“For 300 years, the alien Tyr had ruled the Earth, imprisoning the true individualists, the geniuses, in dome colonies on poisonous worlds, forcing them to work on projects which the Try hoped would reveal all of humankind’s secrets. But Daetrin’s secret was one no one had ever uncovered. Taken into custody by the Tyr, he would have to confront the truth about himself at last -- and if he failed, all humans would pay the price.” C.S. Friedman “The Madness Season”.
This is a favorite book of mine that I keep in my personal library. It’s a 90′s novel filled with a variety of science fiction tropes and more descriptions than dialogue. However, the number one reason it’s in my collection is that the main plot point is a truth for me. Daetrin’s secret is my secret. You see, I’ve been alive for thousands of years. I think I’m around 200,000 years old, give or take a hundred years. I’m not a vampire or supernatural-born creature.
My tribe used stone tools, fishing tools, spears, and sewing needles. We had to hunt and gather for food. When I was young, I recall our nomadic life and large swaths of the African landscape. We fought the stealthy leopards, hid from the eagle’s talons, stumbled on venomous snake nests, warred against aggressive primates, and mother nature herself.
Our strongest elders debated with our wisest old ones to choose to move to new locations. I was a youngling when we came across ice shelves that dripped waterfalls into basins blooming with lush trees. I can still recall the sounds of life seeking dominance in the air. In my teen years, we traveled north to warmer and less deadly prey areas. There was a cave that I learned hundreds of years later was a mine, we settled in. That is where I believe I was infected with the immortality spore. That’s what I call this thing bonded to me. It’s a cross of parasitic and symbiotic. The pathogen started a pandemic that made the bubonic plague look like the chickenpox and COVID marriage party. This wasn’t nature crying out for help. This was a warning shot.
We didn’t have the intelligence to know. Medicine and biology were booked down to drinking clear water that didn’t have animal shat in it.
My father was big and strong with a healthy sheen on his body hair. My mother was smaller but was far smarter. I can still see the grazed grass eaten to the roos and the smell of rain on the horizon. Up ahead of our hiking tribe was a mountain covered in all manner of animal tracks. The journey from our last camp was arduous and lengthy. My tiny legs only took breaks when one of the adults would carry me. There was a clearing with a huge puddle that my mother employed the most effective device known to mankind to make a fertile man, like my father, stop and rest. She grunted sexually and he enthusiastically obliged He drew her into himself and copulated. As an inquisitive teenager, I watched as my tribal adults paused, paired off, and had a relaxing interlude. They bounced, kissed, and drove into one another with vigor. While they partook of one another’s bodies, I trailed away to explore. I didn’t go far from our trek. The trees gave way to the brightness of the sun. The distant clouds were ablaze.
Across and above the permafrost was a teenage girl with hair flowing down to her hips. She stared at me from across the permafrost expanse. Our eyes locked. She was beautiful. Then she smiled at me. Friendly and full of life.
I remember all this because it was the last thing I saw before I stumbled down a hill into the glacier-supplied lake filled with countless dinosaur bones and the eerie coating of permafrost.
It wasn’t until the twentieth century I figured out that I was exposed to a dormant virion enveloped inside a giant bacterium. The seedling virus gave a pathway to my cellular structure. An injection of mutated viral load bonded to me.
I’d like to say I was the first human mutant, but that is such an oversimplification. You see, cross-species and cross-cultural mating in my time was actually more common than modern theories suggest, My father was from the Homo heidelbergensis species and my mother mixed from the Homo Sapien/Homo Denisovan side of our DNA ancestors. I have no recollection of how nor do I understand why a pathogen that killed a dinosaur herd gave me seemingly immortal life.
My internal organs, bones, blood, and skin perfect the regeneration of my body’s cells. I don’t know how my body detoxes my environment, but I’m not going to test the theory of pulling a Wolverine or Hulk and go into a volcano or sit under a thermonuclear bomb.
As I was saying, I’ve been alive for a very, very long time. Daetrin’s secret is that he is a vampiric creature that has lived for centuries. I’m not vampiric, but I am always fearful of someone or an organization discovering me.
That was until I met her. The first woman in 200,000 years that I fell in love with and she found out who I am and loved me anyway. I didn’t have to club her on the head and take her to the bedroom. Although, the idea did come up in conversation.
