Chapter 1: Mingled Life
The house has been quiet for hours now. Just the office light and kitchen light are on as David Dante spends more long hours on teaching himself another new computer application which is being implemented at work. Ten or fifteen years ago he was sure he would have been management by forty. Changes used to be so much easier to handle and learn. After a brief daydream of the past, he realizes he will get four hours of sleep if he goes to sleep right now. He knows he hasn’t got as far as he needed to, but he’s so tired he doesn’t care.
His eyes burn. He can feel the heat from them against his eyelids. To help with the burning he begins to rub his eyelids. The rubbing feels good, and he carries on for a short time. Amused at the amount of pleasure he leans back, takes a deep breath and decides he is done for the night.
The alarm clock seems to scream in his ear like it does every morning. His loving wife Elizabeth never seems to get irritated at his need to push the snooze button over and over again. She rises after the alarm goes off the first time to make coffee. She used to get irritated when Dave would push the snooze continuously, but she understands he is working a lot of hours. She also understands relationships require give and take.
She brings him a cup of fresh coffee as he fights his aging body to get up and moving. Sometimes he looks up at her as she lays the full cup on the nightstand on his side of the bed, most of the time he doesn’t. The coffee helps him wake up in the morning, but it is her that motivates him to get out of bed. She is always cheerful and understanding.
The sun peers around the edges of the curtains. As Dave looks at the light, he remembers how much he loves the feel of the sun on his skin. It’s been so long since he allowed himself a day to work in his abandoned garden, or just about anything not having to do with his job.
He doesn’t have the heart to let his wife know it was going to be many years before they can retire or even go on vacation again. “I will die before I can afford to retire,” has become a large theme of his day-to-day. Dave managing the finances kind of just evolved as the way it had become in his household. Liz has no idea he has taken pay cuts just to stay employed. He didn’t purposely keep the eroding financial situation from his Liz. At first it was one pay cut. Then it was another. Telling Liz now would be like admitting lying to her for the last five years. He is holding out hope he will find a way to get back on track.
“How early are we going to the campus for Lexi’s graduation ceremony?” Liz asks as she walks down the hall. Her husband is a good man but she knows he has many things on his mind. She would ask questions like this in a way to remind him and allow him to make the decision. Not that Dave has a weak ego; she just has her ways of allowing him to maintain that masculine feeling.
Razor in hand and shaving cream smothered on his face, Dave becomes irritated. How could he forget his baby’s graduation ceremony?
“I don’t know… there are a few things I need to handle….” He looks at this old tired guy in the mirror and wonders where his life has gone. Dave has never really liked sitting at a desk, but he used to find ways to make it entertaining. Over the years it’s become just something he does to pay the bills. Waking up is the worst part of his life.
She walks into the bathroom and puts her arm across his back, with her hand on his shoulder. She leans on him in a way that allows her bathrobe to fall slightly open, exposing half of her breast. He still has plenty of fire for his wife. Of all of the things that have changed in his life, the sexual desire Dave has for his wife has always been constant.
“Don’t worry about the Asses, you are my superman.” She puts her head on his shoulder and smiles her cute little smile. “My superman is invincible.” Liz has been calling him superman since before they got married twenty years ago. She knows how much that nickname motivates and even defines him.
Dave turns his head and kisses her forehead, leaving a smudge of shaving cream right above her left eye and a little in her eyebrow. This gives them both a laugh. She pushes away, and he pulls her close.
“You know I have a minute or two before I have to go.” He looks down at her almost completely uncovered front side with a slightly perverted smile.
“You don’t have time. If you are late again, you might not have a job anymore.” This killed the moment. Now Dave was back to being in a world where he was, he is not in control. She was right; the Asses were not the type of people to allow tardiness.
Dave talks as he takes his last few strokes with the razor, “well... if the ceremony is at five, then we could get there about ten minutes early. That should be enough time to say hi to her and get seats.” He splashes his face with water. The water irritates the areas where the razor burn is. Shaving is something Dave has never liked. His skin is the type to breakout from shaving leaving him with a burning itching feeling for hours after he shaves. He used to dream of a day he would retire and never shave again. Then he realizes he will never retire and his mood becomes robotic.
“That should be fine.” She replies. “Are we going to meet back here at the house then?”
“That works for me.” Dave puts on his jacket on, leans over his wife as she is sitting her chair doing her makeup and gives her a peck on the lips.
