Join the Neopoet online poetry workshop and community to improve as a writer, meet fellow poets, and showcase your work. Sign up, submit your poetry, and get started.

short story( I know, I know but this was written when short stories were still allowed here)


The question was finally answered. Was there life on Mars?
There had been plenty of hints. There was the Martian meteorite found in the Antarctic which contained fossilized microorganisms. There were all the signs of the precursor of life (water) to be seen on the red planet's surface. All hints pointed to the past. But it took the first manned expedition there in 2051 to give the definitive answer.

Because it was on that mission that Martian life was accidentally and unknowingly brought back here. It was there. In every soil sample collected. It was just so tiny it was overlooked.

It actually took fifteen years to realize it was there. By then it was too late. For by 2062 it had become obvious that something had gone wrong with human and primate reproduction. When the birth rate first started falling the news was met with relief. For the populations in too many areas had already exceeded the carrying capacity of the ecosystems. But the relief soon turned to concern when it became obvious that the drop was wide spread, indeed universal. Then the concern turned to panic when successful impregnation became the exception instead of the rule.Then rare. Then nonexistent.

A crash research project on this abrupt change soon discovered what was happening. Or rather what Wasn't happening. The eggs were fine. The sperm cell were fine. But when a sperm penetrated an egg........nothing. No genetic combinations. No fertilization. No obvious cause.

Until 2065. That summer the Chinese micro biologist and geneticist Chi Lan, who was working in the U.S. found an anomaly.

While using a scanning electron microscope to try and find a genetic solution to the fertility problem, he accidentally turned the magnification up by a factor of forty when his elbow hit the amplification dial while he was lunging for a dropped cup of coffee.

Suddenly instead of looking at molecules he was looking at atoms.And there it was.An unknown atom. Attached to each gene in each DNA strand. An atom sized virus. And the more cells he checked the more obvious it became that the virus permeated All primate cells not just the reproductive ones. And they at first glance seemed harmless. Then he looked even closer. At the places where the atoms attached to sperm and ova. They attached to the points at which these cells combined. And blocked the combination as surely as a condom.

Thus was the cause found. Next step was finding the origin which was traced later that winter by the American viral expert Thomas Peake. It had originated from those Martian soil samples.

Having found both the cause and origin it was assumed a cure would be easily forth coming. After all, all the resources of the human race were available to the project. Wrong. First thing tried were bacteriophages to attack and absorb these rogue atoms. But none on earth liked the taste of these atoms. Next to be tried were other viruses to attack the offending one; same problem, same lack of results. Any radiation of chemical which was strong enough to break the atoms away from the receptor areas was also so strong they either destroyed the host cell or hopelessly mutated it.

So, an indestructible virus which didn't make you sick or sterile. It just kept reproduction from happening by disallowing the combining of DNA strand.

So here was E.T. A mere atom in size. And he brought as a gift the solution to overpopulation.And the end of human evolution.

The riots and wars that erupted helped hurry the depopulation process along. What value had life when this would be the last generation?

But it wasn't the last generation. For it was found that the virus did not affect cloning since cloning does not require DNA combination.

So humanity cloistered itself, what was left of it, around the scattered enclaves where the ability to clone still existed. And the population finally stabilized. At around 50 million. Which was found to be about the maximum population that could be maintained by cloning. And only the "best" were cloned. By the year 2500 AD there were only three thousand people on earth. The same 3000 endlessly replicated by cloning. All attractive,. All healthy.Because inherited reasons for bad health had been eliminated by not allowing such to be cloned. All were conceived in test tubes and , increasingly, many even being brought to term in artificial wombs and raised in creches. Who wanted the burden of pregnancy and child raising ?

So the question of life on Mars was answered.

But the clone Stanton 501 was not concerned about that. He had a more immediate question. What did it mean to be human?

................End Part One.....................
Questions chapter 2


Stanton 501 considered this nagging question as he watched Marcia
213 dress after their latest bout of sex. He admired her long black
hair and womanly form until she caught him looking. "Like what you
see?" she asked with a smile. He replied with a nod and wagged his
eyebrows in a lurid manner.

