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“What are you doing?”

“An experiment.”

“What sort of experiment?”

“Seeing if I can make a human immortal.”

“Make a human— what?”

“Immortal.”

“Yes, I heard you, it’s just…”

“Just what?”

“Is that a good idea?”

“Does that matter?”

“…I think so?”

“Huh. Well, I’ve done it now.”

“Can you undo it?”

“Let’s see… Uh, no. No, I’m not entirely sure how I did it in the first place to be honest.”

“Oh dear.”

~~

“How’s the experiment going?”

“Um. Mixed results, so far.”

“How so?”

“Well, she’s still alive.”

“Immortality will do that to you.”

“Yeah. So that’s good. And she’s killed a bunch of people. Like, a lot of people. She’s getting really good at it. She’s pretty badass.”

“Okay.”

“So, those are positives.”

“Sure. For a given meaning of positive.”

“The thing is, I think I did something a bit wrong?”

“Like what?”

“Well, see, the thing is, she— It’s— She does actually die.”

“What?”

“She dies. If she gets hurt badly enough, she dies.”

“Oh.”

“But then she comes back.”

“I see.”

“But she doesn’t die very much. Any more. Mostly it’s other people who do the dying.”

“Right.”

“Also, something’s… off.”

“In what way?”

“I’m not sure. Watch her with me for a bit? See if you can see something?”

“Sure. I don’t have any responsibilities or anything.”

“Sit here, next to me.”

“Thanks.”

“Cushion?”

“The cloud’s fine, thank you.”

“No problem.”

“Hmm.”

“What?”

“She seems sad.”

“Sad?”

“You know — not happy.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah.”

“Why would she be sad?”

“I think she’s lonely.”

“She has been on her own for a while…”

“Can you make her a friend? Did you ever figure out how you did it?”

“Yes! Yes, I did. Okay. We just need to find someone nearby who’s dying.”

“It can’t be just anyone.”

“What?”

“They’re going to be her only friend. It needs to be someone she’ll get on with.”

“Oh.”

“And someone like her, a fighter.”

“Right.”

“Wouldn’t hurt if they were beautiful.”

“You don’t want much, do you?”

“She’s going to be looking at them forever. And so are we.”

“Beautiful it is, then.”

“Good.”

“What about her?”

“Hmm, nah. I think she’d annoy her.”

“Him?”

“Also annoying.”

“Them?”

“Too weak.”

“This one?”

“I think they’ve been dead a bit too long?”

“Hmm, probably. Okay, what about… oh! This one! This one’s perfect!”

“Yes! Oh, wait— oh. You already did it?”

“Yeah. What’s the problem?”

“Look where she is.”

“I know it’s not the most picturesque location for a meet-cute, but—”

“Look how far away she is.”

“Ah, fuck.”

~~

“Did she find her yet?”

“Hm? Oh, I don’t know. I haven’t checked for a while.”

“What? Why?”

“It’s too depressing.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah. Even with the dreams, she couldn’t find her. Last time I checked, she was half a continent away and walking in the wrong direction.”

“Ah.”

“Human beings are just too small. The world’s too big for them.”

“You want me to check?”

“If you want.”

“Okay. Hey, I think she’s getting closer.”

“Really?”

“Yeah— oh! Oh no, don’t look.”

“Why?”

“The new one has sort of... wandered into a desert.”

“A desert?”

“Yeah. And she’s not wandering out again.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means she’s lying on the ground, dying repeatedly.”

“Oh, Jesus Christ.”

“Who?”

“I've no idea, I don’t know why I said that.”

~~

“Guess what?!”

“What?”

“She found her!”

“That’s great! Are they both okay?”

“Yes! She got her out of the desert and everything. They’re having a great time.”

“I’m so glad.”

“Also, I did it again.”

“What?”

“I wasn’t going to, but then there was this guy in this battle, and he’d be perfect for them, and he’s got this killer smile. Really great. And he’s not that far away from them either. Relatively speaking. And I feel like I’ve really refined my process now. So when he took a spear to his throat I did my thing and — Bam! Third immortal.”

“That’s… great. So, you refining your process, does that mean that this one doesn’t die?”

“Ah, no. I haven’t refined it that much.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah, mostly it just means that it all happens a bit faster.”

“I see.”

“Still pretty slow though.”

