Finding Immortality

There are some basic rules to writing a book that I will now impart to you, the reader.
1) After you murder somebody, DON’T WRITE A BOOK ABOUT IT! This is common sense. Writing a tell-all book leaves a well-documented trail for the jury to follow.
2) Change the facts if you are foolish enough to write a book about your crime,. For example, one fact you should never reveal is your actual name.
3) If your book includes an accomplice, you must change any facts about them. Skipping this simple step will transform you from author to corpse.
4) And finally, no matter what, DON’T WRITE ANOTHER BOOK! Even a dead person can follow that logic.
To continue living, those are essential rules to follow. Yet, I ignored my sage wisdom and wrote another book. I hope that after reading this book, you will understand my logic.
I survived her wrath! It is impossible to understand how wonderful it feels to be alive until a person comes within inches of death.
My life returned to normal, and I found a new job at the Portland Tribune. My boss, Lloyd Stevenson, assigned me to be his new “people person.” The job involved selecting a popular, controversial topic, explaining the facts to a local person, and writing up their reaction. My workdays lasted three hours, and the stories wrote themselves. Easy money!
As you may recall, a deranged woman who called herself Grace forced me to undergo a painful procedure called the “harvest,” which required me to place an organ (a prepared human pancreas!) into my body. This life-prolonging procedure nearly eliminated aging and improved my mental and physical abilities. The effect lasted six months. If I stopped harvesting, my newfound abilities would subside, and my body would return to its standard aging rate.
The harvest effects were profound, especially on my mental abilities. My memory, logic, intuition, and mathematical skills were far better. Plus, I could calculate the passage of time with extreme accuracy.
Before my harvest, I could not run one block without collapsing in exhaustion (which was pretty sad). If you asked me to touch my toes, my hands stopped at my knees.
I began taking karate lessons, practicing yoga, and going for hour-long runs. My body became so flexible that I easily touched the ground with my palms. My allergies, digestive issues, and tinnitus were all gone. Plus, the six ugly moles on my face fell off, my bald spot disappeared, and my skin took on a youthful complexion. I require less sleep and am much stronger than before, but I cannot build muscle mass beyond a certain point. To top it off, I lost 32 pounds without even trying. Women began turning their heads when I walked by, and I got asked out on dates. Obviously, that had never happened before.
My personality and interests also changed. I now have a deeper appreciation of classical music and famous artwork. Plus, I have taken a keen interest in physics, biology, and astronomy. The change also gave me endless patience to listen to intelligent people. My political views switched from passionate liberal to balanced neutral. Overall, I went from being an arrogant introvert to a self-confident extrovert with a winning smile. Everybody noticed how much I grew as a person, and they all liked the new James Kimble.
My life’s direction also underwent a substantial change. Before the harvest, I applied the minimum effort in everything. On weekdays I got up, drove to work, did a mediocre job, went home, watched television, and fell asleep. I got up late on weekends, watched uninspiring television programs, and fell asleep early. I had no real interests, and only writing provided limited pleasure.
Now, my mind challenged me to get the maximum out of every day. I wanted to learn every subject, taste every type of food, and experience every sort of activity. As a result, I had a robust overall drive to be a better person and diligently accomplish every task with pride.
However, not all the changes in my life were positive. I had never been paranoid, but now I began to view unfamiliar people with great suspicion. I am acutely aware of my security and carefully scout my surroundings before entering a new location. I find it essential to carry at least one knife, and occasionally I bring a gun. Also, I act more aggressively, and it takes a lot of effort to keep this overcompensation in check during disagreements.
What was I going to do with my life? I had a plan! I would knock out Interviewing Immortality and leave harvesting behind. However, the last line in my book contained a contradiction within this boastful taunt, “It is still a choice: kill or let nature kill me.”
I want everyone to know that this statement was stupid, selfish, and boastful. I do not know what I was thinking when I wrote it. I, James Kimble, stopped a man’s beating heart! And for what? To touch my toes and get hit on by women? Killing a human being is by far the worst deed any person could do. My callous actions haunt my soul every waking moment, and I have guilt-filled nightmares. No matter how great my life had become or how long I would live, taking another person’s life for my petty personal benefit would never happen again. My deplorable actions brought me great personal shame, and I had no valid excuse. Did I deserve to rot in jail? Absolutely! Would I confess my crimes? Well …
Another aspect of the harvest is the foresight to see the long-term consequences. The life I took belonged to a man of ill repute, and I could not change the fact that he died. Therefore, I chose not to confess my crime. My logic was that my writings made the world a better place. I understood this reasoning was a selfish cop-out, but this delusion allowed me to sleep.
