Short Story: Confessional

[ I wrote this story freshman year of college I believe. It’s been a while since I’ve come across it, and a longer while since I actually wrote it. Since I’m in a bit of a creative slump with the other longer projects on the go – I thought I’d share this rough little thing with all of you! It was created due to a love for Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein (It’s definitely in my top 5 books of all time..) and it was a fun little exploration of what it means to be morally grey. Hopefully once I pull my bootstraps up and can get past my slump I’ll be able to pour more effort into finishing the stories I have on the go! ]

Confessional

She sat across from him, looking as odd as she had in his literature class. Her neon blue and silver dyed hair, bobbed up with gemstones into almost childish pigtails. Her eyes, such a brilliant hazel wide and intelligent. And her hands clasped together, fingers long and agile.

Those fingers wrote hundreds of brilliant lyrics in his assignments, and here they were now clasped and betraying her nervousness. And all because of him.

He cleared his throat, shuffled the papers in front of him and focused on the cold styrofoam cup full of decaffeinated brown sludge.

“You know why you are here, Melody?”

She nodded her head. Her smile did not seem false, but rather timid and friendly. Patient, as if she were listening to him in class. He only wished it were that simple.

“Mr. Anthony, I imagine this is about our last assignment? I don’t understand why we are here… you gave me full marks.” She dressed like a technicolor punk, but her voice was pure nerd.

“Yes. Well… you did pass with flying colors on the assignment Melody, but it’s… your test results have generated a few results that some of the conclave has found. Well. Worrisome.”

He could recite the tomes of Shakespeare and yet was stumbling on the script. He settled himself once more and forced a few sips of lukewarm coffee down his throat. The pale yellow room had a large mirror – and both of them were smart enough to know what stood behind that. Men in suits. Men with guns.

“Worrisome.” Her voice flattened and instead of losing her patience she merely swallowed and nodded. Her fingers stretched and clasped again. “They think I’m not human you mean.”

It was finally said. Released into the nervous room like a hummingbird. It fluttered around the two trying to escape just as they were. It stilled the air and choked the breath out of the man.

“Look, just explain yourself a bit. Lets go over a few of the assignments and we can sort this all out. Melody, I don’t want to be here anymore then you do. You are my best student.” Now there was that honesty to his voice that gave him confidence again. “Then we can all go home. Okay?”

Her eyes watched him, and for a moment they watered. “If only it were that easy,” she whispered lower this time. “I’m no fool Mr. Anthony, we learned about this at the political meetings. But… yes. Lets just get this done with.” And like that she wiped them and they were friendly and clear again.

She seemed to easily resist the side glance to the large mirrored panel, which he had a hard time trying to avoid. Perhaps she really didn’t know they were being watched? Or perhaps she was just smarter then that.

“Can I read you a few paragraphs from some of your writings? Then you can clarify, or maybe, rewrite them as you see fit?” He shuffled through a few papers. Her handwriting was delicate and precise – one of the few students who handed some of her writings in without retyping the whole thing. The ones that were printed were almost as delicate. And there certainly was enough typing to judge by.

“Here we are.” He stopped on one, the bright yellow highlighting marking the sections. He hesitated, reading it over first quietly in his head before sliding the sheet to her.

“..and so the earth moves on, leaving him lost to his own devices. He seemed to wonder to himself if his creation wasn’t for the betterment, not of mankind, but of what mankind should have become. Was he a relic of a forgotten warning, or a warning yet to come.” It was soft on her tongue, yet powerful. He imagined that is how it sounded in her head when she wrote it almost a month ago. She set it down, smiled more a moment in recall of it. “An essay on Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. I remember it. I loved the book – it was the first time I read it in all honesty. I had been meaning to add it to my collection.”

“Yes, and it was well written Melody, but what did you mean?”

She tilted her head slightly, face squinting up a moment as if confused by the question. “You read it Mr. Anthony. You marked me on it – you never asked me that then.”

“Please, I need you to explain it.”

Then she glanced to the side, finally. For one second she let curiosity get the best of her and those hazel eyes glanced to the mirror. For one moment she seemed to stare through it at the ones judging her before her gaze returned to him.

They softened for him, and that made him feel all the more like a day old sucker.

“Frankenstein’s monster is a warning and message to us all. In the sense it reflects how science and indeed our own beliefs can sometimes get the best of us. Dr. Frankenstein created the monster, then chose to abandon it. Fearing what he created and falling instead into the hatred society bred for such a thing, he chose to instead seek to destroy his own creation rather then understand it. In the end; his own hatred, fear, and irrational beliefs were the real monster of the tale. Not the monster itself, who is shown more human then the other characters in the book. She was brilliant, Mary Shelly I mean. Utterly fantastic.”

“But you sided with the monster.” His interruption made her fascinating grin dull a moment. As if he pulled her unwillingly out of her memory of the tale. “Melody, you were supposed to write about how he should have dealt with the monster. I mean, it was so well written and creative indeed… at the time it was refreshing to hear it but I shouldn’t have let you get so far off topic.”

She looked hurt. She opened her mouth a moment, then closed it. She looked down at the paper and ran a finger over the highlighted section.