Sitting on the bench as he waits for the metro, Dave goes over some of the notes he wrote for himself. These new computer applications are produced more rapidly, and progressively more complicated than each previous month’s. He wonders how many notes he will have to write down and study before he reaches his breaking point.
An ascended man stands next to him. This one is of the lower forms of the Ascended. The higher forms can communicate and work from wherever they are. As all Ascended, his posture is great. He stands there looking blankly ahead. As most Normals, Dave has come to find himself viewing these people more as emotionless objects than human beings. He has heard of people going through the conversion and holding on to their humanity. Personally he has never seen it. To him it is nothing more than a myth.
The metro comes to a stop and Dave is relieved to see it is not too crowded yet. Unfortunately, he works fourteen stops down the line. Dave boards the train and sees an unusual amount of open seats. He knows sitting is a bad idea due to how tired he is. In his garage he has a nice, newish car. The repurposing of the streets for the mass transit has made going through the city a complicated maze. He often ponders whether this was done on purpose to force people to ride these metros.
Looking down the rows of seats, he is tired of the plain colors. As the Ascended became more in control, simple things like colors slowly became non-existent everywhere in his world. The old colorful out of date seats look horrible, but they weren’t plain and boring. The only good thing to have changed, the smell of urine doesn’t permeate the whole inside. He isn’t sure whether he would rather have the boring or the nasty smell.
He plops his butt down on one of the first open seats and slides over to the window. The cool temperature from outside is barely noticeable from the temperature of the metro cab. He doesn’t want to look at his notes, or go to work, or be on a metro with more and more Ascended people. Their robotic ways tends to give him the creeps. Many rides to and from work he would just stare at them. In his time he has watched the world more dramatically change than any other generation before him. These thoughts intrigued, angered, but mostly scared him.
With their neural network tied into the global wireless network, the Ascended eliminated communication through talking years ago. This made the public areas more and deader, with zombie like corpses set in motion. To Dave this is what it is, dead. In the streets there isn’t any more laughing or yelling. Dave has become more passive as he gets older, but he misses emotions, even the angry people. The drop in things like being confrontational was just one of the many changes he attributed to age. But, at least anger is an emotion. Now there was nothing. Lots of people walking the street with only a few real words shared.
Birth rates have dropped so sharply over the last twenty years, even the younger punks who use to aimlessly wonder the streets are gone. He even misses their punk-asses always getting into some kind of trouble. Not sure what the Normal to Ascended ratio is, Dave can’t help but to imagine the Normals became the minority a while ago.
He remembers watching the Discovery Channel some twenty-two years earlier on episodes of the first animal tests with the neural networks. Dave was fascinated. At first esteemed scientists found a way to transfer memories. Then it was communicating between animals with the implants. No one was as interested in this topic as he was. For a period of time, he even considered trying to find a way to get into the field and get paid to help make the breakthroughs. This dream fell to the wayside with all of his other half ambitions.
Two short years after the first successes in transferring memories in animals, he was watching the episode where they were transferring memories from person to person. Dave had never seen technology go from animal testing to people with such speed. His assumption was the money. There was a huge amount of money to be made so there must have been many greased palms and backdoor deals.
It was late at night while watching an episode on the topic on neural implants. Dave was lying in bed with the lights off and the volume low. Liz didn’t care too much for the science stuff, the two used to joke about how he used to watch it when he wanted her to go to sleep. As Dave watched an entire year of memories being transferred from one test patient to the other in seconds, he became scared. For the first time in a long time, he was genuinely scared. For ten minutes or so he stared off into space, his mind had gone wild thinking about the different ways this was going to change the future. This practice of drifting off in thought isn’t something Liz is too fond of, especially during conversations.
So many things were going to change: school, work and, life in general. He had spent so long going to school. If they could take a minute or two to download a year of information, what was going to happen as this technology progressed? Dave knows he has always been a person to do what is needed, but he has never had the gift of understanding technology as well as most of the engineers around him. He is the kind of man who studies his ass off to barely pass. With this new generation of workers bound to come, Dave first began to understand the edge he walks on to stay in a technical field may soon be gone.
The train makes its eighth stop and out the window he sees about ten Asses standing there, waiting for the door to open. Dave lets out a slight giggle in amusement at the nickname Asses. Society is something he couldn’t ever completely comprehend. Though computers and math were difficult for him, he could grasp the concepts. Society invents funny nicknames like turning the Ascended to Asses. Society also molds and changes slowly. Well, that is until the evolution of the Ascended. All of the rules or existing models of society had to change. Much of what was understood in psychology and sociology had to be rewritten or added to. Dave has been sure for a long time that the uncertainty of their existence is what most of the Normals feared.
