Norm's Attempt

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Norm is sick of life and wants out. There's only one problem: he's immortal. With this hinderance in mind, he tries the most elaborate suicide attempt in history, but will he be successful?

Submitted: June 02, 2011

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Submitted: June 02, 2011

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Norm was cold. That was to be expected. He was, after all, in the arctic.
His breath steamed around him as he stood on the trawler’s deck. When he had started his journey, he had noticed the occasional white peak. As the journey progressed, the peaks increased in frequency. Now there was nothing but snow and water as far as the eye could see.
He had all he needed on board. That was to say, a car and flares. The vehicle was reliable and heavy, a ford escort. He hoped the cold had not killed it.
Norm lit up a smoke, remembering with a smile the late, great Bill Hicks’ remark about smokers passing out in the cold because they don’t know when to stop exhaling. Smoking was one of the few things he derived pleasure from, and it posed no risk to him.
He looked around; he was far enough in now. It was time.
Approaching the car, he secured the end of a chain to the tow bar. He threaded a pair of handcuffs through the other end, and clasped the cuffs round his right ankle, grimacing as they pinched his skin.
It was necessary. He wanted to do this right.
He had to be very dead, not slightly dead.
The crew had their orders; he had paid them a considerable amount for full discretion. Anything he did was his business.
He turned the key in the ignition and with a sputter the car came to life. It turned out the cold could not finish it off after all. It was a good sign.
He revved the engine a few more times and put the car in gear. As per his instruction the deck was clear, and he did a few circuits to wake the car up. When he was confident it was running smoothly, he backed the car into the starboard corner and glanced portside. He took a deep breath, and stamped his foot down.
The car shot towards the edge, building up speed terrifyingly quick. 
It burst through the railings and into space.
 
Through the windscreen, Norm saw the ocean beneath him growing larger and closer by the heartbeat. A grey mass, carved from a shifting liquid rock.
Growing. Ever. Closer-
 
I
 M
P
A
C
T
 -
 
All thought left him.
Everything went white, then black. The water shocked him to his bones. The car hung in the water for a few moments, haemorrhaging air and slowly descending.
In the change of pressure the door was torn open, and Norm was sucked out.
He watched the car go down like a wounded beast as the water claimed it.
 
Within moments the chain went taut and the car pulled him into the deep. As the last of his air left him he began to panic. It didn’t matter that he’d done this before, he never got used to drowning. Ignore what people tell you, it’s horrific.
He flailed in vain. Within moments the inevitable happened; he was dead.
Then, as he knew would happen, his lungs acclimatised and the part of the process that defied science told hold.
His eyes focused, his heart beat.
Life.
Whether he was breathing water or generating his own oxygen he did not know; the science was not his speciality. But he did not die.
No matter. There was still hypothermia to come; that might do it.
The water was so cold he struggled to think. This was good. Maybe brain death would finish him off.
His limbs spasmed, his fists became claws.
Agony turned to numbness. Death once more.
 
Then life returned and the numbness passed.
He was fine.
Calm.
Alive.
Dammit.
Two deaths weren’t enough, apparently. It was to be expected, he should have known better. That was okay; there were more deaths to come.
He was patient. He had all the time in the world, literally.
 
Norm
 
s
 
a
 
n
 
k
 
.
 
.
 
.
 
Something had changed. The pressure hurt his head. He could feel it pressing on his skull, like a vice. He screamed, but no words came out. He felt something crack, and knew it was his skull.
Of course, it healed. Three deaths were not enough either.
He tested his limbs. Aside from his right foot, which was still handcuffed to the car, he had total mobility.
The hypothermia had passed and he survived the pressure. So far, so tough.
 
He continued to descend.
.
 
.
 
He looked up. The light above was faint and weak, lighter only in comparison to the gloom he inhabited. He knew what came next; he’d done a bit of reading about the effects, just so he was prepared. He didn’t want to panic and ruin his attempt.
Next came delirium.
 
It was like anti fishing but down not up cold with a car attached like a line I was caught going the wrong way if Jim would survive this he’d probably like it down here it’s a funny sort of adventure and I have no idea where it’s going why didn’t I try this before and if it doesn’t work what’s next and oh no it’s started, Norm realised with horror.
Who knew how long this went on for? The brain damage affected his perception of time and he drifted in his own damaged thoughts until his mind righted itself.
It was a shame that it did, he mused; he had not experienced anything quite like that before.
So once again he was healed. His refusal to stay dead became a source of infuriation.
And now, as he feared, came the worst part. The bit he had dreaded all along, the part that had motivated him to try this in the first place.
Boredom.
.
 
