I wake and place my feet on the cold concrete floor, standing and stretching as high as I can until that satisfying pop sounds as my spine gives me what I want. Then it’s a reach for the toes until my calves feel loose again.
I trot out of my small bedroom and begin jogging, as I have every single morning for a very, very long time. The air is stale but it doesn’t matter much to me, you have to expect as much this deep underground. This cell is built to contain just one prisoner.
That would be me.
It’s fully functional, even still, with energy being drawn from core heat and everything built to last. They had to. They expected I’d be here for a long time. The cell I sleep in exits into a rectangular room, exercise equipment gathered in the center and a running track around the perimeter. At one end is the kitchen with a hydroponic farm and breeding pen for what little sustenance I require. Food is the hardest thing to deal with now. The other end is a library, stocked at my request. I didn’t expect I’d have this long so everything has been read more than a few times.
They did expect me to be here a long time.
Just…not this long.
As I finish running I stop and bend over, taking deep breaths to slow my heart rate again, letting the sweat drip onto the floor. As habit will do, I look up to the viewing station where the guards had once kept vigil. Not for years now. Many, many years.
I shake it off and make my way to the kitchen for breakfast. A single fried egg on a simple bread I have been making for millennia and a chicken breast. Delightful. Still tastes as good as ever, even if I’ve been eating it for what feels like eternity.
What I wouldn’t give for…well I don’t know. It’s been too long I honestly don’t even remember what food options there used to be.
I sigh and clean the dishes, pat the chickens for what small comfort they bring and head to the small washroom. I shower, the water cold but I’ve come to accept the refreshment it brings. When I step out of the shower I see myself in the mirror and stop to stare. A lifetime ago I was strong and imposing. I don’t age as the mortals know and I cannot die to the hands of the clock but I can fade.
Fade I have.
Once powerful arms have become thin even with the daily exercises, as have my legs even with the daily running. My face has creased with the passing years and my hair thinned and grayed. I chuckle at the man in the mirror.
“You look terrible,” I say to him and he seems to accept it.
When I am dry I make my way to the library. I select a book with a nearly tattered spine and sit in the chair that has become my companion for many of these years. A good companion indeed.
I settle in and begin reading the book, even though by now I can probably recite it from memory. At least the mortals had been kind enough to provide this much for my imprisonment. If only they had stuck around to let me out on time. I shut the book and sigh, leaning back and staring at the gray ceiling. Somewhere, far above where I sit now there is sunlight. I close my eyes and imagine it but…I can’t remember what it feels like. It’s been that long. I can still feel it though, even this deep. I know my sun is still there.
I replace the book and walk to the center room again to ponder what I could spend my time on, perhaps more standing around or maybe it’s a pacing sort of day. As I walk I see something move out of the corner of my eye and I look to see figures in the viewing station.
Guards? After all these years?
A light comes on and I see them, tiny figures barely visible through the glass. I hear the click that I vaguely recall for the microphone. With that I hear voices coming into the room.
“Who is it?” the voices say, along with other chattering and talking before they realize I can hear them. I suppose the staring up at them gave it away.
“Who are you?”
How kind of them to pose it directly to me now.
“One of the great gods, has it been so long the mortals have forgotten that?”
More indistinct chatter.
“When were you locked in here?”
Now that is actually a good question. I think back to the day the mortals created this place for us, many thousands of years now surely. I do some quick math before answering.
“Nine thousand, seven hundred and eighty-three cycles. Around the sun, of course.”
The murmuring again.
“Impossible,” is the reply.
“No, just inconvenient. I was meant to be released after one thousand cycles but something happened, the guards disappeared.”
Murmuring. Goodness these mortals do love to talk don’t they.
“Perhaps you can release me? I’ll be eternally grateful.”
I chuckle at my own joke. One must become one’s own entertainment I suppose. They don’t speak for a long time. So long I begin to think they won’t help me. Not even the murmuring.
“I’m afraid we can’t.”
“Please,” I say, hearing the begging tone slip into my voice, “please, it’s been a very long time.”
I am ashamed to admit that I drop to the floor and begin to weep.
After recovering from my shameful display of emotion I find myself sitting in the library but unable to focus. There were mortals alive out there, that was something. Perhaps in a few more cycles they would release me. Surely, just a few more. I would be grateful, and gratitude goes a long way from some.
They have forgotten. They are mortal so that is not so surprising. Although we had left them with a bright future. What had gone wrong? Why had they left?
Perhaps more importantly: why had they now come back?
Questions and more questions. Without answers. How…irritating.
I sit in the library and ponder the questions until I hear something. This is different. Something I haven’t heard in a very, very long time. The main door unlocking. I hear the *hiss* of the door opening and quickly make my way to the main room.
A change of mind? A mortal that does remember?
A young man stands there and looks at me, nervously. He holds up both hands in a sort of mock surrender.
“I just…I don’t think it’s right to leave you here.”
I take a few great strides to him and he flinches but I simply wrap my arms around him and squeeze.
“Thank you,” I whisper in his ear, tears filling my eyes, “thank you.”
I was not lying about my gratitude. This man shall have it, forever.
I release him and we exit the room together, hopefully for the last time. As I take my first step I am struck by several barbed objects that sink deep and then my body convulses. My muscles tighten and my jaw clamps shut and I collapse to the floor. A dozen men quickly converge and chain me with the restraints that must have been left in the guard room. Restraints that can contain me.
Though, the barbed objects are new. I don’t recall those existing before. I would remember that.
One of them, a burly man with a shaved head, stares down at me.
“Immortal, they said,” he says it with a sneer, “thousands of years down here? Immortal. Well we’ll see.”
Then a thick rubber boot tread fills my view and it is the last thing I see before everything is dark.