Short Story: What Once was, is no More.

What Once was, is no More.

It began innocuously enough. Sometime in the early 2000s a group of scientists in a corporate lab, discovered a set of proteins and enzymes in the genetic code of the wide-spread lab-rat. Rattus Norvegicus, the common brown rat, had been used for innumerable studies in everything from psychology to cancer research. It was only then however, that their true power was unlocked.

Latent genes in R. Norvegicus showed promise for the wildest dreams of Humanity were they to be activated. Of course, this meant further understanding them. After hundreds of new rat generations, a proper sequence was compiled. What began then had no end, for how could it? How could one bring about an end to something ended, or worse still, something endless? Through those hundreds of generations of rats, the scientists shifted, their corporate masters changed, the research waxed and waned but ever carried-on.

The cure for all disease came first– human disease at least. How could one do such a thing? That would depend on the ailment. Then, how would one cure cancer, specifically, in an entire species? It seems an insurmountable task to even create a cure, let alone distribute it to an entire populous, I know, and it nearly was. But those higher-ups and their bright ideas found a way.

Despite mass-protests, riots, and burned cities, the world’s governments launched the first in a series of non-violent chemical-dispersals over their countries. Civil wars lasted days, until, with the help of the internet, the media-propaganda-machine took over. For once, an entity used solely for suppression of disparaging citizens, rose in defense to communicate a collective message of altruistic action, hope, astonishment. Mothers, daughters, fathers, sons, and other familial nomenclature, rose to chorus in unison that no longer did their knees ache, their joints creak, or their lungs burn.

In time, the riots died down, the embers of the burned cities extinguished. With the doused fires came news of cancers cured, Huntington’s, ALS– which even the great master, Hawking, praised– Parkinson’s, MS, even the common cold, and flu.

From there on no human was again afflicted by the ailments that had so long dogged our progress as a species. They still existed, as evidenced by scientists and their microscopes. Both heralded as kings, Gods among men, and their instruments respectively. For a time, to speak for the name of science, carry out its whims, and deign its inner-machinations was the greatest act any creature could see fit to take-up. In-time, even those zealots who’d ever-decried the discipline went silent.

Ah, but alas, a crucial law of that most wondrous discipline known as physics has wider-spread affirmations than any surmised. There is a law, one nearly older than time itself at this point; each action must have an equal, inverse reaction. The positive to the negative, yin to the yang, the life to death– or perhaps that is no longer apt. Of course, digressing as I may, we found we’d approached a cataclysm– a singularity of human hubris.

This event began with the loss of biological warfare. In and of itself, when executed by humans, it was not a fitting act for such intellects as our. As such, its loss in the world hardly seemed an issue. It was a good thing. Now, not only were we humans cured of our ailments, but we were unaffected by them. We were steel of stainless stature in the face of oxidation. The breath in our lungs un-threatened by the toxins in our air. We might have collectively inhaled in the very vacuum of space, so enlarged were our heads.

Would that we had! Oh woe is us. For you see nature– science’s harsh master, mistress– is a fickle thing. She is the yin to its yang, the positive to its negative.

As relayed, the cataclysm began with the loss of biological warfare. But it was not ours loss that threatened the world. Rather, it was hers. A little overlooked fact by those Godly men– those scientists whose lives it was to study, understand, and harness Mother Nature– a simple fact. Some called it growth, others progress, the once God-King himself Darwin, called it evolution.

Evolution! How could we have misled it? Without humans dying to disease or fighting to cure it, plagues came faster, more numerous. They ravaged our world. But what did we care? We were invulnerable. Those chemical-dispersals had rewritten our DNA, made us more rat than man, woman, or child could ever want to be. The very fabric of our nature had been changed, our sight destroyed.

Mass-extinctions killed off species in the millions– perhaps billions– at a time. Plagues, epidemics, pandemics ravaged our world with such death it became contaminated. World governments scrambled, corporate interests toppled, scientists hanged, answer-less.

Once more, riots, civil-war, death. Then… that most frightful of ideas! Oh woe is us, how could we have ever thought it? But how could we not? The rats were dead, as were the birds, the fish. We had no cattle or meat, barely enough plant-life. We had no options! We were choice-less to the machinations of cause and effect, spurned by our own mistakes, our existence bulldozed to the precipice of extinction as our world withered around us.

Another chemical-dispersal, came quickly, contained something so heinous I beg not to think it.

No-one wished for immortality. For who could? Who could look so fondly upon themselves and inconsiderately thrust title of God upon them-self? Who could so desire an eternity, waiting for nothing more than the heat-death of the universe? Why could we not stop to consider the simple pleasures in the act of danger, hunger, sorrow– for if we do not die, and we are all that is left, where then do those great virtues come from?

We may fair seas that are slowly drying, and rise through skies whose colors shift as the atmosphere dies, but what of them? Should we not care? Perhaps. But we, collectively, do not. Though we may begin the fairing of space with time as our only guide, and the hope that we might find a place, or a cure for our damnation, we know of no fear, no exhilaration, no anxiety. For now we can withstand an inhale in the vacuum of space, the destruction of our ship upon it vastness. And our only angst in such an event wake? That we might drift ever-more through the Great-Beyond.

What we may embark upon in the future, no one knows. We care not. For what once was, is no more. We have no death, no fear, but neither doe we have no peace, love, serenity. We’ve no eponymous downs to give the rising ups their meaning. We have but one, atrociously-long life. We have no goal but to await the Big-Crunch, and perhaps, our own, eventual ends. But then again, perhaps not. Our lives’ only end is so far beyond us that we are lost. Without it’s threat, what goals could man, woman, or child have will to accomplish? We do not know. For that matter, perhaps we never will. For what once was, is no more, and neither are we.

– Departure Speech of Captain Ramius Severus; First Drifter-Class vessel of the Earth Fleet.

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