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A Plan For Immortality

I have always had a strong fear of death. Even from an early age, I was very aware of my own mortality. While the other kids were doing things like riding bikes down bumpy hills I was inside playing games or reading. Hell, I was even too scared to learn how to swim. Even though I am not as paranoid as I was back then I still take care to make sure I am safe.

I have also always had an obsession with the concept of immortality. The idea of being able to do whatever I want without dying appealed to me greatly. Now that isn’t to say I am not aware of the downside of it. I have heard the arguments against it. Particularly things like outliving your loved ones or ending up trapped somewhere and going insane.

With that being said, though, those possible drawbacks have never truly swayed me from wanting. However, a recent visitor I had, has tried to. He gave me a short but impactful visit. I had finished putting up my groceries when I heard him knock on my door. He had an imposing but very familiar presence to him. A hoodie shrouded his face.

“Can I help you?” I asked, hesitantly.

“It’s been a really long time since I have been here.”

“Did you used to live here or something?”

“You could say that. May I come in?”

“What for and who are you?”

“I have come here to give you some important information.”

“About what?”

“About your future and you will find out who I am very soon.”

I had the thought that he was not well. If his scars were any indicator. Still, I didn’t want to leave a mentally ill man out in the cold but inviting a random stranger into my home did not seem like a smart idea either.

“Listen I am not sure what you are on about but if you need a place to stay there is a hotel up the street. I could give you some money and call you a ride to…”

“This isn’t about me,” he said, cutting me off. “This is about your obsession with living forever.”

That took me aback. Nobody knew about that. Not even my closest family and friends. I never told a single person about it. So how could this albeit vaguely familiar stranger possibly know about it?

“How did you…?”

“You’ll find I know many things about you. Some of which I think you’ll be interested in. If you let me in that is.”

“If that’s the case, can’t you just tell me right here?”

“Do you really want to stand in the freezing cold while I explain everything?”

I considered what he said for a moment. Then stepped aside to let him in. Sure he didn’t strike me as someone who was entirely mentally sound but what he said had piqued my interest. Besides if he wanted to harm me he could have done so when I opened the door for him. He closed the door behind him and pulled down his hood, making me gasp.

“Wow. You look…almost exactly like me,” I said, surprised.

It was true. The man before me shared a strong resemblance to me. Only his hair was white in contrast to mine which is black.

“Are you…my long-lost twin or something?”

“Your twin? No. I don’t know how to tell you this other than being direct. So I’ll go ahead and do that. I am a future version of you.”

“Wow. Wow. What?”

“I know it’s hard to believe but please have a seat and I can explain everything.”

“Look, man, I’m not sure if you are my brother or whatever but I’m starting to get concerned for you. Now if you want help I can give you some.”

He sighed.

“I figured you or maybe I should say I would be difficult. So I brought some proof.”

From his pocket, he pulled out a phone and handed it to me. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary about it.

“What does this prove?” I asked, looking it over.

“Go ahead and unlock it. The password should be the same as the one for the phone you currently have.”

Sure enough, it was. He then told me to check the storage capacity.

“100 PB? What the hell does PB stand for?”

“It means petabyte. It is a measurement of storage dwarfing that of gigabytes or even terabytes. Phones like this will become common in the 2100s.”

While he was talking, I checked out the phone’s specs. I was blown away by them, to say the least, and it was made of some sort of flexible material. The phone made the most advanced computers we know of today seem like typewriters by comparison.

“Wait. Did you say the 2100s?”

“I did. People kept using phones like that for a couple hundred more years. Then they switched to the contacts.”

“How old are you exactly?”

He started counting on his fingers.

“Biologically I am a decade older than you are now. In actuality, I turned 2,552,668 before I came here.”

I was too stunned to say anything.

“I know it’s a lot to take in but allow me to explain myself.”

“Why am I…?” I glanced down at my hands and saw that they were shaking.

“Don’t worry. The same thing happened to me.”

“Happened to you when?”

“I’ll explain later. For now, can you fix some hot chocolate? I haven’t had it in quite a while.”

He really was me. I fixed up a pot of hot chocolate on the stove. Then gave him a cup with marshmallows and whipped cream. From the way, he took it I could tell it had been a long time since he indulged in such a treat.

“Ah…It’s the little things like this I missed,” he said. Then sipped his drink.

“So you managed to become immortal or can you still be killed?” I asked.

