Death No More

published on Ascent (website)

Noah grabbed a large chunk off the half-eaten Snickers bar and shoved it in his mouth. He pushed his gold wire-rimmed glasses back up on his nose as he swallowed and stared at the monitor.

“What am I missing?” he muttered to himself and sat forward, resting his head on the base of his palm and biting his lower lip.

“It’s got to be right in front of me.”

Noah scooted out of his chair and paced around his apartment. He took off his glasses and chewed on the end of the rims. He stopped and cocked his head.

“No, that’s not it.”

He threw his glasses aside and collapsed onto his couch, letting his head lie back, staring up at the ceiling. He ran his hands through his dark brown hair a couple times.

“Wait a second.” He jumped up and went back to the computer. He typed in an equation.

“That’s it! Jesus Christ, that’s it!”

He saved his work and burned it onto a CD. He looked at his watch and saw it was already 8 a.m. He had been up for 48 hours, but there was no time for rest now.

He threw on his jacket and headed out the door. He wanted to go faster than his feet could take him and tripped on the steps several times.

He tried just walking briskly up the sidewalk, but eventually resorted to a steady jog.

When he rounded the corner, he saw the protesters had already gathered in front of the building.

“Don’t play God,” they were chanting.

Noah stopped for a second and took a deep breath. He pushed the CD deep into his jacket pocket and held it close to his body before entering the mass of people.

At first they took no notice of him, but as soon as he began to ascend the cement stairs, they were on him.

“Do you realize you’ll burn in hell for working on this project?” a woman screamed in Noah’s face.

“God doesn’t like it when humans try to mess with his divine plan,” a man yelled.

Once he reached the top step, Noah turned to the crowd and gave a graceful bow before going into the building.

This infuriated the protestors and they began screaming louder.

“Why do you insist upon angering them? If you ignore them they’ll go away eventually,” said Christy, another scientist on the project who had just arrived before Noah. She had her jacket flung over her arm and was looking at Noah with her typical disapproving eyes.

“Believe me, Christians never go away,” Noah said while walking with Christy down the long wide hallway to the lab.

“You look awful.”

“I haven’t slept in two days.”

“Then what are you doing here?”

Noah remained silent, but held up the CD for Christy and smiled.

“No. You didn’t?” Christy said, her eyes growing wide.

Noah slowly moved his head up and down.

“Pop it in and take look,” he said, handing the CD to Christy.

Christy loaded up the equation Noah had just looked at on his own screen a few minutes ago. She nodded her head as if checking it out for herself then turned to Noah, smiling.

“Oh my God. You did it.”

“Death can be a thing of the past. I want to go before the committee ASAP so we can start testing.”

“What’s this about going to the committee?” Bill, the third scientist on the team, asked as he walked in munching on a doughnut.

“Noah figured it out. It’s all right here,” said Christy pushing her chair back from the desk and pointing to the screen. Bill leaned over and studied the screen, dropping doughnut crumbs on the keyboard, which Christy methodically brushed off.

“Wow. You did do it and not a minute too soon. The local religious groups have been putting a lot of pressure on them to shut us down,” said Bill.

Noah moved his hand in a dismissive wave and sat down.

“You shouldn’t be so quick to brush them off. Believe it or not, the majority of people in this country do still believe in God.”

“Those people are stupid.”

” That may be the case, but you’ll probably have a hard time convincing the committee of that. Remember, it is the community’s money they’re giving to us.”

“I know, but how can anyone deny using this science. It’s going to completely change everything. Forever.”

Bill shook his head in agreement. “I’ll set it up as soon as I can. You should go home and get some rest. You’ll want to have a clear head when you go before the committee.”

Noah got up and patted Bill on the back before heading back out the door.

The protestors swarmed around him, but he managed to duck and push his way through them and walked as quickly as he could back to his apartment. He was beginning to feel extremely tired and even stumbled a couple times while walking.When he finally made it up to his apartment, he collapsed on his bed and let sleep overtake him.

But the shrill ring of his phone awoke him at no more than an hour later.

Noah slapped his hand around on his nightstand before finding the receiver.

“Noah, it’s Bill. The committee wants to see you in an hour. Can you be ready?”

“Yeah,” said Noah, rubbing his eyes and looking at the clock.

