We're not a morbid group of writers, I can assure you . . . but the title of our latest writing exercise would beg to differ. A colleague had a book with them by - someone - and it was a compilation of short stories. A group of them started off with:
"Eventually it came to pass that no one had to die unless . . ."
and then the continuation was different for each; ie, unless they ran out of money, or unless they wanted to, or unless blah blah blah. You get the picture? Anyway, we had to choose one and write a quick, short piece with our chosen sentence as the opening. I chose:
"Eventually it came to pass that no one had to die unless they ran out money . . ."
Here's what I churned out in the 15 minute window that we had.
Exercise: Eventually It Came To Pass . . .
Eventually it came to pass that no one had to die unless they ran out of money. Who'd have thought that our new society could be bought? Life had never been the same since they made the invention of immortality public knowledge.
Those who could afford it went ahead with the procedure. Back then it was as fashionable as plastic surgery. It was something new; something to boast of; something to parade. But after signing the dotted line a price was placed on their heads. Immortality didn't mean forever. Life still ran out - but for a smaller fee a top up could be had every 20 - 30 years.
On and on they went, parading and living, living and parading, until they out-lived everyone who opted not to go for it. All the mortals died, old age taking its arthritic course, but they left behind a new race - a race of people who were so proud, who were so self-devoted. The world never returned to how it used to be.
People never worked and there were no people to work. Immortals were too proud to lower themselves, but they didn't need food and they didn't need water. Eventually there was nothing worth harvesting, nothing worth producing - except more top-up.
But that still had a price, and money doesn't last forever.
It wasn't long before it began to run out along with the collapse of society. No longer could they afford to pay for their top-ups. They went as long as they could, hoping, preying that they would get just one more day at least. And then they started dropping like flies, like their power cords were suddenly being ripped from them without prior warning.
And the worse part?
No one collected them from where they fell in the streets. What once had been a great society filled with pride had become a world of fear. People hid from the truth of what was happening as much as they could - but as much as they tried they couldn't hide from the terrible fact that they had unwittingly destroyed everything . . .