Chapter 12 – “[Revelation] Death Is Nothing When Considered”
*Back on the Xaphnu ship…*
Archibald could feel his death nearing. Coinciding with this thought, Albatrez moved toward him in a slow pace. His tentacles slowly morphed into a shaking image emanating a colossal energy resembling a human’s form. His new shape was barely visible, but Archibald could tell it was a spitting image of the old man who he had had a vision of and who tried to kill him in his cell. Music began playing, accompanying his every step. Albatrez pointed up and around him like a conductor with purposeful hand gestures.
“Ahh, Music. The one idea you animals had that was worthwhile. I’m sure you know by now that this music is my own. A human as intelligent as you must appreciate the grandeur of this piece. It is far beyond anything you humans could have ever created. I can see in your eyes that you absolutely love it.”
On the contrary, Archibald’s eyes showed discontent towards the music playing. Albatrez saw what he chose to see.
“Do you hear the screams? You will be pleased to note that those are the screams of every living human being to ever disgrace the planet Earth. They add a certain spice to the music don’t they? Why, I bet even your past loves and family members are within there.”
Archibald could bear no more. A flash of his entire life fell before his eyes. He could see his angry father in the basement cursing to no one but himself. He could see the blood splatter on the walls from his mother’s suicide in a disheveled bathroom. Every terrible article and story he had ever read from Earth’s history of needless battles and assertions for power plagued him. He recalled how quickly humans were willing to kill their own kind over…what? Money? Power over others? Revenge? He began to think that maybe Earth deserved what had happened to it. He struggled to find one good thing about Earth and why he should try to prolong human existence.
Just when all hope was thought to be lost, when he had given up on even himself…he found it. It was love. It was compassion. It was the small percentage of humans who had lived throughout history, who valued these things above all others; the people who did not waste their time on petty ideologies and arguments, religions or cults; who was right or wrong about their political affiliations and the dire question of what happens when they passed on from this life. Above all though, Archibald saw Anna’s face and remembered what he felt when he was merely in her presence. He knew he could not let this mad, mutt of a being, win; not without a fight.
Archibald used his greatest power: his mind. He could feel the power he had used previously to destroy the many Kaseer, but could feel that if he, the holder of the power, did not know how to direct it, that it was useless. The power had to be channeled and combined with the knowledge of what it had to do. His mind did this axiomatically before, because it let ‘Rita’ perform the task, when really it was Archibald himself calculating, subconsciously, how to trigger the joules of electricity.
He had to think quickly. Albatrez was approaching and waiting for his music to bang a critical note before striking his blow. Computing this in his mind, Archibald listened as the building of musical notes began.
“Think Archibald, think!” The Doctor said to himself internally. “How can I deflect static absolutely?”
Albatrez could feel the building notes as well. He pulled from his pocket one prodigious hammer and two large railroad-like spikes that he intended to drive through Dr. Zeal’s heart and skull. The apex note was only seconds away. Albatrez arrived, in tune, to within a foot of the Doctor. He placed the extravagant spike against Archibald’s head and elevated the hammer. Albatrez’s voice began mimicking the rising notes as he focused on the exact point of the spike that he aspired to hit to ensure death would come to Archibald.
Time seemed to crawl by slowly for Archibald. He shut his eyes tightly and focused harder and more earnestly than he had ever before. The Kaseer drones around them were unaware and walked similar to that of zombies, tripping and dragging along. Archibald began entertaining the thought of electrostatic deflection. He concentrated his mind on the power to modify the path of streaming charged particles by using an electric field adapted transversely to the path of the particles.
One second remained as the hammer flew violently toward the large steel stake that was to be driven into Archibald’s head to couple with the climaxing note. The hammer struck with amazing force into the top of the spike. At that exact moment, Dr. Zeal exerted all of the force he could. The two forces met between Archibald’s forehead and the tip of the nail touching it. An awe-inspiring light ensued and encompassed the room.
The light swept the area and alleviated until it was no more; the static was gone as well. Shaking, blurry fragments of Albatrez littered the floor defunct. All Kaseer drones in the area fell to the floor lifeless. Archibald was found standing fervently in place and looking down toward his feet. He then slowly looked upwards toward the silent room. Not one original Kaseer mind remained on the ship, only their bodies intact, disunited about.
Archibald shook his body removing the dust and debris that had covered him. The power within him felt significantly weaker than it had before. He surveyed the room and walked forward towards the platform that Albatrez had once been on. He inspected the controls and touched the screen causing it to rise en route to the Kaseer leader’s once private quarters. As the lift rose, the room below him lay in chaos.
The terrace reached its destination and the private room came into view. Archibald stepped off of it and onto the half tiled, half carpeted floor. It was the nearest-to-Earth room that he had seen in a while. He first noticed the empty glass case Albatrez had come from. Next, he peered into the closet. On the floor lay the rotted corpse of what appeared to be Raseac and behind him further in the darkness were his murdered, apostate advisors. Further in the dark, he noticed a small light. He ventured close to it and hurried his legs the closer he came to it. His body felt enchanted as he came near.
It exposed itself to be a glass case with his wife’s recreated vessel inside. A tear fell down his cheek as he noticed the timer on the side with blinking zeros. With haste, he pulled the case out of the closet, returning himself and the glass shell to the room. Archibald forced the top lead crystal casing off and grabbed hold of his wife’s replica. He lifted her up, but she did not respond. It was as he feared; they had poked and prodded so much past the time she was supposed to be released that the memories Alice had instilled were gone from her. She was a lifeless vessel like the Kaseer drones on the level below him.
