fountain of youth

Rex Larson woke up that morning, knowing he would climb into bed that night nearly 10 years older.



He felt a fearful apprehension about what he was planning to do. A nervous tension had begun gnawing in his gut the previous night, and none of it had dissipated after six hours of restless sleep in an unfamiliar bed. In fact, he was even more taut now, with the prospect of their impending trip to the age clinic. This would be the last morning he would eat his breakfast as a man in his 30s. (Or maybe that was yesterday; he wasn’t sure he was hungry enough to stomach anything this morning.)



He gazed at his wife in the dim morning light that seeped through the heavy hotel curtain. She was still sleeping blissfully. Was she wearing a contented smile, even in her sleep? It sure looked that way, but maybe that was just his imagination.



He sat up for a minute or so, and then quietly got out of bed. He walked an absent-minded circle around the hotel room, and then glanced at the digital clock by the bed. “Just a few minutes after 6 o’clock,” he thought to himself. “What now?” He didn’t want to disturb his wife, and he wasn’t interested in any breakfast. Groggily, he padded into the bathroom for a long and thoughtful shower.



The water was luxuriously hot, in stark contrast to the miniature bar of soap provided by the hotel. Rex didn’t like using hotel soaps; he preferred the feel of a heavier bar in his hand. In fact, he usually brought his own soap while traveling, but forgot to pack it this time. “A lot on my mind, I guess,” he mumbled to himself, as he unwrapped the small bar of soap.



As he let the water rinse the lather off his body, he reflected about what would happen later that day. It had been nearly 20 years since society embraced the advent of age machines. From the dawn of history, mankind had searched in vain to find a “fountain of youth,” a way to slow the sands of time, a way to prevent the inevitability of old age. Finally, in 2213, researchers had discovered a way to make people younger, but it came with a price. Much like the laws of physics are constrained by a conservation of energy; in a similar way, scientists discovered that there was no way to make someone younger, without making someone else older at the same time. It was possible to reverse the genetic effects of aging, but only by taking those years off of someone else.



The early days of reverse aging stirred many heated debates on medical ethics. Some correctly feared that rich people would leverage their wealth, purchasing youth from the general populace – a year or two here, another year there – and thus could buy an indefinitely-extended life, barring any accident or terminal disease. Horrifying rumors circulated as well, about how mentally handicapped children had been unknowingly hooked up to the age machines, to give hospital workers an extra year or two of youth every now and again. However, with so many people greedily trying to amass as much youth as they could, it didn’t take too long to discover the limits of reverse aging. A few people had managed to perform the procedure successfully for up to 12, or even 15 years, but, for the most part, anything beyond a decade was exceedingly risky, and usually very detrimental to the subject’s health. By all accounts, nature would only let you reverse the affects of aging so far, before rejecting the youth transplant.



It wasn’t long before stringent regulations were enacted to limit each individual to a total of 10 years either added or subtracted from their age. Meticulous records were kept on amended birth certificates. Meanwhile, new debates arose constantly. If a 28-year-old took back five years of youth, should they be regarded as age 23, or age 28? The procedure didn’t reverse time, nor would it cure recently-acquired diseases or ailments. Genetically, however, bodies were returned to their younger state.



On the other hand, these “younger” individuals retained their knowledge, wisdom, and experiences. So, if hovercraft rental companies required you to be 25 years old to rent a vehicle, was that a physical limit, or a mental limit? And what about retirement benefits; at what age should they begin? Eventually, most countries settled on a dual-age system: with a natural age (which people used in legal matters, such as driving and voting), and a modified age (which is what life insurance companies used in their actuary tables).



Today, as Rex Larson stood in the shower, he was 34; his wife, in bed, was nine years his senior. If all went as planned, though, their ages would be reversed by the end of the day.



There were many reasons married people would give years of their life to their spouse. Some couples did it to get their bodies to the same age. Other times, a woman would even give her husband a few extra years, with the aim of making their life expectancies approximately the same (this was more common when a woman had seen her mother go through 20 years of lonely widowhood).



For Rex, though, he was giving years to his wife as an act of submission.



Initially, they had simply discussed making their ages a bit more even, owing to their comparatively large age gap. A four-year transplant would have made him 38, and her 39. But Rex and Donna had something unique in their relationship: he was submissive, and she was dominant. Rex derived immense satisfaction from doting on Donna, and, after seven years of marriage, she had learned to bask hedonistically in his attention and service.



One day, she began joking about adding one additional year to the planned transplant. She quipped teasingly, “Don’t you think you should give me one extra year, so that I can be the younger one?” She was speaking in jest, but she could tell by the way he became suddenly quiet, and squirmed in the bed, that she had struck that nerve again. Rex was often overcome by mixed feelings of excitement whenever he felt controlled. Curious, she had moved her hand down to his crotch, and rubbed him through his pants, to sense what was happening. She felt him getting hard, extraordinarily quickly. Obviously, he wasn’t reacting to the caress; instead, her teasing had rattled his brain. That’s when ideas about an even larger age transplant began to swirl in both of their minds.



to be continued…

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