I have long suffered from a long list of maladies with mostly German and French names and which you often find tripping off the tongues of philosophy students who snap their fingers and drink too much coffee. A great deal of this is due to my upbringing as it is with so many of us, particularly those raised in religious, conservative households.
To add to this, I have now lived a life much longer than a regular person from Happy Valley should live: several hundred years, in fact. You don’t live a life that long without breaking a few eggs along the way, and (saddled as I am with a conscience) this begets the inevitable pangs of guilt and despair.
Yes, I have not only killed people who deserved it, but murdered those who may not have, and I have sent more than one saint to their martyrdom. For me, even the manifold wickedness of the most evil people I have killed cannot wash the stain of their deaths from my soul.
It is with that in mind that I write to you, sitting from the cubicle of my current occupation: Customer Service Representative.
First, I will say it is a horrible occupation; call centers are invariably sweatshops where one learns to tolerate verbal abuse from those who call and the nitpicking abuse of the autistics who attempt manage every aspect of your time in the name of their religion: the Almighty Bottom Line.
Showing up to work each day at a call center is like bathing in the river Lethe; with each dunking a little more of you is washed away, until eventually there is nothing left but a husk meandering through limbo driven by desires it cannot understand.
Of course I should not complain. I was forced to resign from being a Certified Public Accountant in disgrace and ignominy, and this is better at least than working at Taco Bell. I also find it amusing: I, who have commanded space and time have been consigned to the life of a low-level clerk. How very Kafka-esque.
But—guilt over my crimes against intelligent life aside—the problem which chiefly plagues my current occupational pursuit is that the voices which come to me with their problems and fears and late payments have uniformly become the voices of those who I have known. Lovers, friends, enemies: the disembodied voices which I now hear each day are the same voices of the few I could save and the many I doomed.
It is true that after living for several hundred years, your brain becomes “clogged” in a sense. This manifests in mental illness as one would guess; more specifically, I would wager the specific set of symptoms would be labelled as schizoid considering hallucinations are a large part of the experience.
But are they hallucinations? Even living a conventionally long time, those elders of you reading this have noticed the repetition in physical appearances of people who otherwise are not related to each other. This effect is pronounced across time and generations, and should not be surprising considering we are all truly related to each other if you go back far enough in the family tree of Homo Sapiens Sapiens.
Despite being nearly one thousand years old, I think the effect is even more pronounced due to my experiences with time travel and having witnessed a great deal of Earthic human life during its relatively short existence. When you compound this doppelgänger effect in human appearance across hundreds of generations it becomes unnerving; you realize you share the planet with only a few people who have split themselves into an ocean of wild variations of themselves.
The voices of people are even more pronounced in this regard. I suppose there are only so many physical variations of vocal chords possible. Given the ever-changing nature of language and dialect, one would hope this would mitigate the uncanniness of such ever-present vocal familiarity. Unfortunately that is not the case.
I will note that this effect is not always a strain on my mental stability, however. Particularly where singing is concerned, it is often a balm to my ancient heart. I have loved the singers among you, even when their actions have forced me to end their lives.
And so I sit here, day in and day out earning my crust of bread while speaking with the long dead about telephone plans and payments.
An enemy from the Inevitable Real of Atlass is the child who is attempting to negotiate a payment for his mother who does not speak English. My dearest love in all my life cannot connect the wifi network at a restaurant. A friend who became an enemy only to redeem me and die my staunchest ally berates me for the automatic cancellation of his unlimited data plan. It is maddening and leaves me cold.
While existing within the body of Parciloquy for all those centuries, I was often desperate to die and find release from my unwanted immortality. Thrust back into this, my original body, I have been granted my wish.
This is my greatest comfort. Knowing that even were I to live longer than anyone else, I will not exist for more than another eighty years at the very most. More likely, another twenty with the delicious caveat that I could be ended at any moment. Like the theorized probability matrix of the enneract multiverse, the farther time proceeds the closer the probability of my demise is realized.
I try to keep this in mind and see my daily conversations with the ghosts of my past. When I am at my most vulnerable, they are devils tearing at me; but when I am strong each conversation becomes an absolution and a farewell to those who shared my adventures across space and time.
I suppose, like most of us, I am spending the denouement of my life coming to terms with my youth in an effort to find peace.