“What I have is full immortality.”

“Meaning you can’t be killed?”

“That is what being immortal means. Yes.”

“It still seems hard to believe even with everything you’ve shown me and are you the only one?”

“I am and if you need proof I can give it to you.”

Without words he walked over to my or I should say our kitchen sink and pulled out a bottle of drain cleaner.

“What are you…?”

He replied by screwing off the cap and downing its contents.

“Jesus Christ,” I yelled. “Why would you do that? Do you need a doctor?”

He burped. I could smell the faint scent of the drain cleaner on his breath. Which caused me to step back.

“I’m good. That stuff tastes horrible, though.”

“That didn’t hurt you?”

“Oh no. It hurt like hell but I trust now that I have given you adequate proof of my claim?”

“Y-yeah. How did we become like this?”

“Ugh, You don’t have to refer to everything like that. I’ve lived so long that even though we are technically the same person you and I may as well be two separate people. Anyway, my process of becoming immortal began in 2030. I was still as cautious as you are now. Something changed, though. You see as things got more expensive it harder for me to cover expenses even working 60 hours a week. So I had to find other means of income.”

“What did you do?”

“I became a human guinea pig.”

“And you got your immortality from some super drugs or something similar?”

“No, I actually got it from surgery. Although I did have to pop my fair share of pills.”

“ What kind of surgery could possibly do that?”

“They gave me some info on what it would be like before I went in. They never outright said it would make me immortal but they did say it could give me fast regenerative abilities. Basically nanobots that were of their own design were to be injected into every possible part of my body. That means some were to be injected into my blood, my organs, my muscles, and even my bones directly.”

“Does that mean they had to expose each part?”

“It does. The entire thing took about eight hours.”

“Did anyone else get this surgery?”

“No. Some other volunteers were eager for it until they heard the risk.”

“And that would be?”

“It had an 88% mortality rate.”

“What?” I said in shock.

“I had a similar reaction upon first learning that fact. To put it simply I was told the nanobots that were supposed to heal me had a high chance of tearing my body apart.”

“This doesn’t make sense. You said you were still cautious up until then? So why do something so risky? Unless…Did…something happen?”

“Yep. I got a disease.”

He explained that he experienced burning pain all over his body two years before finding out about the surgery. He saw a doctor about it. However, because he’d working outside a lot and it was an especially hot summer, his condition was dismissed as an extreme case of sunburn. They gave him some special cream to rub on himself. For a couple of months, it worked.

He had no pain and thought that problem was behind him. That is until he woke up one night and felt like he was in a furnace. Turning on his lights showed him that his clothes were soaked in blood. He figured that he must have coughed it up in his sleep. Another trip to the hospital coupled with some scans and seeing some specialists determined that a disease was ravaging his body.

“They weren’t able to discern a starting point for it. All they knew was that it was spreading fast.”

“What kind of disease was it?”

“They weren’t able to say since it was brand new. Just my luck right? They gave me two years to live at most. Medicine helped with the pain but never made it go away completely. Nothing could rid me of the disease. That is until the surgery.”

“So then if I don’t get it, I’ll only have a decade left to live?”

My legs felt numb. I flopped onto one of my kitchen chairs. Earlier my hands were shaking. Now they were trembling.

“Yes. As unfortunate as this is.”

“Why would tell me about this?” I yelled, grabbing his hoodie and pulling him close.

“Because you asked.”

“Now I’ll have what may as well be a literal death cloud hanging over my head for the next ten years. Wait,” I said, letting go of him. “Since you’re here maybe you can stick around and see if we can find a way to prevent me from getting the disease.”

“That would be a waste of time I’m afraid. I can’t be in this time for very long.”

“Why not?”

“For now let’s just say I had to go over some people’s heads to do all this. I don’t have a lot of time here. Besides I kind of already tried what you’re suggesting with no luck.”

“How?”

“I’ll explain later.”

My fear turned into annoyance.

“Whatever. You know what, you haven’t even convinced me why being immortal would be bad. If I’m being honest I’d prefer it to dying so soon.”

My future self had a look to him like he had been expecting me to say that.

“If it was all rainbows and roses would I be here right now? Nonetheless, I’ll make a case. The results of the surgery were a lot better than expected. Along with no longer having the disease I healed from any injury. One of the surgeons tested this making a small cut on my arm. Although it hurt, it healed up faster than I can blink. Even though it seemed to work, I wasn’t ready to throw caution to the wind. At least not yet.”

