In two days’ time I will be a hundred and seventy-three years old, despite my youthful appearance.
Immortality is a weight that becomes heavier as each day passes and I find myself screaming internally, longing to find my place in this world of mortal people. It’s not that I elude death, in fact quite the opposite: death follows me like a stray dog anxiously hoping for scraps. I am tired and lonely and I find life in the twenty-first century uninspiring. So much has changed and yet so much is still the same. I have come full circle, living back in my hometown of Salisbury, where a hundred and thirty-nine years ago I received news that I had just a few weeks to live.
It might be considered ironic that I went on to outlive everyone who drew breath in 1872.
I wake up to the sound of my alarm clock. It is six o’clock and the sun is shining across my face through the open curtains—I left them open last night to admire the full moon. I open my eyes and stare at the ceiling as the alarm clock continues to ring. It sits on the headboard of my bed, which has shelves built into it, with a few light-reading books and a remote control. I slap the clock with my hand and it stops ringing.
“Well, Micajah Reynolds, it’s time to rise,” I say to myself, as though the instruction will push me into leaving the warm bed. I decide to ignore my command and stare at the ceiling for a few minutes longer.
I talk to myself quite a lot, which I understand can be considered a sign of madness. If madness was my only flaw, I might actually sleep at night.
I suffer from depression. I probably always have. I can’t take anti-depressants, because drugs have no effect on my body. I haven’t been intoxicated since 1872. I try to avoid over-analysing my life—I did plenty of that a hundred years ago—and I have created a peaceful routine through which I live each day, one at a time. However, sometimes the depression subdues logic and I find myself staring at the ceiling trying to talk myself into getting up.
I pull the remote control off the headboard, pressing a button as I swing it over my head and aim it towards an old wooden chest at the foot of my bed. A hi-tech television rises slowly through the lid of the chest, lighting up with footage from a news channel. I quickly mute the sound and roll out of the bed.
Breakfast is one of those routines I created to help fool myself into believing I am normal. I do not need to eat, so I choose food based purely on what tastes nice. Eating is a hobby that serves no purpose other than enjoyment. I am also a big tea drinker. I have a cupboard full of teas from around the world and I savour every cup.
My kitchen is modern, but with an old-style appearance. The Belfast sink has a waste disposal unit underneath and the Rayburn oven is computer controlled and also feeds the central heating radiators around the house. The computer-controlled light switches are styled like 1930s switches and can be programmed to switch lights on and off automatically. I have a lot of computer-controlled devices in my house. Perhaps my memories of the nineteenth century allow me the kind of hindsight that modern generations lack when it comes to personal comforts. You don’t know what it’s like to be cold until you have slept in a house with no double-glazing, damp-proofing, or central heating in the middle of winter, with only ordinary blankets to keep you warm.
With such memories clear in my mind, I have perhaps over-compensated with regards to the comfort in my Georgian house. It has under-floor heating throughout the ground floor, especially needed in the kitchen where the ceramic floor tiles always feel cold, climate control throughout the entire house, solar panels, a wind generator, self-cleaning glass in the windows and computer controlled doors, windows, heating and lighting, etcetera.
The climate control is vital for the safekeeping of my antiquities, which I have collected over the years. Paintings and artwork hang around the house, along with a couple of tapestries, whilst my really special artefacts are stored in an underground bunker, built under the library. The bunker is bombproof, fireproof and waterproof and has a sophisticated alarm system that keeps the contents safe. I’d like to think that my home is secure.
Sitting at the kitchen breakfast bar, I needlessly dwell on how mundane my life becomes when I stop actively pursuing excitement. It is at this point I usually head down into the bunker to remind myself of the interesting events that have happened in my life. However, as I sit waiting for the coffee percolator to finish brewing coffee, I become aware of someone in the kitchen with me.
Startled, I jump to my feet and turn to see a man standing nearby, facing the wall. It is as though he is a shop mannequin, except he is almost transparent. The hairs on the back of my neck stand on end as I experience that feeling of uncertainty and dread that comes with the realisation that someone has broken into my private Fort Knox.
I step slowly towards the man, whose back is facing me and I can see the tea cabinet on the wall through his body. I don’t believe in ghosts, because I am content with the rational explanations offered by logical thinking intellects. However, I cannot think of a logical reason as to why a semi-transparent man is standing in my kitchen with his back to me.
“Hello?” I say. The man does not reply. I step closer to him and place my hand on his back, only to find that he is not solid. My hand feels cold as it enters his body. I recoil and step back in case he reacts.