The scene is one demanding some sort of glorious introduction. Promotionally pamphlets might describe it as ‘sun drenched’, with ‘rolling hills’ and… grass?
The best I can come up with is: ‘Spongy sheep heaven’… I don’t have a job writing for any tourist board. Not even the one for Sheep Heaven.
There is a house amongst all of this indescribable country side; it’s so beautiful it’s bland. Idyllic if you are a mental who likes living in the middle of fucking nowhere.
Someone does though. And that ‘someone’ could loosely be called the protagonist of this tale.
He’s in that house because that is his house. And it’s his house because that’s where everyone thinks he lives; it would be foolish for him to live anywhere else.
His post goes there, his phone calls are routed there, and he would talk to anyone that rang him there if he had a phone, but he doesn’t. And no one calls him because no one likes him.
It is a tough life, but at least he lives in glorious surroundings.
His name is Philip, and he is somewhere between a thousand and one thousand three hundred years old. He doesn’t know how old he is; not because he’s senile — he isn’t — but because records weren’t kept whenever he was born, and now… well who would keep track, really.
He has lived in this house, on this hills, in this sea of hills for the last few hundred years.
It’s a strange relationship he has with people. They know him, everyone in the next five towns know him. They know him because their parents knew, and they know because of their own etc.
Probably not one of the people in these towns have ever actually met him, I don’t know — I haven’t decided yet — maybe one of them. But they hate him regardless.
Is hate hereditary? He wonders this often. Probably it is; it definitely seems that way for him.
You should probably be wondering why everyone hates him. I hope so.
Is Philip a vampire? I don’t think so, I’ve never seen him bite anyone.
Is he some kind of ghost monster banshee leprechaun man?
Does he steal children, or virgins, or virginity, or souls?
Maybe is an abstract concept? Like guilt? He isn’t; that would be weird.
He eats vegetables (which he has grown in his spongy hills for years) and sheep (which he rears himself; haha! SHEEP HELL!) and makes himself lamb and spongy mashed potato and spongy carrots and afterwards eats spongy raspberry flavoured ice cream, which he makes himself — he bought a freezer shortly after they were invented and has never regretted it.
He has cows for milk, and for beer. He likes cows, finds their bovine chatter soothing. Like a pepper sauce covered steak of whale song for his aged ears.
He sleeps at night in a bed and in the morning gets a paper delivered a few hills over — it’s as close as they will deliver.
He lives an inconspicuous life out there in the sun drenched rolling hills of the Irish countryside.
He is a man, like me or you or, if you are a woman, like you if you were a man. If we were all Irish. And all uncomfortably immortal.
No one used to mind the immortality. He could get by and live comfortably before records began. Before people started noticing, before they started fomenting their jealousy and hatred, before people realised he was a ‘freak’.
He doesn’t look like a freak, if you could see him you would think he was quite handsome. And if you are a woman, you would probably want to sleep with him. He had a bit of everyman and had never in his whole history struggled for any woman.
That was part of his problem he thought. It didn’t go over well with about 50% of society.
Because of this he would avoid going into town unless he had to.
The last time he had to was when his fridge broke, when his floor was covered in squidgy, spongy raspberry ice cream. He needed a new fridge. And a mop.
This time he needed neither of those things. He was heading into town for a much darker purpose. He was heading into town for a purpose out-with of his home appliance needs, which were modest at the best of times.
But this was not the best of times. It was serious. He would probably have liked a bit more of a foreboding atmosphere, something to play up to how he felt every time he went into town. Plus, if there was rain there were less people on the streets.
But no. Poor Philip had to contend with a lovely sunny day.
The walk to town was a long one by anyone else’s standards. A few hours trek, up hill and down dale and all of that. Corners were wound around and sometimes, if he was in a good mood, he would swim across the lake.
Not today though, he just walked and walked like someone who has no real concept of time walks. Long and hard. He was up with the sun today and out the door shortly afterwards.
When he got to the main road he would up his hood, put things off for a bit longer.
And today it paid off and he wasn’t recognised until the school.
He bought himself a few more peaceful hours with that hood. He came into town more often in winter, he could go whole day’s without being recognised then. It wasn’t so weird to wear a balaclava; not as weird as being the only immortal in the whole of Europe, anyway.
He reflected on this as he headed into town. He often thought about this, because I think that an immortal would wonder about this. So he did wonder, and did it dutifully once a year, or sometimes every six months, like a good little character.
When he wondered he would first assume there must be. He was an optimist at heart. But then the fact that in the first few hundred years he did his level best to seek out some more and came up with sweet chuff all.
He asked around as subtly as you could and, he thought, any other immortal types would probably be doing similar. Probably. Maybe thy were more suited to it than him? He felt like he was a bit of a terrible immortal; sure he had had a lot of fun in the past, made money, lived. But he could never escape a horrible emotional attachment to time, one that he felt was pretty inappropriate for an immortal to have.
Maybe they were better at hiding than him?
Maybe he would learn in time?
Or… I guess, maybe there just aren’t any others…
Maybe he is a freak. It’s hard to tell. I can see his DNA clearer than I can see my own and, from behind this desk, from everything I know about him and the others in the world that surrounds this spongy Irish scene… it is no different.
He has a perfectly normal genetic makeup. So normal it isn’t normal. He isn’t freakishly normal is what I mean… no scientific pinnacle of mediocrity, he isn’t the very top of the bell curve is what I mean. Like you.
But he just doesn’t get any older.
