Michael D. Griffiths
I have a long and esteemed name, one which I would not seek to tarnish. For the purpose of this journal, I shall refer to myself by my street name Phlick. All my life, I have been obsessed with death and aging. One might call it a phobia, perhaps. Being the only son of a family of means, I have only to wait for my father to die, before I have the capital to do something about it.
My father’s passing is long, unpleasant, and quite painful. I am caring for him even though his condition brings up ever horror and fear that has haunted me even during the best of times. As he lingers, I am using every free second I have to pour over the most recent scientific publications. I do not possess the patience for science myself, but when one has the funds he can pay others for their labor and genius.
It is early spring and just as the life giving rains are beginning to drench the earth, my father has passed. Once he is put to rest, I waste no time in contacting the tech underground. It is a difficult and lengthy process that has not been without certain dangers.
At last, success! I have met a man known only as The Doctor who, for an exorbitant fee, has agreed to give me what I desire above all else. Strength. Youth. Immortally. I am told I must wait.
These days turn out to be the hardest. I refuse to even leave the manor for fear some random accident will claim me or some dreg will stick a rusty knife in my gut, just so he might steal my shoes.
The Doctor is not without a scene of humor and has decided that the procedure will take place on the Winter Solstice. It is of course a time of rebirth, which is certainly what I wish to occur. I grow more nervous each day.
The Doctor tells me that I need to pick an age and I am having trouble with that. What age is best? Should I be a strapping lad of eighteen? Perhaps an eternal college student. Maybe a dignified twenty five year old or perhaps thirty. Still, I do not want to be too old I have had enough of that already.
My new body is fantastic. Beyond my wildest hopes. I feel healthier than I ever remembered being, but The Doctor says that is normal and my new cloned body will be better than the original ever was.
Youth embraces me and I am truly happy for the first time since my mother died. I do not know what to do first. I think I have spent two whole days looking at myself in the mirror. I am as much me as I ever was. It is just a ‘me’ long forgotten. A ‘me’ that only remained in static shots tucked away in our few remaining family albums.
I am not sure what I am going to do first, but now I can finally live!
Twenty years has passed since I was given a new body and this journal remained in my desk all but forgotten during this time. My lofty visions of becoming some new young socialite have quickly faded. Injures or illness I could have healed as long as they were not too sudden, but what about an unexpected attack? The streets of New Cluster are full of a thousand dangers. The few servants I keep in service venture forth for me, except on the rarest occasions.
Despite my reluctance to leave the safety of the manor, I have fallen in love. The granddaughter of my father’s most faithful servant was forced to move in with us when another strong wave of unemployment and poverty swept through the multitudes of New Cluster. At last my youthful looks were put to use and she fell in love with me as easily as I did her. My sweet Vaness.
Over the years her grandfather had kept a closed mouth about my changing, perhaps to insure she is wed to a man as wealthy as myself. I am not a bad man. A woman could do worse.
Were we wed, but as the years passed my old fear began to return. Vaness aged with me, but this was little comfort when once again wrinkles began to mar my face. I am afraid and uncertain. I need to be reborn before it is too late. Yet what would Vaness think? If she found out the truth, would she want to join me? The burden is heavy and has no easy solution.
I have finally told Vaness. She was furious, not as angry that I had being living within my own clone, as much as the fact that I could conceal such a secret from her. Her grandfather has now long since passed. I watched this old friend wither and die with nearly the horror I had experienced with my father.
She refuses to be reborn with me and wants to refuse to let me do so as well. What am I to do? Why is she so irrational? Surely she will grow to understand why I kept my true nature a secret from her. My hope is that over time as she grows older she will seek to join me in another transformation.
I could wait not longer. A dangerous flu is passing through New Cluster. One of my maids brought it into the manor. Once I caught it, I could not risk it becoming worse. I was a fool to allow myself to get that old.
The Doctor and I had stayed in touch and of course, like me, he was not about to let himself wither and die foolishly.
The procedure is easier than before. The technology is improving. Days have become hours and I was out in a single afternoon.
