It was a quiet night. A scientist was typing away at the computer with excitement. The key to eternity life has been discovered. No, has been invented. A patent has just been filed by the scientist. He was sure to win the Nobel Prize.
For his whole life, the scientist wished to be famous and rich. He wanted to invent something that could rock the whole world. He wanted to invent nano-robots. Yes, nano-robots, robots the size of atoms, that could enter your blood-stream and keep you alive for eternity.
Tomorrow was his great day, when his face would be flashing live across millions of television screens around the world, when his words would be translated into thousands of different languages to be heard by billions of human beings. He would be interviewed by reporters about his invention. Many, many reporters. Best of all, the President of United States of America, Mr. Douger, would be there to meet him. Tomorrow was really his great day.
The scientist crawled back to bed and pulled the sheet of blanket up to his chin. Minutes later, he was asleep.
The hall was so grand, so spacious, so elegant. Chatter and noise filled the atmosphere. The scientist had dressed up in his best clothes. However, these best clothes would be considered poorly designed and of very poor quality when he became rich.
Hushes ran out when the scientist strode into the hall. All eyes followed his every gait and every movement. Flashes of camera shots lighted up his cleanly-shaved face.
The announcer boomed, "Today, we are indeed very honoured to invite our very own saviour, to talk to us. Mr. Gniq, please."
A warm round of applause cheered the scientist up on stage. Mr. Gniq could feel his presence greatly welcomed.
"A very good morning to one and all. It is very clear as to what I am going to talk to you about today. Well. Nano-robots as you know, are the key to humanity's eternity life. But how?"
"One question for you all first. Why do humans die? Because of the degeneration of our cells. What is degeneration in the first place? Degeneration of cells occur during the replication of cells. When cells multiply, they cannot copy exactly 100 of themselves. Thus, the quality of cells get worse and worst. This is why our skin texture changes from baby smooth to old age rough."
"However, with these nano-robots flowing in our blood, this degeneration will never happen. The nano-robots will secrete a certain substance to stimulate 100 cell copy during duplication. As a result of this, we will not die of old age."
"But what about deaths from accidents and diseases? Well, when we injure ourselves, the nano-robots will stimulate cells to fasten cell repair. Disease in the other hand will be destroyed efficiently. The nano-robots will be armed with tiny machine-guns and shoot these detestable viruses and bacteria dead with bio-degradable bullets."
"The viruses, bacteria and bullets will then come out along with the faeces as waste. We will also never die of thirst and hunger. From the air we breathe in, the nano-robots can remove the moisture and hydrate us. Also, when the sun shines on our skin, our skin acts as solar cells and absorbs solar energy. The nano-robots will convert this solar energy to another form of energy that can be used by we, humans. The nano-robots have been certified by the World Beneficial Inventions (W.B.I) and tested for safety."
"Now, it is time for the question and answer section. Reporters, any questions? Feel free to voice out your questions."
The hall once roared again, with reporters discussing noisily. One curious reporter raised his hand and made his way to the microphone.
"It is said that all robots require wires to work. The nano-robots are so small. How do you assemble the wires in it?"
Mr. Gniq took a deep breath, considered the question and replied.
"To assemble the wires in the nano-robots mechanically is very hard. In this case, the nano-robots require the DNA of the human it is in to assemble the wires into the accurate position. The DNA of the human will provide the orders and information. The wires, build out of atoms, will accept the orders and form up."
"We do not know exactly how it works. But what I have just told you is my hypothesis. Therefore, for a human to possess nano-robots, he or she has to have his or her DNA extracted for creating the nano-robots. In this way, the nano-robots will be made personal."
"When can each and every human possess a robot then?" another reporter enquired.
"Considering the amount of time to extract DNA and to manufacture nano-robots, I say it will take about 5 years for each human to possess nano-robots."
A series of questions and answers followed. When the whole interview ended, the reporters and guests mingled with Mr. Gniq. President Douger also congratulated and praised Mr. Gniq for his findings.
Broadcasted live over the world, one man who watched the entire interview, gritted his teeth. 5 years? Impossible. He was half-dead now, after being infected with full-blown AIDS. How could he bear to wait for 5 years? By then, he would be dead! But, who would want to die?
Clenching his fists, the man gazed out of the window at Mr. Gniq's apartment. He lived one street across the road from the scientist. But he was Mr. Gniq's most hated neighbour. No matter how he asked and begged, he would not be supplied the key to end all his sorrows.
