526 Pills (540-word techno-thriller)

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“Just one more pill,” William said as he tried to drop the capsule into his daughter’s mouth. She always had a tiger’s jaw resistance when it came to swallowing the quadrennial nanorobotic disease-prevention capsule, also known as the Nad-Cap. He held up the 2-by-1cm reddish translucent capsule in front of Emma’s eyes. Possibly a bit too big for her to swallow, but it was for her own good. He even had a glass of water to aid in the process.

She looked away with shivering eyes and jaw after witnessing the tiny particles moving within.

He held the Nad-Cap in front of his eyes. No matter how much William strained, he still couldn’t see the tiny nanobots. He used to be able to see them a decade ago when he was 516 years of age. But a slightly delayed intake of an anti-aging pill converted his 20/9 vision to 20/10.

“Maybe it’s just meant to be,” his wife, age 501, said. People used to say that she’s so young, she could be William’s daughter herself. But after the passing of over four centuries since the simultaneous invention of the anti-disease and anti-aging pills, the 25 years of difference just paled in comparison. The only biological difference between her and a 30-year old woman was her tendency to scratch her wrists because of a previously-diagnosed bipolar disorder.

“The doctor even said if Emma stopped taking the pills last year, the previous nanobots would work for another 20 years. She can live until 130. Better than average.” She scratched her wrists.

“How can you say such a thing, Anastasia?” He put the pill back into a case. “How can you say such an irresponsible thing? It’s our daughter we’re talking about.”

“What makes you think living longer is always better?” she clenched her fists. “I’ve seen all my friends, their children, their grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and younger generations all pass away. All while I still look the same, with the same health condition of a 30-year old. Why?” She continued scratching her wrists.

“That is thanks to your husband, who’s a multi-billionaire, a chairman of a renowned R&D firm, an owner of 20 private jets, with investment in over 200 real estates,” he snickered.

“I just want to grow old with you, hubby. I want to grow old with you and our 26 children and 312 grandchildren. I want us to live a normal life, one made up of happy times and sad times, one with aging, disease, disability, and death. I want us to live a natural life, not an artificial life.” The scratching of wrists wouldn’t stop.

A vintage KA-BAR combat knife suddenly slid out from her right sleeve and she grabbed her husband from behind.

“What are you doing, honey?” he said, vocal cords shivering and palms sweating. The 10-year old Emma didn’t say a word before starting to cry.

He reached his hands backward, not to strangle his attacker, but to gently hug his wife. “It’s all right, honey. I understand what you want. Let us grow old together and live a normal and natural life. Let us throw away the 526 red pills and naturally age and become wheelchair-bound before our lives end.”

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