Immortal and the Island of Impossible Things (The Immortal Series Book 4), page 1
Immortal and the Island of Impossible Things
About the Author
Also by Gene Doucette
Immortal and the Island of Impossible Things
By Gene Doucette
Copyright © 2016 Gene Doucette
All rights reserved
Cover by Kim Killion, Hot Damn Designs
This book may not be reproduced by any means including but not limited to photocopy, digital, auditory, and/or in print.
Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises, sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices that, if I then had waked after long sleep, will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming, the clouds methought would open and show riches Ready to drop upon me that, when I waked, I cried to dream again.
Caliban, from The Tempest, William Shakespeare
Things Slow Down
Sunlight broke through the east-facing side of the house right on schedule, which woke us up more efficiently than any alarm clock or rooster might, and more permanently than I would have preferred.
By most metrics, I’m not a morning person. I probably used to be, back before we—as a species—had houses, but it’s hard to know this for sure because my memory isn’t absolutely 100% perfect when it comes to the first fifty thousand-odd years of my life.
This is potentially an act of self-preservation on the part of my brain, which is a normal human brain that was never (I’m guessing) meant to hold this much history in it. It’s also possible that there just weren’t a lot of memorable things going on in the nomadic life of the hunter-gatherer I used to be, so nothing made a real impression. I remember that we ate a lot and hunted a lot and slept only a little, and moved around all the time, so it was basically one long and terribly boring road trip story, and nobody enjoys boring road trip stories. Including, evidently, my long-term memory.
If I had any say in this arrangement, the sunlight would’ve had no way of reaching me in the bedroom, and I could have woken up on my own schedule. This sun-free bedroom would have also been located inside of a nice, safe interior space where predators couldn’t find me. But this was one of the many arguments I lost preemptively, by never actually raising the issue when we first moved.
The house had an open floor plan, by which I mean there were almost no walls. This included walls to the outside. I’m not even kidding. There were gestures here and there suggesting the existence of a wall, but these were more like abstract representations. Prop walls, almost, like what stage designers do in the theater when they want to indicate a character is indoors, but they still want the audience to see the actors.
What we had was little sturdier than theater props, but that was about the best thing I could say about them, especially since I’ve never known a wild animal to be all that respectful of fourth-wall realism.
I was much more fond of the roof, which was stellar. I have always been a strong supporter of a solid roof, the kind that kept out sunlight and rain with equal efficiency, and also didn’t fall when there was too much rain or snow.
Our roof did all of that just fine. Not that it mattered too much because if it was raining and windy at the same time all the rain from the outside skirted right past the hypothetical walls and coated the living room with a thin mist. This happened often enough that we had to waterproof all of the electronics. As for snow, we were in a place where that didn’t happen. I assumed the roof would handle it okay, though.
It didn’t rain very often, either, not really. And if I’m going to be completely fair about the whole setup, there was a way to close off the interior. It’s just that doing so was sort of involved—there were partitions that swung down from the roof and interlocked with the partial walls—so it didn’t happen often.
If a typhoon ever struck the island, though, we had hatches to batten down. According to all of the island’s long-term residents, no typhoon had ever made landfall here, but in my mind that just meant it was overdue.
By the time I was awake enough to register the sunlight, Mirella had already been up for at least an hour. She was in the kitchen—or rather, the part of the very large room in which we lived, where we installed kitchen-like products and marble countertops—brewing cappuccino on the loud machine she had flown in from wherever expensive coffeemakers were hatched.
“Wake up, Adam, the day is half over,” she said without turning.
She always knew when I was awake, even when I wasn’t sure yet myself.
I could tell she’d been up for at least an hour because her hair was wet. She was wearing an oversized white t-shirt, and her long black hair was draining down the back of it, which made a portion transparent, which only proved she had nothing on underneath the shirt, in case there was any question about that. This meant she’d already had her morning swim.
“I prefer the days that start at sundown,” I said, putting a pillow over my face. I couldn’t remember if I drank the night before or not, but my head seemed to think that yes, I had. Many times in my life this would not have been a question that required asking, but I was trying to cut back.
“Stop thinking like a hunter,” she said, sitting down on the bed to put a cup of coffee on the table next to my face.
I wasn’t thinking like a hunter, but it wasn’t worth saying so. I was thinking like a drunk who knew the best bars weren’t much of anything before sundown. Plus the hunter-gatherer in me knew daytime was when to hunt. Night was when we hid.
