Statement of a man who had much to lose
Posted by Rich Magahiz Fri, 29 Apr 2011 16:26:00 GMT
The debilitating thing is the uncertainty of whether I have the gift at all. It is clear that my lifespan is increased relative to most people, diseases and poisons seem to have little lasting effect on me, and degenerative conditions which seem to be the common lot of those even much younger than myself are virtually unknown as far as my own health is concerned. In a sense, it is like trying to prove a negative: how can one be absolutely certain as to the truth of the proposition “I shall not die” except by means of amassing proof, slowly and incompletely, over time to the contrary? And who has time to gather up all this proof, except for one who devotes the whole of his attention to it in exclusion to all else?
I do have my doctors, some of whom I suspect of harboring interests in my condition (or perhaps non-condition) not strictly speaking in my own interests. Some of them are useful for treating the non-mortal afflictions that come, the ordinary aches and pains of mind and body, and those mostly earn their keep. Others are probably animated by an interest in the origin of my continued non-death, speaking on their observations and publishing articles and keeping busy the way that learned experts are accustomed to. Those are nothing more than parasites, who derive their sustenance from me without feeding directly off of me as a host. and to the extent that I can ignore them I cannot say that I have much quarrel with their continued presence. Then, finally, there are those who have an interest in the matter of a more active sort: the ones who are positive that I possess the key to immortality, which they wish to extract and market themselves, and those who grant that my long life does not represent a guarantee of such in the future, and look for seeds of my demise that they can cite earlier than anyone else. These are the experts who intrude into my peace of mind the most regularly, proposing tests and carrying out tedious observations and arguing with one another in my very presence so that I have had to put some of them out forcefully. And one of these was the aforementioned Maliafer, whom I have ample reason to suspect of wishing to cause my death.
He brought himself to my attention slowly, even tentatively at first, in among the swarm of other specialists and authorities charged with keeping the petty maladies from me. I do not even know the first time we met, though I assume that it was not the first time he set me in his sights as a lucrative subject to exploit. I started to notice his name being noised around among the others, “Dr. Maliafer this” and “Professor Maliafer is of the opinion of that” and so on, as if this individual possessed credentials of which I should already have taken note, as have the others. Quickly, it seemed, he seems to have taken over the leadership of the skeptics’ camp who call my extended lifespan a living death and dismiss the hopes of the immortality-believers as misguided and self-promoting fancies that must not be inflicted on a gullible world.
Maliafer: if I call you before my mind’s eye now, I can once again see your sneering face, your nasal, preening voice. I can still hear the way he came in one day and proposed that I be put to the test, I who have done no wrong ought to be put on trial for nothing at all, with my own destruction being weighed against what I call my “ever expanding doubt.” Hardly a fair contest, I call it. No mere academic exercise was this to be either – I was to become intimately acquainted with actual dangers, things that would either kill a man or scar him for life – and somehow this was to fulfill an obligation to the Greater Understanding of Mankind or something like that. He made it sound grand, in his way, and made me sound petty for saying that this Greater Understanding never did anything for me. It was a chromed torture chamber and nothing less, with instrumentation and readouts there to disguise that it at heart nothing more than a sadistic gang of boys with aid from mechanical cunning would have come up with, and they wanted me in it.
I am not without resources, naturally, or was not at that time, and fought back from my side. Some of the rabble of doctors were sympathetic to my view and perhaps they also feared losing their easy circumstances attending to my needs for the rest of their own lives. But though no one would tell me the truth outright, I could tell that Maliafer and his chrome box camp were going to win and I would have to give in to their curiosities, ultimately.
I was left with no choice. This, in fact, was my chief and only successful defense at my trial. For I did indeed reach out and conspire to have Maliafer, my enemy, taken down at a time and a place which could not be linked to me, not definitively, at the hands of men I have never met. It took a good fraction of my fortune, but it was done, and I was free to turn my back on the chrome torture box. But only for a short while, unfortunately.
Others rose up to accuse me, both in public opinion and through the courts, over and over again. By this time I was weak, even though (potentially) immortal, and my treasure and my allies were rapidly spent. In the end I took a deal and accepted a long sentence, here in the box where I sit. One of concrete, not chrome, where I keep this statement in case Maliafer was right.