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They Die: A Tragedy in Four Parts
“You’re going to die, Tim.” Thus, it began.
Preparation. Preparation. Uncertainty. Preparation. Rest. Preparation. So it was, daily, for Tim Watson. He heard it himself, quite clearly – “You’re going to die…”. When, how… why: all unknown. Tim would not waste time on such considerations. Preparation.
Trauma first. Falls from height – 10, 20, 30, gradually 40, 50, on good wind 60 feet - upwards. Roll on impact, Tim. Again and again and again until his body is red and skinned and bleeding. Throw yourself in front of moving objects, Timmy. Slide onto the windshield. Put some more time into it. Transfer your energy.
Tim runs now. No jogging for Timothy. Sprints. Sprints for miles – 2, 3, now 10 miles on the worn skins of his feet. What’s chasing me? Says Tim. I’ll escape the angry mob, this I know. Dogs, too, probably. Bears and bulls and trucks, I need more practice, I think. He needs more time.
Now Tim slips through space like quicksilver. If he should meet a wall? Tim pushes his hands through water, sand, earth, wood… stone. Now steel. Hands for art, creation, for caressing sweethearts and holding delicate children; gone. Arms are axes. Feet: glaives.
Time permitting, Tim can spend a few hours with his wiry body beneath heavy things – boulders, trees. He’s now very good at wrenching himself out, though he’s not yet confident in this. Soon he knows exactly how much mass he can lift from his body. His strength has improved. Stamina, too. Now his body is plate armor. But blades and bullets? Says Tim’s doubt. Blades and bullets will be your bane, Tim.
Take good doses of various malignant potions with your sparse meals. Measure carefully, Tim. He can no longer afford to waste hours in sickness. And how long can you go without your precious nutrients, you feeble star-crossed insect? My strength begins to leave me after a week thus far, Says Tim. But I improve. Yes, but do you have time? He hurries.
Tim was never fond of water, or the sea, or hungry sharks and octopi. Yet he enters it - has he any choice? Swimming, days on end, miles from land after much persistence. He can withstand the cold, but slips into unconsciousness after mere minutes submerged. You’ll never make it, Tim.
It should be noted that these changes are not easy for him. Tim Watson is not predisposed to these radical departures. But these gradual things all appear very small in the face of the great Changer which Tim flees. One step at a time, inch by inch. Timothy, why is your resolve so strong? What great life had you possessed before? What pushes you so far from humanity? Tim, of course, does not know. He’s never looked back.
And where are your friends, your family, Tim, in these dark times? Tim has lived alone for very long now, alone in some haunted place with no one to trouble him. You’re a recluse, Tim. No good to anyone. I know.
Where is He? Says Tim. I’m waiting. Can’t you see Tim? You’ve won. A band of thieves comes to his forsaken residence one fated night – Tim is awake. What need has he for sleep? And there, with a weapon to his poor heart, Tim was confused. This can’t be it, Said Tim. This isn’t right. Of course, Tim felt the nagging sensation to let the bullet pierce through him, to end him. He couldn’t do it. Tim tilts the gun, only an inch or so, and despairingly brings his hand to the thief’s head. Someone had struck a piñata; warm red ribbons and soft light chunks of delicious candy sprayed out for the excited children. Tim would never be satisfied with these encounters. I’ll wait, says Tim. He does.
He meditates now, hours and days, weeks and then months. Years, Tim? Explores his mind, his immortal soul, converses with Musashi and Nietzshe on other planes. He’ll learn to ward off disease and Fate’s other mischievous tentacles. Mind and body are one.
And with every small encounter with a particle, an atom of his foe, Tim renews his efforts with more fervor. The repetition is ever more unbearable. Five-hundred’s not good enough any more Tim - make it one-million. What? Do you want to die? Are you weak? Where has all this gotten you? Again.
His strength doubles daily now. Every day, closer to invulnerability. Where will this mindless progression take you, Tim? You’ll become something horrible – I can tell. Can’t you? Tim doesn’t answer.
