Charlotte sits at her desk.
There is a knock at the door.
Charlotte: Come in!
I walk through the door using crutches and sit down.
Charlotte: John Evans?
John: Yes that’s me unfortunately.
Charlotte: Why do you say unfortunately?
John: Because if I wasn’t John Evans I wouldn’t have a broken leg.
Charlotte: And you live at flat 3A Church Street, Manchester?
Charlotte: That’s a coincidence. I live in 2B, just below you. I’ve never seen you before.
John: Yeah that’s because on the day I moved in I fell down the stairs and broke my leg. I’ve been living with my parents since then but I’m going back home tonight.
Charlotte: Ouch that’s unlucky… Ok let me have a look at your leg.
I role up my pants and charlotte examines my leg
Charlotte: How long ago did they take the cast off?
John: A few days ago.
Charlotte: Can you stand on it?
John: Yeah I can stand on it but it really hurts.
Charlotte: Yeah that’s ok it will get better in time. Just keep trying to walk on it but don’t overstrain yourself.
John: Ok I can do that.
Charlotte: Right, I think we are done here, Get the receptionist to make an appointment for another 2 weeks.
I stand up and get ready to leave.
John: Ok well I’ll see you at home then.
Charlotte: Ok bye!
I walk out of the door but then a few seconds later I come back in.
John: The receptionist isn’t there.
Charlotte: She must have gone home, we're running a bit late. I’m just on my way out as well.
John: Yeah I was going to say about the 2 hour wait.
John: I wanted to ask the receptionist if she could call me a taxi. My phone battery is dead too.
Charlotte: I could give you a lift.
John: Are you sure?
Charlotte: Yeah I’m sure; you’re my next door neighbour.
John: I don’t know about getting into a car with a strange woman I’ve never met before… umm ok.
Charlotte: Just give me a few minutes to finish off here and then we can go.
We arrive at home and I reach into my pocket.
John: Charlotte, I can’t seem to find my keys.
Charlotte: Did you have them then you left your parents’ house?
John: Yeah I defiantly had them then otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to get in here earlier. I think I must have dropped them at the hospital or something.
Charlotte: Do you want to come to mine and I can call the maintenance guy to come and let you in?
John: Oh thank you! That would be brilliant… and thanks again for the lift.
Charlotte: It’s the least I can do. I’m not the kind of person who would just leave someone when I could easily help.
John: Yeah I’m the same way usually. Just when I need help there’s never usually anyone around.
Charlotte: Well I’m here this time.
John: I know and I’m very grateful!
We both go into Charlottes flat.
I sit down on the couch and start searching though my pockets for the keys.
Charlotte goes into her bedroom to change out of her work clothes.
Charlotte: Do you have any plans for tonight?
John: No just sitting in front of the TV watching the new Iron man 3 DVD I bought today.
I find my keys and immediately hide them from view.
John: You got any plans for tonight?
Charlotte: Well I was going to call this guy I’ve been seeing and…
Before Charlotte can finish her sentence I interrupt.
John: Oh god I’m sorry I’ll go and then you can get on with your evening.
Charlotte: No it’s ok. I was going to say before I was interrupted that I was going to call him and tell him I don’t want to see him again.
John: Oh whys that?
Charlotte: All he seems to want is sex every time I see him. He just touches me and paws at me all the time and I don’t like that. Although that’s what most men do with me so I’m not surprised.
John: Now that’s not right. Someone as nice and sweet as you should be treated with the proper respect.
Charlotte enters the room holding a Blu-ray disk of Iron man 3
Charlotte: Aww thank you John.
John: You got Iron man on Blu-ray?
Charlotte: Yeah I’m a bit of a nerd. I love Sci-Fi.
John: That’s great because I do too.
Charlotte puts the disk into the Blu-ray player and sits back on the couch.
John: So you got any plans for the weekend?
Charlotte: I’m taking going with my sister to the hospital.
John: Oh is she ok?
Charlotte: Yeah she’s fine. She’s just getting artificially inseminated.
John: Oh, fertility problems? That’s a shame. I wish her luck.
Charlotte: No, well yeah. She had ovarian cancer when she was a teenager and if she doesn’t have a kid now she never will.
John: Oh right that makes sense.
Charlotte: Do you think it’s wrong that I’m a little bit against it?
John: Whys that?
Charlotte: Well there are a few reasons. She’s 23, she’s only just finished vet school and she’s not got a job yet. She still lives at home and she’s just got though a Goth phase so she’s hardly ideal mothering material.
John: Well I suppose the career and independence thing will come in time and there’s nothing really wrong with being a Goth.
Charlotte: You wouldn’t be saying that if you saw her a few months ago. She had pins everywhere and answered every question with “Why does it matter we’re all going to die anyway”.
John: Yeah I see your point.
Charlotte: Its weird seeing her now she’s gone from Wednesday Adams to Kate Sugden off Emmerdale in less than 3 months.
Charlotte: Then of course there’s the fact that the babies will never know their father. I know what that’s like and it’s not a nice thing for a kid to have to deal with. I suppose in the end she’s my sister and I have to support her whatever.
John: Your dad not around then?
Charlotte: Well my dad is. The only dad I’ve ever known, my step dad. My natural father was an American navy guy called John Jackson who my mum had a 1 night stand with.
John: Did you ever try and find him. It should be easy since they would have kept records of all his comings and goings.
