Interminable

Originally published in Dark Recesses Press, Vol. 6 Issue 14

“I’m sorry,” the doctor said. He closed the folder containing my test results. “There’s nothing we can do.”

My voice shook as I spoke. “You’re sure?” I scanned the doctor’s office as if searching for some undiscovered cure for my affliction. “Can’t you give me something? A shot? Some pills? Anything?”

“I’m afraid not.” He removed his glasses, polished them, then returned them to his nose. “Our options are limited, ethically. I’m sure you understand.”

I nodded, wiping at the dampness under my eyes. “How much longer do I have?”

“I wish I could say.”

As I stared down at my hands, I sensed the doctor’s gaze shift to the razor-thin scars running down my forearms and across my wrists. I looked up at him. He quickly averted his eyes.

“Can I have a minute?” I asked. “Alone?”

“Of course. Take as much time as you need.”

Once he was gone, I buried my face in my hands and allowed myself to cry. I had gotten exactly the answer I was expecting, but that didn’t make it any easier to hear. It meant my suffering had only just begun.

Take as much time as you need, he said. As if I needed more time, instead of less.

The sooner I could end it all, the better. The sheer idiocy of humankind had sapped my will to live. At first, I had tried to save them—fighting crime, stopping wars—but I was powerless to halt their inevitable self-destruction. I watched helplessly as they gorged on lies, ravenous for the empty satisfaction of hearing their own distorted fears shouted back at them, only louder and meaner. They were sick. Diseased. Their narcissism was a cancer; their ignorance was a blight. It destroyed their capacity for empathy, leaving nothing but infected abscesses dripping with spite. There was no treatment. No cure. The condition was terminal—civilization was dying, one pointless cruelty at a time.

I had failed.

The solution seemed simple: I would take my own life. But no. No such relief was possible. Not for me. I was different. Special. A quote-unquote superhero.

I ran my fingers along my jaw, tracing the dimpled flesh where the self-inflicted shotgun blast had ricocheted harmlessly off my face, then let them wander down to the rippled scar the noose had left around my neck. Goddamnit, I thought.

Nothing had worked. No matter how many times I tried, I simply could not die.

In delivering the bad news, the doctor had confirmed what I already knew: that I was—somehow, impossibly, inescapably—immortal.

I peered out the window to the street below. I was on the 17th floor of City Hospital. It wasn’t the highest floor … but I prayed that it was high enough. I lifted the sash, climbed out onto the ledge, and jumped. It’s worth a try, I thought as I plummeted headlong towards the rain-slicked sidewalk. What’s the worst that could happen?

But I already knew the answer:

I could live.


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