Death Is Nothing, When Considered

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“Lock Up”

*3+ (Earth) Years Later*

*Slish* *Slosh*

Archibald mustered the strength to separate his body from the cold, tile floor. The sounds surrounding him struck his level of comfort in a disturbing fashion. When he had reached a standing position, he found that standing upright was near impossible. This was due to the amount of slime-like substance that blanketed the floor around him. His only option was to crawl.

The doctor made his path in the direction of the door. Each time his knee slid forward, it left a trail, parting the slime. One might see this as a macro scale model of a cherished biblical fable in comparison.

The closer the doctor came to the door, the louder the sounds became. His imagination took hold of the sounds and created images that correlated with similar resonances from his own experiences. His mind was immensely creative in this moment.

The first image came about as a jar of jelly. He remembered, as a child, trying to force a portion of jelly out of a jar by holding it upside down and thrusting it upward and then downward, repeating this motion in his effort to dislodge it from its container. When it finally came out, it exited the jar with most of its contents and hit the floor mimicking what he was hearing presently.

His second image was envisioned on account of a thrusting sound. He recalled a moment of his life when he had built his own miniature rocket in his lab. The entire process, and then the rocket thrust equation of building such a rocket, flashed through his mind:

“Thrust = F = m dot * Ve + (pe – p0) * Ae”

His third and last conceptualization was due to a popping sound that threw itself through the cracks at the bottom of the laboratory’s door. He aroused a memory from when he had attended Columbia University. This was months before he was ever to meet the love his life, the lovely miss Anna Bell Courtwright.

During one of his classes, the professor asked why a balloon made a popping sound when popped. Knowing the answer, the young Archibald Zeal raised his hand a split second after the man next to him had. The professor called upon the other man instead.

“Yes, Donald, what creates the sound?” The professor inquired.

“I thought we were in an advanced physics class?” The man sarcastically responded followed by a laugh from him and merely a few of his friends. “It is because of the quick change in pressure.”

Archibald laughed softly. The man overheard, and responded furiously, “You have something to say!?”

Archibald very calmly and collectively began to speak.

“Indeed, I do. That is not correct. You see, a balloon only has an internal pressure inconsiderably greater than atmospheric pressure, therefore, the variable can be found in the tension of the balloon’s outer covering. The variable only amounts to 0.2% of atmospheric physical force. The answer you were searching for, or lack thereof in your condescending tone towards the professor and the rest of the class, is a wave reproducing through the balloon’s outer covering; much like the drums your untalented band ‘plays’ on to annoy everyone in our dorm complex.”

The professor let out a small laugh, as did the rest of the class. The professor composed himself and told Archibald he was correct. Donald responded incoherently and left the classroom.

After all three memories passed, he reached the exit. Archibald found himself attempting to open the door by lifting it after he saw that the door rose and fell from the roof, but it was useless. The door was locked either through a computerized system or at the very least, from the other side. Either conclusion, he was stuck. He sat back against the wall and began to brainstorm for a solution to his problem.

Without warning, the door flew upwards rapidly disclosing two large living versions of the creature he had seen on the fallen city’s rubble back on the planet he was teleported from. Archibald dislodged from his staid position but the slime on the ground worked in the Octoghost’s favor. In his attempt to run, he slipped and fell onto his chest. Hastily, the pair of Octoghost locked Dr. Zeal’s hands behind his back with an oddly shaped handcuff piece.

The ankle/handcuff piece was a large, round steel plate with 8 holes in it. The top two holes secured his hands and the bottom two holes safeguarded his feet from flailing about. When each individual locking mechanism was in place, congruent to each hole, the device would glow a ring around the appendage inserted and circumnavigate the different apertures in the plate. This was to show which openings were in use.

After Archibald was fully-bound, they began dragging him out of the room and down the far-reaching hallway. His clothing accumulated a slimy build-up as they drug him carelessly and roughly along the ground. From the moment he was locked into the hand and ankle apparatus, he started to weigh his options for survival. He did his best to ignore his own fears and hesitations. In doing this, he observed closely his surroundings, including the Octoghost holding onto him.

At last, they came to a stop, though it was in the center of the hallway. No rooms within at least twenty feet could be seen by Dr. Zeal. The creatures were trying to communicate with Albatrez. Following their attempt came about a success and so they conversed.

