This one is a bit of a hybrid. It’s sci fi story but it’s also horror. Let me know what you think.
“I just wish there was another way.”
Bill Stuart patted his old friend on the shoulder.
“I need more time. I can do this. I just need the time.”
“And if you can’t? If you fail, then what?” Bill shook his head.“It’s not worth it. We can’t risk it. You know we can’t.”
Lawrence Babineau shook his head. He was a scientist, not a fatalist. “I know. I know.” He put his face in his hands. “It should be me, dammit. Me.”
“The great debate, my man.” He poured more coffee into Lawrence’s cup. “Look, the project has to take precedence. It’s a sad example of our predicament but we only live so long. And now–”
“I’m really sorry. We’ve known each other for what? Fifty-five years? Since college. A lifetime, for sure–”
“We don’t have to talk about it.”
“Enough, Bill. Enough. I’ll be dead. I’ve accepted that, you need to accept it. But we don’t have to talk about it, okay?”
“So, who gets…it?” Lawrence slumped in his chair.
Bill shrugged his shoulders. “I guess that’s up to you. Your knowledge, your decision.”
“Let me talk to Edie.”
Bill passed out of the door. “Give me a ring when you’re done.”
Lawrence nodded his head, tapping his arm to bring up the screen. He tapped two more times. Edie answered right away.
“Lawrence–I was so scared!”
“Edie, listen to me.” He stopped suddenly unable to speak. What could he say? How to tell her that their fifty-two loving years together were coming to an end? That this time next week she would be a widow? How could he tell her that? Tell his children? Their children?
“Lawrence?” Her voice was impossibly high. She was terrified.
He closed his eyes. “Edie–I.”
“The cancer came back.” Her eyes filled with tears, but she was calm, still. “Oh, Lawrence,” she whispered.
“We alway knew it was a possibility, Edie.”
“But now? Why, now?”
“At least we got this far.”
There wasn’t anything else to say.
“I’ll see you at home, my love.”
He wanted a few minutes alone before he called Bill back in. He shuffled over to his desk, turned on the memory box. Traveled to the right file, slid it open and surrounded himself in his work.
He was so close. No one had ever gotten closer, no one had ever even thought it was possible.
A cure. For mankind’s greatest enemy, the one that no human had ever overcome.
When it all came down to it, it had just been a matter of chemistry. Breaking it down to its basic elements, a piece of cake, really. And in just a few months he could have had it, he could have solved it, and he could have used it against his cancer.
Just one of life’s ironies.
Bill stood over him pointing with one finger. “Sign here, DNA signature only. Look at the light, voice command–”
“Bill, I helped to develop the system.”
“I know, I’m sorry. I’m just nervous.”
“Sit down. Just watch.”
Lawrence sat up straighter, leaned forward. Keyed in the controls, cleared his throat, and began.
“Lawrence Babineau. Born April 29th, 2010. Married to Edie Davis-Babineau, born June 6th, 2012. Currently living in Philadelphia at 1287 South Oak Ave. Commuting to the Kansas City offices of MFT Enterprises, Research Division. Head of the Aging Project. I, Lawrence Babineau, are of sound mind and body and do request a Brain Information Transfer Operation. BITO will take place on Thursday October 12th, 2087 at 12:30 PM in the presence of Bill Stuart, Edie Davis-Babineau….”
Bill ran his fingers through his hair. How could Lawrence remain so calm? Bill wanted to cry, to scream, to throw fireballs at the universe. It was so unfair.
“…Proceeds will be shared to Edie Davis-Babineau, Bill Stuart, Lara Dixon, and Robin Crawley. End of statement.”
He sat back. It was done.
The four of them sat at the table, each with a porcelain bowl in front of them.
“I’m honored that he chose me. I just don’t know if I can do it.” Lara Dixon sat staring helplessly at the bowl, her eyes pinched in disgust at its contents.
“It’s horrible. And fascinating. And grotesque.” Robin’s hands gripped her chair tightly, knuckles white. “I mean I knew him. I spent decades working with him. Now I’m supposed to–” She shuddered.
“It’s a time sensitive process, ladies.” Bill gently chided them.
“What is the purpose of me being here? Can’t I just go home and grieve?” Edie Davis-Babineau sat trembling in her chair.
“It’s always your choice, Edie.” He reached across the table and grasped her hand. “But it’s what he wanted.”
She nodded, picked up her fork, and stabbed the pink piece onto her fork. She paused, looked at her tablemates, who were holding their own forks, and then slipped it into her mouth and chewed.
“Now we wait.”
Edie went home, slightly fuller, feeling sicker and very empty, broken hearted.
Lawrence was gone.
Her children had wanted to hover around her, to grieve in kind but she wanted to be alone. Alone with her thoughts. Alone with her memories. But most of all, alone so that she could begin the punishing process of forcing her heart to accept that she would be alone now forever. She knew she was being selfish. Her family needed her, but today she couldn’t be there for them, only herself.
Why wait to begin this prison of her heart? Better to get started so that the end came equally quickly.
Then it happened and she had a very good reason to be alone, was grateful for it.
Her mind was flooded with images, smells, tastes, she could hear his voice when he first asked her out, she could feel the touch of his lips at the end of that night. It fast forwarded, a lifetime of memories, shouted words and sweet caresses, the burn of betrayal, the joy of seeing their first born on her birthday.
She was overwhelmed and moved, crying from exhaustion, strained and contented.
It was her Lawrence, all of him, his memories his heart, his love. All of the things he felt for her, all of it seen through his eyes, she experienced it all as him.
Then it changed. She saw his mind, how it worked, its complexities, its simple pathways, his work, his drive, his mission, his progress and disappointments, his fears.
The cancer. She relived the horror of his sickness from his point of view, felt it wasting him away and then how it had stalemated in his body. Not leaving, but not growing anymore. In remission.
She felt him age, and saw his hair turn white, his eyebrows, his senses dulling, his eyes losing their sharpness, his love for his family, his grandchildren growing and his work, well, he had been right.
He had been so close.
Bill Stuart was in the shower when his own experience overwhelmed him and by the time the plethora of images had stopped, the water had grown cold.
He stood shivering under the power of it, unaware that all of his skin had become prickly cold all over over his body.
He knew what he had to do.
Lara Dixon and Robin Crawley entered the lab and found both Edie and Bill hard at work. Edie was furiously scribbling on a technolab and Bill was conferring with her notes, and then walking away to a table and mixing one substance into another. They didn’t ask what they needed to do, they just knew. They moved to their own stations and began their own work.
Finally, they turned to one another and a great collective sigh could be heard.
“We have done it.”
“Lawrence did it.” Edie whispered.
Indeed he had.