Musing: Cheating Death Looks Good on Paper but…

Max Von Sydnow Playing Chess with Death.

Cheaters never win, they just have more time…

I wanted to talk a moment about fighting the natural order.   My novel touches on a theme that has been touched on countless times in literature and every popular media in the world, cheating death.  While it seems awesome at a glance I’m trying to address the downside of immortality while retaining a mortal spin.   An immortal is someone that cannot die through one normal means or another, sometimes they are simply incapable of dying of old age, but can still be struck down.   Sometimes they are an invincible being.  No matter how much damage they endure they will come back for more.

I wanted to address someone that is neither and that has been done before as well.   It’s affectionately known at a Groundhog Day loop in some circles.  When this approach is taken, the hero or heroine can find the loop as a blessing initially and will abuse it.   Frequently the affected person will do things they couldn’t do with unlimited time at their disposal and abusing information they shouldn’t know.  The ‘reset method’ is important to the tone of a story if the hero(ine) has a button that resets time it is instantly cheapened and the tone will likely take a humorous one.   Even the epiphany that leads to the realization that they are trapped within an inescapable loop is treated lightly.

In my story there isn’t a defined loop.  The power of the Dimanagul is as much a trap as it is a boon.   Derrek still ages normally and he has no means to trigger goddess statues manually.  He doesn’t do it intentionally.  Time only resets when he dies.   That means he only uses his power when he endures the final failure of the weak, Death.

Think for a moment how people die.   I challenge you to watch movies and read books where someone perishes.   Of all the ways one’s mortal coil can come to a close, think of how many of them are not instantaneous.  Even ‘instant death’ is questionable.   What does a person really endure when they die?  Up to the point where we are no longer a living human being I mean.

Now that I have your attention, think for a moment what it would be like to endure death a second time.   If you’ve ever heard anyone talk about near death experiences and how scary they are, imagine that in a pure form.  Imagine not being able to forget it.

Think of a traumatic experience you might have endured personally and how hard it was to get past that.   Now imagine having dozens of those memories that you could remember more clearly than the face of your mother.  One of two things would likely happen, you would either start to go crazy, or you would begin to de-value death.  At some point you would likely no longer consider yourself merely a person.  You would elevate yourself to something beyond that.

Dying is something that makes us men.  Life is precious because we only have one life.

This is the focus I’ve placed on Derrek’s dilemma.   I am curious to know what others would do when faced with it.  Being so in touch with death with a mortal body also invokes a new level of the mortal fear.   How can you face Death when you’ve cheated him so many times?   No matter how much it is delayed it will claim Derrek eventually.   He is only mortal and no matter how much he rewinds the clock his body will still eventually age, grow old, and die.

There is a way around it, but is it something anyone can really endure?  What can you do when your most potent memories are ones of death?  Can you imagine not being able to enjoy your favorite food because you recall the taste of blood so potently?  Can you imagine not being able to remember the day your child was born but you could remember what it felt like to have your body shattered from a two hundred foot fall?  Can you imagine not remembering the smile on your spouse’s face on your wedding day but you can remember a look of horror when you failed to save them?

Oh.   But it doesn’t count.   It didn’t really ‘happen’.

Cheating death looks good on paper but…

….It’s still cheating.   And it always catches up to you.

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