A Short Story by Ehtisham Rizvi
The loud and clear voice most definitely came from the orb sitting in the middle of the room. The orb shone brightly. So brightly it was almost as if a smaller version of the sun was in the room, only without the heat. Worried if he stared at it for too long he would go blind, Kamal covered his eyes with his hands and started speaking.
“So it is true. The orb of immortality exists.”
He read about the orb in an old untitled book he had found in his travels. He tried doing further research about the orb, but to no avail. The book mentioned a powerful ancient civilization where the orb was worshiped and where it granted immortality to the most worthy men. Not being able to find anything about the orb on the internet or anywhere else, Kamal decided to search the ruins of all ancient civilizations. Now that he was standing in a basement type room of an ancient ruin in Egypt with the orb just a couple of feet away, his search was over.
“Why do you wish for immortality?” The orb repeated the question.
“Doesn't every man?” Kamal answered with a question of his own and then continued to explain his motivations.
“I want to travel the world. I want to see humanity progress. I want to write great books, learn different languages, climb every mountain, swim every ocean, make love to beautiful women, and live a fearless life without ever worrying about getting old. If you grant me immortality, I would accomplish greatness and achieve true happiness.”
“You are the first of your kind.” The orb sounded intrigued. “Ages ago, they achieved greatness first and then asked for immortality as a reward. When their civilization fell to ruin, I hid myself from mortal eyes and vanished into obscurity. The immortals I created see their immortality as a curse. You are different, but you are lying. Tell me the true reason behind your quest for immortality.”
Kamal knew it was time to come clean. He was dealing with a magical glowing orb of light that could make people immortal, so making it angry was not a great idea. His true motivation was embarrassing, but he had no other option but to tell.
“When I was a teenager, I was severely depressed. My mother died a long time ago and my father was always away on business trips. I had all the money in the world but I was miserable. I was contemplating suicide, but then my uncle died and I had to be part of all his burial rituals. They took him to a room where they stripped him of his clothes and bathed him. I was freaked out. I simply do not want my relatives and a couple of strangers seeing my dead naked body, and to avoid that, I want to be immortal.”
“That is the stupidest reason for wanting immortality I have ever heard.” It was hard to tell whether the orb was angry or amused. This time around its voice was devoid of emotion.
“I have decided. I will grant you immortality.” Kamal breathed a sigh of relief but his woes were not over yet.
“Have you brought me a sacrifice?” The orb asked, this time its voice was clearly giddy.
“Sacrifice?” Kamal was confused. The book never said anything about a sacrifice.
“You need to bring me a human baby, or a virgin girl, or both. I need you to sacrifice at least one innocent human life in my name, and I will grant you immortality.”
“I…I cannot do that.” Kamal wanted to become an immortal but he would never hurt anyone to achieve something he wanted, even if that thing meant the world to him.
The orb seemed to glow a little less. The silence seemed to go on forever until the orb broke it.
“It has been decided. You will be the immortal AND the sacrifice.”
The orb turned blood red, its light seemed to disappear, and all Kamal could hear was this strange yet familiar beeping noise.
Beep beep…beep beep…
The noise from the machine came at equal intervals. His heart rate seemed to be normal. His clothes were clean. There was a bouquet of fresh flowers on the side table. The nurse looked up from her book, made sure everything was okay, and dove right back into the story where the stable boy was about to put the moves on the lady of the house. Before she could become completely immersed in the story again, she was disturbed by a knock on the door. It was the other nurse.
“I didn't realize my shift was over.” She smiled and let the other nurse in.
“Yes, time just flies by here because he is such a chatter box.” The other nurse was never short on sarcasm.
“Why are they doing this to him anyway?” She continued. “The guy practically has no brain function. Just because they have the money and the technology doesn't mean they can torture people like this.”
“He is the only son of the richest man in the country. He has got him plugged in because he expects scientists to come up with a cure. Try having kids and try saying good bye to them, it’s not easy. ”
“But how long can they keep him like this? They don’t even know what’s wrong with him.” The other nurse was strongly in favor of pulling the plug, but it wasn't her call.
“With today’s technology and his father’s money? Forever!”