Charlotte: Yeah we tried when I was 10. No records of a John Jackson anywhere. Well there was but he was a white guy and a pilot. He must have given a false name. Hey I’ve just realised we’ve been talking and we haven’t called for the maintenance guy.
John: Do you want me to go?
Charlotte: No I wouldn’t have put the film on if I wanted you to go. I’m just saying you better do it before it gets late.
John: That’s good because I wouldn’t mind staying a bit longer. I’m really enjoying your company.
Charlotte: Yeah I’m enjoying yours as well. I’m not usually this intense with somebody I’ve only just met.
John: Well enough with the intensity lets watch the movie.
One and a half years later.
Charlotte is blindfolded as we walk into the registry office.
Her sister Jessica is with us.
Charlotte: John where are we? Can I take this blindfold off now?
John: Ok I’m almost ready but before I take off the blindfold I want you to know that I love you and know that you will react in one of two ways to what your about to find out. Your either going to think I’m the most wonderful man in the world and throw your arms around me and squeeze me until I pop or you’re going to be very angry with me for doing this to you.
Charlotte: Ok, I don’t like the sound of this.
John: I am expecting the first reaction.
I get down on one knee and produce a ring from my pocket.
John: Ok you can take the blindfold off now.
Charlotte removes the blindfold.
John: Will you marry me? Now, I don’t think I can wait any longer.
Charlotte looks around.
Charlotte: John, where are we?
John: Registry office, are you mad at me?
Charlotte: No I’m not mad and of course I’ll marry you but I want to marry you properly with my family here.
John: It’s ok I understand. I just thought we could have like our own secret ceremony and do it again for everybody else later. I’m sorry.
Jessica: Just so you know I told him this was a bad idea.
Charlotte: No it wasn’t a bad idea it was very nice it’s just I’m not up for it.
I stand up
John: I do have another little surprise for you.
Charlotte: Oh god I’m almost afraid to ask what it is.
Jessica: No this one’s a nice 1 I promise you.
John: I found your father. He’s come all the way from Canada to see you get married.
Charlotte: What? How?
John: You remember I found that people finding company and the lady came on your birthday and asked you questions and took a DNA sample.
Charlotte: Yeah, how did she find him when we couldn’t find him when I was 10?
Jessica: His names Jack Johnson, he’s originally from New Orleans, he has 2 other kids, Carla and Jake. When he left the navy he moved to Canada and now he owns a hotel there.
John: Do you want to meet him?
Charlotte: Yes of course I do!
Charlotte runs down the aisle to where a black man is sitting.
The organ starts to play and I signal for it to stop.
Charlotte: Jack Johnson?
The man turns and shakes his head. Jack, Jake and Carla are sitting at the back of the room.
Jack: I think the guy you want is me.
Charlotte walks over to Jack.
Charlotte: Hi… I think I’m your daughter.
Jack: I think I’m your father, and I’ve come all this way to see you get married.
Charlotte: Yeah, John kind of just sprung all this on me so I don’t think that’s going to happen now, at least not today.
Carla and Jake: We told him it was a bad idea.
Jack: Well I thought it was a good idea, which is why I helped him plan it.
Jack puts his arms around Charlotte.
Jack: Do you love John?
Charlotte: Of course I do, even when he does stupid things like this.
Jack: Well marry him then! You know that boys put a lot of effort into arranging all this. He obviously loves you very much and I would be proud to have him as a son in law, and besides that I’ve flew all this way to see a wedding.
Carla: Marry him Charlotte.
Charlotte: Ok then it looks like I’m getting married!
Charlotte rushes over to me and puts her arms around me.
John: Ahh, Charlotte I can’t breathe!
Thirty-five years later and I am in a lab at the university working on a project.
Jessica’s daughter Alex is helping me.
After carefully assembling the machine, I plug it in and switch it on.
Almost immediately smoke starts coming out from under the casing.
John: Oh no!
Alex: I think you should have used the 50K resister John, and not the 5K.
John: Well we know that now!
Alex: I’ve been telling you all day!
I clutch my chest in pain.
Alex: Are you alright?
John: Yeah it’s just indigestion and stress. I don’t know why I’m even bothering with a master’s degree at my age. I’m 64! When my grandparents were this age they were retired and looking forward to dying. I’ve got to stick at it for another 10 years!
Alex: Just keep going your almost there. Besides do you really want to spend the last 10 years of your career teaching high school students?
John: No defiantly not! So how’s your work going?
Alex: Very slowly! I don’t think we can get the interface any better than it already is.
John: Well for me it can’t get much worse. Remember last night when we were playing that star wars game and I cut your arm off.
Alex: I thought you meant to do that.
John: It’s all these new updates, it used to be alright then it started to get worse as they kept updating everything. Me and Charlotte were in Jill’s bar talking to Carla and…
Alex: Jill’s bar that’s for young students not for old fogies like you guys.
John: I am a student, and my avatar is 25 so I think I qualify.
Alex: Ok well I have to go now; I’ve got a date tonight.
I clutch my chest again.
Alex: You sure you’re alright?
John: Yes you go have fun!
Alex: Ok bye!
Alex starts to walk away when I fall to the ground in pain.
Alex rushes back to help me.
Alex: John! John!
John: Actually now that you mention it I’m not feeling too good at all. I think you’d better call an ambulance.
