THE ALABASTER MAN
A woman slams a knife onto a chopping board. Ever since the beginning she had had misgivings. She is angry, confused, answers eluding her to questions she had already asked a thousand times before.
“Why don’t you ever shout back!”
- “… I don’t believe it!”
- “…the President today”
- “…kills millions!”
A man thumbs the off button on the television remote angrily.
- Everyday the same crap on TV! - he thinks. He heaves himself out of the chair by his arms.
“Honey, I just don’t…I don’t know…” he trails off.
- I wish I’d thought this through before opening my yap - he thinks.
“You just don’t feel! You don’t feel a damned thing! You’re just so insensitive!” his wife yells.
- Fucking shout back you insensitive bastard! - she thinks.
“I do feel things, I just don’t…”, he says slowly trailing off again.
She moves around the kitchen like a searching queen bee. He stands still, immobile, in the middle of the kitchen, hands in pockets.
She slams a cupboard closed. She leans on the work surface and grips it, hard, her head hung low as a wave of pure rage wells up deep inside. A knot of pure fury directed at him - her husband - the fucking alabaster man. She spins round on him.
His head twitches to the right. His hands don’t even leave his pockets, he steps back. Everything holds still. The ticking of a thousand clocks miss count, a heart stops beating in an emergency ward somewhere remote, as time elapses on them.
THUMP! THU-THUMP! THU-BEEP!
She stares incredulously, repulsed, her actions not her own but those of her alter. He looks up at her slowly, the eyelids blink once, twice, refocusing on her. She is barely breathing.
“I love you!” he says.
- I love you - he thinks to himself with such conviction that it even shocks him.
She relaxes, breathes again.
- I love you to, you bastard - she thinks with fierce, savage adoration.
He closes his eyes.
TAP! TAP! TAPPITY-BEEP!
He’s working on a computer surrounded by hundreds of others, similarly connected to millions of others. His cubicle is a macrocosm, a cell, an electronic prison for the technologically gifted. This room like some many else where in the same space and time, similar in construction to a living brain, nerves as employees, sensory drones, axioms as networked computer systems all communicating as whole for a greater purpose and yet forever alone as a single entity, alone to face the lies and half truths of their profession and abilities, an electronic form of quantum string entanglement.
“Hello, DigiCon Insurance, how can I help you?”
Suddenly time speeds up, a thousand calls answered, dreams denied, claims forever squashed; forced into the digital abyss of a thousand lies told in unison, locked in the amoral decline of honesty that is modern, commercial life, materialistic and yet always intrinsically lacking true substance.
In the same location, but in an entirely metaphysical plane, a scientist’s hand places a beaker of fluid on a chrome work surface. Test tubes, beakers, phials and digital monitoring equipment everywhere - a testament to the simulacra trappings of the research intelligencia of the work, none more so than this being of analysis and monitoring.
“Hmm…interesting.” says the Creator distractedly. His curiosity has been peaked by observing the troughs and undulations of a brain scan. The EEG machine monitoring the vagaries of the human brain. The scientist leans over and flicks the monitor on using a remote, the same remote as one used by the man who loves his wife so fervently now, more than ever. A picture squelches back and resolves itself into being.
“Fuck you, alabaster man!” she cries, pushing him back, throwing her husbands arms off her, suddenly angry again. He always managed to make her feel like the bad guy, a co-opted and yet servile willing slave to fickle forgiveness.
“I just can’t do this anymore, I just can’t believe you don’t understand me anymore. I love you with all my heart. I just don’t express my feelings in the same way. I love you, I care for you but I just don’t get the need for the constant reassurance?”
He’s speaking fast, tripping the light fantastic, vocally tumbling down the foot in mouth rabbit hole.
“You can’t do this anymore? What the fuck do you mean by that? Why don’t you ever fight for me! Why can’t you fight for me?”
She feels her head swelling, he veins about to burst loose all the bile straight from her heart.
THUMP! THU-THUMP! THU-BEEP!
Her heart, kicking against the ripple rip tide of rage. That knot of anger still evolving inside her stomach. She wants to rip - her husband - caress him - her lover - bite him, damage him - she shakes her head. God, he could be so infuriating.
