Short Story: “Regret Red”

Regret Red By Darryl Sencere Tucker

PROLOUGE

A bright white flash burns my retina. Bright green foliage blurs and dances around me. My head hurts. My head hurts bad. My vision straightens out, but I find myself unable to catch my breath. The air feels thin, and strange. Like a foreign object disguising itself as oxygen in my lungs. An infinite number of trees span in every direction. The trees look green but askew. The sky is pitch black with no stars to be found, a hopeless black, an inescapable evil black, the kind of black that lures galaxies into its singularity. It’s pitch black but somehow I can still see. Where am I? I guess the better question would be who am I? I can’t remember anything. Waking up here feels like a birth, a sore head with no memories in it. The clothes I’m wearing feel pretentious, a blue one-piece mechanic style jumpsuit with a strange insignia on the front pocket. Why can’t I remember where I am or who I am? My head does hurt; did I bump it or fall? And if so how come I’m not bleeding? I continue to ask questions to an empty audience, an idea hit my brain so I check my pockets for some kind of trigger. I come across a wallet. Inside is nothing but an ID badge with my picture on it. I guess my name is M. King. I check my other pockets and find a folded picture of an elderly man in a lab coat. On the back of the picture is one sentence, “Kill him before it’s too late.” It looks like I might have made a deal with someone, only I don’t know what I’m getting in return, besides I’m not a killer. Murder is concept that no priest can absolve you from. The black abyss that is this night sky makes me uneasy, it’s makes me feel… distracted. An ear piercing engine noise explodes into the quiet jungle. It catches me off guard, I look around, but it’s too dark. The sound gets louder and closer, like an airplane turbine barreling through the jungle. The sound is too much. I thrust my palm over my ears, falling to my knees in pain. It’s getting closer. I feel blood on my palms. What’s happening? I feel a sharp prick on the back of neck. My world goes dark. “Where am I?”

PART I: AN INDIAN IN AN UNHOLY LAND

I lie on an operating table, numb and disoriented. The light above is bright; it burns with interrogation. A woman in white is stitching up my forehead. Add that to the list of things I don’t remember. Her scrubs have the same insignia that was on my jumpsuit. I see her lips moving but all I hear is the ringing from the turbine attack, or whatever that was. The room from what I can see is pristine. Nothing is out of place, no clutter and no dirt. Extreme organization says something about the man in charge. I peer off to the left of the light and see a large window. I’m lying in an operating theater. The ringing subsides and I catch the woman in mid sentence.

“And just like that you’re good as new, or good as you were at least.” She said with a smile. “What happened?” I mumbled. “Simply put, we found you in the jungle

unconscious with a gash on your head, so we brought you in. I’m Elena by the way.” “What was that noise? I replied. “Noise?” she said with a confused expression. “Forget it.” I said. I’ll just chalk that up to the side effects of the concussion. My thoughts collect and I notice my clothes are missing; I try to sit up.

“Whoa take it easy you had a pretty big gash on your head.” She exclaimed. “What happened to my clothes?” “Oh, we had to draw blood and didn’t want to tear your sleeve off. Your jumpsuit is over there on the table.” She said with a smile. “Draw blood?” I said with concern.
She didn’t reply just flashed that smile back at me. Elena is a looker, but I’m not liking the show I’m seeing, and from the looks of it I’m sitting front row center. It’s best I play it Bogart now and Cagney later, with no motives and my memory missing in action, I need to tread lightly. I get up and put my jumpsuit back on. A man walks into the room and hands Elena a file. He looks at me before whispering something to Elena.

“Mr. King this is Dr. Eli Ross.” Elena said with that eerie smile.
I walk over to shake his hand but he just stares. Dr. Ross is a crude, intimidating man of the mad scientist variety. His eyes sit menacingly behind dark bifocals. His lab coat also has the insignia that was on Elena’s scrubs, and my jumpsuit. In fact that insignia is on everything in the room, the wall, the door, the file that he handed her. I don’t trust these people, I may not know who I am, but I know I’m definitely not one of them.