A few days later I am on a hospital ward. I am recovering from heart surgery.
It’s visiting time and Charlotte arrives with my daughter Kelly who is 34, my son James who is 30 and Kelly’s son Jason who is 16.
Kelly: Hey dad how are you feeling?
John: Absolutely terrible! I hope I never have to go through anything like that again.
Jason: Well you won’t if you stop eating the fatty foods granddad.
James: Yeah dad you need to take this as a bit of a warning.
John: Yes doctor I’ll bare that in mind. So how has everybody else spent their day?
Charlotte: Usual stuff, just dealing with patients all day.
James: Same here just patients and stuff.
Jason: School for me all day.
Kelly: Cutting hair mostly. Apart from a juicy bit of gossip from an old lady about the next door Neighbour murdering her husband.
John: Oh yeah?
A few minutes go by and then Kelly, James and Jason decide that they have to leave.
Kelly: Bye dad!
Jason: Bye granddad.
James: Dad remember what I said you need to start taking care of yourself.
John: Yes I know, I’ll see you later.
James: Bye dad! I know no matter what I say you’ll do what you want.
Kelly, James and Jason leave the hospital.
John: I will try you know.
Charlotte: Yes I know you will.
John: I wish I could just upload myself now then I wouldn’t have to worry about all this medical crap.
Charlotte: I was going to say something about that. I think we should do it now.
John: No we can’t do it now, we haven’t got enough money. And if we do it now we might live another 30 years and then we would have to spend more money and do it again.
Charlotte: I did some research and if we only pay for the scan and the storage and none of the other stuff the money Jack left us should just about cover it.
John: But we were going to use that money to have some fun in our twilight years. It seems silly to throw it away right now. In a couple of years we…
Charlotte interrupts and starts to cry.
Charlotte: In a couple of years you could be dead and I could be on my own! Last week was the worst day of my life! Like James says that was a warning. I thought I was going to lose you and I won’t let you do that to me again!
John: Ok point taken, I’ll think about it.
Charlotte: No you won’t think about it you’ll do it!
I am in the scanning machine and a nurse is explaining to me what will happen next.
Nurse: The first thing you will be aware off is that you are in a kind of black space. You won’t be able to move or speak or anything. Once your brain has learned to control your Ghost body you can talk to your family or whoevers present at the switch on. The amount of time this will take varies from person to person so we can’t tell you how long this will take. You can and will only be activated after your physical bodies death so this could be in the far future or it could be as soon as tomorrow. You are also only aloud 1 Ghost at a time and 1 backup so you can’t run 2 copies of yourself…
I wake up in a blank room in the virtual world surrounded by my family’s avatars.
John: WOW! Now that was a trip and a half… What are we doing here? I wanted to see what you all look like. How longs it been?
Charlotte: 30 years.
John: Well everybody seems to be here, Charlotte, Kelly, Jason, Alex and who are these 3?
I point at my grandchildren.
Charlotte: These are James kids, Sarah, Steven and Martin.
John: Nice to meet you all.
Sarah, Steven and Martin: Hey Granddad!
John: So James finally found himself a girl then. Where is he? Off doctoring I suppose.
Charlotte: We’ve got some bad news.
Charlotte starts to cry and Kelly comforts her.
Kelly: Its ok mum.
John: What happened? Is it the shock of seeing me?
Kelly: Dad James died… He was only 60. It was a heart attack.
John: Oh no that’s awful. A heart attack? Last time I saw him he gave me such a hard time after my heart attack. Just wait until I see him.
Jason: He’s dead granddad.
Alex: No Ghost.
John: Oh no that’s bad… I can’t believe it. I know I don’t seem over emotional right now but that’s because I’m still adjusting. What else has been happening over the past 30 years?
Alex: I think before we tell you anything else we should probably explain about the rules you have to follow.
John: There are rules for immortality? Sounds interesting.
Alex: Well firstly you’re slightly out of sync with the real world and…
I interrupt Alex.
John: That would explain the chipmunk voices... Sorry you carry on.
Alex: We bought you a robot body but you can’t go outside in it unless one of us is with you. There are even some places in the virtual world you can’t go or access. As a Ghost your now classed as property and there is a lot of cyber terrorism and prejudice against Ghosts. Also there is a time limit of 127 years on how long any uploaded person can live. After that time you are automatically deleted. Any inappropriate or illegal behaviour in either the virtual world or the real world has a maximum penalty of deletion.
John: Sounds heavy.
Alex: It is and there is even a legal system in the virtual world to make sure you obey the rules.
John: Virtual police?
Alex: It’s more of a cast system.
Child class is the cast given to children who access the virtual world. They are limited in that they cannot access certain games, information or use of over 18 social networking.
Standard class is given to everyone upon reaching the age of 13 the amount of privileges you have access to increases with age up until age 21 when you can access everything the virtual world. In standard class you have the power to block people from interacting with you and access to your child’s avatar and information.
Councillor classis given to anybody who volunteers to complete a training course. Technically they have no actual powers or privileges above Standard class. They are used as moderators in civil and domestic disputes.
Enforcer class is the cast which enforces the laws of the virtual world. Enforcers are given this cast after proving themselves worthy and of upstanding character and completing a tough testing procedure to the satisfaction of a group of 5 Administrators. They have the power to block people from accessing parts of the virtual world pending judgment from Administrators. Any abuse of power results in permanent downgrading to Standard cast. The minimum age for an Enforcer is 40.