For the longest time he felt bad for the Ascended, especially in groups. As their numbers grew, Norms became more aware of their world changing. Violence started to become more and more accepted. Different groups tried their best to outlaw the procedure all together. When the numerous different laws did not pass, the violence started in random acts here and there.
Eventually groups like the ten standing outside the doors would be in danger. However they are programed, anger and violence is not included. Those images of random violence used to litter the news. After a while it was an old story and no one cared to hear it any more, it was the same story over and over; Ascended were attacked and did nothing to defend themselves. Many times it was as simple as them not even attempting to resist while being bludgeon to death by a random Normal.
To help bring an end to the violence against the seemingly exponentially growing Ascended population, the police force was more than tripled in the city. Jobs like police and firefighter are about the only jobs left that are done completely by Normals.
Dave goes back to thinking about the evolution of the implants. At first only the mentally disabled were operated on with this new procedure. Then, starting about seven years ago, a few eccentric wealthy people had undergone the operation. For the most part, these operations were a huge success. In a short amount of time, “Cerebral Enhancement” became available for anyone with a hundred thousand dollars. As the process and the implants improved, the cost came down.
The only limiting issue was the capacity of the brain. It turns out it can only hold and process so much information at a time. Different storage deceives were made to help with processing and memory capacity. Initially, the implant had a bulky looking device that protruded out the back of the skull. As improvements were made to the implants, size decreased to the point where the implant fit inside the skull. Slowly the modern day neural network came to be. It’s like the wireless network people use in their homes for internet or television. The main difference is the capacity, speed, and the fact that it is literally accessible everywhere, worldwide. A little less than about eighteen years ago the neural network went global. An Ass could then be plugged into the network, wherever he was at on the globe.
The idea that a thought an Ascended hade in Fiji, could be heard by a man in Oregon amazed Dave. It had become the greatest communication tool. He spend a long time thinking that there would and could never be a better tool for communication. As one anywhere thought it, all could hear it and interact.
Dave looks around and thinks of how he used to strike up conversations with total strangers. Those times are long gone. Conversations with Ascended are awkward at best and frowned upon more and more by the Norms as a whole. He hasn’t made an acquaintance from a random conversation in years; the isolation on some days was almost unbearable. He would sit day in and day out surrounded by rows full of nobodies.
Finally, the last of the ten to board the metro sit down. One sits in the seat in front of him. On the back of his head, there is a scar from the “ass-op” (another term Dave finds comical, short for Ascended Operation). Under the scar is an implant, which looks very much like a transparent octopus. The implant itself isn’t that large nor the idea that bothersome to Dave. What seems invasive and bothersome are the tentacles which make all of the actual neural connections in the brain. Initially there are hundreds of the thin, long tentacles (technically known as neural transmission connection lines) implanted in the back of the brain (hippocampus) coming off the octopus’s head (neural network module). These hundreds of tentacles slowly grow branches, length, and connections while they are in your skull. The longer the implant is in the patient, the more the intelligent and connected the individual becomes. To Dave, this also means more withdrawn and robotic.
The other two unaltered Normals in the metro car laugh and start to taunt the group of Asses who got on the metro at the last stop. There will be no response from the Asses. For lack of a better term, the Norms have become nothing more than second class and lower being with very limited capability for interpreting behavior. Communication between the two types of peoples is rough and uncomfortable for everyone.
His metro stop is visible from his office building. Stepping off the platform he dreads looking up at the building. It is one of the newer buildings, grey, tall, and bland. All of the buildings built for the Asses, were exactly the same, the same number of windows, and stairs, and doors. He could handle struggling at work but the bland nature of it all seems to always be an extra fuck you to Dave.
With bosses and coworkers going to the other side and becoming Asses, the workplace is unbearable. Dave regrets always giving his dad a hard time whenever he would help with computer issues. His dad never seemed to grasp what seemed very simple concepts. Every day Dave gets further and further behind at work and begins to understand the way his dad must have felt. When he thinks back to helping his dad with computer issues, he wishes he had not been so condescending.
As a child in Kindergarten, Dave clearly remembers one of the slower children who would sit in the back of the room and lick paste off his finger. That’s how he feels in meetings today. With the staff being eighty percent Asses, most of the meeting is silent with the Asses communicating wirelessly (‘speaking Ass’). When he is lost on what is going on, he just nods his head to show he understands. He imagines he must look like the kid eating paste in the back of the classroom. It has been this way for long enough that it doesn’t even bother him anymore.