My plan started with me quietly appreciating the harvest effects before removing my harvested pancreas. I would return to the small-time author’s life, buy apartments for income, and write in my spare time. Unfortunately, I could write nothing of substance without the harvest abilities, and therefore, my time as a column writer and reporter would soon end. I accepted this fate with positive dignity.
I would never murder again, and this would allow me to live with a guilt-free conscience. My parents raised me to be an upstanding man, and I vowed to behave for the rest of my life. If anybody asked, I would tell them I created Interviewing Immortality as a publicity stunt, and this would end the conversation.
Despite my meager Portland Tribune salary, I applied for a loan on a four-unit apartment complex. It was inconceivable to think a bank would give a loan to somebody like me, but I had an ace up my sleeve. My harvest-powered mind figured out precisely what the loan officer wanted. I completed all the forms without errors, prepared a flawless report of the project finances, had excellent references, and spoke with extreme confidence.
The dilapidated apartment complex I purchased had endless issues. There had been a kitchen fire in unit number two. None of the electrical outlets worked, teenagers had vandalized every room, and the old faucets shot out brown water. Fortunately, I had an informal agreement with my roommates, Dave and Craig. They helped me fix up the apartments in exchange for reduced rent. However, while we did quality work, we neglected to have the improvements inspected.
Over five weeks, we made the apartments look spotless. Then, I used my contacts at the Portland Tribune to produce a professional advertisement and rapidly located four paying tenants.
There is an unusual aspect of loaning money, wherein the further you are in debt, the more money banks want to lend you. This concept may seem counterintuitive, but I made every payment on time (gave money to the bank), fixed up my apartments (adding value), and rapidly gained paying tenants. The bank appreciated my professional attitude and good business intuition. A month after my fourth tenant moved in, I got a loan on a three-unit apartment complex and then a five-unit complex. Easy money! Of course, Grace had recommended apartments as an excellent long-term investment.
While my harvest abilities were still present, I began writing Interviewing Immortality. My process began by entering the handwritten notes in my Dawson’s Creek notebook into my laptop. Unfortunately, when I wrote those notes, I had an injured hand from the scuffle when Grace captured me. Even without an injury, my handwriting was terrible, but now the result looked like incoherent chicken-scratch gibberish. My translation efforts took over two weeks, and I often guessed while unraveling my cryptic labyrinth of misspellings.
The resulting notes were an awful nonsensical account of my interaction with Grace, along with my incoherent thoughts of the moment. It took eight days to develop the best format for Interviewing Immortality. Incidentally, I originally titled the book A Graceful Interview. Get the pun?
I sent a sample chapter to my publisher, Bethany, and to my delight, she liked it. However, we disagreed about the format. I wanted a balance between my story and Grace’s. She suggested I focus on Grace’s history. Nevertheless, I stubbornly insisted on my original format, as I believed readers would empathize with my reactions.
While I wrote my book, I came clean on my Facebook page. I told all my online friends that I had not written Grime: The Big Hate and had only written half of Grime: Just Cause. My Facebook fans posted many angry comments, and many unfriended me. I also got comments from authors who said I would never be welcome in the writer’s community. The Facebook group Writers Helping Writers permanently banned me as a member. As an aspiring author, this negative onslaught was agonizing.
I chose not to respond to most of the angry comments but sometimes stated, “Guilty as charged.” For the first two weeks, nobody respected my honest approach, but a strange thing happened. The public forgot. I had my five minutes of shame, and I climbed right back on top.
New readers picked up my Grime books and wanted a connection to me. Others wrote comments like, “Yeah, whatever. His book reads well, no matter who wrote it.” One wrote, “The guy worked at Best Buy and did what he had to do. What were you expecting?” Another wrote, “James legally purchased the original work and changed it. His only mistake was not crediting the original author. Get off his back!” I could not believe this reaction and would never have written such forgiving comments.
Bethany contacted the family of the original author (Jack Dunkin), diverted the remaining Grime series’ profits, and stopped printing the books. Out of respect (more likely fear of a lawsuit), they printed 10,000 copies of the unmodified book under its original title, An Oxford Tale of Mischief. The publishing company promoted the book as a “rediscovered masterpiece.” Upon its release, many bookstores prominently featured it in their front window. I found it strange that Bethany did not publish the book under Jack Dunkin’s pen name, Edmund Summers.