Or hurt. That’s maybe the weird part about him?
The last time someone attacked him was maybe 70 years ago. He was in one of the surrounding towns having a drink; it was winter; he had avoided being noticed for most of the day until 7pm.
A 55 year old man recognised him and, with a shout of, ‘You fucking bastard, you stole my woman!’ he dived at his with a broken bottle and accidentally stabbed a young woman across town.
When his stabbing didn’t work he tried to move things forward in another manner.
‘You witchy fuck, what the shit do you want in our quiet little town!’ he screamed, unaware of the implicit irony there, and he swung a chair at Philip’s head and hit a teenage boy three blocks away in the school.
This scene continued until the man got tired and the police arrived to arrest him for attacking people all over town and to throw Philip out of the village, even though the Police would never go near him to do anything for fear of these magical powers which everyone said he had.
Philip didn’t have any powers then, and he doesn’t have any powers now. His only ‘power’ is something he can’t control and that is his worldly persistence. This itself does strange things, such as by somecrazyhow deflecting any worldly damage onto others in the vicinity.
It doesn’t make sense; not to man, nor dog, nor science. But that’s how it goes.
To further press the point perhaps it is worth explaining how, one windy night when he was walking home, Philip wasn’t hit but a car coming into town. He was crossing the road and couldn’t really see well past his hood. He couldn’t see so not well that he didn’t spot the car coming round the corner far too fast, and it didn’t spot him.
The car didn’t swerve, the driver didn’t notice him until it was too late. He braced for impact, for this man to fly over the bonnet and into the windshield and for him to feel incredibly guilty and probably get arrested.
But that didn’t happen. Instead, just as he was about to hit the man he hadn’t seen until too late, he was in a field three miles down the road he had just driven down. He slammed the brakes on and stepped out of the car and just stood there in the rain staring at the car.
All he could say was, “What?”
That’s what happens when you try to hurt Philip. And that’s what happens when people spot him; they get angry and try to hurt him.
He doesn’t understand.
Anyway. He was on a road, right?
He was going into town with some resolute purpose; he wouldn’t go in for any other reason, that much has been established now.
It was bright, sunny, and warm. People were out on the streets, relaxing, drinking, buying things from shops, eating things on the pavement in front of restaurants and other such small town things. It was nice if you were anyone but Philip. He just got stared at as he walked on by, hostility rampant as ever. He could feel their eyes on his back, drilling in, wanting to kill him for having the temerity to be accidentally immortal.
He walked past shops which never used to be there, walked past a bank which was closed and past no less than three of his favourite old watering holes (back before records began), which were now closed. Town was in a sorry state.
Eventually — thankfully — he got to where he was going, which was the only bank that was left open in town.
He went inside and waited patiently. The queue should have taken twenty five minutes but it went a lot fast for Philip, everyone else who wasn’t employed at the bank decided they would probably leave as soon as he came in.
The clerk was afraid. Afraid but bound by the painful rigours of big business, corporate identity, protocol and the want to have a job the next day.
“Yes, Sir”, he said, like a good little clerk, “how can I help you?”. He winced as he said it, they hadn’t covered immortals in the orientation programme.
Philip didn’t say anything, he just pushed a sheet of paper across the desk. On the paper were some notes and some highlighting.
“I see, you wan’t to know about these charges on your account?”
“Well sir, it looks like you went over your overdraft limit, so you were charged £35 for each transaction; it’s company policy”.
“But I told you I had my card stolen”, that’s what Philip said because he had had his card stolen. A few months ago he was in town and it was winter and he was wearing his balaclava and someone stole his wallet right out of his pocket. It had never happened to him before in all his years of years and he had been quite excited about it at the time.
“Yes, Sir; you did, but you didn’t do that immediately within 24 hours of your card being stolen… It’s in the contract, we aren’t actually liable”.
Philip stared at him. The clerk sat uncomfortably trying to avoid his gaze without looking like he was trying to avoid his gaze.
“Sorry…” he murmured.
Philip left the bank raging. This had never happened to him before and he was furious. He had never been so angry.
‘WHO ARE THESE FUCKERS!?’, he thought, ‘HOW RUDE!’.
He thought some more things as he started back to his house. They were about how maybe he would blow up the bank? Show them all! And then things like but maybe that’s wrong, Philip hadn’t killed anyone in years and really he wasn’t going to start now… he had got over that whole phase.
He was walking back past the school thinking thought in circles in his mind. Someone threw an egg at him and shouted something.
It was not his day.
Philip spun round, raging from the bank, annoyed about the sunny day which persistently refused to reflect his mood, and now annoyed about being hit by an egg.
There was a teenage boy across the street. Philip decided to give him a scare, teach him a little lesson; so he stepped out into the street looking as menacing as possible.
It worked, the boy was scared and Philip could see it right in his eyes; genuine fear and panic and he thought maybe he had taken it too far. Then the boy screamed something:
“Looo”, he screamed.
Philip knew he was shouting “look” and he did. What he looked at was a bus speeding towards him.
‘Oh’, he thought, but he didn’t move. There wasn’t time. Plus, he knew the bus was just about to vanish like it always did. There was no point trying to avoid it.
The boy screamed something else but Philip couldn’t hear him because he was busy being run over by the bus.
He never heard anything again. He just led there on the floor, not hearing and not thinking. Just bleeding like some kind of delusional bastard who had just been run over by a bus.
A writing challenge prompted by : http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photo-of-the-day/m...