The Day We Become Immortal
A brief fictional portrait on the verge of this epochal change
7.12 AM — That morning I woke up earlier than usual, it was a common early-spring day around my area. The sun was shining, birds were tweeting and, sadly, I was already commuting, like every other Monday morning. I would have never thought that this would have been the day. On my way to work I've noticed a few groups of people standing in front of electronic stores, staring at TVs and similar appliances, as much as the usual horde of smartphone absorbed jaywalkers, nothing unseen before, I'd argue. My common route does not include any central area where news are broadcasted 24/7 on gigantic billboards, especially breaking-news. And that specific day I didn't feel like browsing news on my tablet, such a waste of a delightful radiant morning I've been blessed with. So, I missed it.
9.02 AM — As soon as I entered my office, a few colleagues approached me asking if I was aware that "today, at last, may be the day." At first, I thought that I may have missed some promotion-related news in the previous days, since I've been a bit absorbed in my thoughts lately. My guess couldn't have been more wrong! While giggling about my genuine unawareness they escorted me to the meeting room, the only room equipped with a TV. It was packed with people. I would have never thought that the whole team could have fit in it!
9.13 AM — The well known speaker from Channel 3 sounded so excited that regardless of a decade or so of experience in the field, he was stuttering like any other amateur on his first or second assignement.
"Her…he..here she com…yes, we can see her! The doors of the building are opening, I cannot believe it, it…it is, it's the day."
"The day the whole humanity has been waiting for, the day that changes everything."
"I would have never thought to be still alive when this day eventually came."
And there she is, now I can recognise her, now I understand all the excitement, trepidation and impatience. I've been following the sequence of events in the past weeks, but it is hard to believe in such a thing. Especially when considering that she looks identical as 15 days ago, when the world has seen her entering the futuristic clinic she owns. But you can see now, in her eyes, in her expression, in her extreme calmness and confidence. Something has changed. Forever.
Time is not an issue anymore.
Alexandra Zheng, visionary entrepreneur, writer, futurist and scientist, current CEO of Avvenire Corp., one of the most powerful and advanced biomedical company in the world, is standing there, cheering the crowd. After years of experimentation, first on animals, then on humans and finally on herself, she undertook the final stage two weeks ago. And apparently, she succeeded.
She is the first immortal human, the first ever eternal living being, as far as we know.
A few reporters have been allowed to pass through the presidential-like security task force, eager to be among the first ones to hear the feelings of this enhanced human.
9.20 AM — "Ms. Zhang, How does it feel to be immortal?" Blurted the reporter.
"Give me a few days to become accustomed and I will surely get back to your question. Anyway, I would rather be addressed as the Sempiternal, or the Perpetual."
Another reporter screamed: "What about the Deathless?"
Now she smirked.
"Allow me to say this, it definitely sounds less poetic. In any case I am aware of the conduct of the media, let's see with what elaborate neologism you will come up within the next few weeks."
After this witty remark, she greeted once again the acclaiming audience and left.
The media frenzy appeared to be unstoppable, definitely not without justification. The self proclaimed Perpetual did not appear publicly the day after (and for the following weeks). The day just after the revelation people appeared to be talking exclusively about how cool would be to be immortal, listing countless dubious ideas on how to get the most from a purported limitless time supply. Naivety and shadiness, along with total lack of rationality and teenag-y carelessness characterised most of these rather disturbing small talks.
It took more than two weeks for general media, news analysts and common citizens to start delving into more serious questions. A few prominent Swedish researchers unveiled a short excerpt of their soon-to-be-published paper titled: "Mid-Term Implications of Human Race Ageing Process Inversion." Despite not knowing yet the details of Ms. Zhang 'kind of immortality', whether it was an imperceptibly slow ageing process, a still one, or inverted, the paper revealed several worrisome previsions.
Among other issues, the research covered overpopulation exacerbation, retro-compatibility for terminally ill patients, affordability and finally scaling potential, intended as how and when it will be possible for common people to safely engage the process.
Two more papers, from a South American team and an Australian one, have brought under the spotlight further considerations regarding this unprecedented breakthrough. Few, if any, appear to be favorable. In addition to the previously published thoughts, the two groups observed that "immortality is a broad term and without any further clarification we can only assume that the ageing process is involved, or some DNA mutations have been implemented, such as telomeres intervention." Furthermore "the commercialisation and spread of such technique would certainly face ethical obstacles while religious entities around the world are already discussing the issue deemed as diabolic and against nature."
Following the nearly month-long silence and consequent absence of details concerning Ms. Zhang's actual conditions and the overall research material, a few minor media, backed by conspiratorial websites, are claiming that the whole thing may be a well orchestrated global-scale hoax.
Ms. Zhang's spokesperson announced that she will attend a worldwide-broadcasted conference within one week, where solely three select media representatives will be allowed to freely pose questions. Later that day the announcement followed through major social media channels revealing the exact day and the names of the designated journalists.
If the first day the widespread emotions were amazement and enthusiasm, today, incredulity and concern appears to have replaced them, toward expectations that have been partly disillusioned, until now. The whole human species is anxiously hoping for long-awaited clear, if not exhaustive, answers.
The live broadcast has started, Ms. Zhang appears in her infamous aseptic office, lacking that composure and poise of nearly 40 days ago, while commencing her speech.
"Dear humanity, I have not lied. Years of efforts and devotion involving myself in first person as experimental subject, have delivered results that we would have not believed possible just a few decades ago, science fiction-like."
"I, indeed, AM immortal, or however you want to define or label me. My team and I have slowed down and nearly stopped the human ageing process, although not yet inverted it, whilst not sure if achievable nor necessary or desirable, for now."
"I am the first subject among the human race, who has reached the unreachable, the unthinkable, the impossible. And here I am, standing in front of you"
"However, I, we may have underestimated, miscalculated or simply blindly neglected the aftermath, the colossal consequences of such a transformation."
"I am the one and only individual who is able to feel the burden of this unimaginable shift, every single aspect of human life —our life on earth— the only form of intelligent life we know as for now, revolves around death, the sole certainty that we have. We are finite creatures. But…"
"What if we are not?"
"During the past few weeks I had the time to discuss about my current condition with the brightest minds of my team, people involved in the project since its inception, trying to grasp any possible unforeseen trait."
"Furthermore, I had the opportunity to read a few papers concerned with my status, and I agree with nearly everything they claim. However, they haven't even uncovered the very tip of the iceberg. Nor have I."
"I have always been an extremely confident and ambitious person, as you may know. But today, or better said, since 40 days ago, that boastful security started to vanish, slowly, inexorably."
"The sudden empowerment that I felt during the first days, became quickly an overwhelming, recurrent sensation of inadequacy. Ultimately, it turned into a constant, unbearable malaise. Nothing that I may have ever conceived in the past, nothing that I wish anybody will ever experience."
"You may all feel deceived now, envious, angry, perplexed, incredulous, or even furious perhaps…but I am here in front of you now, humbly, even as the first super-human, the one who transcended what we are, the pioneer of eternal-life."
"I am here to admit that I am NOT ready."