“Have a seat Mr. King.” He said with a thick British accent, pointing to a table with two chairs in the corner.

I look over at Elena. She flashes that smile at me. Playing it Bogart I take a seat, and he sits across from me, and begins speaking calm and ominously.

“I would like to administer a test Mr. King. This test is designed to determine if there are traces of impure blood running through a person’s veins. Now I am sure you will pass this test with flying colors.” He said just as he pulls a pistol from his inner pocket and cocks it. Play it Bogart King. Bogart now, Cagney later. He continues,

“If you do not pass the test I will shoot you. Do you understand?”
I nod my head yes, unsure of what lies ahead. He bursts out laughing uncontrollably waving the pistol as if it were a conductor’s baton. I glance over at Elena, no laughter just that eerie smile she flaunts so flagrantly.

“It’s just a test Mr. King… but please answer truthfully. If you try to pick up the gun I promise you will be dead before you have time to regret your choice.” He said as he places the pistol in the center of the table, an equal distance between us.

“Good! Let’s begin!” He said as he pulls a number of photos from his pocket and places two on the table.

“Choose the photo that excites you the most, if you know what I mean.” He said, with a smirk.

On the left is a picture of a woman’s eye, and on the right is a picture of a woman’s smile. I look up at Dr. Ross. No smile, I don’t bother looking back at Elena. I choose the photo of the eye.

“Well, well,” he said with a smile. He places two more pictures on the table.

“Now choose the picture that makes you feel happy.” He said.
On the left is a picture of a butterfly, and on the right a picture of a flower. The tension is thick, and no memories have come back yet. I feel more lost than ever. I don’t want to stall him so I pick the butterfly.

“Interesting. Do you think this man is of impure blood Miss Elena?“ He asked her but she didn’t respond, only smiles.

“We will know soon enough won’t we? This time I want you to pick the card that makes you feel the most disgusted.” He said, as he places two more pictures on the table. On the left is a spider, and on the right is a picture of a mountain of human skulls. I reach to point at the skulls when he grabs my hand.

“I should’ve said, this is the final picture, so choose wisely.” He said with an evil grin. This man is insane! If I grab the gun now I can shoot him! But what about Elena? I will have to kill her too, and who knows how many armed guards they might have outside the door. I don’t know how or why I’m here but I have to continue to play it Bogart. His eyebrows frown, waiting for my decision. This time I reach for the spider. He picks up the pistol and aims it at my forehead. My mind races I can’t formulate the words I want to say.

“I tell you, if you had been impure you would have gone for the gun.” He said, still pointing the gun at my head.

“Enough Dr. Ross. You’ll have to excuse Dr. Ross he’s fond of playing childish games with strangers.” Elena said. Ross bursts into a manic laughter.

“These pictures? Just old vacation, and war photos nothing more. Besides I can spot an impure with the naked eye, can you Mr. King?” He said while bluntly stopping his laughter.
I let out a nervous laugh.

“Of course.” I said.

“Show him to his quarters Elena.” He said with a mysterious smile. I still don’t trust this man.

“Right this way Mr. King” Elena said.
We both leave the operating room emotionally scarred.

“He’s really a good man, he’s a little obsessed with Aryan ideology though.” “I see.” I replied sarcastically. The corridor is eerie, quiet and cold. Our shoes clicking and clacking on the stainless steel floor are like fireworks in a cathedral. The facility was straight out of star trek. Every inch of every direction I look displays a piece of technology that would put an American space station to shame, in any era. Sliding doors, retinal scanners, floating machinery, the level of detail and work that went into constructing this must have taken eons. It’s lovely. I hope this memory sticks. Purple paint graces the ceiling, while green graces Elena’s eyes.