I remember her first words to me. “I already know you, and I love you.” How could a woman, in any time zone, in any era, know me? Love me? I’m male and had a very select few lovers over my lifetime. All of them were remarkable in their own unique ways. There was a lithe gatherer that her tribe almost ignored because there were far more females than males in her tribe. they thought she wasn’t as fertile and useful as the others. Fertile or not, she was eager to share herself and remind me that we are not alone.
The next amazing partner was, I think a thousand years later, that I came down from my hermetic life on a mountain peak. Her town thought of me as an eccentric shaman, but I was so alone with the Great Creator and nature that I became very knowledgable in medicinal plants and skilled as a hunter. It took me that long to come to grips with my possible immortality. I never wanted to burden anyone with this. Her red hair swung in the wind and her baker’s hands were toughened by her hard work. I don’t know who seduced who, but our love affair lasted for months until she chose to marry a wealthier man who gave her a place in society. After that heartbreak, I went back to my nomadic roots. I saw so many wondrous and horrific things humanity did over the decades. I think it was at the time the Archduke was assassinated and ignited World War One that a wife in a morganatic marriage brought me to her bed. I learned as the war became worse that she was a spy and wanted me to become part of the intrigue. Had I loved her, and not sought some to sate my loneliness and loins, I may have said yes.
I traveled. I learned. I came to accept my longevity. I avoid detection. If a rumor was hinted at, I vanished from that society without a trace. I always used a deviation of my name without a surname.
When governments shifted or societies had an upheaval, I’d observed from a far distance. I always felt alone. I never felt loved. I felt the desire and the yearning for friendship. I always turned to my belief in the Great Creator, although silence was mostly my reply. I ranted and raved. I grew angry then solemn. I went to parties and then go off alone. I never bedded or joined into a union with a woman for two powerful reasons. I did not fall in love with them, not out of choice, but because that passionate spark was not existing. The second was due to the possibility of my lack of aging would become noticeable and then for various reasons, I’d be on the run again.
Once I was captured by a fearful people, placed in a stone tomb. Thankfully, bats, rodents, and trickling water gave me sustenance. I kept my mind sane by working on ways to escape, working on equations, and naming every generation of rat or bat. It was during an urban sprawl that the prison was opened and I came out. More death, illness, acts of God... all impacting mankind. I was conscripted into a military force but thankfully I used my talents to teach healing and betterment of life.
Two hundred thousand years I've lived, but I never knew life until she came into my life. She instinctively knew my secret. She protected it as if it was her own.
One day as we made love, I noticed a detail that I missed in our earlier encounters. Something that drove me mad insane with love.
A scar on her hip. I inquired and she told me the truth right away. She was a teenager when she saw this cute boy fall into a frozen lake. She jumped in and slid on rocks, cutting her. The cold hurt when she got in the water, but she couldn't locate the boy. When she came up to the surface one of the rocks she struck was dislodged and fell on her, knocking her out.
When she came to, she climbed back up the cliff and found her village had gone. She searched everywhere, even to the side where the boy had been. Nobody was around. She was alone. It wasn't until years later she noticed she wasn't aging like everyone else around. She would move around a lot, trying to avoid detection for fear of being branded a witch or something worse. She suffered from being a second-class person almost everywhere she went. Some places tried to get her into marriage, or men would try to force her to share her body. All the times, she fought them off. She already knew her own strength and was clever. She chose to become a priestess, then a mapmaker, an archivist, she took part in all the careers where she was left alone and was able to dodge inquiring minds and unscrupulous people.
She revealed that she was ancient. I laughed as I asked, "Normally I'd avoid asking any woman this question, but at the risk of being slapped or tossed on the couch... how old are you?"
She stared into my eyes. Full of honesty.
"Close to two hundred thousand years old," she said cocking her head in a bit of shame.
"Why are you ashamed of that?"
"You think I'm some vampire or succubus."
"No. You're the person I've searched for over two hundred thousand years. I loved you since you the first time we met."
"You have only known me for a few months."
"No," I cupped her chin in my fingers and gazed into her eyes. "I'm that boy you went to save. It only took us two hundred thousand years to find one another."
The fire in her eyes blazed as the truth exploded within her mind and soul. I came to find passionate love. I'm in love with a woman who sacrificed her life to save mine. She sacrificed her village to the ravages of time with an unselfish attempt to rescue a stranger. The Great Creator is beyond time and our understanding, but in this, eternal love has come to pass.