The Elixir of Life
Professor Matthias didn’t hear the click from the car door when it shut. He sighed, set down the bags he carried in his arms, and walked back to the door. He pulled the door open and slammed it shut, this time knowing for sure that it had closed completely. He gathered the bags back into his arms and headed for the house. It was a small house, with a blue front door that the professor went to unlock. To his surprise, the door was already unlocked; in fact, it was open a crack.
The professor eased the door open with his knee, as his hands were still full. Soon the door came to halt, only opening halfway. He continued to push, but it wouldn’t budge.
“Margaret!” he called. No answer came. He looked back into the driveway. Both cars were there, so Margaret was surely home. He called again. Still no answer came. Once again he set down the bags on the ground and pushed on the door with greater force. It slowly came open, a loud grinding sound accompanying the squeaky creak of the hinges. The professor stepped in, leaving the bags outside.
“Margaret! I brought home dinner…where is she?” he said, looking around the room. His voice faded away as he saw that the living room was trashed. Chairs and tables were overturned; shards of broken glass and pottery littered the floor. He looked back at the door to see that the piano had been moved in front of it. He called for his wife again. This time, he was answered by a long groan. He raced up the stairs, not bothering to hang up his lab coat as he usually did when he came home. This time was different. He sensed something was wrong.
This wasn’t another one of Margaret’s ’feng shui’ phases; someone had broken into the house.
Professor Matthias worried for his wife, but something else also nagged at the back of his mind; his research. Years of research on artificial intelligence; the professor hoped to develop it for the purpose of creating smart homes for elderly…but he knew that the danger of someone planning to weaponize it was possible, and now he worried that it had become all too real. He tossed these thoughts aside, reasserting his focus on Margaret. She was far more important than any science project.
He found her in the bedroom, lying on the floor, a puddle of blood spread around her. Matthias rushed over to her.
“Margaret! What happened?” he asked.
“Someone…I don’t know who…someone tried to take it. The research, Matt, they came for your research,” she replied in short breaths.
“The research isn’t important right now; right now we need to get you to a hospital.”
“It’s too late for that, Matt. I…I hid the research. In the safe in the attic. They didn’t find it.”
“Would you forget about the research!? You’re dying! I’m going to get help, just stay here.”
“Matt, I…” her voice trailed off. Her head slumped to one side. Her last breath had been the loudest sound Matthias had ever heard.
“Margaret…I swear to you, I will save you somehow. I’ll…make something. I’ll create…an elixir. An elixir of life. I will stop at nothing to get it. I promise.” He said.
“Are you sure about this, sir?” the artificial intelligence program asked in a female voice.
“Positive. After everything that’s happened, I’m afraid I cannot in good conscience continue this research. No one is ready for the elixir of life. It is too dangerous. I’ve been given a second chance at life and I’m not going to waste it.”
“Sir, the elixir…it worked,” the voice said from his computer.
“I know it worked. But I just can’t let it fall into the wrong hands. That is why I have destroyed it."
“I understand sir. What are we going to do now?”
“Now? Well, now we go into hiding. Don’t worry, it’ll be an adventure.”
He packed the laptop into his suitcase and walked out the door. While he may not have been able to save Margaret, the professor had brought her back to life in a way. The voice of the computer program—it was hers. As for the elixir of life, it was destroyed; the only remnants of it running in Matthias’ veins.