Short story: The Pains of Immortality

Every good science discovery starts with “a scientist has created” or “a scientist worked for” or “a scientist hoped for” but this discovery is not like any of those made by scientists. In this story there is no “a scientist has finally created” because it’s not always a scientist that changes the world. This time, it was a visionary, a revolutionist that dreamed of a world full of opportunities! This time it was a visionary that dreamed of a better world! A better society! A better race.

Exactly who he was, has been lost to us. A simple “mortal” isn’t really remembered much this days, or at least they weren’t. But as every good story, he has lived on as a legend. It’s not known who he was but it is known why he did it.

In his time he was called mad, a maniac a dangerous fool to be reckoned with. He was sick of the ever ticking clock inside our heads. The clock that kept reminding us that time; time is running out. Some say he couldn’t stand the constant ticking in his head and that’s why he did it: he got rid of it.

Immortality is what he achieved.

Immortality was his gift to the world.

Immortality was the curse that he gave the human race.

We know not much about him, except that he pushed for a new generation of immortals. It is said that he slipped away, forgotten to time as an immortal as well.

~~~~~

Our society is not like yours, while you fret over the passing minutes and the fleeting hours, we bathe in the years. Your society is focused on time running out, you rush to get educated, you rush to get a job, you rush to get a family before the final tick hits your clock. Your society is focused on time running out while ours is about infinity.

You run and stumble in your life to accomplish a dream, a goal, to finally give your life a purpose! A meaning! Because you know time runs out and you panic over debt. You panic over love. You panic over your dream! The constant fear that you will never be good enough. “I just need more time” repeats in your head over and over and over as you wish you had more time to accomplish the aspirations you have in your life but you find yourself in your deathbed. You took to long! That dream you had is gone! You wasted your time. Therefore you fret over using your time to the best, Every hour! Every minute! And every second! And you panic! You panic! You panic! And you panic!

But we don’t. We don’t have that fear: the fear of time running out. We have an infinity to waste. We can live a thousand lifetimes! A thousand lifestyles! We can be pilots, doctors, musicians, artists! Because we have the time to waste. We have an infinity to waste. And therefore we indulge ourselves in sex, drugs, and alcohol.  We can afford to get ourselves lost in the exquisite pleasures of life since we have an infinity to waste. Immortals don’t hold the same standards as you do. We don’t necessarily believe in marriage nor creating a family. With infinity why waste your time with one person? When you can live thousands of lifestyles. With an infinity to waste we decide to wallow In the material pleasures, and we let that consume us.

Where is your god? You ask, but we have no god. God was made for those who fear time running out, those who fear that when the clock strikes zero there is no infinity beyond. God was created to ease those worries to give mankind a reason to not fear death. A reason to dream and a reason to be human.

Immortality gave us something you don’t have. A sense of Godliness. God gives you an afterlife after death, but for us, there is no death. There is no afterlife. Therefore there is no god.

We have no God.

We are our own Gods.

And we waste that potential. We are the worst procrastinators. We waste the most precious resource this universe has given us: time.

Sooner or later we had to be given a reality check, and I guess we did because

We had no purpose.

We had no meaning.

We weren’t human.

~

We should have noticed the signs leading to the catastrophe. We should have noticed when we started dropping like flies left and right. “We should have noticed” is the excuse we tell ourselves but it was our ignorance that blinded us.

How could we die? We can’t die. A few people here and there drive themselves mad and commit suicide. It was obviously just a bunch of suicidal jerks. Plus we encourage suicide! We wouldn’t be able to function without a healthy amount of suicides per year. A ton of money is spent on advertising suicide.

When the world is immortal, there’s only so many people on the planet. There is only so many people that can exist. There is only so many people, therefore new faces aren’t seen very often. Everyone knows everyone. When you’re immortal you have the time to build friendships with everyone, and new faces are always welcomed. Therefore suicide is advertised and encouraged.