A few days after An Oxford Tale of Mischief came out, critics dealt it scathing reviews. Readers believed the story had already been explored (with my version), and An Oxford Tale of Mischief was not worth the price. As a result, fewer than 2,000 copies moved off the shelves.
I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating the low sales, and I now understand that my poor attempts to “freshen” An Oxford Tale of Mischief succeeded. I equate this to remaking a classic story in a campy style—for example, Mel Brooks’s movie Robin Hood: Men in Tights.
Jack Dunkin’s family disliked the low sales, and they have been threatening my publisher with a lawsuit. As for me? I had closed that dishonest chapter of my life, and it felt great to be free.
My harvest abilities allowed me to convert my written notes into a book in less than four weeks. Before I proceed any further, you may remember my simple “rules of publishing” from the beginning of this book. Let me take this opportunity to explain the reason behind breaking rules one and two. I published the book under my name and provided all of Grace’s details for a straightforward reason. She terrified me! I slept with a kitchen knife under my pillow, and I felt over-the-top petrified of that murdering psychopath! She asked me to write a book, and boy-howdy, I vowed to complete her request at any cost! I looked into those eyes and saw what my fate would be if I failed.
As for the consequences? Honestly, I did not think about what would happen after I published Interviewing Immortality. Bethany wanted me to change more facts and use a pen name. I feared Grace so much that I ignored Bethany’s sound advice. Even with all that has happened since then, I believe I made the right decision.
Fortunately, a few bookstores agreed to give a “second chance to a disgraced author,” and Bethany printed 1,000 copies. Right after the book hit the shelves, nothing happened. Honestly, the lack of interest stunned me. I expected some kind of response because I had written a nonfiction book that stated, “Hey, world, there is this woman who has lived for 500 years by killing people, and here’s the proof.”
One would think that the media would have taken some notice. At least an article in “the lighter side of things” of the Portland Tribune would have proclaimed, “Immortals are real. Who would have thunk it?” Even the Portland Tribune’s response (on the last page of the Entertainment section) had two sentences: “Our own James Kimble has written the book Interviewing Immortality. Check it out.” I could not believe the complete lack of interest in my truthful account.
The craziest reaction came from my Grime fans. A bunch of them bought Interviewing Immortality on the first day. Their dedication deeply touched me. In the evening, they posted many comments like “The fourth book in the Grime series lacked continuity.” Really?!
Sales quickly tapered off, but I only felt relief because I had satisfied my obligation to Grace. To celebrate, I took the afternoon off and drove to a local park. After walking around, I ate tasty lasagna and took a nap. That evening, I looked forward to resuming a quiet and safe “Grace-free” life. It did not matter how many copies of the books were sold. I slept peacefully from the moment my head hit the pillow until the sun hit my eyes.
Well, a few people read Interviewing Immortality, and ten days later, there was a knock on my door. When I cheerfully opened the door, a sharply dressed police officer asked, “Are you James Kimble?”
“Of course,” I answered with a smile.
“We have questions.”
The officer threw me into the back of a police car, and I found myself in a dingy room at the Portland Police Department. After an hour of staring at the poorly painted green and white walls, a man dressed in a sharp black suit came in and said, “My name is Detective Camron. Is that silly book true?”
I could not believe what was happening, but I should have been expecting a visit from the police. Let’s recall that Bethany had voiced “major concerns” over my truthful choices. I will go even further. My harvest-powered mind should have applied basic logic to the situation. When a person writes a book about killing somebody, the authorities automatically take an interest. For me, there should have been absolutely no surprise reaction, but I felt dumbfounded.
At my core, I consider myself a good person, but I did not know how to answer Detective Camron’s basic question. As I looked at him in stunned confusion, I began thinking of my situation and knew I had to shrug it off. My mind began focusing, and I went over the possible answers that would improve my situation.
Detective Camron possessed a striking figure. He stood six feet three, was in his early 50s, had thick black hair, a crazy red dice tattoo on his neck, a robust build, and boundless confidence. I knew my predicament placed him in a superior position. He leaned over and propped his head up with his hands to get as close to me as possible. I calculated we had been staring at each other for 43 seconds. I then contemplated how easily my mind figured out the exact time. This timekeeping harvest ability inspired me to understand that I had the upper hand.