The man stared at his spot-riddled hands. Over years of torture, the man's mind had become nuts. He would not bear with the laughter and teases by his fellow human beings any more. He must have the nano-robots. If Mr. Gniq did not want to provide him the robots, he shall steal it.
Knowing that Mr. Gniq would not return till the day after, the man, armed with a pair of gloves, went on his mission. Crossing the road at midnight, he plied open the lock with a pair of pliers.
The lock was very secure. But after cracking at the right angle, a hiss rang out, and the door popped open. The man entered the apartment and climbed up the stairs, in search of the laboratory.
Finally, after minutes of searching, he came to an enclosed door. This time, it was harder to enter the room. There were automated laser beams, arranged horizontally from the top to the bottom, that guarded the door.
Once a talented engineer, the man toyed with the laser beams, till he found a weak spot. From there, he inserted limeum, a matter that consumes lots of energy, into the gap.
It took minutes for the limeum to drain away the battery that supplied electrical energy to the laser beams. The laser beams slowly faded away. Safe and sound, the man entered the room.
He rummaged through the piles of papers, drawers and cupboards. At last, he found the prototype of the nano-robots in an abandoned drawer. Dancing with joy, he read the instructions of how to use it.
After memorizing the instructions, the man clutched the prototype and walked out of the apartment. The streets were silent. Nobody spotted the man, the stealer, the burglar, the sinner.
Strolling clumsily in the park, the man came to a halt suddenly and sat on a bench. He was suffering from the irritating side effects of the medicine again. Feeling his body go numb, he relaxed and heaved out a sigh. Slowly, he recovered and sat up still. It was a cold night. Wisps of smoke like that of a cigar exited out of the man's mouth.
With a scarf wrapped around his neck, he used his hands to unscrew the vial containing the prototype. His hands were now gloveless. However, in place of the gloves, were thick mittens.
Handle the prototype carefully. Place the prototype in a syringe half-filled with water. Next inject the solution into the vein on your left wrist.
The man could remember clearly the instructions. He poured the prototype into his cupped left hand. The nano-robots look like sand, like clear crystals. He sifted the nano-robots into the syringe half-filled with water.
The crystal clear water in the syringe soon became milky. After making sure that the solution was evenly mixed, the man prepared himself for the thrill.
Shivering with extreme excitement, the man injected the syringe into his vein. He could feel his blood carrying the nano-robots around his body. Yes, he thought. The time has come for me to experience freedom. I can now escape death and torture!
Alas, this was not to be. A few seconds later, the man was suffering from spasms. He collapsed on the ground, shaking terribly. His eyes rolled to the back, while grey blood spurted from his mouth. The man tried to scream for help, but no sound came out of his mouth.
His face was now rotting away at a fast rate. Flies even covered his disgusting wound. His skin was already twisted and distorted. It looked as though red hot wax had been poured on his skin.
No, the man thought. It cannot be possible. But… the nano-robots only accept Mr. Gniq's DNA. His DNA has been embedded inside the nano-robots. They can only function correctly in Mr. Gniq's blood! The nano-robots will are rejecting me now! I will die!
The man could not think any further, for he was dead. His corpse was a mass decaying lump of flesh, with swarms of flies feeding on it.
The wind was blowing hard. A family had barely anything to cover their bodies. But it was not enough to keep the sharp chill away. They trembled and shivered. Suffering from malnutrition, they were very skinny, with only skin to cover their skeletons and bones.
Their children were crying of hunger and of thirst. The parents could do nothing but to slash off their flesh to feed their offsprings. What could they do? There was no food around. Times were hard. Jobs were rare. Robots were snatching away the humans' work. What was the good of worshipping technology? It was bullshit! The disadvantages were certainly more than the advantages.
Chance upon chance, the family of four came upon the abandoned corpse in the park. Their mouths watered at the sight of flesh and meat. Shooing away the flies, the father said to the children, "Go, my beloved children. Go and eat it. We have no choice. Go, John, go, Peter!"
A sense of disgust disturbed the children, but soon hunger overcome them. Rushing to the corpse, they dug their fingers into it, peeling off the waxy skin and feeling for the tendons and meat.
