Expiration Date (a Short Story – Part 4)

Here’s Part 4 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. In the previous installment, the narrator tells us about the emotional and mental toll of being the modern era’s first survivor. This fourth part is about 530 words and has an estimated reading time of 2 minutes. Let me know what you think!

This brings us up to the present day, me sitting in the bedroom on May 8, 2078, at approximately 3:45 p.m. Claire is, not surprisingly, not talking to me and is in a near-comatose state on the living room couch. Kadar is outside talking with another government agent, and as usual, there’s a small crowd of people outside the house taking pictures and videos. The news media is constantly camped out front, delivering updates on the situation.

The government still doesn’t know what went wrong. I am the only human to live past expiration, and exactly a month later, no one else has. They run tests on me, but so far, they don’t know why it happened, or at least they haven’t told me.

“Mr. Hines?” Kadar knocked on the door.

“You can call me Rowan, Kadar. It’s been a month now.”

“Yes, yes, of course.” He was drinking a soda, grinning as usual. “So, how are you doing? This is your daily checkup.”

“Okay, I guess.”

“Do you want to take a walk?”

“No, thanks. I think I’ll stay in.”

“You’ve barely left the house since this happened,” Kadar said. “You need exercise, my friend! Stretch those legs!”

In this way, Kadar was like Claire. The only time Claire talked to me anymore was to ask if I’d been out of the house. “I’m okay, really.”

“Fair enough, my friend. But … let me ask you something.”

“Yes?”

“Did you know?”

I was confused. “Know what?”

Kadar was smiling, almost mischievously. “That you’d live? You must have had some sense it would happen, right? That you’d survive?”

“No, not at all. I still can’t believe it.”

Kadar avoided eye contact with me. That’s when I could tell something was off. “Yes, yes. It’s quite extraordinary, isn’t it? None of us live past our dates. Me? I have twenty years left, a little less than that. I will die at the age of seventy-five. That is a full life, no?”

He was gazing out the window now, his hands behind his back.

“Yes, I’d say so. That’s a good life expectancy for most people.”

Kadar began closing the curtains, then he locked the door.

“Yes, we can’t argue with our expiration dates, right?” he said. “This is the basis of our society. If even one error is made, the ramifications can be enormous. You understand this, no?”

“Kadar … what are you getting at?”

“We can’t have errors, Mr. Hines. The AIs can’t make mistakes. The people will lose confidence in us, right? Already, there are whispers. They talk about other things the AI controls: food prices, the economy, the job market. If there are just the slightest errors, the people begin questioning things.”

Kadar slipped out a hunting knife and moved closer.

“But … you can make me disappear, right? Just cover the whole thing up?” I stepped back, nearly stumbling over my bed.

“No, no, my friend. I am sorry, really. But you understand, no?”

Kadar lunged forward and stabbed me in the stomach. He held me close as he twisted the blade in, and I slumped against the bedroom wall.

To Be Continued


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