Testimony of Lazarus Gold, MD
by Moira Crone
To all of you who may know me:
I was born in 1920. I saw war. I saw one wife, Rachel, who was childless, die. I married a second time, to Alexis, who was much younger. We had children in the late 1960's, boys. In 1980, I was a good-looking sixty year old. A dermatologist, multimillionaire. I still remember how boundless life felt then-we had big gas cars, a house with thousands and thousands of square feet. Life was very good. We were Jews, and we were happy. If only it would go on forever, I thought. My words to God's ears, as they said then. Then I heard of the Albers trials.
It was during the Reagan years that my colleagues started pulling me aside at every convention, telling me the new longevity science was very solid. That Dr. Shaumer Albers was a genius. I learned through the grapevine that he wasn't going to go public with any of his research because he was concerned about someone stealing it. The metabolic theory of ageing, all of his remedies. I could see that he wanted it to be proprietary. It was a goldmine, after all.
He couldn't go public, but of course he needed human subjects. I paid a million-imagine, a million! What I could do now with the equivalent!-- finally, to go to a seminar. I heard what they had to say. I was a yes, I signed on. I didn't think twice, really, once I realized Albers's methods wouldn't kill me.
Some as old as sixty-eight got into it, if they passed the health tests. I didn't even tell my wife, because she was too young to do it. I told Alexis and the boys I was going to a study course in London. I was during one of the early Mad Cow scares, I made up something about how they couldn't chance the trip. It was a huge investment. Twenty million-I told my wife I'd put the money in long term bonds, for our old age ( in a way , it was true. ) They wanted you to be at least forty-I would have had her treated with me, but she was too young, they were very strict.
They put me into a coma for six weeks then for the RNA interferences. The surgeries were hard, but I recovered well. I came back good as new almost. I'd had my balls replaced with neuticals, and I had to go to an analog, synthetic testosterone, but I thought it was worth the sacrifice.
My boys were in college by then. They loved how young I seemed. They thought my secret was that I ran, ate the right diet. I faked my health regimes. I jogged out of the driveway, then hid in a culvert in the park. We lived in Washington then, Rock Creek was the park. This when this country was still a single entity, actually sort of a democracy, it was still called The United States. The boys remarked I must be dying my hair-it stopped going gray. That was all they noticed. They had their own lives.
Alexis had her questions about the sex-I performed, but not exactly in the same way. There were no probes back then, no simulators, nothing--
Well into the 1990's, I was still very vigorous. By then the Albers techs had decided we needed synthetic skins, because of the UV, and the lack of fat. They didn't call them "prodermises" yet. I got one that looked aged. We had to get these ordered, custom detailed in Malaysia. Each tiny hair was "invaginated" into the "fatty layer." Even at that, of course, the hairs didn't grow. I pretended to shave. When I was fitted up, my friends all said I looked better, as if I had gained weight.
When Alexis was old enough, on her fortieth birthday, to be exact, I explained it all to her. I had such hope.
I remember that night. I took her to the beach, Rehobeth, in Delaware. It was winter. We were on the boardwalk, the wind was hard, one of those brilliant seaside nights-I said "Darling we can do this forever." She said she didn't understand. And I said "Forever," again.
And she heard me out, and I had to show her the place where my prosthetic skin had its seam. It was in the crack of my ass-they weren't behind the ears then, the seams. I showed her the way she could pull my hair and I didn't feel a thing. "Let's see you really," she said, then, her voice changing into almost a growl. "Let's see you really. You have been hiding! You monster?" She said. "I knew you were hiding from me, hiding, you have always been hiding--" She pounded on my chest, screamed at me.
Of course she calmed down when I told her what the promise was. That we could be together forever. That September, she went in to get it done. She was too late to be part of the trial. I had to pay a huge amount, practically bribe the Albers people.
But it turned out she had ovarian cancer, early stage. So she was not a candidate. We did not win that war. I lost her, and I felt great grief about all the years when our love had been synthetic, when I pretended my ecstasy. Hid the most significant thing in my life from her. It was the first true grief I felt on account of my commitment to the trials, my transformation.
