Conscience

by disperser

I wrote this seven years ago.

Like most of my stuff, it comes from me thinking about a particular subject, and then wanting to put a different spin on what is commonly accepted.  Not great, but hopefully mildly entertaining.

 

Conscience

 

By E. J. D’Alise (Disperser)
Copyright 2005, and December 2012

Unseen, and in the silence of space, the massive ship orbited earth.   A twenty five year investment was about to bear fruit today.   Countless studies, meetings, discussions, and simulations resulted in what was unofficially called the nano-Conscience.   Today, it would be released in the earth’s atmosphere at strategic points around the planet.

When the Righteous (as they called themselves), first arrived on the scene, they were appalled by the violence, hate, and evil exhibited by so many of earth’s inhabitants.   Thousands died every day as a result of actions by their fellow humans.   Women, men, children, sick, healthy, young and old, and regardless of nationality and religious beliefs.     The Righteous almost left, but cooler heads prevailed, and they set upon the task of rescuing this young race from themselves.   But how?   Studies indicated evidence of outside intervention would trigger massive resistance, and may in fact create an environment where many more would suffer and die.

The best minds were put to the task, as continued observations cataloged murders, rapes, killings in war fought over ideologies, territories, wealth, and power.   And death was not always the worst that could happen.   Many humans were made to live in conditions resembling their most vivid descriptions of their hell.   The Righteous could not believe a sentient race would purposefully wish harm on another of their own kind.   That so many would be made to suffer for material gains.   Worse yet, that many were made to suffer and die for the pleasure of others.   Most hideous were crimes directed against children.  How could anyone willingly hurt children?   Had these people no conscience?

. . . and that was the breakthrough.  These beings would be given a conscience, albeit an artificial one.   The Righteous began with abductions for studies in human physiology.   They took some of those observed in the commission of cruel and evil acts, so that they might understand the reason behind the evil.   The hope was to tailor a nano-virus that would trigger behavioral changes.   The first designs centered on inhibitors, tailored to alter the chemical composition of the brain and mitigate violent and aggressive tendencies.   This proved to be only partially successful.   The chemical changes only worked on the unconscious impulses.   It turned out that many of the evils were voluntary, and involved various other aspects of brain functions.

Many variations were tried with various degrees of success.   But short of reducing these beings to a vegetative state, they were not successful in removing these tendencies in the individuals they studied.   Finally, the decision was made to eliminate what could not be fixed.   The nano-Conscience would shut down the organism wishing to hurt others before it would even happen.   Any thought of causing harm to others would result in near instant unconsciousness, followed very quickly by the shutdown of heart and brain functions.   It was drastic, but when something cannot be fixed, it must be discarded.   Studies estimated the earth would be cleansed of evil within forty-eight hours.

And so the nano-Conscience was released.   It worked.   People were dying everywhere.   Unfortunately, for all their studies, the Righteous did not really understand humans.    They failed to grasp the fine distinction between having a murderous thought, and actually following through with it.   They underestimated the therapeutic value people derived from wishing another person dead.    Men, women, young, and old began falling over without warning.   Cursing others was a common practice, and so few where spared.   Within a week few humans were left alive.   Of those, the majority where either mentally incompetent, and incapable of any thought, let alone an evil one, or where too young to have any thoughts.   With no one to care for them, they did not last long.   The remaining were the ones absent of all evil thoughts.   Alone, and scattered around the world, they too were in danger of extinction.

The Righteous were beside themselves with guilt.   They had exterminated most of the human race.   For three weeks they argued amongst themselves as to their next course of action.   Finally, they decided to round up the surviving humans, all four hundred and thirty seven of them, and explain what happened.  Above all, they wanted to understand why it happened.   And they wanted to help the survivors.

They gathered them all and held a large meeting.   They started by explaining to them what they had done.   But as they explained, many of the remaining humans started to die off, and soon all but two, a man and a woman, lay dead.   “What happened?” they asked them.   The couple explained that with the understanding of what the Righteous had done, there also came a great desire to see them dead.   The nano-Conscience was still active, and it performed its cleansing task.   The Righteous finally understood their mistake.

“But then why are you still alive?” they then asked.

The two looked at each other.   “All we ever wanted,” they answered, “was for others to leave us alone.  But we never wished them harm.   We just wanted them to be gone.  You accomplished this,” they told the Righteous, “and so we have no ill feelings toward you.”

“Can we go back now?” the man asked.  “We have a lot to do.”

The Righteous took them back to earth.   They stayed long enough to help clean up the mess, make sure they were settled, adjusted their aging process so as to grant them unusually long life spans, and then left them on their own.   As they departed the solar system, the Righteous wondered if they would survive to rebuild the human race, and if they did, they wondered what stories would be told of this event, and if the couple would ever come to regret their visit.   Just in case, before leaving, they destroyed all traces of the nano-Conscience.

Ironically, that was Noah’s only regret.   Near the end of his 950 year life, watching the progress of his descendants, he wished the Righteous had left the nano-Conscience active.

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3 Comments to “Conscience”

  1. Very compelling. There is a freedom in writing in a genre where anything is possible, but the trick is making the same old moral issues that plague everyday humans complicate the fantasy.

    Well done.

  2. Thanks . . . and I too wish the nano-Conscience were active.

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