Estimated reading time — 7 minutes
It seems archaic, putting pen to paper in this day and age. Hell it’s been so long that I am archaic. I figured after so long, I should at least retell my story on the off chance I succeed tonight. It’ll take some time but the true question is do YOU have the time to listen? Well, I have time, that’s all I truly have left: Time.
A military unit was sent into the heart of Africa to quell a rebellion that was causing problems around the area. They had holed themselves up in an area that the locals feared and only spoke of in hushed whispers. My squad was sent in to kill or disperse the rebels and for years I have cursed that day. Why did I ever volunteer for that mission? Why did I allow myself to want such a terrible burden? As they say, the road to hell is filled with good intentions.
The valley they had chosen was well defended. Surrounded by rocky walls, covered by thick foliage and only accessible by a thin crevice found underground, this place was a natural formed fortress. Legend says that this place was once home to a man, a woman and their many daughters. The woman was young and beautiful and her children were equally so. As the years went by the mother began to age and the children grew more and more beautiful. One night, the eldest daughter and the mother were speaking in private as they often did. The daughter claimed she was even more beautiful than her mother. The mother laughed and told her that her beauty was unmatched but the daughter persisted and persuaded her to look into a nearby stream and see for herself. When the mother did she was horrified to find that she was indeed less beautiful than her daughter. Time had given her wrinkles, white brittle hair, and cloudy eyes. In a fit of rage she grabbed her daughter by the throat and shook her, she shook her screaming at her that she had stolen her beauty. The daughter tried to fight back but quickly succumbed to her once loving mother. After she was dead the mother looked once more into the stream and saw her beauty returned. Overjoyed she returned to her home, claiming the eldest daughter had left to find herself a husband.
Years passed, and once again the mother began to age. Slowly at first but then faster and faster she aged, growing feebler with each passing day. Again she took the now eldest daughter to the steam and spoke to her. Before the daughter could say a word she was strangled by her mother, and as her life faded away the mother’s beauty returned. Again and again she did this until she was left alone with her husband. One day the husband went for a walk with his wife and they came upon the same stream. As they spoke he tripped upon what he thought was a root. When he examined it he saw that it was a bone. The mother insisted it was merely an animal bone but her husband continued to look and soon found the remains of all of his daughters. Enraged he turned to look at his wife and saw that she was reaching for his throat as well. He quickly subdued her and then trapped her in a small cave at the far end of the little valley. He prayed the gods curse her with the immortality she so desperately wanted. The gods obliged him and since that day a small stream flowed from that cave. It was said to be the mother’s tears. Tears of sadness, regret, anger and even madness that flowed from that cave, from the woman cursed with immortality.
When my squad arrived at that cursed placed we knew nothing of the legends. We knew our mission and nothing else mattered. However, fate rarely has the same goals in mind for those it has power over. When we arrived, the rebels camp was destroyed, the smell of blood and gun powder pervaded through the air. We found bodies that were riddled with spears, knives or cut to ribbons. Nothing made sense; it was like a scene out of a western. We searched but found no sign of whom or what could have done this. We stopped our search by a stream and radioed in our findings. I knelt by a stream and drank heartily, washing my face and hair as I waited. As we awaited a reply, a solider to my left let out a gurgling choke, a spear had made its home through his throat. We immediately took arms and searched for who had thrown it. More spears flew, and two more soldiers fell dead. The remaining three of us ran towards the exit. War calls could be heard behind us and ahead of us. I ran for all I was worth, passing my comrades and reaching the exit, only to find the exit blocked by two men dressed in black. I opened fire with my gun and cut them down as I ran through the entrance. I looked back, to my dismay, I saw my friends speared and decapitated behind me. I pulled a grenade and threw it at the entrance with a scream of hatred. It did its job and the small entrance collapsed in on itself, but not before a spear was thrown and caught me in the chest. By some divine luck of the thrower it missed my protective plates and ran me through.
I collapsed on the cavern floor, bleeding profusely and screaming with all my might. I was trained in basic first aid but I ignored everything Id been taught and pulled the spear out of my chest. I could tell by the blood Id lost that I’d be dead before I could make it out. I did my best to staunch the bleeding and took some morphine to bring down the pain. After that I slowly got to my feet and stumbled out into the light before collapsing, welcoming the blackness that surrounded me.
I awoke in a hospital bed, hours later. Astonished, I sat upright and tore at the bandages till I saw the scar. A thin line over my heart was all that remained of the ghastly wound. I must have been babbling for quite some time because a nurse soon came over to ask what was wrong.
“I was stabbed through the heart with a spear! I CAN’T STILL BE ALIVE! IT’S IMPOSSIBLE!” I screamed, anger bleeding through my words.
“Sir, you had a simple slash wound. It barely reached your ribs. Please calm down.” She replied.
I couldn’t believe it. I ran from the hospital as soon as I was dressed. I booked the first flight I could find from that horrible country back home. I hitchhiked home and I never spoke of what happened to me. I couldn’t face it; I couldn’t believe that I had nearly died that day.
My dreams were haunted from that day on. I saw the spear impaled through my body again. Saw the remains of my comrades reaching out to me. Their eyes were full of spite at the fact that I had survived were they had not. Every night I woke screaming how sorry I was for surviving, for leaving them behind. Years passed by, far quicker than they should have. Ten years to the day and my body was still the same as it had been. My family aged but I still had the glow of youth I always did. The doctors called it a modern miracle: I couldn’t age!
At first I saw it as a gift, some cosmic repayment for seeing that place and losing so much there. Then one day, while driving with my family it happened. A semi truck ran a red light and slammed into the car, flipping us end over end. I was thrown from the back seat and skidded across the road like a rag doll. At first I thought another miracle had happened. I felt the pain of road rash and bruises that would accompany the bouncing around before that. Then I looked down and saw all the damage. My rib cage was obviously crushed, my leg was bent backwards at a horrible angle and a piece of the car had found its way through my throat. I lay there, once again welcoming the warm, dark embrace of death once more.
Again I woke in a hospital bed, groggy, exhausted and confused beyond belief. I looked over and saw a sheriff sitting beside my bed. He informed me that my family had died in the car accident and that by some miracle I had been spared. I looked myself over and saw my chest was back to normal, my neck was wrapped in gauze but when I tore it away all I found was a star shaped scar. I wept, I wept for hours. Screaming at everything and nothing, I wanted to die. I wanted the same fate as my family. Eventually I checked myself out and just started to wander around.
I never ate, yet I wasn’t hungry. I never drank, and yet I didn’t feel thirst. How many years went by, I’ll never know. Sixty? Seventy? I stopped keeping track. There I was, the man stuck in time, given the gift of life for all eternity, yet all I wanted was death. Everyone I knew was dead, and each night when I slept I saw their faces, twisted in death from trauma, age and most of all jealousy. They hated me and wanted to rip me apart. Each night I saw the same images and every time I’d wake with such fear and sorrow at my existence.
Now, as I sit here with all the time in the world, I want to warn you. Eternity is a long, LONG time. I’ve seen horrible things, and greatness. Now all I want to see is my tombstone. Holding the loaded shotgun to my throat, so that the shot will go straight through my head, for the eighth time tonight, I know now that this is nothing more than a curse. I know that this won’t end me, I know that every time I cut my head off it’ll stay alive till I pick it up and put it back on, and I know that each time I hold a grenade in my teeth it’ll just put me out for a little while. At this point that’s all spend my time on, it’s the only thing that I can do to keep the nightmares at bay. The eternal suicide, that what I think I’ll call this. Now if you excuse me, I have many more attempts before I resign myself to more nightmares.