2194 – New York City
For the first time in mankind’s history, there were no wars on earth.
Peace reigned, thanks to technological advances and genetics. Poverty no longer existed. There was enough food and housing for all. There was one worldwide government led by a president who served a 10-year term.
Crime was non-existent. The factors that led to crime were eliminated from the collective DNA of most of the people on earth through 100 years of genetic engineering. But not all of them.
There were the unaffected, whose DNA was post 100-years ago pure Homo sapiens. They experienced emotional ups and downs, unlike the rest of the sedated world population. These outcasts lived in the fringes of the cities.
In the sewer systems and old subway tunnels mostly, but also in the massive landfills.
Above ground, as each person drove or walked to work, there was strict order. Routines ingrained in each brain. No road rage. No late trains. No violent crime. No guns or weapons of any kind.
Romance was gone, replaced by a passionless urge to procreate. There were no sports teams. There was no competition anywhere in the new global society. Conversations were casual and without complaints. Everyone had a place in the new world order.
Everyone but the outcasts, of course.
Despite being outcasts, they had a functioning society of their own. It wasn’t always pretty, but was crudely effective. In it, there were scientists who managed to operate in temporary labs located in the long abandoned subway tunnels.
The New York outcasts had no way of knowing if there were others like them hiding in cities around the world. Their world was defined by underground tunnels and landfills. If they were caught above ground they’d be gently restrained, their DNA tested, and then executing by lethal injection.
Among those scientists was a man named, Abraham Orlins, who was considered the most intelligent and creative among them. After years of experimenting, Abraham came up with a “thrill pill.”
It was part of his, and his colleagues master plan, to regain their place above ground once more. The pills, that only worked on humans missing certain DNA markers, were a one-hour realistic, exciting, experience that left the taker forever changed.
The emotional charge was addicting. Just like he knew it would be.
The pills were water-soluble allowing them to be used two ways; swallowed whole, or dissolved in a liquid.
After discussing the pill’s properties, the small group of scientists decided to put the first batch into the city’s water system. The complex system relied on a combination of tunnels, aqueducts, and reservoirs to meet the city’s daily needs.
Abraham and one of his colleagues, Clive Warner, were picked to deliver “Abe’s Thrill Pills” as they were darkly dubbed, to the nearest reservoir. As soon as it was dark outside they surfaced and headed for the reservoir.
Just before the sun rose, the two men returned, tired but triumphant.
It took longer than they thought. They observed the daily traffic above for several days before the first incident happened.
A speeding car slammed into the rear end of a delivery truck. Both drivers got out of their vehicles and fought like two honey-badgers to the horror of the onlookers!
By the next day, traffic was no longer flowing. The streets were clogged with abandoned vehicles. Arguments and fights broke out in the boardrooms of the skyscrapers and in the grocery stores.
As visitors came to New York and were exposed to the water, they didn’t want to leave. A growing awareness among the residents that it was the water which gave them their thrills resulted in entrepreneurs bottling it and selling it worldwide.
No one knew how to stop the spread of growing violence. Armed groups of angry men were seen beating and robbing innocent people. On the other hand, passion and romance attracted everyone – angry or not.
Abraham continued to pour his Thrill Pills into the waterways, and even managed to get them to people who were happy to sell them for profit. One entrepreneur passed them out as party favors during a government function for members of the new world order and the President.
Excitement grew among the underground community of New York. Abraham and the scientists had come forward and told them what was happening.
“Soon, my brothers and sisters, we’ll be welcomed with open arms and will assume our place above ground, the way it was intended to be,” Abraham assured the underground community.
Six months later the first nuke hit New York City.
As It Stands, my cynicism about humanity often creeps into these short narratives.