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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Grandparent(s) (04/03/08)

TITLE: Short Memories
By Peter Stone


A meaty fist pounded the reinforced plasteel door. “This is Captain Heydrich of the Geheime Globalpolizei—open up!”

The vidscreen beside the door flickered to life, revealing a young man’s face. “This is an independent arcology. Your authority is not recognized here, Gestapo.”

“Our global mandate gives us free access to all arcologies, fool. You have five seconds,” snarled the black uniformed police officer.

Five seconds elapsed but the door remained steadfastly shut. The young captain lifted a hand to summon his men. Two rushed forth and using a universal-key, had the door open in seconds.

A dozen Geheime Globalpolizei sprinted into the house, taser prods to the fore. The young man from the vidscreen tried to deny their entry but Captain Heydrich tasered him senseless without breaking his stride.

Ten minutes of sensor sweeps enabled the police to locate the fifty-seventh floor apartment’s secret room, its door hidden seamlessly in a pantry wall. Falling prey to the universal-key, the door slid open to reveal two people in a laboratory crammed with state of the art medical apparatus.

“Stay away!” shouted one occupant, a woman in her thirties.

“We have a warrant for your arrest, Senator Lena Schmidt. We are launching an investigation into your arcology’s uncanny ability to predict social and market trends way above the norm. Clandestine investigations revealed…” the captain’s voice faded away in shock. Then, pointing at the wrinkled, white haired elderly man beside the woman, he gasped: “What is that?”

“Niklas Stein, my eighty year old grandfather,” the woman protested.

“Terminate him!” the captain ordered.

A Geheime Globalpolizei thumbed his taser to full power and thrust it at the elderly man, but leaping in front of him, the senator took the taser’s full discharge upon her brow. The acrid stench of burnt flesh filled the laboratory as she collapsed to the floor.

Tears cascading down weathered cheeks like diamonds on sackcloth, Niklas Stein knelt beside his granddaughter’s still form to cradle her head. “Am I really such a threat? Or do you merely seek to hide the truth that there are those such as myself who are immune to the biologically engineered genetic flaw that causes all humans to ‘ascend’ or die at forty-five?”

“Do not play games with me, old man. How is it that you live?” the captain hissed.

“There is a power that transcends our arrogant human genetic tinkering,” Niklas shot back. “The aged are a necessary part of society, Captain.”

“Rubbish. Catastrophic worldwide overpopulation and financially unmaintainable aged populations were cured by the introduction of the ascension policy.”

“The ‘ascension’ policy introduced ninety years ago did not fix that problem, Captain. In fact, by removing the elderly, we removed the most important human generation of all—the grandparents’ generation. Without the knowledge, memories and wisdom of grandparents, our society is doomed to making the same mistakes again and again,” Niklas explained.

“What mistakes?” shouted the captain.

“Did you know that recently formed Neu-Globalsozialistische Arbeiterpartei is the third such regime to form within the last seventy years? And that each regime has followed in its predecessor’s footsteps? Past experiences allow me to predict that your regime will soon attempt to subvert all independent arcologies, and that minority groups which do not fit into your world view will be quietly ascended.”

“I do not believe you.”

“Captain, not only have I lived through this twice, but I also remember each previous regime being overthrown after a massive loss of life. Your regime will also fail,” the old man confirmed.

“So the senator used you, her grandparent, and your knowledge to predict social and economic trends?”

Niklas shook his head. “No, Captain, she did not use me. My granddaughter loved and respected me, and valued my wisdom. That is why our arcology has flourished.”

“So, Grandfather, if you can predict trends so well, why did you not foresee my arrival today?” smirked the captain.

“Who says I didn’t?” Niklas murmured, pointing at cluttered laboratory benches. “Discovery was inevitable, so it gives me great pleasure to inform you that you are too late.”

“Too late?”