For every person that dies, a new one can be born to the satisfaction of a parent. There’s still people who wish to know what it means to be a father, a mother. To be able to experience seeing someone grow up! Feelings that have long been forgotten by us, or maybe feelings that we can’t quite remember anymore.

I once had a child, exactly who he was I don’t know anymore. His name fades into distant memory. Was I ever a father? I truly can’t remember. Even immortals can’t comprehend the true vastness of infinity. Time is lost, and time is forgotten, and that is the very reason that we began to die.

I remember when we finally started acknowledging the situation, there wasn’t many of us. We had gathered in a single laboratory filled to the brim with equipment. Equipment that hadn’t been used in so long.

We had a purpose now.

~

New people kept trickled in as time passed but our team never got any bigger. Many of us were dying of old age and it brought the reality of the situation into light.

The situation was becoming grim, and as people kept dying a rush of life filled many of us. People began to panic over the hours they had left, instead of the years they had ahead. People began to visit loved ones. People began to create families to have children. People began to live because when you’re dying the only real option you have is to live.

At the research center, we too were affected but not quite to that extent. Our research finally had meaning, and the time we had, we used. Time became valuable to us but we never once considered ourselves as mortals. Even as our teammates died beside us we continued because we still didn’t believe we would be the next corpse to fall.

For me personally, my work finally seemed to have meaning! I wasn’t doing something just to do it, I was doing something because it was beneficial! Our race needed a scientist, they needed a hero! And I would be that hero. But everything has a cost.

I remember one of the men we started off with. He was always laughing and joking and gave the depressing atmosphere a change of tone to a lighter one.

“We’ll find it before dinner!”

He would always say then add an extra remark at the end.

“But I never said which dinner” he would laugh.

Which gave us a few laughs every day. It was a way to lighten our mood and it worked. We always joked around and laughed in the lab.

“Knock knock”

He would always say, an ancient joke that was never meant to be funny.

“Who’s there”  we would groan waiting for the awful joke.

“Pound”

“Pound who?”

And then his face would light up because we actually continued with the joke. He would then grin and look at one of us.

“Pound me” he would say as he gave one of us a seductive wink.

Some of us would sigh, others would laugh, but it was a mutual agreement that those horrible jokes were helping save immortality. In the weirdest way they seemed to boost our morality and for that we thanked him.

He was a peculiar man, to say the least.

He had become a close friend of mine, I can’t remember a time I was actually close to someone, but I enjoyed his company and his arsenal of bad jokes. We all saw him as a close friend. He was the friend that you always went to when something was wrong, he was the type of friend that knew what to say.

So when he died in front of us.

Something inside me broke. Something inside me became corrupted. But my vision never before seemed clearer.

His death would not be in vain I spoke to myself.

Our people needed a scientist, they needed a hero. No: what they needed was a Savior- and I -I would be that savior! I would be their God!

No more death, I wanted no more death!

I would be their God.

I started to work independently. I kept to myself, it was my research, my work, and therefore my right to godliness.

They just wanted to steal my research and my right. They may not see it, but I knew. I knew there was something off!

Anyone that made advances or had the potential to make further advances was eliminated. We weren’t dying of old age. We were being killed and murdered under our own noses.

I kept my research to myself and I found it! I found evidence! The virus that was making us age again could simply not be constructed through natural means whatsoever! It was a man! It was an inside job. But who, who was it? Who in the lab was the killer? Who in the lab was condemning us to damnation! Who damn it! Who!

I figured could not trust them.

They were merely blocking my path to becoming a God.

Tonight there was the gathering, where we would come together and share what we’ve learned. A synopsis of sorts.

That night I made a few particular stops on my way to the gathering.

A. Few. Special. Treats.

Once I arrived they greeted me with open arms and I put up a facade that hid what I felt inside: disgust. One of them was the killer.

I remember walking in front of them ready to present the little secret one of them contained. I remember telling them about the virus, and how it was man made, but most of all I remember their expressions when I told them about my “little stops”.

