Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Grandparent(s) (04/03/08)
TITLE: Short Memories
By Peter Stone
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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.”
“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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