“What exactly does someone who will live forever do anyway?”

“For a while, it was business as usual for me. Besides the appointments.”

“What were they for?”

“Just check-ups and to conduct further tests of my regeneration. They happened once every four months at the same facility I got the surgery at. They involved me getting progressively worse injuries to test how fast I would regenerate. I’m not going to tell you about all of them. However, I will say that the worst one was having my hand chopped off.”

“What happened when it was?”

“Not much actually. They thought I would grow another one but it didn’t happen. What did was me being able to reattach my hand by lining it up with the wound. No stitches or bandages were needed. They wanted to show me off to the rest of the world. I’m sure you can relate to not finding that sort of lifestyle appealing. What you are also very aware of is that things, for the most part, do not turn out how you want. One day I got involved in a car accident. Two years after the surgery as a matter of fact. I was out for a walk. The next thing I knew two cars got into a head-on collision. Several other vehicles slammed into them. Which caused one of them to flip towards me. I couldn’t get out of the way on time. It landed on me and crushed my head.”

“Did you see anything?”

“If you’re referring to an afterlife not that I can recall. My head must have grown back because I woke up to a crowd of people looking at me. Judging by their expressions they saw what had happened to me. Some of them were cops whose body cams captured the whole thing. Of course, the drivers involved in the wreck were helped but I became the focus of the event. I explained to them why I recovered as best I could. After the incident, I became a celebrity. The footage of my regeneration spread fast as you’ve probably figured out. Due to it, my career changed drastically.”

“Did you go on a bunch of medical tours?”

“I did and because of them, the researchers who gave me my ability were able to get heavy funding for their research. That meant they were able to afford other subjects to test on.”

“Like what?”

“Apes and monkeys mostly.”

“Wait. They didn’t test on animals before humans?”

“They did but with how expensive their research was, they were limited to smaller mammals like rats and squirrels. Also birds. With the money, they got, though they were able to afford closer to human subjects. Animal rights activists protested this but their pleas fell on deaf ears. Turns out people are willing to look the other way on something horribly if it could benefit them in some way. I never even found out what they were doing until years later.”

“How the hell could you have not known about it?”

“I was too busy with my stunt work.”

“You got into that of everything out there?”

“Well I was approached by several government officials who wanted to turn me into a weapon but I wasn’t really feeling that. What I did want was the ultimate thrill. After all what was there for me to worry about? So I became a stuntman.”

“For movies?”

“Sometimes but for the most part what I did was get seriously injured for entertainment. Usually, it was at some performance theater. I performed in vegas a few times. It started small at first. Nails were hammered into my arms and legs. Then pulled out to let my injuries heal. They got progressively more extreme. I remember this one time when a dude shot of half my face with a shotgun. Some of the audience lost their lunch. It hurt like hell but the reactions were priceless.”

“How long did you do it for?”

“A decade. I decided to stop after one particular event went wrong. It involved me going into a literal oven. I thought that experiencing my disease and my previous stunts would prepare me for how painful it would be. I was wrong. The door to it was supposed to be able to open from the inside. However, something went wrong. The door got jammed somehow. I was stuck in that oven for two hours straight while it was on at the highest degree.”

“Jesus. Didn’t they think to cut it off?”

“They would have. As it turned out, though the oven they used was faulty. The theater owner knew about it but didn’t say anything. After the oven gave out and I was able to be freed I took him to court. He got a large fine and long prison sentence for what he did. Being in the oven was the first time I started regretting my immortality. Compared to what I experienced later, however that was nothing.”

“What could be worse than being burned alive? That’s like literally being in Hell.”

“Have you heard what’s being said about climate change?”

“I know it’s bad, especially with what’s been going on. What about it?”

“Whatever the worst prediction is for this time I want you to multiply by a thousand.”

“It’s that bad?”

“It is. The Earth ends up being practically uninhabitable because it got far too hot in spring and summer and way too cold in fall and winter. Blizzards and droughts ended up destroying the world’s crops despite extensive efforts to prevent that. Wars eventually broke out over what little resources were left. Soon the only people left on Earth were the rich and those apocalypse preppers. They didn’t last long, though. They too fought for resources and eventually died out. By 2450 the human race went extinct. Either because of warfare or they starved and died of disease.”

