Best Weird Stories – Strange Life Extension Stories
Best Weird Stories – Strange Life Extension Stories titled story is about a man who try to extend human life with his discovery of immortality serum. Now let me tell you the story
Doctor Ives sits alone in his laboratory alone, because Death has come for his co-workers, one by one. He sits on a stool beside his work-counter, shirt sleeve rolled back past the left elbow. On the counter by that elbow, a watch, at which he glances from time to time as if afraid of missing an appointment. He glances at it now: the time is 4:17 and 12 seconds. In his right hand he holds a syringe.
He is a fairly young man, surely not more than thirty-five, but with prematurely white hair. He and his colleagues have been laboring for years on a drug to extend human longevity…and which the newsmedia persist in calling “an immortality serum” — a sensationalistic phrase that generated scoffing publicity and interfered with funding. Still, they had pressed on, and for much of the last few years had felt themselves separated from success only by the narrowest of margins. Again and again, it had seemed within their grasp and, again and again, they had been proven fatally wrong. One by one, Death had come for them, and only he is left.
Immortality Serum – A Drug That Extend Human Longevity
Two volunteer subjects and Doctor Arthur Lake, Nobel Laureate and Head of the Institute, the Government had forbidden further testing of this series of drugs on human subjects. But those who were left — unable to relinquish the great prize that lay so close at hand (the mayflies had lived a whole year now with no noticeable ill-effects) — had carried on their research in secret.
Each had injected himself. And each had died within five minutes. But today, the youngest and last-surviving member of team has succeeded in detecting and repairing the subtle defect in the molecular structure of the pseudo-enzyme that had caused the brain to send its heart-stopping message.
“This time,” he thinks aloud; “this time, it has to work.”
He will soon find out, for now — 4:17 and 30 seconds — is the Moment of Truth, there being no excuse for further delay. He punctures the blue vein in his left arm with the needle, pushes home the plunger. And he thinks, If I can just survive that first five minutes…
He lays down the syringe and sits with two fingers on his pulse and his eyes on the watch. 4:18 and 18 seconds. He finds that his pulse is racing and that the drug is having a curious effect on him. Anyway, he thinks it’s the drug: for out of the corner of his right eye he seems to see something: a dim, dark figure perhaps, standing in the northwest corner of the laboratory by the door. He supposes it possible that his fear has fashioned something to justify itself, but he is determined not to yield to panic and he keeps his eyes riveted on the watch.
Death: Sometimes I’m early but never too late
4:20 and 17 seconds.(Best Weird Stories)
And at that moment, a shocking — almost heart-stopping — thing: the locked door of the laboratory flings itself noiselessly open…A figure enters; a figure about his own height, perhaps a little taller; a faintly smiling face atop a figure clothed in shadow; it glides toward him along the floor, and speaks in a gentle voice ringing with whimsical humor.
“Doctor Ives, I presume.”
Ives, congealed, can barely nod his head.
“You know me?”
Ives hears a voice — his own? — replying softly, “I know you.”
“I have an appointment with you at” — he takes an antique time-piece from some fold of his robe; it is of course a stop-watch — “4:22 and 22 seconds.”
Ives’ heart bounds as he snatches at an absurd and unworthy hope. “It’s not quite that yet.”
“I’ll wait,” says Death, with an ironical smile. “I’m sometimes early,” he explains, seating himself on a chair facing the doctor, “but never late.”
“I was so sure I’d solved that last problem!” Ives groans. “If I’d only had one more day…”
Death: I am That Solitary Messenger
Death laughs, raises a protesting hand. “Please, Please spare me! Everyone thinks I have come at an inconvenient time, so spare me your excuses, your objections, your whines. You can’t imagine how many uncountable times I’ve heard them. It would weary me, if 1 were capable of being wearied. But,” and again that ironical and somewhat boastful smile, “Nothing wearies me, for I am immortal. You must resign yourself. I am that Solitary Messenger who comes, sooner or later, to fetch every man.”
“Solitary?” repeats Ives. “Solitary!” — with a spasm of bitterness, for he has an outraged sense of being too much set upon. “Then who’s that over there!” He indicates with his finger the northwest corner of the room.
For a flickering fraction of a second, Death is baffled. Then he smiles at the childishness of this trick. Nevertheless, he negligently, contemptuously, allows himself to glance in that direction., .and freezes. A tall figure, looming almost to the ceiling, stands in that corner of the room. A dark figure, whose robe is woven of the same material as is Death’s, but with little gleaming points of light like a night sky.
Blood Drains From Death Face
This figure leaves the corner and glides towards the two of them as silently as a lengthening shadow. The blood drains from Death’s face. The Great Figure hovers over them. It raises an arm, exposing a pale wrist upon which is a watch — a digital chronometer. The time is 4:22 and 22 seconds. And It lays its great hand not upon Ives, but upon Death’s shoulder, as if arresting Death.
Death stares upward, wide-eyed. His mouth flails open and he stammers questions, objections, pleas, but to no avail: he is as helpless as any mere mortal in the grip of this greater Being; under its prompting, Death rises from the chair and is swallowed up in a slow swirling movement of the dark and glittering robe as It turns away; but his muffled voice can still be heard protesting weakly :”This cannot be” as the two glide from the room and are gone. The door swings noiselessly shut behind them.
How Long is Longevity ?
For a moment Ives sits paralyzed with pity; not for himself for Death, poor Death.
The next moment — 4:22 and 30 seconds — he throws back his head and shouts with laughter. For he is alive! He has survived the five minutes! The fatal obstacle has been overcome and the longevity serum is at work in his body. “Longevity…” The laughter dies in his throat. Longevity? How long is longevity? Victorious and silent, trembling with speculation, Doctor Ives sits alone in his laboratory…
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