In a new personal blog series, I’ll be posting parts of this story every Wednesday evening. While I’ve written short stories before and even taken a crack at creative writing on other sites, this will be my first real serial attempt at writing a story in the public eye. For now, feedback is turned off, but feel free to let me know what you think on Twitter (@adamholisky).
The McCanter Treatment
In a world of confused morality and longevity exists The McCanter Treatment, the cause of and solution to, all of life’s problems.
“It is through this mortality that humanity knows moral bounds. Thou shall not kill, because ending’s one existence prematurely is one of the ultimate wrongs. Thou shall not covet another man’s wife, because creating existence forbiddinly is just as inappropriate.” The professor recited his prepared lecture as he strode across the front of the auditorium. Back and forth from one wall to the other he walked, always eying his pupils.
“Now, what happens when these boundaries on Human life are removed? What then becomes of the morals that we humans posses?” He paused for a moment to let his words sink in. “Do they become less important or more? For if human life has no end, and only a beginning, does establishing that end detract or add to existence?”
“Assume for a moment that our existence as a species is most full when we realize we have a finite amount of time to accomplish our goals. We achieve great things in that finite time – we build civilizations, wage wars, explore the heavens – all in the span of about 75 years. If we knew we had 500 years to do it all, would not Human progress be delayed? Why accomplish everything in your first 75 years of existence, what would you do for the rest of your life?” As the professor said this he noticed student move nervously in their seats, understanding perhaps for the first time that this course on the Ethics of the McCanter Treatment would truly challenge their thinking. He smiled to himself and chuckled.
“Now that we’ve established, at least in our example world, why life is the fullest when it has boundaries, when is it okay to impose those boundaries on others?” He raised an eyebrow, pausing for a calculated dramatic effect. “Yes, imposing a boundary on someone else’s life would be murder – but in doing so you’d help them realize their full potential, exist as a full human being. And if existing to our fullest in a short amount of time is what makes us realize our morals, does murder in-and-of-itself not become a means to and end of great morality for humanity?”
The professor stood still and silent for several minutes and the students took this in, that with some slightly twisted philosophical logic murder became acceptable. Knowing this viewpoint was important for the class, it allowed them to argue against it – to begin to see both side of the ethics involved in the McCanter Treatment.
“For your homework this week, I want you to refute why murder would not be a logical step towards restoring ethics in humanity’s existence. Class dismissed.”
Devon Anders grabbed his notebook and filed out of the auditorium along with the rest of the 100 person class. He wrapped his jacket around him tighter when he got outside, the cool air of autumn reminding everyone that winter was not far away.
As he walked to his next class, Devon began thinking of how an evil act could lead towards a righteous good. If Humanity did not value the moral life, wasting it away on pitiful and self indulgent activities, then anything that restored that moral value of life would be a worthy action. If it was just as simple as flicking a switch, no one would argue; but what if that switch killed off a million random people, thus ensuring that those remaining would live in fear that the next time the switch would be flipped, they would die?
Devon pondered this, asking himself if the means of such an action would justify the ends. And every time he asked himself, the answer he came up with was no – the means of killing could never justify the ends of morality. They were so inherently contradictory that such paradoxes of morality be best left up to theological debate and not to actual ethical practices.
Then again, Devon thought, living forever was always a religious idea before the McCanter Treatment.
The McCanter Treatment is a simple process by which biological molecules, and thus biological structures, are replaced with their non-biological counterparts. Where there once was a cell wall made of biological material, there now exists a cell wall made of metallic nanostructures. However the trick of the Treatment isn’t that the cells themselves are replaced, but that they are emulated to such a high degree of realism.
It’s virtually impossible to distinguish between non-McCantered flesh and McCantered flesh. Only upon microscopic examination do the differences become noticeable.
Of course, the other difference is that biological organisms which have gone through the McCanter process do not age – at all. They exist in the perpetual state in which they were first McCanterized, sans any direct modification applied to them after the Treatment.
The process was developed fifty years ago by Kara McCanter, an English scientist who stumbled upon it one day while working with nanomachines to deconstruct a cell wall. While having the machines temporarily destroy part of a cell and then reassemble it, she noticed that the nanites would fill in for parts of the destroyed sections for a short amount of time, simulating their functions as to avoid the cell’s immune system from automatically isolating and destroying what it considered to be a faltering cell. This was an odd automatic behavior which wasn’t programmed into the nanites, it just was something that happened. However with a little bit of testing and work, Kara McCanter was able to make the nanite’s work permanent.
Kara McCanter created the fountain of youth, giving humans eternal life.
The Treatment had been around nearly 200 years now, and at the age of 21 every person underwent the process. The process was started by going to one of the world’s McCanter Centers for a nanite injection. About five million nanites were injected into the blood stream, which were more than enough to handle the conversion of any human. The process was painless and took 28 days to complete. After it was done, the human was practically immortal. No disease could kill it, no severed limb or decapitation could stop the brain from functioning.
At the age of 20, Devon Anders could do nothing more than think about his body slowly being destroyed and rebuilt by millions of small nanites. It both excited and scared him at the same time – after all, who in their right mind looks forward to their body slowly being ripped apart by unseen forces?
He thrashed against the restraints, throwing his weight around in hopes to break the straps holding him down. If Devon were in a better state of mind he’d have realized that the straps were beyond his power to break, but even then, he probably wouldn’t have stopped trying. So he move left and right, his body curving against the cold metallic bed.
The needle containing the nanites was laying on a table near to him, just out of his reach.