“Time is money”. It has been a principle preached by the wisest of the wise, paradoxically since the beginning of time itself. Human beings are naturally born with a fixed span of lifetime. Nevertheless, one couldn’t actually realise the significance of this most limited resource till the time the very phrase ‘time is money’ came to be true. Yes! As the prevalent global cryptocurrency dissolved in the 23rd century A.D., a phoenix, in the form of a new solar currency, emerged from its ashes- Time.
My name is Sasha Kumari, born in the year 2447 A.D. Just like every human born in my era, I was given a basic quota of 150 years to leverage during my supposed lifetime. The rest… Well, I had to earn it. The phrase ‘Spending time’ meant differently for us. With the advent of advanced genetic engineering, nanotech and holistic synthetic healing, human beings could be presumably immortal. But, with such a godly power in the hands of a few, it would have just created chaos. So, just as we do with every godly power we have possessed since time immemorial, we limited our ability to channel it through restricting organisation. Laws and Protocols were formulated to regulate the use of this power and normalise access to it across the solar system. Eventually, it aided in the evolution of time as the sole currency in the known Universe. Every child born had to be implanted with the soul-clocks, that were small chips in our wrists that controlled everything from our existence to our well-being. It was a metaphorical as well as literal symbolism of an hourglass that showed our worth in the form of the time we have left. Everything from remuneration to penalisation had a new form. The punishments for crime were in terms of time, with the minutest of crimes cutting off days from your clock whereas the harshest of crimes turning your clocks off. And as soon as they went off, so did you. The crimes that were considered the worst often had something or else to do with stealing time. There was no disease and very slight chances of permanent injury since the self-healing was near-perfect. Still, people died. In such an apparently utopian society, you would expect that there be no classes, right? But there were. And worse than earlier. Penury diffused through the evolution and sustained. Now, the poor were lacking in time. Because of two major reasons- Firstly, with a day’s work, they could only earn a few hours; some only a few minutes. And secondly, many chose to barter their time for other resources. The soul-clocks couldn’t save people from hunger, or the lust for comfort and leisure. As has been, the rich became richer and the poor poorer. I still remember how we used to find clock-beggars round the clock at every nook and corner of spaceways and skyways. Those desperate to just get a few days’ worth so as to buy a quarter meal for their loved ones; some to buy the cheapest liquor they could find.
A few years back, the raid on the human trafficking network, the one to put a halt on underage selling of time, put a cork to the network of beggars. It also inadvertently restricted stealing of time and limited the advancement of the unethical hacking community. Now, they were merely surviving on the bits and pieces they could scrape from all the not-for-profits. Yes, those self-proclaimed philanthropists who all competed like foxes to get temporal accolades for their so-called contributions. The highest honour, the Nobel Prize for Peace, adding 300 years to one’s lifespan. Well, procuring a few years for the needy paid off well for the few lucky ones. The rest spent their lives in a miserable bubble, that often burst as catastrophic failures, pushing them to the edges of psychosis and thereby extinguishing their remaining time. Oh yes! There weren’t any diseases since your soul-clocks were constantly fixing you, all for a price. This was programmed into them to let consequences of actions persist. Otherwise, human beings would have merely indulged and not been of any use.
You have a few questions in your mind, don’t you? Well… to be honest, just two of them matter. The first is- why am I telling you this? For starters, I started interning for this time-management organisation last summer. It was one of the few organisations of the solar system valued at more than a million-years. The owner of the firm was the richest man of our system, Dimitry Selkov. My brother, a full-time employee of the company, referred me to it (if you’re wondering). My stipend was less, something around 72 hours per month, but the work was adding weight to my resume. The thing is, a few months back, while I was working on the International Space Station, my brother had departed to our Martian Settlement for what he referred to as a company errand. Failing to hear a from him after some time, we began asking questions. Very soon, a narrative came out that he never went to Mars. Whoever talked about it was indirectly or directly silenced by the management. Being the inquisitive being and the worried sister I always was, I took the onus of finding the truth myself. A few weeks back, I snuck out on one of the transporter drones to Mars. On reaching there, I had to be stealthy and make my way to the archive repository, the system my brother’s team was working on. The company that Selkov primarily owned worked for allocation and de-allocation of time along with records keeping. Hopping from archive to archive, I reached the end of the dome. I was supposed to hide there for a day at least before I could have made my way back undetected. But, prior to the lapse of the day, the impossible happened. Selkov made his way to the terminal along with numerous boxes of shipments that were supposed to be carrying battery-powered drives. But, as the containers slid open, they revealed numerous cryogenic glass containers with infants inside of them. Yes! Selkov was committing the worst of crimes. The secret to his capital was, literally, sucking the lives out of the poor. Overhearing their discussion, I came to know that Selkov had been the kingpin of this organised cartel since centuries. I was shocked at that revelation since time-tech wasn’t that old even. Or was it? After that, I waited amid the shadows so as to know more. As soon as they left, I started hunting for information through the Archive databases. And just as I thought, they were maintaining off-the-record data warehouses to store information regarding their dubious activities. Technically, they were just channelling the persisting capabilities of humankind to their full potential. But, subject to some unbreachable protocols in place, they were only able to do it at the cost of others. That was their pursuit to become Gods. There wouldn’t be Gods if there were no humans. And those protocols were just making sure that only a few get to reap the entirety of the forbidden fruit of immortality.
Now, coming to the second most important question that you might be thinking of right now- how am I telling you this? In my pursuit to find my brother, and subsequent seeking of the truth, I came to know that my brother was aware of their plans and was himself working on something to disrupt their cartel altogether. The archival recordings showed that he was clocked off by Selkov. As I reversed through the recordings, I saw how he had reached the settlement in search for the life sustenance engine that powers the settlement on Mars. He had a purpose. We cannot essentially travel back through time. And ages of human experimentation has taught us that we can neither communicate with the past. Or, can we? My brother learnt a way. Human experimentation with time had given us the power to de-age matter. As matter de-ages, we see a version of it that was long lost to history. Counteractively, my brother found a way that leveraged gravitational waves to speed up the ageing, which impacted the past versions of matter itself. For example, if I increase your age today by 10 years, yet keep time for you generically still and also relative individually, your age 10 years ago would be as it is now. In fact, your birth might happen 10 years later, thanks to the impact of the space-time continuum. Nevertheless, it is impossible to implement this for organic beings. But it is very much possible to do in the case of lifeless matter. The gravity pen creates engravings on a rock that ages it many years to the future, hence sending the message years to the past. But, for it to travel to 2022 A.D., it required an energy source as strong as the life sustenance engine itself. He came to Mars to find it. Instead, he was found. And so am I. Even though my soul-clock shows a healthy 115 years, I am dead sure that I’d be surely dead in the next 10 mins. Therefore, I have chosen to complete my brother’s last wishes. To save the future from the past and to save the past from itself. You… who are reading it… there’d be a race to Mars lead by the richest of your time. What seems, what you see… it will never be what actually is. The power of the Gods has been created as of 28th June 2022 A.D. You have to stop them from becoming Gods… from anyone becoming a God. This is not the world you want… Trust me. Save your time… so that we would never have to save time ever.