Discover more from Raids on the Unspeakable
Let me make you beautiful, granny!
This inspired by odd thoughts upon reading a line in Dream of the Red Chamber.
“Let me make you beautiful, granny!” she cried. The older woman had come round a corner, at encountering the younger and hearing this—immediately she turned to flee. The younger quickly made chase, a syringe in raised right hand while left reached grasping. Thus the two went one another for the length of one hallway, turning, two, turning; out onto the road and, each slowing only a little to move through traffic, thus they crossed the street. The younger slowed a little less, was even almost struck by a car at the last yet leapt to tackle her victim. Two crumpled upon pavement, the first crunched against a curb neck broken; second stands, inspects a moment then withdrawing her phone walks away.
“Another, I’m sorry.” The response is brief: “Come home now.” A car pulls up beside her, she gets in; it leaves without a word. The older woman was meant to be in the backseat, instead another vehicle was on the way to retrieve her corpse. Sitting silent, she thinks to herself: whatever had that woman so wished to flee? None could want be older, that was obvious—but still there was resistance, those that failed to attend the necessary procedures at their thirtieth. These few fled the flowchart which was their way, that at thirty a series of procedures would be begun that stalled the aging process for at least a further thirty years. The consequence, of course, that they would die when this wore off.
This was taken by all as a fair trade, more that it gave to life a pleasing symmetry. Those that wished could at sixty further have themselves recorded and provided a character. Men felt themselves in some sense to have thus conquered death, at least seen at a distance, though the forms they met there on the wires were not them. They die with their bodies, only an image lived on as determined by a lifetime of data. These the lives lived by those today, she thought with an easy pleasure. The miracles mankind had accomplished!
And those few that fled—plainly paranoid, obsessive types fixated upon some element or another of the prevailing system. This they believed to be inhuman, unnatural—whatever they called it, a thing worth fleeing. Fleeing even unto death, obviously; a thing terrible then, at least like to evoke a panic in those physically pursued. None of the reasons given were sufficient to that which they followed, many even recognised this. They accepted quite happily that their reluctance was irrational; that any semblance of rationality was merely the relative success of rhetoric in terms of after the fact rationalisations. They knew this and yet they claimed still the truth of their cause. Absurdity, a sickness.
The lady who had died today, an unlucky fall. Humans were sturdy beyond measure and yet still somehow so fragile. Men had lived falling from planes as often as died by a toothpick tripping in the living room. The same was so today, the same so in side-effects of their solution. A further thirty years acquired at the cost of—what? The benefits to society were plain, thus averted any inequity as regards age. The whole rendered uniform in this final frontier of progress. Death conquered by the transubstantiation of silicon. Man reigns supreme at last. Necessity had been reinstated, contingency was expelled.
Yet the few that fled were flies in the ointment, still taken only as exceptions to prove the rule. Their madness apparent an argument for the cause. See the look in their faces, that ugly end bunched up against a sidewalk. This was nothing hale or hearty! This an end malevolent, of course; it could be none other with such a scene. The shape of a nightmare, all of this.
She fled at the sight of this frightening bitch, fled at the thought of what they would do to her. Thirty-two she was now and proud of her purpose, an invisible person in this world of numbers. She a number also but remained of that her own, thirty-two; everything else set zero. This world overwritten as if data were thus to be deleted more securely. Zeroes written time and again to ensure an empty disk. The whole made cleaner thereby, a world thought perfected. This hell she would never inhabit, would flee to any end.