Mortality Monster

I had planned a light-hearted, early spring BOO! But a friend sent me some photos she took at the Cloisters (New York City’s piece of Medieval Europe). She’s said, in an apologetic tone, that one of them was a little scary. I reminded her that I not only read mysteries and thrillers, I write them so… the photos came via email.

The scary photo was a section of a painting depicting the angel of death on a horseback. It’s a scary image. No doubt about that, but is death a monster? No, death is a natural aspect of life. Mortality is not the monstrous characteristic — immortality is.

What and who would we be if we had no ultimate consequences, no END at all?

We’d be free of the march of time, the grey hairs and reading glasses that symbolize aging. So far, not so bad, but without the aging process and looming angel of death, choices become very opened-ended. With all the time in the world, how do you make choices about how to spend your time?

So many places to go, so little time, would be replaced with been there, done that, so bored. Immortality is a monster’s strength and weakness, too. If we were immortal who would we be? Well, we’d be like the careful vampire who manages to avoid the peasants with torches, long enough to live in a time when no one believes in vampires.

The sadness of immortal monsters is at the heart of a rich treasure trove of stories. The loneliness of the very, very, very long distance runner… one that never stops running.


  1. Very not light hearted this one but thought provoking as all hell.

    At 59 I know I’m not ready for a walking frame and a bib just yet but still, when I wake up in the morning and creak as I get out of bed I know mortality is getting closer…and it doesn’t thrill me at all.

    Would I want to live forever and ever and ever and…. No. Even I can see that too much of a good thing would become boring eventually but if someone offered me a pill that would add an extra 50 /good/ years to my life I’d take it in a heartbeat!

    I think that while we have a choice, and the mental capacity to make that choice, immortality would just be like a long, long adolescence [when we think that we are immortal anyway]. To me the tragedy happens when the choice is taken away from us in the interests of someone else’s morality. I’m talking of euthanasia of course. It’s the most important choice the law does not allow.

    • Candy

      I knew I was treading into serious territory. Your spot on response is written like the reader/writer of dystopian/utopian science fiction — with the quality of life (those extra 50 in good mental health) as the ideal and individual choices made paramount. Forever and ever is the nightmare fate of the monster.