*Translation Closest to English*

“You have him!?” Albatrez said in a pleased manner.

“Affirmative, my lord.” They responded at nearly the same time. It was a moment that left them both sounding like sycophants; lost on neither themselves, nor Albatrez himself. Even Archibald could sense it from their tone. In light of their new ensnarement however, their groveling nature was not brought up.

“Lock him up.” Albatrez responded. The two Kaseer soldiers were confused.

“But he is our guest…our creation. Why would we lock him away? Let us treat him, not torture him. Your orders to bind him seem barbaric enough.” They pleaded. Their request was met with anger.

“YOU dare question MY orders!?” He yelled.

“No, my lord, we do not question your logic. We will do as you say.” They answered in servitude. It was conclusive to anyone who had met these two particular soldiers that they were well educated and yet were submissive to their leader in all aspects. To question their leader was an odd occurrence, but showed that even the most subservient were not without their qualms in the idea that a leader will make righteous decisions one hundred percent of the time.

Their conversation ended and the soldiers complied. They continued pulling Archibald toward his new destination: the confinement area. It was nothing like a normal cell back on Earth, but rather resembled a solitary confinement cell. It had no windows or bars, but consisted of four walls, a tiled floor with rough edges sporadically placed, and a ceiling about thirty feet tall. The color on the wall was painted an off color green throughout that the Doctor later theorized was used in some sort of psychological diminishment.

Once they entered the hallway housing the cells, a multitude of creatures could be heard scratching and banging against their cell doors. When they came to the cell Dr. Zeal would occupy, they opened the door and threw him into his cell, void of any sympathy or care. The Doctor would remain here for the next seven days.

Day 7

"Haven't you any fight left, my dear human?" an elderly man humorously said to Dr. Archibald Zeal sitting directly in front of him.

Although his face was as kind as an older man's expressions could be, his eyes were as deep as a well and as hollow as a tree infested with termites and rot. Archibald’s face was ripe with confusion and the will to live. His mind raced, seemingly doubling the neuron activity in his brain and producing an amount of adrenaline that Archibald had not felt since he found his mother dead ages before in a diner bathroom.

"Please..." Archibald slurred in his speech as he pleaded while outwardly drained of the majority of his energy.

The old man slowly raised his right arm, and pendulously moved his index finger side to side uprightly. His demeanor was so unquestionably horrible, that Dr. Zeal caught on to his intentions immediately. He arose from the chair that had been adjacent to his. Without a word leaving the uncompassionate man, he proceeded out of the cell.

Archibald shook wildly in an attempt to break free of the chair he had been restrained to, but to no avail. After tiring himself out, he stopped and sat motionless in thought. Sounds, just outside the door, entered the room through the break in between the cell door and the floor. He could hear screams. They bounced off the walls, as if to taunt him. A shadow coupled the noises at the bottom of the door's threshold. He could hear the old man slowly coming closer and closer.

"I have a special surprise for you, my dear human." the older gentleman uttered from the opposite side of the door. Every image imaginable raced through his brilliant mind.

*Silence*

The man entered the room abruptly, swinging the door open until it slammed into the wall behind it. In one hand, he grasped tightly to a box of nails. Loosely, in his other hand, a hammer swung back and forth as did the handles that led to a black bag he carried with him. Setting the hammer down, he began laughing softly to himself.

"You know, I thought it befitting that I use such a primitive tool to end your life. The hammer: a symbol of building, used to destroy the last original human mind with a tool they created. I believe you would have called this irony back on Earth." He proceeded to stroke Archibald’s hair, gliding his fingers softly across his head down to his eyebrow. After he took his hand away, it revealed an adhesive strip of strange wiring that made a ‘T’; one strip from Archibald’s ear to his other ear, and another extending down ending between his eyes.

"I'm going to retrieve all of your knowledge and ideas and then I MIGHT think about letting you go.” The man said. Archibald knew it was a lie. This man would never let Dr. Zeal go after extracting the information he wanted.

“If you even START to struggle” the elderly man insisted, “I'm going to hammer a nail somewhere into your body. Each time I have to restrain you - that will be another nail. I sure hope you cooperate, because I'm not looking forward to cleaning that up if such an action should have to take place."