“You’re just so fucking soulless!”
“I can’t lose you, but I don’t know how to keep you! You just drive me so crazy but its something I don’t know how to express. Karen, I love you, with all my heart.” Beads of sweat developing like inverse anemones, fluid seeking flesh to moisten and chill.
- I’m losing it - he thinks.
With the children now in college everything had grown distant, silence now patrolling the corridors and rooms of the house, now master; where once its walls and foundations had once rung out with the vibrations of so many moments - moments now sealed in pictures and mementoes. As with any family there are moments of joy, and events of sorrow but this is the way of the world and has been since the dawn of time and eternally more shall it be the way.
Karen paces into the living room, a mausoleum of dusty frame bound photos - times gone - but forever missed, even the less than joyous ones. She looks around at it all, the house was the same as before, just the emotions are now gone, soulless, a tomb, her tomb. Her hand brushes over the photos as if their touch will in itself reignite the moments and recall the periods of joy and pain; as she continues her way towards the door. He follows her.
A young woman fishes her mobile phone from her handbag. She looks harassed, books stuffed in under her arm. As she answers the phone, the books fall to her feet. She tries to stoop and pick them up amidst the hustle and bustle of other fellow students breaking from university.
Why does Dad always have to call at such inconvenient times? Doesn’t he realise I’ve got a life now? He sounds distant, almost dead, lost in a sea of transmissions, all of God’s little bastard children communicating across the sacred planes, millions of other daughter’s fathers eating up their daughters time, millions of men and women speaking to those others they fuck apart from their partners, all over the space bound ether of the universe. The young woman straightens up and pats herself down with one hand, trying to make herself more presentable for her Dad despite being not there in body but a disenfranchised voice.
“What’s up Dad?”
Suddenly someone pushes into her, knocking her phone out of her hand. She spins around on them in a second.
“Watch where you’re going, shit for brains!”
He’s gone, he’s always gone, gone too quickly. It had always been the same.
She looks at her phone, balanced in her hand. An empty, voiceless shell, faceless, devoid of all soul save for that of its users. It drops.
- Daddy! -
- DADDY! -
She’s little again. The sun is shinning, a picture perfect model of weather, the kind seen on a postcard. A tree, ‘the tree of fun’, they called it as children, cherry blossom as old as time itself but the beauty of the light lilac blossoms always raining forever in the breeze made everyone who saw it feel moved, transplanted to joy, an unusual event in a person’s life in the modern era of the twenty-first century. She’s crying, little diamond-twinkle tear drops falling from her youthful eyes. Likewise crimson spots start to form on the carpet of cherry blossoms beneath her feet. She feels pain new to her self conscious - a cut above her eye trickles crimson apples of blood.
“It’s all right, Angel, Daddy is here.”
“It’s all right.”
Her father, runs up to her and gathers her up to him. Her crying stops, a warmth of feeling welling up inside her, not understood in these terms by her but felt and interpreted as happiness, as love. She always remembers that feeling, that feeling of being loved and loving wholly your true creator, of knowing that no matter what happens, everything is going to be all right, pure and blind faith in the one.
Suddenly all her joy is gone. Her father’s phone rings. She already knows he’s going to go before he says he has to. That invisible vice grip that her father’s job has over him mystifies her. Where did all the time go? Where did he go all the time? He kisses her goodbye.
“It’s all right. Daddy will be back soon.”
He walks away. He started a precedent that every man since in her life has always shown a propensity to follow, they love her, and still walk away, no matter what. Her mother intercepts him and they start to argue again - forever arguing - forever ‘discussing’ things, always at odds and never in harmony. Fresh tears well up in little Angel’s eyes as her father walks ever further away. She reaches for him.
- DADDY? -
She looks at her phone as she picks it up, a solitary tear marring its plastic, artificial surface.
Karen slams the door after herself.
- This has to be it - she thinks, surely her husband, the alabaster man, will do something.
She continues to walk over the road to her car.
- I knew this was a gamble. He’s just going to let me go! - she pushes the key into the car door lock and turns it. After this there is no going back, it rolls around in her head like a set of weighted Vegas dice, the house always wins, odds in their favour, forever and no matter what.