I remember my boys at the funeral. "You always look the same, Dad," they said to me. They were in college then, had begun to notice that seventy year old men usually looked worn down, tired. I tried to act old, but it was hard to seem frail, to fake it, especially to your intimates. Some members of my cohort just staged their own deaths, and went off and lived in another poor country, imagine--- Brazil, India. In foreign lands, they passed for young, marrying one woman and then another, sneaking back in every year for check ups.
I heard about those who left the country-we who were treated together used secret language when we started email. I could see that it might be better not to be around people who had known me for a long time-it was that part of life when you go to a lot of funerals-- I thought exile would be lonely, I thought I would miss my sons. So I kept up appearances. There was the great difficulty of pretending to eat, and not eating. Pretending to have functions you didn't have, appetites you didn't have. There were no decent rations then, of course. We lived on four hundred calories, we did fine on that, our metabolisms were so slowed down. You just had to scatter your plate. If you did eat anything significant, except of course the vitamins on the regimen, they would kick you out of the trial. It was a great challenge. But most made it. We were all disciplined, driven, millionaires. We knew a bit about self control.
To me, the major problem was the loneliness. There were almost no women in the same cohort, except wives, at least not any I knew of. Alber's company didn't give us too much to go on, in terms of helping us contact each other. We were all isolated, underground. They thought it would be better that way.
Of course it was fun to travel, to do everything you had ever wanted to do in life. But I began to suspect that there are only so many things in this world, only so many pleasures in this universe, which bring you happiness when you are alone. The number is not infinite. I fought the suspicion, though, I told myself of the promise, that there was a promise.
Before they gave us the new rules that told us we couldn't travel, I lived, I saw things, I took up painting, even an instrument ( clarinet). I saw the Taj Mahal, I saw Ayers Rock. I met women overseas who were willing to put up with my strange behaviors in bed, even liked me a lot, but I couldn't love anyone. It wasn't just that I looked a bit unusual down there, but no pleasure, too slow, too slow for ordinary women. I took the erection pills, did everything, but I was never close to them, and I wanted to be close to them, and I missed Alexis. I still do. Rachel too. I dream of Rachel, after all the long years.
I had not slowed down at eighty five. What's your secret father? My sons said. It was getting so lonely-I didn't know how much longer I could go on, but then the Reveal was announced. That was my hope.
For four years we waited until all the data were in, all of us were examined over and over, by doctors who knew about the trials and doctors who didn't. This was all very clandestine. This issue of our health was a distraction from the loneliness. We were all followed around, our intimates interviewed. WELLFI agents ( from Albers' Company) were given the same leeway as the FBI. My sons even asked me if I were involved in something illegal. I just told myself to wait. To hold on. Eventually the Reveal would come down, which I thought would be our liberation. We could share our secret with the world.
I told my sons a few days before the trip to Washington. They were flabbergasted, and curious, amazed. But most of all, angry.
I thought at most there would be a few thousand-I thought those I could correspond with were the entire group.
But Albers company had over four hundred thousand in the trial. A group of senators in the old Senate building who were all in his employ, it turned out. They called a Press Conference, made the announcement, said that it was one of the greatest events in the history of the world, greater than walking on the moon or finding America or penicillin, or flight.
While all this was going on, we who had been treated were waiting in busses and in hotels and in inns and private homes, and barracks-we all converged upon the Washington Mall, in new, fresh prodermises, looking how we look now. They asked us questions-you have seen the recordings of it all. The Reveal. We had proof of our ages, most of us looked a healthy fifty, but some were well over a hundred. We all left our distressed prosthetic skins at home, and came out with fresh cultured ones, which used our own dna-Albers' team had finally perfected the process-- we looked terribly natural. If you call "natural" how we look today. My boys saw me on the screens, they were called t.v.'s then. I thought now I would be free of the isolation, the weariness of keeping the secret so long. Now that the trials were public, our medical histories and conditions were clear-that we had stopped aging, my stock in Pfizwell ( formerly two different drug companies) soared, broke every known record. I was terribly rich. Now, I thought it was simple: we had been part of the trial, Albers methods had stopped our aging for twenty five years. So, now that it was proven, we could make the rest of the world quasi- immortal. My fortune quadrupled in sixteen months.