To this she laughed and waved as she exited his apartment.
How could he or she not be human? Surely being able to appreciate
each other as they just had meant they were more than just mere
copies of people. But of course they Were. After all, there were about fifteen thousand of each of them. Hell, he'd had sex with 12-15 other "Marcias." Not made love to...had sex with. For to him,
aside from minor deyails, they were all the same. Seems cloning had
also laid to rest the old genetics vs. environment argument about which had the greatest effect on behavior. And genetics had won.

Stanton 501 (or Stan as he thought of himself) thought of the
other Stantons he'd come to know. He'd learned to avoid them
as talking to them was too much like talking to himself. But there
were 37 of them in the Clemson area alone, so it was impossible
to not interact with them at all.

in fact his choice of field of study was based on finding one in
which no other Stanton was active in Clemson at this time. The
only thing this left was sub-molecular biology with a concentration
in finding a cure for infertility. This field was uncrowded as it was
deemed hopeless.

After all, Stan was a 3rd generation clone and if the answer existed
it would have been found by now. But to his own great surprise, he
found this field fascinating. To see how even the tiniest changes
in even the position of one atom in relation to another could affect
the biology of an organism never failed to amaze him. And frustrate
him. For it soon became obvious that there was no cure for this

Oh well, time to get his tired ass out of bed and get a bite to
eat before work.

He had promised a friend of his (Albert 37) who went by the
monicker Big Al, that he'd drop by his work station in the physics
building. Al seemed excited about an apparent breahthrough
in his project. Big Al had been tilting at the teleportation windmill
for almost 20 years now. Stan figured the "breakthrough" was
probably realizing teleportation was about as likely as reproduction.

Shit! He looked at the clock and vaulted out of bed. He took a quick shower and instead of using time to eat he took a quick food
suppository instead. Then he threw on some clothes while summoning an autotrans through his cell phone implant.By the time
he got to the curb the transport was slowing down for him. He saw
he'd be sharing his ride with Big Al's assistant researcher Greta. He
couldn't recall her number but he did know she was one of the
newer series of asexual clones. Regardless, she looked excited. As
if she'd just heard some big news.

"Well",Stan said "What's the bruhaha about?" Greta just looked at
him with a glint in her eye and laughed. "If i tell you Al will have me
cleaning diamond circuit chips for a month!"

So instead they talked about the increasing number of elk which
had spread from east Tennessee over the years and the effect
they might have on the whitetail deer population in the Oconee
wilderness area.

When the human population had crashed every clone in a 6 county
area had migrated to Clemson. Partly due to the large research college and partly due to hydroelectric and nuclear power
plants nearby. This left the surronding ghost towns to slowly
revert back to forest which they had been rapidly doing. This
emergent forest made great habitat for all types deer and even
mountain lions.

The autotrans had barely stopped at their destination before
Greta was out the door and running toward the low slung
physics building. Stan followed at a fast walk. He knew his way
around and felt no need to keep up to get where he was going.
So in the side doors and down 2 flights of stairs to the sub-basement where Big Al's lab was. Room 0022. Which was really
crowded. Maybe something really Was going on.

!! Damn!! All the deans of every science department were there
including his! Who barely nodded at Stan while listening to Big Al
( Not to be confused with 4 other Alberts in attendance who
ranged in ages from about 18-63.)

As usual in physics, the equipment he could see was pretty
bland. A couple of diamond foam computers. A jumble of cables.
A thick slab of what looked like lead with a diode on either side. And a large lit monitor screen.

After a few final adjustments, Big Al stepped to a keyboard. The
room suddenly went quiet. Al hit a key and a brief hum was evident
as capacitors built power. Then Al hit another key and the hum stopped, punctuated by a faint "pop". But Stan noticed on the
monitor that a tiny red spot had changed location.

After a bare moment the room erupted in a loud babble as
everyone tried to talk at once. And Big Al didn't have near
enough hands to shake all those thrust at him in congratulation.
Stan felt his jaw snap closed. Al . Had. Done. It. Teleportation. and
according to the monitor readouts, instantaneous teleportation.

Of course it had only been a few micrograms of inert matter.
But still.......instantaneous teleportation.

