It was a pretty good idea, at first. They figured out how to give life transfusions.
You could just go down to the donation center and they'd hook you up to the machine and you could give someone you loved more... time. I remember when the first centers were built.
I was only ten years old, but it was all over the news, this huge scientific breakthrough.
There were lines out the door, long lines of people, all waiting to give precious months of their lives to someone they loved, each with their own heartbreaking story.
This one had a child waiting for a kidney transplant. Another one was helping a parent live to celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary.
Some wanted to give their dying loved ones enough time to get their affairs in order, or to achieve a lifelong dream. And others just couldn't let go.
That eventually became a problem, the people who couldn't let go. It was a real drain on our health resources.
Not to mention the GoFundMes - in the early days, a good sob story could rack up ten thousand years.
Some of these were fake, of course, and the donated time ended up being sold on the black market. But some were not, and suddenly we had nearly immortal charity celebrities.
It was a terrible thing to inflict on someone. Everyone had a vested interest in these celebrities' long and mostly pointless lives and it put a lot of pressure on them.
They began to attempt suicide at an alarming rate, which of course they failed at and only strained our health resources further. So you see, something had to be done.
They set the time cap based on the average life expectancy, which was seventy-eight. Therefore, if you were forty, you could accept donations up to thirty-eight years, and so forth.
Unfortunately, there was still a black market. If you had enough money, you could buy a fake birth certificate and all the time you wanted.
It was notoriously difficult to track, and even harder to prove. Even if you did prove that someone had bought time illegally, what could you do? Kill them?
Well, not kill them, exactly. More like reclaim their illegal goods. Which is exactly what happened.
A bunch of ancient rich people on life support, sucking the system dry, were plugged into the life transfusion machines, and they were sucked dry for a change.
Their time was put into a bank managed by the government, intended for distribution to people who needed it.
We should have paid more attention to what that meant, but we accepted it, trusting in the government's good intent. And there were the health care costs to consider.
That's how we ended up with the Life Cap. Everyone got seventy-eight years. Period. No more, no less.
I report to the center tomorrow, on my birthday. And I can't help but notice that some of the senators look much older than they claim to be.