Mirella wouldn’t know that, though. She was used to being a top-of-the-food-chain predator, which meant hunting at night. Like most modern people, she had no real experience being prey.
“Drink, and wake up,” she said, referencing the coffee. “We have nothing to do today.”
“Then why do I have to wake up?”
“You have to be awake to appreciate that you have nothing to do. You already do nothing when you sleep.”
“I can think of at least three philosophers who would be having a seizure right now.”
A quick kiss, and then she left, confident I could handle the rising-from-bed part alone.
My wake-up process was considerably less involved than hers. I only needed a cup of coffee and a toilet, and both of those were indoors. I’d have considered going for a swim, maybe, but… well, we didn’t have a pool. We had an ocean, and it wasn’t all that easy to get to.
* * *
There are times when I look at things and wonder how they might be interpreted by an archeologist in the future. You might do the same, except posit an alien attempting to examine us from afar. I tend to go with archeologist because that’s in line with my own life experiences. Specifically, I am often at odds with archeologists who look at places I used to live or visit an
Anyway. If a scientist in the future or an alien hovering in lower orbit were to examine the floor plan of our house they might come to the conclusion that the bathroom was the most important part, only because it was at the center, and everything radiated from the center.
There were a couple of reasons why this was so. First, it was the only fully enclosed part of the building. No windows, just four walls that went straight up through the middle like a chimney, doing double-duty in supporting the roof at its highest point.
Ironically, this was the one part of the house I could have lived with having a window in. It wasn’t like Mirella and I had any consistent company, and we were intimate enough to not worry all that much about clothing in any other part of the house, much less outside. But the bathroom was the one place she was extremely private about, to a degree that bordered on scary. It’s possible goblins have a particular anatomical concern that requires full privacy, but I’d seen all of her parts so I’m thinking this was not the case. I’m thinking this was a woman thing.
Oh, Mirella’s a goblin. I’ll get to that in a little while, but just so nobody’s operating under an incorrect assumption, goblins are human-looking enough to be mistaken as humans on a daily basis. This is a not the movie version of a goblin we’re talking about, (it doesn’t matter which movie, they all get it wrong) and thank goodness for that.
The second reason for the bathroom’s location had to do with the plumbing. Our central plumbing was very much central. It was also extremely limited, and involved a septic tank that had to get cleaned out every six months by a man from the bottom of the island to whom we paid a tremendous amount of money on account of him being the only guy within two hundred miles willing to do something like that. He was maybe the second- or third-richest person on the island as a consequence. It was probably not worth it.
The building constructed around the bathroom was roundish, and consisted of multiple platform levels that corresponded to the uneven surface beneath the house, and the entire property was up on stilts to allow for rain from the higher points on the west side to make it over the cliff face on the east side without taking the building along.
A reasonable conclusion might be that a house already on stilts could also be a house with a flat floor, but whoever built the place didn’t much care for this logic. Or something. I don’t really know what the thinking was, but it worked because the various one-step platform levels allowed us to differentiate the rooms without resorting to having walls. Also, each platform was independently supported, making the entire structure the kind of sturdy one can appreciate when living at the top of a cliff.
After the necessary bathroom duties—I won’t bother to describe them, but let’s give another shout-out to my favorite invention, indoor plumbing—I refilled my coffee and met Mirella on the eastern side of the deck.
There was a deck around three quarters of the house: north, east, and south. The western side was the ostensible “front” of the building, which was where a gigantic boxy SUV and two ATVs lived. We had a front door there, which was probably the most entertaining part of the property: a door in a frame with a path leading up to it, with no walls on either side of the frame. Well, all right, there was a quarter-wall, and since the house was raised it would take a little effort to climb from the ground over the quarter-wall and inside, but still.
We were comically under-prepared for a frontal assault is what I’m saying. It was a wonder I was able to relax there at all.
Mirella was at one of the wood tables, looking out over the ocean, and eating sliced fruit from a bowl. For convenience, I’m defining outside as absent a roof overhead.
“It’s going to be a nice day,” she said, without turning.
“Are you sure? I think I see a cloud over there.”
The sky was utterly, perfectly blue, so this was a joke. Mirella didn’t laugh, but that wasn’t something she was necessarily known for.
“No clouds,” she said. “And, I never noticed before… on days like this it’s nearly possible to see the sky curve with the Earth at the edge of the horizon.”
“I can’t see it.”
“I have better eyes. Hard to believe your people thought the world was flat.”
