By Bill Frakes
Mr. James W. Beam, his friends knew him as just ‘Jim,’ led the procession into the stadium. The crowd’s acknowledgment grew in volume as Jim slowly made his way up the podium steps and was helped into his seat. The dignitaries following Jim took their seats according to their importance to the Federation, with the Premier seated next to the Man of the Century, Jim Beam.
As speaker after speaker took their turn at the podium and gave tribute to Jim, Jim’s mind drifted back to the life experiences that had brought him to this time and place. Before Jim took his turn at the microphone, it was the Premier’s turn to spout the virtues of the man’s life. As the Premier approached the center of the stage and prepared to speak, Jim sat quietly. His memories passed before him in a flash, one hundred years in a microsecond.
“Jim was born on December thirty-first, 2021, in a little town in central Florida, United States of America,” the Premier began. “Coming from humble beginnings, Jim received a good education and following in his father’s footsteps, became a grower of oranges on their modest farm. He married and had three fine sons. He had hoped they would become orange growers as well.”
The Premier stopped and patted Jim on his shoulder, recognizing the pain Jim must be feeling. “Then, the First Cyber War began in late ’45. The lasting effects of the total takeover by Artificial Intelligence led to the end of the fighting, as well as the end of nations as they were known at the time. It took another twenty years for the Total Transformation of Civilization (TTC) to be completed. Jim had lost everything. His family, his home, his farm. But he hadn’t lost hope. He had seen the worst, now he would help create the future.”
“In 2068, when the Reset was enacted, Jim was there to help create the New World Order (NWO), which included establishing the Declaration of Total Governance(DTG) of all civilizations on the planet earth.”
“Jim was part of the delegation that saw the Seven Regions established under DTG, determined by using virtual reality to accommodate the populations at that time, with strict enforcement of population control in the future. The rule he helped establish was that of one death allowed one birth, no exception. During the same period, self-taught machines were programmed to eliminate all production of weapons of war. By the mid-seventies, peace was declared on a global basis.”
“During the mid-eighties, Jim lived through the famine that struck the North American Region forcing the relocation of millions to the Central African Region. Those selected to be relocated were chosen based on projected fertility and ethnic background. TTC had determined that the economic, regional, and ethnic backgrounds of any population were prime determinants of future conflict. Hence, the establishment of homogeneous populations within each region would reduce the motivation to seek a different environment, and the elimination of such differences would eliminate conflict.”
The Premier stopped and took a drink of wine before continuing. “As you may remember, this theory proved successful at first until the Federation realized that without conflict or the desire or need for change, an aging population hindered new growth and innovation. Civilization had become so dependent on the advances of the past that there appeared to be no need for progress in the future.”
“Hence the enactment of the Fair Full Life (FFL) legislation in 2090 establishing the age of eighty as a fair full life expectation for all citizens of the Federation.”
“Since Jim and others like Jim had exceeded the mandatory age of the FFL, exceptions were made until the age of one hundred.”
“Jim is the last person to reach the century mark and will be the oldest man to ever live. Without further ado, I give you James W. Beam.”
The stadium erupted in applause and whistles. The celebration of Jim’s life continued for another fifteen minutes before the Premier was able to regain control.
“Jim, I would like to say one more thing before I give up the mike. You told us about an antique you had lost through the ages and how you always wanted another one.”
“Well, we found one, and it is with extreme pleasure that I present you with an original 1911 Colt .45 caliber pistol.”
Tears welled in Jim’s eyes as he held the pistol, checked the clip, then pointed the pistol at A) Himself or B) the Premier and pulled the trigger.
Bill Frakes is new to fictional writing. This is his first venture into science fiction.
His background has taken him from the practice of law as a prosecuting attorney to an executive for a Fortune 100 company during his forty plus years career.
Since coming to The Villages, his primary focus had been his golf swing and composing short vignettes for various occasions.