The Wrong Choice
A man is offered his choice of immortality, unlimited wealth, and true love. After living for thousands of years with his choice of immortality, he recognizes the terrible ramifications.
The taste of tears lingers on my tongue as I caress her hair, shivering at the cool paleness of her skin. I’ve been through this so many times, but it never gets easier. I can still remember the first one - the first death, where I came to realize that I had made a mistake. That I should never have gone for immortality. That because I went for immortality, I could never live like all those I loved. They would die, and all I could do was cry and suffer.
Anger burned inside me then, leading me to do things I would later regret. How could I be to blame for my own choice when I had no idea of the repercussions; how was it my fault if I didn’t know that I would be making my life a living hell? When the angel came to me, it offered me my choice of three options: immortality, unlimited wealth, or true love. Back then, it was an easy choice. With immortality, unlimited wealth would be easy to obtain, and true love would come naturally with unlimited wealth - or so I thought.
With my first fifty years, I worked day and night to create a dominating business empire. I fell in love with countless women, and eventually settled down. Soon, however, people began to question how I had not aged in so much time. With my wealth, it was easy to make sure that anyone who dared suggest that I could be immortal found themselves in a coffin. Yet, as time passed, even I was unsettled by my unchanging appearance. My wife - my only true love - grew old and wrinkled, yet I stayed looking young and healthy, never a day past thirty-five. She was the only one who knew my secret, and when she died, I was devastated. Yet a hundred years later, I found myself repeating the same mistake - once again letting myself grow close to someone. And that meant another death that I could not bring myself to terms with. Again and again, I let myself fall in love; again and again, my heart broke, slowly transforming me into a monster.
Numerous times, I tried to end it all. Failure after failure forced me to accept that nothing could end my immortality except for what had started it - except for what I had no control over. Passionate hate burned inside me, leading me to commit countless crimes. I massacred, stole, and burned all in an attempt to make others feel as I felt - to make others feel the intense loss that I could never recover from. My empire of wealth crumbled as I became to be known as the most deadly man in the world. I was caught and sentenced to life in prison twice, but both times, the prisons themselves crumbled before me. I was sentenced to death repeatedly after that, but the bullets did no damage to me. I became a government secret, allowed to do as I pleased simply because nothing could stop me.
After one kill, as I was washing my blood-stained clothes, the tiny spark of compassion that remained yet in me flared up, and I began to feel guilt for my actions. I thought to plead for forgiveness to the loved ones of those I had killed, only to find that they had died centuries previously. I hated myself then as I had hated my victims before. Once again, I went on a suicide spree, and once again, I could only find failure. As time passed, I recovered. I came to discover new wonders in society, and to find all the changes in the world I had missed in the centuries since I became immortal. And once again, I began to form friendships and bonds, having forgotten the pain I had felt the last time I made the same mistake. Yet this time, when the generation that I had bonded began to pass, and I was forced to once again go through the same pains, I knew what I had to do.
I isolated myself from society, going to live in a small village far away. Over a century, I became the ‘village elder’ of sorts. I found myself recognizing happiness that I could not remember having felt before. And this time, when the bonds I formed had to break, I let them slide away. I never let myself get too close to anyone, yet staying happy through it all. Perhaps I could not have true love or unlimited wealth, but I could have joy in the ever changing world before me.
For the past three millenia, I have been living in the blessed village of Nagunak, four hundred miles from the nearest major civilization. In that time, I have never regretted my decision to come here. My name is Leo Ershwin, born 1990 in the long forgotten nation of America, and I may just be the happiest suffering man on the planet.