“Right.”

~~

“Oh my god, what happened?!”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to!”

“What did you do?”

“I think I sat on his off-button, I’m so sorry.”

“His off-button?”

“I’m really sorry.”

“I didn’t know there was an off-button.”

“It was underneath the cushion, I was just trying to get comfortable.”

“Shit.”

“I’m very, very sorry.”

“He’s actually dead for real.”

“Sorry.”

“How are they taking it?”

“Um.”

“Oh, she’s sad again. They’re both sad.”

“Yes.”

“After all the work I did to make her not sad.”

“Have I mentioned how sorry I— what’s that?”

“Message from the front gate. Here.”

“Oh. Ah.”

“What is it?”

“Apparently, he’s asking to speak with whoever’s responsible for, you know. All of that.”

“Uh. Maybe tomorrow?”

~~

“What are you doing now?”

“What do you think of these two?”

“For what?”

“You know.”

“I thought you were going to leave that alone.”

“Yeah, but, they’d be good, don’t you think? And they’re literally right next to each other.”

“That’s because they just killed each other.”

“I’m doing it.”

“Please don’t— okay, you did.”

“It’ll be fine. Things needed spicing up a little.”

“They’re killing each other again!”

“Oh, yeah. Look at that.”

“This is a really bad idea. Press their off-buttons.”

“No!”

“Bring those back here!”

“I will not.”

“The other two are fine on their own.”

“No they’re not. They need more friends.”

“Okay, but these two?”

“I like these two.”

“Yeah, I wonder why.”

“Hey! You’re the one who said they needed to be beautiful.”

“There are lots of beautiful people in the— Hey, what are they doing now?”

“They’re— Oh. Oh.”

“I did not see that coming.”

“I did. Totally knew that was going to happen.”

“Liar.”

~~

“Spying on them again, you perv?”

“I am not spying and I am not perving. I am appreciating their joy in the connection of their souls, and the power and beauty of human love.”

“Right. Funny how you always seem to be appreciating their joy and love when that one’s flat on his back.”

“Like you don’t watch the other two.”

“I never denied it. Are you going to let me sit down or not?”

“Just be really careful not to sit on their off-buttons. Or at least sit on both of them at once.”

“Oh, I moved the off-buttons.”

“You did?”

“Yeah, didn’t want any more accidents. They can’t be pushed by mistake now.”

“That’s unexpectedly good thinking of you.”

“Thank you.”

~~

“Are you okay?”

“No.”

“What happened?”

“Look what they did! Look what they did to her!”

“What? Oh! Oh, that’s horrible. Why would they do that?”

“Because human beings are terrible.”

“Where are the others?”

“Looking for her.”

“Oh, that’s— I don’t think that’s going to work.”

“Yeah. Ocean too big, humans too small etc.”

“Poor things. Is there nothing we can do?”

“No. I don’t think so.”

“Maybe…”

“No. Not yet. She found her once. Maybe again?”

“Maybe.”

~~

“I think it might be time.”

“For what?”

“You know what. She’s been down there a long time. This is worse than the desert. They’re not going to find her.”

“Yeah, I thought about it.”

“And?”

“I can’t find her off-button.”

“What?”

“I put it in a safe place where it wouldn’t get set off by accident and now I can’t remember where the safe place was.”

“Oh my god.”

~~

“Please tell me you’re not thinking about doing this again.”

“She’s lonely.”

“She’s got the other two.”

“Yeah. And they’re very much a Two. She needs her own friend. Four’s a better number than three.”

“I suppose, but… Look. Every time you’ve done this, it’s gone wrong.”

“Not every time.”

“Yes, every time. Even those two. They don’t know you’ve lost their off-buttons. That one has a meltdown every time the other one dies. Just watching him is exhausting.”

“The other one’s fine.”

“The other one thinks you know what you’re doing.”

“But look at her. Just, look at her.”

“I know, but. I don’t think you can just replace one friend with another. I don’t think humans work like that.”

“Well, I’ve got to do something. I’m not leaving her like this.”

“Alright. Alright, fine. Who did you have in mind?”

“I was thinking this guy.”

“This guy?”

“Yeah. He seems like a good fit.”

“You may be right there.”

“They have stuff in common.”

“You mean the drinking?”

“Yeah.”

“They do both seem to enjoy it.”