During one specific meeting, Dave thought to himself, “That kid must have been happy. No cares to what others thought, no paycheck worries, and no retirement worries. All he cared about was how tasty that paste was.” This thought made Dave erupt in a small giggle. Everyone in the meeting looked at him as if he were about to contribute to the conversation.
The Program Manager who stood at the head of the table emotionlessly stared at him and said, “David, are there issues?”
In his mind his thoughts ran wild for the response he wanted to say, Fuck yeah, you cyborg mother fucker. You lifeless bitch…...
Instead he said, “No sir, everything is just fine.” in a very sarcastic way. These Asses were more senior and had lost comprehension for sarcasm; however the other Norms at the meeting had to try to contain their laughing for fear of being called on as well.
After society had become more and more Asses, Norms were out of work more and more. Eventually Congress addressed this unemployment issue by creating a Fair Employment Act. The issues of yesterday like equal opportunity based on race or sex had all but died off. Now it was an issue of giving normal, unaltered people a job.
Dave assumed much of the violence was due to the lost wages of the Normals. The struggles of work in generations past couldn’t hold a candle to today’s unemployment. As more people went hungry the violence grew. Getting a job became impossibility for a Normal, this being the main reason why Dave never seriously considers leaving his job. As crappy as it is, he knows there is nothing else for him. He could care less if his position was only maintained to fulfill the Fair Employment Act, he had a job.
To provide the Ascended with appropriate compensation, measures were set up to allow them to make multiple incomes. It is a system calibrated to a Normals’ workday. In the workplace initially the implant was only for those who wanted to excel. As more of the population became Ascended, it became apparent they could get much more work done in one day than an average Normal. The metric became known as the workday. A normal can work one workday in a standard eight hour day. A junior Ascended can possibly do two or even three workdays in the same eight hour day. The more senior Ascended could do as much as six workdays. The metric isn’t very precise, but most people accept it.
Pay for the metric is one to one. The average pay for the position, times how many workdays you are paid at. This leaves the Ascended with a considerably larger paycheck than Normals. To be back to the pay he was at years ago Dave would have to put in at least two workdays of work. He accepts this isn’t a reality being he can barely do what he is supposed to as is. Normals have tried to be granted permission to do more than one day in a one work day, but none have been granted. The workdays being done by the Ascended happen simultaneously. Generally, the simultaneous work is of the same field. An engineer can do analysis on a program while doing research and development, or just number crunching. There are rumors of how devastatingly difficult the test is to get permission to do more than one workday. Normals haven’t even been applying for years now.
If the Asses had any kind of emotion, Dave would assume they would find it very irritating to allow Normals to slow them down as much as they do. Last he heard they were able to download the entire field of Physics in a minute. All of it. Of course he doesn’t know whether this is rumor or not and he is not going to ask an Ass if it is true.
Back at his cubical Dave focuses on doing what he is paid to. At the moment it is helping create graphics for a program to make it more user friendly to the Norms. While Ascended are vastly more intelligent, they lack the capacity to make even the simplest user interface for use by Norms. However, most of the time Dave just tries to look busy. At this moment he is trying to understand what a piece of code is supposed to do.
“Hey Double Ds,” says Robbie in a loud voice with his arms hanging over the walls of Dave’s cube. The two have been friends since they both started at the same community college. Double Ds is one of many of the nicknames Robbie has for Dave. Somehow Robbie has escaped having to grow up. He still lives in an apartment, with no kids or consistent other half. Robbie is what keeps Dave’s life entertaining.
As the workforce becomes more and more connected to the network, the Norms become more acceptably childish. The Asses do not seem to have a care either way. Sometimes the childishness is the only thing that makes work even remotely bearable.
“What’s up Robbie?” His train of thought is irritatingly broken as he looks up.
“Did you hear Beardy is get’in’ neuralized?” (Beardy is a nickname given to Justin Peterson on account of his massive, lip hiding beard.) After he says this, his face goes limp and he puts his arm out in from motioning walking like an old school robot. “Beep, beep, beep.”
“What? Bullshit.” In his mind there was no way Dave could believe Beardy would go through the process and leave the group of Norms at work behind. Beardy is a bit of a comical rebel. He doesn’t even like having that giant nasty beard he has had for four years now, he only has it in protest of all the clean-shaven Asses.
