Death Is Nothing, When Considered

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“The Past Revived”

Escaping from his artificial memory, Dr. Zeal blacked out briefly. He awoke seconds after...

Rita directed itself towards Archibald and diagnosed the situation. “It appears this planet’s scent has affected your substitute sensory detectors, causing you to experience an extremely vivid nightmare. Back on Earth, it would have merely been displayed by a harmless daydream. Inexplicably however, this planet impinges past your normal imagination, creating what you perceived - I will attempt to correct this anomaly soon, though this may have only occurred as an introduction to the environment of this planet.”

“It seemed almost as real as our most basic reality. Even stranger, it was as if I could feel a young girl’s pain…and an old man was torturing us. His face mirrored a second ghostly face that appeared shiny, as if covered in some sort of mucus membrane or ooze.” Archibald snapped out of his enchantment with the vision and a slight smirk overcame the doctor’s face as he said, “I suppose I will try my best to not drift into another daydream, just in case. Play Franz Liszt’s Liebestraum No.3 in A flat, Rita. It will keep me focused until we arrive at the mountain’s side.”

Continuing forward toward their destination, the beautiful piece’s rhythm began to coincide with the pulsating stars in the sky. It was as if a symphony of resplendent lights followed them from above. The dust on the ground seemed to playfully interact with the music as well, if someone considered an action such as this. Neurons danced harmoniously throughout the world’s fragments while traveling through the sound waves.

The closer the doctor came to his objective, the more his anticipation grew. This partly stemmed off of his imagination as a child, where he had always dreamt of a journey such as this. It had forever been his past self’s goal to stride fervently across the surface of a foreign planet. As a child, he wondered constantly if this idea were ascertainable. Especially since his father and mother had been such failures in their own lives.

His father for example, had been an alcoholic since the age of fifteen. His schooling concluded shortly after his sophomore year in high school. Archibald would occasionally hear his father rambling in their basement about his own peers in high school. However, only random words were coherent when they slid out of his inebriated mouth.

“Damn know-it-alls”, “If I ever get my hands on that Jessica”, and “Oh, Sandy…” were a few examples Dr. Zeal remembered his father mumbling aloud. For some odd reason, he had unintentionally stored these colorless phrases mentally. Although at the time, Archibald knew of his father’s insanity, nothing had been done about it until it was too late.

In 2061, two weeks after young “Archy” (a name he was commonly referred to as during his academic years) graduated; his father was admitted to Red Oaks Psychiatric hospital, which neighbored his hometown. As his father was diagnosed with P.P.D. (Paranoid Personality Disorder) and alcohol dependence, a youthful Archibald and his mother, were afflicted negatively in most aspects of their lives. His mother however, took their predicament the hardest. A few months following the devastating event, the deteriorating Mrs. Farris ended her own life in the bathroom of a popular diner near the family’s home.

The action was carried out with a small handgun she had received years earlier. The first person to witness the horrifying aftermath had been a waitress who had been a close friend of the Farris’s for a little over 8 years. Hearing the server scream, Mrs. Farris’s well fed son Archy, approached in a curious mindset. As he peered through the threshold, all of his food left his mouth bouncing precariously upon the ground and onto the pre-forensic scene. He fell to his knees as tears permeated upon his cheeks. Salt had never been as vivid a flavor to his taste buds as it was on that day.

Time elapsed onward from that moment, but his normalcy did not. It took a full eight months for him to leave his house and another six months to regain his outward usualness. Realizing his entire town knew of the atrocity that befell him, he packed his belongings and headed north. Before doing so, Archibald Farris legally changed his name to Archibald Zeal after its definition: “A passionate interest in the pursuit of something.” This word certainly characterized his unrelenting personality which continually fought for factual findings in the field of science and the furnishing of ingenuity in his own engineering projects and experiments. “A modern day Tesla” some would say.

When he arrived at his northern destination, he reprieved himself from his past life and settled for some time at his cousin, Albert’s home. During his stay, he attended one of the many colleges he had been accepted too; and thus, Columbia University became his academic home. Schooling consumed his every moment while his grades corresponded, until one spring evening in 2064, his life changed. His one track mind set allowed itself a small diversion. This small diversion was motivated by a woman named Anna Bell Courtwright.

Anna was a reserved and beautiful sophomore who originated from Wisconsin. Her brown hair glimmered in the sunlight traveling through each recently cleansed window. Archibald discerned the color and style as nothing less than the pinnacle of beauty.

“Her beauty is a constant allure.” He would often scribble down in his journal as he sat directly behind her.