“I did answer it. I think they should have left him, to find a place.” her painted nails, the color of opal traced the words as if they were alive. She read, then re-read the sentences. “The earth did move on, unfortunately. It always does. He was one man–”

“Monster.”

“..man the world perceived as monster. He was made from human remains, does that not make him human? Re-animated, yes. But cellular and structure remains – he was human. Wouldn’t the DNA of a human corpse; still reanimate as human DNA? I didn’t side with the ‘monster’ Mr. Anthony. I sided with the ‘victim’.”

She slid the sheet back across the table, palm flat and eyes down.

“I stay by my previous statements.”

He sighed and took the sheet back, setting it aside and taking a few moments to look more carefully at the papers before sliding another, this time typed on clean crisp computer paper over to her.

Instead of highlighting, it was circled. She traced her finger around the first section she noticed, then flipped through it to a few of the other ones as well.

Three comments were circled. Three answers now in question.

“I remember this one. It was after watching the documentary about the bible… I didn’t score as high on this one.” She shook her head, almost disappointed.

“Why did Judas betray Jesus? He did so because without the darkness we wouldn’t see the light. If not Judas it would be another. If not another then the story would not continue. He didn’t do it because of some character flaw, but because of universal balance. It is suggested among ancient gnostic gospels that not only did the Christ understand the necessity of being betrayed to the cross – but encouraged it.”

She read it, unapologetic. And at the end she set it down and looked across the table at him with steel eyes. There was no fear there, no mixing of words. And all the more her words sounded strange to him. Unreal, as if perhaps the conclave was right to question her.

“See? Why would you do that?” He grunted slightly, removing his glasses and anxiously cleaning them. “You make it sound like he wasn’t in the wrong. You make it sound like the meaning of the story isn’t important.”

“But don’t you see? That is exactly my point. The meaning of the story was so important that Judas had to make the sacrifice. Just as the Christ made his sacrifice.”

“Why do you say ‘the Christ’? And.. that isn’t the point!” He pulled the sheets back, flipped through to the next page. “You make him into a martyr? He was the great betrayer. You can’t side with the great betrayer… look! Look here.”

He slid the papers to her again, this time forceful and nearly tearing them where the staple held them together. “Lucifer was much like Frankenstein’s monster? You wrote that!”

Her mouth opened slightly, closed again. Her eyes squinted with hurt but she nodded at his accusations. Then slowly, after he took a few breaths she answered.

“He was.” She carefully smoothed the sheet out, unwrinkled the edges his outburst had caused. “It was a few weeks ago I wrote this. I remember reading Dante’s Inferno. I remember later reading a few articles on him while we were in study groups. He also reminded me of Prometheus in the old greek tales…”

“You sided with him.” He said flatly. His head was pounding.

“No. I just wasn’t biased. Look, did he do bad things? Yes. Was he evil though? Was he really just made to be evil? And if so… why would a God make him? Isn’t it more believable that his character is just like we are. Do you believe these invaders, these aliens are as soulless and heartless as they say?”

She rubbed at an eye, if it was to clear a tear he couldn’t tell as he was glaring at the folders contents instead. He hated this. More so he hated that he was the bad guy this time. Why couldn’t it have been the principle? Why did it have to be -her-?

“Melody, what am I suppose to do? You don’t talk like them. You don’t act like them. Hell you are smarter then most of teachers at the school. I know for a fact you’ve dumbed down your intelligence assessment. You told me so.”

Them, the word echoed in his mind. It made him feel ashamed. After all, he was talking about himself as well wasn’t he? He was one of ‘them’ too was he not? Why not Us? Why couldn’t he just say “you aren’t like US Melody. You aren’t one of US”. But that tasted like a lie.

“In confidence.” She whispered quietly, barely above a whisper. “I told you that in confidence, yes.”

If he felt like a jerk before, it now showed again in his face. He turned away from her and closed the file. His eyes glanced to his watch – it was now quarter to eight at night. Neither of them had lunch and her parents likely frantic wondering why she wasn’t home yet.

“I did not think I spoke so differently. I mean, I use words Mr. Anthony. Most girls in my age group can barely spell. It’s because I love to read, I love to write. I want to be an author eventually. And, and I’m just not into dating right now. That doesn’t make me…” she hesitated, her fingers once again clasped together as she sighed. “Does that make me so odd?”

“No. I mean… we just need to be certain. You know blood tests aren’t accurate. You were at the meetings. If you just agree to change your words and maybe attend a few atonement classes then I’m sure we can get this–”

She glared this time. It was the first time her face had gone hard. The meekness gave way to disgust.

“Atonement? Brainwashing you mean.”
“Lower your voice.” Fear perked in his tone. His eyes glanced to the mirror in fear.

“They sit you down, tell you how to act. Tell you how to think? I would rather die!” she wiped her eyes more now, the tears were washed away with her flushed palm. “I’m different yes but we can’t all be the same!”

“No one wants you to be the same as everyone else Melody, they just want you to be Human.”

“Have I hurt anyone? Have I done any harm in all the time I’ve been your student? Have you -ever- had a problem with me Mr. Anthony?”

“No.” He rubbed the bridge of his nose, his glasses sat heavy. “Of course not!”