“Exactly. Think of how much fun they’ll have together.”

“Does he seem a bit…”

“A bit what?”

“Prone to depression.”

“Eh, he’ll get over that.”

~~

“I don’t think he’s getting over it.”

“No.”

“That first death was more brutal than I anticipated. And the hundred and fifty after that.”

“Yeah.”

“And I forgot that sometimes humans have children?”

“Yeah.”

“Also…”

“Also?”

“I can’t turn the dreams off.”

“What?”

“The dreams, so they can find each other? I can’t turn them off.”

“But they already found each other. Why would he still be— oh.”

“Yeah.”

“He’s dreaming about…”

“Yeah.”

“That’s not good.”

“No.”

“Can you press his off-button?”

“Can’t find it.”

“But it’s a new button! He didn’t exist yet when you hid the others.”

“Yeah, but it’s gone as well. I think it must have manifested in the same place as the others? I don’t know.”

“Damn.”

“Yeah.”

“Okay, I can’t watch him any more. It’s bumming me out. Where are the others?”

“The first one’s rappelling K2 without any safety equipment and the other two are in Malta.”

“What are they doing in Malta?”

“Have a look.”

“Ohhh.”

“Popcorn?”

~~

“Who’s this guy?”

“This guys a prick.”

“Yeah, I see that. Wait. Is he wearing a hoodie under a blazer?”

“It’s worse than that. That hood is stitched into the blazer.”

“Oh, wow.”

“And he keeps using female as a noun.”

“Why are we watching this guy?”

“I think the new one’s about to make a catastrophic error.”

“I did warn you about him.”

“It’s alright, I’m on it.”

“What do you mean, on it?”

“I have a plan.”

“Oh, God.”

“Where? Oh, nevermind. Anyway, I’m going to make another new one.”

“What? Why? Why is that always your plan? Why do you think it will go any differently this time?”

“It is going to be different. I’ve had my eye on this one for a while. I didn’t know I was going to need her for this, but the timing’s actually perfect. I just need to keep her away from Death for a little bit longer so I can nudge her to where I want her to be. Check her out.”

“Okay. Okay, I’ll grant you. She’s good. But what exactly do you think she’s going to be able to fix?”

“Everything! Okay, not everything. She can’t get that one out of the sea, and she can’t cure that one’s depression, or find any of the off-buttons, or— okay. But. Don’t you think they all need… perking up a bit?”

“Perking up?”

“Yeah. And she’s perfect. The mistake I made with the last one is that he’s a bit too much like the first one. They’re alike in the wrong ways.”

“Yeah, thats the mistake you made with him.”

“But this one’s different. She’ll lift them all out of their funk, you’ll see.”

“Uh-huh.”

“And, if I time it right, it will distract the last one from whatever stupid plan he’s got brewing.”

“Sure.”

“She’ll be a great leader when the first one goes.”

“I see that. Why would the first one— Oh. Is that…?”

“Yeah. I found hers. Just hers, none of the others.”

“Are you going to press it?”

“Not yet. I want to see how things go.”

“You’re scared of her, aren’t you?”

“She is going to have a few things to say when she gets here, yes.”

~~

“Is he still going through with this?”

“I mean, you’ve got to give him credit for persistence.”

“Do I? Wait, what’s he doing now?”

“He shot her. Huh.”

“I don’t even know what to say.”

“Is she not healing?”

“Damn, no she’s not.”

“Did you— You sat on the off-button again!”

“I’m sorry!”

~~

“That went well.”

“Shut up.”

“At least you were right about the new one.”

“Until she goes wrong as well.”

“I think she’ll be okay.”

“Hmph.”

“Hey, did you do that?”

“What?”

“That. The whole ‘saving people whose descendants are important’ thing.”

“Yes.”

“Did you?”

“No. I think it’s just a big numbers thing. Save enough people and some of them will have descendants that do important things.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah.”

“Sorry I pressed her off-button.”

“That’s okay. It was probably time. Way past time. I should have pressed it as soon as I found it. I got attached. She’s really, really old for a human.”

“Yeah.”

“And she misses the other one so much. It’s probably better this way. Hopefully the other one’s off-button will turn up too.”

“Hey, what’s that?”

“What?”

“That.”

“Is that…”

“She’s out. She got out.”

“Ah, fuck.”