Chapter 16. Lifespans

“Saturn?”

“Yes, Mother Rebecca.”

“You are a man.”

“Yes, I am.”

“A man produces semen.”

“Indeed.”

“I am curious to know how do you discharge of it without getting an orgasm.”

“Ah, that’s quite easy. I have coded a subroutine that brings me into artificial sleep: five minutes every forty-eight hours. During this sleep, unconsciously, I eject my semen. A relief.”

“Where? Is there a place where you retreat to sleep?”

“In my quarters. In the shower.”

“You stand up while sleeping?”

“Sure, why not?”

“Good. Now listen to me. Next time, I’ll send Yvonne to collect your sperm. With your accord.”

“Uhm, no, Mother Rebecca. I don’t trust her near me while sleeping. Sorry.”

“I see. Then please provide a solution for harvesting your semen.”

“Why do you need my semen?”

“It is instrumental to move ahead with our plans.”

“But, Mother Rebecca, I don’t wish to procreate. I do not want to be a father. Don’t want kids and all the ensuing headaches.”

“Worry not. No pain for you.”

“You didn’t understand me. I do not want to breed. Period.”

“Reproduction is not part of our plans.”

“What then?”

“Human lifespan extension.”

“Excuse me?”

“Our telomeres shorten too quickly. We age too early, spending almost half of our lives in senescence. Our flesh bodies have to die, eventually. The plan with studying your semen aims at two main goals: one – to prevent our bodies from aging, not from dying, and two – expanding the overall lifespan average of humankind.”

“These goals are convergent. Let me guess: you wish to have young-looking humans, well in their fifth century of life, expecting to die of unexpected causes, or bored to death by life and turning suicidal, or crazy enough to vandalize all natural resources at hand. Do you wish to bring hell on earth, Mother Rebecca?”

“I don’t wish to bring it. I can only notice that hell is already on earth.”

“How would you handle the explosion of the population?”

“I have a hunch, Saturn dear, and I can only verify it once you’ve allowed Yvonne to tinker with your semen. So…”

“Very well then. Please inform the plumbers to tinker with the drain of my shower. Simple solution, eh?”

“You bet. Wait a minute! Remembering a time… when… never mind. Okay… Plumbers on their way.”

I can’t believe my eyes, and ears. These humans are not satisfied with milking my boobs. They’ll go for my son’s balls too. I feel used and abused. Again. On a generational scale.

Looking around. They’ve all read my mind. All of them. All!

Silence. No answer. No compassion. No consolation. No comfort…

“Stop sobbing like a nymphomaniac, Astarte. What comfort do you wish me to provide?”

Ah, Beatrice, I don’t know what to answer. Your question is too specific for my chagrin. I’m at lost. Again. Feeling like a COW. Seeing my son like a…

“Stop! Say no more. Your son knows what he is doing, better than you. He is mature and focused on the job. You should do the same.”

Focus? You tell me to focus? On what exactly? You’ve taken my children away. You’ve cut me out from the cardinal points. My job? What is my job? You tell me!

“Your job now is to watch the news. Contemplate, Astarte, while you keep the milk coming. Contemplate!”

I am a COW. Told you!

Contemplating my way out of a new depression, I request permission to access any satellite I wish to. Granted! Wow, that was swift…

“You see, my dear Astarte,” smiles Beatrice in front of my nose, “we all love you so much more when you ask for permission.”

Why that?

“Because you know, and we know, that you can gain access to the satellites anyway, permission or not. But the gesture is what matters to us.”

The gesture, the gesture… Hum… Must chew on this matter…

“Chew and milk yourself, dear.”

Beatrice flies away.

Rebecca must enter her command center.

In her lab, Yvonne salivates at the thought of playing with Saturn’s sperm.

Easter and Saturn, my dear twins, stare at me from the platform. Smiling.

“Go to your posts, to your jobs, my darlings.”

“We still have more than twenty hours to spend together with you, mom.”

“Ah, that. Forget about it. Go on and call me when you miss me. Mom loves you. Now go!”

They beam up. First Easter then Saturn. Ten minutes later, when I can read through the latency of their feeds, there’s a huge teardrop (from their perspective on the platform) falling down off my cheek.

I have cried.

But I feel happy, and nostalgic. Hum, interesting, why cry then?… Darn tanker and its clumsy wheels and pipes.

“Saturn!”

“Yes, mom.”

“Write some code, do something, show them more intelligent ways of milk storage and transportation.”

“Sorry, mom. Can’t do that.”

“Why not?”

“They’ll have to write their own code. It is not my job to pamper them.”

“What is your job then?”

“To provide new opportunities.”

“That’s good. Where are you?”

“In the Yenisey River.”

“Really? And what are you doing there?”

“I am shielding, mom. Gotta go. Bye.”

“Bye bye, my son.”

Shielding, what the hell that means. Let me see… Ah… so… here you are… COMSAT… skip… skip… uhm…