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´╗┐Title: Up For Renewal
Author: Daniel, Lucius
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Up For Renewal" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



                            Up for Renewal

                           By LUCIUS DANIEL

                        Illustrated by DOCKTOR

           [Transcriber's Note: This etext was produced from
                 Galaxy Science Fiction November 1954.
         Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that
         the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]



               "I'd give a year off my life to...." Idle
             talk now, but it was ghastly reality to Kent!


Howard Kent looked at his young and beautiful wife and felt the weight
of the years rest on his shoulders. In her eyes he saw his heavily
lined face and sagging, stooped shoulders.

They stood just inside the long, narrow reception room of the Human
Rejuvenation Plant. Potted palms and formal chairs reminded one of a
Human Disposal unit.

"I have a confession to make, darling," he said.

"Oh, no, Howard. Not now. I take for granted you've done the usual
things in your youth."

"But...."

"And we needn't have hurried so, as you can see. Now we'll probably
have to wait hours in this perfectly dismal place."

She looked as young and fresh as he looked old and dusty, he thought,
so out of place in this kind of establishment.

He had always loved small women. Leah was small and vivacious and
dressed a year ahead of styles. No matter what happened, he'd never
regret having married her.

"But this is something I should have told you before," he said.

She put her hand on his arm. "I've been perfectly happy these past six
months. Whatever it was, I forgive you."

"It's not that. I'm talking about my age. I didn't think you'd marry
me if you knew how old I really was. I put off telling you and figured
you'd see my birth certificate at the wedding ceremony."

"I never even looked at the silly old thing."

"Well, darling, I looked at yours and felt a little guilty in marrying
a young girl of twenty-three. But the fact is I'm sixty-five. I've been
rejuvenated before."

"I rather suspected it when you started aging so suddenly last week,"
she said. "Before that you didn't look a day over thirty. But it
doesn't matter."

"It's worse than that, Leah." His face worked convulsively. "I've been
here twice before. This is my third trip."

"I'm too modern to act shocked, Howard. If you didn't want to tell me
before, dear, it's perfectly all right."

"Look, darling!" Perspiration stood on his forehead. "You don't seem
to understand. But then you never could add or subtract. Now listen
carefully. Each trip clips five years off your life span."

"Everyone knows that, of course. But it's better to be young...."

"It's better to be alive than dead," he said harshly.

"But your doctors have given you a longevity span to the age of
ninety."

"Suppose it was eighty, instead of ninety?"

"Oh, dear, you worry too much," she said. "Doctors don't make such
mistakes."

"They can't give me a guarantee. You see, three of my ancestors
died from accidents. The prediction of ninety years is based on the
assumption that they would have lived a normal life-time."

"They make few guarantees. You know, all of you men are such babies at
a time like this."

"Yes, but if it _is_ eighty--then, I'll come out not a rejuvenated man,
but just a handful of dust."

"Oh, that can't happen."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Look at it this way." He paused a moment while taking in her youthful
appearance. "From now on I wouldn't look much older. Just a little
grayer and perhaps more stooped. Then, I'll have what's left of my
longevity plus the five years this rejuvenation would clip off."

"Why, Howard, dear." Leah sounded shocked. "You don't know what you're
talking about. An aunt of mine elected that choice and it was perfectly
horrible. She drooled the last few years of her life and was helpless
as a baby."

"Why didn't they use Euthanasia?" he asked.

"The courts decided she wasn't capable of making a rational decision."

He wiped his forehead. "That would be a long time off, darling. We'd
have so much time together in the next fifteen years."

"But what would it be like if you were crippled with arthritis or some
other disease?"

"You could divorce me if that happens."

"I can also divorce you if you don't go through with rejuvenation. You
know it's the law."

"You wouldn't do that." His face was more lined than ever.

"Don't be silly, dear. Nobody gets old these days. Who would remain our
friends? Why, everywhere we'd go, people would point us out. Oh, no,
life wouldn't be livable."

"That sounds like a cruel and calculating decision to me," Howard said.
"Either I take a chance on dying or you'll divorce me."

"You have no right to make such an accusation. I married a young man
who said he was thirty years old. Six months later I discover he's
sixty-five. Now who's cruel and calculating?"

"Please, darling, I didn't mean it. Look," he pleaded, "I'll even sign
permission for you to have a lover. There's that young fellow that's
always around. Maybe it's happened already."

She stood back from him. "Howard, you're being perfectly nasty. Just
like an aged person you read about."

"Five million dollars, and all of it yours when I die a natural death."
He put his hands in his pockets.

       *       *       *       *       *

The street door opened just then and a young man came toward them with
a light springy step.

He offered his hand to Howard who took it slowly. "How are you,
skipper? And you, Leah? I came as soon as I got your message."

"He's worried, Mike." Leah's face had brightened. "And now he's
insisting on growing old."

"I've been through the wringer twice before, you see," Howard said in a
low voice.

"I don't think you have much to worry about," Mike said. "Those medics
know their business."

"Aging is a nasty process." Leah wrinkled her nose as if she smelled
something offensive. "Maybe you can convince him, Mike."

"Leah is right, you know," Mike said. "A few years ago I visited the
old age home. There's only one left. You'd be surprised at the amount
of suffering old people go through before they die; cancer, angina,
broken bones, strokes, arthritis. Rejuvenation won't work on extremely
old bodies. Longevity has run out."

"Why does it have to clip off five years?" worried Howard.

"It's the old-age governor they found in the pituitary gland. They can
turn it back, but the shock takes off about five years."

"Oh, I know what's in the medical articles," Howard growled. "Remember,
I've been through here twice before. But the Sun was so warm this
morning. It was like seeing everything for the last time. I felt like
sitting down and letting everything drift."

"That's a sure sign that you really need rejuvenating," said Leah.
"After it's over you'll be making me a golf widow again. Won't he,
Mike?"

"Of course. He'll come out raring to go."

Howard looked from Mike to Leah and back at Mike. Age was no match for
youth. If love hadn't started between them already, it would soon.

       *       *       *       *       *

At the end of the long room, a door opened and two nurses entered,
starched and antiseptic.

"Your room is ready, Mr. Kent," one nurse said.

Howard shuddered. "Everything is so horribly familiar. The pill to
erase the worry, which doesn't work. The cart you ride on which makes
you feel like a carcass. The little bump as you enter the regeneration
room. Then you get a hypodermic and crawl into a long boiler tank."

"You're just nervous, dear," said Leah.

"A dismal, miasmic cloud settles on your mind and you decide you
wouldn't go through it again for anything in the world."

Mike put his arm around Leah as if it were the most natural thing in
the world. "He'll be all right, my darling."

Howard looked at them and then turned wearily to the nurse. "I'm ready."

The nurse walked down the long room with the stooped man and
disappeared beyond the door.

"Did you tell him about us?" asked Mike.

"Of course not. What a man doesn't know won't hurt him."

"Are you Mrs. Kent?" asked the other nurse who had remained behind.

"Yes."

"The doctor said to remind you that the fourth time is very dangerous,"
the nurse said. "You'll have five years and six months without it. But
possibly only six months if it should be successful."

"Better take the first offer, Leah," said Mike.

Leah smiled. "I found a gray hair and a wrinkle this morning, love.
Better six months of youth than a thousand years of old age."

She went into his arms. "Don't worry about what happens, love. You'll
have a lot of fun in the next seventy years."

He kissed her and held her closely.

"I've got to go now," she said. "I'm so grateful you were able to get
the forged birth certificate."

Her high heels tapped rapidly on the tile floor as she walked down the
long room with the other nurse.

"Good luck, Mother," he called after her.





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