“There are three main sections of Hypnos. You have Discordia where we eat, house the supplies, and patch up soldiers. Elena says with a smile. “Where we’re headed to now is Minerva’s Garden, where the sleeping quarters are located.” She said while waving her badge over a post, calling an elevator that seems to arrive at light speed. We step on the lift and ascend. “And last but not least is Vulturnus. Vulturnus is home to the security department, and is also where we conduct all of our research and experiments; it’s also where the captain is housed.” “Captain?” I replied as we reach our designated floor. “Yes. Dr. Marvin Connor is our captain and

lead researcher. He’s a great man.” She said. We walk down the long corridor that has nothing but doors on both sides. The hallway seems to stretch on into infinity. As we walk the corridor my intrigue grows ever more. The doors to the rooms are all labeled in binary code. Where am I? We arrive at a door labeled 01101101 01100001 01100100 01101101 01100001 01101110. Inside the room is no larger than an average bedroom. For a futuristic habitat it’s pretty underwhelming, an undersized bed, a window with a curtain, a shower, and a small bookshelf and closet. But there is one thing in this room that is intrigues me and I think Elena knows it too. I’ve never seen anything like it; it looks like a vending machine plucked straight from Tokyo. Only on the front has a picture of baby in a mothers arm, their eyes both looking to the sky. That insignia I keep seeing is also on the machine. I look over at Elena and she’s smiling, as usual. She waves her hand and the door closes. She walks over to me.

“Need help with that?” I nod reluctantly. “This is called a Magdalene. It only serves one purpose. Nourishment. Allow me.” She said while touching one of the buttons. A smooth mechanical noise sounds and a large syringe drops out at the bottom. She grabs it and jams it into my arm. “Ow!” I exclaimed as she chuckled. “There now you’re set for the next 12 hours, and lucky for us we no longer need edible food to sustain us. Everything we will ever need from vitamins to minerals is in this hypo.” She said. “So I won’t hold my breath on the steak and eggs in the morning then.” I said snidely. “Very funny, now take a shower and get some rest you have a lot of work to do in the morning. There’s a fresh set of clothes in the closet.” She said while making her way to the door. “I want you to know that if there’s ever anything on your mind you want to talk about my door is always open.” “Will do.” I replied passively. “And when I say that everything you need is in that hypo I mean it. Aside from the nourishment is a hand picked SSRI. So smile life is good.” She said with that eerie smile that I have yet to get used too. She leaves and I take a look around the room. The room feels cold and pretentious, dark and lonely and me without any memories I feel like an unfinished sketch of a man, an outline of a unfulfilled soul standing tearful in his own cenotaph. I step over to window and draw the curtains. I’m in space! The night sky looks different from how I saw it few hours ago. The stars and distant galaxies swirl together with colors and beauty that overload every sense. The feeling of being able to almost reach out and influence the sky, must be what God felt when he touched his brush to the canvas of deep space and constructed life. I hope this memory sticks. I step into the bathroom and close the door behind me. I play with the digital pad until I get the shower going. I take my clothes off and instantly catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Who is this man? Nothing this mirror has to say feels familiar, and if embracing my reflection isn’t enough to jog a few memories I don’t know what will. I turn and I see a folded note taped to the back of the door. I grab it and read it anxiously. “Don’t trust the girl!” I immediately grab the photo from my pants pocket. Same handwriting. I’m not sure what to make of all this but it’s clear someone here does.

PART II: STORMING GOSPEL

I awake in a pool of sweat to the Magdalene, staring back at me lit up like a slot

machine. It’s hard to get a concept of morning. No sunshine or birds chirping in space, just the silent vacuum of the cosmos. I can’t help but wonder what kind of man I was before all of this. I also ponder the reason why I’m here, if any. Waking up in the jungle is literally my first memory, and I haven’t been able to regain a drop of memory since. The front door of my quarters thunders open, as Elena walks in.

“You people don’t knock around here?” I said. “We knock, I just don’t.” she said with that smile. “Right this way Mr. King, and I’ll show you to your post in Vulturnus.

“Post?” I said. “Yes. In order for a utopia to work we all have to do our part.” She said leading my down the hall and into the elevator.

“I have good news for you, you’re stationed in Vulturnus at the security post. Not bad for you’re first gig right?” she said, but I didn’t respond.

