The Longevity Gene

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

This story was inspired by recent scientific studies of the naked mole rat.

It was so very LA. Along with stem cell softening for hair follicles (where studies showed hair growth in mice of all age groups) to Pootox. 

The idea of submerging in elephant dung or pecking his face with bird droppings did not seem particularly alluring to Keith. And being injected with botulism bacterium was also not a viable option out of the many life and health enhancing products available in 2033.

Keith was almost sixty three and although a bit tired and jaded, he was not quite ready to lay down and die. He still had his sustainable construction business to run. His heart was still brimming with passion.

Keith was not a vain man. It was not so much to try to look younger. He had let his hair go a natural silver grey and his work kept him in shape. He turned sideways in the mirror, sucking in his stomach, holding his strong shoulders square. 

Just to have some hope again. A better life ahead. An actual life. A new horizon. The divorce had hit him like a two by four coming out of nowhere and smacking him in the face.

'To enjoy the rest of your life, the best of your life.' 

Omnipresent ads of the laughing handsome men on the cyber-golf course, the shooting range and then moodily driving across a desert. The laughing menopause-swerving women clinking their glasses together, sipping, dipping at the fountain, with ageless pouty lips, not a chin hair in sight. 

Yet more cosmetic advancements? Had scientists discovered a way to wrestle with time and halt the seemingly inevitable withering of the physical body? Not exactly. However, with the use of laboratory rodents, they had learned how to slow down the decline of High Molecular Weight Hyaluronic Acid in the mammalian body. They had discovered the secret to advanced cellular rejuvenation, an enhanced immune system, anti-inflammation (such as in cases of arthritis) and cancer resistance. With further advances in neurogenesis and prevention of cardiorespiratory disease.

The idea appealed to Keith. Who would not want to live a longer life without the disadvantages of creaky joints, dodgy digestive systems, tumours and neurological degeneration?

Ok, so it was early days. Long term effects had not yet be studied. They did stipulate possible side effects such as hair loss and sensitivity to light. Yet it was gaining popularity across social media. Some of the influencers were talking of this new procedure. The Karcrashians were all having it done, apparently.

The treatment had been researched for over a decade. Initial experiments in exporting the longevity gene of the naked mole rat into mice showed the lifespan of the mice was extended by an average of 4.4 %. This gene was then transferred into other species of mammal and more recently, into primates, showing advanced cellular restructure, disease prevention and longer lives.

And if naked mole rats lived ten times as long as other rodents, Keith wanted some of what they had. 

Skydiving, horse riding, e-trekking along a mountain ridge, hand in hand with a lover, walking along a sandy beach as the eternal sunset cast its glow; the ads convinced Keith to go for it. A brief consultation and a few days at their London clinic sounded relatively simple....

Keith blinked into the mirror. Apart from the lack of hair, large protruding incisors and newly-found burrowing instincts, Keith felt the longevity gene implant had gone rather well. He pushed the mirror to one side with a short arm and began to rummage beneath the pillows. He kind of liked it beneath there in the dark. The nurse had told him he could go home that afternoon. To enjoy the rest of his life, the best of his life. "Thank you," he had chirped quietly, squinting at her myopically. He wondered if she was his new mate.

As he stretched out his limbs and his wrinkly tube-like body, Keith was surprised that his shirt no longer fitted him.

Submitted: August 29, 2023

© Copyright 2023 Michelle Blower. All rights reserved.

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Creative and rather funny. Side effects can be a bit daunting and unpredictable. An old adage comes to mind, "men going blithely places where Angels fear to tread"

Tue, August 29th, 2023 3:56pm

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