There’s something to be said for knowing one’s own limits and abilities exactly as they operate. Tim does. By now he understands where his blood flows, how to control the beating of his heart, when his energy is at its fullest. Watch closely Jupiter’s orbit. Avoid the new moon.
Tripling and infinitely magnifying his might. Stop Tim. You’ve won. I scream. Tim keeps on. There will be no stop. I will kill death, exudes Tim. And what then? What then will drive this horrible machine? This horrible machine will self-destruct.
Are you mortal? Look, Tim – you’re a young man. But where are all your young friends? Dead. Tim is grim. Ha.
Tim hasn’t taken a meal in some time. He hasn’t noticed. He takes his energy from the trees, the earth, the Cosmos. Wait Tim… I can’t hear your breathing.
Oh, Timmy. How I was mistaken. You’re quite something now. A transient thing, intangible - behold your power and grace. Humans encircle you… circle and kneel and bow and beg and pray to you. Legions of little followers. Yes, brush them off and sweep them aside and work little miracles if it so entertains you. Level civilizations when you’re angered. Tim has no time for this. Titles for you Timmy; Watson the Destroyer. Timothy our Glorious Savior. Tim the Antichrist.
And lo, time would tarry on into Eternity, Tim being constant in a changing, decaying world. Progression may have long ceased, but he’ll struggle ever harder to keep his strength from leaving him. Why do I even bother?
You know – you’ve known all along – that this which you’ve fought so hard against… defeated… is no tangible thing. Not a romantic, gaunt man in a flowing cloak of inky night. The absence of electro-organic firings in the brain – the ceasing of fluid circulation and pulsing. There you are, Tim. You’re still alive. Rejoice… throw a parade grander than any spectacle sentience has observed… dance. It’s bitter on your tongue, now. Watch all law-abiding creatures pass into silence and peace, and you stay on into the night... a sleepwalker. Go ahead Tim, labor on. Sing with joy.
But Tim is tired. Finally, weary of this horrible thing… yet he will not die. Of course not. Neither his mind nor his body would abide. Tim may lay beneath the sea for millennia, and there he would be. Still. Tim is done; he wants rest. Just for a little. Bring me brief respite.
Earthly death will not satisfy Tim – he’ll need a total reprieve. All that exists must end with him. Dust, dust, ashes, drifting away into final Silence.
He assumes a full-lotus. Tim places his softly glowing fists together. He begins. All the forces of his ancient body come together in a small spot between his knuckles. A cold heat is generated. Perhaps a small twittering noise – that’s all. It takes time. The color fades gradually from the world around him, drawing into his center. Soon it’s night. Quiet… listen closely and you can hear the echo of nothing bounding off the corners of itself. Wonderful. Tim has it now – just a final pulse, a quick, slight turn of his hands, and all will be undone. Tim struggles; it’s nice here. He can think and breathe again. The absence of feeling kisses his senses. He wishes he could hold it like this, Time’s flow ceased, the Cosmos singing to him. But alas – click.
Elation. Joy and a pleasing sensation like nothing Tim or anything else could ever experience again. It wasn’t just him – the universe felt it, too. Glorious release from all pain.
I’ve made a horrible mistake. This isn’t right. I can feel it… everything leaving. My strength deserts me. I’ll come undone. Oh, this horrible obnoxious sense that overcomes me. I’ll escape. I have to. Quickly, quickly. It’s closing all around me. I’ll fix this.
Startlingly, strangely, Tim plunges his hands into the Invisible Fabric, feeling the cold tingle of all dimensions that make up its plies. He tears himself a hole, and slips through.
Ah, what’s this? I remember. Sunset. Green hilltops in summer. There, a pretty little family. It’s a picnic. Pretty wife and pretty little daughter and young, handsome, joyful Tim. If only. I whisper a small, trivial something in his ear. His smile slackens, if only a little. Perhaps he would do what I could not. Maybe. We’ll see. Tim sighs, tragically epitomizing his life in that last gesture. Then he fades.
Oh, what have we here? Nothing. Darkness. But I am here. I wave; a trillion galaxies flutter into existence. I wave again; they die.