Short Story – For All Time
Today’s short story was inspired by this news report of a mummified body discovered in a yacht adrift near the Philippines. I tried to think about what sort of events would lead up to such a discovery and wrote from there.
So this one is super dark. I had a good idea how it was going to end when I started writing.
A lot of my stories lately have been involved with meditations on immortality and the Faustian bargain that is likely to be part of anything that would allow someone to live an extraordinarily long life.
As with all of my writing, I tend to structure them in much the same way I would structure a script. In this case, I can really see this story turning into a radio play. The next step is probably to do that.
Please read, comment, share, or ignore! It’s your life – do what you will with it.
“Day 125 – Still Adrift and without power. Food supplies are exhausted. I continue to hope that the remoteness of my location will…”
Carl stopped writing the log entry. The remoteness of his location would…what?
What was he doing? Did he even have a plan? He looked out the porthole at the water that surrounded him. The water that was protecting him. She couldn’t reach him here.
He would most certainly die soon enough. He was weakened by hunger and had only barely managed to walk to the table. Death was part of the plan. But she couldn’t reach his body.
So what should he enter in the log?
He thought back to the evening they met in a crowded Paris nightclub. His girlfriend dragged him out of the house, telling him he needed to get away from his work for a few hours. It would be the last time he saw her. After that night, she would vanish from his life as completely as everyone else he had ever known.
Another woman walked into that nightclub that evening and she was searching for someone. She chose Carl.
When her eyes found him, he could feel them caress his body like a reptilian tongue flicking his skin. That should have been a warning sign.
Her desires were so overtly sexual, and so clearly predatory, he felt certain he should resist. If he didn’t respond, her gaze would have called to someone else. He had a choice. He made a choice.
The first time they had sex was in the bathroom at the club. Then in the parking lot. Many hours later, lying in her bed, she looked at him and asked him what he desired.
It didn’t feel like a question. It felt like a demand.
He was aware that he shouldn’t answer. Once again, the choice was his.
He told her everything. He told her about his desire to be noticed. To be known. To be remembered long after his death. He told her about his love of learning and his need to discover something new – something that had never been seen or even conceived of before.
She ran her hand across his face with such gentleness, he barely noticed her nail puncturing his chin. She pulled her hand away and blood ran down her thumb. She slowly licked it off and her body shivered with pleasure.
“You will have all you desire, my love. But you are mine. Forever.”
Years later, he had all he desired, just as she promised. He was the explorer who had discovered the lost Egyptian city of Choepstphet drowned in the Mediterranean sea. He had discovered the source of the legends of Atlantis and even the probable location.
And they were still together. She was sensual and beautiful and filled his life with unimaginable delights.
She terrified him.
He couldn’t resist her. Whatever she asked, he would give without hesitation. Access to family and now former friends was strictly forbidden. His life was hers to the extent he had all he desired but he was unable to enjoy it even for a moment.
Every night, she would whisper to him they would be together forever. It was never a promise. It was a threat.
He reminded himself that the choice had always been his. He was not a victim.
Here and now he was dying and he would be free of her. She was thousands of miles away. Death would break whatever wicked curse that bound them together.
But what if it didn’t? He had to make sure the log explained what must be done with him should his body ever be found.
She sat on a chair next to him and ran her hand across his emaciated face.
“You look awful.”
She drew her hand back and, just as on that first night, and so many nights since, his blood was smeared . She sucked on it and moaned with delight.
He tried to speak but his throat was too parched. Nothing but a crackled whine escaped.
“Shhh!” she cooed, putting a finger to his lips, “I know. I’ve missed you too.”
“I want you to know, Carl, that I’m not really here. But this isn’t a hallucination. This is real.”
Her eyes caressed him and he could feel the touch of her gaze once again. It was no longer a gentle, tickling touch. It was harsh, angry, unforgiving. She ran her hand through his hair, which came off in clumps. She spoke quietly and with a calmness that betrayed nearly uncontrolled rage.
“I told you we’d be together forever, Carl. I chose you, Carl. Did you think I would just allow you to escape? I waited for you. You promised me you would come back and even though I knew it was a lie, I waited.”
Her eyes bored through him and his heart beat quickened involuntarily. A horrible burning sensation was growing in his chest. It felt as if all his organs were trying to dig their way out of his body. He could feel the blood running from his eyes like tears. She leaned over and lovingly licked the blood tears from his face.
“You could have had an eternity of pleasure, Carl. That’s what I wanted to give you. It’s what I promised you. I’ve always kept my promises, Carl. But you ran from me. You never understood the gift I gave you. But you still have a chance, my love.”
Her lips moved from his eyes to his ear and she whispered “just tell me what you desire.”
He tried to say something. He tried to tell her that he desired to be free of their contract. That he wished only a peaceful death.
But the words would not form. A parched, agonized groan was the only sound he could make.
Her lips still caressed his ear as she spoke to him.
“Oh, I’m so sorry, my darling. I didn’t understand you. Since you can’t tell me what you desire, I’m afraid that you must give me what I desire.”
With unexpected ferocity, her fingernails plunged into his eyes and there was only darkness. Darkness and pain.
Ten days later, his boat drifted close to an island in the south Pacific. Local fisherman found what looked to be an eyeless corpse seated at a table, mummified by salt, with a face horrifically twisted in terror.
He felt them remove his body from the boat. He listened to men speak in a language he didn’t understand and tried to plead with them to leave him be. He tried to tell them that every time they tried to straighten an arm or a leg, he could feel the bones crack. If only the words could have escaped his throat.
He was taken to the local morgue where an autopsy would have to be performed to determine a cause of death. He felt the scalpel cut his skin but he was still unable to make a sound. Couldn’t they tell he felt everything?
“Oh!” the coroner exclaimed, accidentally jamming his scalpel deeper into Carl’s body with no consideration for how it might feel were his subject still alive.
“My name is Vanessa. I’m his wife. I’m here to collect his remains.”
The coroner didn’t speak much English but he nodded and gestured towards Carl.
“Oh no!” she said, a delighted smile drifting across her face, “please continue. I so very much would like to know how he died.”
Inside the salt that preserved his seemingly lifeless body, Carl tried to scream.