Writing Catalog

Cooper Sundahl

Grade: 9

Hershey Montessori School

Instructor: Doug Cornett

The Essence of Immortality

Science Fiction & Fantasy

The Essence of Immortality

Like other kids his age, he had impossible dreams. He dreamed of riding dinosaurs, gripping tightly as he took in the undisturbed wild. He dreamed of being a superhero, of flying, of defeating a nefarious villain in glorious battle. But most of all, he dreamed of immortality. His mother assumed her kid would grow out of it eventually. Who wouldn't want to be immortal? To learn all the knowledge hiding, writhing inside the forgotten crypts of this world. To witness history unfold, thousands of times over. To be an enigma. But it was impossible.

Impossible became improbable.

It was an invention, revolutionary. A mechanical heart, placed inside a desperate mortal host, would pump blood the same way as a natural one. It was regarded as dangerous at first, impure. To dirty Nature's creation like that? To artificially animate one whose time should've already passed? Surely machinery would be lacking compared to organics. But he considered it. A mortal heart was faulty. He could drop dead of his own heart failing him, growing tired of life. A heart attack. But done correctly, a mechanical heart could pump forever. Perhaps immortality really was in his reach.

He waited until he was grown. With determination running through his veins, he made his way to a consultation. People surrounded the building, signs admonishing the practice of replacing Nature with synthetic objects. They screamed and spit, a rainbow of hair colors, inking on their bodies. Hypocrites. A doctor met him, to see if a replacement heart was needed. It wasn't, but he wanted one so badly that it was contorted into a need. Mountains of signed agreements later, he was set. He was wheeled into a room, where he was put to sleep. He wasn't aware of what happened, but he imagined surgeons opening him up, prodding at his organs. He imagined them taking out his organic heart, replacing it with cold metal. But he knew that when he awoke, something was different.

He could feel the lump in his chest, pumping. Moving. He could hear it groaning, each part jumping up and down. It would never falter, the flow of blood keeping it inhumanly, grotesquely, alive for eternity It felt strangely right. And it wouldn't do to let this precise, mechanical perfection be alone.

He gradually replaced his other organs. His other body parts. His lungs could corrode with smoke, slowly choking him. The answer was to get rid of them entirely. His bones were liable to break. Maybe he wouldn't get enough nutrients, become weak. Develop a marrow disorder. Metal rods, with joints, would serve much better. His blood could clot, slow down his glorious, mechanical heart. He couldn't die, so close to his goal. He slowly replaced it with machine oil, letting the smooth liquid permeate and infiltrate his blood cells. His machine parts ran much better, before slowed by the thickness of blood. He needed armor. He needed something stronger, more superior to flesh. Copper plating ran where skin once existed, covering and protecting his other organs. And what use were eyes? They leaked water, declaring weakness. Opened your soul to anyone and everyone. Sure, beauty was something to be behold, but horrors lingered just past the horizon, displayed to those unlucky to stumble across them. The best thing to do would be to rid of his tender eyes, replacing them with miscellaneous sensors. A marvel such as himself would not need to see. But he wasn't quite finished.

His biotic brain was a curse. Occasionally a semblance of regret would weave its way in, casting a shadow of unsatisfaction over his beautiful, metallic body. It weighed him down, the seed of doubt feeding and stealing and changing the logical nerve endings of his brain. He knew mortals were flawed. Whether learned or ingrained, greed wormed its way into hearts. Animalistic urges consumed some, hunting their sisters and brothers, abusing others, the burn of anger revealing true colors, emotions manipulating the weak. Some pretended they would live forever. But no matter how much you bargained or wept, Death was inevitable. Was he truly whole while being controlled, contained, chained by this organic mess?

He longed for a mechanical brain, a perfect puzzle. He wished for the thousands of cogs grating and spinning, fitting together. He imagined tearing out his wrinkly, squishy, pink lump of flesh, the thing mortals called the brain, the control center of the body. How emotional. How disgusting. Doctors no longer operated on him, for fear of what he'd become. What he had evolved to be. They feared becoming perfect, superior, just like him. Feared becoming more. With no ambitions, they would decay and wither, mortal and broken and rotten. He would operate on himself.

Carefully carving open his wonderful, iron head, he revealed the pink mass of tissue sequestered inside. Hesitating for one admittedly weak moment, he placed his hands around the sponge and yanked. Mistake. A hundred million crying, screaming voices of pain tore through his nerves, shouting, pleading, begging for the sweet release of death. He cried and wailed, yet his absent eyes were barren of tears. He was white hot, a fire burning and consuming and destroying. An atomic explosion. His mechanical limbs moved independently, reaching and continuing, without the permission of his inflamed, mortal, useless brain. His mechanical organs kept rotating, working, not needing one another.

Tearing, tearing, tearing away. Moving, moving, moving forward. Placing, placing, placing inside. How was he alive? How was he alive? Was he alive?

At last, his nerves rendered null without an organic brain, he came to with something resembling a consciousness. Without the destructive spark of life. Where the was once warm, natural tissue, the cold metal now connected it all, the last piece. His brain whirred and analyzed, marvelously logical. Steady.

He was complete. He had achieved it. Immortality. He would live forever.

——- Immortality is synonymous with purgatory. Time seems to have no meaning anymore; he has no notion of how long he's been roaming the world. If only he had working eyes to see Nature with, to appreciate the beauty of it all. If it is even beautiful any longer. Dust now fills his joints, sand and dirt. Moving slowly, he creaks with each step. He has no idea if the sun is beating down, or if he is roaming an icy planet, devoid of the joy it once had. All he can manage is to move forward, aimlessly, towards some long-forgotten destination. Other mechanical abominations, once mortals made of similar dreams, often clank past him. But what does it matter? The rust is setting in.