.
 
.
 
He checked his watch. The pressure had cracked it, and in the increasing gloom he was unable to read it anyway.
He was a tad annoyed; it was an antique. But then, who was he going to leave it to?
In a hundred lifetimes he had known friends and lovers, and maybe once family, but he could only endure the pain of continual loss for so long. The withdrawal from others that had followed was inevitable.
Not a soul up there would cry for him, throw him a funeral, nor celebrate his life.
He had no one. He was alone.
 
Hours passed, or at least seemed to. Norm checked his stash of flares was intact, and he fought the urge to strike one up every few minutes to see where he was. He had to conserve them, or risk being caught on the ocean floor alive and unable to see. Now that really would be boring.
He felt the chain relax, and knew that below him the car must have landed on something. Was this really the bottom already? It seemed too soon for such an epic journey to be over.
This couldn’t be it. Could it?
Reluctantly, Norm lit his first flare. His eyes screwed shut at the first light they had seen in hours, and as they settled he saw the world around him illuminated in a sickly pale hue. Well, it wasn’t very exciting. No fish, no plant life, no whale carcasses. Nothing in every direction.
He looked around, saw the car slumped nearby. Great. Then he saw past the car.
Beyond the vehicle, as far as the eye could see, was the trench. He had been wrong, this was not the bottom, this was just a ledge. He peered over and down, into the abyss.
It contained nothing but an absolute blackness.
Norm suddenly felt very small. He had never seen anything so humbling in his entire life. The black stretched as far as the eye could see.
In many ways, this was his ultimate test. It had been a weak, lazy part of him that had driven the escort off the trawler. Between the fall, the cold, drowning and pressure, there was a chance any of these things could have finished him off. On top of that, driving a car to get there had been easy; it involved a foot on a pedal, and the grit not to choke at the last minute. But that was all.
Now though, was something totally different. He had drowned, he had frozen, he had fallen, and he had experienced pressure. But he had not experienced the complete unknown, and that was what lay before him now.
And, he realised, looking at where the car had fallen, it was going to be much harder to get the car off the edge than it was just to drive it. If he wanted to enter the abyss, he was going to have to push.
 
Forty minutes and another flare later, and the ruined Escort loomed dangerously over the black pit.
Norm was exhausted. He had pushed and pushed and pushed. His mind was wandering over repetitive mantra such as:
Move dammit not spending eternity on a ledge with this piece of
Charming. The pressure, cold, and lack of purchase had made it hard to move the vehicle, but the fact that two wheels had been lost in the crash made it near impossible. And, as it turned out, the ocean floor was not much like a road.
The flare was burning down, and Norm knew it would not last much longer. He brought the car to as close as he could to the edge and peered over. Nothing could be seen in the darkness, but in a vain attempt to glean something he dropped the dying flare into the darkness. Its small white glow was visible for what seemed only moments, until either the darkness consumed it, or it surrendered in the face of all consuming black. Norm had no way of telling.
Oh well. No more procrastinating, no more wondering about matters beyond his control. This was it.
Norm smiled. For the first time in living memory, he was scared. He never thought he’d see the day. If nothing else, the experience was worth it for the feeling alone.
He pushed.
 
The car tipped over the edge, but it took over a minute to slide entirely off the ledge. He watched it drop as if saying farewell to an old friend. He waited for the darkness to obscure it as it did the flare. He had, however, forgotten about the chain.
It became taut much quicker than he had anticipated, and he was forced to abandon his plan to swan dive off the edge as the chain swept him off his feet, on to his backside, and then over the edge.
 
The blackness engulfed him as quickly as it had the flare, and Norm was unable to see the trench wall, the car, or even his own hand as he fell. All he could feel was the chain around his ankle yanking him like a rag doll and his infrequent collisions with the trench wall.
The pressure grew beyond intolerable. He hit the wall and he knew his arm was broken. His leg followed. The back of his head struck something and he blacked out.
 