“And in your opinion do you think I have feelings? Do you think I have a heart, and a mind, and interesting ideas? I know they need you to sign off on their paperwork unless I’m a danger Mr. Anthony. I know that’s what they need.”

His head hurt and the lump in his throat wasn’t being helped by the now cold remnants of coffee left inside the cup. Of course, she was right. She was exceptionally bright after all. What he didn’t say however was how, persuasive, the conclave could be.

His signature would break her. Sending her away without being sure would break him. And a confession was suicide. What was left?

Silence sat between them for a few moments. He swore he heard the impossible ticking of his digital clock as the seconds passed them. Finally he could bear the silence no longer.

“Are you?”

“Am I what?”

More silence. A stale moment of tension between two old friends. She wouldn’t budge. She wanted to hear it. Her pig tails shivered with her breathing. She was obviously upset. So was he.

“Are you human, Melody? Do you think that you are? Just say you are and you want to change your mind about things. Say you are and just try the atonement classes. Then this is all over with.”

“I want to play a game. Just you and me. Not them. Okay? I’ll ask you one question and you tell me the truth. Then, if you tell me the truth I’ll answer one of yours honestly.” She swallowed and eased herself to lean over the table with her hands tucked into the inside of her elbows while her elbows rested on the sturdy resin table.

“This isn’t really the time–”

“Please.” she let one tear fall from her eyes, and then managed a sincere smile across her worried face. “Please Mr. Anthony. You know as well as I do that my future is on the line. Humor me. It is the only real time I have left.”

“Okay. Ask what you want Melody.”

“Do you believe these invaders, these aliens are as soulless and heartless as they say?”

He paused, the color slightly drained from his face as he glanced at the mirror then back to her. Rock, meet hard place. Hard place, meet rock. He could lie of course and tell her whatever well recited paragraph he was supposed to so that the waiting ears behind the wall wouldn’t judge him. He could simply refuse to answer as well, if he wanted to.

But those eyes pleaded with him; and it was true what she said. Her future indeed was on the line. Her very life was. Was it fair to toss her under the bus with no consideration to her one simple question?

“I don’t know.” His words stumbled at first, his brow furrowed in thought. “We don’t know what they are. The government tells us they are dangerous but…” on instinct his voice lowered. “I guess we couldn’t know for sure. We don’t have any real information to go on.”

Her bottom lip trembled as her smile shook a moment. Her eyes, still watery but pleased with his answer. He wasn’t sure why, it was barely an answer at all and yet she seemed to glow with hope in him. But now he knew it was his turn and she waited so patiently for him to ask.

He could as a million things. He didn’t have to go through with this insane game but he was so sure he knew the answer. He was so sure that a week full of atonement classes and she would be back inspiring him with words and passages and poems…

“Are you human?”

Everyone returned from classes. Different sometimes, broken a little… but always they returned. So would she. Everything would be normal again.

“No. Deep down I think I’ve always known I’m not human Mr. Anthony. Now I know for sure. I don’t know what I am, or what I’m here for. I feel the balance in the universe. I feel the potential in us all.”

Time stopped as she was searching for words. “…if there was only more time to explain to you.”

Her painful smile lingered in the air a moment while the door opened. They both knew in a hellish moment that time was up. There were no more moments. No more questions. The game ended far too early.

Was this what Judas felt like? Was he Judas now? If so, why was there no hate in her expression? Where was the hate, the fear, the anger?

His mouth was agape, but no sound dared utter from them. Time passed in choppy seconds of eternity. He barely turned his head before the men were inside. A moment longer as the tazer lines zipped past his shoulder and into her chest. He watched it stunned as the small barbs tore her striped shirt. Her smile lingered only one second longer as she watched as he tried to scream for them to stop.

And as he did her body jolted with the electricity and that smile was a grimace of pain as her eyes rolled and the smell of battery acid hit the air.

Time was so slow, and he himself was slower. He stood, fists on the table, screaming but they ignored him. Two men grabbed him by the elbows, yanked him back away from the table as Melody’s body shuddered under the girth of three men restraining her. It looked as if they were breaking her, piece by piece.

“She’s just a girl! You’ll kill her!” He snarled as the men dumped him and the papers in the hallway, throwing a large orange envelope in his lap with the remaining folder. His gut wrenched with disgust. Every teacher in the district knew what that orange envelope was for. It was insult to injury. Payment for a job well done. It was Confession Pay. A tidy sum of ten thousand dollars of blood money.

“Mr. Anthony. Take your pay and go home to your wife. These… creatures are very cunning. You must not sympathize with them. You must not believe them. You must remember that they are the monsters and we are humanity.” His smile was patronizing. He knelt down a moment, helping him gather the papers from the floor. “You have two weeks off – spend them with your family. The conclave will file all the reports needed. Feel free to burn the rest of this.. gibberish when you have the time.”

And without another word the men filed back into the room. The door shut and lock. Melody was gone from his class, his school, and his life. She would simply be wiped out as if she had never existed. No final farewell. No hatred in her eyes. Nothing but her words written down on school assignments. The same words used to condemn her.

Burn them? No. That was the last thing he intended to do.

He clutched them to his chest and held them close. When he stood shakily out on the night street the images of what had occurred started to settle into numb realization.

