In which journalist Lindsay Hatcher sits down with Immortals Harp and Donny to discuss the rules and vagaries of not dying.
Lindsay Hatcher: Harp, as the elder female of the group, do the others look to you as a mother figure?
Harp: What? No. I don’t think so. Do you, Donny?
Donny: What’s a mother figure?
Harp: So much for your expensive education.
LH: Donny, I see you are juggling four— no, five— oranges, rather adeptly.
Donny: I had time to practice. Oranges are my favourite fruit of all time, at the moment. No matter where you are, how filthy or grimy, when you peel an orange it’s clean and fresh inside. They are juicy and quench your thirst. They are full of vitamin C. And some of them have seeds you can plant and grow a whole tree full of oranges. Amazing.
Harp: It is, when you think about it.
LH: How many Immortals are there?
Harp: Six, in our group.
LH: How many outside your group?
Harp: I don’t know. I’ve seen others in the cave. Sometimes when I’m in the world I see people I suspect are immortal because they behave so recklessly, like the first few times I went back.
LH: How many in the cave? What do they do? Do they form their own, separate groups?
Donny: Nah, they are scared. They just stay in there and don’t get any older. It’s gross.
Harp: That’s true, no one ages when inside the cave. And there are some who never leave it. We call them the Undead, because they aren’t exactly alive. Because they don’t actually live.
LH: Do you talk to them? Do they have, like, friends?
Harp and Donny exchange looks.
Harp: Some inside the cave seem to form friendships of a sort.
Donny: They fuck.
LH: And do they venture outside the cave? On the ridge?
Harp: I’ve seen a few people out there. They don’t follow any of the paths.
LH: The paths are marked with bits of coloured string. Who marked the paths?
Donny: Goff did. He’s been down most of them. He knows where they lead. He’ll say, if you want to go to Nettle Valley, find the blue and black string. If you want to go to Pyongyang, find the black and green string.
LH: Why would anyone want to go to Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea?
Donny, shrugging: For an adventure. To see what it’s really like.
Harp: Goff has only marked the paths that he himself has followed. There are others.
LH: Have you ever wanted to stay somewhere in the world? Set down roots? Have a normal life?
Harp: It’s not possible.
Donny: What’s a normal life?
Lindsay Hatcher, Harp, and Donny take a break to peel and eat oranges.