There was no chance of speaking with Al. It would take a stun
gun to part the crowd surrounding him. So Stan just slipped out of
the room with the knowledge that he'd see Al later and express
his admiration then.

For now he headed to his own lab. Where at least His impossible
problem remained unsolved. On the way there Stan daydreamed
of the accolades he'd receive and the fame he'd gain when he
finally solved his riddle. As if. He waved absentmindedly at two
othe Stantons one Greta and three Wesleys he knew while on his way. Odd, but instead of joy at his friend's accomplishment, all he
could think about was his lack thereof.

He was no closer to finding the cure to infertility than he'd been
8 years ago when he started. And he'd tried everything. Chemical cures........wrong. All chemicals which freed the receptors also had
the unfortunate side effect of killing the cells. Introducing a virus
to destroy the invader. Not effect at all. Submicroscopic surgery
to remove the inhibitors....close. But the ovum then soon divided
into undifferentiated blobs. Nanobots to absorb the inhibitors
invariably missed a few and a few was all it took. So now he was
reduced to just trying random actions.

So his mind switched subjects. To defining what a human was.All
the theologians agreed that to be human meant to have a soul.
Well that might work but each soul was thought to be unique.
So where did that leave him and his fellow clones? Did they share
a single soul somehow? Was the soul cloned when they were?
Or did only the original specimen have a soul?

If that was true then all clones were soulless. On no higher level
than a biological robot. Souless. And according to all religious
theory, non-human.

But dammit! He Felt human. He thought he felt human. How
could he really know what "human" felt like? Did the very fact
that he was able to wonder about this make him human?
Shit,shit, shit.......logic. Fat lot of good it did with this question.

Well, back to business. He'd check his latest effort at the infertility
problem. Another half-hearted attempt at chemical chelation to
remove those blocking inhibitors. He had 50 different batches
at 25 different stages to check. Make-work to fill the next
few days.

A few hours later he was at the verge of calling it a day when
his cell phone implant tingled that a call was coming. It was Big Al.

"Hi Stan! Saw you there this morning. Even i still can't believe it works! And i don't blame you for leaving that mob. Hell, I wish I could have left lol! I thought if you weren't busy, we'd get
something to eat this evening and I could catch you up on
the deatails. How 'bout it?"

After the slightest pause stan said, "Where you want to eat?"
And after a few suggestions and counter suggestions it was
agreed they'd meet at the Western Sizzler. Food was food but
eating it at a place that was old when the infertility wave hit
was a plus. And they'd also be able to watch the sun set over
lake Hartwell as they talked and caught up.

Stan hung up with a wry smile. That Al. His enthusiasm was
always there and it never failed to lift Stan's spirits. And for
some reasson Stan had the vague feeling that the coming
evening would yield something more than a full stomach.


* One probably needs to read both preceeding chapters in order to know what's going on...............stan

Stanton checked his watch as he finished recording the results of his latest of his attempts at using chelation to seperate the inhibitor particles from viable cells. Another failure. Might as well get a FAILURE rubber stamp made he thought.He sat his E-pad aside for the day and realized he had about one hour before he had to meet Al for supper at the 'Sizzler.

As he left the biology building he buttoned up his coat against the chill October breeze. He then smiled wryly to himself as he thought of the old "global warming" panic which had been raging at the same time the as yet undiscovered infertility plague was spreading. Typical.......people always seemed to fear the wrong thing.

As he boarded the autotrans he saw Marcia 213 was also there and he waved at her, but she was in deep conversation with a Wesley he didn't know and barely responded. So he just concentrated on Al's victory that day in teleportation and his upcoming meal with him.

Stan started as the autotrans jerked to a stop in front of his dorm. As he stepped off a flurry of fresh fallen leaves stampeded around his ankles in the wake of a sudden wind gust.

Twenty minutes later he was back at the same curb having showered and changed into clean clothes.While waiting for the trans he inhaled a deep breath of wood-smoke tinted air
and saw a few clouds building in the west. He saw at least six squirrels gathering acorns beneath the ancient campus oak trees. They all froze at a distant hawk's screetch then went back to their squirrely business in the light of a lowering sun. The trans finally arrived and he stepped into the empty cab and zoned out all the way to the Western Sizzler.