“Well trust me it’ll be easy.” She said as we continue our trek to Vulturnus.

“Why is it so hard to breath in here?” “It’s not hard, you just need time to acclimate. Unfortunately where we’re at organic oxygen is not possible, plants by nature do not like zero gravity environments.” She replied.

“So what are we breathing?” “Silk leaf extract. Silk leaf is a man made artificial leaf that creates oxygen from light and water. We have an entire green house in the bowels of Minerva’s Garden, hence the name.” she replied with a smile. We walk through Vulturnus past all of the stations of people working on various projects. The smell of justified slavery lingers in the air. We arrive at the security station.

“What Dr. Connor is doing here is truly monumental. The man is a visionary.” She said. I know enough to know that any man that gets called a visionary is usually powerfully motivated. The question is what side is motivating him. We walk in and are welcomed by a copious amount of monitors.

“This is your partner, Mr. Rye.” She said, pointing to a chair that is facing the opposite direction. A middle-aged man ascends from the chair and extends his hand to shake. I humor him. It’s imperative that I play all of this Bogart until some of my memories come back, and I find out why I’m here.

“Pleasure to meet you Mr. King.” He said unenthused. “Mr. Rye will be training you. Good luck and I will come get you at lunch time.” She said with a smile before leaving. I take a seat next to Mr. Rye. An hour goes by and he hasn’t said a word, he just keeps on reading that book. I can’t see the title of the book, but it must be compelling because he hasn’t moved an inch since I got here, just raising his head slightly to glance at the monitors, then back to the book. At the precise moment that I’m about to speak, he does.

“I think she likes you.” He said while inserting a bookmark into his tool of distraction. “Who Elena? Why do you say that?” I replied.

“I could be wrong but she never came to get me when it was lunch time.” He said with a raspy chuckle. “Can I share a story with you Mr. King?” I reluctantly nod yes. “This book here that I’ve been reading for the past week is on ancient Rome which isn’t too far from here, but that’s a story for another day. You see the ancient romans were intricate when it came to citizenship. But they were less intricate when it came to punishment, they kept is simple. Crucifixion is widely known from

one story, but crucifixion actually pre dates the bible, and crucifixion being the most flagrant of public punishment; the romans would never crucify a citizen or one of their own. If a Roman citizen committed a crime no matter what it was, he was either exiled or given a fine.

However, if a non-citizen were caught in a criminal act, even petty theft, he would be crucified. This was the origin of Stockholm syndrome. “ He said. “I’ll go grab your orientation video for this station.” He said, heading to a back room. I get the overwhelming sense that they know I’m not on of them. I’m starting to get convinced myself. He returns with an archaic form of video and plays it on the monitor directly in front of me.

“Enjoy!” He said as he left the room. The video is dated. The screen tearing and low quality make the presentation hard to follow. Compared to everything else in sight this video doesn’t match the technology. At the moment I can’t even recall my birthplace much less what year it is. Mr. Rye has the mannerisms of a man with something to hide, and I’m sure he feels the same of me. A good three hours pass before the moral of the obsolete video presents itself. Sit and watch, or rather observe and report. Fulfilling. Elena slinks in almost unheard.

“Lunch time Mr. King!” she said, leading the way to Vulturnus’s kitchen.

“Don’t worry today is a half day. So what did you think of the orientation video? She asked. I skip right over her question, and fire one at her. “The people here, are they being held against their will? Are we all just glorified prisoners? “Of course not, being here is a privilege. A privilege so great, words can’t even explain.” She replied with obvious emotion. “So anyone here can leave whenever they like?” I asked. “Unfortunately that would be impossible, but why would anyone want to leave? These people, me, you, all of us are part of a genuine galactic utopia in it’s earliest form. It’s the closet thing to heaven.” She said. I get the idea that I’m here for the long haul, or at least until I find a way out. I know a utopia when I see one, and I’m not convinced yet.

