Rosco B (serious): I’m dying.
Charlie Ten (exhales involuntarily, eyes widen): ...
Rosco B: I’m sorry.
Charlie Ten (shakes head rapidly): No. No, you can’t die. They made you so you can’t die.
Rosco B (shakes head slowly): They fucked me, Charlie.
Charlie Ten: But, the telomethingy glands.
Rosco B: Telomerase.
Charlie Ten (pleading): Immortality. You said so.
Rosco B (sighs): When we left the London Arcology we escaped the Monarch, and the damned Beefeater Host, but I’ve been doomed the moment we set foot on true English soil.
Charlie Ten: What do you mean?
Rosco B: Radiation shielding in the Arcology walls, cancer suppressants in the water. Out here: none of that, and residual radiation levels. We were so naive to think we could be free.
Charlie Ten (swallows hard): Cancer? Cancer’s a disease of the old world, it doesn’t exist anymore. And we are free, look. This is what you talked about; trees, and free people, the ever-grey sky, wild animals.
Rosco B: Cancer doesn’t exist in the Arcology. But this is the old world we’re in now. Out here we may be free from the idealistic stranglehold of the Monarch but we become the subjects of a different power: the natural order; the way the world used to work.
Charlie Ten (lips turn down, voice pitches oddly): Then we both die out here. But at least we do it together; as the result of our choices, not the Monarch’s.
Rosco B (smiles sadly): No. You’ll be fine. I talked to the Free Celts medicine women; they’re quite advanced really. She says my healing system, the rapid cell regeneration, combined with the elevated telomerase levels in my cells is actually promoting the formation of cancers. The very thing that makes me and the other Beefeaters so formidable; it starts killing us the moment we step outside our jurisdiction.
(looks wistfully up at the unfamiliar sky): I have denied death for so long, ever since we escaped I have felt it circling nearer. It preys on everything without discrimination and now, finally, it has my scent.
Charlie Ten (blinking, a damp sheen to his eyes): I can’t do this without you. Why would I do this without you?
Rosco B (takes hold of Charlie’s face, looks deep into Charlie’s eyes): You have to. The longer you live the more worthwhile this was. We have a while together yet, but when I am gone, remember me. Honour me with your life.
Recommended Reading: Taken for a Ride by Colette Coen on The Pygmy Giant.
Words like Sharks: a short ramble on inspiration.