Flash Fiction

Theseus Ship

Theseus’s Ship

The results are in and are final; we have a shelf life, an expiration date. Mankind can live until the age of 122. This is the oldest any human being on this planet of ours will ever be.

The science is conclusive with scientists and researchers in agreement. Nanorobots (the same ones who fight our cancers, deliver our drugs directly to our tiny cells) have taken tissue samples in every nook and cranny. Rushing through red rivers in an alien landscape until they finally reached the small fibre nerves in our peripheries, the microscopic robots have mapped every cell in the human body, examined every mitochondrion and tinkered with these diddy batteries, which scientists believe are the master key to youth.

To no avail. Even the God molecule, tweaked and optimised for maximum potency, eventually leads to liver failure and the potentially fatal sloughing of skin. The only option left to us to prolong life as we know is the unaffordable-for-most solution of replacing every body part, each organ and natural device as it fails.

It is a conundrum to prolong life through mechanisation; we have reached the apotheosis.

Congratulations: you are a first-generation superhuman, a godlike pioneer, a full-body prosthesis with a mind linked to the cloud in row D. You sit and watch your great-granddaughter place flowers in a vase on top of a dresser at your side – she says they are your favourite, she says they are the same flowers you had at your wedding. You search your memory for information, but you can’t for the life of you recall the scent of the flowers, nor the sensation of holding your sweetheart’s hand.

You reply, ‘Are they?’

***

The Time I Lost My Appetite

“I don’t like goat’s cheese,” I moan, “it’s like licking a wet dog” as my husband considers me with placid features and I shift the focus of my eyes and gaze past him where the couple at the adjacent table on the restaurant’s terrace is sitting, while the woman whispers to the man, and then they look over, which makes me shift in my rickety chair because I would like to have a nice time, but I have gone too far already, complaining about the green peppers, their mucid skin, like grass regurgitated by a cat, but I ordered them by mistake, thinking they were something else, and then the fish croquettes, brittle and smelling of lint, “They’re not fresh; they’re frozen,” I declared, but he’s being patient with me, and he turns his attention back to his food so I look down and whisper “You’re a cold dead fish,” into my plate,

and later, we return to our holiday apartment with its two bedrooms, where I go into the master, he into the smaller second bedroom, as it’s the same setup we have at home and I think of our friends, if they’ve noticed, but I have my excuses ready—in case, “It’s only in case,” I will say, “because he’s a terrible snorer; only sometimes, you understand and I’m a light sleeper—genetically and I also can’t wear earplugs as they make my ears hurt so I can’t have them in long, you see”

and I know that tomorrow he will go to the beach, while I stay on the patio of our apartment, but I will see him out first in my new red goddess bikini which sets off my auburn hair nicely, and I know he’ll try to kiss me before he leaves, but I won’t let him because his skin is sticky with sunscreen.

The Time I Lost My Appetite was first published by Reflex Fiction in October 2018.

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