The Death Test

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
How would life be different if you knew when you were going to die? How would it affect your love life, your friendships, your work? Visit a different world where this possibility is very real.

Submitted: April 27, 2014

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Submitted: April 27, 2014



23 years and 67 days. That was what the official yellow card had stated.  Larnie moved the card away from the baby until it was blank and moved it back again.   But the result was the same, the taunting number 23 slowly appearing.  At the turn of a feather Larnie went from a moment of exhilaration to one of feeling robbed if she was to be honest with herself.  She was going to live to the ripe old age of 237, and her baby, this boy, he was going to die at 23.  

Because of her above average intelligence level, blood type (haemo-neutral), and disease free genes Larnie was allowed two live births, and she somehow managed a defective one.  Fewer than half a percent of the population died below the age of fifty.  This was one of the reasons why those with an above average intelligence, and super human bodies were only allowed two babies; a male and a female.  How could she love this child that was going to be gone when she was not even half way through her own life.  It was a selfish thought she knew, but an honest one - not that she would ever admit that to anyone.  She should have been happy, after all many of her friends and relatives weren't even allowed kids.

How Larnie came to be in this very situation was hundreds of years in the making.  They figured it out early in the twenty first century, and it ballooned from there.  The scientists announced they could tell if someone was going to die within 5 years from a natural cause; cancer, cardiovascular disease and a variety of atrocious diseases.  A simple blood test was all it took.  But something strange happened because they soon worked out that the test also indicated whether someone was going to die from unnatural causes; car accident, suicide and so on.  At first they didn't believe it and out it down to mere coincidence, statistical outliers they said.  But as more and more people died these "outliers" became statistically improbable and scientists had to concede defeat.   This new fact "death by any means could be assessed" was published in the Nature journal in July of 2029.  This little piece of information brought the world to its knees in an instant.  Wars that had been raging for years stopped and seemingly impossible wars started, stocks crashed whilst others rose and Nature magazine was both boycotted and made the biggest profit since conception.  The whole debate on religion was instantly refreshed with the smouldering embers of churches bursting into life, their disciples citing this as proof of god.  After all how was it humanly possible to tell from a drop of blood that someone was going to inject themselves with a lethal dose of morphine at some point in the near future?  Not long afterwards (in the whole scheme of things anyway - it was actually 27 years later) some different scientists in a different part of the world devised a test, given at birth, which would tell the parents exactly when their little bundle of joy would die - to the very day.  

Of course there was outrage at first, unethical some screamed, unnatural cried others and for once all of the governments agreed and banned the test.  But slowly and surely over the next hundred years or so opinions were forgotten, governments saw the value and at one point it just became a necessity.  Prospective lovers would check if they were going to pass away in each other's arms, doctors would use it to see if patients were going to die under their care, workplaces would use it to vet future employees, and even schools would use it to accept children.  

So this baby, what chance did he have in society?  As Larnie wondered herself, so too did the rest of the world.  Over the ensuing years it would prove he had very little.  He was an aggressive sort always picking on others.  Is this how he would die, his mother often wondered, in some fight with a nameless thug?  Larnie and Chris had to pay additional fees to get him into school, and even then there was no lesson plan - teaching was based on a persons occupation, and what job could this kind of good for nothing person have?  No girl would choose him as a boyfriend, or even a partner during a school dance - even at a very young age of seven or eight they would be looking for a future mate.  He always dreaded the first day of a new school year.  The first thing the kids would do was run around and check their death age with the newbies, their figures of 130, 140 and 150 hurting his ears, reminding him of his defect.  When the new kids came up to him, the others would shake their heads, hushing them up.  Though they tried, he could hear their whispers, and the ghasts of horror, and the stares of pity.  "23?" they would question this unfamiliar number and their eyes would unknowingly search his body for signs of some new, undiagnosed disease.  Some random kid would end up the butt of his humiliation, a bloodied lip or bruised back.  

His parents let him do his own thing, he would often be seen roaming the streets at eight, nine and ten o'clock.  Chris and Larnie didn't bother teaching him good manners, what was the point they would secretly think?  Most parents with those type of kids were the same - everyone else thought it a disgrace, but it's always easier to judge when you're not personally affected.  Though they tried they were always a little standoffish, not wanting to get too close - using his anger as an excuse.

Larnie didn't really talk to him at all in the last few months, it was just too much if a drain, every discussion turning into an argument because of the underlying strain.  She kept telling herself that he had changed, he wasn't her son anymore, but that was a lie.  It wasn't just Larnie, the boys sister and the sparse network of people he could almost call friends also gave up - it was easier that way.  So there he was, alone and discarded like some old pizza box.  

So - what happened you ask?  Did they realise the test was wrong?  Did he meet someone that could help him beat death?  Did he fall in love with a woman and they both died in each other's arms?  No - this isn't a fairy tale, it's just life, just horrible tragic life.  The boy died on the day the card had predicted all those years before, and as much as I would like to write otherwise he died alone.  How, you ask?  Well that's the tragic part.

The day before he died he had gone to a Doctor unit - it was 12:39PM.  As he passed through the door 10 cash points were subtracted from his parents account - he no doubt figured it was the least they could do.  He considered what he wanted and a message popped up on the screen immediately in front of him.  It read:


As the Snappy Tours theme song came bellowing out from some hidden speaker a previously invisible compartment opened.  There in front of him was a taunting blue suicide kit known as a Suigun.  The check booth has kindly configured it to his genetic imprint so that he couldn't go and accidentally murder someone else.

I don't really know what happened next, but can make a good guess.  He woke up, at some point in the morning - never was a late sleeper.  He probably looked outside to a languishing red sky, probably looked down on the cheap motel bed with stains on its sheet and briefly wondered of the origin, and probably look down at the Suigun kit in his sweaty hand.  He quickly scrawled a note, it was a short note, but it was real and came directly from the heart, and it one that screams to be shared.  The note simply stated:

"I'm in charge of my death, no wait that's not true - I'm in charge my own LIFE and I'm at peace with it.  I know I wasn't always the best person, always fighting, never loving.  Being faced with your own mortality will do that to any person - you will all see someday near the end, this is what the card will do to you.  I plead with you, get rid of the test, really what is it good for?  Just imagine, that pretty girl may have given that guy who was really cute a chance and her life may have been unimaginably amazing, even if it was only for a few years.  That teacher may have given the kid who wrote the beautiful poem a second glance and he may have turned into a wonderful author, if only for a few books.  Those people may have voted in the most extraordinary leader of all time, if only for a year.  Maybe not knowing all the answers is exactly what we need.  Choose what you become in life, don't let life choose what you become.  That's my message to the world.  I'm done now.  P.S. I know you tried mother, father, sister, world and I love you all.  See you on the other side."

He then stuck the three stickers that came with the Suigun onto his forehead, above his heart and behind his left shin.  I often wonder how long it took him push the raised blue button.  Did he try several times, his hand hovering, or did he get over with quickly.  However it was he fell back on the bed he was dead in less than a second.

P.S.  This boy, his name was Matthew - if it wasn't for the test would he have died?  To quote Matthew get rid of the test...

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