tagSci-Fi & FantasyFuture Ch. 01

Future Ch. 01

byTaunus©

Disclaimer: This story is fiction cast in the future. No resemblance to persons living or dead is intended or should be inferred.

In general, no one can foretell the future. In particular, each individual's fate is determined by a complicated set of initial conditions. That is, if one agrees with the so-called butterfly "effect." Observe that the paths of the planets about the solar system can be precisely determined. Moreover, the weather can be accurately predicted and, with sufficient demographics, some estimates are possible as to a specific individual's future environment.

Looking to the Thirtieth Century, one may speculate using trends and historical perspectives. For sure, in that future, medicine will be as different from current medicine as current medicine is from Tenth Century medicine today. One may reasonably extrapolate that most prescribed medications, surgery, and therapy will be administered and controlled by sentient machines. The terror of malpractice and the practice of defensive medicine is destined to drive humans from the arena and permit only statistically controlled and monitored androids. The practice of medicine by human doctors and nurses will be a footnote in the medical journals.

For sure every household will have a computer: a Parallel-Processing Personal Computer (P3C). Such a device is the miniaturization of the 4096 Central Processing Unit (CPU) Connection Machine. The parallel-processing power allows the computer to interact as a sentient being. The care of the elderly can be extended. What of the longevity in the third millennium? The psalmist speaks through the holy scriptures in Psalm 90, Verse 10, when he says:

The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour [sic] and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

Who are we to argue with writs of Holy Scripture? Let us merely extrapolate that, in the future, one works until he (or she) is seventy (threescore and ten years). From seventy years old until one reaches eighty, he (or she) is supported by a government stipend (Social Security, Medicare, etc.). At eighty, one forfeits his (or her) real property to the state. Those over eighty years old can survive only as long as their money lasts. Then they must either enter a dying hospice for their last few days or subsist in the dark bowels of the world as homeless, indigent souls.

These are the stories of those who, by reason of strength, somehow manage to survive longer their allotted eighty years. Our first story concerns a historian and an artist, Tristan Tenor and his gynoid caregiver, Gina.

"What profit is it to live beyond one's appointed years," Tristan asks to Gina as they prepare to vacate his home on his eightieth birthday.

"I am with you until my fuel runs low and my batteries need recharging, Master," Gina responds. At a normal consumption rate this will only be a few weeks. When Gina's power dips below a certain level, she shuts down and text messages her Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) for pick up. The OEM allows the gynoid a grace period to set up her client before being removed. Should Tristan have some savings, he might purchase some additional time; however, taxes being progressive, little remains for the octogenarians.

The couple wander down the street lined by professionally managed lawns and upper middle class houses to a city bus stop. It is some distance away. The affluent citizens opt to keep public transit distant from their "comfort zone." Gina carries two heavy suitcases while Tristan struggles with an overstuffed briefcase.

The two exit the city bus in the tenderloin section of the metropolis. Here is a menagerie of people, androids, gynoids, and cyborgs. The humans are, with few exceptions, aged and frail. Here the octogenarians rent cheap hotel rooms to pass their final days. The sidewalk grits under Tristan's feet with sand-like grains of broken glass---the residue of years of broken glass bottles. Somehow, despite the recycling efforts, alcohol beverage containers are still glass and find themselves fractured and fragmented on the tenderloin sidewalks.

Tristan and Gina pass several cheap residential hotels and stop before one that seems to be less shabby. It is the Sequoia Hotel. They enter the lobby to check in. As they wait at the counter for the desk clerk, a ruckus ensues. An elderly lady is trying to hold onto her personal android while two uniformed police are trying to separate them. She is clinging to the unresponsive caregiver. Obviously the android is to be returned to the OEM. After a few minutes the standoff is resolved when paramedics arrive, sedate the hysterical octogenarian, and take her away in an ambulance. Her next stop will certainly be a dying hospice.