I smiled, no I grinned as I watched them realize to their horror I had poisoned them.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t have you interfering with my right to being God!” And I laughed as they slowly succumbed to the poison in their drinks.

~

And like dramatic irony I gave a group of corpses the best news they could hear, as an afterthought that is.

“Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you guys” I said with a grin

” I found the cure”

~

There was one more stop I had made on my way to the meeting.

It was a gun shop.

From my suitcase I brought out a brand

new gun, it was for insurance. Just in case something went wrong with the poisoning. I looked around the room and not a breath of life could be heard within it, but I was not at ease.

There was a certain fear within me that I could not put to rest. I fear that could only be calmed by the presence of the gun. A certain lullaby seemed to come from the gun. The click it made as I loaded it calmed my nerves, to say the least.

Once it was loaded I looked back to the soulless room and I spoke my last few words to them.

“Your services are no longer needed”

And I walked out the room.

In one hand I had my computer, within it the key to my success. Within it I contained the formula for the cure, it was an intricate molecular compound that fused with a pathogen to kill the virus. It was something that I accidentally stumbled upon. I held it close to my body, if I were to lose it, I would lose the cure. It was too intricate and complicated for me to remember it completely. And In the other, I held the gun.

~

A left and a right.

A left and a right.

The endless corridor went on forever. The building complex appeared to have grown since I entered it and all I wanted was to get out.  A few more steps, a few more turns and in a few more hours I would be the God of immortality.

I would choose my subjects, I would choose who would get to live and who would die. I would force them to worship me or else they would have to face death. I would be judgment itself. I would be God! I just needed to get out.

A left and a right.

A left and a right.

Finally, the exit was at least one turn away and as I got closer chills were sent through my spine. A suddenly fear that made me slower my pace to a slow pitter-patter that rang through the endless hallways. My heart began to beat faster. If I were to die, if I were to face the endless void after death it would definitely be after this turn.

I came to a complete stop at the corner. Fear penetrated my very core. I got the gun ready, my only weapon between me and whatever may lay behind the corner, and without notice, I turned. I turned and I pointed. I pointed the gun at a phantom.

And throughout the halls, a gunshot was heard.

A phantom was what I shot. A mere mirage of my imagination. Something so terrifying in my imagination that even I imagined shooting.

Except, a shot was definitely released. A shot was not mine, a bullet that was not mine. The gunshot was not mine.

I could feel the fear rising to my face causing my lips to tremble my legs to wobble yet I was glued to the spot.

I was frozen.

And for all the millennial that I had lived, the passing seconds were in of itself an eternity for me. My vision was still blurry from the mirage I had seen.

And then I heard the voice. A voice that would certainly seal my fate. A voice that would steal my right. A voice that would steal my life.

“You won’t walk alive” the voice spoke.

My vision cleared.

The mirage disappeared, and behind it, a man stood.

“Are you?” My voice quivered, “are you real?”

“Drop the computer” he spoke without emotion “the cure that you have will only damn this world for a forever more.”

And my fear was suppressed by a sudden but fleeting anger.

“And just who do you think you are!” I bit back at him.

“I” he said slowly “am a visionary, a revolutionist. A forgotten god”

~

The gears slowly clicked in my head as I realized who exactly this man was. My palms started to shake and the weight of the gun was beginning to get heavier.

This man, this man couldn’t be him? Could it, but he should be dead! Dead I say!

I stared at him in pure shock. He was young, not a man I’ve ever seen before.

“You should be dead” I managed to speak. Fear evident in my shaky voice.

“We should all be dead really, we’re all just dead men walking”

“You’re the killer…” my voice faded into nothingness.

“No, I’m just righting a wrong I did a long, long time ago”

“Immortality! Immortality was not a wrong! It was a gift, a promise!” I shouted back at him.

I could not believe it, the mortal that gave humanity the answer to immortality was now trying to take it away.

“You created that virus didn’t you! You’re the one that’s condemning us to death…why…” my voice cracked.

