THE SECRET OF IMMORTALITY --- THE TOMBMAKERS VILLAGE
What would you do if you discovered how to be immortal?
The last thing you’d expect to do as you walk to the podium to give the keynote speech at a prestigious conference is drop dead. The timing on this occasion was dreadfully unfortunate as well because Professor John Wainright’s life ended just before he had a chance to eat a magnificent lunch on this, the first day of the International Conference on Life Research being held in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
Before the chatter and dark humor set in among the three hundred and fifty conference delegates there were shrieks and screams and yells and cries for help when – and it happened very quickly – he stopped talking, gasped for air, stumbled into the lecturn and then crashed off the stage onto the delegates’ floor below.
Professor John Wainright had just started his speech. He knew it was going to be a good one. A really good one. Great, in fact. This would be the most momentous day of his life had he not died at such an inconvenient moment. That said, dying is quite momentous in one’s life.
He was about to tell a secret: a secret so big that he didn’t write anything ahead of time in case his notes were discovered. He was a knowledge keeper, but on the verge of announcing something to the world that would change everything – forever.
Of course, this being a really good secret, only he knew about it. The whole secret, that is. John Wainright had taken just one precaution with his secret in case he was hit by a bus or something hard and death-making like that, or he was murdered. He made it possible for the secret to be passed on, even if he was dead. If it was meant to be, he had convinced himself one night after several drams of Scotch, then it will be.
None of this was on the mind of Tom Carrott as he watched his boss tumble off the stage. Tom was the Associate Director of the Life Research Group – the LRG – at King’s University where the conference was being held, and at this moment he had no idea that his future, and possibly the world’s, was going to change.
Tom ran from the back of the conference room to the crumpled professor’s body at the foot of the stage. He squeezed in among the others hovering over John Wainright and knelt down beside his lifeless mentor. Tom’s first thought was how much the lumps and cuts on his mentor’s head would be hurting until he realized the professor was dead. It seemed to take forever for an emergency response team to arrive, but everyone knew it was already too late. It may have been the broken neck hinted at by the professor’s head lying at a right angle to his body that gave it away. That, and the blood flowing out of his mouth. And the bone sticking out of his neck.
Professor John Wainright. Aged 65. Died spectacularly. Cause unknown. Heart? Accident prone? Untied shoelace? Bad genes? Murder?
‘Imagine if you no longer existed El,’ Tom said to Eloise, his girlfriend and colleague in the LRG, as they stood watching Profesor Wainright’s body being wheeled passed them to the ambulance. ‘Tomorrow the world would still carry on. And the next day. And the next day after that. Days would turn into nights which would turn into days, people would go to work, kids would go to school, news would keep occurring, and friends and family would think about you from time to time. But you would no longer exist.’
‘We all know we’re going to die Tom, but no-one really thinks about it. It’s just hard to imagine that we’ll no longer, you know, ‘be here’. But if we’re not here, could we be somewhere else? And if we were, then how?’
As of 12:15pm on this sunny September Tuesday, just before a splendid lunch, Professor John Wainright was officially no longer here.
But something didn’t seem quite right.
And it was about to get even less right.