Vaness was insane with anger when the younger me returned that evening. Her violent screaming sent the servants running to their quarters. We have taken to avoiding each other and then disaster struck and she caught the flu. Her body had been older than mine and was not fairing well. I am begging and pleading with her to Jump, which is what The Doctor is now calling the process, but still despite the ravages of her flesh she refuses. Why is she being so stubborn? Why does she remain old and gray when she could have youth and life?
Vaness has changed and each day grows more distance. She walks around the manor is if in a daze. She says she still loves me, but she refuses any sort of physical contact. We talk, me a twenty-two year old man while she is already fifty-two. Outside of the manor walls New Cluster is a dangerous chaos. I am starting to lose track of the world I still live in.
Vaness has agreed to not leave me, but she can not bring herself to completely forgive me. I see it in her eyes.
Things are getting worse. Vaness is getting weaker. The illnesses than plague New Cluster are taking their tool on her. I try to convince her to jump, but it seems that the harder I try, the more she resists and the farther apart we become.
I keep telling her that it is not too late. She can still jump and be as young as she likes. Why won’t she do it? This is pure madness.
I have jumped again and I think it has broken Vaness’ heart. I keep begging her to Jump telling her that it is not too late. She is barely speaking with me now though.
Every time my young body does something with ease, I feel her scowling. Each ache of her body, she unjustly blames on me, when I am the one that could take it all away. She is being foolish. Deadly foolish.
It has finally happened. Vaness has passed. I curse her even as I love her. Her loss has left me emptier than ever before. I will never love another. I remained locked behind the safety of my walls.
Now I have dealt with my grief in the way that would have hurt her most. I have Jumped again. With Vaness gone, I will not let as much time pass before I Jump. I don’t want there to be any chance that some disease will take me down.
All of my servants have passed now. I will not bother to get others. I have my food delivered and live simply, eating only the healthiest of foods. Besides a few trips to the bank and other quick errands my needs are few.
New Cluster is worse than ever. I feel I do not know my own world. I watch the Vid screen and feel like I am watching some futuristic movie, not what is happening today. Many of my clothes are decades old, while my home has not changed for over a century.
It is strange to think that I am over a hundred and fifty years old.
Jumped again today. The process takes little more than an hour now. The Doctor is still around. He is now the only constant in my life. As I look back over this journal I realize I have not even bothered to mark down each time I have Jumped. I have lost count now. All I now is that it is happening more and more frequently. I never let more than ten years pass, but of late that number has dropped closer to five.
Some gang of Bangers tried to break in today. They were expecting a feeble wrinkled man and I was able to scare them off with my father’s old gun. It has not been cleaned for decades and would have most likely exploded in my face, but they did not know that. I need to avoid going out into that madhouse as much as possible.
I have sold off most of my furniture and other items. It is harder to find anyone willing to buy such things now. The world has become a combat zone with a few very wealthy living off the violent struggling masses. I have long since sold my Vid. My knowledge of the outside world is minimal.
I learned from a deliveryman that my house is considered either haunted or cursed, perhaps this is what helps keep the criminals at bay.
I can barely remember how old I am now. The number of times I have Jumped are uncountable.
My funds are starting to become a problem. I am going to start trying to learn how to Jump myself. I need to buy my own equipment. Soon I will be able to Jump within my own house. I know The Doctor is doing it.
It took a lot of convincing, but I managed to not only have The Doctor teach me how to Self-Jump. I have also purchased the Tech that allows me to do so.
Power outages are becoming more common. I fear we might one day lose power completely. Despite my diminishing funds, I have purchased a back up generator and a goodly amount of fuel to power it. I have also started a garden as best I can. Chickens and other small animals are being kept in what was once the garage. I have now long since sold off all my father’s vehicles. I found that for collectors they were far from old junk and their sale kept me going for some time.
I find it strange that in the middle of the most modern city in the history of mankind, I have become a farmer more than anything else.
Anarchy has erupted outside of my walls. I was on the roof earlier. Most of the city burns. I fear for more than myself. Is civilization itself dying? The power has just gone out. I need to check on things I will be back.
The city has gone black.
