It was, first, a sick thing to put down.
The cure to death was pungent and bitter. To drink it was to drink goat cheese drowned in gasoline. A second or third dose was preferred - by the third, a senseless tongue has said its peace and has not the energy to engage the foul swill. The numbing, some say, was quite sweet. And then one aged no longer.
The woman to have the first taste, weary with age and fear, felt her tired bones begin to mend. Her hair regained its youthful luster. Her eyes their hawkish focus. She threw away the cane, tossed her glasses aside, and shared the wretched thing with the people of earth. And once all the children of the world were children of those who had sipped from the sacred liquid, death was forgotten, and soon, the horrid drink was drank no more.
That is what they say. It is, rather, what she says. What she’d always say.
We wrote it in our holy books, and shared it with our children, now numbering as the stars on this earth, which is not burdened by the needs of a species for whom food and drink is a relic of a forgotten time.
Then the story changed. Now the woman couldn’t say if she’d made the drink herself or bought it at the store. Then the woman asked us to what swill we referred, and we said, it was your holy creation! and her response, that she would not soon forget the taste of something so awful.
Then she stopped telling the story. She’d say the words, but there was no order, and soon the letters separated, and she spoke the sounds, but the story was gone. Then, she was gone.
The thousand year woman, on her thousandth day of birth, could not speak another word. There was violence, thrashing, and foaming at the mouth. She scratched at her neck and tore at her eyes and cracked at her chest and split her heart, but her brain cared not for the loss of her blood. She’d awaken the next day with flesh and bone mended, and began the assault again.
I stood beside her on the thousandth day of her torment, and she rediscovered a word, and it was, “help”, and it was first a whisper, until her screaming shook the halls, and she broke away from her bindings and began the assault again, and I called upon the doctors.
Now I stand before my mother, who is bound with titanium, from her head to her feet, her body nearly still, but the ceaseless vibration of her vocal cords continues, screaming “help” into the endless night.
The doctors say they will find a cure. They say the disease will be gone soon, and mother will be back to normal. That we’ll know this nightmare is over, and life will continue. But they know not what I do, that another millennium old soul has forgotten their own name. That soon these halls will be filled with those tortured like my mother.
There is one thing they say, that is certain. That my mother will be cured. It will not be by their hand, for I have found my mother’s notes and recipes from her younger days of alchemy, when she was only 87 years old, and she discovered a foul drink. I have seen what she has written and I have taken up my mother’s work again.
It is my turn to find a cure. The cure to life.
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