I gave my sons shares, and soon they were comfortable. They settled down, got married, had children quickly. Saul was a lawyer and he was doing well. There were many suits between couples, where one was Treated and the other not-many more men than women had been done. There was a whole new area of the law-a new kind of breach of contract, of grounds for divorce. I told my sons they could be Ttreated. Access was open to anyone who could pay. I could pay, I told them. What more can a man give his children ? I thought that would make them happy. "You are rich as gods," Archie said. He always had some disdain for me, for my judgment. He was the artist. "You are guinea pig gods," he said. But when it was time to be Treated, he got Treated.
I did what I could for the others in my family. And so did most of our cohort, those who hadn't hidden out in other countries, divorced and disowned their relatives somewhere along the way. We were incredibly rich. The giddiness of the predictions were absurd, in retrospect. The whole world would be immortal, the newspapers and broadcasts-- declared. I had not realized how our wealth which we had given over to them was going to be used to buy up all the media. All the strain upon the natural resources, all the difficulties caused by disease and by debilitation, and by population explosions, would be stabilized, defeated. That was the official version. We could plan to live between two and six hundred years, they said. But in two hundred years, even a hundred years, we certainly would have the mechanisms to live even longer, and then, even longer. Optimism was all in those days. Our lives expanding and expanding, like rubber bands. And we would just have to limit population growth, which would be a natural outcome of the Treated process, which required sterilization---controls on population became an obsession in politics. As if that were going to be the only consequence of life extension, as if every other problem on the planet would take care of itself if we lived forever. Pfizwell and Albers' personal corporation had already became one, which was WELLFI, and WELLFI merged with the banks, which in turn joined with huge holding companies, and publishing empires, still keeping the name. All the laws to keep things separate had been over ruled by the government, which was controlled, entirely, within a few years-more than we had ever imagined possible---by WELLFI's interests, which was fast becoming the wealthiest company on earth. We all had options, those in the First Wave. We all bought stock and made billions, and many of us paid to have our children treated. There were forty- million over the next eighteen years. WELLFI encouraged it-the Trust system was set up, made into a contract, for perpetual care, a warranty. WELLFI knew it needed a statistical majority Treated for the system to really work. As long as it was the United States.
Those years, the arts for the Heir audience blossomed, and the borders were closed because of the jealousy and hostility other nations felt towards us. WELLFI was not sharing its secrets, of course. We looked inward, and all the ideas of living a good life were circulating, and all kinds of personal cultivation were being championed. We were constantly entertained as I remember. For whole years I went out to dinner every single night, bought houses the way people used to buy clothes.
About 2030 by the Old Calendar, we started to notice that numbers who could be Treated, who could afford it, had started to dwindle. Those on the cycle, who were waiting and saving their money, got too old, weren't able to make it. People blamed the single focus economy. There were no investments in any other area beside Treatedness, and upkeep of Treateds, and entertainment of Treateds, and lifestyle research for "Heirs of the Reveal"-the fancy name they coined for us. The non-T's-still a majority, then, but just barely-their life expectancy had actually started to go down--began to get anxious. We could all see it coming, before it actually happened, but once the economy was entirely single pointed, the task of developing anything else seemed so big-after all, we were just individuals, what could we do? The system broke down. I had grandchildren. My Trust was where my money was now tied, up, mine, that is, and my sons's Trusts, and their wives' Trusts. I couldn't afford to pay for my grandchildren. They started calling it the Manic Depression-inflation, deflation, inflation again. WELLFI tried a series of policies, one more disastrous than the last.