“Good. See you then.”

Noah hung up the phone and threw off the covers. He needed a shower to wake him up. He walked slowly to the bathroom door and was just about to enter when the phone rang again. Probably Bill reminding him to wear a tie.

Noah picked up the phone.

” Look Bill, I’m not a child, I know that I need to dress up.”

“Noah?” The voice sounded unfamiliar.

“Noah Tyler?”


“Do not move forward with your little science project.”

“Who is this?”

“The wrath of God will be upon you. You’ve been warned.”

The line went dead and Noah replaced the receiver.

“Stupid Christians,” he said, heading back to the bathroom.

The hot water pouring over his body not only cleared Noah’s head, but helped him begin to plan what he was going to say to the committee. He even started gesturing to no one as he worked out every word.

After drying off and dressing in his best suit, Noah headed out the door. He walked with an air of confidence that kept even the most aggressive protesters in front of the building at bay. He simply ignored them as he ascended the cement staircase and entered the building.

When Noah entered the conference room, the committee was already seated at the long table Ð nine very old and stuffy looking scientists seated no more than a foot apart. They were all studying manila folders opened in front of them. Noah thought the setup was a bit absurd. By the looks of things you would have thought he was a prisoner up for parole, not a scientist asking to move forward with testing.

Josephine Grant, the chairperson, eyed him critically as always through her glasses that were so small they barely covered her eyes as he sat down in the lone chair facing the committee.

“Well, Mr. Tyler. We’ve been informed that you’ve found the solution to your problem.”

“Yes, Ms. Grant. The data you have in front of you shows that there is in fact a way to transfer a person’s consciousness into another brain.”

“Mr. Tyler, I assume you’re here to request the permission to move forward with testing?”

“Yes ma’am. This is such an exciting discovery, possibly the most exciting discovery ever made. I think we should move forward as quickly as possible.”

Tom Gibson, another committee member who always gave Noah the hardest time, leaned forward and cleared his throat. He took off his glasses and looked at Noah with big bulging eyes.

“Mr. Tyler, do you have any idea of the amount of opposition we’re receiving from the public?”

“Yes, sir, I do.”

“But you don’t care?”

“Excuse me if I sound rude, but most of the opposition is based on religious beliefs that date back to medieval times. We’re all scientists here. We know better.”

“So, Mr. Tyler, you’re saying we should disregard the public that has provided the funding for a project that some are even saying has turned out grossly different than what was originally intended?”

“Not disregard, but not stop moving forward either. The majority of the public is ignorant about a lot of things, but most of all, this.”

“But Mr. Tyler,” Tom said raising his voice. “That attitude is just what has made the public so mad. They think you think of yourself as a god and your arrogance has given us all a bad reputation.”

Noah was losing his patience and jumped out of his chair. “Don’t you understand? If my experiment succeeds, we are talking about an end to natural death. When your body begins to give out, we could move your consciousness – your thoughts, your feelings, your memories – everything that makes up who you are into another brain and then into another body. We are talking about immortality.”

Several committee members shifted in their chairs. Noah couldn’t tell if it was from excitement or nervousness.

“And where would all these new bodies and brains come from?” asked Tom Gibson.

“We’ve already been growing bodies without brains in the labs and been growing brains without consciousness for years. Now we can put those to use. We’ve been able to successfully transplant brains, but a brain transplant has held no point for anyone because you lose who you are … until now.”

“Mr. Tyler, if we allow you to start testing there is going to be a public outrage,” said Josephine Grant, shaking her head from side to side.

“Then let me be the test subject,” said Noah, spreading his arms open in a motion of offering.

The committee stared at him and then looked at each other.

“Then you’re not taking any risks. It’s just a crazy, arrogant scientist who thinks he’s God in control of his own destiny,” Noah said and smiled.

The committee looked at each other with some members lifting their eyebrows and shrugging their shoulders. Others whispered to one another.

Josephine Grant sighed and leaned forward once again.

“Okay, Mr. Tyler. Go ahead and conduct the experiment on yourself. If you’re successful, we’ll meet again to discuss what to do next. If you’re unsuccessful,É I guess this is goodbye. Good luck.”

Noah nodded and thanked the committee before heading out the door. Bill and Christy were waiting right outside. Christy was pacing and biting her nails.