The man slowly leaned in and began siphoning information. The doctor knew he could not let this happen for several reasons. He head butted the man in his ear and jumped frantically up and down. One of the man's hands was positioned on the floor in order to counter his weight while forcefully attaining Archibald’s thoughts. One of the chair legs lifted off of the ground and crushed the old mans wrinkled index finger. He yelled adjacent to the Doctor’s vocal bellow and fell back into the nearby wall.

"Not smart, asshole!" The man exclaimed.

In all of the commotion, the nails had fallen to the floor. Some had even fallen in between the rough edges on the worn, tiled floor. He shuffled his hands on the floor with such a high amount of adrenaline, that he was unaware of the cuts that filled his palm from the bristly edges littering the floor in all directions.

"At last!" he thought, "a nail!"

His hands, bloody and torn, pushed off of the ground in order to help him stand upright. Quickly, he dashed to his black bag and picked out of it, a piece of that same strange music machine he had in his private quarters. On the way back towards the Doctor, the old man pressed a screen, the equivalent to a play button. He forced a noise canceling device over Archibald’s ears. He then advanced toward a roll of adhesive and wrapped it around the Doctor’s head to secure the device in place.

The music played a classical score, unheard of by Dr. Zeal. The volume had been turned to the highest possible decibel it could reach. Dr. Zeal watched as a nail was placed sternly against his left shoulder, making it so that any movement or struggle he displayed would have severe consequences. As he picked up his hammer off of the floor, a little bit of light shining through the doorway reflected off of the hammers steel.

He held the nail in place for a second more, before banging the hammer into the nail causing it to penetrate his skin. Time began to speed up as more and more nails were accompanying the inside of his body. Even though the nails varied in size, the Archibald could not tell after the fifteenth or sixteenth nail entered his skin. As time sped up, so did the music. He exerted his voice as he screamed and screamed, yet he could not hear his own guttural cries for help. All that accompanied his pain was the sound of the man's music. Slowly, his eyes closed and he drifted away into the music...

Day 1

"Marvell, come here at once! My new score is finished!"

An elderly man said to an approaching robot. Marvell was a four foot robotics unit that mimicked the looks of a locust. It was trained to follow the old man's every demand. As the robot neared him, he hit a screen on a queer music automaton.

"Oh, my dear Marvell, how wonderful is it!?"

The wrinkled old man screamed and smiled. Almost instantly, the man displayed anger on his face and leaned toward Marvell as he talked and spit at the same time.

"You know Marvell, music is life. It entertains us in every way possible. The humans didn't understand it as well as you and I do and it is completely lost upon the Kaseer. Music is my gift…It's not enough to just listen to it. It must consume you in every aspect of your being."

A screen appeared within the luminescent body design of the robot as it wrote upon itself in computer generated indentations, "How will you achieve this?"

The man smiled at the simulated question and answered fervently, "Through the cessation of one’s self, of course. Only then, will one experience its greatness."

"Death, sir?" Marvell commented.

"Precisely, it is an unequivocal action I must take to ensure my music transcends death itself. That is, if such a thing exists at my state of being."

The old man clinched his fist as he banged his hand against the robot's head causing the robot to turn off. He then headed towards a hole in the ground that was approximately 15 feet deep. As he made his way toward the hole, his body morphed into what appeared to be an octopus’s legs and a ghastly head. Once in the hole, his eyes shut quickly. Next to him was the body of an old man that mirrored the form he had just morphed from. It was completely lifeless, but was not decaying in any way. Protruding from the body were wires indicating that they were the source of what was keeping this human-like shell in a state of freshness.

Day 3

Morning had come abruptly to Archibald. His eyes patiently opened to reveal the uncountable amount of lumens that dominated the darkness of his room. From the wall every once in a while, a tray of mysterious food would be presented; a few minutes would go by and the tray would reverse back into the wall. This was his third day in captivity with no word yet from his captors. He had no way of telling how long he had been in captivity. He spoke aloud to himself.

“How long has it been?”

“Three days, neighbor. It’s been three days.” A voice said.

Archibald looked around, but no one was in the cell with him. He called out.

“Where are you?”

“I am in a cell next to yours. I’ve been counting the days since you arrived, waiting to hear if you spoke a language I knew.” The voice answered.