“You’re very special Mr. King, you know that?” she said with a smile. “And don’t worry you’ll get your memories back soon enough.” She knows more than she’s telling. We arrive at the large cafeteria that’s filled with people and Magdalene machines lining each side of the cafeteria. Patrons sitting elementary school style at long tables, injecting themselves with Magdalene hypo. The cook says they’re packed to the gills.

“They’re pretty full, we should eat at your place.” She said, leading me down a path of sorts. We make the long trek back to Minerva’s Garden to my quarters. She sits her bag down on my bed, and kicks off her shoes making herself a little too comfortable. A bright idea hits her head as she leaps up.

“You know there’s a funny trick to these Magdalene’s.” She said as she reaches behind the machine. The haptic feedback of buttons being pressed can be

heard.
“Almost… got it!” She said, as a chime sounds, reminiscent of a slot machine

singing you a show tune for hitting a jackpot. A bottle of whiskey drops at the bottom.

“Care for a glass?” she asked. I nod yes, reluctantly. We sit, drink and inject ourselves with Magdalene hypo. The alcohol does nothing for my amnesia, but

wonders for imagination. In fact it runs away with my five of my senses and even my heart. The whiskey is strong and Elena is beautiful. To me this is my first time drinking, so my behavior is news to both of us. She doesn’t seem to mind, in fact she’s been laughing at everything I’ve said. The lack of familiar memories feels like less of a reality and more a technicality, says the whiskey. Love is as new of a concept to me as silk leaf, and wherever I am, it’s clear I need both. I also need answers.

“I need to talk to Connor.” I said. Her drunken laugher ceases.

PART III: CONCIOUSNESS IS FOREVER

A dozen or so hours later in what I suspect is morning, I find myself being lead down a service elevator by Elena. My skull feels too small for my brain, and I have my first case of cottonmouth. Elena seems almost unaffected by last night’s indiscretion. I’m too hung over to argue or question where it is I’m being led to.

“I can’t wait to show you!” She said with a grin. We get off the elevator in the bowels of the station. This is an industrial floor filled with pumps, valves and hoses. We arrive at mammoth sized metal door labeled The Garden.

“Can you help me with this? She asked, grabbing one side of the door’s large handle. I grab the other and turn. The door opens with a rustic creek that pierces the ear. What’s on the other side is breath taking. A crystalized oasis of silk leaves that paint the picture of diamonds scattered on a green canvas, spanning as far as the eye can envision.

“I adore plant life in all its forms I truly do, it’s just unfortunate that plant life here isn’t quite the same as plant life on earth. That’ll change soon enough but plants are truly a marvel of Mother Nature. In the 18th century which isn’t too far from here by the way but that’s a story for another day, Swedish botanist Carlous Linnaeus designed the flower clock. A timepiece made of flowering plants that would bloom and close during specific times of day. His plan wasn’t perfect but the idea behind it was correct, plants could indeed sense time. Morning glories unfurled their pedals like clockwork in the early morning, while a closing white water Lilly indicted late afternoon; and moonflowers as the name suggests, would only bloom under the night sky. But what gives these plants this innate sense of time? The same that gives us our sense of time; circadian rhythm. And now we stand in Minerva’s Garden with thousands upon thousands of square feet of silk leaf, isn’t it beautiful? This is the lifeblood of Hypnos, the very reason we are able to exist here without perishing, this is the REAL Minerva’s Garden. All of this, everything you see here was hand crafted by Dr. Connor. He is truly a genius, he has a plan for all of our lives here, a better life than we could have imagined on earth. I just want you to see that. ” She said, completely transfixed. “Why did you bring me here?” I said, unimpressed. I have a new goal that I need to accomplish; I cannot show any weakness now. “Because it’s beautiful. You’re the first person I’ve brought here in a very long time. I thought you might like it. He has a plan for you too Mr. King a great plan, he speaks of you often, he says you’re special and I agree” She said, with a smile. “I was serious when I said I need to speak to Connor.” “I know you were serious, but you’re not ready.” She