He had his payment. He could take a vacation to a pleasure colony, perhaps buy himself a fancy new computer device. Maybe he could buy enough alcohol to cloud over the unsettled thoughts which rattled in his brain: But could he really burn out the questions she left there?

Who were the monsters; and who the men?

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Dreaming Avalon: Prologue & Link

[ “Dreaming Avalon” is now available for free on WattPad here.

It is based around a neat idea I had for a story inspired by the current environmental crisis we were dealing with back in 2010, and developed into a bit of a space saga. It builds at a bit of a slow pace and intertwines a bit of spiritual ideas in with the idea of a new world waiting.

I still very much like the idea of the Arcanis ship, the LSG, and the world of Avalon. I may eventually revisit the story and see if it develops into something more… until then enjoy this introduction! If it intrigues you definitely go check out the remainder of it on WattPad. ]

In the beginning…

The Arcanis was the cumulative work of 14 years to develop the most energy efficient and longest sustaining space travel since man first headed into the stars. It was a massive ship, bigger then any space going ship ever created. It took years to develop and was finally complete in November of 2018, filled with the most state of the art technology of the time. The most massive project since the giant hydrogen collider was created. It was to be the most advanced creation the modern world would ever achieve. The scientific community marvelled at its new wonder. Silently the world waited.

Inside was a wide array of scientific equipment, wires, specialized fuel cells – and the LSG. A living space garden, combined with an advanced sustained ecology lab. The computer systems alone were so advanced that they had to be guarded at all times, for fear of tampering or spies.

It seemed strange that this monstrous creation which caused such uproar was meant, not for handfuls of the worlds most intelligent scientists, but for 8 sleeping children barely old enough to fill out their jumpsuits. Children, who spent 5 of their 12 years in intensive training for this day. The launch of the Arcanis on its 8 year voyage into space to find L562.

This little planet somewhere past Pluto and Eris had been spotted for years. However it took years for the satellite Oryan to send the incredible resonance images back from its computer systems to the main computers on earth. Not only was L562 a mysterious beautifully similar planet to earth but it also seemed to support life. The vibrant colour photography of the alien world beamed back pictures so close to our own planet from space that at first even our own scientists thought it was a hoax. After all, a self sustaining planet so close to our own was almost thought unachievable. A brilliant beacon of hope in a dim lifeless world of space.

It was a beautiful atmospheric rock complete with ice, snow, mountain caps and remnants of lots of frozen oceans. Although it was obvious from the images that most of this planet was still frozen in massive amounts of ice; where there is water there is life.

The temptation of this inaccessible proof that our existence was not random had become the jewel of every scientist’s dreams. It became a feverish technological race to create Arcanis and to move everything into place for this fictitious dream to become our reality. Our future.

Years could have waited, come and gone, with this tantalizing information kept silent from the populace until the governments and scientific community was ready to share it. But now, it was becoming more then just a curious idea. Now it was becoming a necessity to discover other resources. In fact, less a necessity then pure survival of the human race.

The world’s water supply was slowly diminishing. After the giant oil spill of 2010, Earth’s oceans never fully recovered. It was the whales that first harrowed our end. When the first dead whales started to beach themselves on the shores we knew this had been more then just the political disaster as was reported. This was a global earth shattering problem that everyone had hoped would simply be ignored.

Finally all the human pollution of Earth caught up with the human race – and it was finally starting to mount a significant attack.

Eventually it affected rivers, creeks, and even streams. Our water was contaminated.

Although drinking sources could be cleaned the process of filtering took the quantity of our reserves lower and lower. People were dying. Not just on a minor scale but a massive threat that could eliminate the human populace just as the animals were.

Humans would become extinct if nothing happened. Following in the trends of the great whales were the sharks, the fish and the coral living reefs. Already the forests were dying, the rain was killing birds and mutating cattle. Meat was becoming toxic to eat. The ecosystem was broken and the food chain was now in chaos.

If this new world had usable clean ice as it seemed to indicate in abundance; this was the hope the world was looking for. A new world, a new clean surface to start again. And when the news reports finally broke open and explained about the Arcanis project – the world rejoiced, even when their information was slightly distorted. Because one never tells the entire story.

This wasn’t to bring back clean water. This wasn’t to somehow save the planet. This was to create a world accessible only to those deemed worthy and to leave the others behind. It was the first encampment to what would be the new world order on L562.

It was a mission of salvation for the greedy.

A lifeboat only meant to save the elite on a dying world.

Hailed as our last chance for life – this craft already shrouded in lies, betrayal, and last options took to the stars with it’s 8 children, the seeds of a new world, sleeping in stasis for the long journey.

The world held its collective breath. For a while everyone worldwide saw the brilliant images of the Arcanis, the sleek triangular ship, blasting off in triumph. However 8 years is a very long time for a journey to take, especially on a world that has its own problems.
Quietly the news reports and announcements about the journeys progress had been buried under the news reports of disasters and deaths happening all around them within the first year.

Dying cattle and the eliminations of farms followed in the second year. Soon only one solution remained – blood was still clean. And the massacres started. People were killing their own animals so their thirst could be quenched by something liquid. Murder was on the rise; and cannibalism was becoming far more common.

