At first it was no different than being mortal. Jerry didnít realize he was going to live forever until he never died.

When he was a child Jerry had trouble in school. Time seemed to move so slow it was like it wasnít moving at all. Every minute felt like an hour and every hour felt like a day and every day felt like a hundred thousand years. Time felt so slow because Jerry was thinking so much and wanting so much. He was always thinking about something and wanting something or two things or everything, so in kindergarten he couldnít sit still when he was supposed to sit still and he couldnít recite the alphabet when he was supposed to recite the alphabet because he was thinking about what it would be like to go swimming in a lake if all the water floated up into a ball because there was no more gravity because Earth had started spinning too fast because of global warming, and he wanted to swim in this ball of water much more than he wanted to learn the alphabet. So his parents gave him pills that made him think less and want less. The less he thought and wanted, the faster time went, and pretty soon Jerry was a teenager and didnít think about things like zero-gravity swimming anymore. Instead he thought about rock music and the vaginas of all his classmates, and he threw away all his old spaceship toys because he wanted his classmates to think he was cool and grownup so they would let him have sex with their vaginas.

It seemed to take forever before anyone would let Jerry have sex with their vagina, it felt like a hundred thousand years, but finally one day Jerry got a girl to think he was cool and grownup by smoking a cigarette in front of her, so she took him out into the woods behind the school to have sex. But when Jerry finally had sex it didnít feel as good as it had felt in his imagination for all those hundreds of thousands of years, it was brief and disappointing, and this made Jerry wonder if his whole life was going to be disappointing.

 

Jerry had a girlfriend in high school named Mary. He hadnít loved the girl heíd had sex with in the woods behind the school but Mary was much prettier and much smarter and Jerry loved Mary almost as much as people in movies love each other. When he was about to graduate from high school he decided he should marry Mary, but Mary died in a car crash on her way home from a party because her friend was drunk, and Jerry graduated from highschool and went to college and forgot about her.

In college Jerry stopped taking his pills because he wanted to think more and want more so that time would slow down. He was eighteen years old and college was so much fun he never wanted it to end. He got as drunk as Maryís friend every single night but he never crashed his car or killed anyone, he never even got pulled over by the police, and he had sex with so many vaginas he couldnít even believe it. Sex never felt as good as he used to imagine it feeling, but all the girls told him he was very good at it because he could do it as long as they wanted, for hours and hours, even though eventually he would start to get bored. When he got bored while having sex he would start thinking about what it would be like to fall into a black hole, because time would get slower and slower as you went deeper and deeper and eventually you would think it had stopped completely, except by that point you would be dead, which would be okay because it would be pretty terrible to live inside a black hole forever, because there would be no light and no sound and no anything, and not only would that be more boring than having sex for six hours with someone you donít love, it would be lonelier.

 

By the time Jerry was a Junior in college all the vaginas started to look and feel the same to him, and he stopped trying to find vaginas to have sex with, even though it was easy for him because he was muscular and good looking and his hair was still not thinning even though his dad was completely bald. Instead of looking for vaginas to have sex with Jerry started reading books and watching movies in the theater, movies that none of his friends wanted to watch because there were no explosions or vaginas in them. He went to the movie theater by himself sometimes, which made the movies even better because he didnít have to stop himself from crying when he really wanted to cry, which was often, even in movies that werenít sad.

Jerry loved watching movies and he loved reading books, but sometimes he remembered how much he used to love looking for vaginas to have sex with, and he wondered if someday he would get bored of  books and movies like he had gotten bored of vaginas, and this made him wonder if eventually his whole life was going to be boring.

 

When Jerry graduated from college he was twenty-three but still looked eighteen. His brother was now bald like his dad but Jerry still had every hair and in fact none of his hairs ever fell out, not even in the shower, and there was no dust in his apartment even though he never dusted.