replied. “I don’t have time to play this cult game with you, you said he stays in Vulturine then I’m going to find him.” I said, storming off to the elevator leaving her teary eyed in Minerva’s real garden. I had no plans of going to work or playing robot ball, and injecting the superfluous Magdalene hypo. There’s a reason why I’m here, a reason why I have amnesia, and an even better reason why I can’t remember anything and haven’t regained any of my memories. And I’ll bet Dr. Connor knows something, he has too. I arrive back in my quarters and notice something strange posted to my bathroom door. Another note, and a large serrated hunting knife resting deviously inside a leather holster. The holster has a message on it in binary code, 01101011 01100001 01110010 01101101 01100001, the note read simply, “You know what you have to do”, so much for subtlety. Before I can formulate my next thought a soul-awaking scream demands my attention, a woman’s scream. I dart into the hall with my newly acquired blade brandished. I don’t see her.

“Hey what are you doing?” said by a voice that feels too close. I feel a hand on my shoulder turning me around violently. I swing the blade unconsciously, embracing the throat of an innocent bystander trying to grasp the gravity of the situation at hand, as am I. Blood paints the stainless steel wall with regret red. I feel another hand on my shoulder, and I act out with anxiety, dipping my serrated brush yet again in regret red paint. The blade has a mind of it’s own, and I do not. A half dozen people look on in horror at the newcomer that has slain two of their loved ones in a blink of an eye. I holster the blood stained blade and run. I run through Minerva’s Garden to the elevator, eventually finding myself in Vulturnus. My time is limited so I need to find Connor. I run like a madman through Vulturnus until I reach a sign, captain’s quarters. I bang on the door until my hand bleeds. The door creeks open, I burst in but see no one. The place is dark and haunting. I scan the wall for a switch; I hear an electronic ding and the lights switch on row by row. This place is more than a just a bed and Magdalene machine, this is full service laboratory. I walk through the lab gazing at the equipment. There’s more than chemistry being studied here. At the back of the lab is a large metallic cube at least 10 feet tall with a glass door on the front.

“I’m actually working on a bigger one.” I turn around and see an elderly man in a white lab coat, the man from the picture, Dr. Connor. “What is all of this?” I said. “In due time Mr. King, there’s a matter at hand that I need you’re help with first.” He said. “Why should I help you?” “Because I can answer any and every question you have.” He replied with a smirk. I didn’t dignify the question with a response, I guess that means I’ll play ball. “My apprentice Elena has been taken by a former colleague of mine that has recently gone rouge. He’s holding her captive in Minerva’s real Garden. I do not negotiate with traitors, but I cannot express how important she is to me, I’m sure she’s important to you as well.” He said. The man knows more than he’s telling. “Do what you have to with Mr. Rye, but bring her back to me alive and well, and you will have more answers than questions. I’m sure you have a tool that will suffice.” He said with a smile. “You planted this blade?” “I did not.” He replied. “Now hurry time is a factor.” He said, as I left the lab in huff. I make my way to Minerva’s real garden playing it Cagney, playing right into Connor’s manipulative hands. I’m on my way to end another man’s life for a woman I barely know. Is a night of drunken romantics enough to jeopardize my life and commit another

murder? She said she thought I was special, that’s enough. I arrive at Minerva’s Real garden only to catch the show right at the plot twist. Mr. Rye and Elena were both dead, lying in a pool of blood. Before I can mourn the door closes behind me and I find myself outnumbered, Connor flagrantly set me up. Three hired galactic goons, each with their very own hunting knife, or in this case paintbrushes of death. Unfortunately for them I’ve already chosen my color for them, regret red, my new favorite. They close in and I exercise my artistic touch, slicing them into ribbons fit for holiday. Regret red looks nice on them. Their bodies lie slain on the garden floor next to Elena. It’s clear she got mixed up in all this because of me, but don’t worry your death won’t be in vain. I almost miss that eerie smile. I pluck a silk leaf from one of the plants and place it on her chest. She loved plant life. I make my way back to Vultunus with a new target in my sights. I arrive back at the lab to find Connor sitting in a chair waiting for me. He notices my rage and starts talking.