“Yes, humans. Your tribe, old man.” This was said with a smile, no less charming for the knife in her hand. She was using it to carry fruit pieces to her mouth, as one might with a fork or one’s fingers. Goblins like knives; it’s kind of their thing.
“Literally nobody thought the world was flat,” I said. “Nobody who ever sailed a boat, anyway.”
If you watch a sailboat disappear over the horizon the mast is the last thing to disappear. Thus, the Earth is curved. Everybody knew this, at least since there have been boats with masts.
“The Bible says the earth is flat,” she said. “So does the Koran.”
“Well, those authors didn’t get out much.”
“Tshhh,” she said, which was really just a sound she made with her mouth more than it was a word. “You should take a swim.”
“I’d rather a shower.”
“The water’s low. A swim is a better idea.”
“We can get more water.”
She raised an eyebrow at me, which is exactly as close as we ever get to a real argument. We were either doing something right or I was just too worried about pissing off possibly the deadliest person alive over a minor domestic inconvenience.
“It’s not going to rain today, you should at least check the tank,” she said, standing. “I feel like another swim. I wish you’d join me.”
“I’ll walk down later.”
She took off the shirt, and as I said, she had no clothing on underneath.
I gawked. I wish I could say I had some sort of control over this, but I really didn’t, even after seeing her naked just about every day since we’d moved in together.
She noticed, of course. I think maybe my jaw actually unhinged on these occasions. She treated me with a dazzling smile that was so excellent it managed to draw my eyes from the rest of her. She could give that smile to anybody, whether clothed or not, but so far as I could tell I was the only one who ever got it.
“You’re sure? The water’s perfect. It would take you forever to walk down.”
“Positive. But that is a very compelling argument you’re giving me.”
She threw me the shirt, then walked to the edge of the cliff and jumped off.
* * *
I think more than anything else, the cliff was what sold Mirella on the property. And, since it was technically her money that bought the place, the opinion of any cohabitants who may find a Jacuzzi more compelling than a cliff was largely ignored.
I say technically like there’s an argument to be had there, but that’s just me being petty, since I was the one who gave her the money and now I don’t have any of my own. I gave away everything, actually—she only got a little of it—in an effort to disappear completely, so it wasn’t like I misplaced it or gambled it away or had it stolen. I had no reason to be bitter about this because it was a conscious decision. And mostly I wasn’t bitter, because when you’re immortal, money is something you can always find time to get more of.
I wanted to disappear so people would finally just leave me the hell alone, and to that end it appeared to work. I do miss the money sometimes, though.
Having a lot of people trying to find you is the sort of thing that can happen when you’re the only immortal man on a planet full of rich people who want to be immortal, and scientists who want to figure out how to make rich people immortal. Sure, some of those scientists were inte
I guess I can understand the appeal from the perspective of a mortal, but to be totally honest, immortality isn’t all that fantastic. It’s better than not being immortal, but not a whole lot better. I’m pretty sure the only reason I’m still around is I’m too stubborn to kill myself.
Okay, that’s not really fair. There are other reasons to stay alive, like the days when the sky is a perfect shade of blue, the heat from the sun is offset by a nice ocean breeze, and my outrageously attractive girlfriend is taking off her clothes before it’s even noon. Those are the kinds of days I go back to when times are bad, to remind myself what good times look like.
The house was on the easternmost tip of the island. From the edge of the property—the cliff—it was possible to see most of the eastern beachfront. Just look left, and down, and behold the nice sandy beaches. I would have been fine with a house that opened up on one of those beaches, but this was nice too I guess. Just a different kind of nice: private enough that we had no problem walking about without clothing in a home with purely hypothetical walls; close enough to civilization so we weren’t going to die from some manner of privation. The only problem was that I preferred to walk down a steep, winding path that was only occasionally free of debris in order to get to the beach and the water, while Mirella liked to launch herself fifty feet off the cliff into what looked like rocky shoals. The water was about thirty feet deep at that point—the cliff jutted out—and it was probably perfectly safe to jump, but I’ve lived too long to die because I was wrong about something like that.
This, I suppose, was what happened when you took a professional killer like Mirella and relocated her to a place like this. She needed to put her life at risk every day, somehow, and diving off her own private cliff was as good a way as any. And if that wasn’t enough, she usually scaled the cliff face to get back to the top instead of walking around the beach to the path. She said she did it because she was naked, and scaling the cliff meant not being seen from the beach, but she had a perfectly good bikini in the house.
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