As he exited he saw Al waiting for him outside. They greeted one another and got out of the frosty wind and into the steak house. While in the ordering line they discussed the menu choices. Stan decided he'd have an economical venison burger steak with fried potatoes and a salad. Al was in high enough spirits that he ordered an actual beef T-bone steak with baked potato. They both ordered beer and went to a booth where they could watch the sun peek between gathering clouds as it set over Lake Hartwell.

The waitress who they both knew (Judy 41) brought their drinks and yeast rolls, being sure to lean over far enough to show ample cleavage and thus ensure an ample tip, then left them on their own. Al asked Stan how his research was going on the infertility cure. SSDD (same shit different day) said stan. Barring something unforeseen I don't see any possible answer. But we're here to celebrate your success, not my lack of it. He laughed and said "Tell me about what made this morning's demonstration possible."

Al's smile was so big it threatened to split his face. "Well," he said "You kow the problem has always been getting all of the atoms to arrive at the same place at the exact same time. If they arrive even a nano second apart the air molecules would stay in place as the teleported atoms arrived. The result was a solid being sent and a wisp of smoke arriving.

This has been driving me crazy for years.It appears that the problem was that all atoms vibrate and the vibration made it impossible to determine the exact position of each atom and its relative position to adjacent atoms at a single point in time. There just was not enough computing power to handle all the variables due to the vibration. So the computers did the best they could which was to teleport one atom at a time instead of all at once.

Then four months ago I was watching a basketball game. Each player at any one time was concentrating on only one other player. Either the one he was passing to, the one he was guarding or the one from whom he was about to receive a pass.So the two teams' actions were not, at any given moment, determined by the teams but by the actions and positions of each player. The individual player determined the teams positions............POP!!!. I had been working at the atomic (team) level, not the subatomic (player) level! The vibrations at the atomic level would not matter if I was working at the subatomic level where the overal atom was not relevant.

I needed to be able to teleport at the subatomic level not the atomic!.This required that I be able to compute the positions of each non-vibrating subatomic particle. This removed the variables inherent in determining the exact position of atoms which were vibrating.

"Stan" Al said, "You know that in teleporting something one actually teleports all its parts instantaneously, not the whole thing. Having solved the vibration problem, it became a mere matter of getting enough computing power to.............................

But Stan's eyes were glazed over. He kept replaying what Al had just said"one teleports all its parts not the whole thing..."all the SUBATOMIC parts! Stan suddenly came back to the present to see Al staring at him, a bit consternated that Stan had stopped listening to him. Stan felt his pulse pounding, saw his hands shaking and suddenly snapped his hanging jaw shut. He stood up, he leaned across the booth toward Al,and slapped him on both bicepts with his hands. AL,YOU'RE A FUCKIN' GENIOUS !! he shouted.

Al looked a bit stunned and then looked around which caused Stan to glance about and realize everybody was looking at him.So he sat back down which kind of soothed the look of shock on Al's face.

Al coughed low and said "I appreciate your saying so but you could have said it a bit lower." Then he laughed. "Don't call me a genious just yet as I've only been able to teleport single element inert matter so far an..........."

Stan cut him off "yeah,yeaah. But don't you see yet? We Can Cure The Infertility Plague!!" be continued......................


Good story, left me with questions I want to know
the answer to, hooked me in other words. I'll be
looking for part two.


Thank you. I've already written next 2 chapters and expect it to take at least 2 more additional ones before I'm through. So I don't know if this is really a short story or novella lol. I'll post next chapter in a day or so...........stan

author comment

Took me long enough but you asked for it lol. Final chapter is already written in my head but not yet on paper

author comment

please define short
and compose poetry more
then publish the book stan
you promised
to limited
what happeneded????

My extended absence resulted in the book idea being forgotten. A short story is not quite a novella. And this story still has one chapter to go so it Might be a novella instead of short story when finished. And all of this was written in the early part of 2016 so it hasn't affected my output since my return......stan BTW did you like this? PS book project will be revived at a later time

author comment
(c) No copyright is claimed by Neopoet to original member content.