All of Eternity

It had been over a century since he had last seen another human being. Having been alive for so long, he doubted he even counted as a human being himself anymore. Maybe he never was.

He sat down with a cup of tea. It grew in the backyard of the house. Other people used to live here with him, but humans were now extinct. The last few years had been hard on the dwindling population. Staring the end of your kind in the face was an unenviable position. The only thing worse that he could imagine was staring at eternity alone.

On the table in front of him was an ancient handgun. It had sat in the same position seemingly forever, its layer of dust growing thicker by the year. It was stupid, he knew, but he had left it there to remind himself of the futility it represented. He had used it years ago, after the last person had died. The gun still worked, but the bullet didn’t kill him. It hadn’t even hurt him.

When others were around, he enjoyed his long life. There were always new things to discover, new people to meet. Then infertility became more and more a problem. Disease took its toll. Within just a couple hundred years humans went from the dominant animal on the planet to an endangered species. Now his life was nothing more than a burden.

After the gun failed, he tried other methods to escape his isolation. Knives didn’t cut his skin. Pills passed right through him. Suffocation didn’t even cause him to lose consciousness. The cold of the South Pole and the heat inside a volcano were merely irritating. He simply wouldn’t die.

After traveling everywhere, he finally settled down near the place he had grown up so long ago. Starvation and dehydration were nothing to him, but he managed to care for a small garden that provided food he ate out of habit. Days and years blurred, and he found himself sleeping more and more. At least that relief was not denied him.

He expected to go mad. Under the circumstances, who wouldn’t? Yet he was impervious even to mental illness. All that was left was to learn everything he could. Collecting books from libraries and anywhere else he could find them, he taught himself everything about science and philosophy. He began conducting his own experiments.

At first, it was merely something to do, but slowly, a purpose began to take shape. He began to study his own physiology as best as he could. Learning about himself grew into discovering the secret to his own death. He used every type of scanner humanity had developed, and even invented new ones. After a century of study, all his research merely confirmed his original observation: he was immune to death.

Once he accepted that, his mind began to change. It had to. If both insanity and death were out of his reach, there was no other choice. His thoughts turned outward, to the rest of the universe. In spite of all of humanity’s achievements, they had never discovered extra-terrestrial life. He realized that if he did nothing, he would be here when the sun destroyed the Earth and would spend the rest of eternity floating in the void. So he turned to rocketry.

Years of learning passed, and even more for building, experimenting, failing, and starting over. It didn’t matter how long it took; it was all he had. After countless crashes, the day came when he managed to launch and escape the atmosphere. He looked at the Earth as it quickly receded from him. There was no way to know where he was headed, but at least it was somewhere.

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