What if Mother Nature thought we humans were out of control and decided to reset population growth? How would it be if you somehow woke up 100 years after the event and didn’t find anything like what you see in the movies? What if violence and mayhem hadn’t come to rule, and that what you found was all peaceful and nice?
The year is 2130.
World population: 1 million.
Current fertility rate: 98%
Loosely based on an actual virus outbreak in Australia in 1997. The “Menangle Virus” was transmitted from bats to pigs to people. It caused illness in people. It caused massive infertility in pigs. This “Paramyxo” virus was localised and didn’t spread very far, fortunately.
The final hour of the flight meanders by. The train ride is in a lightly filled car with no one watching, so Adam has an opportunity to get some cuddles and is allowed freedom under the blanket. Rachel has submitted, and he feels up her leg and rubs her crotch. She’s wearing a long skirt. He has his hand beneath that, touching her through her underwear and quickly drawing heat and moisture. She allows that for only a moment, though, before squirming her thighs together and glaring.
Adam knows the landmarks and counts them off all the way to Sydney and up into the mountains to Ascot. Rachel is quiet and smiley as they ride their pod to his apartment. He takes hold of her as soon as they’re inside but she pushes away in protest.
“You shower first,” she tells him.
Adam complies. He has a quick scrub and comes from the bathroom to find the bed has been stripped and freshened with clean sheets. Rachel slips past the bedroom door smiling and closes herself in the bathroom.
Adam’s entire borrowed body is tingling with anticipation as he waits in the lounge staring at the blank screen and listening for the bathroom door. It finally opens, but Rachel doesn’t appear. Adam waits a few minutes then goes to find her. He looks in the bedroom and is met by her smile. She’s in the bed with the covers pulled up to her chin. Her eyes are sparkling. “Lights off, please,” she says sweetly.
Adam turns off the light and strips his robe. He finds Rachel nude and kicks off his shorts as he kisses her. She’s trembling, as is he. He’s also fully erect, and her legs part as he moves on top of her.
“Adam?” she whispers.
“Will you still respect me in the morning?”
“Yes, seriously… I’ve never done this so soon before.”
Adam enters her, surging deep into her moist heat. He kisses her mouth. “Of course I’ll still respect you, beautiful… Of course I will.”
Rachel clings to the powerful back of the man thrusting between her legs. She spreads wide for him and bites on his shoulder as her climax builds and comes on quickly. Her belly is clenched and pulsing with the delightful contractions as the guy powers hard into her and holds firm.
Adam searches for and claims her lips. He kisses her passionately and holds and cuddles her into the night, entering her again and making more love to her before falling asleep—Rachel’s heart full to bursting with something more than she can define.
June 24, 2028
Nurse Patricia Holmes turns from her duties to see her favourite patient blinking confusedly. She approaches him. “Mr O’Malley. Welcome back.” He tries to speak but his voice fails. She holds a cup of water while he sips through the straw.
He swallows. “What..? Where am I?”
Patricia wipes his forehead. “You were in an accident, Mr O’Malley… Don’t worry. You’re going to be fine.”
December 17, 2130
Cooper James Davis opens his eyes to the familiarity of his bedroom ceiling. His brain tries to boot up but there’s blankness—the day of the week unclear—work or not. Cooper moves to sit up but is shocked by the presence of a woman in his bed. He scoots aside. She’s nude so he quickly covers her, and he stumbles to the floor and pulls on shorts.
The woman stirs and opens her eyes. She smiles but glances at the vacant side of the bed. She frowns, her eyes questioning confusedly. “Adam?”
Cooper gulps. “Um. I’m sorry…”
The woman scoots up the bed pulling the covers around herself. “Adam?” she asks again, more urgently now.
“Miss, I’m sorry. I’m Cooper. Cooper James Davis.”
“Oh no!” the woman cries. “Get out! Please leave the room and let me get dressed.”
