The morning Ment-Alarm vibrated through Marie’s skull and her eyes immediately opened. She breathed in and out and, closing her eyes for only a moment, relayed the command that turned off the vibration in her inner ear—but not the song that had been slowly increasing in volume in her mind. “Good Day Sunshine” by the Beatles was ringing at full volume in her head by the time she sat up. She had always had two Ment-Alarms programmed to awake her, due to the fact that she always hit the mental snooze on the first Alarm. This morning, however, was not normal and the nerves that had kept her awake the previous night returned to her immediately, making her stomach do acrobatic tricks in her abdomen.
Marie queued up her morning cup of Adrenofee and walked through her vintage apartment to the modern shower. A majority of her apartment had a cozy, nostalgic feel to it, with pieces that ranged from the Victorian age to the Industrial-Resurgent 2020’s. Her apartment carried with it a weight of history and memories, something she felt was important when looking forward. In stark contrast to the décor of the rest of her apartment, the shower was slick and modern with rose cream and smoky chocolate glass surfaces that curved in organic arcs.
As she slipped into the womb-like shower she changed the music to her “All I do is Win” mix, filled with upbeat inspirational music. She prided herself on her musical mixes. Most people let music algorithms dictate their daily playlist but not her. These genetic algorithms were good for discovering music within a genre, but it missed the point. Music could alter your mood and evoke emotions. From the temperature of the chords to the rhythms of the base notes to the flow of the lyrics, music could be the ultimate form of expression when done correctly. Most people stuck to a single genre, keeping to the familiar and never understanding the true breadth of the musical experience. Her mixes were a testament to that diversity. Each mix was crafted to evoke an emotion, an experience, perhaps even a journey. She could use music that crossed genre boundaries and yet each song flowed into the next, taking the listener on an emotional jaunt. One of the best mixes she had ever created was called “Sound Bites of Sweetness” and its purpose was to create an unquenchable feeling of joy that started nostalgic and ended in hopeful looks to the future.
She had crafted the “All I do is Win” mix to ready her for battle. This mix made her feel powerful and unstoppable and included songs such as Queen’s “We will Rock You”, Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger”, and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Can’t Hold Us”, coupled with modern dance music that evoked euphoria and confidence. She didn’t resort to such music often for her mixes; it seemed to her that letting science string sounds together that resulted in a desired feeling lacked the human element that made the music of the earlier century the art that it was. For this mix however, you could not argue with results.
As she showered she accessed her Mental Wall for the day’s news and trending topics. Her mind deftly sorted through the trash and topics of actual interest; a mental task that was more a form of mental meditation than an actual expenditure of energy. She went through her cleaning regiment without actually paying attention to anything she did, and by the time she stepped out of the shower she had already chosen her outfit and the physical alterations she would Project.
Everything was meticulously selected to display intelligence, strength, and confidence while still maintaining her femininity. Some women became very androgynous to progress their professional careers, but that wasn’t her style. She wore a white top that began with a corset. A Victorian-style riding jacket was built on top of it; it opened in the front to expose the corseting but had modern pleating throughout, bringing the vintage-inspired piece into the modern era. While it accentuated her waist, the jacket modestly covered her bosom and ended in an over-sized collar. She paired it with fitted white trousers and slipped on her comfortable, air-light footwear, which gave the wearer a feeling of walking bare foot on grass. She pulled her hair into a high ponytail and began Overlaying the physical alterations that she would display to the outside world.
Black stilettos Overlaid her more comfortable choice of footwear and she applied a soft Glow Wash over her blouse and pants, giving her a soft glow. She darkened her hair to a bluish black and added a very slight shimmer, smoothing any untrained hair back into place. She gave herself the normal Skin Tone Wash, which smoothed out any blemish and added a modest warm smoky effect that billowed around her eyes. A pink lip finished the ensemble. She appraised herself from the complete 360 view projected into her mind’s eye from the apartment Smart Ware. She breathed in and out, steeled her resolve, walked out of her apartment, and locked it behind her with a mental command.
After stopping to pick up a cup of Adrenofee and assorted breakfast foods, she went immediately to the auditorium-sized classroom where she would defend her proposed research. As she stepped into the curved theatre-like room, the lights turned on and illuminated the 250 seat space. On a side table she placed the food for the committee who would decide her fate. After doing a breathing exercise to once again quiet her nerves, she uploaded her presentation to the room’s Smart Ware and picked the location where her visuals would overlay her audience’s vision. She quickly scrolled through the presentation, testing out the room’s response to her mental cues and commands, ironing out possible timing conflicts. She tested the voice link-up that projected her vocal thoughts out into the room. By the time she had run through the presentation twice, students and professors began to enter the room, finding seats. Once the professors of her committee had seated themselves in the front row, her Inner Clock warned her that she should start. She forced herself to remember to breathe and dimmed the lights, illuminating herself.