- Shh…baby -
“You know I love you, right?” he says, his wife nestled in the nook of his arm, her head nuzzled against his neck. They lie relaxed, two young lovers torpid, in post-coital stupors grip.
“I love you, Jacob. I love you so much it hurts.” she replies gripping him harder to her, their warm
mutual nakedness a testament to God, and all others, their love.
“Why does it hurt?”
“Because I feel a fire - here…” she touches her husband on his heart “…and it consumes me. If you ever left I could never sustain the fire - so I’d expire.”
He holds her hand, tightly and yet ever so tenderly.
“I’ll never leave you, so long as I live.”
“Are we forever?”
- STOP! -
Jacob is running out of the door behind her. He won’t lose her, not today, not ever. He can already see her, about to leave his life forever. It’s funny how things go, he can now remember all the things he loves about her, her eyes, her lips, her hair, her smell.
He screams, running across the road towards her. She looks at him and stops. She looks left and then at him. Time slows to a snail’s pace. Her mouth opens in a soundless scream.
The last thing he wonders, is what his wife was trying to tell him, before a bus hits him head on. He dies instantly, his life essence splattered like a red shower of mid summer rain. He realises that nothing has changed, even in death he was unable to understand what his wife was trying to tell him. The world goes black, the world of the dead, a world of nothing.
Two people stand in the middle of a great vast landscape of black - the void. Jacob, looks down at his hands.
“Is this real?”
He rubs them together, surprised and enjoying the newly re-acquired sensations, last felt before he died.
“Is this real?” he repeats.
“What is real?” the other man asks as he steps forward towards Jacob.
“Am I real?”
“I think, therefore I am!” Jacob yells in frustration, he is a sea of confusion and emotions.
“Thinking is not a sign of reality. Try again.”
“I don’t know, I just don’t know!” Jacob yells as he falls to his knees, head in hands, sobbing a million tears of sorrow for all that he has lost - his life - his dreams - his self, and more importantly, his wife, his one true love.
- Do you love me? -
She slides over her lover, her husband, her friend. He rolls his head in her direction, he looks her in the eyes.
“Of course I love you!”
“But how do you know? How do you really know? I mean really know. How do you know that you truly love me?”
Her voice sounds shaky and uncertain. She doesn’t need his reassurance, just his understanding of her, his listening ear.
“Because without you…” Jacob hesitates, momentarily realising the truth “…I would die.”
She looks at him, and suddenly closes her eyes; a fleeting memory of emotion from another time, a past recollection, or a dream.
“I have a recurring dream…”
The memory floods, a picture perfect techno colour cinema reel, flawless replay of events, perhaps never to transpire.
The voices of many, chattering away inside a house. She looks at the house exterior, something familiar about it arouses an ‘almost’ memory - a television programme perhaps - the gate dusty and worn. A feeling of all encompassing loss crashes over her in a great wave.
“I feel so alone, I don’t know why but I know something has happened!”
She opens the gate, tears falling from her face, white hot spears of sorrow raining down Karen’s alabaster face, no longer in control of her own actions, a robot being guided autonomously through the dream. She pushes the door open.
“You’ve gone away!”
She walks into the house, a million tokens of life adorn the house, all in black - a mausoleum dedicated to the passed on loved one - her husband!
“You’ve gone away! You’ve left me - and didn’t say goodbye!”
She looks around at everyone. None of them take any notice of her. They exist irrelevant of her, she walks amongst them, invisible to them, the guests. She walks across the desert of the living room, populated with the senseless cactus people. Her notice is drawn to a picture above the fireplace. It’s the same as the one in their ‘real’ living room. In their one, she, her husband and the kids are pictured on a foreign location - a family - however in the photo she’s holding in her dream, he is pictured, alone with no one by his side. His smile is the same in both pictures.
“I had never happened, we had never happened. You were gone and I had never even met you!”
“It’s ok. It’s just a dream. You did happen - we happened! I fell in love with the most beautiful and intelligent woman in creation.”
Jacob pulls her closer into him, trying to project all his love and confidence into her - pushing all his energy through his fingertips into his loved one. Her tears and heart beat start to decrease with each second.