Administrators are in charge of making sure everything is in check and deciding on punishments for crimes. Administrators are given this cast after proving themselves worthy and of upstanding character after a minimum of 20 years as an Enforcer and completing a tough testing procedure to the satisfaction of a group of 20 Administrators.
John: Interesting! So do people get paid for this?
Alex: Not in actual money. It’s more of a volunteer based system, but you do get more privileges based on your cast.
John: Oh right well I’ll have to read up on all this.
Kelly: Dad we’re going to go now. I know you need time to adjust and mum needs a break.
John: No don’t go.
Everyone disappears leaving me on my own.
John: I still have questions? Where have you gone? Don’t leave me here!
Charlotte and I have lunch in a virtual café.
John: Charlotte you have to promise me that you will never do that to me again!
Charlotte: I’m sorry it’s just we were all a bit shocked to see you. We had just got back from seeing your body and we were all a bit upset as well.
John: It was still scary, just to be left like that. Hey I’ve just realised your speaking with a young voice. Why aren’t you speaking like a 93 year old lady?
Charlotte: Oh Brain Computer Interface technology has moved on since you were scanned. Now instead of just using our brains to control avatars, we can actually feel things and move as if we are actually there with no need for gloves of a body suit.
John: Wow that’s amazing. I wish I felt like I was actually here. I’m a little bit worried that I’m not actually feeling things the way I should. Have you noticed any difference?
Charlotte: Not really! In fact you seem more yourself than you’ve been in a long time.
John: Maybe I’m just looking too much into things. When you were crying earlier why didn’t I rush to comfort you? And James death I should be crying my eyes out right now. This is not me at all.
Charlotte: John it’s to be expected. You just recovered from having your brain go through a blender it’s only natural that you don’t feel like yourself. Of course you must have feelings otherwise you wouldn’t be so worried about not having them.
John: Yeah you’re right.
Charlotte: I’m just happy I can actually have a coherent conversation with you again. Towards the end you got really confused.
John: Whys that?
Charlotte: You had Alzheimer’s.
John: I thought they would have cured that by now.
Charlotte: They have except you were the one in a million who didn’t respond to the treatment.
John: Is that why I never updated my scan?
Charlotte: Yeah we had them done on our 80th birthdays, which is when we found out. We decided not to scan you after the diagnosis but we had already done mine. So you’re going to have to explain all this to my Ghost when she’s activated.
John: I can do that and I promise I won’t scare the crap out of her like you did with me.
Charlotte: I’ve said I’m sorry! Hey there’s another thing. Oh you’ll never forgive me if I don’t tell you this.
John: What is it?
Charlotte: The space agency has built a few bases on the moon and mars and that they found some bones and a few ancient artefacts buried on mars.
Charlotte: I’m actually surprised that there isn't more happening about this subject. At the time when the discoveries were made there was a lot of publicity and excitement but in the present it’s kind of a taboo subject.
John: That’s amazing! Do you think there’s some sort of…
Charlotte’s avatar starts buzzing and squeaking.
John: Charlotte I think there’s something wrong with your avatar. Charlotte? Charlotte!
Charlotte and I are attending our funeral. Each of our relatives give a speech about our lives whist we watch from a robot body.
In the virtual world Charlotte is upset and I am comforting her.
John: Well this is nice. Everyone is paying such nice tributes.
Charlotte: It doesn’t feel like our funeral to me it’s more like James funeral.
John: I don’t know how I feel anymore. I guess I’m still not over my initial activation. It’s like I’m watching all this on some TV show.
Charlotte: My baby’s dead! I can feel that!
John: I know and it’s awful but we have to carry on and look to the future. Otherwise all this will be for nothing.
Charlotte: Our lives living with Alex.
John: I still don’t get why we don’t live with Kelly or 1 of our grandchildren. We should be spending our last few years getting to know them.
Charlotte: It makes more sense. Alex lives on her own and could do with the company and she’ll have more time for us. Kelly has enough on her plate with her husband and newly divorced 45 year old son living with her. As for the other grandchildren they don’t even know you and last time I saw them there were only baby’s.
John: Yeah I admit it does sound like a better arrangement.
Charlotte: And besides that Alex is like a daughter to you.
John: No I don’t see that. She’s more like a mate than anything. Apart from that she’s technically older than me now so that makes no sense at all.
Charlotte: What?! You practically raised her from a baby. Ever since she was 5 years old you and her were always up to all sorts in that shed. You taught her everything you know and you worked together for 10 years.
John: Well she’s my best mate then!
Charlotte: You are the only father figure she’s ever known.
John: Ok maybe I am but I want to make it clear there has to be a distinction between how I was with her and how I was with Kelly otherwise…
I stop myself mid-sentence.
John: I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to bring that up, especially not now.
Charlotte: No its ok, we can’t just pretend it didn’t happen. It is part of our past.
John: So let’s look to the future. We have exactly 34 years of life left and I intend to enjoy them.
Charlotte: What do you have in mind?
John: Play games, party, spend time with the grandchildren, anything and everything that this virtual world has to offer as long as it’s fun!
It’s New Year’s Eve 2099. The whole family are celebrating in the virtual world by competing in specially created virtual games for the New Year.
We are taking a break from the games to see in the New Year.
