|First Appearance||Flights: Extreme Visions of Fantasy|
"Coming Across" is a short story by Harry Turtledove, published in Flights: Extreme Visions of Fantasy, edited by Al Sarrantonio, Roc, 2004. It starts as a conventional fantasy story, introducing a race of immortal elves, but about halfway through, turns into a kind of medical thriller.
As boredom is their greatest enemy, the elves engage in as much mental, physical, and emotional stimulation as possible. One of their preferred forms of recreation is promiscuous use of drugs and sex. They also have discovered a Door that crosses over into our world. Each elf takes turns coming across for a period of time, as they find humans, while primitive, to be quite entertaining.
The story focuses on Lingol, an elf who crosses over into San Francisco in 1979. He enters into a temporary sexual relationship with a homosexual Quebecois flight attendant named Gaetan. Lingol then returns home and carries on about his life. However, past lovers soon become ill and contract a wasting disease that is resistant to the elves' healing magics. Soon, elves begin committing suicide rather than suffer eternal wasting. Lingol commits suicide at the end of the story, with his dying thought being of Gaetan.