Immortality Part Infinity
Once upon a time, there was an honest and good man. In the morning he went to work. At night he went home, had a glass of water, watched some television, and then went to sleep. He donated to charity and he was good to his parents. In time, he got married and he was good to his wife too.
I thought I would tempt him, because I am, after all, the Great Tempter. I went to him one day, and offered him immortality. I did not even ask for his soul. So, the offer was this. Immortality, with no strings attached. All he had to do was say yes. Hell (haha, what a concept that is*), I would even accept a nod. Being evil incarnate, I could of course see his thoughts, and he was not even tempted. He said that he would live out the time the Other Guy had set aside for him, and then he would go in peace. I could see him thinking that he would be bored with the gift of eternity, and that he would not want to see all the people he loved leaving this world.
Ah, men with limited imaginations. Well, there was nothing I could do, of course. Free will, right? So, I left, and he carried on living his little life.
His wife fell ill. I had nothing to do with it, since I do not decide these things. The Other Guy's PR claims that it is all His will, of course, but who really knows for sure? I definitely have my doubts, because things have certainly turned out differently from the way He said they would. He could, of course have been telling us all porkies, but then again, can a perfect person lie? Again, I do not know, because I do not claim to know everything. I just know a whole lot more than everyone else, and I am happy with that.
However, I digress. So, the man's wife fell ill. Terminal disease. He did not have the G's to save her. I could have gone to him then, but I did not, for I was curious. I told a few familiars to nudge him a little, provide some hints as to a course of action that might save her. Then I sat back and wondered what path he would choose.
He chose to save his wife, and I was happy, for his wife was a virtuous and sweet woman. I was pretty sure that she would be going to the Other Guy's place when she was done. She never knew what he did to save her, and he never told her. A while later (from the perspective of eternity, that is), the man fell ill. Terminal disease, and his wife did not have the G's to save him either.
This time, I did go to him. He was quite a sight. Weakened and shrivelled beyond recognition, he could not have passed for even the shadow of the man he used to be a mere 30 years ago. I, of course, appeared the same to him in the light of the hospital lamp by his bed except for my hairstyle and clothing. One must always keep up with the fashions of the times, right? In my case, though, I decided the fashions of tomorrow.
Well, of course fashion is under my control. I'm sure you can figure out why.
I drew his soul from unconsciousness and spoke to him as he woke. "Hello," I said in the quiet voice people use to converse with the ill.
He opened his eyes and saw me, as lithe and supple as ever, immaculately dressed in the fashions of the day. "Ah, it's you again. I've wondered whether you ever really spoke to me or whether it was all a dream."
A gleam of triumph appeared in his eyes. "I did not give in. I made the right choice, and now I have won. Soon, it will be over, and you have lost."
I chuckled at his words. Oh, I laughed and laughed. Then, I replied. "Oh, you poor, confused man. What in the universe are you talking about? I offered you a gift which you refused. What did you win?"
"You tested me and I refused you. I slipped from your grasp! Soon, I shall depart this world and He will call me home. And, in time, my wife will join me there."
"You still do not see, do you?" I shook my head sympathetically. "If the Other Guy truly has set aside a place for mortals, which is by no means certain, it is likely that your wife will see it. You, however, have a far more dubious fate." I smiled at him.
"What do you mean?"
Uncertainty had entered his voice by now.
"If there was ever a test, what you're thinking of was not it. You see, that was truly only a gift. I do not test people, the Other Guy does. Do you remember your wife's ailment? Do you remember your discreet editing of certain electronic documents? Do you remember the man who killed himself because of your deed?
"You see, my friend, if there is a place at His side for mortals, your wife may go there. You, however, certainly will not."
"No," he pleaded hoarsely, tears appearing in his eyes. "I never meant for that man to die. I only wanted to save my wife."
"I'm sorry," I told him, "but I'm afraid the rules are rather clear on that. 'Thou shalt not . . . ', but then you knew that already. It is such a pity, too. We could have had so much fun together, if you had accepted my gift. Sure, His doors may have been closed to you, but at least you would have remained here for as long as the universe exists. And there are so many more wonders to behold! In time, your wife would have left you, but the human heart is enduring. You would have loved again. And again.
"Oh, do not worry too much, though. All that eternal torment shit? It's simply bad PR. I most certainly can think of much more entertaining ways to spend eternity than to burn people. All that waits for you is oblivion, I'm afraid. Unless . . . "
"Unless what?" The man grasped desperately at my sleeve.
I pushed his hand away. "Careful, man. Silk is so easily bruised. Do you have any idea how expensive this is? You think just because I am who I am, good silk is cheap? As I was saying, I was wondering if you may have reconsidered your position on my offer to you 30 years ago. If I were to offer you the same gift now, would you still refuse it?"
He thought for some time, even now. A credit to his mule-headed commitment to the Other Guy, really. Finally he said that he would accept my gift.
"Really? Do you no longer mind the possibility of being bored with immortality?"
"Do you no longer fear watching loved ones pass on while you endure?"
"Would you freely accept the gift of life eternal if I offered it to you now?"
"Then I say this to you," my voice fell to a whisper, and I leaned in close, my lips beside his ear. In his eyes was a desperate hope as I said my next word to him.
". . . psyche."
A moment of blank incomprehension. Then, it hit me so hard that I almost reeled. The heady mixture of fury, hatred, fear and despair. "NO!" The man wailed. Ah, such emotions, stronger than whisky, sweeter than wine! I chuckled again, enjoying the power of the emotions from him until it ceased and the spark of life left him as he lost the will to live.
I left, still tipsy, with a skip in my step.*I have always wondered how people could believe that I would spend eternity torturing people? On the other hand, is that not like capturing murderers, then keeping them alive only to imprison and feed them? Humans are such twisted creatures.