by Narbeh AvanessianPublisher: Self-publishedRelease Date: April 28, 2014
What does the man who has everything want?
The answer is simple: for it to never end. Jackson Riley is a young billionaire living in the year 2052 with a single obsession - to discover immortality within his lifetime. But what happens when this obsession tears him apart from reality and his one true love Nicole? And why have untraceable special agents taken an interest in his medical experiments?
Counterfeit Youth is an emotionally charged sci-fi thriller that explores the concept of happiness, and what it means to live forever.
February 2nd, 2053
What does the man who has everything want? It was the one question that began to haunt me in the younger years of my life. If I could just come up with the answer, I was convinced I could find the secret to the most elusive human emotion: happiness. I remember sitting alone in a dimly lit Burbank diner at dawn, playing with my ketchup-drenched curly fries as my coffee cooled down, lost in thought. My sunken, insomniac eyes would wait for the sun to rise through the cafe's east windows. The blinding light of dawn's first rays coming in strong and low was almost pristine enough to deliver some kind of answer, but it was not to be.
The bullet train would deliver me to Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco in the winter, when the crowds had left. The wind would gust with bursts of fury, and I'd smell the salt in the air. The splashes of the bay water calmed me down immensely. It was the closest I had come to finding what I was looking for, yet I still searched.
For most of my life, I would convince myself the answer would come through my art; perhaps a set of my best paintings—no, an entire exhibit—would give me solace, but it was never enough. Everywhere I looked in my Golden State, the state many simply called California, the answer to the question continued to elude me.
It was my family's move from the valley into West Los Angeles that finally aligned the stars in my favor. Against all odds, I found him—the man who hadeverything. The question that had driven me mad all of these yearscould finally be answered, if I could somehow become part of hisstory and pay close enough attention.
That man was Jackson Riley. He was born in the year 2017 to proud parents who would have only one child. By 2035, Jackson Riley neatly fit the criteria as the man who had everything. He was worth eight billion dollars, the sole heir to a real-estate empire, so he never worried about money. He was deeply in love with his strikingly beautiful high school sweetheart and never suffered unrequited love. At the young age of eighteen, he never ached for lost youth.
So did I learn the answer to my question through a man I thought would only exist in theoretical debates? Is my story in the pages written below any help at all? A simple answer to a once philosophical question does it no justice, but in case you were still wondering, I'll give it to you square. What does the man who has everything want? Simple—for it to never end.
Excerpt 2:October 7th, 2052
Manhattan Beach was still considered a California oasis. It was not filled with the typical electro-chauffeurs that drove inches apart from each other; these compact cars were present only in the large cities. The town was a relic from the past, with human drivers, and with the sensorless roads it was known for in the past half-century.
As the sun further ascended, the shades of fall were captured by the magenta paint of the Alexander Estate. The estate rested at the far end of the shore and resembled a feudal lord's castle, with timeless limestone cladding the main building. A surrounding outer brick wall began thirty yards in front of the house and went all the way around the five-acre backyard, inexplicably enclosing Jackson Riley from the shoreline. The adoption of stained-glass windows, the lack of archers to employ, and the mistake of not including a moat and drawbridge retired the mind back to present day. Midnight had arrived.
The phantom figure of a man dressed in a black, reflective hoodie materialized in the beach town. The figure, scarcely visible, was walking on the road that led to the estate. The rustling of sand on asphalt beneath shoes was unavoidable. Nevertheless, the figure was somehow inaudible; proceeding with sharp, calculated steps.
As he came within visual range of the estate, the phantom's demeanor noticeably altered. He moved with steps strange and sudden. Only the figure's scarce outline now was visible as the hoodie, pants, and shoes seemed to flash reflectively. Three middle-aged men sat in a covered security post right by the entrance gate. They had several flex monitors at which they took occasional glances in between watching a streaming football game; they didn't notice the outline of a man pass by. The figure cleared the eight-foot brick wall surrounding the estate with alarming ease. He landed and remained still and crouched. His image immediately blended in with the gray bricks behind him, hiding his body once again. Slight visual distortions appeared when he moved, only hinting at his current position.
A microchip one tenth of the size of a needle-head was implanted in the shrouded man's left shoulder. With the application of proper decryption devices, the chip would identify his name: Special Agent Michael Turner.
The lights of the building revealed the detective's face for a half-second as he entered the estate through the side door. The face had smart-looking eyes and was glistening with a layer of sweat. Just as Michael had presumed, he found himself alone inside.
The entrance revealed an eighty-foot-high ceiling and the floor consisted of black marble, large enough to host weddings as a grand ballroom. The stairs were covered in Persian carpets that led to the second and third stories of the estate. The agent sprinted up to the second floor and into a narrow hallway, which contained a black, spiraling, ladder-like stairway. He climbed, his sprinting speed constantly increasing. The steps of the stairway were peppered with the same large gaps found in the fire escapes of buildings, but Agent Turner traversed them at a dangerous-looking speed.
The library room was over two-thousand square feet of endless shelves and pathways. Painted black wood shelves twenty feet high obscured the agent's view. Most of the books in these shelves enjoyed hard-covered rose leather bindings, first and second editions. The extensive collection and massive room could have passed as an old university library.
Michael arrived at his predetermined section near the far left end of the wall. Above the shelf, a small bold-faced font read: History. He pushed in the bookshelf. Nothing happened. He tapped all the books on the shelf with a palm slap that had immense force behind it. The history shelf began rotating to reveal a room that belonged to Alexander's only son, Jackson Riley. A security siren instantly began to blare. Another layer of sweat spread across Agent Turner's face as he walked inside.
He spends his free time writing science fiction and studying video games.
Author Links -Narbeh Avanessian.com