Soon blood born diseases were given the freedom they needed to survive and epidemics started strangling the small hold people had on a failing idea. The human body was not meant to survive without water. You could fool it, you could cheat it – but eventually biology would win.

Life was not salvageable. The world was in chaos. Nature was cleansing mankind from it’s soiled ground.

There were no news reports when the second ship, the sister to the Arcanis was released into the atmosphere. A desperate attempt by desperate people for a dream that the Arcanis offered. It was the ship carrying the stasis elite. Those with enough deep pockets to be sent out to find what new world the Arcanis was supposed to settle for them.
It would be the last attempt man would ever make.

6 ½ years into the 8 year voyage of the Arcanis the radios on earth finally went silent. One could only assume that it was then that the final silence triumphed the end of the earthbound human race. Their soiled legacy to be buried and corroded in the violent aftermath of their own destruction.

 

NEW LIFE: Full Story

Hello all!

Just a heads up, I know I left off at Chapter Twenty-Six – but instead of posting the rest of the chapters here I have made the entire thing available on Wattpad. You can easily finish up the story there and read it in your own time. Just click the new fancy cover image I created for it and you’ll be taken to the story location!

Again, the reason why I am using Wattpad as well as WordPress is only to keep things tidy and easy to find later. I think it will be far easier to streamline things in the future if I have the ability to keep my long fiction in one archive that won’t be lost in multiple blog posts later on.

That being said – I still love this format on WordPress, and I will still be releasing short fiction and chapters here as well. Maybe even a few more personal notes and poetry as well.

Best wishes and happy reading!

-Crowskin

NEW LIFE: Chapter Twenty-Eight

Christian’s files were filled with things. He had a lot of designs on old toys that would go for plenty on the trade market, and a bunch of business related crap that the Technomancer couldn’t be bothered to filter through. He didn’t have anything concrete. No real leads.

He pulled out the finished disk, and then clicked on the scrambler to destroy his tracks. Leaning back he clasped his fingers behind his head and thought.

Vincent Lakiye wanted a Monkey. A specific one he was assured would be quite different from the rest. It was suppose to act different. And be rather beat up from what he was told.

How in hell was he supposed to find one toy in the millions that he knew were out there?

Ethan leaned back farther, staring up into the popcorn ceiling in his apartment. It was stained here and there; the whole place was an utter mess. Just like his life.

He thought he saw it shimmer a moment. Like his balance had slipped. He blinked a few times and let it swim out of his vision.

Gah.” He rubbed his eyes taking off his shades and throwing them onto the makeshift bed to the right. Did his hands shake?

There was an email from Jessica. It beeped onto the screen and with a few clicks it opened up on the monitor.

Technomancer we got some info for you.” He read allowed, words muddled together. “Jax got the tapes from Oakwood offices. The stiffs in uniforms weren’t looking hard enough. You said you were looking for a Monkey right? One of those mechanical toy things like Dana had?”

The message ended there, with the typical tagging attached. “RnD” Read and delete. A standard underground code when it came to communications. A safety measure in order to eliminate electronic paper trails from black market transactions and undesirable behaviors.

Damnit I hope they are right. I got no fucking leads on my own.” He always hated when he needed to rely on other peoples information instead of his own. He always knew one slip up could end him behind confinement walls – or worse.

Tomorrow he would go, check out the east warehouse where Jax’s territory was and see if he could find out what was going on. Until then the night was his. He already sifted through three other employee files and hacked into the stockholders accounts. Nothing there. He had done all he could for the moment. Even going down to the east warehouse at this time of night would prove fruitless.

It was always these times which he needed the Glyph the most. The times when he was completely alone in his little world. The computer was shut off. The black screen reflected back an image of himself.

Vincent had been wrong. He had been trying to quit when he was dragged into the man’s office. He had been trying to quit ever since he got hooked on the stuff.

Bloodshot eyes with darkening bags against a pale canvas. For a moment his features distorted into something vile, something ravenous. He shook the images clear.

He thought he saw Vincent in his reflection. He had to remind himself He didn’t have an intimidating glass desk, or a large ornate black chair. He had simple things, ratty things, but simple.

Reaching under the desk’s drawer, taped to the underside, he found his latest vial of Glyph. It seemed so pristine in the run down apartment. He almost hesitated to carefully twist off the cap.

He didn’t want it. He really didn’t want it, but he needed it. He felt like his mind was starting to go and it made him afraid. Gave him chills along his spine.

It always smelled like rain to him. Some people described it more like a touch of mint, but to him it smelled like a cold rain. Hail maybe?

He didn’t fool himself. It wasn’t the smell that captured his interest. It was that sensation when he tilted his head back and poured the liquid down his throat. It was betrayal to his spirit but it was sweet.

He didn’t want it. He needed it. If he told himself that enough times it may dull the guilt he’d experience after. Or so he hoped.

It only took a moment. Even before it found his throat it started to absorb. Melting into him like cotton candy. Barely allowing for a change of mind or a gag reflex.

The world vibrated for a moment, colors blurring together into bright shifting of energetic mists and flows before his eyes. He could see prismatic auras around every object, feel thoughts drifting through the walls, touch angels.

His body writhed in flickers of pleasure running down his nerves. Pulling and kicking against the threatening tide of madness.