“How do you speak my language? Who are you?” Archibald inquisitively asked.

The voice became louder and sounded as if the being speaking was closer to the conjoining wall.

“My name is Quan. We are all taught all of our creation’s languages at a young age. You must be a human, because you do not have our dialect impressed upon your vocalization.” It responded.

Dr. Zeal recalled what he had learned about Earth’s origin and retorted passionately.

“YOU are a member of the Xaphnu race!?”

“We are now called the Kaseer and I was. I renounced my affiliation when I found out they had murdered my family. I was down on a planet and my mission was to collect all useful or unknown machines, gather any artificial beings, and retrieving a girl in a glass case that was like you: a human, and –“ Quan was interrupted by Archibald.

“Girl in a case…that is my wife! Or, was supposed to be in her likeness…Where is she? Is she hurt? Did you find a small robot near her?” Archibald had so many questions.

“No, to the robot, but other scavengers searched that area after me. As for the girl, I delivered her to the ship exactly as I took her, but I killed the one she was with.” Quan stated.

“Alice…but you didn’t hurt the woman in the case?” Archibald said still concerned.

“No.” Quan answered. “I assume they still have her somewhere, probably analyzing her memories. If what you say is true, then the leader knows exactly who you are. I’m not sure why he would lock up one of your kind. We all care so much for you.”

“You care!? Is that why you destroyed an entire planet based on an idea that didn’t even qualify as a theory!?” Archibald lashed out.

“I had always suspected that as physically strong as our race is that we were mentally careless in that decision. Keep in mind that I was not the one who destroyed your planet, nor do I agree with what my ancestors did to the humans. You can surely relate?”

Archibald could quickly see how his own accusations were hypocritical when pondering all of the atrocities that the human race had committed to their own kind in the past, though he still had a foothold in retaliating the way he did.

“That is true, but how many planets have you destroyed during your lifetime? I know of at least one. I woke up to its devastation. I met the living beings you destroyed, I touched the buildings you made collapse, and I woke up under the rubble you caused. You admitted to personally killing a friend of mine – Alice. How could you possibly justify that?” Dr. Zeal knew he had Quan on the ropes with that response. Quan paused for a moment, and returned an apology.

“Those were partly my fault and I apologize. I know that it’s not much, but it is all I have to give to you in words. I can, however, try my best to make up for it now in actions.” Quan said with the utmost sincerity.

“In what way?” The Doctor pondered out loud and directed towards Quan.

“I’ll help you end their reign as traveling murderers. If your wife is still alive, I will help you get to her as well.” Quan said. Archibald was interested but had to ask one more obvious but pertinent question concerning his help.

“How will you help me? You are locked up as I am.” Archibald was correct in mentioning this, but did not expect Quan’s answer.

“They left me in here to rot, but you – YOU they want. They will come for you soon and when they do, we will be ready. We must be careful of when we talk. These cells are for letting men like me rot in, so they do not monitor them like they do the rest of the ship. They do however come around once in a while and I suspect it will be more often while you are here. Let me plan and I will get back to you soon. Keep your ears open.”

Archibald agreed and said his temporary goodbyes as he leaned against the wall in thought. His mind wondered on for only a few minutes before he noticed something move out of the corner of his eye. In a quick motion, he looked over toward it, but saw no movement. Archibald was confused and moved over to where he had seen his mysterious ‘something’. He came upon a small vine. He did not remember it being there before.

He picked it up and inspected it. Had it been there the whole time? Archibald was sure he would have seen it, though it did closely resemble the color of green that filled the walls around him with color. He pulled as hard as he could and ripped the outer lining off. It was nothing but wires on the inside. Although it felt organic from the outside, its infrastructure revealed a differentiation. The wires inside were thick pieces of coarse wire. After a while he pocketed the item and began thinking again against the wall.

Day 5

The night was winding down as Marvell was turned off. The old man advanced toward the hole he slept in. He climbed down into the hole and once again lay next to a mirrored image of himself in his older man form. Every time he would lay down, a light grey mist would fall upon him and his lifeless twin in order to keep them sustained, for neither body required food when this mist was applied to their skin.

As the man was about to rest, he saw a small, open hole in the wall where a vent cover was to filter the mist that came from all sides. The vent was missing a one of its four latches. He thought this to be strange. He felt he had to make a quick decision.