Cooper backs out the door and closes it. He backs further out into the lounge room and finds two travel cases. One of them is open on the couch. The other is his. He finds jeans and a shirt, quickly dressing as the bedroom door opens and the bathroom door slams shut.
Cooper waits anxiously in his kitchen. The woman bursts into the lounge room and stuffs things in the case on the couch. She takes it and confronts Cooper watching from the kitchen. Her face is wet with tears. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be here,” she stammers.
Cooper takes a step closer but stops, just raising his hands in surrender instead. “Miss, please, what happened here? I can’t um… I can’t remember.”
“I’m sorry,” the woman sobs. She rubs at her cheeks. “It’s too much to explain… I have to go.”
“Okay. Can I talk with you later, please?”
“I don’t know. I’m sorry…”
The woman rushes from Cooper’s apartment and leaves him staring at the closed door. He takes a breath and expels. He looks at his wall screen and sees the date. “Sunday,” he mutters. He walks over and slumps back onto his couch. His brain is numb and as if unable to wake properly. He was on his days off, going to explore the old city. That thought claws its way out of the molasses. “Circular Quay.” The memory of riding his motorcycle into the heart of Sydney begins to clarify.
Cooper sits staring into his mind trying to advance on that but nothing comes to him. He shakes his head and looks around the room, pulling his travel case over and ripping it open. There’s a plastic bag inside with glossy tourist brochures from Hollywood and Moscow. “What the hell?” He takes that in, frowning confusedly and looking at the door where the rather pretty woman had vanished.
Aright. Food then Circular Quay.
Cooper is hungry and satisfies that with two bowls of cereal. He then pulls on boots and rushes downstairs to find the parking spot for his motorcycle empty. He walks out onto the street but can’t see the bike anywhere. There’s a pod sitting there with a green vacant sign alight. He jumps in. “18 Hamilton Crescent please.”
The pod zooms through the streets and out of the community apartment sector. Cooper’s parents own a house on the extreme edge of the grid. The pod stops out front and he rushes inside. He goes to his father’s desk and gets the keys to the Jeep from the top drawer. The jeep is kept in a workshop down the back yard. It’s a vintage model Cooper and his father have restored. There are several other restoration projects in the big shed, the parts easy enough to engineer and the biggest challenge being conversion of the engines from hybrid to full electric.
Cooper drives the Jeep out through a gate and onto a forest trail. This leads to an old road and joins the Great Western Highway to Sydney. The highway is cracked and broken in places but is fairly well travelled by others who enjoy exploring the old city. The 4 wheel drive of the Jeep is required.
It’s a 30 minute run down from the mountains and onto an expressway that leads into the city. Another 45 minutes brings Cooper to a narrow lane between towering office blocks where he finds his motorcycle parked.
Cooper leaves the Jeep there and walks toward the Pacific Princess III resting against the pier. He turns from the great ship and strolls along the cobbled walkway to a bench seat where he sits facing the old ferry terminal. He thinks of the woman again.
Adam… She called me Adam.
The smell of the ocean is suddenly alive in Cooper’s mind. A picture of the ferries moored there at Circular Quay flashes to mind. Cooper remembers this place. The picture grows in mind as he gazes around at the city. “Oh shit!” He sees himself as a child walking to school. He’s walking backwards and talking to the boy from next door when he bumps into a girl and falls over. He remembers that same girl kissing him under a bridge. It was a first kiss for him. He remembers his mother and father and his brothers and sisters. He remembers Amanda.
Adam O’Malley… I was Adam O’Malley!
Cooper’s mind is tingling electric and expanding quickly. He thinks of Patricia Holmes and feels his love for her. He remembers waking to her face in hospital and being immediately smitten. A tunnel appears in his thoughts. It’s dark but there are rings of light into the depths of it. He ventures tentatively and remembers when he was Allister Croft. He’s at a drive-in theatre holding hands with Maria. He can see Maria’s face but she’s older now. They’re both older and he loves her so much.
Cooper grips his head in his hands and pushes away these thoughts. The present floods back into his brain. “Oh no! Rachel..!” He addresses his device. “File message to self.” He appears on screen. “Hi. I’m Adam O’Malley living in this body.”