When he awoke later, he thought he was blind. He put his arm back in place and let it repair itself. His leg took a little more care, but was back together in no time. He noticed that the chain had snapped. Where the car was, he had no idea. The abyss had claimed it for its own.
His head hurt, but he knew it would pass. He did not know it, but the pressure had burst both his eyeballs while he was unconscious. They were growing back, but in such crushing darkness having eyes was a moot point.
Oddly enough, his ribs had also collapsed under the pressure as he had dropped. The pain was immense as they popped back into shape. At least his chest was no longer concave.
 
Hours passed as Norm stumbled blindly over uneven terrain. Deprived of his senses, he had no idea how much time had passed. It didn’t matter really. At the bottom of the ocean, what meaning did time have?
Gradually he became aware of small lights around him, and he was delighted to realise two things: he could see again, and there was life, even here. He knew what some of the light was caused by: anglerfish. Their small phosphorous glow attracting would be prey. They approached and fled in equal measure.
As he walked, Norm experienced a myriad of life. Here were things he never knew of before, alien in almost every way, yet alive nonetheless and approaching him with curiosity. Despite the excitement he felt, he also knew calm. This was new.
Things might have continued like that for some time. Norm was certainly content enough to explore uninterrupted with his new friends, but something disturbed the peace around him. His companions fled, and within seconds he was alone and in darkness once more as the fish took their light with them. The ember of happiness Norm felt died, and was replaced with a gnawing sense of terror.
Something was there. He was not alone.
He lit a flare and looked around.
 
It set upon him immediately, but Norm had time enough to see what it was. Maybe fifteen foot tall, the creature stood erect, with clawed limbs, and bore more resemblance to a giant insect shaped like a Tyrannosaurus Rex than a fish. Its eyeless head contained a mouth of daggers and broken glass, and even in these depths its roar was somehow audible.
With a swipe of its claws it eviscerated Norm, who died instantaneously and grew back to the creatures surprise. Its claws found Norm again, and clutching him round the waist, dug its claws into his gut and slammed him into the trench floor.
“Ow,” said Norm, who still had not dropped his flare.
The monsters attack continued relentlessly like this for some time, as the immortal was bitten, scratched, and slammed into every surrounding surface it could find. Norm died over and over, but despite the creatures’ best endeavours, none of these deaths seemed to stick.
“It’s not you, it’s me,” explained Norm, whose words were a garble of bubbles, “Really, you’re doing a great job.”
It seemed to find neither humour nor solace in Norm’s words. In fact, it didn’t seem to register his words at all. After some time, Norm was able to realise just how simple this creature was; it killed its prey, then ate it. Norm would not die; therefore it would not eat him. Instead it was stuck continuously trying to kill him.
Eventually though, even the most simple of minds must learn, and the leviathan gave up. Clutching Norm by the ankle, it dragged him along the ocean trench for several miles, through fields of sulphur fumes erupting from the ocean floor. The poisonous jets were everywhere, but the creature moved around them with little care.
Norm had visions of the creature taking him to its nest to be a never ending food supply for a legion of tiny monsters with eyeless heads, but as soon as he thought this the creature let him go, dropping him to the ground.
It sauntered off wordlessly without looking back.
That was… unique, Norm thought, as he let himself heal. The creatures’ work was truly extraordinary and it took him longer than he thought to patch himself together. Lying on his back he let the world go by. Slowly, finally, the flare burnt out, leaving him in darkness.
Norm realised with some sadness that this was his last flare. The worst had happened.
He was alone in the dark, forever.
There was nothing to do but lie there, heal, and wait for the world to end.
 
As he lay there, Norm realised the darkness around him was dissipating. He could see his hands, then his feet, and finally everything around him. It was as if a thousand white flares had been lit, and he sat in a pale, almost sacred white glow. He sat up.
He had no idea what was going on, but he was intrigued. Maybe he had run out of ways to die and God had decided to claim him. Probably not. That would involve Norm believing, which he almost certainly did not. True, he had seen some amazing things, but he had also seen war. He had seen the Somme, and Auschwitz. His faith could not survive that.
The light continued to glow, but with the towers of sulphur around him Norm’s visibility was limited. There was no way he could see the source with the jets bubbling away. Then, as if they had heard him, the jets stopped.
Whole towers of bubbling gas all switched off at once, and within a few moments the land around him was still.
Which was when Norm saw it.
 