“I must kill him soon.” The man thought and pressed a screen attached to the dormant replica of an old man lying to his side. The once lifeless body awoke, but could not move its body from the neck down.

"My lord, will we be taking care of the human tomorrow?" The man flinchingly said.

“Not tomorrow, but the following day. You need time to gather your liveliness.”

"Not to question you in anyway, but why do we do it, my Lord?” The reanimated man asked.

“You must still have parts programmed for your original use as a human replica.” he said to himself, “Those ‘things’ out there that made you so they could praise what you mimic in your outward form. Humans are disgusting and so are the creatures that created you and fill this ship now. You know, I sometimes relate to the human's feelings. Only in that I want what I am not given. Rest now, for the day after tomorrow is an important day." The old man firmly stated.

Day 6

Archibald could hear a struggle in the cell next to him. His first thought was that Quan was over taking a guard. He was filled with glee. He heard a large thud, and a slishing and sloshing sound coming towards his door. As the door opened slowly he hoped to see Quan, but to his dismay it was a soldier. In his hand was a vital part of Quan. Blood dripped from his now severed head. The soldier looked at him and spoke.

“We overheard you two talking before. You didn’t actually think a Kaseer soldier withering away in a cell could defeat a well-equipped Kaseer guard did you?” The soldier threw the head into Archibald’s cell and closed the door.

Dr. Zeal was at a loss for words. He backed away from the head and burrowed his head in between his knees in desperation for an answer to this problem. This was more complicated than any equation he had ever faced.

Day 7

"Haven't you any fight left, my dear human?" an elderly man humorously said to Dr. Archibald Zeal sitting directly in front of him.

Although his face was as kind as an older man's expressions could be, his eyes were as deep as a well and as hollow as a tree infested with termites and rot. Archibald’s face was ripe with confusion and the will to live. His mind raced, seemingly doubling the neuron activity in his brain and producing an amount of adrenaline that Archibald had not felt since he found his mother dead ages before in a diner bathroom.

"Please..." Archibald slurred in his speech as he pleaded while outwardly drained of the majority of his energy.

The old man slowly raised his right arm, and pendulously moved his index finger side to side uprightly. His demeanor was so unquestionably horrible, that Dr. Zeal caught on to his intentions immediately. He arose from the chair that had been adjacent to his. Without a word leaving the uncompassionate man, he proceeded out of the cell.

Archibald shook wildly in an attempt to break free of the chair he had been restrained to, but to no avail. After tiring himself out, he stopped and sat motionless in thought. Sounds, just outside the door, entered the room through the break in between the cell door and the floor. He could hear screams. They bounced off the walls, as if to taunt him. A shadow coupled the noises at the bottom of the door's threshold. He could hear the old man slowly coming closer and closer.

"I have a special surprise for you, my dear human." the older gentleman uttered from the opposite side of the door. Every image imaginable raced through his brilliant mind.

*Silence*

The man entered the room abruptly, swinging the door open until it slammed into the wall behind it. In one hand, he grasped tightly to a box of nails. Loosely, in his other hand, a hammer swung back and forth as did the handles that led to a black bag he carried with him. Setting the hammer down, he began laughing softly to himself.

"You know, I thought it befitting that I use such a primitive tool to end your life. The hammer: a symbol of building, used to destroy the last original human mind with a tool they created. I believe you would have called this irony back on Earth." He proceeded to stroke Archibald’s hair, gliding his fingers softly across his head down to his eyebrow. After he took his hand away, it revealed an adhesive strip of strange wiring that made a ‘T’; one strip from Archibald’s ear to his other ear, and another extending down ending between his eyes.

"I'm going to retrieve all of your knowledge and ideas and then I MIGHT think about letting you go.” The man said. Archibald knew it was a lie. This man would never let Dr. Zeal go after extracting the information he wanted.

“If you even START to struggle” the elderly man insisted, “I'm going to hammer a nail somewhere into your body. Each time I have to restrain you - that will be another nail. I sure hope you cooperate, because I'm not looking forward to cleaning that up if such an action should have to take place."