I started to realize around then, I think, that WELLFI's policy toward those on the Natural cycle was to let them die off, so they could just grab the political majority, and get rid of what was left of "democracy." Suddenly there was no money, except in the Trusts. WELLFI itself had to diversify-its own investments weren't growing enough. It had to start investing in capitalist states overseas, the very same economies the media had been condemning for years as unsustainable, as hysterical, "fugue states." But none of the people in those countries could gather enough wealth to get off the cycle. Our country had all the resources. The other nations were furious with us, but dependent upon us for capital. Patents used to expire, but WELLFI's were in the category of state secrets, and perpetual. People in France and in Georgia in Russia and in Japan tried to approximate the protocols, but to no avail. No one got it right, and only a very very few could afford the version they did manage to give people. About this time, the tide shifted--all our laws were to accommodate the ease of the Treated strat, the wealth and leisure of our strat. Strat, that was the word, they coined. "Class" was insufficient for the "magnitude of the difference." The difference, that is, between those who would die and those who thought they wouldn't. There were more than a hundred million who had never been able to afford being Treated, and all our own children couldn't, now, afford to be Treated, but that didn't change anything. All that mattered was that our strat kept its privileges. Other voices weren't heard.
Then my grandchildren came of age. Millions, our own kin, came of age. We all knew it was coming, but we didn't know what to do about it. Oh, there were movements to democratize WELLFI, pointless little tempests in teapots-the North party, organized out of what was left of the Left, started to articulate that as an option, but this call came too late, too late. Their power was too extreme, too radical, and too total. The response was to have no democracy at all. Since Heir interests were so entirely uniform, why bother with voting, some started to assert. Or lend the other strats power when, as it was put, "their interests are against ours, and are not of the same scale." There were fewer and fewer to refute them.
My grandchildren were Lucian, Michael, Jennifer. I couldn't do anything for them. It broke my heart. They couldn't even live well- couldn't get jobs, even though we managed education, which cost two million, that was all we could manage. Some of my fellow First Wavers said the young Nyets-our children-- were selfish and unthinking, didn't respect what we had sacrificed, had brought forth on this continent, this new age, this supreme gift. They should make their own way, my fellow First Wavers said. Find the money, become enterprising. But I said, Nothing to do. Nothing to produce, except amusements for us. Oh, they could be doctors for us, or psychologists for us, or help us, teach us, but that was all. But most of my Wave chose not to see the problem, well into the twenty-forties. The problems in this world as far as they were concerned were these: having enough variety, and finding ways to remain excited by life when you were a hundred and ten year old in the approximate body of a forty five year old, or finding ways to have sex that felt like sex, and love that felt like love, and food that tasted like food. These were the serious problems, according to my Treated generation, according to the news that got on the Broads, that were all owned by WELLFI, after all, what would you expect. Then, I guess was about 2044, the potential Third Wave, my own grandchildren, stopped playing nice.
The Troubles weren't really started by the stubborn fundamentalists standing up for the Wheel, the fringe philosophers of the Cycle, the radical Gaists with their protests against the status quo, the rule of the T's, as the history books say. The Troubles were mostly fomented by the potential Third Wave, an entire generation.
As I have said, we only had controlled sources of news. But they were gathering in some cities, and in cells all over, and making plans, and beginning the little civil wars collectively understood as the Troubles. The normal potential Third Wavers-by normal I mean like us, secular, materialistic, educated, modern, post religious-joined in the end with the Luddites, took up their retarded creeds. They all shared the goal of defeating us. They had nothing to lose-this was so clear to me-of course I could see their position. My own boys couldn't, and they disowned their own offspring in the end, but I saw their children's position, their case. I suppose the rebels figured once they had defeated us they could sort it all out later, between the secular moderns, Heir children, and the fundamentalists. It didn't turn out quite that way. As Yeats said, "The best lack all conviction, and the worst are full of passionate intensity."
I didn't believe in the violence, was terrified of the riots. I had kept myself alive so long, I couldn't bear to be violated now. After so many years of its being the same, one gets attached to his body in a way that is hard to describe--- it becomes a magnificent possession. Didn't know what to do when they bombed WELLFI headquarters. Knew less what to do when I learned my own granddaughter Jennifer was in a cadre in what was once Chicago, one of the first to join forces with the Wild Oats, a fringe group, very violent. These were terrorists, anarchists. They didn't care. They had no future. I tried to plead with her. She wouldn't answer.
