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"I knew it. As I lie on a white bed in a white room with white light filtering in through the shade on the window, I know it has finally happened. The Shift is complete."
The radically new lifestyle of the Alternation of Generation world has more flaws than it may seem. A young woman named Mira Cobbleson has awoken for the first time in her new "body" with a feeling of unease. The Fisk, the city she is assigned to, seems too perfect to be real, but can it be any worse than the overcrowded cities and cramped apartments of life before the Shift? She stumbles upon others who feel it is worse, and they want to escape. Mira joins forces with them, and, together, they work to find a way to freedom---but their plan may be as flawed as the city they are trapped in.
Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian
They said they were saving the world. Wait, no. They said they were saving us, the people. All those who were crippled, sick, or even dying could be saved. Over and over again, we were told that this was the end result. Who would put down this perfect plan that could save the lives of millions? No one. It figures, right?
Dr. Elrich Simon was the first to coin the idea that your memories are all you need to “be yourself.” Over time, the technology was developed to pull all the memories from a person’s mind into a small identity chip using a memory dock attached to the neck, leaving an empty shell of a body behind. This chip, along with the original memories, could then be transferred to a new body.
All the reviews and reports of this procedure came through as supportive; after all, there were so many good applications for this technology. But what no one saw was that at the same time one person’s life was being preserved, another was being destroyed. Behind the veil of this miracle invention was the silencing of the minds of millions. As one person’s memories were taken out of the diseased or crippled body and thrust into a new one, the former occupant was silenced, forever. Memories of their lives were gone, pushed out by the new thoughts of another.
In the early stages of the MB Transfer, the “new” bodies were obtained from insane asylums. The rationalization behind this was that the memories of the “donor” were already so diseased and corrupted that the body was an empty shell to begin with. As cruel and evil as this practice was, no one blinked an eye. Only the benefits were seen.
The first major and recorded unjust use of mind-body transfer was in the War of 2146. A key strategizing officer, General Ray Mandin, and several troops crashed in enemy territory outside a small, rural town, and the general had been fatally injured. Few saw the crash; however, one curious teenage boy from the village snuck out to investigate on his own. The troops jumped him and, using the army-supplied emergency MB Transfer dock, took the general’s memories and pushed them into the mind of the native boy. The death of this boy became the symbol of cruelty and injustice. The troops tried to defend themselves by saying that the life of General Ray Mandin was worth the death of an insignificant nobody.
A debate soon arose over whether or not the mind-body transfer, or MB Transfer, was ethical. One would be surprised how long it took for this question to arise, but once it did, in the year 2149, a full-scale revolt broke out. Facilities dedicated to developing and advancing the technology were destroyed. Society was pushing for change—for justice—but by this time the MB Transfer was such a common practice that the change could not be reversed. Doctors in hospitals everywhere fully integrated the use of the transfer into their practices. Even prison wardens were using this technology to put dangerous criminals into partially crippled bodies so that they would be less of a threat.
The MB Transfer was everywhere. Yet, the people would not relent. There were strikes, walkouts, and even straight-up threats against the government to pass a law prohibiting transfer into an already occupied body. Finally, after a long three years, a solid step forward was taken. Scientists Richard Calvin and Dr. Holly Rushweld discovered a way to grow bodies with no memories. These shells, as they came to be known, could have someone’s memories imported and then function as any other human would. This was the breakthrough everyone had been waiting for. Life soon returned to a normal state.
Everything seemed perfect for a time, but with this new progression of technology, the population began to grow rapidly, more quickly than any other time in history. Elderly people would continue to buy new, younger bodies, and the sick could also receive a transfer. By this time, about a third of the population lived in shells with a dock permanently installed on their neck. The death rate had become so low that it was almost rare to hear of someone dying.
The first law to try to slow the population growth raised the price and tax of living in a shell. It wasn’t enough.
Other laws were passed with few substantial results, until finally another major step had to be taken. A reporter named Rosie Wattes jokingly stated in an article about the population growth that we should all just take turns living. It is debated whether or not this was actually the first formal mention of the idea, but it was certainly the most notable.
Soon after Rosie’s joke went viral, a group of scientists wrote out a full, in-depth plan of how the world—or at least part of the world—could actually go into an alternation of generation state. Cities could be developed that allowed for an annual MB Transfer of the entire population of the city. Half of the population would lie dormant with their memories stored on chips in vaults on “sleep mode,” where memories are neither made nor destroyed, while the other half would live normally for a year. At the end of each year, the chips of those who had been “awake” would be taken out of the docks and put into sleep mode. The chips of those formerly on sleep mode would then be inserted into the docks of the same shells that had been used the year before and activated so that they could live for a year and continue to make memories. As bodies got too old to be used, they would be disposed of and replaced with shells developed through the Calvin-Rushweld method. This would theoretically allow the population growth to end without the loss of life.
It was a radical plan, but the world needed radical at that point. The population was out of control, and something needed to be done immediately.
A trial run of the Alternation of Generation city was set up and run for six years. Those in the city reported feeling fine after the annual MB Transfer. One young adult enthusiast stated, “It feels like taking a long nap once a year. You wake up a little disoriented because of the time passed, but after a day or two, everything returns to normal.”
Before the six years were fully completed, seven other Alternation of Generation cities were in production. Just two short years after the trial run had been declared a success, almost sixty-five percent of the population had a dock installed with their memories stored entirely on an identity chip and were either already living in an AG city or registered to move into one within the next six months.
These cities became safe havens. They were free of the incredibly packed streets and overcrowded apartment buildings. The peaceful communities were almost entirely self-reliant, and there was little contact with those in other cities. As people moved into the tight-knit, closed communities, they reported feeling closer to their neighbors and happier all around.
About three years after the initial rush, the government, which was contained in one of the few non-Alternation of Generation cities, passed a law that required all people not a part of the administration to live within an AG city. The government then assigned a date when everyone who did not already have a dock and an identity chip would go to a predetermined location to undergo the quick procedure to have them installed. After that, each family member would be directed to move to one of the cities and begin life as an AG citizen.
And on that warm Saturday in July of 2161, the Shift was completed, and we would learn to live our lives one year at a time. We had to.
Or did we?
About H.B. Clementine:
H. B. Clementine won the BookLogix Young Writers Contest for Nothing But Your Memories at age fourteen while attending Asheville Christian Academy. Now a junior at the nationally recognized North Carolina School of Science and Math, she enjoys writing, playing soccer, and goofing off with family and friends. H. B. Clementine is now creating a series that lights the unsettling path of the Alternation of Generation universe introduced in Nothing But Your Memories.
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