John: WOW that was fun!
Charlotte: Yeah baby!
John: Who won that one?
Martin: I did!
Sarah: How many points?
Sarah: Oh so close I got 254.
Alex: So what’s next?
Kelly: It’s New Year! Wooooh!
Charlotte: Your Aunt Carla wants to make a speech.
Jason: What’s that about?
John: Well if everybody would be quiet we’ll find out! Go ahead Carla.
Carla: Thank you John! Hi everybody thanks for inviting me for the New Year’s Celebrations. I know I haven’t exactly kept in touch with you all since my dad died. Things have been really difficult for me since I died. My own family, my kids, who I raised, have disowned me. They said I wasn’t their mother anymore… but you guys, my family from across the pond were there for me. You took me in when nobody else would and I want to thank you all for that.
Everyone claps and cheers.
Carla: I’m not done yet! I’m not done yet!
Charlotte: Everybody shhhhh!
Carla: This decision hasn’t been an easy one for me to make. After midnight I’m going to delete myself.
Everyone speaks at the same time trying to convince Carla not to delete herself.
Carla: I’ve given this a lot of thought. Honestly it what I want to do. There isn’t much for me now. You guys have been great, you really have. I’ve had a long life and now it’s time for me to go.
John: You’ve only been a Ghost for a few months. Come on just give it a year or even another few months. I’m sure you’ll feel better.
Charlotte: You can’t die you’re the only sister I’ve got left!
Carla: I know and I’m sorry but if I don’t go now I’ll just be miserable and I can’t bare it anymore.
John: Are you sure this is what you want?
Jason: One minute to midnight everybody!
Charlotte: When are you going to do it? We need to at least say goodbye properly.
Carla: Well this is my good bye. I want to get killed during the midnight game. I want to go out in a blaze of glory riding a white horse into battle.
Charlotte: But that’s too soon! You can’t do it that quick!
Carla: I’m sorry but I have to. It’s what I want.
Everyone except Charlotte and I count down from 10. We just stare at Carla.
Everyone: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Happy New Year!
11 years later, Charlotte and I are watching the news.
Newsreader: We have some breaking news. In the USA the states against Ghosts have taken over the moon base. The Ghost sympathise states now control only 20% of the country and losing the base on the moon represents a very significant loss. Since the war began more living humans have died than Ghosts which brings up the question. Is this issue really worth going to war over? Perhaps the Americans should have looked the former European Union as an example of what to do on this issue. When the differences in opinion got too much they simply split and still maintain a mutual Pease. The main issue with most people seems to be that they simply do not see Ghosts as living human beings. The new civil and personal rights for Ghosts, the age limit increase to 200 and abolition of the Non Sync rule has only served to fuel prejudice against Ghosts…
I switch off the broadcast.
John: I can’t bare to watch this anymore.
Charlotte: This is one of the biggest tragedies ever and they’re talking like they’re announcing the cricket results.
John: Why can’t they leave us alone? We don’t take up that much space, were not taking anybody’s jobs.
Charlotte: All we want is the right to exist.
John: They never even mention the fact that at present Ghosts only make up less than 1% of the total population of the planet or that most Ghosts rarely go out in the real world or that a lot of people only want to reach their 100th birthday.
Charlotte: I don’t feel safe anymore.
John: Well what’s the worst thing that can happen? They can only delete us and a few years ago we thought that was going to happen to us anyway very soon.
Charlotte: We could catch one of those horrible viruses.
John: Oh yeah you’ve got a point. Remember that drone virus a few years ago?
Charlotte: Oh don’t remind me I still have nightmares about that. They never caught that guy you know!
John: In all seriousness I doubt the war will spread to here. You heard what that news reader said about them wondering if the war was worth it. People will soon realise that this whole thing is stupid
Charlotte: Yeah I suppose your right. I think we should make the most of these new rights and extra time we have been given. Start doing something productive with our lives.
John: I thought we were being productive our vids and virtual plays have views in the millions.
Charlotte: Yeah but we never meet anybody. We just seem to spend all our time making vids on our own.
John: Well I can’t face going back to the games not since… what happened.
Charlotte: John you didn’t know all those people wanted to kill themselves.
John: There was so much blood it might as well have been real blood and with every blow there was another 1 dead. 128, that’s how many I killed and when they killed me I just re-spawned and killed some more.
Charlotte: Yeah but they all wanted to die. In a way you did a good thing by giving them the death they wanted.
John: Yeah but not all of them wanted to die did they?! Some of them just wanted the “thrill of a realistic battle”
A bell rings.
Charlotte: Who’s that?
John: It’s a massage from Alex. She’s asking if we’ve seen the news.
Charlotte switches the news back on.
Newsreader: …and it’s estimated that more than 10,000 Ghosts have been deleted from the database on the moon. This represents the single greatest loss of Ghost life since the massacre on New Year day 2100.
John and Charlotte: Oh my god!
Almost 70 years later Charlotte, Alex and I are watching the news. The president of the United World Governments is giving a speech.
President: …and it is my sad duty to inform the world that by majority vote it has been decided that all governments of the world must submit all Ghosts currently active in their countries, states or providences for deletion as of the start of the next year. Anyone country, state, or providence who refuse to do so will be officially at war with the UWG. I would also like to take this opportunity to voice my opinion against this decision to massacre 10% of the world’s population and announce my resignation, effective immediately.