“Well?” Christy asked.

“We have authorization to proceed,” Noah said, bowing.

“Oh my God. You’re kidding. I don’t believe they gave us the okay,” said Christy.

“So who’s going to be the first test subject?” Bill asked.

“You’re looking at him,” said Noah, smiling.



“Noah, are you sure about this?”

“My life is nothing if I don’t use it to advance science. And I want to do this as soon as possible.”

“You know it’ll take a few months to get all the machinery built and to set up a medical team to do the brain transplant.”

” I know, I know, but let’s get moving right away.”

“We’ll get started. You go home and sleep É for about two days,” Bill said, patting Noah on the back.

The next five months went by almost like a dream for Noah. He was coherent everyday as he oversaw the process becoming a physical reality, but it all seemed surreal to him until all the equipment was finally in place. Everything seemed to be going so smoothly. Even the protesters and the phone threats had no effect on Noah. He was focused entirely on bringing immortality to the human race.

It was a rainy Tuesday night as he sat alone in his apartment looking out the window and smoking a cigarette. He hadn’t picked one up in years for fear it would kill him, but what did that matter now? Tomorrow he would have a new body with fresh, healthy lungs. He watched a single drop of rain make a streak down the window and then traced its path with his finger. He was amazed at how calm he was, but wondered if he would miss this body that held so many memories. Maybe once the practice of transferring consciousness became widespread people would keep their old bodies for sentimental value like they did now with old high school letterman jackets.

He squashed the cigarette in an ash tray and took a deep breath before heading to bed.

The next morning the protestors were gathered in full-steam again, but he managed to slip by them almost unnoticed and made it to the door. But before going in, he turned and motioned to the crowd to be quiet.

“I only have one thing to say,” he said. “When death becomes a thing of the past, there will be no need for religion.”

Noah ignored the uproar and cries of blasphemy and entered the building. He headed straight to the lab where the preparations were almost complete.

” Is the body up to your liking?” Christy asked turning around a large tank.

Noah looked inside at the body, which was about his height, but more muscular and with lighter-colored hair. It was submerged in a red-jelly like substance that provided oxygen and nutrients in order for it to survive and was hooked up to numerous electrical devices that forced the muscles to contract and develop.

“Works for me,” he said smiling. He turned and saw the brain sitting in a separate tank, submerged in the same substance.

“We’re all ready to go,” said Bill, coming up behind him.

“Then let’s get moving,” said Noah as he lay down on the surgical table. He watched as they removed the body from the tank and hooked it up to various machines and heart monitors. Then Christy rolled the machine next to Noah. She placed sensors all over his head and proceeded to place another set of sensors in all the same places on the brain.

“Now, you know theres going to be a couple of hours where you’ll be fully conscious, but wonÕt have a body – wonÕt be able to see, hear, or feel anything,” she said.
” I know. I plan to see how many times I can recite the periodic table.”

Christy laughed. “Okay, here it goes.”

She pressed a single key on the machine and Noah’s body shuddered. Almost immediately the blinking confirmation appeared on the screen.

The medical team checked Noah’s body, but it just lay there completely unconscious.

“Well, it looks like that part worked,” said Christy as she hit a second key and waited for the second confirmation saying the energy taken from NoahÕs brain had been transferred into the new brain. Bill stood over her shoulder. They were both holding their breath, though they weren’t conscious of it. Then the second confirmation came.

Christy turned to the doctors and gave the ok.

One doctor moved forward towards the brain, getting ready to pick it up, but instead pulled a gun and shot Christy square in the forehead, before turning to face the rest of the room.

“What is this?!” Bill screamed. The doctor shot him too.

“The wrath of God,” the doctor said in a monotone voice with a smile on his face then went on to shoot the other two doctors before walking over to the brain. He bent down next to it, as if examining it.

“You have no idea what’s going on, but you will figure it out soon enough. You tried to live forever, and now youÕll live in darkness and silence until this brain dies.”

The man carefully placed the brain back into the red jelly substance in the tank and placed the tank in a large case. He walked out of the building with the case under his arm and no one questioned it.

By that time Noah had recited the periodic table four times and started the fifth.

“Hydrogen, Helium, Lithium …”

Copyright 2003 Nicole Tanner

Leave a Reply