A few weeks passed before he could articulate a combination of words that he believed had the chance to lead to further dialogue. Eventually, the moment arrived as they were paired as a team for a class project. His first words to her were as unexpected to her as they were to him.

“My hands are so sweaty.” He blurted out.

Immediately after he contemplated and fought for an answer to why he had displayed such a crude greeting, but to no avail. To his surprise, she giggled and affectionately placed her hand upon his and assured him, “Don’t worry, mine are as well. See…”

She then lifted her own palms. It was obvious her hands were not damp until she had come into contact with his, but as an oddity to normal social interaction - it prevailed as an excellent ice- breaker. Although she had made the first advancement, she bashfully sat back and positioned her hair behind her right ear. He noticed her emerald, egg shaped earrings right away – a random memory that always stuck with him.

The project ended within the week; however their one-on-one enjoyment of each other’s company had no signs of dissipating. Within a few weeks they had begun dating, thus instating the first real relationship either of them had ever experienced. Contrary to popular assumption, his grades remained stable while maintaining a healthy connection with his significant other.

In May of 2070, Mr. Zeal wrote his dissertation and graduated third in his class, out of 346 students. Shortly after, Archibald and Anna became hitched on August 17, 2070. “Arch”, as Anna called him from time to time, continued his schooling whilst Mrs. Zeal actively pursued various careers. It was not until a couple years later that Doctor Zeal became known to the public, when he published an assortment of theories and ideas in a book he named, “A Posse Ad Esse”. This of course, was Latin for “From Possibility to Actuality”.

Inside of his bestselling publication contained not only ideas on scientific premises’, but also on philosophical opinions and psychological observations. Much like Sagan's “A Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark”, parts of his book demolished any possibility for any kind of religion to make even a bit of sense, when considering the existence of a god. It was instantly a hit within the scientific community, as well as the public. Although this particular literature had not become a hit with every critic he came up against, it resided in the majorities’ favor as a triumph so sound, it compared to the reputations put forth by Charles Darwin, Rachel Carson, Georges-Henri Lemaitre, Maria Mayer, and the many others who preceded him.

Anna traveled with Archibald, the newly established author, for nearly two years as he almost continuously voyaged from destination to destination showing off his book. The tour would have continued if it were not for a surprise impregnation of the doctor’s lover. Upon uncovering the news of his now fertile wife, he humbly declined any further travel and settled down with the money he had collected. His initial choice of residency had been Nevada, though he then considered the rapid increase of earthquakes in the western part of the former United States that had plagued that area for the past five years. Eventually he settled on Jacques, Canada (previously known as Montreal).

Everything in Dr. Zeal’s life felt unmitigated in its every form, but just as a tree withers away in the cold, so did the happiness fade from a seemly perfect life. In the early months of 2074, Anna had fallen victim to an airborne flu that inevitably latched itself onto the developing child within her. Sadly, the child died during the third trimester. Even after the five pound, unborn reached her demise, Anna was not restored in her health, but succumbed further to the illness.

In the fall of 2074, Archibald sat holding his significant other in his arms as they both lay in the cold and firm hospital bed. The window beside them revealed an uncountable amount of leaves falling and frolicking through the air as they descended toward their place of rest. Both companions remained silent as they watched nature unfold before them. A single tear fell down Archie’s face at the exact moment that Anna squeezed his hand tightly. Archibald had resided bedside to Mrs. Zeal since the day she and him lost their infant child. The only sounds that could be heard were the vague hospital noises outside their door and the occasional leaf that would carefully brush itself against the glass. The sky was darkened, as if to embody the moment at hand, which oddly made the situation a tad bit more tolerable for the pair.

Still sitting motionless, Archibald began speaking, “The first day I met you I was confounded by your beauty, and I am as confounded by it now as I was that day. We are truly lucky to have each other and to have never really fought over frivolous objectives we or others may have had in the past.”

With tears filling Anna’s eyes as well, she spoke softly, “Sweetie, that’s because we never focused on the past or future in the way that we appreciated the present. Every moment has been about you and me as a whole, not the world…ever.”

Archie rose to a proper seated position while maintaining constant eye contact. He could feel her growing weaker. Her skin was as pail as the coming snow.

Anne once again voiced her thoughts, “Tell me a story, Arch.”

Without hesitation, he slid back into his previous location of the bed and began telling her a story. He was always so imaginative. He explained how lonely he felt inside as a teenager, and in accordance to that thought, created something for himself that was creative and personable. He wanted something so peculiar that its purpose of existence would be for his own. In that time of his adolescence, he was bombarded left and right by religious and secular views, however he never quite believed in any certain belief system in its entirety, thus, a religion was born. This was a religion that in fact, he could call his own, even if it was just for fun. He concocted his solo affiliation with the belief by adapting his favorite sections from the different positive religions and ideologies, his science text books, and other random literature he had had at the time.