“Who told you this crap?”
“Well it’s all the rage in the network room.” Robbie was sure of himself, not that he wouldn’t be telling stories to get a rise out of someone. “Yep, confirmed he is going on indefinite vacation starting next month.”
“Wow” Dave thinks. He leans back a little bit and stares blankly at the wall of his cubicle. All he could think is how similar he and Beardy are.
Realizing Dave is doing his stare off in space thing Robbie states “Later. Just wanted to let you know you the resistance has lost one.” He throws a zig heil style salute into the air to make fun of the Asses and walks away. The comedy in a black man throwing the Heil Hitler sign is lost in this office. This office was almost entirely senior Ascended. Downstairs in the network room is where the manual labor done is done. Asses slowly became useless with things that are hands on. So Robbie gets to have a lot of laughs with the other network guys out of sight of the Ascended employees. Not that they would care either way.
Dave’s mind goes back to Beardy. “How could he?” Dave feels as if he has been betrayed. “We are in the same boat with family, bills, work… What will happen to the dwindling amount of developers that are left?” There are so many different thoughts. He does give slight acknowledgement to having giving thought to going through the process. But he would have never have admitted it out loud. Now he wishes he had talked to Beardy about it.
Looking at his monitor, Dave realizes he only has about twenty minutes till mandatory break. During this time everyone has to get up and go outside. The Ascended had done many studies and found and implemented many different things to keep people the most productive. Mandatory breaks are one of these findings.
The twenty minutes pass and Dave has had no focus to even understand what it he is supposed to do on this user interface part of the program. The moment the little friendly bells chime for break he jets up out of his chair and moves with a purpose.
As he moves down the cubicles he is still bothered by the way the Ascended work. Their cubes are completely empty. There are no pictures, computer, or even a pen. Every one of them sits up in a proper way and stares straight ahead. Dave doesn’t even know if they can acknowledge what is going on around them as they work tied in to the network.
“Beardy, what the fuck? Is it true?” Dave stands in his cube right as Beardy gets out of his chair.
“Look man, the thing is I just...” He pauses.
“You just what? You just gave up. They get to win?” Dave is by no means a confrontational guy. Right now however he is watching one of the more solid workers he counts on about to go the way of the Ascended. This means work is going to suck more for me, Dave thought. Now he feels like an asshole, anger always makes it harder for Dave to concentrate and he becomes unproductive.
“I know you understand” Beardy says in a low voice with his head slightly down. “I can’t anymore. You know you can’t for much longer. This is our only option. Or…you can go sweep the streets, because soon that’s all we’ll be good for.”
This leaves Dave silent. Beardy slowly pushes Dave aside as he gets in line with the others going outside for mandatory break. Dave starts to walk and daydreams at the same time. He bumps into an Ascended. There is no need to apologize to them. These more senior ones have outgrown the need for empathy, anger, or feelings at all. Dave imagines he could just beat the hell out of one of them with no response.
At break outside the building, the weather appears to be nice. The city buildings had grown so tall that they almost block out the sky. Looking up almost anywhere in the city felt like being in a deep hole with a little light visible at the top. Wind doesn’t really make it down between the buildings.
Dave sees Robbie and belts out a healthy, “Brotha man, what’s going on.” They have a great relationship, more similar to what you would expect out of close siblings.
“Nothin’ man, you know. Hey, did you talk to your boy Beardy?” He said with a smile you give when you win at a hand of cards.
“Don’t be sad. Shit. You’re Dave, man. You can show all them bitches, you don’t need to plug in to win this game.” Robbie is the kind of guy who could be happy without anything. Dave used to be this way. As Dave has gotten older he has become used to the big house, five hundred channels, and vacations when they could still afford them. When he talks with Robbie, sometimes he misses the days of little responsibility and the ease of just living day to day.
“I know. You always know how to cheer me up baby.” The two had joked like this pretty much since they first met.
“Knowing he is going through with it, makes me look at…I don’t know, it just seems more and more inevitable.”
“What does? Puttin’ that octopus in your head? Fuck no.” The two have talked about it since it was only being tested in animals. “I still say, no fuckin’ way. Then all you’re gonna do is bee-boop. There is no more love or sex. You will have no more need for philosophy or super hero flicks. All the shit that makes life worth living.”