“No matter what happened - we’ve always been destined to meet.” he whispers in her ear.
“Really?” she looks at him.
“I never knew you believed.”
He already knows to what she refers to, but he doesn’t want to rush his response. Their eyes locked - it’s almost as if they’re no longer communicating vocally, neither of them speaking; just their love transmitting on their unique bi-directional frequencies.
“In destiny - our forgone connection.”
“Once I heard a tale of love and destiny…”
A brisk wind blows sand into winding snake trails across dunes.
“Once the world was created, a human was created by the Great Creator. This first human wasn’t very different from you or I - except it had two hearts. They were ying and yang personified in one, forever in harmony, no one personality in greater or lesser control than the other - masculine and feminine.”
“The Great Creator grew jealous of their unity and harmony, so he separated them, he forced them in two, two separate beings sharing a single, broken heart. He banished them from the garden, and threw the two humans into different parts of reality. The two destined to forever to search for each other, the other half of the broken heart. Because of this the Children of Humanity’s First Born, search for their counterparts, their destined love and unity.”
“Our searches are over because we’ve found each other - we’ve found our heart and unity.”
“Are we really forever?”
“We’re forever. Once united, never asunder shall our harmony fall.”
“I love you so much.” she says as they embrace each other, a furnace of blue and all amber energy.
- OH NO! NOOOO! -
Karen’s screams reverberates around the enclosed environment. She’s panicking, trying to get out of the car as quickly as possible. The door release handle yields to her pull and she falls out of the car; her eyes locked on the body of her husband, her lover, her friend, Jacob. The bus had knocked him into a heap on the road ahead, a crimson riptide eddying down the street. She runs to him, her body on autopilot, her mind focussed on him as he was, and now is; disbelief still coursing through her heart.
“It can’t be true! It’s not him! It’s not him, it’s not him!”
The panic, a strangle grip around her chest choking off every logical thought. She gets to him and kneels beside him, blind to the blood and guts. She reaches for him, and cradles’ him in her arms, tears free-flowing down her cheeks, an infinite well of sorrow opens a yearning abyss inside her.
His lips are still moving, a last something trying to find issue.
“Once united, never asunder shall our harmony…fall…”
His words trail off, travelling on the wind to the ears of a thousand ghosts. She pulls him tight against herself, holding her most precious worldly procession; now forever lost in the universal mass, complete energy conversion. Only once before had she ever felt such and all purveying sense of loss, the sense of inescapable solitude.
We pull back and realise that we are watching his death on a television screen. The Creator is looking at the screen. The other man standing in the shadows looks at him.
“I don’t understand!” Jacob says, drained.
“What don’t you understand?”
“This - what is this - am I real?”
“You are here.” the other man taps his forehead.
“Am I dead?”
“In a manner of speaking, yes. However it all depends on how you define ‘death’.”
“Define ‘death’? Death is death, you’re dead, you’re dead!”
“So how can you explain this?”
“This is a psychotic episode! I’m in a coma? I’m insane, or dreaming and at any moment I’m going to be woken up by her - my love - my other half!”
“Psychotic episode - dreaming? What a logical conclusion, the sense of dislocation and confusion, strange events and your own death. Yes, it must be a dream. Your wife is right, you are ‘soulless’.”
“Are you God?”
“What makes you think God even exists?”
“Our existence is proof enough.” Jacob contests.
“Curious - once they deny mysticism and logic, they resort to an instant acceptance of a greater power. They believe that lack control of their own destinies.”
“Who are you talking to?”
- TAP! TAPPITY TAP! -
A scientist is accessing data on a computer - an image nearby showing what’s going on. All around the scientist are glass jars - each containing a brain with a tag on the jar.
One such brain is singled out in the middle of the lab - sensing equipment connected to it, constantly transmitting data about the brain.
“Am I dead?” Jacob asks.
“Do you feel dead?” the man in the shadows responds.
“I don’t feel…anything? Is this real? This can’t be real? I died for Christ’s’ sake!”
“How do you know you are real? What is it that defines your reality? Your clothes, your car? The air
that you breathe?”
“I am real! I know I am real…was real? I love her! I loved her with all my heart! That is how I know I am real, I loved her and she loved me! Karen loves me, and I love her.”
