The moon was the only source of light piercing the darkness of the night, illuminating a shadowy man walking nervously across a sidewalk. He was anxious, anticipating, but eerily calm and collected. Tonight was the night. It was all going to end here. The man had given up, and would not allow his fragile soul to be penetrated by the evils of life any longer. He had no regrets.
A vibration was felt towards the bottom of his left pants' leg, it was his phone. His dear sister was calling, probably trying to stop him. It was no use. She would be better off without him in the long run, anyway. After the vibrations emitting from the phone would simply not stop, he proceeded to throw the phone across the street. The wind carried it into a stop sign, where it fell and skidded into a sewer. Good riddance.
The man found a comfortable-looking bench, and sat on it, waiting for a reassuring glow of headlights driving down the road. Ten minutes that felt like years passed, and the man got so impatient that he ran out onto the road just as a Honda Odyssey raced down, intersecting with his body at just the right moment.
* * *
Zachary Adams was being stared at by those piercing, yet astounding, brown eyes he loved so very much. Those eyes belonged to none other than his beautiful wife, Annabelle Adams herself. She was in a state of rage, but Zach couldn't help but tune out her screaming voice and just look at her face. Anna's luscious brown hair flowed flawlessly from her head, waving back and forth as she screamed obscenities at him. Her skin complexion, complimenting her entire body, forming it all together to create an incredible woman.
"Are you listening to me?!" Anna screamed as she threw her hand across Zach's face. Her nails hurt him, but the touch of her fingers was so soft.
"Yes, dear, I..."
"No, dear, I have something to say! I've been patient for two years, Zach. Two years. Two years too many! Every time you left the kids at school, pushed your responsibilities onto my plate, stood me up on our own date to go drink alcohol and mess around with your mates?"
"I'm three weeks clean, honey, I'm changing, I..."
"Too little, too late. Zach. I'm not at all sorry to say I've filed for divorce."
"What? But why?"
"Because you're a fool, Zach!"
"You fool! Fool! Fool!"
* * *
Zach Adams woke up with a start. He opened his eyes to find his sister, Susan Wells, sobbing over him, calling him a fool repeatedly. He was in a hospital bed, listening to his heart monitor beat rapidly. What was going on?
"Susan," Zach said quietly.
"ZACH!" She screamed. "YOU FOOL!"
"Please be quieter when you speak to me, okay? Or at least not say that word."
"What? Fool? Getting offended by trivial kid's insults, are we?"
"No," Zach whispered. "It's just the last thing my ex-wife called me. I just had a dream about her, you know. I've had those quite often."
"Get over it, Zach. It's been a year. You realized you almost killed yourself? And that I was almost responsible for it, too?"
Zach sighed. He wanted a drink, but he didn't want to disappoint Anna. Even though they hadn't seen each other or communicated in any way in over a year, he still wanted to stay sober, for her. His eyes teared up a little. He missed her so much.
Suddenly, an older-looking nurse, but with a youthful glow, walked into the room.
"Well, Mr. Adams, I have quite the story to tell you."
"Then please, do say."
"So, according to Susan over here, you were about to jump in front of a car to commit suicide. In an effort to stop you, she drove about looking for you, ending up hitting you herself."
Susan started to cry harder.
"However, an interesting thing happened once the car hit you. She brought you in and we did many, many tests, and concluded that something weird occurred to you when you got hit."
"The impact from the car, and we don't know how this is logical, but, it sort of, jolt-started your cell replication. You're basically immortal."
"Immortal? What do you mean by immortal?"
"Well, it all goes back to cell replication, really. You can't be cut, for example, because the tissue cells heal much faster than you'd be cut. It's remarkable! However, the nerve pain signals being emitted to your brain travel at the same pace, so you'd feel all the pain of a regular recovery. Also, we fed you while you were here, if you remember. Your cells seem to be rationing the nutrients from the food to keep you alive for, literally, thousands of years. You would basically never need to eat again. Well, you'd still be hungry, I suppose, but you're technically fed. It's all very exciting, isn't it?"
Zach was in shock. Him? Immortal? He didn't want to be immortal. He didn't even want to be alive! On the other hand, Susan seemed thrilled.