She stood in the center of the stage and began, “Good morning, my name is Marie Mayer and I would like to thank everyone for attending my defense. I will be presenting on my proposed doctoral research for “The Broader Societal Impacts of Human Affection and Attraction. A Computational Study”. The title of her proposal appeared in the center of the stage and she paused before continuing, steadying herself for the speech that she had practiced so many times; there was a bigger risk of her rushing through it than forgetting the words.
“Writing is by no means my strong suit and so in a very cliché move I will quote someone better with words than I am. Arnold Edinborough once said, ‘Curiosity is the very basis of education and if you tell me that curiosity killed the cat, I say only the cat died nobly.’” The quote had the intended effect and the audience visibly smiled and relaxed, allowing her to relax in turn.
“Out of all of the emotions experienced by humanity, curiosity is really the emotion that has directly contributed to the success of the human species. From the knowledge gained from our curiosity we have been able to continuously recreate ourselves and our environment to suit our needs and desires.” Marie then moved to the side of the stage as images of impactful scientific discoveries began to dance where she once stood. “It has not been an easy road, however, and the evolution of humanity has been a chaotic one—and like so many chaotic processes the end result can be… unpredictable.”
At that the images of the best that humanity had achieved began to spiral into the center of the stage, only to collapse inward and explode outward in a mock Big Bang that sent balls of light in all directions within the classroom. It was all a bit theatrical, but she was appealing to the nerd within each of her audience members, winning them to her side because she knew her proposal would have its fair share of skeptics. As the sparks flew to every corner of the room the stage darkened and when all of the light had nearly faded, she shone a spotlight back down on herself.
“So, what has my curiosity peaked? Why has it been such a hard road for humanity? Why, after all of the progress we have made, do we as a society come to the edge of ruin over and over? Last year a ground-breaking study was published in Science by a multi-disciplinary group of researchers, including mathematician Dr. Isaac Grothendieck, Cultural Anthropologist Dr. Jane Ferrell, Geneticist Dr. Laura Heltix, and Psychologist Dr. Edward Prime, that proposed an answer to this question.” As she said the names she walked from one side of the stage to the other and at the mention of each name, a picture of the scientist appeared in her wake. She stood in line with the pictures of these scientists, who were leading experts in their fields, in the hopes of seeming to be of equal importance as those whom she was referencing.
“The answer that they proposed garnered much attention from the scientific community because of the implications of their findings. According to their research, love is the fatal flaw in humanity and it will eventually lead us to our own self-destruction. They postulate that deep emotional attachment between individuals leads to increased aggression within a community, and individuals with strong emotional attachments to another individual will always act in the best interest of said individuals, even when it goes against the best interest of the community. While in most scenarios this is not catastrophic, there is a statistically relevant appearance of situations where it becomes catastrophic to the community.” The faces of the scientists disappeared and were replaced with graphical representations of what she was saying, taken from the published piece.
“Not only did they find a statistical relevance supporting their hypothesis, but Dr. Heltix found the genetic sequence that controls human attraction and affection between two individuals.” The graphs disappeared and a figure of the human chromosome replaced it. As she continued to speak, the image zoomed in, focusing on one of the illustrated chromosomes until the specified sequence was shown in great detail. “She also said that she could change the sequence to change human affection from an individual attraction to broader appreciation for the society at large. As a species, initial survival was an individual task and competition was necessary for the best genes to move forward, but as a species we changed into a communal organism. Technology has increased the dependent nature of our existence to the point that we now look more like an ant hill or bee hive, yet we still act as individuals. Many argue that if, as a species, we made this change within ourselves towards a more communal living, that the occurrence of catastrophic culture shifts would disappear completely. I would like to put their hypothesis to the test—more specifically, I would like to attempt to test it against historical precedent.”
At this the double helix rotating in the center of the stage disappeared. It was replaced by two figures, a man and a woman, on either side of the stage wearing only the clothing necessary to keep them decent. The man was of medium height and build with downcast hazel eyes, a scruffy five o’clock shadow, and short chestnut hair. The woman on the opposite side of the stage was also of average height with a moderately athletic build that did not intrude on her natural curves. She had shoulder-length dark brown hair with striking almond shaped eyes and a single freckle on one cheek. Marie stepped in between the two figures. “Meet Alpha and Epsilon and they… are in love.”ns 18.104.22.168da2