“That soon? I’ve heard something about wealthy people making space crafts or something to live in. Did anything ever come of that?”

“Some work was being done in regards to that. However, when war broke out all over the globe the focus shifted to designing weapons. So they were never finished.”

“What did you do after that? You were the only person left right?”

“I was the only human left. There was one other mammal left, save for the ones still living in the ocean. It was a gorilla.”

“How did it survive?”

“The experiments. Mastering nanotechnology for immortality was a lot harder than they thought. Most of the animals they tested on perished but the gorilla lucked out like I did.”

“When did you find out about him?”

“A couple hundred years after humanity’s extinction. I found him playing with some rocks in the middle of a road. At first, I thought that he had gotten lucky and managed to outlive everyone else. That was until I saw what he did next. Woods were on both sides of the road. He climbed a tree and started swinging to the other ones. A branch snapped under his weight and he fell to the ground. He happened to land in front of me. I heard his neck snap when he did.”

“Why were you there in the first place?”

“There wasn’t really much to do after everyone died. I played some video games and watched some movies for a while. However, the electronics required for them never lasted long. So I took up traveling and happened across him. I thought the fall had killed him. The fact that he started moving proved otherwise.”

“How did he react when he first saw you?”

“He attacked me. I wasn’t fast enough to outrun him and he caught me and started tearing my limbs off. I guess he got bored because he stopped after a few hours. I figured that he must have somehow acquired immortality in the same way I did. I started observing him from a safe distance. Seeing a being who shared my ability yet was comparatively more ignorant made me jealous. It went about without a care in the world while I didn’t have another human to talk to.”

“Did you name him?”

“He isn’t my pet. I did take to calling him Constantine, though. He and I eventually got more comfortable around each other. That isn’t to say I tread lightly around him. If I piss him off there’s still a good chance he’ll rip my head off. With that being said, however, he was helpful to me.”

“The one that you just said tore off your limbs?”

“Even though he’s a brute his strength comes in handy. Namely when it came to finishing ships.”

“What ships?”

“Those space crafts we talked about earlier. Constantine and I often traveled together and we stumbled across some of them. I was able to get him to help me finish them.”

“How did you manage to do that?”

“A reward of some kind. Usually a toy. Whenever he helped me move some things I’d give him one to play with. It took us four tries to successfully get a working ship. Usually, they’d end up exploding. Building up and learning how to operate them took about 200 years. Keep in mind I had to forge the metal for them myself and that required a whole subject I had to learn. Afterward learning how to operate it and getting enough fuel for it took another decade. At last, though, I was able to leave Earth.”

“How did Constantine handle leaving?”

“He didn’t. The turbulence frightened him. So he decided to stay behind. He had the entire planet to himself and the sea creatures low enough to avoid the fallout.”

“You were all alone for your journey then?”

“Yeah. Just like before. It was for the best. I doubt he would have handled being stuck on the ship very well.”

“Where did you go?”

“I didn’t have a destination in mind. I just kept going onward, hoping to come across some kind of life.”

“What was your plan if you ran out of fuel?”

“That wouldn’t have been an issue. The ship I had was solar-powered in addition to using regular fuel. On top of that, I had spare fuel and panels on standby if something went wrong.”

“How long were you out there for?”

“I’d say fifty years. Time tends to go by fast out in the vastness of space. I did bring entertainment with me. Mostly books. I didn’t have enough to last me. Seeing as how I do not like rereading stories. I got down to my last few when at last I saw something. Of all the barren planets, stars, asteroids, and everything in between, there it was.”

“It being?”

“This thing made Jupiter look like Pluto. The best way I can describe it is this. Imagine a bunch of giant pipes made of coral sticking from a round spongy looking body. I was hesitant to approach such a large creature. Unfortunately, the creatures inside of it took notice of me. I saw them emerge from the top pipes. They looked like a cross between octopi and squids except far larger. Just one dwarfed my ship.”

“Well if you’re here now that obviously means you got away from them.”

“That’s where you’re wrong. These things are fast. I had no chance to escape them. They grabbed my ship and pulled me into what I have taken to calling “The Piper”. From the outside, I was expecting the inside of it to resemble a hive of sorts. While it did it was also metal.”

“Do you have a name for the things living in it?”