He used his college degree to get a job at a graphic design company and started making a lot of money doing work that he loved and was very good at. He designed album covers for famous rock bands and won prestigious awards from prestigious award-givers, and he used some of his money to help his brother buy a house big enough for his wife and three kids, but Jerry bought a bigger house for himself and lived in it by himself.

Jerry still loved reading books and watching movies but he didnít love them as much as he did before he started designing graphics, and now he had even less time to think about vaginas. He designed posters for famous movies starring famous actors, and made even more money. When he accepted awards for designing such good graphics, people couldnít help asking how old he was even though they knew it was rude, and when he told them he was thirty, some of them laughed heartily, some of them laughed awkwardly, and some of them didnít laugh at all.

 

When Jerry turned forty and still looked eighteen, scientists wanted to study him. He agreed to be studied because he was also curious, but the studies were very uncomfortable. The scientists filled him with chemicals and scanned his brain and sucked fluid out of his cells with long needles that hurt much more than the scientists said they would. But the scientists never figured out anything at all. They spent billions of dollars but did not learn even one useful thing by studying Jerry. So when they finally canceled their project all the scientists glared at Jerry like it was his fault, like he was hiding secrets from them that could save lives and help people, and even though Jerry knew he wasnít hiding anything he still felt bad, and this made him wonder if from now on his whole life was going to feel bad.

 

After everyone found out that Jerry wasnít getting older he became famous and didnít need to design graphics anymore. He went on talk shows and sold book rights and became so rich that he could do whatever he wanted. He didnít have to look for vaginas to have sex with anymore because everywhere he went, all the best vaginas would come to him and ask him to have sex with them because he was rich and famous and they were not. Some of them even wanted Jerry to put a baby inside them because they thought the baby would stay young forever like Jerry did, but Jerry didnít want to give them his babies. He had been thinking about his future, and he knew that if he was going to have a baby that would stay young forever, he wanted it to live with him and be his family, since his brother was getting old and his parents were almost dead. Jerry was starting to think he might be immortal, and he knew it would not be fun to be immortal alone. He wanted to make sure the vagina he put a baby into belonged to someone he could love as much as people in movies love each other, and he knew that he had plenty of time to find this person because he was forty and still looked eighteen. But when he turned forty-five his father died, and when he turned fifty his mother died, and when he turned fifty-five his brother was sixty but looked a hundred.

 

Because Jerry was rich and famous and possibly immortal he drank alcohol all the time and did every drug and never had hangovers and never got addicted to anything. No matter how much alcohol he drank and no matter how many drugs he did, he always woke up the next day feeling healthy and perfect. But after a few years alcohol stopped making him drunk and cocaine stopped making him high, and then he had to stop doing heroin because the needles were breaking against his skin. He rarely read books or watched movies anymore, he rarely thought about vaginas, and he had no reason to design any graphics for anyone, so he became bored and sad. One day when he was very bored and sad he tried to cut his arm with a knife, but he couldnít. It was like trying to cut rubber.

 

By the time Jerry was sixty and still looked eighteen, he was so rich and so famous that someone tried to kill him. He was sitting in his favorite coffee shop designing a book jacket for his own biography when a man he had never met before walked in and shot him in the head. Jerry fell off his chair but he felt fine. The bullet was squashed against his forehead. He peeled it off and threw it away and ran out of the coffee shop. He ran and ran. He ran through the whole city and ran all the way home, even though he had a limousine. Because of what happened in the coffee shop Jerry realized that he couldnít be killed, but he didnít tell anyone because he didnít want the scientists to start studying him again, and because he knew that once people found out he couldnít be killed, people would be trying to kill him for his whole life.

