How strange is it that the time between our births and deaths are arbitrarily decided by a calendar invented and maintained only by humans, and yet that has always been the way. I was born on March 31st, 1990 and once I arrived into the world kicking and screaming the maternity ward’s oracles divined my death to be on a February 29th, the year kept to themselves as is and always was tradition. I wonder what they knew when the divined my death, along with the many others like me.
It’s been four hundred years since then, I’ve seen many people come and go. My relationship with my fellow man has unfortunately slipped into that close to that an average man and his dog: we’re best friends for a short yet meaningful time, and by the time we know it they’re already dead. It’s a sad life, which is why myself and other Twenty-Niners mostly keep among ourselves these days, living together in small communes in ranches or group houses in urban centers. Fellow immortals give our gift due to congress many centuries ago deciding to get rid of the leap year because it was “too confusing” with no formidable replacement in site. Over time human civilization slipped into a world of lies and half truths, people grew distrusting of the government and the other institutions that have held civilization together for so long, soon universities and research centers became nothing more than “hobbies” for the elite few, and the seasons began drifting with the dates. The snow stopped falling in December as it drifted further towards the summer solstice, and in centuries time people wondered why there were so many songs about snow when Christmas happened in the middle of the summer time. It became too much for us Twenty-Niners who knew a different kind of world.
I live in the mountains on a small ranch amongst a group of many of my kind who had given up on the outside world and taken an oath of celibacy. There’s another thing about us Twenty-Niners, it’s that our children aren’t guaranteed to die on the 29th, especially in a post-29th world. As one would expect, nothing creates a greater crisis and grief as outliving so many of our offspring. I had birthed too many children who died and I have had enough. Hear that fate is mine no more.
Of course a few of us don’t live in communes. The Extroverts as we call them. They live amongst the others either trying to live a normal life until their death date is found out, forcing them to drop everything and start anew in another city (some cycle between cities and countries, like outfits, leaving and returning after a few generations have passed and returning to a clean slate). Others have tried to use their immortality, knowledge and wealth to amass power, with only a few succeeding while most are driven off. Henry Samson comes to mind. A former partner of mine who spent half a century with me at an urban Twenty-Niner community before taking off to rule a small island nation off the Gulf coast. I hear he’s made quite the name for himself there, but I haven’t paid attention to the news in decades to know what’s up. There’s also Becca O’Hare, the world’s richest human to ever lived. Although I have never met her, her name has become synonymous with the greedy Twenty-Niners out there. “Don’t be such an O’Hare” people will say once the matter of wealth is brought up. And then there are the politicians of us, the snakes and rats in sheep’s clothing who emerge every so often to enter the rotten world of politics to solidify our longevity by making sure legislation to restore the 29th day of February never returns and promote the indefinite continuity of idiocy that keeps the population subverted. They make the warlords of small island nations and megalomaniacs who bare our death day seem like reasonable people in comparison.
Out here in the mountains where the air is forever cool and crisp I sit upon the lodge’s deck, meditating on the facts of life and death. Many people’s lives are prolonged by heroes rushing into the scene of an accident, or by the intelligence and wisdom of their medical professionals keeping one’s heart beating in spite of whatever ailments they’re cursed with. Ours had been prolonged by the inept bureaucracy of the government.
This story was originally submitted to this prompt. Thanks for reading!