I knew Detective Camron did not have enough evidence to place me under arrest. I also knew Grace would have covered up my crime with a bunch of red herring evidence. Feeling confident, I changed my stance and looked at Detective Camron for 37 seconds while waiting for my confidence to unnerve him. Twenty-eight seconds later, he began looking unsure. When I felt the moment to strike was right, I stated in a matter-of-fact voice, “It’s a prank. A publicity stunt to publish my book as nonfiction. I didn’t commit any crime, nor did I witness anything illegal.”
Detective Camron did not expect this positive response and looked at me with confusion. Twelve seconds later, his confidence returned. With a crafty smile, he said, “A judge granted a search warrant, and officers are tossing your place. You better start telling the truth!”
A lot happened in the next sixteen seconds. I felt horrified; my Dawson’s Creek notebook was at home. It contained everything about Grace, and I knew she would not be happy to the details I left out of the book made available to the police.
As suddenly as my horror came, it ceased. I knew the awful handwriting in my notebook was indecipherable by anybody but me. Also, my laptop was under a pile of dirty clothes in my car because our washing machine was broken again. My valued copy of the Cleopatra scrolls, the mint oil, and harvesting equipment were all in a safe deposit box under a corporate name. My two cobras were the only evidence connecting me to the crimes described in Interviewing Immortality. However, I knew possession of dangerous reptiles was illegal without a license.
I stared back at Detective Camron and nodded. He did not know what to make of me or my confident smile. At that moment, I recalled Grace’s fantastic ability to stare deeply into a person, and for some strange reason, I attempted this. I began by looking deep into Detective Camron’s eyes and forcing him to remain still with her eye-dagger staring technique. The effect started working, and I sensed his fear. For the next 68 seconds, I used every ounce of mental strength I had to hold him in place while he broke into a cold sweat.
I let up and sat back in my chair. Detective Camron stared at me in horror. His hands shook, and I thought he would fall over. It took him great effort to stagger out of the room. I smiled with smug satisfaction, knowing that somebody had been looking through the one-way glass, and they were now yelling at Detective Camron. This episode took me to a new level of personal satisfaction.
Sixty-one minutes later, the door opened, and another man came in. He asked questions while pounding his fists on the table. I sat there looking at him with a silly grin while appreciating how my body and mind performed. The best part was that I knew my confidence was genuine and not an act. I am truly better than other people. Eventually, the man confessed that they did not have any evidence against me—victory at its finest!
When I got home, I found chaos. First, I saw the police had confiscated my roommate Dave’s gaming computer, which upset him no end. Also, they took all my writing material and music compact discs. It amused me to see they had also taken my old desktop computer. It stopped working two years ago, and I had forgotten all about that pile of junk in the back of my closet.
To my great dismay, they took my two cobras. I had named them Bud and Kelly from the television show Married … with Children. I had no intention of using the snakes for harvesting, but we enjoyed having them as pets. Unfortunately, the police had left a document with Dave informing us that those snakes were dangerous and that the Humane Society would euthanize them. This disheartening circumstance hurt, and I called the police several times to ask for their release.
The document also said they would return our property after the investigation, which could take up to six months. The news upset Dave because he had paid to attend a large online gaming tournament that weekend.
That evening, when Craig came home, he wanted to know what happened to Bud and Kelly. He held a shoebox with two mice he found at work to give to them. When Craig learned what happened, he felt relieved because he took his new MacBook to work that day.
After we cleaned up, I got my laptop computer out of the car, made a backup of all my files onto a flash drive, and put it in my safe deposit box. I then encrypted my laptop files with the most complex password that the encryption software would accept: #_1_HIT-*BillieJeanIsNotMyLover*-August/29/1958! Yes, I admit it, I’m a huge Michael Jackson fan, and I celebrate his birthday every year.
After this disruption, our lives returned to normal. Dave purchased a better gaming computer, and Craig purchased a king snake on Craigslist. I had been expecting a call from the district attorney’s office, get arrested, or have the door broken down by a SWAT team, but nothing happened.
Five months after meeting Grace, the harvest effects were wearing off. This decline dulled my mind and reduced my advanced motor skills. However, I expected this eventuality and planned to remove my harvested pancreas when it no longer provided benefits.

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Copyright © 2022 Bill Conrad