Taking big mouthfuls of the decayed corpse, the children gnawed non-stop. Their parents stood aside, waiting for their children to finish eating. But their stomach were rumbling with thunder cracking inside.
Not long after that, the parents were kneeling beside their children, enjoying the big feast. Saliva drooled from their mouths and dripped on the flesh. Never in their lives, since the time of poverty, have they eaten so much.
The father recalled the times, when robots were absent, when times were good. He was very rich, a millionaire. Patronizing restaurants and buffets, he always had a good time eating. But now… he was sacked and fell into the clutches of bankruptcy.
A strong sense of regret caused the father to cry silently. He stared at the children, still eating and swallowing, munching and chewing. His very dear children, ignoring the stench of the corpse, eating.
Abruptly, the children screamed in pain. Eyes rolled over, they hugged themselves, skin decomposing, flesh rotting. Within seconds, they were gone.
"No,… Peter! John!", the mother cried out.
However, talking was out of the question within seconds. The same thing had happened to the parents. They were rotting away and dying. The parents threw themselves over the bodies of their dead children and breathed their last.
Left in the middle of the park, the peasants were shown huddled together, so warm, so united, so caring, but dead and lifeless. Five died.
Mr. Gniq, the well-known scientist, laid in his bed, at a five-star hotel. Sipping at his coffee, he watched the visivox, eyes never leaving the screen. After years of researching and refraining from the outside world, he finally had time to watch the news, as the research was now completed.
The news broadcaster was reporting about an incident involving five deaths. The corpses were decayed beyond recognition; the scenes shown were very gruesome.
Disgusted, he looked away from the news, broadcasted live. At this stage of the advanced civilization, crime was ebbing. No one dared to commit even a single crime, in fear of getting caught by the very efficient police force. Never, had an incident such as this ever occurred, involving so many deaths.
Soon, the police had arrived in police cars, hovering over the park. The steel doors of the cars slid open, with an iron staircase slowly slithering out. About ten policemen and two forensic scientists walked down the staircase.
The forensic scientists examined the corpses, digging through the distorted flesh.
Using a scalpel knife, they sliced off a piece and plucked at the tendons.
Immediately, Mr. Gniq turned off the visivox. He could watch no further. Sipping more of his coffee, he rested in his head on his pillow and fell asleep. A tired guy like him deserved rest.
The following morning, Mr. Gniq returned home, only to find his door opened and his prototype of his nano-robots missing.
Fuming with anger, he decided to report this incident. It was partially his fault for indulging in his invention and not taking security seriously. But, he was poor! There was nothing he could do. After reporting the incident, he flipped open his visivox and started watching the news.
Horror upon horror, the news reported a terrifying incident involving about twelve people dead. The unfortunate people had died in the same way in which the five people had.
Coincidentally, the twelve people who had died were the ten policemen and the two forensic scientists who were inspecting the five deaths cases yesterday. Coincidentally, or was it really a coincidence?
The park where the five people had died was near his living apartment. There must be a connection between his missing prototype and the seventeen deaths, Mr Gniq thought.
The news broadcaster's voice broke his train of thoughts. Hundreds worldwide had died rotting away. Was it an epidemic, the news broadcaster asked a question, living billions all over the world pondering over it.
Suddenly, as if struck by lightning, a terrifying hypothesis or idea, came to Mr. Gniq.
"It cannot be possible," Mr Gniq muttered under his breath, and retreated into his lab.
Day after day, thousands died. The roads and houses smelt of rotting flesh and of young maggots and flies. Mr. Gniq had huge eye bags and a tired look on his sorrowful face. He needed someone to talk to about his recent discovery.
Dialling 999, he called the police to his home.
"I know the cause of the deaths."
"You know what I am talking about, sirs."
"About the thousands of deaths, mister?"
"Yes." Upon reaching this part of the conversation, Mr. Gniq turned excited.
He continued. "I said during the interview shown world-wide that nano-robots were personal. Each and every robot has the DNA of its master embedded in it. If another person were to possess this robot, all the nano-robots will reject the new master. How it will reject, nobody knows."
"Recently, my nano-robots kept in a vial were stolen. And then many cases, or should I said a case, of deaths occurred. I suspect that the burglar who stole my prototype consumed the nano-robots. But the nano-robots are only suitable for me, not for the burglar. So, they rejected the burglar."
