This story is by Jahee Meiler and was part of our 2021 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
I was born into the world with the first few batches of humans. The conditions… horrendous. Snowstorms regularly blew across the land we lived on. Babies died. Many of the adults lost limbs to frostbite, making survival even more perilous.
We roamed trying to catch prey and avoid predators.
One day, a storm forced us to take shelter in a cave. The cave… inhabited by snow wolves.
The wolves forced us back into the storm. Relentless, they continued to pursue us. Fighting while constantly being pushed back we got further and further from the shelter of the cave. But that didn’t matter. The wolves would kill us first.
All the kids, including myself, were sheltered by the other adults. But they just kept falling to the teeth and claws of the wolves. One by one.
The adults were killing the wolves as well. Only much slower. Finally, the wolfs attacking us died; but none of us could celebrate. Many of us had to die to kill all the wolves and we were still lost in the heavy storm.
Soon, after the death of the last wolf, the first kid died. The rest of us would be following shortly, unless something was done. With quick thinking the adults cut open the wolves and steered some of the remaining kids inside. Myself among them.
The six of us were told to stay inside unless they said otherwise.
The feel of its squishy organs against my skin. The smell and taste of blood nearly overwhelmed me. But like the others I forced myself to endure. To survive.
What a fool I was.
I was in there for a long time. I heard the muffled sound of steps. The crunching of snow underfoot. Then, for the longest time, silence.
Eventually, the wolf began to feel cold and I feared dying. I was angry that I fought so long to survive just to die. Hunger gnawing at me and with no other options I ate the wolf. Slept. Threw up. Slept and ate some more. Never leaving.
In the end, the wolf was cold and empty. Silence my only companion.
This is when I climbed out. Impatient, tired, and scared. The shocking cold that greeted me immediately made me curl up. I didn’t even care about the fresh air.
The blood wetting my skin was opening my pores making the biting cold worse, even with the storm gone. I had to force myself to open up a little and look around. That’s when I saw it.
The dead pile of bodies comprised of my remaining clan-mates. Frozen to death.
At the base, I recognized the kids covered in blood. Only I was missing. I crawled over to the pile, hoping that someone would be alive. Anyone. But when I got there and felt their cold, stiff skin I knew. I knew they were dead.
Lost and tired I let the cold take me as well. Balled up and waited to become numb as well.
My body stiffened. My sensation of touch faded.
The next thing I knew I heard a voice calling for me. Saw a warm face smiling at me.
Bringing me peace. The person seemed to call for me to follow them, follow them into the warm light behind them. And somehow, I knew everything would be alright when I followed this person. That the pain would be gone forever.
But something stopped me. The rage I felt that was lying dormant within me suddenly exploded out.
The anger at the wolves for attacking us. The frustration that we got lost in the storm. Those feelings made me want to fight. To live. The thing just looked at me as I turned away from the warm light it offered. That was the first and only time that Death failed. From that day onward Death haunted me. Teasing me with the light it once offered in the past.
The thing I learned in the snow that day was that dying isn’t mandatory, only offered.
What I learned later was that it is necessary.
What I discovered is that we all want it.
My eternal life and relationship with Death has led me to learn much about our world. I’ve tried to teach the friends I made through the years of the truth and yet they still died. I think Death grew to understand people better with time. So, it has yet to fail again.
And the bastard won’t take me. I’m forced to live and watch everything I know and love die again and again…
Religions have helped it, or so Death has told me. Death told me tales of the people that leap to him. They think he’s god.
What a joke. He’s not any god. Or anything humans should worship.
There is no afterlife. Death has told me himself that there is nothing.
But I still want to die. I’ve lived too long. There is nothing for me.
I’ve seen my countless families die in front of me.
…. Well, there is one thing left for me. But I hate it. It is the only constant in my never-ending life.
Death came to me before and said that all life would perish unless I use a certain device to reset the universe. At first, I didn’t believe it was the only way. But then, I saw humans and aliens alike dying. No hope for survival.
After extensively trying, reports gravely confirmed that life would only be able to persist for a few more generations. Hope was lost.
Some scientist still persisted in trying, but even their hope was lost.
Years ago, technology to force The Big Crunch was made in an effort to understand our universe and how it was made. Death’s suggestion was to use this device to revert the universe to its original state. So, with no hope I decided to accept.
I knew I’d have to suffer living without air water and food for a while but I thought it was better this way. Life will come back.
After some preparation I fought my way to the locked away device and activated it. The universe recompacted itself back into the Singularity and subsequently exploded as the Big Bang.
This was the first cycle.
The years spent with no place to live was constant suffering, deathlike pain without death. The formation of a living planet Earth was a relief.
When humans finally came, I started to implement some devices I saved from the Big Crunch using an interdimensional storage device. I tried my best to guide humans so that what happened in my cycle wouldn’t happen again.
Ultimately, I failed. When I saw the same unstoppable precursors to the future I know. Death came to me then and smiled. The same mocking smile he always has. He said I’d need to use it again. So, I had to wait. Wait for another one to be invented. The long wait was unable to deter me. I was determined to prove Death wrong.
I tried again.
By the end of the fourth cycle, I realized that there was nothing I could do to prevent this eventuality. Tired, after so trying fruitlessly for so long, I emptied my extradimensional device, stuffed it with things that could make my life simpler, activated the Big Crunch device, and packed it into the storage device. Those early cycles my emotions varied immensely. Swinging from one to another constantly. Depressed. Angry. Dispassionate. Detached. Just to name a few.
One cycle. When my emotions were a little clearer and optimistic, I remembered that Death said he would let me die. His only condition, find a replacement. With that he will offer me death once more.
Even though I failed in the past I was sure that I could convince somebody, anybody, to reject Death. So, I talked to a few people, telling them that they could reject death and live forever. Throughout that entire cycle I did this, to superstitious and religious people, to cynics and scientist. I talked with anyone who would listen. Yet nobody rejected in the end. At the end of that cycle Death came to me with its mocking smile.
It dawned on me then that Death knew I would fail. It was only playing with me, laughing at me. No matter what I did it knew I wouldn’t be able to convince people to not die.
Sometimes I thought about not initiating another cycle. But the memory of the beginning of a cycle reminds me that I don’t want to suffer that way forever.
Some cycles I spent without humans around to mess things up. I killed them off before they could. But I always start those cycles over. I miss being around them sometimes. Most of the time.
This type of immortal existence is not meant for humans. While I’m human I am saddled with doing things that aren’t for humans.
But maybe I’m no longer human.