Alex: This isn’t good. We’re screwed.
John: I wouldn’t worry about it. We haven’t had a single war for 60 years so I doubt were going to go into all-out war as quickly as that. As soon as people start fighting back they’ll back down.
Alex: I don’t know about that John, you weren’t at the last protest I was at. I was sure there were going to wipe me.
John: Maybe you should have stuck to being a politician. Be part of the system and take them down from the inside.
Alex: Yeah and then I’d be no better than that blubbering wreck. The whole system is just completely corrupt.
John: It always has been. Hey Charlotte you remember the recession when we were kids? All those greedy bankers.
Charlotte: Yeah and the expenses scandal that was a joke. What was the name of that MP who bought porn for her husband using public money?
John: Jackie Stewart I think.
Charlotte: No that isn’t right!
Alex: I wish you would take this seriously. This directly affects us!
Charlotte: Why should we? Whatever happens we only have 5 years to live anyway because our 200 year limit is up.
John: And apart from that I hardly think they’re going to be in a big hurry to execute two harmless old museum curators like us.
Alex: Have you given any more thought to the possibility of beating the limit? I know a guy who runs an underground archive. When your limit is almost up we can upload you on to an unregistered drive and hide you there.
Charlotte: Then what would we do sit on a shelf and be forgotten about?
John: We’ve lived such a long time already. It’s time to face facts, when our time is up that’s it.
Alex: Well I’m not giving up so easily!
John: I guarantee in another year well be sitting watching TV laughing as those politicians are on their knees.
25 years later Charlotte, Alex and I are in the middle of a desert in the real world with a team of soldiers.
We aren’t using robot bodies anymore instead we carry large backpacks which are actually Hologram Generators.
Charlotte: There’s nothing here. We must have been given wrong information.
Alex: I’m telling you it has to be here.
John: Will you two be quiet! They could be listening or worse surrounding us and getting ready to attack.
Charlotte: Do you see any signs of a drone factory anywhere here because I don’t.
Alex: I don’t know. Since the economy collapsed it’s hard to get reliable information.
John: It’s hard to get anybody to do anything with this stupid cast system. If anything that will be the thing that turns most people against us.
Charlotte: There’s no health care, no public education system, the food manufacturing industry is just barley adequate.
Alex: Then there’s the pathetic excuse for a justice system. Enforcers and Administrators are more corrupt than the politicians.
John: It makes me wonder what we’re bothering fighting.
Charlotte: It makes me wonder why we didn’t just die when our 200 years were up.
John: It’s because we’re survivors! Always have been always will be.
Suddenly one of the other soldiers starts waving his arms and shouting.
Soldier: Hey were over here! Hey!
John: What the hell does he think he’s doing?
The ground starts to shake.
Charlotte: What’s happening!
Robot drones begin to tunnel out from under the ground.
Another soldier shoots the first one with a lightning bolt from his fingertips which damages his HG and deactivates him.
Soldier 2: It’s a trap!
Alex: Everybody get down!
Charlotte, Alex and I hide behind a rock.
Charlotte spots a large drone which has a human inside it.
Charlotte: I’ve found the controller, I can get him.
Charlotte makes a run for the drone. The drone turns around.
Alex: No! He’s seen you!
Alex rushes to save Charlotte but she’s too late, Charlottes HG is destroyed and Alex is hit by some energy discharge from the blast.
At that moment I rush at the controller and rip off the robots outer casing to reveal the man inside.
John: You know what? I was going to be nice to you today. All I was going to do to you was break you little toys but then you killed my wife. So do you know what I’m going to do now?
Controller: Die Hologram!
The controller laughs and spits in my face.
John: Wrong answer!
I fire large amounts of electricity at the controller. Not enough to kill him but enough for him to be in a lot of pain.
Controller: No please stop!
I finish him off with one large jolt.
Almost immediately all the drones stop moving.
I walk over to where Alex fell and kneel beside her.
John: Hey it’s alright.
Alex splutters and judders.
John: Alex are you ok?
Alex: Charlotte. Charlotte dead.
John: Yeah but it’s ok because I’m here and I’ve got her backup. I always have her backup and she always has mine. That way if one of us is alive we both are.
Alex: I… I dead. I dead. Virus.
John: Yeah you’re right I’m sorry it looks like I’m going to have to delete you before you infect everybody else. I’m sorry.
Alex: Charlotte dead. Charlotte.
I kiss Alex on the forehead and switch off Alex’s HG. She disappears.
John: Hey does anybody know who has Alex backup?
A soldier replies.
Soldier 3: I think Charlotte had it.
John: No she couldn’t have because she had mine and its 1 backup per person.
Soldier 3: Yes but there was an odd number of us so Charlotte had to take Alex’s.
John: Oh my god what have I just done!
Soldier 3: She was very brave sir. She died fighting. It was a privilege to serve with her.
John: Oh no not Alex.
I scream with rage at what has just happened.
We are at Alex’s funeral.
A tent has been erected over the place where Alex died.
Alex’s HG is buried in the spot where the controller robot came out of the sand.
Charlotte and I are watching a video that Alex made before she died.
Alex: … I would just like to say words about my Aunty Charlotte and Uncle John. You guys have been like parents to me. Well you are my adoptive parents, since my mum died more than 100 years ago. Particularly you John since you’re the only father figure I’ve ever known. I know it’s crazy since technically I’m older than you but I’ve known you since I was born and just once before I go I just want to call you dad. I love you dad…
Charlotte: That was nice.