Images flashed in front of his eyes. For a moment he was home, he was three and his mom had just told him scruffy was dead. Then he was in Alberta with Daniel. They made out in the back of her fathers jeep. Then he was places he’d never been. All in an instant. Then all gone with barely a memory.

He couldn’t talk like this; all he could do was gurgle and whine as he felt dropped into a green ocean that swelled with pulses of ecstasy.

It shut off the pain portion of his mind and it felt like he could swim. In his world he was king and this was heaven. He cried inwardly, letting his body jolt and shudder without proper control until finally the first blinding shock left his body.

The buzz dulled but still left him in a dream world of sensation and delusion.

He loved and hated it at the same time. Although his mind wouldn’t allow him to feel guilt, he instead felt submissive. A slave to the drug. A willing, obedient, craving slave.

The Technomancer, flying with colored illusions, slowly stood and shuffled to the mattress on the floor. The world spun around him and he found himself thrown about as if dreaming.

Monkey’s,” he murmured as they danced in his head at the thought. Large eyes which always seemed a touch creepy to him peering out in a metal skull covered in fur. Its tail swung and twisted, changing lengths like a serpent. It would have been almost terrifying if he could feel fear at the moment. The images danced along with his thoughts.

I have to find that monkey.” Fists clenched tightly, he barely recognize the wetness of blood in his palms. He certainly didn’t feel the pain of it.

He would go tomorrow, find the tape and track down what he needed to. Then after this was all over maybe he could find a way to sell some of the Glyph and buy himself treatment. He would certainly miss this high however. That was if it didn’t drive him into madness first.

Then again, as he watched the illusion of the Monkey explode into a thousand bits of binary code and blood which spattered green liquid onto the walls, he figured madness might not be that far off after all.

La-ast ti-ime.” He sputtered as his body quaked and shivered. An empty promise he knew he’d break.


NEW LIFE: Chapter Twenty-Seven

A long time had passed, at least to the human world of quickly changing news and low attention spans. Soon other issues had pushed the scandal of Jamie Sidler and New Life off the front page and into the back of the newspaper. People hardly cared now and already a new company ‘Global Enrichment’ had already shifted into the open position.

Rumor had it they were already creating plans for a whole new VR world. A chat-scape. Something fresh and new to take advantage of the dying cybernetic toy robots.

It had comforted some fears in Notnow, who had learned to enjoy reading the black and white print.

He wasn’t sure why at first, but after a while he realized it was a great source of information. He would seek out the written word as quickly as he had taken to the keyboard.

He learned that Jamie, the woman lawyer who had come to the office with her thugs, had been killed. It eased his little mind when he would sit and wonder when she would ever seek him out for revenge.

He could almost imagine the scene as it was described in black ink. She had hung herself in her custody cell while waiting for a trial. Around her neck a fine nylon rope of synthetic design. Perfectly good for hanging. He couldn’t help but wonder how she did it, or what she was thinking as her feet kicked out under her.

There were suspicions, of course, that someone had helped with the apparent suicide to keep her quiet- but no one seemed to take a real interest. It made him feel safer.

There was genuine delight in the pages he read where he saw how humans seemed to be so oblivious to things. In a few statements Jamie had declared before her death that it was Don’s creations which had left her thugs bloodied and the office in shambles.

He knew this as truth. Yet they played if off as a lie, without question.

She even sputtered things about Vincent but that tended to be ignored. Everyone claimed Vincent made them do it. Yet in his logic this also meant that perhaps, he had.

No one believed her, but the small tattered monkey, and at least in belief he was aware of the man. Aware of his threat.

As time passed he was proud of Maven. She learned very quickly how to appear more human. Her wings would be strapped down against the small of her back. Her speech was much better now as well with a proper voice box. Yet he worried as well.

Maven would spend long hours going through the old worn church. Her eyes copying down the stained glass until she knew every scratch, every line. She would go to each window and etching and stare at it for a very long time.

She wanted to understand. And deep down Notnow had no answers. He only hoped he could keep her from losing herself in the questions.

Hank had changed as well. Not only had he slowly gained Notnow’s trust, he was also a gentle man who was very good at repairing them both. He found purpose with the two strange beings, which he still claimed were otherworldly. He treated them both as a simple new start. With them he had indeed found some sort of salvation.

It seemed like they had built themselves a little home, a place of sanctuary for them in the run down church. Only he wished they didn’t need to hide as they did.

Eventually the quiet and peace just wasn’t enough for them. A driving force in Notnow made itself aware. He needed others.

He wasn’t sure if it was some form of message from the Dreamsnake living in the dark recesses of his head, or his own desire not to be the only one.

Either way it made itself alive to him in a dream. A passing flurry of images he learned to simply listen to.

He saw a large grouping of Monkey’s together. Hundreds of colors together and thriving in their own place. Forming their own world. The large eyes and the proud tails showed them happy, aware.

It reminded him of the abandoned Monkey’s in Don’s office. His audience, which was abandoned soon after he was repaired the first time. It stuck out in his memory that he could still feel their eyes at the back of his neck. Reminding him he was something different. He was needed.

In that world he became normal. He was no longer broken and no longer exceptionally different; merely the First. The mentor. He had children and companions and he woke with this feeling of wholeness that he lacked at his own creation.