“And this is my cool new friend, Rachel.” The screen flips and Rachel appears smiling.
“And this is my cool new friend, Rachel,” Cooper’s voice repeats after her.
Cooper covers his device to stop it. He gets up and runs through the small park and across the street. The motorcycle is faster than the Jeep. He mounts it and flies through the streets, his heart pounding, his mind settling to absolute clarity now. He opens the bike up on the expressway and reaches the base of the mountains in less than 20 minutes. He powers up the range and enters Ascot through the city park. It’s only a block from there to the medical centre. He rushes past the reception counter and along to Doctor Hayes’ office. It’s empty.
“Doctor Hayes… I need to see Doctor Hayes please?”
“He’s off today,” the receptionist says. “Doctor Miles is available.”
“No, I need Doctor Hayes… Could I have his home address, please?”
Rachel takes her cup of tea out onto the balcony. She’s been crying all morning but feels ridiculous. She needs to go and find the guy. She knows this. She understands he’s done nothing wrong and that it was her own stupid fault getting involved when he was actually unwell. Her initial hurt has morphed through anger and self-pity to end up as some horrible mix of embarrassment and shame.
“I have to go back and see him, Dad.” Her father is sitting there on the balcony in his easy chair reading news.
“Try and convince him to come see me, darling.”
“I will, Dad. He must be so confused.”
The rare sight of a vintage motorcycle zooming around a corner and up the street catches Rachel’s attention. Her heart leaps at sight of the guy she spent the last week with. “Dad, he’s here!” she cries and rushes to the door.
Rachel runs to the stairs but he’s already there at the bottom. He bounds up them and takes her into his arms.
“Rachel..!” He’s hugging the breath out of her. “I’m so sorry, beautiful… I’m so sorry I didn’t remember.” He releases her enough to find her lips and kiss her. “I’m Adam!” he tells her and presses hard to her lips again.
“Adam?” Rachel utters, squirming her face away. “What..? I don’t understand.”
The guy settles. He releases Rachel from his bear hug and just keeps her hands. “I remember everything now, Rachel. Everything!” He huffs. “It’s amazing… I remember being Adam O’Malley… It wasn’t just his mind leaping through time. That’s not it at all… I actually used to be him.”
“You used to be him?” Rachel asks. “What do you mean?”
The guy smiles incredulously. He shakes his head and shrugs. “It sounds crazy but it’s not. It’s real… It’s what’s happening to everyone else as well.”
“What?” Rachel half wants to run.
“Look… Is your dad home? Can we go and talk with him?”
“Okay…” The thought of having her father by her right now appeals to Rachel. She leads the way with the guy following. Her father is waiting in the kitchen. “Dad, Adam or whoever wants to speak with you.”
“My name’s Cooper James Davis, Doctor… My full memory has returned.”
The doctor accepts Cooper’s handshake. “This is good… It was a temporary condition.”
“My name is Cooper,” the guy says to Rachel. “Please don’t be afraid of me.”
Rachel has her arms folded. “I just don’t understand.”
“Well, there’s a lot to understand… Doctor, Adam O’Malley was one of my past lives… I know that for certain now. It’s as simple as remembering back to your childhood.” Cooper looks from Rachel to her father. “I remember seven distinct past lives. I can tell you all of my names and those of my families and friends. It’s not all crowding my mind though. It’s just a matter of concentrating and sort of going there, and it’s all perfectly clear.”
Rachel doesn’t quite know what to say. Her father is rubbing his chin. “Past lives, huh? You’re saying these thousands of people who believe they are identities from history right now are in fact remembering past lives?”
“Yes… Exactly… How many are there now, Doctor?”
“The latest figure is over fifty thousand… Processing here is at the sports centre where nearly a hundred have reported in so far.” Rachel’s father nods to her. “There have been two other cases of people reporting pretty much what Cooper here is saying. They were among the original cases reported a week or more ago as well.”