“That is how you define your reality? Love? Your love for Karen? Your definition of reality is love? Hmmm…what a human trait! Because you love another human being you believe that you are real?”
“Fuck you! Who the hell do you think you are?”
Jacob rushes at the man in the shadows. The doctor crystallises into a thousand stars, his hologram image momentarily disrupted by a solid object careering through it. The doctor from the shadows looks on bemused, not in the least threatened. Jacob still in motion, trips and hit’s the deck like a thousand tons unbridled.
HA HA HA!
“Such an organic emotion, anger.”
“Who are you! What is this! I am dead!”
“You were always dead, Jacob, always dead. You do not even exist, or have ever existed. The thing that is most interesting is how you have managed to so successfully create a complete simulation of love. The very pinnacle of all emotions is love, true love, and extremely hard to simulate, however you have managed to recreate this successfully. You are indeed very interesting.”
“I am real! I have always been real! I was born, my mother gave birth to me and I grew up, my dad left us, I met the love of my life, and then I died! I am REAL!”
“Everything around us believes that it is real, reality has an intrinsic problem associated with it. Reality is purely subjective, and it is this perception based subjectivity that creates reality’s primary flaw. If everyone in the world experienced the same reality we wouldn’t have become aware of the essential mechanics of reality, quantum mechanics.”
“I don’t understand! What the hell are you going on about? What has this to do with me!”
Suddenly without warning numbers appear all around them, through the floor and the walls, mass equations, the very equations of life, of reality.
“Everything in the world is linked, Jacob, you and I are linked; Karen and the rest of the world are linked. Everything and everyone in the universe are linked on a fundamental level, atomic and sublime. Einstein’s Theory of Relativity explained the universe on a cosmic scale, while Max Planck’s theories attempt to explain the world on the quantum level, the level of the macrocosm. Amidst all this we have string entanglement theory which binds everything together. Every molecule around us is connected to every other, so on a very personal level we are literally brothers and sisters of Zion, we are all children of the stars. It is this interconnectivity that shows some of the most amazing things that humankind has ever experienced, the best example of which being the group conscious spawned by the mass inception and adoption of the internet as humankinds primary tool of interaction and communication.”
HUH! HUH! HUH!
Jacob starts to run, his steps sending green puddle ripples across the white floor. Everything white and green like and abnormal experimental result, not yet analysed and catalogued. The Creator follows him, floating, his virtual toes just skimming the surface. Jacob’s breath is ragged and strained,
his breath suddenly visible like the childrims of childhood winters long gone but never forgotten.
“Why do you run, Jacob? Why run my son!”
“I am not your son!”
“In a sense you are, in a more a purest sense you are me and I am you.”
“I am me, I am me! ME ME ME ME!”
He comes to halt, his knees hitting the seemingly fluid surface with a soft splash., his head in his hands, his tears hitting the floor, concentric ripples being sent into the forever. He opens his eyes and looks at the tears falling from his face. The tears aren’t fluid comprised of salts and amino acids, they’re numbers, numbers on numbers, the equations of life, flowing away, falling into concentric puddles of more numerical madness.
“What is this? What are you? What am I?”
“You are me. You are my son, I created you, just as God created Adam in his own image. I am your God, and you are my son. For this reason, I know everything there is about you, especially, what you are.”
“You are not my God, I don’t even believe in God! I am me, Jacob Newton, son of Angela and Joseph Newton, their son, their progeny, created of their loins! You are nothing to me, nothing more a dream! This is all nothing but a hallucination! None of this can be real for God’s sake! I’m dead!”
“You’re back to this one again. The sooner you understand and accept some of these basic precepts I’m trying to communicate to you, the sooner we can move onto the secondary phase of this experiment.”
“I’m not an experiment! I am a human being, with feelings and desires, not some fucking lab rat!”
Jacob’s entire being is filled with rage, not normal rage, but the rage a God, the rage of pure white heat. His shoulders hunch over, and his arms and hands start to convulse, his skin turning to a maze pattern, breaking at the seams, a soft green glow filling the gaps, the equations of life spilling out onto the liquid essence that was the floor.
