In the year 2049, the ultimate discovery in science was made: The cure for death itself. Two years later, the honeymoon was over.
Johnny McFutureman woke up on a Tuesday, as he was wont to do, and prepared himself for another day of work. He was only thirty, but was feeling so very old. He worked in a razor blade factory. It was his job to measure the blades and make sure they were neither too long nor too short.
In the years since death had been cured razor blades had become very popular. In fact, pretty much everything that used to cause problems for people was popular. Guns were sold as toys. Overdosing on drugs was a game at parties. People no longer cared about the environment because no matter what happened to it, humans would prevail. Warning labels appeared on nothing. Even pain, which had once served to warn the body of potential hazards, was now loved, because those hazards meant nothing.
Johnny was unhappy with the state of things. Scientists had cured death on the very day he had planned to kill his ex-girlfriend then himself. Now he had to live forever and there was nothing he could do about it.
So, this day, Johnny went to work and decided to lash out. He carved a hole in his bosses head with a drill. He pushed a secretary down two flights of stairs, then jumped on top of her. He punched his fist completely through the abdomen of a security guard. Also, he drove a forklift into some babies that happened to be nearby. For all of this, he was sent home for the day.
It was on the way home that Johnny noticed a big commotion at the local apothecary (as drug stores shall be known in the future). Curiosity got hold of him and Johnny went to check out what was all the fuss.
It turned out that a new form of birth control had been developed. In a world where people don’t die, the desire to create new people is greatly lessened and as such people loved birth control. Even the mass exodus of people who had flown into orbit then got out to try to float to Mars was not enough to keep the population down.
So this crowd had gathered to check out the new form of birth control, which, oddly enough, was a helmet (available in five fashionable styles!) that was to be worn for a few hours before copulation. Reaction to this new device was mixed at first, its unconventional nature threw people off. Men generally liked it though, because that way if they were on a date with a woman in such a helmet, they felt confident they would get some that night. And with pluses like that and keeping babies from being made, people eventually came to love them helmets.
Johnny didn’t like them, however. At first it didn’t matter to him (a guy with violent tendencies like him can usually find a woman, but Johnny was still obsessed with his ex, so he got none) but over time he came to notice that people who used the helmet started acting strange. For example, all the young promiscuous people in Johnny’s neighborhood had suddenly decided that it was cool to support burning the rainforests to make room for tax offices.
That was the first clue that led Johnny to the realization that the government was using the helmets to mentally control the population!
One day, it was the third of a month though it is unimportant which month, Johnny ran up and down the streets trying to convince people that the government was messing with their minds, but any time someone listened their programming took over and they called for the police. And in the future, police have skycycles, so they come quick.
So Johnny kept running and the police kept coming and he kept screaming to nobody who would listen. It was all very sad.
When Johnny went to work the next day, he set some guy on fire, but the guy didn’t mind, so nobody sent Johnny home. As it happened it was payday, so Johnny took his check and went to the video store where he rented a movie about some Kung Fu-using Doctors (in the future such films make up a popular genre called Meditial Arts Films). He thought the film was mediocre and wished, not for the first time, that he had been able to kill himself (and his ex).
Four Hundred and Seventy-Two years later Johnny was waking up and getting ready for work when there was a knock at his door. It turned out that the government had taken control of eighty percent of the population by this point and they were now going door to door trying to convince people to use the helmets. Johnny said he didn’t want to do so. The door-to-door helmet guy told Johnny that it would be cool. Johnny still didn’t want to.
The government agent asked Johnny what it would take to get him into the helmet. Johnny said that the only thing he wanted… was death.
The visitor had no response for that, so he left.
During all this Johnny’s ex-girlfriend had become a swimming instructor. She had popularized the method of drowning kids repeatedly until the kids stopped caring that they were drowning and would just shut up and swim. One day she was on her way home when Johnny approached her on a dark street.
Having not seen Johnny in a long time, she did not recognize him. This came as a brutal shock to Johnny, who was obsessed with her. Inside, this made him realize what a waste his life was (even though he was always depressed about that, he never really realized it). This acceptance made Johnny sober up and decide to start living once more. It was that same day that the government just started putting their mind-control chemicals into the air and they got Johnny under their spell. A thousand years later, that government was still going strong.
Patrick D Ryall, the D is for Gourd
Originally presented on Contains2 Tuesday 29 November 2005