“Okay, so it takes some time,” Cooper adds with interest. “I’ve been researching Adam O’Malley for about a month now. His name just stuck in my head at first, and then I searched him and went looking for his life in the old city… And then it just swamped me. He swamped me. And that was all there was all of last week.” Cooper pleads with Rachel, “That was me… I’m me. I’m Adam… Everything was me.”
Rachel’s tearing up now. She glances at her father, excusing what she’s about to ask. She looks at this man Cooper and swallows at the knot in her throat. “And last night..?”
“That was me last night.” He’s imploring as he shakes his head. “That was me—Cooper.”
Rachel allows him to take her hands again. She peers up into eyes she recognises as the man she has been with. “Cooper?” She releases a breath and sniffles. He collects her and hugs her. She relaxes into him.
“I’m sorry, sir… I really like your daughter.”
“I’ll be out on the balcony,” Rachel’s father says.
Cooper holds the beautiful woman in his arms until she pushes back a bit. She’s smiling a little as she meets his eyes. He strokes hair from her forehead. “Come with me?”
He looks down at her. “That’s a pretty dress but do you have jeans and boots?”
She frowns mirthfully. “Why?”
“It’s windy on a motorcycle.”
“But where are we going? I’ve never been on a motorcycle before.”
Cooper takes another kiss. Rachel responds this time. He sends her to get changed and approaches the doctor on the balcony.
The doctor looks up from his screen. “Another of the original patients has reported in. She has complete memory recall for multiple past lives. Twenty-seven of them. Back to the Roman Empire.”
Cooper leans on the balcony rail. “How about you, Doctor—remembering anything yet?”
The doctor chuckles. “Not yet.”
“But you want to, right?”
“I must admit I’m intrigued.”
Cooper nods. “Wait till yours hits you. It’s amazing how clear it all becomes… I’m just not sure if it was fate or pure luck that I met your daughter.”
“Rachel? Why do you say that?”
Cooper turns around to face the older man. “I’m not sure yet. I need to take her somewhere that I think might be familiar to her… I just have a feeling… It only started as little flashes for me, and I think Rachel has already met her most recent past life self.”
Rachel appears at the balcony door in jeans and boots and a cute little leather jacket. Cooper takes her hand and leads her to his Harley Davidson. The hardest thing about engineering the switch to electric had been keeping the distinctive sound and vibration. He and his dad had worked it, though, and the machine thunders out onto the street.
There’s no need to rush now. Rachel is cuddled tight to Cooper’s back, the feel of her thrilling him more than the incredible gift of the return of his lives. He takes her down the range and on past Oakdale. 20 minutes south east of that small community is the abandoned township of Menangle. Cooper has been here a number of times in the past month. He cruises through the housing area and out to the river and the Ground Zero site.
“My girlfriend Patricia and I used to live in that farm house just back there across the road,” Cooper says. “I used to work here.”
“Here? You worked here at Ground Zero?”
“No, not exactly… I mean at the pig farm that was here before the authorities levelled the place… After the bus accident, I went to work in the pig sheds shovelling shit. I had no idea about the virus. They didn’t even know it started here until later. Women in Menangle were among the first infected, though. They just couldn’t get pregnant… Then it happened to Patricia too.”
They’re sitting on the motorcycle looking down at a river deep in a gorge. The breeze is cool, the sun warm. Rachel isn’t speaking. Cooper turns to her. “Are you okay?”
She just stares at him. “She did get pregnant, but she lost it.”
Cooper’s gut clenches. “Yes. 8 weeks.”
Rachel’s eyes tear up. Her chin quivers. “I remember…”
“Yes. I felt it when I saw her picture before. And now—here with you… I remember…..”
This fictional Utopian story isn’t meant to be taken seriously, but I do believe that the future consists of a far lower world population and more evenly spread wealth. All the best throughout this pandemic, G.S.Bailey.
P.S. I was a young guy working at this farm in 1997, figured there might be a story in it one day lol.