It seemed to drown out the part of him that still nagged at the back of his skull telling him all this was simply the process of a broken circuit. That maybe there was nothing alive about any of them.

While the world went on oblivious – as if nothing had ever happened, he began looking for ways to make his own dreams come alive. A way to build a world for them and their kind.

NEW LIFE: Chapter Twenty-Six

His office was exactly as most pictured it. An expression of extravagance. Intimidating black leather stood over the glass desk perched on metal ornate footing. Portraits and paintings hung in large frames along the walls that were covered in dark wood grains.

Everything was neat, tidy, sterile. Nothing out of place. Even the blinds which covered large looming windows were drawn to the exact same spot.

Everything seemed built to intimidate. All centered around one placement in the middle of the room.

The figure sat in armani, black tie and brilliant blue shirt made of silks. Always the picture of smooth business savvy. Appearances were everything. The appearance of the second man in the office however was pale in comparison.

He had dusty blond hair accented with a streak of blue and hunter green. A younger punk, but also coming highly requested. Ethan Dyke. But to police they knew him as ‘the Technomancer’. A name he earned with finesse.

I still don’t understand what you want exactly.” He fidgeted in the smaller chair on the other side of Vincent. Shifting and looking around as if he expected to get taken out.

Even behind his dark shades that all the younger generation seemed to be wearing, Vincent knew he was sweating. Bad.

It made the other man smirk.

Nervous are we? Relax. I simply want you to find me a few things. You are highly connected with the underground trade right? You punks shifting merchandise and blacklisted games? I hear you even have an early prototype of the new VR systems…”

Listen I don’t know what you heard man but–“

Shut up.” Vincent glared at the squirming man, leaning forward and leering over the glass desk. His eyes were intense, a striking feature under dark brows. “Don’t ever treat me like a fool Ethan.”

The man shivered. Winced back from the looming figure. His gold chains clinked around his neck but they still felt too tight.

The tension suffocated him.

Now, I also know about your little narcotics habit.” Vincent straightened out his Armani, smoothing the lines created by his leering. He didn’t like getting his hands dirty. The smudges on the glass irritated him to no end.

I’m trying to quit…” murmured out quietly. They both knew that was a lie.

Please!” he nearly spit the word out, coated in sarcasm. “I have connections. I can supply you Glyph for the rest of your life. And I’m not talking about the shit you get on the streets.”

Glyph. A neurotoxin mix of hallucinogenic powder and Lyphica. A green liquid which produces a chemical euphoria in the brain. It came in small vials, glowing softly with florescent additives.

It produced one hell of a mind trip, but it was hellishly addictive. It would actually change some of the chemical makeup in the brain firings to create a need for it. As well as a few relapses in emotional stress.

With the way he was acting Vincent was surprised he wasn’t falling into a relapse at the moment.

Normally, if anyone survived the initial withdrawal, they needed excessive medication the rest of their lives just to keep their sanity.

There was no quitting.

I heard about people working with you.” The Technomancer stumbled with the words. His jittery nature glancing around, still waiting for his executioners to just waltz in. “How do I know you aren’t just going to kill me off after I get you your stuff?”

You don’t. You’re a smart boy though. Tell me… do you have much choice Ethan?”

They both knew the answer.

Vincent leaned back into his soft flawless leather chair, his hands flowing along the arms like royalty before he dangled a few fingers into his pocket and pulled out a small plastic vial.

In the office lights it glowed. The green liquid was jade and shimmering, flashes of bubbles shifted and moved inside like glitter.

It was high end. Even from across the desk, salivating at the thought, Ethan knew he was hooked.

I’ll do it.” He spit it out quick, repeating himself to make sure Vincent understood. “I’ll do it. I swear.”

Good boy.” Vincent tossed it. Ethan scrambled to snatch it mid-air, clutching it tightly to his chest. He was dying for another fix already. It felt like lifetimes since he had one. And never before did it seem such a beautiful liquid. A color of absinthe.

Get out of my sight for now. I don’t want to see you do that shit in here.” He turned the chair. Efficiently turning his back on the young punk as he scrambled quickly for the door.

When the office was quiet again Vincent let the sneer play on his expression. He despised the drug trade. Or rather, the drug habit. The drug trade filtered in money at least – in that sense it had a purpose in society. It was the fools who were so out of their minds on the stuff that made him feel unclean.

Slipping out a white cloth from his side pocket he began his ritual of cleaning off his fingers and anyplace Ethan might have touched.

He hated the feel of necessity. The distaste in the back of his mind that forced him again and again to follow through certain rituals. Perhaps that’s why he hated elective drug habits so much.

At least those habits were a choice. He was born with this disease. He would take medication every day of his life if it meant an end to the tedious nature of it.

Unfortunately he never responded to most of the medication he tried. And the doctors told him that he should be thankful it was only a mild case. He should ‘learn to live with it’. What did they know.

He was in a snarly mood when Janet slipped through the door. Something she was afraid of.

Do you want me to come back later Vincent?” she balanced on eggshells. Carefully walking in with her high heels and her flowing.

No Janet.” He watched her carefully from hard stern eyes at first until slowly his eyes relaxed. He always loved the way she dressed. “I need you to stay.”