Tristan remembers an old proverb: "To those who have much, even more shall be given. To those who have little, even that little they have shall be taken away. And when you have nothing, then die dog, for the world belongs to those who have." The proverb is a translation of the German proverb "Der Weltweg," or "The Way of the World."

Once checked in, Tristan and Gina check out the minimal accommodations. The sink drips occasionally. The sheets are threadbare. Some of the silver backing has oxidized and flaked from the mirror over the rusted, cracked porcelain sink. There is a chain hanging down into the sink basin without a stopper. Clearly this is the low end of the economic line.

Gina is like a beacon of beauty in a sea of despair. She is constructed of nearly indestructible material. Those parts exposed to wear and tear, like her hands and feet, are replaceable as modules. Tristan is used to have Gina wait on him and take care of the household. Now his frayed mind can concentrate on her beauty. She is 35B-25-35, 5'7", and 140 lbs. She is a remake of the Twentieth Century Hollywood actress Sharon Stone at eighteen years old. Gina has blonde hair, blue eyes, and an IQ equivalent to 154 on the human scale.

"Shall I unpack, Master?" Gina asks.

"Let's fuel and charge you first, Gina," Tristan answers. He knows that she is his primary defense and interface in a world rife with erratic cyborgs and rogue androids. Knowing that an errant robot will soon be retired with extreme prejudice is of little consequence to a victim. What assets would a machine have that could be attached in a court of law?

While Gina is refueling and recharging, Tristan watches the news on an ancient 2D 150 inch TV Screen. The war continues. But then, isn't there always a war going on somewhere? One of Professor Tristan's remarks to his freshman History class was: "War is the natural state of man." How Tristan misses teaching!

He recalls the impressionable young men and women, eager to drink from the Pierian Spring. He could see the venerable Muse in their faces. What a joy to see his words scribbled into binders or recorded into electromagnetic media. But, with mandatory retirement at age seventy, the crisp adrenalin rush of exploration has dissipated, evaporated.

Androids and Cyborgs are battling fiercely in some distant jungle or isolated snow covered region. Wars are conveniently fought in less populated, primitive regions. It has been centuries since a war was fought in a developed urban area. As usual there are war protestors rioting outside of the state congresses. The same chatterboxes are protesting the war who are involved with eco-terrorism for the most part. The neo-Luddites, technophobes, and Marxist-Leninists have become more unemployed middle-aged citizens than the angry young men of earlier eras.

Tristan, like most octogenarians, could care less about capitalistic adventurism. The elephant in the room is rationed health care and the age cap at eighty years for all government services. After paying into Social Security for over fifty years, Tristan is miffed to hear that it was merely another tax and that Social Security is an "entitlement" and not an inalienable right. The ongoing battle of the day concerns disenfranchisement of citizens over eighty. The government is torn between fiscal budget constrains and the prospect of being voted from office by an enraged elderly populace. Too many people are living too long for society to sustain itself. Care giving robots are an attempt to alleviate the situation. Yet the sentient androids and gynoids have become as much of the problem as a solution.

With Gina all charged up, the couple decides to have supper at the small hotel restaurant. Eating out is infrequent since retirement at age seventy. Usually Gina would prepare food at home. But, since the government has seized all of Tristan Tenor's real property as well as most of his personal property, there is no sense in trying to economize. The end is not too distant for him. His seized assets were turned over to China to fulfill the conditions of the China Reparations Act Proposition (CRAP). In essence, the law said that the state is every man's heir and that the ancient national debt must be paid off with soaring interest.

One could scarcely expect a more eclectic crowd. The hotel restaurant was a virtual Mecca of gynoids, androids, aged humans (mostly female), and cyborgs. There were also a few escort bots (whores) and flashy pimps. There is the distinct pungent odor of marijuana (like alfalfa) emanating from the kitchen bakery. While smoking in the restaurant is prohibited, fresh baked cookies make an ideal dessert. Tristan normally shuns all manner of drugs, intoxicants, or performance enhancing medications; here he is tempted.