"I conducted many experiments on white mice in the past few days, about the rejection. Placing nano-robots that would reject the white mice, I watched how the white mice reacted. They decayed, decomposed and rotted away, just like the thousands of deaths."
The police tried to interrupt at this point but were stopped by Mr. Gniq.
"I know what you want to ask me. How are the thousands of deaths relate to the stolen prototype then? Well, easy. The burglar died of consuming the nano-robots. In some way or another, the nano-robots in his body got transferred to another human or humans, causing the five deaths."
"Now, like viruses, the nano-robots mutate easily. Upon transferring to the five dead humans, they mutate and grown wings. They thus can travel through air. Every breath we take in now, could contain the nano-robots."
The police again, tried to interrupt.
"You want to ask me, how could there to be so many nano-robots right? Well, they duplicate fast, about 100 every second, once exposed to air. They fly over the oceans and seas, travelled far and reached other continents, killing all humans. There is no end to this, as it is impossible to invent an antidote against the nano-robots. They are invincible"
The police stared at the 'murderer' in front of them.
As if reading their minds, Mr. Gniq said. "I am not the cause of deaths, for I did not spread the nano-robots. It was the burglar. Sadly, a case of crime can cause humanity's doom."
One policeman growled, "Idiot, I will not sit here waiting for my death. I will kill you first," Saying this, he pounced on the scientist. Other policemen tried to stop him, but to no avail.
A gust of wind entered the room, bringing in a fresh troop of nano-robots. They invaded the policeman's immune system, causing him to die in a matter of seconds. Not only, did he die, the other policemen also died.
Looking at the corpses, Mr. Gniq spoke between tears.
"They cannot harm me. They only protect me. They will not harm me. They have my DNA."
Shaking his head, he brought the corpses to his backyard and buried them. He felt guilty and responsible for their deaths. After praying hardly for their souls to be at peace, Mr. Gniq finally re-entered the house.
A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic. Not long, the number of deaths had reached two billion. Fear was depicted in each and every fellow human's face.
Worse still, animals and plants died too. They were rejected. Too. Every second, hundreds of people world-wide will be collapsing, writhing and dying.
Mr. Gniq stayed at home, sighing all day long. He was alone in the continent of America, the first continent to be wiped out.
The streets were silent. All corpses had long ago broke down and gone with the wind. No flies, no pests, no animals, no humans. Mr. Gniq was alone in the world, or as good as alone.
In just one month, the whole human race was wiped out, leaving only a sole survivor. America first, followed by Asia, then Europe, then Africa. All living things had either gone up to heaven or down to hell. Everybody, except Mr. Gniq, died.
What had brought the doom of humanity, a sole crime or an invention that could have brought humanity countless benefits? It was just a question of judgement, but there was nobody to be the judge. Only a human, Mr. Gniq.
Yes, Mr. Gniq would not die. He would never die of injuries, of old age, of hunger, or of thirst. Neither of these could harm him. Thanks to the nano-robots. However, what was the use of living for eternity, without any one, any partner to accompany him?
Mr. Gniq would soon be demented. He dearly loved the past, when the streets and cities were alive, full of noise and of vigour. Now, everything was gone. He was the sole survivor of the entire human race. Who could felt much more lonely than him?
Would Mr. Gniq commit a suicide? Nobody knows. Not even Mr. Gniq himself. He shall live a long life till he does not want to live any further. By then, he will die, a very peaceful death.
Outside his living apartment, the snow was still falling, in the wintry December night. The snow was so beautiful, so nice. But there was nobody to enjoy it. Mr. Gniq just stays at home, never wishing to see daylight.
The domestic robots, the working robots were all left alone. They searched day and night for their masters, the humans, but never had any results. They shall continue finding till their battery run out of electrical energy.
By then, Mr. Gniq would have died too. And Earth would be abandoned. The very Earth that had once flourished with dinosaurs, with cavemen, with animals, with humans that brought its very own doom. This Earth had just undergone its Golden Age but saw its end too quickly.
The technology had destroyed it. In other civilizations at other ends of the Universe, technology was flourishing, while in others, they suffered the same fate of Earth. These civilizations were being murdered by technology.
The snow continue falling, the wind continue blowing. The stairs never stop creaking, but life on Earth never went on. Nano-robots were once, for a short time, considered the key to humanity's eternity life, but now it was the key to humanity's doom. This was the world of 2040.