“So how many?”
“Thirteen, one of them is a real bruiser.”
Lief put down his rifle underneath the ridge and took a deep breath. It had been seven days since we had eaten, five of which being stuck outside of Cologne's city gates. The sparse areas of civilization that developed in the aftermath of Professor Magnusson's children were not without their antagonists. Every city had those clamoring to be let in: the weak and enfeebled, the greedy and the worthless. I knew we would have to wait until they disappeared, and went away to forage for food elsewhere. These ones were tenacious. They were also cannibals.
“Can I ask you something?” Leif looked at me, then looked back wearily at the group ahead. My eyes met his lazily.
“No, I have never eaten another man,” I said preemptively.
Leif shook his head.
“That's not what I was thinking.” He replied. “Good to know though.”
A moment of silence passed.
“Do you like being immortal?” He finally spoke up, looking once more over the ridge.
The thought had never occurred to me. One doesn't think about things like this on a regular basis. Speculating the pros and cons isn't a thing that immortals do. I've never heard a normal man speculate his own eventual destruction at the hand of disease or the sword. Death comes to them quite naturally. For us, it does not. What is there to discuss? Perhaps I entertained his question then for entertainment. What else was there to do?
“Eh...” I grumbled noncommittally.
“I haven't loved a woman in almost 200 years.”
This made me chuckle a little. For me it was nearly 250. To be sure my misfortunes wasn't for lack of trying, and there were plenty of brothels where one could savor any taste, exotic or domestic. Being immortal doesn't shelter one's self from diseases however. Quite the opposite, really. After nearly a hundred years dealing with the consequences of my Promethean curiosity I wasn't about to go down that road again.
“I just don't think it's worth it. To meet someone and watch them die, I mean. I just could never do it again...”
That also was a difficult situation. I remembered when my first wife passed away. Much to my embarrassment, when I couldn't hang myself, I realized that it would happen again and again. So I ducked out of the game then. Lief I could tell was thinking about the same thing, who looked as if he was about to weep. Instead, he reached over and grabbed a case and began to put together a large caliber riffle.
“Sure you can,” I said. It was rather unprovoked, my skepticism. Devils advocate always made for better conversation. “We wouldn't be very human without those experiences.”
“You say that like we are, or something.”
“Our DNA is human. What we desire are the things that humans desire. Therefore, we are human.” The way he said it made him stand proud like a god. The definition was so definitive and precise. Leif took the scope and clipped it in.
“Now aim for the head this time,” I cautioned him and leaned in forward against the ridge.