Daniel woke up earlier than usual on May 16th ,2052. He had to get into work early to prepare for the announcement of the “Fountain of Youth” for humanity at 4:00. Daniel worked for Crane Technologies as the personal secretary and public relations manager for the founder and owner of the company, Marcus Crane. Daniel and Marcus were childhood friends from Buffalo, New York, and Daniel was incredibly grateful to Marcus for allowing him to get the job he currently has. Daniel used to work for Chevron Corporation as a businessman, but in 2045 the United States and other world powers placed a global threshold on the production of oil and natural gas, which was created in order to combat rapidly rising temperatures due to the release of CO2 into the atmosphere. This caused major cutbacks in the oil and natural gas industry, which left Daniel out of a job a mere two months after the threshold was put in place. Feeling sad for his childhood friend Marcus offered Daniel his current position, and for the last 7 years Daniel has worked for Marcus in what appears to be a relatively streamlined and easy job, but Daniel knows that what he does is far from that.
Daniel left from his apartment in downtown Boise, Idaho in his Tesla Model X, which he bought due to the national ban on the commercial production of cars with combustion engines. Daniel did not have trouble with money due to his high-ranking job in Crane Technologies, which was one of the leading technological firms in the world. Daniel knew that after today though, his life would change forever. Upon arriving at Crane Technologies’ Research Center just outside of Hidden Springs, Idaho Daniel was briefed on the preparations for the announcement of the project’s completion. Daniel was no stranger to announcements of this magnitude, as just five years earlier Daniel announced the completion of Crane Technologies’ cure for cancer, which was in development for over thirteen years. This major breakthrough in human health gave Crane Technologies major credibility in the scientific world and placed the company in the spotlight of human health and advancements. The experiment involving the cure for cancer was derived from the fact that sharks are immune to cancer.
Daniel knew that the experiments used were inhumane and above all else, highly illegal. Marcus and his scientists began their testing on microbes and small animals, and gradually worked their way up to testing on larger animals, and finally human test subjects. These human test subjects were those that had nothing to live for and were incredibly ill, to the point that participating in Marcus’s experiment was their only hope. Marcus and his team of top-notch scientists went through many different trials in order to eventually find a suitable cure. Daniel knew that they tested on exactly 650 participants, and that only 3 survived the rigorous and incredibly dangerous testing. Ultimately, the successful treatment involved injecting nanotech robots into the infected region of the body of the patient that would combat and overcome the cancerous cells in the patient’s body by placing the DNA of pluripotent cells with the cancer resistance of sharks.
Marcus ultimately felt justified by the idea that even though 647 test subjects perished, the experiment was a success and he would be able to save countless lives with this new treatment. Daniel knew that Marcus cared little for the life of others if it meant furthering humanity, as Marcus cared about progress above all else. Daniel, however, was not quite the same as Marcus in those regards. Daniel still had the screams and pleas of those patients stuck in the back of his head. Daniel knew that Marcus was not an evil person, but that his methods were inhumane and ultimately unjustifiable in any sense. Even scientists that worked for Marcus, such as Dr. Surowiec, the head of Biochemical Applications had doubts about the methods used in the experimental process. Yet, Marcus regularly assured his employees that they were moving humanity in the right direction, and that they must keep pushing forward at any cost. Daniel was unaware of how Marcus kept the employees that carried out the experiments quiet, but Daniel would later find out that Marcus paid those that worked with the patients a small fortune under the table in order to keep them quiet. Daniel was the most faithful employee to Marcus in his short seven years at the company, but Marcus did not share every detail of the company with Daniel.
Very few people in Crane Technologies knew about the “Fountain of Youth” that was to be announced today. This project was a very personal one to Marcus, and he did not want anyone outside of the company to find out about it. Daniel did not necessarily know why Marcus kept such a large-scale project quiet for so long, but he could only assume that Marcus wanted it to be like the Manhattan Project of the modern era, in that it would change everything about society for the coming century. Daniel was only made aware of the project two years ago when it was in its final stages of production. Daniel recalled the time almost two years ago to the day, May 12th, when Marcus broke the news of the “Fountain of Youth” to him for the first time.
Marcus called Daniel into his office in order to discuss paperwork regarding a college tour group that was set to tour the Crane Technologies’ Research Center in a few days, “Daniel would you please come in, we need to discuss the upcoming tour.” Daniel walked into Marcus’s office that had wooden ceilings and floors and had a fake fireplace behind his mahogany desk that was very ornately designed with rather large stones. Daniel also loved that Marcus’s office had floor to ceiling one-way glass windows on every wall, except for the wall that the fireplace was located upon.
“Daniel, would you care to take a seat,” Marcus said.
“Sure thing Marcus, I’ve made up a nice itinerary for the students that are coming in a few days,” Daniel noted.
Marcus gave Daniel a nod of approval and stated, “Well done Dan, but I have something more important to show you at the moment.”
Daniel seemed rather confused at this remark and watched Marcus as he reached to the bottom drawer of his desk, placed his finger on a scanner, and pulled out a remote control to something. Daniel knew this remote could not be for a Television as there was none in the room, but Marcus simply said, “Watch this.”