“Three days ago we released an untraceable compound into the world’s water supplies. The biologically engineered genetic flaw that causes all people to die at forty-five has been neutralized.”

All Geheime Globalpolizei stepped back involuntarily.

“Captain, I hope you survive the pending war, live to a ripe old age, and become a grandparent like myself. Restoring the grandparents’ generation is the only way to address the problem of your short memories.”


Geheime Globalpolizei – Secret Global Police
Arcology – an enormous, completely self-contained, self-sufficient city.
Neu-Globalsozialistische Arbeiterpartei – New Global Socialist Party

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This article has been read 981 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 04/10/08
Very imaginative and interesting story. Though it is true on a smaller scale, I only wish that it were true that exposure to the wisdom and experience of the grandparent's generation actually prevented the repetition of errors on a societal level. Good writing.
Joanne Sher 04/11/08
Creative and engaging. VERY unique take on the topic! I was extremely curious what was happening, and I was on the edge of my seat throughout. Good job!
Dianne Janak04/11/08
This is intriguing to me also. I kept reading even though it is not my favorite genre. You hooked me. I loved the wisdom you had to write this. Creative, thought provoking and insightful.
LauraLee Shaw04/12/08
An invigorating heart-pounder that has a thought-provoking message. Brilliant.
Betty Castleberry04/12/08
This is off the charts creative, not to mention riveting. Very well done.
Kristen Hester04/12/08
How very, very clever. I really enjoyed this sci-fi piece. Excellent writing. Bravo!
Lyn Churchyard04/13/08
A very different story and so well written. I could see the look of consternation and confusion on the faces of the police. Wisdom of the aged. I hope we never forget it. Well done Peter!
Dee Yoder 04/13/08
Hmmm...we may need that formula in our American churches soon...sci-fi with a message! Very good writing and characterization.
Jan Ackerson 04/14/08
AWESOME! This should be a whole novel, yet you managed to create this whole sci-fi world in 750 words--extremely masterful. I'd read a full-length version of this in a heartbeat. One of my absolute faves this week.
Joy Faire Stewart04/15/08
I was intrigued from the first paragraph and rest of the story did not disappoint. Excellent!
Debbie Wistrom04/15/08
Fast paced and thoroughly enjoyable, thanks for the ride.
Sara Harricharan 04/16/08
Okay, this is another favorite of mine this week! I love the sci-fi twist and especially your authentic words explained by the key at the bottom. I felt bad for the granddaughter, but glad that her grandfather had the chance to say what he needed to. This was great-I wish there was more so I could see what happens next! Excellent writing! ^_^
Loren T. Lowery04/16/08
Very 1984 George Orwellian. And, eeks! My time is almost up! : ) However, such writing as this points so well to the foolishness of such futuristic endeavors. At least I pray so.
Joshua Janoski04/16/08
I am a huge fan of what I like to call "bleak future sci-fi", and you did the genre right in my opinion. I would have never thought to create something so imaginative for a topic like grandparents.

I really enjoyed this unique take on the topic, and I hope that you continue to develop this short story into a novel, because I would love to read more. :)
LauraLee Shaw04/17/08
Congratulations on your highly commended, Peter! So happy for you!
LauraLee Shaw04/17/08
AND your Editor's Choice! Woo hoo!
Sara Harricharan 04/17/08
***Congrats on your EC!*** (So glad this won!) ^_^
Sheri Gordon04/17/08
Congratulations on your EC, Peter. This is incredible. So scary, and too realistic. Fantastic job with the topic.
Loren T. Lowery04/17/08
Way to go, Peter! Congratulations - Loren
Debbie Roome 04/17/08
Excellent. I read this a few days ago and thought it would be in the top 10.
David Butler04/18/08
What an amazing concept! What an amazing story! A brilliant illustration of the old saying: "One thing we learn from history is that man NEVER learns from history." Yet you successfully put it into a futuristic, neo-nazist political setting.
I hope all following generations learn from this.