Trigger Warnings: Depression, Suicide.
As part of my Flash Fiction Series, I explore the theme of immortality – how would the ability to live forever affect the value we put on life?
Click, screech, click, click
I open my eyes. If I didn’t know better, I would think that someone was drilling a hole into my skull. I anticipate the second screech, but the impact of it still makes me jolt up. Two strong hands hold my shoulders down but they needn’t have bothered, the restraints were enough to keep a man twice my size under control.
A woman’s face comes into view. Her eyes looked concerned, her smile fake.
“Welcome back Mr Smith… we almost lost you there for a second.” Her cheery tone barely hides the condemnation in her voice. I close my eyes.
“How long have I been out?”
“Only a couple of months. You were lucky this time, your body regenerated quickly.”
I try to nod, but there is a shooting pain at the base of my neck.
“Hold on,” a gruff voice comes from behind. “We haven’t unplugged you yet – almost lost the connection there.”
“Hmph,” then before I can stop myself: “more’s the pity.”
The woman’s face comes into view again, her smile has dropped replaced by a worried frown.
“Yes- erm Alex. May I call you Alex?”
“Well- OK, Mr Smith. That is something we need to talk about”
She looks across me and her face contorts slightly, as if she is trying to silently communicate to someone on my left. I try to look but the shooting pain stops me again.
Another face comes into view, one I know all too well. The hard angles of her face have softened since I last saw her, and her eyes are now a dazzling shade of green. My stomach sinks. I had always loved her deep brown eyes, which she had once described as the colour of mud.
“Hello Alex,” her voice is strained, her lips pulled into a tight smile. “Long time no see.”
I feel the cord unplug from the base of my skull and I rise so quickly I see stars in front of my eyes. Pinching the bridge of my nose, I steady myself on the edge of the bed. When I regain my senses there she is: wearing worn jeans, a baggy grey T-shirt, and a look of intense scrutiny. Instantly, I feel as if it has only been a few months since I last saw her, not years.
“What are you doing here?” I wince at my gruff words, but the upload has made my brain foggy. Something told me this wasn’t my most up to date backup either, there felt like there were too many blanks in the files. She looks down at her shoes.
“I’m still your emergency contact remember? I thought you were going to change it, you know… after the last time.”
Yes I did know.
“Who would I change it to?”
Silence stretches out between us as the uncomfortable truth settles.
“Well- Well it’s not fair on me to have to keep dropping what I am doing every time you-”
She never could say it. Not even after all this time. The first time she cried, and then left. The second time she shouted, then left. The third time she said nothing, but still left. What number were we on? I couldn’t keep count.
“You need to address this… this problem you have Alex. You need to talk to someone.”
“I’m talking to you.”
“No, I mean someone other than me.”
“That’s the problem Tiff – talking to everyone BUT you is what drives me to this.”
She doesn’t have anything to say to that, never does. The other lady comes into view again, putting her arm around Tiffany in a consoling manner.
“Alex, you obsession with- with-“
Great another person who can’t say it.
“Well, it’s just not healthy. You have a long, exciting life ahead of you. Why would you want to throw it all away?”
I jump off the table at this and both women back away from me, as if I were a feral zoo animal.
“Do you hear yourselves? I’m 485! What else is there? I’ve seen it all, done everything-”
“Now Mr Smith- Don’t talk like that-”
“And I have spent the last 75 years trying to make sense out of what there is left for me here.”
Tiff looks up at that. She understands the dates. Maybe she doesn’t know the exact date she left, but I do. February 18th. She had said the last 350 years were great, but she needed more. I wasn’t enough was what she meant. There was no “’til death do you part” anymore. No, boredom was the big separator now. At least death you could forgive, with death there could be no blame. But I had spent the last 75 years wondering, analysing. I look her straight in her fake green eyes and try to silently plead with her.
“I can’t do this again. I’m sorry Alex.”
She dabs her eyes and with a sniff she leaves. Again.
The previous hope I had felt at seeing her there drops like a stone in my stomach. I move towards the door but a hand catches me.
“We really should talk-“
I turn and what she sees must terrify her because she drops her hand instantly.
“Tell me? Where did you get my back-up file? I erased them all.”
She looks at me perplexed.
“Well your emergency contact, she brought it with her.”
I frown, unable to make sense of why Tiff would keep a store of my back up files. I push past her and out into the corridor. I jump in the first elevator I find and hit the top button. The tinny music fills my ears as I speed up to the sky. I exit and walk over to the window. Taking the nearest chair, I smash the glass with all my might. Good, single panes. A lady shrieks from behind me but I ignore her, none of that will matter in a moment. I look down at the street below, the people so small I can barely see their movements.
Maybe this time will be different. Maybe this time they will let me go. Maybe this time she will stay.
I close my eyes and let my body tip forward, a sense of calm taking over.
Here we go again…
Click, screech, click, click