The man slowly leaned in and began siphoning information. The doctor knew he could not let this happen for several reasons. He head butted the man in his ear and jumped frantically up and down. One of the man's hands was positioned on the floor in order to counter his weight while forcefully attaining Archibald’s thoughts. One of the chair legs lifted off of the ground and crushed the old mans wrinkled index finger. He yelled adjacent to the Doctor’s vocal bellow and fell back into the nearby wall.

"Not smart, asshole!" The man exclaimed.

In all of the commotion, the nails had fallen to the floor. Some had even fallen in between the rough edges on the worn, tiled floor. He shuffled his hands on the floor with such a high amount of adrenaline, that he was unaware of the cuts that filled his palm from the bristly edges littering the floor in all directions.

"At last!" he thought, "a nail!"

His hands, bloody and torn, pushed off of the ground in order to help him stand upright. Quickly, he dashed to his black bag and picked out of it, a piece of that same strange music machine he had in his private quarters. On the way back towards the Doctor, the old man pressed a screen, the equivalent to a play button. He forced a noise canceling device over Archibald’s ears. He then advanced toward a roll of adhesive and wrapped it around the Doctor’s head to secure the device in place.

The music played a classical score, unheard of by Dr. Zeal. The volume had been turned to the highest possible decibel it could reach. Dr. Zeal watched as a nail was placed sternly against his left shoulder, making it so that any movement or struggle he displayed would have severe consequences. As he picked up his hammer off of the floor, a little bit of light shining through the doorway reflected off of the hammers steel.

He held the nail in place for a second more, before banging the hammer into the nail causing it to penetrate his skin. Time began to speed up as more and more nails were accompanying the inside of his body. Even though the nails varied in size, the Archibald could not tell after the fifteenth or sixteenth nail entered his skin. As time sped up, so did the music. He exerted his voice as he screamed and screamed, yet he could not hear his own guttural cries for help. All that accompanied his pain was the sound of the man's music. Slowly, his eyes closed and he drifted away into the music.

He suddenly regained consciousness, but his vision was still blurry. As his sight cleared he was astounded at what he saw. To his right was the older man with his head crushed into the ground, and on his left was his favorite traveling companion - Rita.

According to Earth’s timeline: We have been separated for over twenty years. It is good to regain your company, Doctor.”

Dr. Zeal, now untied undoubtedly he believed, due to Rita’s efforts, fell onto his knees and hugged his old robotic friend tightly. After he loosened his grip, he looked directly at Rita with now cleared vision.

“I do not feel any pain. How is this so, Rita?”

“It appears the controlling leader of this ship slept next to an anatomical structure much like the body replica you inhabit. It was created from a replica taken from Earth with an unknown time frame of time passing until now. The structure was probably made from your design after you left planet Earth. The leader had revived it similar to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, though in this case, it was an inanimate object that came to be twice in its existence.

The leader, unlike the rest of the Kaseer, inexplicably disliked humans. The sole purpose of its reanimation was to end your life. The leader feared none of his loyal subjects would stay loyal after such an order was given, thus, he created his own ‘hit man’. To elucidate upon your query, the leader revived the body with an organic material he wrapped around the wires and the body itself. I dropped a sample of this material from the vents four Earth days ago, in the aspiration that you would use it if injured. You did not have the chance to use it. I eliminated the threat by dropping from the vent and crushing the leader’s sent minion’s Frontal bone and Glabellum, damaging irreconcilably the prefrontal cortex. I used the organic material I had pilfered from the leader’s quarters after I discovered its healing applications were immeasurable, to heal your many wounds. I hope one day we may find the planet this was obtained from.”

“Thank you, Rita, I am indebted to you; and there will be time for that, but right now we need to find the leader and end this, as well as find Anna. I hope she is the same person.”

“How do you plan to reach him?” Rita asked.

“Bacillus Anthracis. I saw the necessary items to recreate that bacterium into a weapon back in the laboratory. I have to assume that the way I saw it packaged, it was a threat to them just as it was to humans back on Earth. We have to sneak back to the Laboratory down the hallway. Can you take out the soldiers on the way there?” Archibald asked Rita.

“It is fortunate that you designed me with so many purposes, sir.”

Archibald slightly laughed. “I just knew the universe wouldn’t be as inviting as we hoped. Let’s go.”

Both Archibald and his newly reunited companion exited the area where the cells where held, in the hope that what he had seen in the laboratory before, was the solution to their escape.

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