The Doctor cried and the top portion of his body fell upon hers. He grasped her tightly. Never had he felt so alone in a universe he had always considered himself so apart of. A juncture filled with despair came upon him. What could he possibly do now? He thought of how bittersweet his victory would be if this all ended by him living out the rest of his days alone and in the vastness of space. This struck a chord within him.
He remembered back to something Albatrez had said about the voices of all who had died being within his music. He knew that whatever he composed his music with, would house all of the disconnected spirits. He frantically examined the space around him until he found a large, bronze contraption with strings and motors. He looked it over a few times and saw a small door that resembled a cabinet. He opened it with the hope and determination in his mind that this is where the calamity of human energies were kept.
Inside he found a glowing egg-shaped piece with wires extending every which way from it. Archibald unhooked the egg piece and stood up, holding it in his hands. To himself, but aloud, he said softly, “How do I find what I’m looking for inside of you?”
The egg responded with an intense glow.
“It responds to my voice!” he thought. Then aloud he said, “I am searching for a certain woman. Her name is Anna Bell Zeal. She died in the Earth year 2074.”
The egg created a hologram of three women upon its surface, one being the correct Anna Bell Zeal. Archibald touched Anna’s hologram as a tear fell down along the indention between his nose and cheek once more. The egg cracked a small bit and a glowing bit of goop seeped out. The egg projected another picture upon itself, but this time text arose from it.
“Anna Bell Zeal retrieved. You have one remaining retrieval.”
Archibald had no idea what that meant or what he was to do with the ooze. “What am I supposed to do with my retrieval?” He asked in desperation.
“Place it upon an empty vessel’s forehead and chest. You have one remaining retrieval.”
Archibald ran to Anna’s vessel and placed her face upward toward the ceiling. He then took the sticky substance and spread it gently across her forehead and chest. Nothing happened for a moment - but then her body began to shake. Archibald had no idea how to take her rattling bones, so he stood and hoped, for it is all he knew and could do.
Suddenly, Anna awoke…
Archibald ran to her side. This scene, if coupled with the last time he was at her bedside, would illustrate an uncanny resemblance. “Anna!” He exclaimed.
“Archy?” she said lightly. “What…where are we?” Her eyes were still half closed.
“We’re safe…” Archibald said with tears circling his smile. “I’ll explain everything; right now just let me hold onto you…”
“Archy, I feel like I just left you and then…everything was so…disorganized. I was displaced…and the screams…” Anna could not make sense of it all. Dr. Zeal held her tighter as he moved in the direction of her ear.
“Don’t worry, dear.” Archibald whispered as he consoled her. “I promise, I won’t ever let you go again.”
A few days passed, (or what a few days would be considered on Earth) and Anna was on her feet again. She was still sitting with her legs crossed in the glass pod her body spent so much of its presence in. In her hand, she held the egg, though it was no longer glowing and in a different state of togetherness. Just then the lift came up into the room with Dr. Zeal at the helm of it. He stepped off and walked over to Anna.
“Well, it seems the majority of the lab below us is cleaned up. I disposed of the bodies on that floor, but to clean the entire ship will take some time. How are you feeling?” Archibald inquired.
“Better.” She answered with a small, forced smile.
“I’m glad.” Archibald responded as he smiled in return. He then leaned in and gave her a kiss on her forehead. He noticed something was bothering her and retreated his head a small bit.
“Anna, what’s wrong?” She motioned down to the egg. Archibald saw that it was no longer glowing and had completely split open; nothing was inside. “I am so sorry, Archy, I didn’t know…”
“You didn’t know what?” He asked.
“After I figured out the eggs purpose, I used it…and after, it said ‘Retrievals depleted.’ I didn’t know I could only use it one more time…” Anna was on the verge of tears.”
Archibald consoled her again, but was questioning. “Who did you retrieve? We don’t have any other empty vessels…”
“We do have one kind of empty vessel on this ship: me. I retrieved our unborn child. The egg told me to rub the substance on my stomach, so I did.” Anna took the blanket off of her lower half and revealed her pregnant stomach. “It started where we left off.”
Archibald smiled as he said, “Anna, honey…I couldn’t have thought of a better human consciousness to retrieve.” They held each other for a moment and then Anna came up with a question.
“So, if the egg is empty, does that mean that now there is no place for us to go when we die - just a vastness of nothingness?” Anna inquired.
“It isn’t as bad as it sounds. It’s far better than being cast into an egg of uncertainty and having a disassociation with one’s self. Take what Epicure famously said:
“Death is nothing to us. When we exist death is not, and when death exists we are not. All sensation and consciousness ends with death and therefore in death there is neither pleasure nor pain. The fear of death arises from the belief that in death there is awareness.”
Archibald grinned, “So you see, death is nothing to fear.” He assured her. Anna found peace in this saying. They both fell silent for a short time.
”So, What will the great Dr. Archibald Zeal do now that he has his own ship and no home to return to?” Anna jokingly asked speaking of him in third person.
“You mean, what will the great Dr. Archibald Zeal, his lovely lady Anna Bell ZeaI, and their future child do now that they have their own ship and no home to return to?” Archibald said joking back speaking of them all in third person.
“Ahh yes! That is surely what I meant to ask.” She laughed.
“I suppose after a massive clean-up, we will make this ship our home until, we too, find our peace in the nothingness that is death. Until that day though, my dear, let’s not think of such things; for today and the foreseeable future, we shall explore.”
Anna grabbed onto Archibald’s hand, looked up into his wise, green eyes and said, “Even through death and nothingness, Archy, I will not release my grip from your hand.”
Archibald had finally found happiness in his true love and in the opportunity to explore the cosmos with his own ship. What more could a man of science, having a thirst for adventure and discovery, ask for? Much like humanity’s awareness after death, the answer is simple: nothing.
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