“You’re going to die!”
Although that sounds like a line from a thriller, it’s just a basic truth that applies to every one of us—barring some miracle of science or the discovery of the Fountain of Youth. Despite its universal truth, death tends to terrify us. Although that terror serves a purpose in keeping us safe, financing roller coasters, and enriching authors such as Stephen King, it can also immobilize us, cause depression and anxiety, and ruin our lives.
I imagine myself being interviewed at age, say 102, and being asked to what I credit my longevity. I’d reply, “My terror of death.” I believe it is terror that has kept me safe from many harms throughout my six or so decades of living, including self-harm—someone terrified of death simply can’t seriously contemplate suicide, no matter how depressing life might seem. I also could never bungee jump, drive at an excessive speed, take the quad up a steep hill, or inject heroine.
Years ago, I wrote a non-fiction book about the science of death, cataloguing my research into the rational aspects of birth, death, reincarnation, alternate universe, cloning, stem cells, the nature of time, etc. It was never published, but remains a source of inspiration.
Now, I want to write a fictional account of mortality. My hope is that my characters can somehow uncover the true nature of life and death, a truth that has always eluded me. I’ve started the book, but have been hung up for some time. Just as in real life, once I needed definitive answers about death, the words quit coming.
The premise of my story is that immortal beings arrive on earth to study man’s mortality only to come to the terrifying realization that they, too, are now mortal.
“You are going to die!” some cloaked figure cackles from the darkness. “You are going to die.”
“Age-related atrophy…” the medical report reads.
“Pre-arranged funerals!” the ads scream.
“Senior discount?” the teller asks.
“Nana! Nana!” the grandson shouts.
“When I die, I want you to…” the husband says.