"So, I didn't kill him?" she inquired excitedly.
Gina smiled. "No, sweetheart. You did quite the opposite, in fact."
Zach was doing nothing but laying in his hospital bed, contemplating what he had just heard. Was it true? He decided to find out. A stray, empty syringe was lying on a table next to him, so he stabbed it into his left arm. It hurt, but Gina was right. The tissue had almost instantaneously repaired itself. Just then, Gina walked in.
"Oh, I was looking for that," she said. "Thank you." She grabbed the syringe from his hand and started to walk out of the room, when Zach stopped her.
"Um, excuse me? Nurse Gina?"
She stopped, and turned around. "Yes?"
"I'm... I'm sorry. It's just that, immortality? It seems a bit farfetched. Not even a week ago was I bent on dying, escaping. Now, I'm forced to stay."
Gina set the syringe next to a nearby faucet and sat down. "I know. It's amazing, isn't it?"
"And, I don't even know what to do with it. What would you do, if you were immortal, Gina?"
She pursed her lips and thought for a moment. "I'd leave this office, probably. I'd help humanity in a much bigger way. As much as I could. More than sticking syringes in them and constant diagnosing, you know?" She held up the syringe to assist her point.
Zach was impressed. All he was thinking about was himself, well, and his ex-wife. But mainly his feelings about her. And the way he wanted a drink. But, he wouldn't. Not again. So, Zach concluded that his sobriety was, in fact, an unselfish thing. The one unselfish thing he had left.
"Helping humanity, huh? I think I should probably be worried about myself, first." He hated himself as soon as he said it.
"Yourself? Noble, but think of the billions you could save. And, you have an eternity here. You could save generation after generation, but you also have literally a lifetime to save yourself, too." She sighed. "You're in the position every humanitarian only dreams of."
Zach thought for a bit. Humanitarian? Saving billions, generation after generation? Not likely. "Okay, then. So, do you know when I can go home?"
"Oh, yes, as of now, you can leave any time you like. You're fully repaired from the impact of the car from the outside, however, if you're really hurting on the inside, you're allowed to stay for a bit longer."
Right at that, Zach jumped out of bed. Hurt like crazy, but he had no intention of staying in this hospital. "Do you know where Susan is? It would be mighty nice if she could drive me home."
"I think she's in the lobby. Care to change and meet up with me in a few minutes?"
Gina left, closing the door, while Zach slipped off his hospital gown. He saw his old, dirty, muddy clothes piled in a corner. They were unbearable to put back on, but they were his. As he sat down on the bad, pulling on his clothes, he was still thinking about his immortality. What would he do? Take the humanitarian approach like Gina would, or spend the entire time fixing his own problems? Well, it's not like he had to choose now. He literally had a lifetime to decide. That's what overwhelmed him the most.
He opened the door to find Susan standing right in front of him, waiting to hug him. Some of the crustified dirt from his t-shirt rubbed onto her blouse, but she didn't care. He was alive. And would be forever. Was it a blessing she had bestowed upon him, or a curse?
"Come on, Zach. We're going to go home. Thanks for everything, Gina."
Gina smiled. "No problem. Try to take care of yourself, Zachary, okay?"
"He will," Susan said before Zach could reply. "Are you sure you don't want him to have any meds or anything?"
Gina shook her head. "Oh, no. With the enhanced mitosis happening inside him, I wouldn't risk putting any medication in him at the moment. But we'll be coming out with further results and information soon, so we'll keep you updated, okay, Zachary?"
Cutting him off again, Susan said, "That sounds great. Thanks!" And then Susan rushed Zachary out of the hospital.
For a while, the car ride home was silent. Then, Susan decided to break the ice. "Sorry about rushing you out of there. I just couldn't stand to see you in there, in the hospital. You seemed weak, and I felt terrible about putting you in that position."
"Hey, don't sweat it. Living forever? It's like I'm in a comic book. Way cool."
Neither of them were amused by his comment, and both of them saw through the lie. Zach wasn't sure how he felt about this immortality, but he didn't want his sister hurting any more. Susan felt the same about Zach.
"So, planned out your entire life, yet?" Susan asked, trying to keep up with the comical mood Zach was pathetically attempting at creating.