Technically, it was a very big fish. There were other synonyms that would probably do a better job. The words ‘very big’ were about as apt as saying the sun was very hot. This thing was huge. It resembled an anglerfish in most ways, with the exception of size of course. Its eyes were the size of elephants and were responsible for the source of light that illuminated the area around Norm. remarkably, they glowed, the eyes themselves huge milky white jewels.
It saw Norm.
Its entire presence was focused upon him. But all it did was float there and watch him.
On any other day, the thoughts This ought to do it, would have raced through his mind. Instead, he could only stand and stare.
Wow.
Wow? He heard. The word was in his head, but it was not his voice. It was no voice he had heard before, nor would again. Wow? It was utterly devoid of emotion.
Did you say that? He thought, directing it at the fish.
Little meat thing, the voice said. Soft. Curious. Lost.
Good lord, Norm thought. It was the fish.
Yes.
Really?
The fish hung in the air, silent. How it could even float he had no idea.
Different, said the fish.
Deciding that was a question directed at him, he replied, I’m not from around here.
Different, said the fish.
Yes, I must be, he said.
What are you? Asked Norm.
I am, replied the Huge Fish God.
That didn’t really answer my question.
No, replied the Huge Fish God, then, This is not your place.
No, Norm agreed.
Then why?
I wanted to end it, Norm explained.
The fish said nothing.
I’ve seen everything, Norm went on, unsure why he felt the need to justify himself to what was effectively a fish, once you got past the size issue. I’ve nothing to experience, I can’t be killed, I have no one. There’s nothing for me.
You hadn’t seen me, said the fish.
Well, that’s true.
Little Meat Thing, the Huge Fish God said again. Was it an affectionate term?
Can you help me die?
Not natural.
I’m not natural.
How do you know?
Look, I’m not going to get into an argument with you about destiny or higher powers. You’re a fish. What do you know?
The fish said nothing.
Look, if you were as old as me, you’d understand.
Old? The fish asked.
Yeah, Norm said, then realised who he was talking to. How old are you?
The fish said nothing.
How long have you been alive?
How would I know?
Norm looked around. It was a fair point. There was nothing to mark time here. In the hours he had been here he had completely lost all sense of time. He paused. Or was it days?
He was being disrespectful. The Huge Fish God was clearly very old indeed. One only had to see its scars, broken teeth and dead things in its mouth to establish that.
Is there a higher purpose? Why am I alive?
Little Meat Thing, it said, and Norm knew this was the only answer he was going to get.
There are things you don’t know, it said suddenly, You may see the end of this world, but you did not see its start. You do not know.
So you won’t help me die?
Your death will come, but it is not here and it is not now.
Norm snapped to. This was new.
Can you tell me when? How?
This is just one world. You have not experienced all worlds unseen. Change is coming.
This was huge. The questions that this aroused were many, and Norm was nearly overwhelmed. He didn’t know where to begin.
That is all, said the Huge Fish God.
As if taking their cue from the colossal beast, the sulphur jets started up again. Bubbles started to trickle through, and were gaining momentum.
Wait! Norm pleaded, There’s so much I don’t know.
That is all, the Huge Fish God repeated; Go in peace, Little Meat Thing.
The towers were bubbling furiously now. Norm’s visibility was seriously compromised. Within moments it would be gone forever.
The last thing Norm saw before his vision was lost was something he could not be sure of. Before the sulphur towers consumed all light, the Huge Fish God drifted towards him, its colossal black mouth open as if to consume him.
Darkness.
 
 
All worlds unseen.
 
 
Norm awoke on the shore. He was above ground and under sunlight for the first time in hours. Waves lapped at his ankles. He stared at the sky. It was overcast.
A small amount of sunlight broke through part of the clouds, and the rest it illuminated from behind. It was a tapestry of grey and gold.
Norm stared up, feeling weak and casting his own shapes on the clouds when he noticed something strange. Whether it was created from exhaustion or really there no one could say, but Norm knew. Bathed in a golden glow was a city in the clouds, its crystal spires reaching high into the sky. It wasn’t heaven; it was something else.
Maybe the fish had been right all along. If this was all worlds unseen, then change was coming. This meant something new. This could mean death after all.
Gazing up at the sky, he felt a tremendous weight lifted from him. He did not know whether it would last, but for this minute, for this fleeting moment in time, he felt gratitude.
“Thank you,” he whispered.


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