Youth Of Today

Entry by: Phidgers

19th February 2016
I am the youth of today. My body has seen only eighteen years. But my mind has endured centuries of torment.

It all began with a frog. I climbed a hill and I saw it, hopping through a puddle in the pavement. On the way down it was there again, this time flat and messy in the road. It made me think. That creature was gone from the world. The passage of time would soon erode the memory that it was ever there in the first place. I was afraid. How fragile we are, how short lived our existences. Perhaps it is the curse of youth to fear death more than others. Perhaps not. In either case, I prayed earnestly for a long life.

My pleas were heard, but it was the Devil who came to me on that day.

He was just a man when he appeared, simple and polite. He wore a crisp grey suit, and his short black moustache was trimmed to symmetrical perfection. 'I can give you what you want,' he said, his tone offhand, as if we discussed nothing important. ‘An extra hundred years for every day that your life would normally have lasted.’

No doubt you think me a fool, for you can guess how this ends. Why would someone accept an offer from Satan? In short, I was desperate. I was young. Poor excuse though it is, that was the weakness the Devil exploited. Even now though, I still cling to a shred of pride. I had my doubts, and I expressed them.

‘How will I pay for this?’ I asked.

'For as long as the deal lasts, your soul will be mine to use,' he replied. I was ready to walk away then, but he persisted.

'It's not as bad as it sounds,’ the Devil said. ‘I will not lie to you, your choice would empower me. But am I the evil that I am made to be? What of the religions of your world? They denounce me, but whom do they serve? Have their so-called holy wars healed your race, and truly glorified God? Does such a being even exist?
‘I am selfish, that much is true. But I tell you honestly, your soul is of little use to you while you live, and that is the only time that I shall enforce ownership of it. When you die, our contract will end. And if you accept, you can know millennia before that event comes to pass.’

Even then I was hesitant. I asked what would happen if I changed my mind.

'Then I shall relinquish your soul and you may try to make amends with whatever creator you believe to be watching over you,' the Devil said. 'Simply speak the words "I am no longer interested," and I will free you immediately, from both your contract and its benefits.'

What is it they say about a deal that sounds too good to be true? But I could not see a downside. It was simply a trade, with both people parting with something that they could afford to. I accepted his terms. Perhaps I still doubted. But I believed that time was now on my side. A man can sin and find his way back to God within a few decades. I believed I could do the same, and that for me, there would be no urgency to it.

The devil departed without another word. I felt good. You must understand, my mind had been full of terror at the prospect of death. The weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I had one of the best days of my life, free of worry.

Then everything changed.

Twenty four hours after I sold my soul, I learned the true mechanics of the deal. Time stopped for me. Everything froze. I could still think as I always did, but I could not move at all. I was listening to a piano concerto by Shostakovich. The sound also paused, the orchestra ceaselessly playing the same chord. I panicked.

Once again, the Devil appeared. That handsome man in his grey suit strolled in, unaffected by the temporal variation.

'Whatever could be the matter?' He asked me.

'I can't move!' My mind cried out. He heard me, though my lips did not move.

'Of course not,' He replied. 'This is the start of the hundred years I promised you. A century away from the burden of aging, locked in as the youth of today.'

'I don't want this,' I thought. 'I am no longer interested in the deal.'

'You thought the words, but you did not physically speak them,' the devil said. ‘The contract is still in effect. Ask me again at the end of your first century.’ And then, he left once more. The orchestra continued their chord. I had an itch on my forehead, but there was no way for me to scratch it.

It was a beautifully laid trap. I soon came to learn the meaning of tedium. How long does a human normally live for? Eighty years? Ninety if they’re lucky? I imagined an entire lifetime, with years leftover to spare. But this lifetime was a void. Nothing would change for me, but for the grace of Satan. My itching forehead taunted me, and the orchestra ground me into despair. One chord, screaming at me without relief.

I expected to go mad with grief at my foolishness. How could I hold onto my senses during my imprisonment? It seemed that even there, the Devil had the answer. He wanted me to be terrified. Perhaps if I lost my mind then the torment would be dulled. So he sent demons to speak to me. They came just often enough to keep me sane. But the things they showed me do not belong in the mortal subconscious. As the years went by, I learned about pain, terror, death, suffering and more. I felt like I should have gone insane, but it never happened. Maybe my lucidity was also enforced. The demons also told me that God is real, and that he was angry with me. They never offered proof, but it was easy enough to believe.

Eventually, my first day’s century was nearing its end. My body had not aged at all, but my mind had become ancient. I had no desire to continue my existence any more. The Devil had cured me of my fear of the end. I promised myself that I would stop my contract the moment that I was able to. But Satan was a trickster first and foremost. He told me the truth, but not the whole truth.

At last, at long last, a new day began for me. I reached up and scratched my face. The orchestra finished its chord, and handed the melody to the piano for the next part of the concerto. I shrugged and turned the radio off. Then, I went out, feeling great. I saw the dead frog, its carcass still on the road. I nodded and thanked it for giving me such a good idea.

The Devil had held onto my memories of the century I had endured. Time trickled away, and another day passed. I was happy and carefree. I was going to live for millennia, why did I need to rush at anything? I wasted my freedom on trivial and pointless things. And then, I froze again.

And I remembered everything once more.

The same routine returned. This time I was looking at a cup, which was slightly off centre. It infuriated me, and I had been meaning to stand and do something about it when time stopped again. Now I was stuck with it.
The Devil appeared to me once more. I begged and pleaded with him, but he just shrugged.

‘Speak the words and I will happily free you,’ He said. He mocked me, but his tone was condescending, not amused. ‘No?’ he asked. ‘Then I will take my leave. I am rather busy, after all.’

That was eight days ago. Eight real days to a normal human. Almost a millennium for me. Always, I have either the means or the desire to end the deal, but never both at the same time. Perhaps I will eventually realise I am in trouble, without the memories that the Devil keeps from me. When I am no longer the youth of today, and my body has begun to wither. But how long before I realise on my own? There are at least 3652 days in a decade, depending on leap years. I have had time to work it out. I will suffer a century for every one. And will a decade be enough? Will two of them make me see that all is not as I believe?

I do not deserve this. I do not. I made a single bad choice. Have I not suffered enough? This is why I beg you to help me, whoever you are. The demons, they unwittingly told me of you. Perhaps it was a trick, but I have no choice but to hope. They sometimes spoke to each other in their own tongue in front of me, during the occasions they treated me like a statue. I listened often enough to learn it, for what else was there to do. They mentioned the scribes once.

They said that every thought that a human has is written down and recorded. When judgement day comes, God will have a record of humanity, for posterity. His next creations will learn from us, both our triumphs and follies. I heard that the recording process is not automated. There is an immortal being for every living person, writing down their thoughts as they happen.

If this is true, then someone, you, is reading this. I do not know you. I doubt that I ever will. But I beg of you, help me. You have seen everything that I have endured. You should not need this reminder to understand my torment. All I ask for is my memories. If I can keep those, then I can free myself. If you don’t do this for me, then do it for yourself. For every day that your fellows write, you must spend a century for me. Do you not tire? Are you not as trapped as I am? Surely you can do something.

I am pitiful and wretched, and I can take no more of this. Perhaps you are not a good creature, but surely you are not evil. And that is what you would be if you ignored my begging. You have a chance to end my punishment. Please, please do it. I beg like I have never begged before. I am the youth of today, but my mind is more ancient than any mortal’s ever should be. End the cycle. Spare me, please.

Spare me.

Spare me…