Matthew Grimes lived alone. His wife had passed away several years ago, and his children now had lives of their own. Still in his early sixties, Matthew had retired, though not entirely voluntarily, from a successful run as a museum curator. Now, most days, he found himself not just alone, but lonely.
One evening a knock at the door interrupted the empty silence of the house. Matthew opened the door on a man he did not know but who seemed vaguely familiar. His hair was short and well-kept, and his age was impossible to determine. He wore dark slacks and a matching sport coat, though his white shirt’s top two buttons were undone.
“Good evening, Machali. Happy to see me?”
“I’m sorry, I think you must have the wrong house.” Matthew began to close the door, but the other man stopped him.”
“Pardon me. I apologize if I got your name wrong, but you are the person I need to speak with. May I come in?”
Matthew looked at him again, trying to decide whether he was a threat. There was really no reason to think so, but Matthew wasn’t sure what he should be looking for.
“What is this about?”
“I have some information for you, from an old friend. Something you need to know.”
“What information? What old friend?”
“Please, it’s best that I tell you inside. You may need to sit down.”
“Oh very well.” Matthew knew it was foolish to let a stranger in, but he found it difficult to care. His life had become a stagnant bore, so what did he really need to protect?
“Have a seat in the living room.” Matthew gestured to his right. “Would you like anything to drink?”
The other man nodded his appreciation as he walked through the doorway. “Some whiskey, if you have it.”
Matthew couldn’t contain a gruff chuckle. “Well, you’re straightforward. I’ll give you that.” He went into the kitchen and found two tumblers, into which he poured three fingers of his best bottle.
The man had taken a seat in one of a pair of armchairs. Matthew handed him one of the glasses and sat in the other chair.
“So. What do you have to tell me?”
“What name are you going by?”
“Going by? My name is Matthew. I don’t ‘go by’ any other names.”
“To start with, that’s not your name.”
“Of course it is.”
“No, it isn’t. You just think it is. In fact, you’re supposed to know all of this already. Unless I’ve got the date wrong.” The man shook his head to dismiss the thought. “This…” He gestured widely indicating the whole house. “… is all a facade. An identity you put on, to see how they lived. To understand them better. But you… You’re an immortal. And it’s time you woke up.”
“An immortal? You must be joking. Is this some sort of prank?”
“It’s no prank. You are Machali, one of the immortals. And you have been away from us long enough. I’ve come to bring you home.”
“This is insane. There are no such things as immortals. And even if there were, I am definitely not one of them.”
“I assure you, you are.”
“Well, if it’s all the same to you, I refuse. I don’t want to be one of your immortals. And I think it’s time for you to leave.”
“You misunderstand. I’m not offering immortality. And it doesn’t matter if you believe me or not. You are immortal. At some point, people around you are going to start noticing your failure to age. It’s better to end this now, before anyone starts asking questions.”
“No. Now please leave. I’ve listened to your tale. And you’re either crazy, or you think I am. I don’t want to have to call the police, but I will.”
“Fine, fine. I’ll go. But I will come back. You simply cannot stay forever.”
After the man left, Matthew reflected on what he had to say. It obviously wasn’t true, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that he knew that man from somewhere.
He sighed. The visit had broken up the monotony of the evening, yet it was so ridiculous. Best to forget about it. Still, the idea tugged at the back of his mind the rest of the night.