Saturday, July 11, 2015

Short Story: The Society

The 31 Stories in 31 Days in July Challenge, #12 for July 12th.

The Society

“George. What if I told you I was two-hundred-years old?” Thomas asked his friend while they were walking back to the golf cart carrying their clubs.

“Ha! That's funny” Thomas said “We've known each other since we were teenagers. You've aged just like anyone else”

They put their bags into the back of the cart and climbed into the front.

“That's true, George” Thomas said “When we get old, we just get new, young bodies”

George stopped the cart and looked at his friend “Have you lost your mind recently?”

Thomas smiled and looked away. “I'm just getting tired. I thought it was great for a while but... I don't know any more”

“I've met your parents when we were young” George told him “You were raised rich and spoiled, I know you, remember? You were the one who did well in college without breaking a sweat...”

“I'd already passed those courses a couple of times, George” Thomas told him “When I was given my new body a couple of other members are signed up as my so-called parents. It's part of being in the secret society”

George shook his head. He didn't know what kind of game Thomas was playing this time but it seemed to be one of his longest jokes. “I don't even know what you are talking about, it doesn't make any sense”

Thomas nodded “I would have to start from the beginning. I was invited to join a secret society that had devised the technology to give people a young, healthy body again. In exchange for living many lifetimes we would pool much of our wealth with the goal of controlling the world”

George blinked. World domination, he hadn't seen that coming. “You must realize how that sounds to people, Thomas”

Thomas laughed. “Yes, I can imagine. I had the same thoughts when I was invited. Of course back then technology was much more primitive than it is now”

George shook his head. “Can we finish the game? Unless you can show me something, this is getting boring”

Thomas smiled and pointed forward “Drive then”

After the cart was moving Thomas spoke up, looking at some trees to his left “I have saved up quite a fortune in several lifetimes. I didn't inherit that money from anyone except myself.”

George had some questions if Thomas was going to keep playing this game “You were rich in college and yet, you never tried to chase girls and stuff, what's up with that? You only dated and then married Cindy the whole time I've known you”

“She's a member of the society, George” Thomas said “I married her a hundred and sixty years ago and haven't wanted to stray since”

George stopped the cart again. At this rate they would never reach the fifth hole. He took a deep breath and then looked at Thomas “Okay, spill. What's going on? Are you on drugs? Is there a problem at home with Cindy?”

Thomas shook his head. “Nothing like that George. I just wonder if there a point to all this. There are some high government officials in the society but it's not like they have any control after all this time. The society is fabulously wealthy but I just don't see the point. Civilization will collapse before we can save it”

“The riots, the economic tyranny, government out of its gourd” Thomas said, listing the things he and George were always concerned about. “Even with all the wealth the society has, we cannot stop or slow down the collapse, George. It's going to happen”

George already knew that. When every government on Earth is furiously printing more money or deeming it through banks without printing it, the end was near. “I don't know. If a group of super-wealthy immortals can't save us, then we're really doomed” he said with a half-hearted laugh,

Thomas was looking distant and thoughtful. George had expected at least a smile, so he tried again with humor “Good thing Carla and I have a really big bunker full of provisions”

Thomas looked around and then at George. “We're leaving George” he said, as seriously as he had ever seen his friend “Earth can't be saved. We're leaving. Our wealth will be meaningless on another world and we have to start over but it can't be worse that what is going to happen here”

George tilted his head, looking at his oldest friend, and finally believed him. “Ha. All you rich softies trying to raise your own food and mend your own clothes will be a hoot” he said “All those poor butlers might want to stay here”

Thomas nodded “We will take as much with us as possible. We will bring all the robots, machines and equipment we need, hopefully with the new printing devices we can make parts and keep them running for a long time. Of course we won't be alone. We'll find others who have needed skills and will fit into the society more or less easily.”

He was looking right at George when he said the last part.

“You want me to go with you?” he asked. His friend nodded.

“You can take your time giving me an answer” Thomas told him “Don't tell Carla and the kids until just before we leave. Less chance of someone spreading it to the outside.”

They abandoned the golf match and headed straight for the clubhouse. Thomas nodded and waved to the mayor and some others who they crossed paths with. George wondered how many of them were members of this secret Society. How many of them had lived a century or two with these secrets while amassing great wealth, he wondered.

“How can you leave? Space technology is still primitive. We've barely just stepped foot on Mars for crying out loud” George said in a hushed voice as they took their drinks to a secluded table.

Thomas grinned again. More secrets. “It was all done in secret. Like the reincarnation technology, it's all been done in the shadows”

George shook his head. “I was a radar tech in the air force, we could see birds if we wanted to. Anything that reached 60 miles an hour was automatically tracked by the AWACS. No way you guys have been flying around in secret”

Thomas shook his head “Don't think spaceships. Think wormhole”

George was stunned. He was actually looking forward to seeing a spaceship, really. Then he had a thought “I guess spaceships would limit the number of people who could go with you”

Thomas nodded “and the amount of equipment we could move”

George thought for a moment and drained the glass. “How long has this wormhole been used?”

Thomas looked around and leaned forward “Two years” he whispered “We have been furiously building the infrastructure and everything else. Already the wormhole technology has been moved to the other end. Once it is closed, it will be impossible to duplicate”

George leaned back and ran a hand across his cheek. “When will it be closed for good?”

“Two months” Thomas answered “If you decide to go, we will help you take as much stuff as is possible. A whole truck-load if you'd like. Oh, yes we just drive the trucks through”

George shook his head to clear it. “I'm going to need a few more of those”

Thomas put a hand on his and said “Don't get drunk. Not until the move is complete”

The major cities were battlefields, many buildings burned during the nights. Police were out-gunned by the gangs and the desperate citizens. The money had become worthless, the wheels had come off the wagon. Grocery stores were bare, farms were plowed under and abandoned. Factories were shuttered.

“Okay, everything loaded?” George asked as Carla and the kids finished putting the last boxes aboard the black unmarked truck. The driver saluted him before taking off, he and the kids would follow in the SUV. George felt the sidearm on his hip, even a short ride to the golf course was dangerous these days.

A mile down the road the truck veered off into the concrete ravine below, George steered to follow it as it went underneath the bridge and toward the golf course. At the end he could see the large grated sewage pipe up ahead, but it opened in front of them and they drove right on inside.

The Society owned the golf course and much of everything in this town. This town happened to be their headquarters, and underground was where everything happened for them. They saw heavily armed guards patrolling the tunnel and then they were waved into another turn, inside of that was a large swirling vortex of light. It looked like a small galaxy and the big black truck drove right through it and vanished.

His family was the last on the list. The guards were closing the big door to the chamber and the grate outside. All of the guards gathered around them and started marching into the vortex.

“This way, sir!” one of the guards said, knocking on his window.

“I guess this is it, then” Carla said “Leaving Earth behind”

“Yeah, we'll be safer there, right?” George said, still not certain about anything except that it could not possibly be worse than an apocalypse. As he drove through the swirling vortex he wondered if that was actually true.

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