John: I can’t believe I just deleted her.
Charlotte: Hey, there’s nothing you could have done. If you hadn’t deleted her when you did it would have spread to everybody else. You did the right thing.
John: I wish I thought so.
Alex: …and more than anything I want you all to carry on. Keep fighting and one day the fight will be over and all that will be left is a nice peaceful paradise. I know it.
Charlotte: She’s right we have to carry on… but this place is not safe.
John: Where else is there? We’re conscripted into the war now it’s either this or we get deleted.
Charlotte: I heard there are places on Mars. It’s defiantly got to be safer. There aren’t any living humans on Mars just other holograms like us. All we would have to do is guard a stupid base from an attack that’s never going to happen.
John: They’ll never let us go to mars! We’re needed too much here.
Charlotte: We’ve got our age in our favour. There can’t be very many people our age still alive.
John: At present there are 2446 Holograms over the age of 200. All of which are fighting in the war. I doubt we’re anything special.
Charlotte: Well we will never know unless we try.
John: It will be a big upheaval and the war could be over soon
Charlotte: Or it could go on forever.
John: Ok let’s do it!
A few months later my Hologram is reactivated on Mars.
Charlotte: John… can you hear me? John.
John: Yeah I’m awake. What happened?
Charlotte: You got shot down by the humans as we left Earth.
John: Oh god! How many of us survived?
Charlotte: 90 including people who have been backed up. We’ve been very lucky.
John: 202 of us left Earth!
Charlotte: I know it’s awful!
John: Why couldn’t they have just transmitted us? It doesn’t make sense. Did you ever get an answer to that?
Charlotte: Yeah they said that there are 2 reasons. Firstly because the humans have been attaching viruses onto Mars bound transmissions so this way was safer. Secondly because Mars is very undersupplied and they receive almost everything including HG’’s from Earth.
John: That doesn’t sound right. I thought the HG technology came from Mars.
Charlotte: John prepare yourself for a shock… Mars isn’t as safe as we thought it was. When the war began and the humans realised there was a stock pile of HG’s on Mars they fired loads of nuclear missiles at Mars. They completely destroyed Mars bases 1 and 3.
John: Oh no!
Charlotte: There’s more… They’ve also been sending loads of drones. Not just the big drones you find on Earth that need a controller to operate. These ones are completely autonomous. There’s also these little rat things that burrow under the ground and sneak up on you. It’s Just a non-stop warzone out there. Nobody on Mars even sleeps it’s just fighting all the time.
John: That explains why it was so easy to get a posting here. Charlotte we have to get out of here!
Charlotte: And go where? This is it! There’s nowhere else to go!
Many years later, Charlotte and I are living on an asteroid in the asteroid belt with a small group of people who left Mars at the same time as us.
Charlotte: So… have you guys found anything today?
John: Oh yeah I found this!
I produce a seemingly ordinary piece of metal which is encrusted in rock.
Charlotte: It’s a lump of metal. There’s lots of those buried out here.
John: Ahh but I didn’t find this under the ground. It was just floating in space… and another thing if you look at it at the microscopic level what do you see?
Charlotte looks at the metal.
Charlotte: Little bumps.
John: X-ray it.
Charlotte: WOW that’s amazing.
John: I know right! I’m thinking it might be part of an alien circuit or maybe even a space…
Charlotte throws the metal into space.
John: Well that wasn’t very nice.
We both laugh.
Charlotte: Ahhh I’m sorry. It just seems so pointless. We’re finding all this cool stuff and nobody on Earth will ever find out or even care.
John: Well it’s something to do I suppose. There’s not much else to do here since we had to delete most of our stuff before we left Earth.
Charlotte: Maybe one day we’ll find a crashed space ship or something that will make people stand up and pay attention then we can put an end to this stupid war. There’s plenty of rocks here so well never be short of power.
John: I don’t know about you but I’m actually enjoying our new life here. I’d even go so far as to say I think it’s the best part of our life so far.
Charlotte: I miss our family. I wonder if any of them our still alive.
John: Yeah that’s what spoils it for me too. I wish they were here with us.
Charlotte: If there’s anything about our past I would defiantly not change it would be our kids. They were so perfect I can’t think of a single bad thing about them.
John: I wish I could have done more stuff with Kelly when she was a kid like I did with Alex.
Charlotte: You were a good dad! Alex just shared more interests with you that are all.
John: That’s very true… Charlotte.
John: I’ve never asked you this before because it’s a bit of a raw subject for you and I probably know the answer you’re going to give but we’ve been through so much and I just want to hear you say it.
Charlotte: What is it?
John: Do you think the fact that Kelly wasn’t mine made any difference to how she felt about me.
Charlotte: What? Of course she was yours.
John: Yeah I know in my heart she’ll always be my daughter but when we told her about what happened she seemed different. Maybe it was just a phase all teenagers go through…
Charlotte: What are you going on about you stupid old fool?! Do you think I cheated on you? John I know I was in a rush to get pregnant at the time but I would have never…
John: Charlotte… Do you know what I’m talking about? Do you remember what happened?
Charlotte: No I don’t! What do you mean “What happened”?
John: Do you remember what we did on our first wedding anniversary?
