20 Years Later

I remember the day the news broke that they had found the cure for cancer. Of course, that’s just how the headlines appeared. They hadn’t really found the cure for cancer in extenso, but they had determined a relatively safe course of treatment that would, in essence, “turn off” cancer in a person’s body. What they didn’t realize, at the time, was how that would affect us in the long term.

See, what happens when you genetically modify a person’s cells to…

Forgive me. I have been so used to talking to myself lately, I sometimes go on at length when I don’t need to. You don’t need to hear from me what happens when you genetically modify a person’s cells, do you?

But you are wondering how this all played out. Well, after a few years they realized that being able to turn off cancer was a doorway into a whole new world of medicine. Fiddle with the process a little, target a different kind of cell structure and bingo! You’ve eliminated viruses. Everyone gets the shots, and suddenly no one dies of cancer or viral diseases anymore. Ever.

The results weren’t so obvious at first. See, it didn’t stop children from growing, so no one would have noticed if there hadn’t been such a dramatic drop in the birth rate. Even that was hard to spot – it took so long for everyone to be inoculated, and there were of course those people who refused, or who refused for their children. You get the idea.

But after a few years it was plain to see – something very bad had happened.

You might be asking at this point why we didn’t do an awful lot of trials and check everything very carefully before we went ahead. I’d like to tell you we had a good reason. We didn’t. Sometimes we are very, very careful, but then once in a while something takes hold and it just goes and we don’t stop. Happened with cars. With television. The internet. Vaccines.

Well, that was all twenty years ago. Aside from the hippies who held out against the shots, no one has had a child for at least fifteen of the last twenty years. I don’t have to tell you what that does to a population. You can see the evidence world round. No one aging and no one dying of diseases or old age, and no one being born. Once upon a time you might have thought it would take us a hundred years to fall apart. Not even close.

Anyway, that’s about all I have to say. I don’t have better answers than that. There aren’t many of us left here, so that’s why there was no resistance when you came. Believe me, I say with a tinge of irony – do you do irony where you’re from? – that you don’t have to worry that we were wiped out by a disease. Unless hubris can be called a disease.


Here’s the idea: Write for fifteen minutes, edit for five, and see what you come up with. Jon and I are trying it out for a while. Feel free to join the fun. This was my entry for tonight.

2 thoughts on “20 Years Later

  1. So I started reading this with a shrug — a lot of telling and a plot that wasn’t horribly horribly original — but then I saw who the narrator was speaking to. Nice swerve at the end! I like that!

    1. I felt exactly the same as I was writing it: “Gee, this is really not very original.” But as I worked through, the curveball kinda hit me from the right side of my brain.

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