 

After the man shot him in the coffee shop Jerry stopped going on talk shows and stopped letting people write books about him. He felt strange and frightened and trapped so he started traveling. He thought that everything that was boring would become exciting if he was doing it in a different place. So Jerry drove and flew and sailed around the world and finally went to all the places he had always wanted to go. But after a few years all the different places started to look and feel the same to Jerry, and by the time he was seventy Jerry couldnít think of anywhere on Earth he still wanted to go. Sometimes while he was flying between places that were very different but still felt the same, Jerry wondered what it would be like if the plane went off course and crashed into the moon, and all the passengers died except him, so he was the only person alive on the whole moon, and he had to live there forever by himself because no one from Earth would ever come rescue him because no one would know he was there, and this made him wonder if his life on Earth was any different than his life on the moon. So when Jerry got home from traveling he decided he needed to fall in love.

 

Jerry had dated lots of girls when he was younger but except for Mary he had never loved any of them as much as people in movies love each other. Jerry decided the only way to find someone he could love was to meet as many people as he could, so he went to bars and went to concerts and went to church even though he didnít believe in church. He went to all the places people go and did all the things people do, but it was strange for Jerry because he was seventy but still looked eighteen, so everywhere he went, high school vaginas and college vaginas wanted him to have sex with them, but Jerry wasnít looking for vaginas anymore, he was looking for people, which were much, much harder to find.

 

It seemed to take forever before he finally found a person that he could love as much as people in movies love each other. It felt like a hundred thousand years, but it was really only thirty. When he was a hundred years old Jerry met a girl named Carrie. Carrie was forty but looked fifty. She was much prettier and smarter than Mary had been, even though she was older and had an older vagina, and Jerry realized that he hadnít really loved Mary as much as he thought he had, because now that he was a hundred years old he knew more clearly what it felt like to love someone, because he had met so many people he didnít love at all.

 

By the time Jerry met Carrie he was too famous to go out in public without everyone trying to have sex with him or kill him, so he gave his big house to his brother and bought a small house in the mountains and he and Carrie moved into the small house and lived there for the rest of Carrieís life.

When Carrie was fifty she asked Jerry to put a baby inside her, and Jerry said yes. Jerry hoped he would have a son, and that the son would stay young forever and Jerry would teach him how to grow old without growing old, and they would be friends for hundreds of years or thousands of years or however long they lived. But after having sex hundreds of times there was still no baby inside Carrie, and Jerry realized that there were no babies inside him to put inside her and that he was going to be alone soon, and a few days later his brother died. A few years after that, when Jerry was a hundred and fifty but looked eighteen, and Carrie was ninety but looked a hundred, Carrie died, too. Jerry always knew that Carrie would die before he did, since he knew that he would never die, but he had tried not to think about it. The less he thought about things the faster time went, so even though Jerry loved Carrie for fifty years, it only felt like one year, and Jerry wished it was the opposite.

 

When Jerry realized that his brother was dead and his parents were dead and Carrie was dead and Mary had been dead a very long time, Jerry tried to kill himself. He tried shooting himself but bullets squished against his forehead. He tried stabbing himself but knives bent against his heart. He tried jumping off buildings but the ground felt soft as mattresses to him no matter how high he jumped from. The last way he tried to kill himself was by sneaking into a factory and falling into molten metal like he had seen in a movie once, but this didnít work either. It hurt a little but it didnít kill him, it felt like sinking into very hot bathwater, and this made him wonder if his whole life was going to be like this, always hurting but never ending.

 

After Jerry realized that he couldnít kill himself, he stopped thinking about anything at all and time went by very fast. He never left his house in the mountains and after sleeping for twenty years and then sitting at his kitchen table until his chair rotted out from under him, he realized he didnít have to eat or drink anymore. He realized he was not only immortal but also immutable, his body couldnít be altered or affected by anything, ever, no matter what. So he lay in bed and didnít wake up even when his house collapsed on top of him. The house turned into dirt and grass grew in the dirt and Jerry slept under the dirt, feeling very bored and very sad.

