned 150. And then it was one after another for a full three years until it just wasn’t news anymore.
There’s just a year at 150 – we’re waiting to see about 200, because Taylor Dunbridge has disappeared in the meantime and nobody else had reached 200 yet – where people just see into –
I’m going to use Chester Hartman’s words for it, because it was pretty soon after him they clamped down on the news pretty hard.
“There’s a world that is here, but we can’t perceive it, except in nightmares and visions and, sometimes, I think, kids see it. It’s full of all of our horrors, and they’re all – they’re as aware as you or me, they’re awake. Oh, god, are they awake and aware. And they are angry. I mean, wouldn’t you be?”
Putting together a tiny bit of information from here and there and what Ms. Dunbridge said, and some people think that it’s not just humanity’s horrors, but they’re specific to the person. And that’s got me worried.
What with that and a few other issues, funding for life-extension technologies well, it sort of dried up for a bit.
And you see, that’s the problem. Because I’m 139 right now, and well, everything hurts a bit and everything creaks. The Arenoraan Treatment is still available, that’s the thing. I know one or two people a year still take it.
I guess the question is, do I want to know what lives on the other side? On my other side?
Or maybe… maybe is it better to just let things go? 139 is a nice, full life.
Maybe I’d better stop before it gets even fuller.Want more?