I have always wondered what immortals feel in the fantasy books I read. How do they perceive life and what is their purpose? Are they lonely when all their friends and family pass away? And when they manage to disconnect themselves from the mortal life, away from all these problems, do they miss it?
They could still die, right? End their life. They are immortal unless they do not care anymore. So…when you are not permitted to die because of a curse or some circumstances, what do you do? How do you live then? When you know it will never end no matter what you do? This is what I was thinking when writing this short story. It does not hold almost any answers to my many questions, but it was something I needed to get out of my chest.
Perhaps I will find the answers somehow. Somewhere. Sometime. But not now.
* * *
“Death too must be earned”, the guardian spoke in a toneless voice.
“You don’t get it! I’m done! I do not want to go on. It’s not a question of I can or can’t do it or for me to suck it up and win somehow. It’s this simple: I’m done. I want death. It’s been too long. Way too long. I am giving up. Don’t want to keep going. I could…but…then I would not be living. I’ll be a zombie, an undead that does what needs to be done and then try to survive with the consequences.
“Don’t you get it?! I’M SICK OF ALL OF THIS! Don’t care anymore what happens to me, to the world, to anyone! So…all I am asking of you now is…peace. Let me die! PLEASE! I’ve earned my death! And I’m asking it from you today. Not after all is done, not after the hero wins, not even after the sun has set. Now!”
The guardian took a long look at Toru. And…with a heavy heart, it raised its hand and approved his wish. “You are granted death. By the Moon, may you find rest.”
Toru closed his eyes and finally, after who knows how long, took a deep breath and felt his chest rising. The air through his lungs. His heart’s first beat in forever. And the second and third and all those weird but wonderful small details of being alive. It was overwhelming. And then – the pain started slowly, creeping through his body. And all of the sudden, intense and strong. He winced. He touched his heart and felt it stop. The beating was over. And with it, his legs gave out and he collapsed on the ground. A sharp cry of pain came from him as his body, one member at a time, stopped working.
And after all that time, Toru become frightened. This was what he dreamed of since that fatal day. And now that it was there, even if it sounded peaceful, an end to all his suffering and waiting, it was terrifying. If his body could have quivered, this would have been the time. He was doing this alone and when hesitation hit him – there was no one there to comfort and assure him of what he was doing. That this was right. That this meant all would end soon and he would be home. And with that thought, relief and calmness overtook him. Home.
And finally – finally, the quietness of death came.
After some time, the guardian moved. It stepped closer to the body, in a slow pace, as if it would have been a sacrilege to disturb the dead by the noise of its walking. All colour was drained from the body. Cracks were appearing on the skin. Small and big pieces were falling on the ground, becoming one with the mud and grass. The body was disintegrating, going back to where it came from. But it was different from the way humans go. It was not messy or smelled fowl, like a corpse. It was as if a stone sculpture, because of time, turned into dust. Falling into pieces and becoming one with the earth.
By the time the sun set, all that was left of the body was a dark shade of grass on the ground and the clothes – dusty, laying by the guardian’s feet. And, with one word, they were consumed by fire. Time passed. After the last flame gave away, all evidence of what happened was a long weirdly shaped bruise in the mud.