Expiration Date (a Short Story – Part 1)

Here’s Part 1 of a soft science fiction short story about a society where everyone knows exactly when they’re going to die, and the man who threw chaos into the system. This first part is about 590 words and has an estimated reading time of 2.5 minutes. Let me know what you think!

I was once an average guy living in the suburbs. Of course, life was never without its complications and struggles. But after I lived past my expiration date and became the first human to do so in the new era, well, let’s just say my life changed dramatically.

“Are you going out today?” my wife, Claire, asked.

“I don’t think so. Too dangerous.”

“You have to go out eventually,” she said.

“Do I? Why? To deal with all of them?”

“You can’t just stay inside forever.”

“Easy for you to say,” I quipped, then walked upstairs.

The whole basis of the society we have been born into is this: When you’re born, you know exactly when you’re going to die, down to the very minute. It’s hard to explain, but science has discovered a way to determine such things. I’m not a scientist and don’t know how it works. And, Lord knows, there are millions of conspiracy theories about deciding the “expiration dates.”

Apparently, this wasn’t always the case. The singularity happened a few years before I was born and changed the world forever. Technology had sped forward so quickly that it completely remade the world. Knowing exactly when each human would die gave the global government new ways to control people and re-organize how our civilization was run.

And that is why I don’t leave the house anymore.

I was supposed to die on April 8, 2078, at precisely 8:45 p.m. I would’ve only been thirty-one years old at my expiration. But, of course, I had known and anticipated this my entire life, so everything was planned accordingly. Claire and I were married by then, and we ensured all the paperwork were filed and everything was squared away. She would be taken care of financially.

We gathered the night before in a small family ceremony to mark the end of my brief life; it was customary for everyone to do this. Most people have grand rituals and traditions, but we’re not very religious and wanted to keep things small and simple. Everyone was very emotional, of course; we said our farewells. My parents stayed over that night, and we had a last meal on April 8, 2078. Though she knew this would always happen, my mother was a crying mess.

No one knew how they’d die, so I mentally prepared myself for whatever would happen. I went up to the bedroom at around 8 p.m. and lay in bed staring at the ceiling. It was the strangest feeling to know things would suddenly and irreversibly end, and the time moved quickly but also slowly.

When the clock read 8:45 p.m., I ground my teeth and closed my eyes. Here we go, I thought, this is it. I gripped the bedsheets and waited. And waited. Improbably, I must have dozed off or passed out from the stress because I woke up thirty minutes later, thinking I was in the afterlife.

But I wasn’t.

The clock read 9:15 p.m., and I could hear Claire and my parents downstairs. I got up and looked around to see if everything was real. Then, I screamed, feeling like I was going to hyperventilate. This isn’t right, I thought. How can this be?

I heard them rushing up the stairs to the bedroom. Claire walked into the room, looking pale like she’d seen a ghost.

“No,” she whispered. “How?”

We all stared at each other for several moments. Then, we waited for the authorities to come. We knew it wouldn’t be long.

To Be Continued

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