"Susan Wells, I'm only 29. I have, like, a billion years just to decide what I want for lunch."
"And have you decided, yet?"
"Yes. As soon as we get home, I'm going to lie down, drink all the Kool-Aid in your fridge, while you make me infinite peanut-butter jelly sandwiches."
Susan smiled. "Just like old times."
48 YEARS LATER
It had been 48 years. Forty-eight years. To Zach, it wasn't much, since he had learned to cope with his immortality and not look at years being as long as he did before the car accident. He was 77, but hadn't aged a day on the outside. He had spent the last 48 years living with his sister, like always, tagging along in whatever she was doing, and they had a fun time.
But now, Susan Wells was 83 years old. She was getting sick, and her husband had been gone for 15 years, now. He had been sterile, so they had no children, and seeing Susan in this state of health had ignited a burning desire in Zach to visit his own children that he had never truly gotten to know.
"I had children with Anna, you know," said Zach to a sick Susan, lying on a dusty old sofa.
Susan had a long coughing fit before she could fit an answer out. "Yes, didn't you? I'm sure your reproductive organs worked fine, unlike my Josh."
"Now, stop it!" he said. "Josh was a very good man, regardless of whatever disabilities he had in his pants. And, be glad you didn't have children. Then, you wouldn't have these guilty feelings residing within you about how you never parented them."
Susan coughed a bit longer and then proceeded to say, "I always wondered why you never actually defended yourself when she cut you off entirely from seeing the children. You haven't seen them in almost half a century!"
Zach sighed. "It was never about the kids, and I don't think they are too torn up about not having me in their lives, anyway. There were three of them. Only one of them, Orson, came from me. He was too little to remember me. But two of them were young, teenagers, I believe, and they came from Anna's ex-husband before me. Tyler Marshall. Horrible fellow. Because of him, she ended up getting pregnant in her senior year in high school, and their marriage still lasted longer than ours. But he wasn't an alcoholic."
Susan smiled. "How long has it been since you've drank, Zachary?"
"49 years, and 3 weeks," he replied confidently. He even held up an empty nearby glass to help prove his point. "It's been rough, though. I still crave it every day. But, I'm staying clean. For her."
"I can't believe you managed to do it. She's quite the woman, isn't she?"
"Yes." Zach's eyes got watery, but he immediately swallowed the tears and regained his focus. He got up and grabbed his jacket next to the front door.
"Where are you going?" asked Susan, quietly.
"I'm going to visit my children."
"Do you even know where they are?"
"I did my research, Susan. Technology is powerful these days. All I could find was John and Jessica, who are currently residing in a nursing home a few hours from here. From there, I'll find Orson and, eventually Annabelle. I'll be back soon, okay?"
"Have fun," she whispered.
Zach walked out of the house, slamming the door. Within minutes, Susan could hear the rickety old Cadillac starting up and driving away. Susan smiled. If it took him half a century to prepare to finally face his kin, then this immortality was a gift. And she was happy to have bestowed this wonderful blessing upon him. With this joyful thought in her mind, she closed her eyes for a rest.
Zach was excited, but nervous. His heart was pounding faster than his Cadillac was actually driving. He was within a mile of this nursing home. What would he say, how would he begin? A million questions ran through his mind. He quietly said a prayer to Jehovah, or God, or Allah, or Providence, or whoever lived up there. All he wanted was some help, and never really did figure out which religion actually was true.
He parked, and walked hastily into the nursing home. At the front desk, he asked for the whereabouts of Johnathan and Jessica Wilson. Annabelle had immediately reverted to her maiden name, Wilson, after the divorce, and had made her children all do the same.
Soon, the receptionist had given him a piece of paper saying the number of the room they were currently in. 199. Seemed simple enough.
He had located the room within minutes, and gently knocked on the door.
"Come in!" answered a cheerful female voice.
He opened the door slowly, listening to the loud creak it made as it landed softly against the door stopper on the adjacent wall. John and Jessica were both sitting on sofas, watching a game show on an old television.
"Hello, you two," said Zach, staring at awe at the two senior citizens who, to him, were children.
"Zach?" asked John skeptically.
"Would you believe it's me?"