Marcus pressed the orange button on the remote, and Daniel heard a small clicking sound in the wall behind Marcus, where the fireplace was located. This very minute sound soon became louder, and louder, and louder until there was utter silence. Marcus then looked at Daniel and pressed the green button on his remote, and the fireplace sunk below the floor like it was never there in the first place, revealing a doorway that was large enough to fit an average sized person through. Daniel seemed almost in shock at what he had just witnessed, but Marcus simply smiled and said, “Come on Dan I’ve got something to show you.”
Marcus led Daniel down this straight corridor that had white walls and ceilings with a tile floor for what seemed to be a mile, yet it was only about 500 feet. Marcus told Daniel what he was about to see, “Dan, this is what I have been up to for the last few years, this is something that I’ve spent most of my life trying to attain. Something that I have dreamed about as a young child, and I have finally been able to bring my dream to fruition with what I am about to show you.”
Daniel had no idea what Marcus could possibly be talking about, as he was never really open with his thoughts and ideas as a kid, but Daniel could only ask Marcus what was awaiting him behind the gray laboratory doors at the end of this long hallway, “What is behind those doors down there Marcus?”
Marcus looked Daniel dead in the eyes and simply said, “The future Dan, the future is behind those doors.”
Upon finally reaching the doors, Marcus swiped his key card and typed in a specific code on a keypad, and the doors made a distinct unlocking sound.
Marcus smiled and said, “Here we are.”
The doors slid open, and what Daniel saw was something that he will never forget for the rest of his life. The doors opened to a large room that must have been about 100 feet high and had multiple floors with railings that had stairs leading up to each floor. Daniel counted about 4 floors in total. In the middle of the room was an operating table for surgery and medicinal use, and a table that seemed to be a control panel for the room. Daniel looked at the walls and noticed that there were almost what appeared to be prison cells on the second and third floors. Daniel asked Marcus what they were for, “Marcus, what are those glass rooms for exactly?”
Marcus gave a reassuring look to Daniel, “Those rooms were for our test subjects.”
Daniel was confused at the prospect of housing test subjects in what appears to be a jail, but he knew better than to question Marcus on the details. Daniel looked and saw about eight scientists in the room that were either operating different machines that Daniel did not understand or were packaging what appeared to Daniel as little boxes titled “Fountain of Youth” next to the control panel. Daniel looked to Marcus and said, “What is all of this for? This seems too crazy to be true.”
Marcus said with certainty, “Dan, this room was built 15 years ago to search for immortality for humanity. It brings me joy to know that we have created a way to reach immortality through the experiments in this very room.”
Daniel looked at Marcus confusingly, “Are you serious Marcus? That seems absurd.”
Marcus acknowledged this comment and said, “It may seem absurd to you, but let me show you just how serious I am.” Marcus then pressed the yellow button on his remote control and a portion of the far wall began to jut out, and an incredibly large flat screen Television appeared. Marcus showed Daniel a presentation of what exactly he had managed to do in order to reach the seemingly absurd idea of immortality. Marcus showed Daniel the different tests done on people in order to achieve this result, from injections of different chemicals, to the attachment of machine parts to people, Daniel almost began to look on in disgust at what Marcus was showing him. Marcus seemed proud in showing slides of dead test subjects, and people who are clinging onto life with their last few breaths.
Daniel asked Marcus, “How many people died doing these tests?”
Marcus replied, “1372 individuals perished during the creation of the Fountain of Youth, but trust me Dan, it was completely necessary for the betterment of humanity that this took place. I want you to know that I know you care about these people, but unlike the cancer research, we did not have people flocking to us in order to take part, as this is an incredibly private project, so we scoured the world for those that are less fortunate and offered them the ability to take part in something that will change the course of humanity in the future. Nobody will miss those that perished, nobody will care about them in the future, and although it may seem wrong to do this, great advancement requires even greater sacrifice. I just want you to understand why I have done this Dan, think about the future, think about our future”.
Dan looked at Marcus in shock and said, “What about their futures? What if someone did care about them? Nothing should be worth the sacrifice of this much human life if it doesn’t have to be”.
Marcus replied, “This is the price we have to pay for advancement. This is what we have always been dealt with when something monumental happens. Think of the Revolutionary War, think of World War II, think of any conflict or struggle that brought about major change. Was it worth it? The answer is ultimately yes. Where would we be without great sacrifice Dan? We would still be hunter gatherers in the plains of East Africa. Sacrifice is a necessary evil Dan.”
Daniel knew that he could not convince Marcus of the fact that he senselessly put 1372 individuals to their death, and Daniel could not understand why Marcus was thinking in such a cynical manner. Regardless, Daniel was waiting for Marcus to explain how it is that humanity has achieved immortality.
After a long pause, Marcus began speaking to Daniel about the details of the “Fountain of Youth” project, “Essentially, here is what happens. There is a species of jellyfish in the Caribbean that can transdifferentiate their cells so that mature somatic cells, which are simply body cells that are not sex cells, can copy itself in a pluripotent stage that allows for the cell to replicate for an indefinite time period. This allows for continual cell replacement throughout the process of aging in an individual when the pluripotent jellyfish cell DNA is injected into cells throughout the body of an individual.”
