Monday, October 13, 2014

Nightmare Fuel, Day the 12th, In which Nobody Dies

We'll discuss immortality again today; it seems to be a theme of this year's Nightmare Fuel for me.

This vignette was loosely inspired, of course, by a scene from Neil Gaiman's Sandman graphic novels.


"So... How was your century?"

I sighed. "fine."

"Just fine? Can't you at least make an effort?"

I took a deep breath. It's always like this. "I created three new identities for myself, juggled the money around the way you'd taught me. Lived in six cities. Learned to play the harmonica; it's nice and portable. Tried the piano again, but it doesn't really fit me. Too hard to move a piano. Took a vow of silence, spent about ten years in a monastery. Married twice. Watched one die of old age, just walked away from the other." I looked back at him. "It's been a century. A lifetime, for some. What about you?"

He sighed. He looked no older than he had the last time we'd met, a hundred years before. Or did he? Were the lines on his face a bit  deeper?  I often have the same speculation about my own face, staring into the mirror for hours on end.

He shook his head. "That's it? It seems ... small. I expected more from you this time."

I felt my face flush, my stomach tighten. "You say that every century. Not everyone needs to fix the world. It keeps getting better on its own."

He gives me a long look. The kind that makes me feel like a bug in a jar. The kind he was always good at. "Really? The world will get better? Around you? When will you learn some responsibility? I can help. We can plan your next century together." I sip my drink before answering. "No, you're right. I'm sorry. I'll", I pause for a deep breath. "I'll do better next time. Maybe learn some medicine."

He laughs, a cool laugh that doesn't quite reach his eyes. "Nanotechnology. That's where the future is at. You'll study nanotechnology?"

I nod. "Sure," knowing that we're leading to a long lecture on the right schools, the right resources, which palms to grease to get that nanotechnology education he wants from me. We both know I won't do it, but we have to go through the motions. Thing is, maybe he's right. Maybe I will make something of myself this time.

In any event, this is going to be a long, long day.

I'm just glad it's only once every hundred years.

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