This story is loosely inspired by Bill Bryson’s book ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’ – only that he mentions asteroids and chimpanzees DNA.
It was the year 3015. During the last 1000 years, Earth had faced many disasters, mostly man-made. Global warming projections had proved devastatingly correct. Rising sea levels meant almost a third of the planet was underwater. In fact, you could take a glass-bottom boat to view part of New York under the sea – hailed as the New Lost Atlantis!
Thankfully, due to the advances made in cloning and DNA, most of the extinct animals could still be seen in zoos. There was not enough space to allow them to roam free. Livestock was cloned to prevent starvation of the planet’s remaining population. Billions had died as a result of wars, earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding, and numerous diseases were now resistant to antibiotics. The destruction of the Amazon rain forest meant plants, with natural antibiotic properties were lost to mankind for ever.
The latest crisis was the newspapers and holograms screeching the news that a six kilometre wide asteroid had come within 25,000 miles from the Earth’s surface. In real terms, a hairbreadth from disaster. A cheerful newsreader announced that if the asteroid had impacted, the population wouldn’t have known anything about it because within a second they would be fried.
Peyton Randler shrugged, and turned off the laser-beam to the hologram. He nervously combed his thick, dark hair, in preparation for an important date. In view of what occurred previously, Peyton realised that if his plan was to succeed, he needed to box clever. He caught sight of himself in the bathroom mirror; performed an exaggerated chimpanzee grin and thought, you handsome sod.
Peyton, was a quadro-hybrid humanzee. A thousand years ago, cloning of a human was thought unethical, and even now opinion had not altered, but the public turned a blind eye to cloning of chimpanzees and humans. The high fatalities in chimpanzees aborting human embryos had been overcome. Chimpanzees contain over 98.4 % DNA compatible with humans, and artificial insemination into female chimps had been reluctantly accepted as half of the world’s population had been wiped out by the year 3,000 A.D. He could trace back his human ancestry to his great grandfather. His great grandmother a chimpanzee. Strictly, a humanzee or a manpanzee, referred to a hybrid of a male human and a female chimp, and the opposite called a Chuman. But Peyton was used to the fact that people tended to use any of the three names. He put up with this as long as they were not said in a derogatory fashion. On the whole he was accepted, particularly as, a few years ago, he had plastic surgery done to his nose. Now his flattened nose looked positively aquiline. He viewed his profile smugly and proudly, and thought, if it was not for the the fickle finger of fate, I would not be in this position.
The human male was in very short supply, and girls had to accept the nearest equivalent if they wished to marry. Of course, he found prejudice, but on the whole, the girls could not resist his handsome, dark looks and his sex-appeal. They found him mysterious because he did not smile. He knew if he did, the resemblance to a chimp could be detected. He wouldn’t make the same mistake again. No way! No sir!
His last date had turned into a disaster because the girl had made him laugh until his sides ached. He inwardly groaned. As well as his chimp-grin he developed uncontrollable laughter, which came out like a demented chimpanzee screech.
This time, he was determined not to make the same gaff again. He was taking out Senator Blake’s daughter, Britney, to the latest Hologram film. Ironically, it was a re-make of the ‘Planet of the Apes.’ He wanted to marry the girl. He was ambitious. He saw the marriage as one foot on the ladder to a political career. He allowed himself a chimpanzee-grin again. Who knows – one day he may make it to the White House!
Peyton and Britney married within twelve months. He always used a condom when they made love. He didn’t trust the DNA clinic telling him any babies conceived would be 99.99% human. He didn’t like the odds!
The marriage and career were successful. With Senator Blake’s influence and money, he ensured his son-in-law joined the right committees and boards. Peyton made speeches,making sure he used the right tone to sway potential voters to his side. He had gained a Bachelor’s Political Science degree at university so he was no monkey when it came to intelligence and knowledge.
By 3025, he made it to the White House. He screwed up his brown eyes against the curling smoke of his Cuban cigar as he smoothed the desk with his other hand, and thought of Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States, back in the last century, wondering what he thought when he made it to the White House as the first black man. Well, – not really – Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, was predominantly English ancestry. Peyton was fascinated by Obama and his ancestry. He had discovered that Ancestry.com, the genealogists, had discovered that Obama was linked to John Punch, on his mother’s side. An indentured black servant in Colonial Virginia, Punch was punished for trying to escape his servitude in 1640 by being enslaved for life. President Obama is traditionally viewed as an African-American because of his father’s heritage in Kenya.
Peyton drummed his long fingers against the desk, wondering what Ann, an American Anthropologist, would think of a quadro-hybrid sitting behind the president’s desk.
This was to be his last thought.
He was vaporised, together with the planet, when the asteroid, first spotted 10 years ago, slammed into the Earth at over 300,000 miles per hour. If, anyone had survived they would have heard a screech, sounding like a chimpanzee, coming from the Oval Office.