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“I am now an old man locked in chains. I will never forget the day when the tribals rose up and took this world. A woman led them and, because of my own pride, was able to overtake my people. They killed us all, even put a bullet in my brain, but as I described before, I cannot die. So they locked me away and here is my confession: I hate what I have become. I could have been a better father and a better husband. I could have been a better leader. All my life, I only thought of the outcome and chose the action that would have the better outcome for me. I chose not to suffer emotion or to have empathy and it only led to death. Now I only wish that I could have died.”

The old man looked up. The chains that bound him should have stretched him to death. There were two cuffs on his wrists attached to opposing walls and two on his ankles attached to one point on the floor directly below him. Not only did the chains not seem to stretch the man, but he seemed comfortable.

“Why are you down here talking to yourself?” a stern woman entered the room where he was kept.

The man stayed silent and looked straight into her eyes.

“You will tell me. All of your comrades are gone and we finally have access to all of your technology. The world belongs to us now.”

The man smiled, “There is so little that you know. The technology you acquired requires regular maintenance and you slaughtered the only people who were able to provide it. One day even the guns you took will not be able to fire and you are unable to repair them.”

“I will worry about that. There is only one piece of knowledge I desire from you. What is the secret to your immortality?”

The man shook his head, “I asked the same question before people even came to this world, and I regret asking it.”

“Why?”

“Because,” the man replied, “because I lost everything else in my pursuit of power and longevity. I realize now that there were things that were worth far more and I forsook them all.”

The woman walked from one side of the man to the other, “And what, might I ask, is more important that success?”

“Almost everything,” the man replied, “If we are not careful we will waste our lives on success and fail to find purpose.”

“What is purpose if it is not success?” the woman was persistent.

“Purpose can only be something that can be fulfilled. Successful people never fulfill success because they always dream to be more successful. There is no fulfillment, no satisfaction. I know because I was there and I was never satisfied.”

A man came in with an empty syringe and the woman asked the prisoner for his name.

“Purdue,” he answered, “and I hope you remember it.”

The woman nodded and the other man drew his blood.

“What’s that for?” asked Purdue.

“It is the secret to eternal life. We will discover how even our great grandparents remember you as you are from their childhood.”

 

There was a loud noise from outside the primitive room.

“Do you know what that is?” the woman asked.

Purdue smiled, “Yes. The last one that came in was the one I came in on. I would advise all of your people to hide indoors until it’s over.”

The woman and the man with the syringe left the room. The world outside sounded like an apocalyptic war zone, and Purdue knew that this would be his best chance to escape. He used all of his strength to try to pull through the shackles. He screamed as he heard the bones in his left hand cracking and as his left hand slipped through the cuff. He used his free hand to break enough bones in his other limbs to get out. Once he was free, he fell to the ground unable to walk, so he sat against a wall.

Whatever was falling from the sky was much bigger than he imagined, and there were many more people, or corpses, than before. Purdue tried to move his fingers and his toes. Once he had feeling again, he stood up and walked out of the room. Sure enough, the sky was on fire and pieces of metal came burrowing into the ground. While everyone else was inside, Purdue made his way to the sanctuary that he had constructed hoping that someone else had survived.

On his way he came across a young boy lying on the ground barely able to breathe. “Who are you?” the boy rasped.

“I am now an old man locked in chains. One day I will record everything that I know so that some mysteries might be understood. My name is Purdue.”

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© 2016 Andrew Paul Cannon

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