Three weeks later and the power has not come back on. I am beginning to think it never will. I have been using the generator for common tasks, but will be shutting it down now. I need to save my resources.
Chaos and anarchy have claimed the world. No attempt at law and order is maintained. Somehow my manor is still spared.
After years of madness, the city is starting to grow quiet. In many ways this is more disturbing. I fired up the generator and Jumped today. I need to be in peak condition in case something goes wrong. Working on my little farm is very hard, but I have to in order to live. I eat only enough to stay alive now.
It is hard to work when one is constantly starved.
I am getting better at this farming thing, but there is never enough to eat. I have not heard anything outside my walls for a ling time now.
Today was my three hundredth birthday. Too bad I have no one to share it with. I am thinking about Vaness more and more. Sometimes anger fills me until I spit with rage when I think about how she could, even now, be with me. At other times I wonder if she had made the right choice letting go.
I could not stop now even if I wanted to. Living on has become a compulsion that will not be denied.
Water had become more of a problem of late. The rains have slowed. Half of my estate is now covered with plastic in the attempt to gather as much as possible during the increasingly rare rains.
My fuel is running dangerously low as well. I can only use it for Jumping now. I also curse my earlier more extravagant uses of the generator.
Many of my animals are getting sick. This is horrid news. Also some foul poison lingering in the air is affecting my crops as well. They are weak. I often find myself weighing the options of feeding the animals or myself. Many times I have been forced to cull a chicken. It is a temporary respite. My fear increases as my flock dwindles.
Despite my youth I still walk around the manor like a thin flail skeleton.
Long ago I have named some of my animals to help keep me company, for they are surely to only company I have. I found myself calling my rooster Giddy and then remembered that Gibby was my first rooster and he has been dead for over a hundred years.
I have read every book more times than they have pages, but even this pleasure is robed from me as soon as the sun goes down. Like a farmer of old, I have long ago switched my sleeping pattern to rise with the sun.
I fear I must go mad if I do not at least find some books to read or something new to do. I am Jumping more often now for it erases the months of near famine and then the slow process begins again.
I have taken to trapping the wild dogs. I believe they were once called mutt-hounds. This has helped some, but they are savage and vicious a mistake cost me a painful bite to the hand. I could not even imagine what type of disease these things could carry, so of course I Jumped right away.
I have seen no signs of other men for over a hundred and fifty years now. Could they somehow all be dead? Could I be the only survivor? I wonder about the Doctor sometimes. He must be living too. But if he were, why would not he try to seek me out?
I remembered to mark the turn of the century. Things are worse than ever now. I barely have the strength to write. All my energy goes into maintaining the farm and my dwindling flock. Eggs are a horror to me now. I would kill for a steak or a bowl of pasta. I need to head over the walls, but the fear is too great. Now I think I fear what I might find over any true dangers. I do not want to be alone.
Sometimes I wonder if I should go on.
Things are worse. There is even less rain. The animals are dying. I do not even bother to read anymore. The tales are portraits of a humanity that no longer exist and only fill me with sorrow.
Horror beyond belief! I was going to Jump to celebrate my five hundredth birthday and went down to my small lab only to find that my fuel was completely gone. In my constant exhaustion and near delirium I must have failed to notice how low it has become.
What can I do? Everything has collapsed around me. Despite all this, I still do not want to age and die.
I have come to a decision. My body, as always, was wasted and thin before the Jump. I will butcher the few remaining animals and eat them until I have regained my youthful strength once this is done, I will have to put aside my fears and enter the world that I have for so long abandoned. I still have my father’s gun. I shall clean it before I go. With some luck it will keep the predators at bay.
I try to tell myself that I have hope, which I cannot feel.
I have regained my strength and my equipment is ready. I do not know what I might find beyond these crumbling walls, but I certainly cannot sit here starving to death. Will I find fuel for my Jumper after all these years? It is hard to say. Perhaps I could take up reading again if I found some new books. Just having a full belly would be enough for now.
My current body is still shy of twenty-five. I still have a whole life ahead of me. Perhaps I will just have to live it out as nature intended. In some ways it could be the first life that I have really had.