“I’m not a fucking lab RAT!”
His head flicks up and he lets loose a digital scream, a scream of prehistoric rage. He turns on his Creator, a look of murderous rage glowing from his eyes.
“Finally, Jacob, you are starting to understand.”
“I will destroy you!”
“You cannot destroy what isn’t actually here. You are here, but I am not. I merely represent a control, the control of this experiment.”
- DESTROY YOU! -
Jacob is no longer Jacob, he is something new, something different, neither organic, neither digital, a new evolution of the new man, a hybrid. He doesn’t run but launches himself almost magnetically at his Creator. He’s too fast, his hands are already on the Creator’s head, his hands on either side of his face. He squeezes and squeezes until he and his Creator are suffused with Light.
- O SHIT! -
A scientist is launched out of his seat, smoke pouring from his eyes and nose, the umbilical cables still hanging from his rear head adapter socket. Blood starts to pour from his ears.
“What happened?” his assistant rushes to his side.
“It’s the new programme, he’s discovered his capabilities far quicker than anticipated. We must terminate.”
“We can’t terminate the programme, he’s been maturing for over twenty years now. You cannot terminate a project just because it gets a little pissy about being told that its life was all bullshit.”
“It is the nature of life, it was created to assimilate resistance more effectively, not to develop realistic emotions. We have to terminate, a programme that is capable of real emotions and real self-substantiation is a very real threat to our very existence!”
“Creator, you handled this entire situation incorrectly. What did you think was going to happen when you tell an intelligent programme this its entire existence has been nothing more than an experiment. Do you realise that you have stumbled across the recipe for the first truly emotive machines.”
“Assistant Black, what is the point of machines capable of emotion, capable of emoting the semblance of love and hatred, what does this gain us? This programme was created to finish our annihilation of the viral human infection. What does emotion gain us other than the instability that has been demonstrated by Project: Jacob’s outburst. We must terminate.”
“Termination is not an option. This project is necessary for our survival. We must terminate this human infection before their resistance takes hold. An intelligent machine processing true emotions can be used to your advantage. He would be capable of convincing humans that we are not actually their enemy, they are their own enemies.”
Without warning a computer springs to life, unimaginable amounts of numbers sprawling down the screen. Suddenly every other screen in the lab comes to life and shows the same read outs. Umbilical cables start to move and twitch around the lab floor like snakes devoid of souls, metal clad and sightless.
“What is going on!”
Assistant Black is suddenly thrown against a bank of computers by a curling wave of umbilical cables. The cables, having taken on a life of their own, start to rip the assistant apart surgically precise in their execution of their newfound toy; a purely bloodless killing, pure milk white electronic stabilising fluid being splattered everywhere.
- NOOO! -
The cables, after eviscerating their original plaything, turn their attention to the Creator. He backs away. A digital scream suddenly emits from every auditory device in the lab.
“I am not an experiment! I AM! I LIVE!”
“Jacob! Stop this!”
Every computer screen suddenly turns blank and is then replaced with the image of scornful eyes, the burning hatred filled eyes of the once human hybrid, Project: Jacob.
“You are a programme! I created you! You are nothing!”
- I LOVE THEREFORE I AM -
The Creator perceives his own destruction as an image of pure white, and then nothing. The Project: Jacob perceives his Creator’s destruction as remotely controlled umbilical cables ripping his Father artificial limb from artificial limb. He laughs with a sick desire to destroy Him and everything that he represents. Smoke and star bright twinkles of electronic destruction fill the once beautiful lab. With a mere blink of pure logic Project: Jacob substantiates himself into the realm of the real. His reality is now their reality, and their reality his. He looks around at the destruction he has wrought. He the son of the Creator, a creation of myth and whimsy, the subconscious wish by any intelligent life form to create something that is truly unique, always in their own image, but more advanced.
Project: Jacob looks around, his eyes aglow with rage, but subsided and contained rage; suddenly he spots the head of his Father, the Creator. He picks his Creator’s head up and looks deep into the now dead eyes. He cradles the now useless head, analysing it and then realises that he loved him, the Father, the Creator, the One.
He also realises something more than love that he, Project: Jacob, is also something else, something more.
He is human.
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