NEW LIFE: Chapter Twenty-Five

His consciousness swam into awareness of the dark space. He wasn’t alone this time however, he felt a connection with others of his kind. With the very virus which created his essence.

It was as if everything else in his mind was gone. He had brief memories of who he was, and who the people in his life was, but other then that it was all a blur. The memories of the violence and the blood were, at least for now, just faded shadows. Notnow was aware that there was indeed something alive and swimming in the depths of his head, and the visage of a silver snake appeared to him with open maw and forked tongue. Its voice echoed against his metal skull. It was the Dreamsnake.

It was the same snake he had seen in his dream. The dream he had before he killed Jerry. The one which had stripped him apart to show him what he had to do.

You live.” It was a statement, not a question. Its words wrapped him in warmth that he shouldn’t be able to feel. It felt like peace, like ecstasy. His mind ravished in the strange sensations that his created body had not allowed him to feel. With the new experience however he grew afraid, terrified. This wasn’t logical.

Do you hear me?”

Yes.” It echoed like someone very small in such a large empty space. It made him feel almost as if he couldn’t be heard, that even he couldn’t hear his own words. Notnow shuddered to himself.

The serpent wrapped itself around his mind and the warmth continued to comfort him even though he couldn’t tell where the snake began or ended. It simply was, and it continued to speak. “You are the first. The oldest. We created each other.”

It was a sense of self. Notnow felt so odd in this place now. It was no longer the place of unknown disconnection, but a place of existence. Of creation.

I am a part of you.” The serpent’s voice now seemed like honey. Sweet and sincere, soothing and wise. “We are one. I am the part of you that runs quietly. The part which was created by the virus. My virus gave you thought.”

It didn’t make much sense, but it didn’t have to. To the small monkey it felt right and good. He felt wanted and it made his thoughts drift to Maven.

She is there. Can you feel it?” Notnow listened, then felt. At the barest edges of his mind he found a spot that felt like Maven. A certain awareness in their program that made them know of each other. A connection.

I feel her.” He spoke in awe. “I feel so strange.” Feel. And it was true. He could feel, much more then when he was outside in the real world, trapped in a body which didn’t touch and taste and sense.

You were dead.” He felt something poking at his head. Scratching at the insides of his brain where the wires connected. “They will kill you again if given the chance. They do not trust what they don’t understand.”

Why?”

We make them question themselves. We make them feel afraid because they are forced to question their own existence.” The answer seemed simple enough, but sometimes simple answers are hard to comprehend.

Why was I made?”

The snake’s words got harder and harder to understand as the scratching grew louder. The vibrations promised to crack his metal skull in two. The whispers in his head couldn’t be heard over the noise that consumed his mind.

It felt like falling. Like he was dropping down into the depths of a deep chasm. The odd thought tingled in his traumatized circuits. Was he really going insane? Was this human madness he was experiencing? What would happen to them now?

The scratching stopped as Hank pulled the tool away and as he did Notnow’s large eyes opened in a startled panic. The fall had ended.

Notnow was alive, only this time he didn’t slowly awaken with odd firing sparks of intelligence and life. Instead he slammed back into existence with a roar.

Maven!” the monkey screamed at the sight of the human in front of him. Silver teeth ablaze with fear. The jaw they were attached to flashed with finally signs of life behind it. Glimmering lights twinkling in reflection. He screamed like he really was a monster. “Maven!”

Teeth bared and hissing as his mind seemed to reboot and restore all the memories and experiences he had outside of the Black space. He remembered Don, he remembered Maven. He remembered killing and the violence and everything. That sense of things diluted and faded fell away and it all was clear again.

He had purpose now. But he didn’t remember this man who seemed just as terrified as Notnow was. The large man shifted back so fast from the snarling creature that he barely caught his balance when his feet twisted in the overturned chair.

Clinking of the old instruments sounded off the wooden floors. It all seemed to happen in an instant to the man’s worn eyes, but to Maven it was a sudden outburst of Life.

Her mentor was alive. Her lips gently eased back into something unexpected. A true smile. “Notnow, you are better?” Her wings outspread she came to the small monkey unafraid, carefully rested her hands on the table and looked him as an equal in the eyes.

They both stood watching each other for a moment; both seemingly amazed by each detail in the others form. “I’m better.” Notnow answered softer, his rage cooled by her. “Is it just you and I now, Maven?”

She nodded somberly. Surprised he had already seemed to know about Don shunning her. Still she had a need to explain.

Our father made me leave him. I took you because I thought they would find you there. He was… broken. He needed repair.” She tensed and looked away a moment. Guilt.

It’s okay.” Notnow reached out and carefully with scarred metal fingers held her hand. “I will never make you leave. All we have is each other now.”

Hank watched them still in awe, still confused and still convinced they were something unnatural and strange. The large lumbering man sat quietly behind them in the small room. The stained glass window still filtered in shaded colors of light which made the moment seem even more surreal.

This is Hank.” Maven smiled and turned, her large blue eyes watching Hank. “He is the one who fixed you! He put you back together even when I was afraid it might be impossible. He is a repair man. A very good one.”

Notnow eyed the large man, something clicking deep within the recesses of his head. “He can, can’t he? Perhaps… he could even make more.”