I couldn't decide what was best: I kept switching sides. At one point I even took what funds I had and sent them to Michael, who was in San Francisco, having joined with some Free Wheelers out there, a more liberal branch, who were eventually defeated. They had developed their anti-Treated ideology, their belief in -their euphemism was "in the cycle," but in fact, they believed in getting old and in death. I suggested he find his sister Jennifer and just leave the country and go somewhere there was an economy-England, or Canada-the old life was apparently still possible there. Most other nations were our enemies, and there was, internationally, a hue and cry about the power of WELLFI, so exile was difficult, but in those other places there were still economies, jobs, professions. Michael even trained to be a common doctor. That was considered something like being less than a veterinarian, by then. WELLFI gave them strict codes about what they could treat and what they couldn't treat. He showed these to me. I was infuriated. The great Untreated, as we called them then, couldn't even get decent ordinary care-blood pressure medicine, chemo. The Cyclers, the Mass, the Diers, they were called, with contempt as you must imagine. Some of my cohort even said publically it was a blessing they were doing the so-long in such numbers. "Reducing the strain on resources," they called it. In private, there was talk of "helping them along."
When I spoke to my grandchildren, to that generation, it was hard to know what to do. I understood their frustration-and what kind of country is it when the only thing you can imagine your grandchildren doing is leaving it so they can grow old and die on foreign soil, in a society that is less advanced? At least less advanced from your own point of view. While you stay home and amuse yourself and amuse yourself and amuse yourself? There were years of troubles.
I couldn't make up my mind. Heirs were slaughtered in the streets, flayed, set on fire. Friends of mine, from my first cabal. The WELLFI media started saying that the Treateds couldn't intermingle with the Nats any longer. That word was coined, "Nats," meaning "naturals," but very soon it became filthy, as it has remained. It was just too risky, too dangerous for us to have anything to do with these poor creatures. The Laws of HR Separation came into existence. The collars were introduced, so everybody knew who everybody else was. I was more sympathetic than most of my Wave who just built the great new Walled Urbs, Memphis, Bright Phoenix, Kingston- North New York.
After the first set of uprisings, there were several more-things were unstable, dangerous. T's couldn't travel without being assaulted, or so they believed, so the underground bullets were built to substitute for trains.
The great Untreated started organizing itself into affinity groups, into barter syndicates, into communities, into economies. They couldn't riot and wage war all the time. They traded the commodities they still needed, and tried to train their own doctors and teachers -their standard of living was much lower than it was before, during the fugue age, of course. It has just gotten worse and worse and worse over time. Like the English who let the Irish starve at their back door. Meanwhile we fed fugue economies a world away with investment. Eventually, since there was no changing WELLFI and its interests, a minority, a few of the stronger federations, the more fundamentalist ones, just invented their own way of governing themselves. They retreated from the commonwealth, created their own syndicates that circumvented ours entirely, including our systems of currency, banking and credit. They didn't believe they should be taxed. None of the money went to them, in any case, they argued. It all went to improvement of Heir facilities. They started saying that the whole idea of commonwealth should be disbanded, of course, even as an ideal.
