Fiction. The stories manufactured. Stuff of the imagination. The fables to escape into, to get lost. They come in many forms from many genres. They move. They entertain. They lay no claim to real events or depictions. The declaration, fiction. Ensuring all the words that follow will be considered as such. Permissible untruths for the sake of digression. Fiction can be nothing else.
There is an easy way to steal another’s life. Declare it as one’s own creative exercise. Call it fiction. Choose the most outrageous story and the readers will be more apt to believe the narrative was constructed, not lived. If the person behind the alleged fictitious life, that is actually a real life, must remain anonymous and there you have it. The secret is safe forever. The story will be fiction, forever.
Who is to say what is real and what is not? Some of modern society’s most prominent scientists have proposed the idea that none of it is real, a sophisticated computation created for the study or amusement of a superior other. Science is always evolving. That evolution brings new understanding and reality gets blurrier and blurrier.
The truth is, science knows more than it shares, count on that. And gods and monsters are as much a mathematical equation as measuring velocity.
Most can’t imagine what it’s like not to be able to lay claim to one’s own story. Never permitted to acknowledge one’s very identity. Mine is an old story. Old indeed, and you probably know it. After all, the title is in every library in this country, and in many of the libraries throughout the world. A classic. A literary masterpiece. The prose undeniably powerful. The question is, would the prose be as celebrated without my life to beat the heart?
I am told I don’t look a day over forty. Some have even said thirty, although I am certain the latter is perhaps driven by ulterior motives. The truth, as I will tell it, may seem ludicrous, especially to the purveyors of science, those who don’t believe there is a hidden science as old as the written word.
The truth is that a hundred years could be added to my age and there would still be room for more. It’s true. Scientists working on the mysteries of aging will tell you, in theory, a body doesn’t have to age, not as long as cells continue to do their job. Although that is only theory speak, pontification, science is aware of animals that live a long time. Take the Greenland shark, a life span of nearly four hundred years. Right now, those scientists are trying to unlock a way of keeping cells from degenerating. They are trying now; I achieved the feat a long time ago.
I should probably tell you at this point that I too am a scientist. Although, I ceased practicing my craft fifty years or so ago, when it was clear I could not reverse the damage I had done. I was stuck in a vessel that would continue to travel on whether I wanted to be onboard or not. Everyone and everything around me die off and I continue. The true comedy of it is my longevity is only an unexpected byproduct of the experiment, and my transformation.
How to tell my personal story when my name was taken from me a long time ago. I can only say, anonymously, what things unfolded, how it started before the many generations slipped away, and what you can look forward to in the very near future. Call me a work of fiction if you will, if you must, from a long time ago. One who has gone by many names over the many years, except of course for the name that is my birthright once it was re-purposed. I was once called a scientist by day. In the shadows, I was, and am, a monster.
Two faces, you could say. But don’t we all wear different masks depending on the situation and the interaction? And certainly, we all have those hidden faces, that ugliness kept deep inside. For some, the hidden horrible face escapes without control and we know what happens then.
The ugliness is so primitive, isn’t it? A contrast to societal norms that were created to suppress the primitive, the self-centrality, the animal, the id. Funny. Masses of people, all following rules of normality while their minds hold such lurid desires. Or perhaps those lurid sensibilities are buried deep. Either way, those dark places exist and will exist no matter how the expectations attempt to suppress them. The pendulum swings, from one extreme to the edge of the fringe. Up and temporarily locked in that extreme position. Then it falls and floats upward toward the other extreme, to hold that fringe position. Another drop, falling, then floating upwards. Over and over. Repeating, because there is no way for the human condition to maintain a constant state. No capability to do so. More importantly, no desire to be fixed. The metronome, beats per minute, beats that are generated by the back and forth, the clicks that keep the rhythm of state. Slow and somber, nearly nonexistent to be the comatose acceptance, catatonic. Slow and steady, quietly walking along the path, aware but unable or unwilling to step off the path. Fast and deliberate running to or from someone and too afraid to look back to see where the journey began. Erratically fast, ignoring the signs that direct the way to be, out of control, reckless, free.
