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When I Said I Wanted to Be Immortal

by Luc Reid

When I said I wanted to be immortal, I wasn't going into it blindly. I realized that immortality would mean loneliness, would mean that I would make friends and find lovers and that they would wither and sicken and die after a handful of decades, that I would be in a way no longer human. To some this would be hell, but for someone like me, who prefers to take his company in sips rather than bottlesful, who would rather sit alone in a sunlit room with scientific puzzle or thinking through an elusive bit of philosophy, it is no pit, but a garden.

I have always loved seeing what happens next. What happens next is a story that never ends: First the Egyptians built the pyramids. And then the Greeks founded great cities. And then the Chinese invented paper. And then the Romans created an empire ... all before my time. And then cathedrals rose. And then the Aztecs fell. And then America grew strong, and then the World Wars came, and then computers spread throughout the world, and then, and then, and then.

And then space tourism. I had to try that, when it came, and that is why I am floating in the void in a light and comfortable suit that keeps my incorruptible body at ease with the temperatures and substances and pressures to which it is accustomed.

And then I became detached. Just a frayed tether that should have been thrown away, a spacewalk guide too bored to keep counting up tourists to make sure there were still 28, a radio malfunction. What are the chances that all three things would happen at once? It might happen once in a thousand years.

I'm nine hundred and forty years old.

And now ... now I think that immortality might be too lonely after all, and too uncomfortable, as I drift out past the orbits of planets no human has yet explored, as I fall up, always, toward the center of the galaxy. My oxygen gave out hours ago, and I have had to force myself to stop breathing to avoid sucking on the rank vapor that is left now that the good air is gone. And then how long until the power runs out and I harden into near-absolute cold? And then how long until the suit wears away from micrometeorites pelting me as I drift and tumble through space? But my body will never wear away, always magically reconstructing itself, always the same.

And then ... ?

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