At Peace. Short Story.

This life isn’t as bad as you would think. It isn’t that pleasant, but it could always be much worse. I have it better than a lot of people, I’m healthy, get a lot of attention from both sexes, ok I mightn’t be able to move all that much, or that far, but it’s preferable to a lot of the options that are out there. I get a lot of admiration, I’m never hungry or thirsty, I’ve lived a pretty long life and will probably life for a good while longer still. I might not be able to travel yet, but I’ve still seen plenty in my life. Every day brings something new. You would think living as I do I would become jaded after a short while, feel that I’ve seen it all, that everything is the same at the end of the day and while some may believe that is true, I don’t. Everything is different, there are billions of different variations and I’m always interested to see how things turn out.

Of course, had I not chosen this I may feel a little differently, in fact, I think if this was done against my will, it would be maddening. I’ve seen it before, those who don’t have a choice never last long at what ever is decided for them. It isn’t that bad of a life, as I have said. I’ve been here for a long time, I’m not quite sure how long though, time passes differently when you’re like this. Sometimes I can just…switch off. There is no other way to explain it. I’m here then I’m gone. Surrounded by blackness. It’s like a dreamless sleep. Sometimes it can be nice, it lets your brain relax, it lets you calm yourself. Once I’m in that state everything fades away completely. I always thought that is what I will do when my time comes to an end, it will be more peaceful that way. It takes a while to learn how to switch off, it only comes after complete peace and contentment has been reached. Some find it quickly, others it takes longer. When it happens there is no telling how long you are gone for, I haven’t learned to control it, I don’t know if others have. I always thought that it was some kind subconscious decision, something that tells you to go back to the world.

It wasn’t anything strange or mystical that led me to this place though I think that others wouldn’t see it that way. I woke up as usual and started my day. I showered and dressed, then I went downstairs for breakfast. The house was completely empty. It was strange, I didn’t like it. My wife had died the year before, with both of our children. People seemed to think I was doing well, that I was dealing with the problems and moving on, but I wasn’t. Not really. How could I? How does one even begin to move on after everything they love is ripped away? That was a question I couldn’t answer. I had returned to work, that was the only way my life returned to normalcy. I no longer saw the people I was friends with, I couldn’t bear to think of it, to be with them reminded me too much of my old life. So I would go to work, do what needed to be done, then go home to an empty house, where I would wander from room to room, lost in memories, that was all I had left. I was eating breakfast, what it was I do not remember, and reading the paper when I saw the advertisement. I don’t know why I thought to respond to it, really, I had no idea what it would lead to. The ad wanted volunteers. I had nothing but free time. I wanted to do something that would help ease my mind. You couldn’t think when you were busy. I didn’t want to think then, thinking was too painful, too terrible. Thinking was the enemy.

It’s funny how things change.

I rang the number on the ad and I was told to be at an address at a particular time. I figured that if worst came to worst I could always leave. After all nothing dangerous could happen, it was advertised in a newspaper. Of course nothing dangerous would happen. I went to work as usual, but instead of going home to my empty house, I went to the address I was given.

The front of the building was plain enough, there was a small sign with the companies name, and no, I can’t tell you want it was. As I approached I wondered what exactly I would be volunteering for. It looked like an office building, as I knocked on the door I decided that they handed out assignments here. Maybe they would give me a form to fill in, one that would list my skills or hobbies or what I would prefer to do. A short man opened to door, and after getting my name, he let me in. I was a little weirded out at first. The entire place was filled with them, so many, all in different positions and staring, endlessly staring at me. There was a desk in the centre of the room and they all faced it. The man walked to the desk and I followed. We took our respective seats and he smiled at me. “You probably have a few questions about what exactly you will be volunteering for, but don’t worry, I shall explain it in a moment. I first want to assure you that you can stop at any time up to the end process, once that happens it is irreversible. You will be given some time to consider it of course, we cannot be said to have rushed you into it, after all, it wouldn’t be right.” He gestured to them all, “You will become like them. Beautiful, immortal.” He explained the process to me, explained that it wouldn’t be painful, that I would be doing a service for the world. Really I didn’t understand it then, I still don’t. All I know is that he was right and I made the right choice. It was difficult, more difficult that I had thought. I quite my job and got my affairs in order. I sold my home and donated the money to charity. I wouldn’t need any of it any more. It was much harder saying goodbye to the house than I had expected. That was the worst part of it all. I was told it wouldn’t be painful, but that turned out to be a lie. It was painful, but it was never that bad.

I don’t really remember how it happened, I just remember the pain, it was intense, but I don’t think it lasted too long. It was a traumatic experience, but I was warned that would be the case. It took me a while to get situated, they left me in the room that I had first entered, surrounded by them. They reassured me, talked me through it, explained things. They were kind to me. Well, most of them were, the ones in the corner were horrifying. Screaming endlessly. The others explained it to me though and I came to pity the poor lost souls. I didn’t last long in the building, I didn’t need to. They moved me soon after the transformation, out here, to this park. It is nice here, I like it most when it is sunny, I am warm then. The cold doesn’t bother me, but I like the warmth. I think I look better in the sun, when it shines down on the park, it makes everything brighter, it makes my skin glow in the light. I like being here. It is nice. Watching over everyone, sometimes people come to sketch me, others take photographs. He was right, I am beautiful, I am more than I was. More than I could ever have hoped to be. Linked in my hands are theirs. I’m with them, though they are not like me, they look like my family did. On my right side she holds my hand, on the left a child holds my other hand. They gave them to me, a loving family, forged from metal.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 24 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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