Farewell

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If you are reading this, the human race is likely extinct. I am writing this in the hopes that someone, somewhere survived and will never make the same mistakes that we did. This is the beginning of the end of mankind.

It started long before I was born, with our obsession with technology. Gadgets are all well and good, but when you start using machines to tamper with nature itself, things start to get a little hairy. I, however, will start with when I got involved. It was two weeks after I saw my husband get shot and die.

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I walked into the local coffee shop; the same one I visited every morning on my way to work. I ordered my usual concoction. I think the name was Italian and about fifteen syllables long, but I don’t recall what it was right now. Mocha-something-something-chino I believe. All I remember is that it was delicious and cost a ridiculous amount of money for something that came in a plastic cup.

I walked over to my usual table and sat down to check my emails and drink my overpriced beverage. While responding to the third inane request for some piece of unimportant paperwork, a man sat down opposite me.

I looked up and my breath caught in my throat. It was my husband. The same husband who I watched die just a fortnight earlier. I gagged on my coffee flavored drink and ended up spraying some of it on his face.

“First, I want to apologize,” he starts, as calm as if he was talking about a cold front moving in from the west. “I know this hasn’t been easy on you and I never wanted to see you hurt.”

As I studied him I noticed something a little off. He didn’t look like he did two weeks ago, but more like when we first met five years previously, as if the last half a decade’s worth of aging had simply melted off. His crows feet weren’t as noticeable, and the dash of salt and pepper at his temples had vanished.

He saw me staring at him and smiled. “I have been watching you since they tried to kill me.”

“Tried?” I stammered. “They succeeded as near as I could tell.”

“Well, I suppose they did at that,” he said with a chuckle.

“How are you alive?”

“Do you remember what I told you about the project I’ve been working on?”

I paused to consider. As much as we loved each other, we had vastly different ideas about what was interesting. “The one with the tiny robots?”

“Yeah, that one. They’re called nanobots, and they’re more than just tiny. They’re so small that a single electron powers each one.”

I hoped he would get to the point soon. “What does that have to do with this?”

“Everything. They’re why I was killed and how I was brought back to life.”

I was stunned. Why would someone kill for a robot that small?

As if sensing my question he continued. “They are so small that they can manipulate matter on a microscopic level, rebuilding damaged tissue and bone with ease. When the ambulance picked me up, one of my assistants was inside with a syringe full of the little buggers.”

I couldn’t recall my husband ever using the word ‘buggers’, but I let it slide. “You have them inside you now?”

“Yeah, but my last full body scan was done just before we met, and since they are programmed to follow that map, they not only saved my life, but made my body younger. It even got rid of those first three gray hairs that you named Larry, Moe, and Curly.”

This whole situation was blowing my mind. I’d spent two weeks mourning the death of the man I loved, wondering if the police would find the bastard that shot him, and here he was, sipping a coffee and he hadn’t even bothered to tell me he was alive.

“Why now?” I asked.

“Excuse me?”

“Why come out of hiding and tell me all of this now? Why not two weeks ago while I was crying my eyes out and having nightmares about hidden gunmen?”

“I didn’t want to put you in danger. The fact that they shot me should tell you that they’re dangerous, and the less you knew, the less likely they would come after you, but somehow, they found out that I’m alive, and I need your help. You’re the only one I can trust.”

“What do they want?”

“The nanobots of course! The ability to keep someone alive through virtually any injury, and keep them from aging is the holy grail of medical science. It’s worth more money than you can imagine, possibly more money than actually exists.”

I was just starting to understand when a shot rang out, turning the left side of my husband’s head into something resembling ground beef.

I screamed. Everyone screamed.

Suddenly, a man in a hoodie was dragging me out the door. I was too stunned to fight back. I had just lost my husband twice in as many weeks.

Before I could get my bearings, I was in the back of a van. Once several blocks were behind us, the man revealed his face.

It was my husband.

Again.

“What the hell is going on?” I demanded.

“What did he tell you? I will explain everything, but you have to tell me what he said.”

I explained what happened in the coffee shop. I expected outrage, alarm, something. What I didn’t expect was the contemplative silence.

“Actually,” he said after some consideration, “that’s more or less accurate, except he wasn’t your husband, I am. He must’ve gotten hold of some of the nanobots in my blood and injected himself. That would explain why he was rebuilt in my image.”

“So that man will be alive again soon?”

“No, the nanobots are programmed not to touch the brain. The brain is far too complex to map so it’s not part of the programming, but everything else is fair game. Anyone with my nanobots in them will be transformed into a physical copy of me, though they will retain their own minds and memories.”

“How do I know you’re my real husband? That guy knew about Larry, Moe, and Curly.”

“I found that funny and told several people about it, but I remember that green negligee you wore on our honeymoon, and I remember what happened when it came off.” He whispered the details in my ear.

I blushed despite myself.

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We ended up at a motel on the east side of town, my husband frantic about the situation that was developing. If the nanobots were reprogrammed to destroy rather than repair, it could be worse than Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.

“I believe that the man who came to you in the cafe was none other than my assistant,” my husband said, “the same man who injected me in the first place. He came to you in the hopes that you could lead him to me.”

“Did you shoot him?” I asked.

“Absolutely not, but whoever did knew to aim for the head, which means that my lab is likely involved. It seems that we have been compromised. I have to find a way to stop the nanobots before this gets out of control.”

“What now?”

“Now we go somewhere I can work on the problem, somewhere safe,” he said, then kissed me.

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It turned out that no place was safe, and that they were already out of control I awoke the next morning feeling very unusual, and unable to find my husband. I walked into the bathroom to look in the mirror and found my his face looking back at me, and I wasn’t the only one. The news was reporting that everyone who’d been at the coffee shop when that man was killed had changed as well.

I searched for my husband but he was gone, and as far as I know, I haven’t seen him since, although I see his face everywhere I turn.

It took two weeks before the word ‘epidemic’ was flying around, and three months before that changed into ‘global pandemic.’ Six months later, there was no-one left who didn’t look like my husband.

It’s been five years and humanity has almost destroyed itself. With no biological females, there is no breeding, and since the nanobots don’t repair the brain, people are going more and more insane by the day. This is the curse that we’ve brought upon ourselves: Endless life without a mind capable of handling it. We are beyond saving, but I pray that somewhere, perhaps deep in the Amazon rainforest, there are still people who haven’t been affected. As I finish this account I am doing what many others have already done. I am loading a gun to destroy the only part of me that can’t be repaired.

Farewell. May God have mercy on us all.

 

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6 thoughts on “Farewell

  1. Awesome tale! Well paced, catches the attention at the beginning and holds it fast. Scary thought … how close could mankind get to this before they realized where they were headed and stopped? IF they would stop… Yep, definitely goooooood writing!

    • Thanks man. It’s been some time since I wrote this one, but if I remember rightly, this was inspired by a writing prompt, though I can’t recall what exactly it was. It actually didn’t start as an end of the world tale. I just ran with the idea and extinction was the natural end point once I saw where it was headed.

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