Then what if I could tell you that I have two faces, one that is as drab and normal as any of the faces you encounter throughout your conformed day, and the other a thing of nightmares? The first encapsulates all of the weaknesses of modernity. The other a force of nature.
What can I say? I am complicated.
The objective of my experiments long ago, many generations ago, was to bring to flesh the id, that which lives inside us all and desires no more than the most primitive of desires, the purest of sensory gratification. I was a young man of superior intellect and vision, yet lacking in the attributes that made men attractive to the opposite sex in my long-forgotten day. I speak of confidence, courage, sexual prowess – all of the elements that flourished within the id, which was an area within my psyche that I was clearly not attuned to.
This is not a fairy tale, and it isn’t some witchcraft. I speak of science, of unraveling the mysteries of our limitations. I developed a miraculous serum that pulls the id from my very pores, and gives me the strength of ten modern men, the vigor of an Olympian from mythology, and the unquenchable thirst for all things salacious – blood and violence and sex. The sensation, the calling, is something I could never be able to fully describe. A heroin addict does not comprehend this level of primal, insatiable need. And I am nearly indestructible.
For decades, the transformation, of which I always performed at night so I could hide in the shadows, required the serum. After time, my body now produces the chemistry that conceived the serum, all on its own, and I completely transform without will most nights, and you see, I am trapped. My wherewithal, my knowledge, my desire to be free, is far from enough to end the monster. I am a prisoner with a life sentence and the life goes on, and on.
That is not to say that I am the victim. I am not. I deliberately pushed the boundaries of science, and when it was clear what my discovery had revealed, I capitalized in a very big way. I am the maker of my elaborate tomb. I am the architect of my unwitting survival, and along the way fed the id in the most vulgar and horrific ways.
Now, I am tired. Awfully tired, and I want only to sleep. The one I loved is bones and dust, she cannot be replaced no matter how many generations pass. I have worn out my welcome a thousand times over and have desecrated more lives than war. It is time to go.
Self-deprecation. The careless dramedy. The world’s stage is on fire and the script is burning up. The smell of the embers, the ash, brings tears to my eyes. I am nostalgic. I am wanting. I am as empty as vacant promises unfulfilled that float as freely and uncharted as floating ash that will soon lose its pliability. My words may seem pretentious to you, they wouldn’t in another time when our speak was meant to light cinders. I recite like a forgotten time, thus I am from a forgotten time. Be there no one left less me.
The pact was made in a fortnight, and an unscrupulous one to boot. A pact that clearly demonstrates no care for the new world, I admit, because it is not my world. I made a pact with the sort who have the power, the means, the resources to do the unthinkable. The proposal is simple – find a way to destroy me and get the keys to the castle. I will give them the formula, and as the sky is blue and the grass is green, they will use that formula and we can only imagine what things they will choose to do with that sort of power. Because, to them, the only thing that matters is power. Immeasurable, all-encompassing power. The sort that was never in my field of vision, no matter how horrible my acts were.
You see, I am not immortal. That is the stuff of actual fiction. However, to explain it as simply as I can, my cells reproduce at a rate that is more than one hundred times a normal human being. One cell dies, and another is produced. It is the closest a human being will ever get to immortality.
Now think about the sort of people who are considered to be powerful. Are they just? Sometimes. Does power corrupt? We all know the saying. Give them unfathomable strength, life longevity, and a hyper id, and what do you suppose will be the result?
Unfortunately, the id is such a dominant presence within me that I feel no guilt. Like a numbing agent, those aspects of humanity are dulled. I don’t tell you this for some making of amends. There is no anchor on my ankle. I am not beckoned by some sense of right or wrong. I am merely acting out of belief in fair play. I am giving you the chance to prepare, to arm yourselves.
I give you a warning. With as much certainty as I can proclaim, with as much directness as I can muster, I tell you that monsters are real. They are as real as the blood that flows through your veins, and the veins of every other being on this earth. I am not a kook. You will soon see them rise from the shadows. Perhaps, unlike me who never possessed the power that is at their fingertips, even in broad daylight. You will see them, and when you do, you will wish it was all fiction.