Daniel did not know what to say in response, as he was no scientist by any means, and simply nodded in approval of what Marcus had said in order to give Marcus a sense of fulfillment in what his friend was telling him.
Daniel somehow came to accept what Marcus had told him down in the secret research facility back when Marcus first told Daniel about the “Fountain of Youth,” yet Daniel felt as though something was not sitting right with his decision to stand by and let this immortality product be released to the public. It was becoming close to the time that Daniel would step up to the podium at the Media Room in the Crane Technologies Research Center to introduce Marcus and the “Fountain of Youth”. Daniel knew deep down that this was very different from the announcement of the cure for cancer, as the cure for cancer was broadcasted to the world before completion, and that volunteers who needed genuine assistance would take part in. The “Fountain of Youth” was the exact opposite of what the cure for cancer was, and Daniel knew nobody would care about the sacrifice that was made to reach the completion of the product, as the world had become increasingly cynical and seemingly noncaring about the expense of human life, mostly due to overpopulation over the years. Daniel could only sit by and watch as the world lost its mind over the proposition of immortality finally being attainable, all because of Marcus Crane. Daniel felt happy and sad for Marcus on the fateful day of May 16th, 2052, as he knew that Marcus would very quickly become the most important man on Earth yet be dumped with the incredulous responsibility of leading mankind into the future as a result of his “Fountain of Youth.”
Daniel should have stopped Marcus from announcing the completion of his personal “Fountain of Youth” project. Daniel put the rationale of his childhood friend above the idea that suddenly announcing the availability of immortality of humans would somehow be acceptable, much like the cure from cancer that was announced by Crane Technologies. Regardless of what Daniel thought on the matter of immortality and human sacrifice, his decision to let Marcus go forward with the announcement of the “Fountain of Youth” was a clouded, and poorly made decision based on what would happen in the future.
The sudden dump of the “Fountain of Youth” on the world was ultimately what lead to the fall of society as it was known in the modern era. Individuals flocked to Crane Technologies to receive their immortality, there were riots in the streets across the globe crying out for the halting of production as it was against everything that religion stood for. Government officials and people of power easily got their immortality injections, but those without the funds or power to do so felt hopeless. Within a year of the announcement, there were seemingly new social classes that were based entirely on if an individual had immortality or not. This caused massive strife in poor countries, which would eventually spread to rich countries. The working-class citizens and the poor who could not afford the immortality injection staged a worldwide strike that would not end until they all received immortality, or that the production of the immortality injection would come to a halt. This caused economies across the world to come to a grinding halt, and they would never start up again. Governments began to crumble across the globe, one by one, and eventually there would be no governmental bodies left to legislate and control the land. In the years after the fall of modern governments, the wealthiest of corporations began to buy land from individuals and hire people to control the land that they claimed. Different companies began to have control over areas of the globe, such as Crane Technologies in the Pacific Northwest, Bayer in Central Europe, Samsung in Korea, Google in California, and Amazon in New England.
This was the dawn of the corporate era, with corporations popping up and taking control over areas of land to further their own causes. These corporations were not bound by any pre-existing laws, and their ideals and company policies came to take control over those that were either fortunate or unfortunate enough to live in their land. None of this would have happened if Marcus had not released his product to the world. Daniel could have stopped the release of the product by consulting Marcus, although, Marcus was inherently wrong when he stated that “The progress of humanity requires sacrifice”. Immortality was supposed to be the salvation of humanity, however, because of Marcus Crane’s selfish desire to keep his work to himself, it resulted in the destruction of modern society as it was once known.
Jacob Bausher is a Freshman at Wilkes University. He is a pre-pharmacy major and plays soccer on the Wilkes Men’s Soccer Team.
Blomkamp, N., Blomkamp, N., Block, B., & Kinberg, S. Elysium.
Elysium shows a dystopian future in which the rich and the poor have an incredible wealth gap, so much so that the rich live in a space station. The depiction of this dystopian future is somewhat the aftermath of what happens in this story and offers insight into what a future in this world would be like.
Morgan, R. K. (2018). Altered carbon. London: Gollanz.
Altered Carbon introduces the idea of immortality through the reuploading of human consciousness into a new body after death. This is not quite the same as immortality in this story, as the individuals body remains the same, but the idea of immortality takes up a central place in Altered Carbon and offers insight into what could happen if immortality took hold in human society. The rich could easily have it, while the poor might be able to get it but at a huge cost.
Cross, T. (2014). The Immortality Game. Breakwater Harbor Books.
The Immortality Game has it all. The book offers insight into the future after a societal collapse in the 21st century where science has made incredible leaps forward, but these leaps appear to be more damaging than helpful to humanity. The idea that science is moving forward at an alarming rate unchecked in what it could do to humanity is central to this book, and the story. This shows how a dystopian future might look if a collapse in society happens within our lifetime.