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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2257763
An offer of eternal life is an offer too good to turn down. Screams, 9/3/2021.

He offered me eternity and I laughed. I mean what else could I do? To all outward appearances he was a normal guy but by saying those words he'd proved himself to be... cuckoo.

"You might laugh," he'd gone on to say, "but I'm serious. I have the power to give you eternal life."

I'd looked for a crack in his apparent earnestness. The hint of a smile in his eyes; a forced element in his straight face. There was none. Whether it was true or not he seemed to truly believe it.

There had to be a price to such an extravagant gift. "Okay," I'd said, not bothering to cover the doubt in my voice. "How much is this... eternity... going to cost me?"

"Nothing other than your companionship through the rest of my life."

"But... we don't love each other," I'd pointed out.

"No, but we are friends. The very best of friends. Besides, you'll have the rest of forever to find your perfect soulmate."

He'd made it sound so easy but still I'd hesitated. "Can I think about it?"

He'd nodded. "But only until this time tomorrow otherwise the offer is off and me, as much as I enjoy your company, well, I'll have to go in search of someone else."

I didn't have much of a chance to think about the offer until later that night. Eternal life. Wasn't that what so many alchemists and others too had devoted their lives to find, dying when they each failed in their endeavors? And there he was, offering it for more or less free. We got on okay; I'd have no problem of spending a portion of my endless life in his company. There would be so many opportunities in my endless life. I'd get to see things that no one else alive now would see.

I'd be a fool to turn the offer down.

The following day he had been waiting for me as arranged. After our normal greeting he had looked at me and asked: "Well? Have you decided?"

"Yes, I've made up my mind, and I accept your offer. What do I have to do?"

He had wrapped his arms around me and held me close. The action had made me nervous. Had I made the right decision? Was I going to be put through some painful process to accomplish the changes needed to give me eternal life? Was he sorry for asking me?

But no, it was nothing like that. He had reached into his pocket and pulled out a tiny flask which he then passed to me. "Drink it all straight down."

My hand had shaken as I lifted the flask to my lips. The contents hadn't steamed or fizzed or done anything else unusual. The potion tasted of whisky sweetened with honey, with a hint of something else that I couldn't put a name to. After I'd emptied the flask I'd returned it. "Is that it?"

He'd nodded, taken my hand and accompanied me home to pack my belongings. I would be spending the rest of his life as his constant companion, and then, once he had moved on, I'd be free to do whatever I wanted.

He was older than me by ten years but he aged well. I could not help noticing that I aged too, and not so well as him either. My face became wrinkled just like his did, my auburn hair grew paler as the streaks of grey increased.

One day I had confronted him. "All those years ago, when you offered me eternity, it was all a big con, wasn't it. You just didn't want to grow old alone."

He'd coughed, and it left him gasping, breathless. The signs were that he was not going to be around much longer. He shook his head. "No, it was true. I offered you eternity and that's what I delivered."

"But look at me. I'm old."

"I never said you would not age, just that you would live forever." Another fit of coughing silenced him and just after that his heart gave out and he had died.

What was I going to do? That question plagued me all through the mourning, the funeral, and on through the following years. The few acquaintances we had began dying too, and although I became frailer, sicker, I continued to survive.

It was only after I had tried to end my suffering several times that I realized something. The alchemists had not been searching for eternal life but eternal youth! How could I have been so stupid not to have thought of that at the time?

He knew. Of course he did. Otherwise he would have drunk that cursed potion himself. My body is beginning to fall apart, decaying on my bones. I have not eaten or drunk for years and still I am alive... if you can call this agonizing existence living.

Each night I stare up at the sky begging eternity to end, but nobody answers and my suffering goes on and on.

(842 words)

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