Jessica laughed a laugh that sounded identically like her mother's. Cheerful, but not too loud. Soft, but not too quiet. Short, but astounding. "I'd hug you, but I don't think my hips can handle getting up right now."
"Then I'll come over there," Zach said with a smile. He walked over, sat next to Jessica, and wrapped his arms around her. He then reached over and shook John's hand.
"What brings you here, Zach?" John inquired.
"I figured since I hadn't seen you two in over half a century, I'd pay you guys a visit."
"So, why do you look a billion years younger than both of us, if you're Zach?" Jessica questioned.
Zach turned and looked at Jessica for a moment. She had his eyes, not quite as beautiful as her mother's. However, her fair was still flowing lusciously, falling and stopping at all the right places, mirroring her mother's. After he got a grip of himself, he told the story of his depression, and Susan hitting him with the car, and how his cells were replicating faster than should be possible. After they had a good laugh, Zach turned the conversation serious.
"So, tell me about your mother."
"Okay," said Jessica. "First of all, she spent her entire life droning on and on about how much she misses you."
"Wait," said Zach. "What do you mean her entire life?"
Jessica gulped. "Well, mom's dead, Zach. She's been dead for about 10 years now. But, she always missed you. In fact, she never got married after you left. She missed you, she said, but not the alcohol."
Zach eyes began to water again. "I'm clean, you know," he said. "49 years and 3 weeks, today. Only for her."
Jessica smiled. "That's so sweet."
"I only wish I could tell her, but now that I'm immortal, I don't think I ever will... sorry. Go on?"
Jessica swallowed some tears. "Okay. So, since you weren't around and mom died, me and John over here were right around retirement age, anyway, so we checked into this home and have been living here since."
"Wait... what about Orson?"
"Oh, him," said John. "He died of respiratory problems when he was really young, like, at 8. Apparently it was genetic, and mom died of that, too."
Zach felt sad. He wanted a drink. But he remained strong. At least, until he would make it to the car.
"I'm sorry, kids, I mean... adults, ah... sorry, I'm always doing, I mean, saying the wrong thing, I, have to go..." said Zach, stumbling to get out the door.
The entire ride home, he cried. Anna dead? Orson dead? He would never be able to patch things up with them. They were dead, and he was immortal, so they were eternally separated from each other in different worlds. Jehovah, or Allah, or whoever, was keeping them apart. It was too much for him to handle.
As soon as Zach violently pushed open the front door to the house, he planned on ranting to Susan about everything he had heard today. But, no matter how much he yelled, screamed, or cursed, Susan remained motionless on the couch, and appeared to be sleeping peacefully.
Zach got worried and went to go feel Susan's arm for a pulse, only to find her arm cold, with no blood pumping through.
Crying harder, Zach picked up the empty glass lying next to her and left with it in his hand to go fill it up with some alcohol.
10 YEARS LATER
A decade had passed since Susan had died, and Zach had spent most of it drinking and messing around with the local drunkards. John and Jessica had both died of the same respiratory disease that Orson and Anna were inflicted with. After this, his depression took back over, and sobriety within him was gone, and decided that life had gone to the dogs and made the choice to spend the next billion or so years drinking it all away.
And that's how things went for Zach for about a decade. But then, on a cold, snowy winter day, Zach was outside, drunk, lying face-down in the snow, the little clothes he had left on him were ripped and covered in alcohol. He wanted to walk home, but couldn't remember where he was. He was hungry, but he could survive for a few million years or so before scrambling to find something to eat. But he'd have to worry later, because he didn't even have the strength to get back up. He started to pathetically crawl across the road, when a Yellow Beetle drove by and ran straight over his arm. He screamed in agony, but of course, the tissue was already fully repaired.
The driver of the Beetle, a young-looking blonde, anxiously flung out of her car and immediately went to Zach's side.
"Oh, my goodness! Are you okay?"
Zach gave a moan and managed to get out, "Yeah, don't worry about it, lady. I'm immortal! It hurts like crazy, but I CAN NOT DIE!"
The woman rolled her eyes. "You're not immortal, you're drunk, good sir. And cold and naked, it seems like. Come on, into the bug. I ran you over, I'll take you in. Come on. Up we go."