Charlotte: Yes, we spent the day in Blackpool. We had a lovely time.
John: What happened after that? What happened at night?
Charlotte: We spent the night in a hotel and the next day we went home.
John: Why did we go home Charlotte?
Charlotte: I can’t remember. We had planned to travel down the coast, stopping in a few hotels as we went along. That’s strange, why did we go home?
John: Because something happened that night and you don’t remember do you?
Charlotte: No. John this is really starting to freak me out! What don’t I remember?
John: When we got back to the hotel I got into the shower and you went to get some water from the machine. On your way back he grabbed you and pulled you into his room.
Charlotte: Oh my god! Did he…?
John: Yes he did. After I got out of the shower and I saw you weren’t back I went to look for you. I heard you screaming and at first I thought it was just someone having some rough sex. Then I realised it was you and I busted into the room.
I show Charlotte a scar on my arm.
John: That’s how I got this scar. He pushed his way past me and stabbed me in the arm. I don’t know why I keep it on my hologram body. I guess it gives me strength in a way.
Charlotte: So why don’t I remember? Maybe my brains blocking it out because it’s such a powerful memory.
John: I doubt it since you kept it with you for so long. Why would you block it out now? And why don’t you remember other things? Things that happened as a result of that memory.
Charlotte: So what? Do you think I erased it?
John: Seems like it. I don’t know what to think. I’m actually feeling a little bit betrayed.
Charlotte: It’s not my fault if I don’t remember it and if I have erased it them maybe I had a good reason!
John: Well why didn’t you tell me Charlotte?! We are supposed to be a team! We share our pain! But now it seems like I’ve been suffering alone all this time!
Charlotte: I’m sorry I really don’t remember doing it! I don’t know why I didn’t tell you!
Charlotte starts to cry.
Charlotte: You have just told me that my daughter wasn’t who I thought she was and that something terrible has happened to me that I cant remember. If anybody is in pain now it’s me!
I put my arm around Charlotte.
John: I’m sorry... It’s ok… I can’t really be angry with you for something you can’t remember doing. Just promise me that you’ll tell me if you’re ever thinking about doing anything like that again.
Charlotte: Ok John I will.
Some time later Charlotte and I are awoken by the sound of explosions.
We go and see what’s causing it and find 2 of your friends fighting with a drone.
Friend 1: Get down!
The drone fires at us and misses.
We hide behind a rock.
John: Ok I’m going to try and sneak up on it and remove its generator. You fire at some of those rocks over there and keep it distracted.
Charlotte: Ok… Good luck.
Charlotte fires at some rocks.
The drone investigates.
I sneak up on the drone and jump on its back.
John: I can’t find it! This is a new type of drone! Maybe if I…
The drone discharges a small amount of electricity which knocks me off its back.
My HG is damaged and I switch off.
I wake up on Mars base.
John: What happened? The drone!
Charlotte: It’s ok we killed it.
John: Where are we?
Charlotte: Your HG was very badly damaged and we had to go back to Mars base to fix it.
John: Oh no! Are we in trouble?
Charlotte: No, Mars base is deserted. All that’s left here is a few of those little rat things and some spare parts.
John: What’s happened to everybody?
Charlotte: I don’t know. Maybe the war’s been won.
John: By which side I wonder. If the holograms had won they would still be here.
Charlotte: Yeah but if the humans had won they would have got rid of all these drones and rebuilt the habitation areas.
John: Maybe both sides lost... They could have destroyed the entire planet Earth and we are the only people left.
Charlotte: We have to get back and find out!
Many years later, we are back on Earth.
We are in an underground base at a guard post.
I am in deep thought whist Charlotte is checking surveillance equipment.
Charlotte: John… Hello… Can you hear me.
John: Oh yes I can hear you what is it?
Charlotte: What you thinking about?
John: Nothing much… Just the past… You know I can’t believe what idiots we were coming back here. We were safe on the asteroid belt. Now look at us.
Charlotte: Yeah I think about that a lot to. You know what I think though?
Charlotte: We might be war criminals and coward class but at least we still have each other.
John: That’s true… Remember when I actually used to complain about the lack of entertainment on the asteroid belt? That’s nothing compared to being downgraded to coward class. We can’t even go to sleep!
Charlotte: I know we are in a bit of a sticky situation.
John: There must be some way out of this. If we could upload ourselves into an old HG then we could get off the grid and out of here.
Charlotte: And how could we possibly do that? These little microscopic robot projector things we’re using at the moment aren’t exactly compatible.
John: I don’t know but I can imagine. They can’t take that away from us.
Charlotte: I like these new projector things. They are a lot better than carrying around those horrible backpacks all the time.
John: I don’t! It’s really weird to think that my consciousness is stored in millions of tiny little robots.
I suddenly get distracted by something.
Charlotte: What was that?
John: My GPS app just went offline.
Charlotte: You have a GPS app? That’s not fair mines blocked.
John: You don’t have it?
John: That’s strange… Maybe…
The ground starts shaking.
John: What the hell?
Charlotte: Is this an Earthquake?
John: I think so.
The shaking gets more violent and the walls start to crack and collapse around us.
We scream as the ground shakes more and more. Eventually the walls completely cave in and we are trapped.
To be continued in episode 2 “Intergalactic war”!!!!
© Copyright 2016 Ken Evnas. All rights reserved.
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