Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Potentially Alive, 2

This is the second post (out of six) in a short story about how the world ends, or begins. Click on the appropriate link for the first, third, or fourth post in the series.


It was supposed to have been the greatest invention of the past century--but nobody bothered to learn the name of the inventor. The invention was so ground-breaking, and what to do with it so controversial, that there was little room in most people's minds for anything else.

"They call it the life-saver," mumbled an unshaven, middle-aged clerk, looking up from the newspaper he held in his hands, "but it saves lives for what—and at what cost?"

The kid who stood at the counter didn't ask about the invention, and at the moment didn't care enough about it to even respond. "20 dollars in the red Chevy," he said, pointing to a beat-up truck at the filling station.

"You got it," said the man, flipping a switch.

After putting the cash in the register, his eyes turned back to the paper. It detailed how the invention was said to have worked, as it had every day--for months.

“Like a transfusion of blood from a healthy body to an unhealthy one,” it said, “the invention does the same thing—only what is being transferred is more akin to energy than blood.” But the energy must come from somewhere, thought the man, or in this case someone.

“Like the series of electric shocks that sometimes get a patient’s heart to beat again soon after stopping, the life-saver does almost the exact same thing—only it can be used to rejuvenate a person after they have already been technically dead a good bit of time.”

“The increased strength of the invention is miraculous,” said a doctor quoted in the paper, “the fact that the process is so excruciating for the living is but a minor fault.”

The man set the paper down at that. He reached for his coffee mug, took a sip, and then set it down quickly with disgust. It was too bitter, he thought.

A young girl entered the store. “40 dollars in the blue convertible,” she said. “Oh, and the paper too.”

“You got it,” said the man, flipping a switch.

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