Each Tuesday, rather than a POSSIBLY IRRITATING ESSAY, I'd like to both challenge you and lend a helping hand. I generate more speculative and teen story ideas than I can ever use. My family rolls its collective eyes when I say, "Hang on a second! I just have to write down this idea..." Here, I'll include the initial inspiration (quote, website, podcast, etc.) and then a thought or two that came to mind. These will simply be seeds -- plant, nurture, fertilize, chemically treat, irradiate, test or stress them as you see fit. I only ask if you let me know if anything comes of them.
Current Event: “…theorize that the nuclear war destroyed the afterlife…”, “…some people...have studied and manipulated The Dark to such an extent that they've become functionally immortal…”
Functional immortality: “Research suggests that lobsters may not slow down, weaken, or lose fertility with age, and that older lobsters may be more fertile than younger lobsters. This longevity may be due to telomerase, an enzyme that repairs long repetitive sections of DNA sequences at the ends of chromosomes, referred to as telomeres. Telomerase is expressed by most vertebrates during embryonic stages but is generally absent from adult stages of life. However, unlike vertebrates, lobsters express telomerase as adults through most tissue, which has been suggested to be related to their longevity. Despite internet memes, lobsters are not immortal. Lobsters grow by molting which needs a lot of energy and the larger the shell the more energy, eventually the lobster dies from exhaustion during a molt. Older lobsters are known to stop molting which means the shell will become damaged, infected, or fall apart and they die.”
Juana de Forlán shook herself hard, took a deep breath and said, “I can feel the synthetic lobster juice in me…”
Shaking his head, Koegathe Melamu, “You can’t possibly feel a hundred milliliters of a transparent liquid in your...”
“I know that!” Juana exclaimed. She shook her arms, “My head knows it, but my body says otherwise.” She took a deep breath, shuddering. “I feel like I’m getting younger by the moment.”
“It’s not an elixir of youth! If it worked the way we thought it should, the telomerase will let your cells keep dividing – more or less forever. But it’s not going to make you younger.”
She held out both of her hands, palms up, and said, “Might as well. I’m gonna live forever!”
Koegathe shook his head, saying, “Maybe – but we have no idea what the long-term effects of living forever as a lobster might be.” They both laughed, but after a few minutes, Koegathe reigned his mirth in when he noticed the pitch of his voice had been climbing. He took a deep breath then said, “Maybe that wasn’t as funny as it sounded.”
She shrugged, suddenly feeling light-headed.
"What's wrong?" Koegathe said, stepping toward her.
"I think I'm going to..." It seemed like the world around her rushed into a single dot of focused, bright light. Everything else was dark around her. The point of light remained steady for some time -- she wasn't sure how long because her *-sense of time was abruptly gone. Then the light moved toward her. She might have been moving toward the light. It didn't make any difference. It might have taken time. It might have happened instantaneously, she had no idea.
Once the light grew around her, she found herself standing on solid ground of pearly white. In a throne of the same pearly substance, there sat a being. She knew that it was Death. There was certainly some kind of harvest implement laying on the ground beside the throne, though it looked more like a silver weed whacker. Death didn't wear a robe, it -- he? -- wore solid work clothes, more or less like a technician in a computer manufacturing plant, though he didn't have a mask or gloves. He did have protective goggles pushed up on his head. Black, well-trimmed, wavy hair made it look like he was wearing a cap. The name badge clipped to his collar read, "Greaper".
"Cute," Juana said. "You're the Grim Reaper?" She rolled her eyes as only a young woman who grew up in the booming first two decades of the 21st Century could.
He lifted a leg to drape it over the arm of the throne and said, "You've presented me with a problem I've never faced before, young lady."
"You're dying -- but you are functionally immortal -- and I have no idea what to do with you."
Names: ♀ Uruguay; ♂ Botswana