 

When Jerry was five hundred and fifty but still looked eighteen, he woke up and dug his way out of the dirt. The sky was sunny and the air was warm and for some reason Jerry felt a little bit less sad, now that four hundred years had passed. He left his mountain house and went down into the city, but the city was gone. There was just a thick forest where the city used to be, and no matter how far Jerry walked he couldnít find any people or animals anywhere. He swam across the ocean to Africa, which took a very long time, but he still didnít find any people or animals, so he walked across Africa into Asia and then walked across Asia, which took even longer, but he still didnít find any people or animals. Jerry realized that everything on the Earth had died, and he was the only living thing left except for plants and trees. So he gave up looking for anyone or anything and just lay in the sun for a few centuries.

When he woke up he felt good. He ran across glaciers and deserts and climbed up and down mountains until his feet wore them down into sand and the mountains became deserts. He dug holes with his bare hands deep into the earth until he hit magma, then he built his own volcanoes and rode the lava high into the sky, and it was fun. Nothing hurt anymore, the lava didnít even sting like bathwater. But because nothing hurt nothing felt good either. His skin couldnít feel the sun or the grass. There was no food to taste and no rock music to listen to and no vaginas to have sex with, much less people to love, and because he had nothing to think about and nothing to want, he couldnít even feel time.

 

When Jerry was five billion years old but still looked eighteen, the sun died. It expanded into a red giant and everything on Earth burned up, and Jerry walked around on scorched black glass surrounded by flames. It reminded Jerry of how the preachers in the churches heíd visited while trying to find girls to date had described Hell, except that it didnít hurt at all, and he wondered if this is what it was like for God when God was designing Hell for the people he was planning to create, and Jerry realized that maybe it wouldnít seem so bad sending people to Hell if you didnít know how much it would hurt.

 

A few years later the Earth fell apart and Jerry floated in space for a while until he drifted into the heart of the sun. The heart of the sun was very bright and very hot but it still didnít hurt. Jerryís skin didnít burn or even tan, the hairs on his body didnít singe or even curl, and the hair on his head was still full and thick even in the heart of the sun, even though his dad and brother had gone completely bald.

A few years after the Earth fell apart, the universe collapsed. Everything pulled inwards around Jerry, but even though all the matter in the universe was pushing against him and wanting so badly to become an infinitely small point, it couldnít, because Jerry was there in the middle and Jerry was immutable. So the universe pressed itself around Jerry like very tight clothing until it was so thin that it didnít exist at all, and Jerry was the only thing left.

It felt strange to Jerry, being the only thing left in the whole universe. He floated there in pure nothingness for a long time and didnít think about anything or want anything. But eventually, when he was eight trillion years old and still looked eighteen, he was so bored and so lonely that he decided there should be a universe again, and since he was the only thing that existed, his thoughts were the same thing as reality, so a universe appeared.

 

It seemed to take forever for the new universe to form. It felt like a hundred billion years, but it was really only thirteen billion. Jerry floated in clouds of quarks and electrons until eventually there was matter and then gases and then planets. Jerry floated between planets for a long time until one of them pulled him in, and when he climbed out of his crater he felt surprise for the first time in forever because the planet looked like Earth, although it was a little different, and there were people that looked like humans, although they were a little different. This made Jerry start thinking about a lot of things, which made time slow down, and the more time slowed down the more Jerry wanted it to slow down, and the more he wanted things, the slower time moved, so eventually time was moving normally again, and Jerry was able to walk down into the city and meet the new people, who were a lot like the old people but a little different.

Jerry learned the new peopleís language and read their books and watched their movies and had sex with their vaginas, and after a few hundred years he met a girl who reminded him of Mary, although she was a little different. Jerry loved this new Mary almost as much as he had loved the old Mary, which was almost as much as people in movies love each other, and he realized that he wasnít the only thing that was immortal. Everything was immortal. Everything was going to keep happening forever and ever, except always a little different, and that made Jerry feel happy and sad, which was better than feeling bored and sad, so much better it was almost good, and this made him wonder if his whole life was going to be like this, happy and sad and good.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isaac Marion, 2010

isaacinspace@gmail.com

www.burningbuilding.com