She heaved his huge, naked body onto her back, carrying him and gently lying him down in the back row of seats in her car. She then closed the door, turned on the heat, and started to drive away.
"Look, lovely lady," Zach slurred out, "Why are you doing this? I'm just a poor, drunk, old man who wishes nothing more to be dead."
"Because," the woman explained, "I ran you over, even if it was just your arm, so now I'm under the obligation to take care of you. And my name is Gina, sir."
Zach sat up. "Gina? The nurse?"
Gina looked surprised. "Me? A nurse? I wish. I have the money for the schooling for it, but I'm bent on helping everyone I can right now. I'm a humanitarian."
Zach remembered the wonderful humanitarian nurse from so long ago just before blacking out.
* * *
Zach woke up next to Gina, who was lying eagle-spread on a sofa. He had a massive headache pounding at his skull. What had happened? He shook Gina awake, who, in fear, fell off of the sofa and onto the coffee table.
"Oh, sorry about that," Zach apologized.
"No problem," Gina said groggily.
"Um, do you have some clothes I can wear? There's a rather unpleasant draft in the room."
"Oh, yeah, sorry. There should be some in my father's room you can wear. Here, what time is it? 8:30? Okay, he should be at work by now."
"Should be," said an ominous voice in the distance.
"Dad!" shrieked Gina. "I... ah... what are you doing here?"
"Not working," said Gina's dad. "I walked out here, ready for a whole grain breakfast, when I saw a full-grown naked man lying next to you on the sofa."
"Don't get any ideas, dad! He was drunk, and cold, and I ran over him, so I figured the least I could do was provide him with a place to recover!"
"And a hospital never crossed your mind?" asked Gina's dad suspiciously.
"No, he had no scars, cuts, not even a bruise! I just thought that he could stay here for a bit until he knows where he's going to go or at least until he's had breakfast!"
Gina's dad sighed. "Okay. Breakfast is fine. But, when I come home today, I don't want him here. Understand?"
"Bye, sweetheart," Gina's dad said as he walked out the door.
"Sorry about him," said Gina. "Anyway, there should be something in my dad's room. Feel free to wear whatever you like."
Zach returned a few minutes later wearing mismatched clothes of various sizes.
"So, I noticed something weird about your injuries," Gina said.
"That they're already healed?" Zach asked.
"Um, yeah. Do you know why?"
Zach went on to tell her the story of Susan running over him with the Odyssey and the interesting news Nurse Gina had brought him.
"Wait, your nurse's name was Gina?" Gina asked.
"Yeah," said Zach. "And she was a humanitarian, just like you. She even suggested that I use my immortality for helping the world."
"Immortality, I mean, it's just... wow. Wow."
"So, are you going to?"
"Going to what?"
"You know, help humanity."
"Oh, well I wasn't going to. I could barely help myself. But, meeting you, and seeing all the nice things you've done for me, someone you barely know, I think I will."
"Oh," said Gina. "That's good. Hey, this is kind of sudden, and, like you just said, I barely know you, but, since you seem to have the right intentions for life, would you mind coming with me?"
"Sure, but where?"
"Well, since I'm past the adult age, and I live with my dad, I was planning to use our family's fortune to go around the world doing various service projects and donating to charities and helping as many people as I can. Would you care to join me?"
"Yes, that sounds nice."
At that moment Zach knew that even though his body was causing him so much physical pain, that his heartache was about to be over.
3 YEARS LATER
Zach and Gina went around the world, visiting over 50 countries, helping hundreds of thousands, and Zach went clean from alcohol, and this time it wasn't such a challenge. He simply had no reason to drink anymore.
The "World Charity Expedition", as they called it, was extended after Gina's father stopped demanding them to come home after he died of a heart attack.
They came home, and visited a nearby lake, "Lake Azul", and exchanged stories on a daily basis. How Gina's parents divorced, how Susan died, etc. Zach had grown to platonically love Gina, but still wanted Anna very much, down in his heart.
One day, they were both lying on the grass near the dock at Lake Azul. Gina had made them both lemonade and after Zach was done drinking his, Gina asked him how he had felt.
Zach laughed, and answered, "At peace." It was true.
He then smiled, closed his eyes, and quietly slipped away.