“Pipettes. They broke into my ship with ease and yanked me out. They had such cold tentacles. Their eyes conveyed a sort of morbid curiosity. Their first act was for one of them to put me in their beak and try to eat me. I thought my time trapped in the oven was painful. That was nothing compared to being ground in its beak.”

“You don’t have to keep going,” I said with my voice somewhat shaky. “I won’t go to it.”

“I still haven’t convinced you then? Fine, what I tell you next will make you see death as a gift. The Pipettes are advanced. On the way to my prison, we passed advanced machinery that would probably take me millenniums to understand. It resembled crystals more than anything.”

“What did they do to you?”

“What haven’t they done to me? Besides being a chew toy they took to dissecting me. It’s not a good feeling to have your body parts and organs separated from each other. My guess is what they have done to me is an attempt to figure out immortality for themselves.”

“You’d think a species as advanced as them would have figured it out already.”

“Here’s the thing. I was trapped in there for an insanely long amount of time. I had to count just to keep from going insane. I was trapped there for over 2,000,000 years being tortured by them. One of them liked playing with me more than the others. It is light blue. This has led me to believe they have extremely long natural life spans which means immortality is something that never occurred to them. Either that or they evolved to the point of not needing it.”

“Haven’t you ever tried you know talking with them?”

“It didn’t do any good. They don’t seem to make any sounds to communicate. I think how they do is either through some sort of sign language or telepathy. Which try as I might I can’t imitate.”

“Then how did you escape from them?”

“I don’t think I have. Not truly anyway.”

“Are they looking for you?”

“They already have me. Once my time here is up I’ll go right back to them.”

“How were you able to travel back in time in the first place?”

“Honestly it was by accident. Something happened with The Piper that allowed me to escape my prison. I heard it groan like it was having a stomach ache. Luckily I was whole at the time. It had a massive tremor that coincidentally opened my prison. To summarize what happened I did a lot of sneaking around. I was hoping to find a ship or something that would allow me to escape. Hell even getting to an exit and drifting out in space was preferable to what they were doing to me. I wasn’t so lucky, though. It didn’t take them long to find me.”

“How were you able to get away?”

“I ran into the nearest corridor. I saw that it had a room at the end. With two Pipettes close behind me, I took my chances and went into it. There I saw a room. However, it was different from the ones I’ve seen there. This one looked to me to be a glass box, Attached to the inside of it was a control panel. Not knowing what to do, I jumped into it and started hitting buttons. I vanished the instant the Pipettes that were chasing me burst into the room. I happened to end up in this time at this location. So I decided to try and change your course and here I am.”

“What now then?”

“My time here is almost up. I can feel it. Before I go, though. There’s one more thing I need to tell you.”

“What is it?”

“I’ve heard what you have tonight.”

“From who?”

“From another version of us. You see there have been millions of versions of us that have gone through what we are doing now. They get an incurable disease, become immortal, get captured by the Pipettes, and then travel back in time to try and warn their past self of what will happen should they become immortal.”

“Does anything ever change with the versions of us?”

“Only what jobs we choose and where we decide to head when leaving Earth. I foolishly thought that if I headed in a different way from the one the future version of myself chose that I would be able to avoid The Piper. Needless to say, it didn’t work. Now it’s time for me to go. Heed my warning. I know a decade left to live is not long but it’s better than what the Pipettes will do to you.”

“I’ll just stay on Earth then.”

“You won’t be able to. I already tried that. The urge to escape this planet became too great. You’ll have the same problem. Now if everything I have shared hasn’t convinced you maybe this will.”

Before I could clarify what he meant the wall behind him began to glow. From it, I saw dozens of tentacles shoot out. I leaped back, nearly knocking over my chair in the process. They surrounded the future me, giving him no chance of escape.

“Still think it’ll be worth it?” He asked as they bent and snapped his body.

All the while he was laughing like it was the funniest thing in the world. I saw them fold him in half before dragging him through the wall. When the Pipettes did I saw them for only a moment. They have such knowing eyes. Regardless, I’ve made my decision.

I had to dwell on it for a while but now I have a plan. My future self said that one of the few variables was the fact that the future versions of me had different jobs from each other. Nanotechnology is the key to my longevity. I wonder if anything would change if I applied myself to fields of study relating to it? Perhaps I will be able to create a weapon with which I will be able to combat the Pipettes.

Only time will tell I suppose. Now I must go. I have a lot of work to do.

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