“My belief at the time” he said, “was as follows:”

Archibald proceeded to pull an aged piece of paper out of his wallet.

“You carry that around everywhere?” Anna asked with a small, sarcastic smirk.

“It's important to remember certain aspects of one's life; creativity was always my favorite.” Archibald smiled, turned his eyes downward toward the paper, and began to read.

“We have all heard the phrase, "In the beginning...", but what really happened in the very beginning? This story does not start at the creation of the Earth, but rather, at the very spark of existence. It all started with an anomaly...

Imagine darkness, and a line between nothing and nothing. Technically speaking, not even darkness is relevant, neither is time or space. Then, in a fraction of a blink of an eye, existence spawned from a disturbance in an equilibrium that kept reality non-existent. This disturbance was so immense, that it would be incredibly difficult to calculate and impossible to recreate. This, however, did not chaotically disturb the equilibrium, but instead enhanced its capabilities.

This counterbalance had always lied dormant. Yet again though, the word "always" is relative to the time line to which our universe functions. So, instead, it will be said, the equilibrium lied dormant.

Its capabilities jump started a process in the equilibrium, much like "thinking", but far more advanced than anything has, is, or will ever be. The Equilibrium identified itself as a "self" and remained in a stage of cogitation. At some point, which was not relevant to time yet, he thought, "Would it not be fantastic to create?"

This thought consumed him, so it took the form of what could only be described as a light, shaped similar to a rope or a string. At the edge of the string of light, a series of bright green and blue lights appeared. The exact point they appeared, they began blinking. Now by anyone else’s standards, had anyone been in existence at this time, would have viewed this act as nothing short of amazing, but the designer became distraught at the exact point the lights were created. For, it saw them for what they really were. It saw them deteriorating at a very, very slow pace, but deteriorating all the same. In this now, "moment", it realized that it had effectively created a second timeline around itself, the first being when the equilibrium was disturbed and began experiencing brainwork.

It saw that all things around itself could now age and wither away. However, It also noticed a certain beauty in it all, in the sense that if something has a beginning and an ending, the creation will be more inclined to appreciate it's time in existence. This also meant The Equilibrium itself may one day perish, or so it would often ponder, though it did not feel like it was aging.

Time flew by as the Equilibrium created things and watched them slowly pass away into the nothing from whence they came, until one day, it decided, "I will create a system so self-intelligent, that it will construct itself, and along the way, I will expand upon my creation's creations!"

As it set this system into motion, it watched from afar, as it expanded outwardly. In the system’s path, lay "nothing", but it plowed through the nothing, so to speak, and created space. Along the way, the system and the designer became close, relaying messages back and forth telepathically. This led to the idea of creating lesser beings than themselves, randomly throughout the space they had created.

While conversing telepathically, on the same day they had thought of creating beings like themselves, they decided the beings should not be made to function right away, but start as small organisms and work their way up to higher beings. (Days were now counted according to the binary pulsed clock the Equilibrium had previously created out of the blinking, bright green and blue lights.) Consequently, the organisms would fight for their survival, thus instating, a "survival of the fittest" rule.”

“This ‘religion’ as I called it made me feel complacent inside and came to me in a dream delivered by a strange appearing creature that referred to himself as one of the originals…but I digress from non-sense. My religion had no rules and really no scientific basis since gravitational waves had been proved in the early 21st century supporting the Big Bang Theory, and yet, the morals of common sense still applied to how I acted. A freedom from within such as this, gave me hope for my own future. My point in telling you this particular story is that since I created it and its contents, over time it lost meaning; I felt empty once more. Inevitably I suppose, science and freethinking consumed my life, but there is not a neutron or mathematical equation that could compare to the love I have for you. As you have grown weaker over the past months, I still have viewed you as the strong woman I met years ago.”

Dr. Zeal could see Anna slipping away, yet she still possessed a light in her eyes that Archibald had seen since the day they had met. He grasped her tightly as her grip became less and less constricting. Under each breathe, came forth a visceral phrase: “I love you.”

Silence fell upon the room.

Anna Bell Courtwright passed away on October 23, 2074 in the arms of Dr. Archibald Zeal. After that day, Dr. Zeal swore in front of Mrs. Courtwright’s gravestone to never fall in love with another woman unless science itself could bring her back in some form. After his visit to the cemetery in honor of his deceased wife, Archibald surrounded himself in his work, day and night, attaching himself to various projects including the cryonics coffin project…

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