Dave loved this about Robbie. Robbie almost always had a different viewpoint. Robbie also reads a lot more than Dave. At the age of fifteen Robbie had read “Either/Or” by Søren Kierkegaard with great comprehension. Dave fumbled through it at thirty-five and didn’t gain half the knowledge or understanding as Robbie did. They shared a lot of books over the years, yet Robbie always took much more from each read. Dave never could understand how he could miss so much of what he read.
“Then whatcha’ gonna do with your wife? Sorry baby I don’t like getting some sugar anymore.” Robbie knows Liz well. From time to time she would refer to the two guys as her brother-husbands.
“I dunno. You don’t think there is a way to maintain being human and cyborg?” The desperation is more evident than it has ever been before to Robbie. It’s clear to Robbie now that Dave is really considering going through with the process.
Robbie has no hate for the individual Ascended, He has a disgust for the voluntary loss of humanity. He predicted this downfall of the human element after the first successful implant years ago. At the time Dave didn’t completely agree with him. It took years before Dave would concede the human element was being lost in the name of advancement.
“Look,” he points to a few of the most senior guys entering the building. “You think any of these mother fuckers said one day ‘I wanna be boring as shit and never get my dick wet again?’ Fuck no. They got scared just like you are, then they changed. And there’s no coming back.”
“Damnit man. You always have a way of doing this to me. You take my half-stupid idea and show me how dumb it really is,” he says as he is rolling his eyes with hands up in a whatever gesture. Dave and Robbie never really fought. They would get mad at each other and then get over it. When Dave was stuck on an issue, Robbie usually made a good sounding board. When Dave knows Robbie won’t agree with something, he doesn’t tell him about it until he has worked out a lot of the details and can provide ample arguments in his favor. Right now, he wishes he hadn’t shared his view on getting the implant.
The break bell (better known as the cattle bell) rings and they wander with all of the other cattle back into the building. Once inside the building, they say their goodbyes and diverge to their various departments.
At his desk with fifteen minutes left in the day Dave receives an email from his direct supervisor. Asses’ emails always have a specific, sterile quality. They spent time trying to make communications like emails look more human and fake some feelings into their communications. They always come off as forced and as generic as most holiday greeting cards.
The task included in the email was easily a four-hour task. Shit, is the first thing he thinks. In the last four or five years he has missed so much in his daughters life, but he isn’t going to miss her graduation.
He knocks on his boss’s office door. The reply is a dry and simple, “Come in.”
Even their small talk is robotic and kind of pathetic, he thinks as he opens the door. “This new task is going to take too long and I need to leave on time today. My daughter has a thing and I….”
Dave’s boss sits still and looks straight ahead. “The situation has been resolved” reports the boss.
Dave knows what this means. It means he used his massive brainpower to talk to another Ass while they were having their present conversation. Not only does Dave consider this rude, but he knows it wouldn’t even take a whole minute for one of these Ass-holes to knock this task out.
I hate feeling stupid, he thinks to himself as he feels his jaw clench.
The cattle bells rings to go home. Dave doesn’t want to talk to anyone. He just wants to board his metro and get home. Home, where there are no Ascended. Elizabeth would be there with a smile, regardless of how her day went. Dave will slide his fingers through her hair as he palms the back of her head and pulls her close. He would take his time sharing a kiss with his love in a way that only someone in love can appreciate.
About halfway home on the metro, he can see one of the billboards has changed. It advertises a lot of new options of financing for Cerebral Enhancement. Dave knows one of these financing options is the only way Beardy could afford the procedure. The price tag is one of the biggest reasons Dave never really considered the procedure. At one hundred thousand dollars a procedure, he could never rationalize it. At least he used to think he could never rationalize it. Now he is not sure. This decision of whether or not to is in his face every minute of every workday.
Being in his forties has been a large consideration as well. Many things in science have jumped leaps and bounds since the appearance of the Ascended. Ascended children can be at a mental Einstein status by ten. Medical progress is changing so quickly that nobody has a realistic understanding of what life expectancy is for someone born today. Even though some days Dave feels his age, he knows the Asses don’t give a shit about him and would just let him die. He will be kept on his hamster wheel, alive and well for as long as they wish. The almost comical thought of dying and seeing no more Ascended makes him smirk.
He walks the half block from the metro with more anticipation to see his love than usual. He spent much of the ride reminiscing over one of his greatest memories. It was the time when Elizabeth had taken two years off from teaching elementary school to raise Lexi. When he would come home there would be his wife and their baby. Ever since she was born, his princess had meant the world to him. This memory is one of his most clear and he draws strength from it regularly.