The waitress, a comely cyborg, approaches the table. "New guests here?" She asks.

"Yes," Tristan replies. "Whatever is on the special and some decaff, please." She takes the order and scurries away. She returns with the coffee and stares at the gynoid.

"Top of the line skin job you got, honey," the waitress says to Tristan. "But you don't seem to appreciate her! Here you have a hot number dressed up like some frumpy, dowdy, middle-aged woman grocery shopping. You could pimp here for a pretty penny. So what were you before being put out to pasture? A business executive?"

Tristan straightens his back. It has been weeks since anyone has asked about his "former life." His network of friends on line know his background. "I was a teacher," he stammers, "I taught History at the Real Life University (RLU)."

"Oh my oh my, an inkhorn," the waitress blurted out. "How the mighty have fallen! But let's not be enemies. It's just that most academicians and engineers prefer to pass in dignity at the Fourscore Club. Mostly we get indigent old women trying to subsist and steal a few extra months."

"I want a little freedom before becoming homeless," Tristan retorts. Then he does notice Gina. Her ivory skin, puffy, pouty pink lips, slender, sculptured shoulders, hour-glass waist, flat hypogastric triangle, and carved ivory derriere was striking. In fact, Pygmalion, King of Syracuse (now Sicily), would cast aside his statuesque Galatea for such a marvelous physique. Then Tristan realized that Gina also had chameleon functionality---she was Goth for the restaurant.

Hearing the kitchen bell, the waitress goes to fetch Tristan's order. He is then aware of the eyes of the guests and patrons. This is not academia, this is real life. Here congregates the unwashed masses, those subsisters near the bottom of the food chain, and the scavengers. Tristan never carries cash. Gina has a secured sinus on her side where their money is kept, to be dispensed as necessary.

After they finish eating, the waitress removes the spent plates, leaves the bill to be paid at the counter, and whispers: "They allow tipping, Sir." Tristan looks to Gina, who dispenses a small currency bank note. They exit the restaurant, Tristan is glad to leave the motley crew congregated there.

On the elevator back to their room, Gina assumes the Malibu beach blonde complexion. A man would have to be terminally ill not to be instantly attracted to this essence of pulchritude, the penultimate perfect physique, and the faint scent of female arousal emanating from the gynoid. She is permeating the moldy air of the elevator cabin with atavistic animal pheromones. From deep within his limbic brain, Tristan feels primordial predispositions. The other males in the elevator are sure that something is transpiring, but cannot focus on it.

Back in the room, Tristan lies down on the bed, too tired to undress.

"Do you want me to prepare you for bed, Master?" Gina asks.

His parasympathetic system now completely awry, Tristan responds: "No, no. Just let me rest for a bit." He drifts into an hypnagogic state, his dreams running back to his college days. How he sacrificed his social life for grades. He remembers Trisha, the love of his life. She waited and waited on the scholar. At last, bored and rejected, she found another. He sacrificed the love of his life for a terminal degree. Now in a state of abject melancholy, he regrets his past actions. But there is no turning back the hands of the clock. He looks into the mirror and sees a hollow face with thin lips and a mournful countenance.

It is dawn when Tristan awakes. He is still wearing his street clothes from the day before. His shirt and pants are wrinkled. Gina has set out fresh clothes for him. She is dressed in a short terrycloth bathrobe. Her legs are muscular and toned. Those magnificent gams are a swimmer's build, not the weightlifter's brawn. She has just showered and is drying her silky-smooth, soft mane.

"Would Master like some breakfast?" Gina inquires. She holds her finger between her teeth.

Tristan remembers an incident from long ago. One gorgeous female student came by his office and asked for a grade. She said in the most sultry, sensuous, sexy way that she would "do anything for a grade."

He responded: "Anything?"

She winked and blinked and replied: "Yes, anything!"

He retorted: "Would you study?"

She left in an angry flash.

13 December 2012

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