The Enclave Treaties were the last thing, not a good thing. Heirs preferred to make peace with the most restrictive elements in the various parties, the most conservative, the most ideological. By the time the Treaties were being offered and the disbanding of the idea of the nation had been seriously considered, had been made part of the conversation on the Broads, I was pretty far in the North Camp. I had broken with my sons. This was in the late twenty sixties, early twenty-seventies. The first set of Procreation Laws had been passed, then the second. If you had children-not that many did, during the Troubles, it had become pretty rare-never theless, if you were a parent, then you couldn't get Treated. This was a law to solve the problem of another generation of Untreateds, causing problems. When they passed those Laws, to keep the peace, of course, they also made getting Treated cheaper for a while. But the Untreated who hoped one day to be Treated, who couldn't afford it yet, didn't like having their "generative freedom" as they called it, taken away. The word from Washington-the name was changed -- was that the nation was just ungovernable as it was. And the new black economy didn't pay any taxes, didn't contribute. And riots and civil disturbances were going on in all the old centers, in all the old cities. They had started in again, after a lull. I couldn't see for myself. Eventually, the most conservative elements won. Every radical Luddite group got their own charters. Walled all the Enclaves away from the nation. Each agreed, had to agree, of course, to the strictest population controls on their little tribes. When enough Enclave treaties had been signed to make it look fair, WELLFI went ahead and abrogated the U.S. Constitution, set up the United Natural Authority. There was no more United States. I wasn't on that side. I thought we should do the Procreation Laws, get everybody sterilized, and then work it out. This was a rich country, this had been a rich country. Nobody could see clear because of the violence. I thought I could work for that: the goal of everyone being Treated. Everyone who wanted it. See if we couldn't get the potential Third Wave Treated. Invest, wrest some of the funds away from WELLFI, democratize the process, perhaps research cheaper ways-- It would destroy the quality controls, the Treateds said, if you Treated people on the cheap. And our health would be jeopardized, they said. The people who scare people won. They always win. I think it is because they have all the money. They have all the money because they are scared to start with. It's circular, it's true.
Lots of suicides in my grandchildren's generation. They had such awful choices: sign on, and hope you could be Treated some day ( which meant forswearing having children) or decide to go on the cycle, that is, decide to have a life with a definite end, in some Enclave. In Enclaves, you could have children, but everything else about your life would be strictly circumscribed. While the Enclaves were still open, some fled to them, signed on to their rigid rules just to have the decision made for them. Many who raised the money, and chose to be Treated ended up lying about their status, men disclaiming their own offspring, mothers having their pelvises surgically changed, so it would seem they had never borne a child, everybody scrambling, lying, changing their minds. So many infants were disclaimed, murdered. They were everywhere, the term was coined, the "tossouts." My grandchildren's children. The media said nothing about it, of course.
I didn't care about the rules anymore by the year 2100 by the Old Calendar. I had been out in the open country. I saw what was really going on. My boys had deemed me a radical, an eccentric, a crazy. Wouldn't have anything to do with me. Michael, my grandson, I know for sure, died of natural causes in a Gaist commune in Kentucky around that time. That galvanized me. He was only in his fifties. Had he had any offspring? No one would answer my questions. I had lived to see my grandchildren die. It crossed my mind I had lived too long, sometimes I knew it. But I kept up. I am a man of fixed ideas. I decided there was something I could do, good I could do. I was full of pride, of a sense of my specialness, that my immortality would mean something---
About the time of the Great Rim Earthquakes, which took so many, including my granddaughter Jennifer, I got started. The U.A. deaccessioned these Gulf region, and those on the Pacific, as well, as "ungovernable and uninhabitable." I left the U.A. and came down to the De-Accessioned territory, the former New Orleans, the islands, locale of so many disasters in ancient public memory. I knew I was going to be involving myself with the poorest, the cast out, victims of the Procreation laws. There were some resources here, but it was definitely the edge of the empire, a place where I could almost hide, I could operate without calling too much notice to myself, not be condemned for promoting mixing, and or for "coddling illegal children."
I gathered together some of those my grandchildren's generation had abandoned in desperation. And I began. I went back to my oldest beliefs, those that had made me a doctor in the first place, back in the 1940's. ( Can you believe how far back that is?) That you can do something to help. Not everything, but something. And so I began my little salvage operation, as my scornful sons always say. Who do you think you are, they always say, the messiah? They say.
And I don't know, I don't, that's the problem. I try to save these few, but I'm the one who wants saving.
I'm the one.
Lazarus Gold, M.D.
Chapter Selection from the novel, Elysiana, by Moira Crone
Audubon Foundling House, Audubon, New Orleans Islands
Gulf De-Accessioned Territories, October, 2122.
My Life, Beginning With When I Decided It Would Have No End