“You made us fearful of the end! You brought the fear of death back to us after you had taken it away! Why” I cried now.

“Why” was the only question I could muster, it was the only word I could speak. It was the only question I wanted to be answered.

“Why…” I spoke softly for the last time.

“Why? ” he responded “because there’s a reason why humans had their days numbered, there was a reason why God numbered our days! To make each one precious. I tried playing God. ” and he motioned to the entire hall “but all it brought was this mess, mankind no longer lives, without the fear of death man no longer strives for greatness. Humans forgot how to live. I didn’t give humanity immortality, what I stole was their purpose to live, a reason to laugh and a reason to love. Man forgot how to live! I’m only giving back what I took”

Silence.

Silence filled the hall.

“A reason to live?” I spoke softly ” A reason to live! We had reasons! We lived a thousand lives! We lived! We lived every day!”

The man only looked at me with his dead eyes, eyes that told me he was already done for. He had had enough of his life and just wanted an end. I could see a hint of sadness in his eyes before he opened his mouth again.

“Remember David? ”

“Don’t speak of him, you murdered him! He was my friend! You don’t have the right to speak about such a great man”

He chuckled.

“A friend? This is exactly what I meant. Humans have forgotten how to live and how to love. He wasn’t your friend.”

“How dare you!” I shouted.

“He was your son.” He finished. “You raised him, you played with him and you loved him, but you forgot about him. You forgot what it meant to love. David wasn’t your friend, he was your son.”

~

That night a bullet was heard throughout the hallways, and a new corpse fell to the ground. That night the future was decided.

~

Today society isn’t much different from the one you live in. Today everyone is rushing to get what they need done before the fateful end. Today then the notion of immortality is gone, we’ve realized that in all the time we’ve been immortal, we never accomplish more than in the past few years as mortals.

“Hey dad” I heard a voice behind me shout. I turned around to see a happy little four-year-old child running toward me.

“Hey, sport, how you doing” I said as I picked him up.

“I got this new drawing I wanna show you!” He screamed with glee. “Please, dad! Come on! Mom is waiting inside!”

“Alright, alright alright, I’ll go” as I said tickled him “but tell your mom I’ll be there in a few minutes I just have to go do something real quick, a few stops okay?”

“Hmmm” he seemed to be thinking “can you bring me candy from that store that I like? Pleeeeeeaaaase” he begged.

“Deal, now go back to your mother”

“Yeah!” He squealed as he headed back to his mother inside the house.

I walked toward the car and I got in. I just had to make a few stops.

I looked back at the house and from a window, I could see my son waving goodbye. What does it mean to be a God, when all I need is him.

And I drove off.

I was heading toward the cemetery, there I found a gravestone that had no name. A simple one that had nothing written on it. I sat down next to the gravestone and I sobbed.

“Thank you for that night” I sobbed.

That night in the hallway I didn’t know what to do. I knew I was in the wrong.

“What did it mean to be a God” I sobbed to the man that night.

“It means to be something you’re not, to lose everything you have, even yourself.”

I had just laid there, but the man didn’t shoot me, he helped me. He calmed me down and explained to me his life story. He explained to me what infinity is truly like. He explained to me the joys of life, and he explained to me that the path I was taking was the same one he took.

He told me of the wonders humans used to create and the challenges they would overcome. He told me how they loved and how they suffered. He showed me what it meant to be human. He saved me. And finally, he said a few last words.

“I have made the virus to completely destroy the immortality gene within three generations, but I can’t keep going. I hope you understand what It means to be human. You lost a son, and you suffered that heartbreak unbeknownst to you that he was your son. I hope you’ll take after me and stop the world from finding a cure”

That night I looked at my computer again and I threw it against a wall.

What did it mean to be a God?

“This is goodbye” the Man spoke.

He got up and walked away behind a corner where a final gunshot could be heard. His body fell to the ground, and now it was my task to show the world what it was to be human.

That night he helped me. He made me realize where I went wrong. He saved me because he saw himself in me.

What does it mean to be a God anyway? The only God I ever meet decided death was better, so who am I to argue with him.

I got up and drove to the candy shop.

Hopefully, my son would appreciate it.

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