“I’m sorry I deceived you Mr. King but I had to be sure that you were who I thought you were. Let me explain, what I’m building here a true technological utopia, fueled by nanotechnology. Throughout human history people have tried to create utopia, the perfect society. In fact, the American dream, in some sense was based on utopianism. But the colonies that based their existence off utopianism disappeared, and why is that? Scarcity, during that time the industrial revolution was young so colonies suffered from scarcity. Scarcity creates conflict and unless you have a way to resolve conflict, your colony fails. How do you allocate resources? Who gets access to supplies and food when there is a famine? Who gets shelter when there is a natural disaster, and before you know it you’ve eaten your share of corn? These are the questions that faced the early American colonists, and that’s the reason why we only see the ghost towns of these utopias.” He talked and I listened. “But now I have harnessed the power and capabilities of nanotechnology. That ten-foot tall cube that you were transfixed by, I call it the replicator. It’s a molecular assembler; it takes ordinary raw materials, breaks them down at the atomic level and fuses the joints in impossible ways to create new substances. With the replicator, you can turn, for example, a gallon of water into a gallon of gasoline or vice versa. I would have the power of a magician, in fact, the power of a god, the ability to literally transform the atoms of one substance into another.” He kept talking and I kept listening, “Along with being the most intricate device ever constructed, it is also the most subversive device of all, because if utopias fail because of scarcity then what happens when you have infinite abundance? What happens when you simply ask for what you want and it comes to you? The detractors will say, there is no replicator; it violates the laws of physics. Actually that’s not true. There is actually a nanobot that can replicate and has been replicating for hundreds of years, actually taking apart molecules and rearranging them in amazing ways. Mother Nature has already created it. It’s called the ribosome. The ribosome can take chicken, and bread and turn them into a baby in nine months. That’ a miracle, the ribosome takes beef, French fries, and chicken, breaks down the molecules and reassembles them into DNA. Mother Nature has created the replicator. It replicates human beings, but what happens when humans create a replicator by which we can replicate everything? I intend to answer that question with you’re help.” He reaches into a nearby drawer and fetches a large file

and places it in front of me. The front reads, “M. King Life File.” “Take a look at that, I’ve been keeping track of you for a long time Mr. King.” He said smugly. I flip through the file and see unimaginable things. Mug shots, broken hearts, a criminal record a mile long, pictures of me in devious situations. Doing drugs and entertaining prostitutes. Birth certificate, baby photos, and school transcripts on one page, and grisly slayings on the next. All from my hand, I was a murderer; I am a murderer. A bad seed with bad motives, a bloodstain on society that won’t wipe clean. I close the file in complete disbelief; I can’t bear to see anymore. “I brought you here to help you Mr. King your past doesn’t matter here. I’ve done this experiment for decades with the same result for everyone else I bring here, but you, you’re special. Every other person you see here was a completely different soul before they got here. But no matter what universe I bring you to you’re still a killer, you still somehow find who you really are, who you were meant to be. Elena was an unfortunate causality in the process, but these things happen in the name of science.” The way he mentions her name awakes the true artist in me. “But before her was Marsha, and before her was Cheryl and on and on and on, merely constants and variables my dear boy, but you, you are truly a soul to marvel at. The question is, will you help me create a utopia or just keep repeating the same experiment over and over again?” he said, almost predicting my fate. I’ve been used in this man’s experiment for god knows how long and have no memory of it, just a lab rat in maze somewhere in the middle of space. I’m still not sure of the man I used to be on earth, but like he said, you can take brush from the artist’s hand, but you can’t take the artist out of the man. I’ve picked my color for him; regret red, my new favorite. It looks perfect on him.

EPILOUGE

Memory is all we have. Moments and feelings, captured in amber, hung on filaments of reason. Take a person’s memories and you take all of them. Chip away a memory at a time and you destroy them as surely as if you hammered nail after nail through his heart. But nothing can last forever. There isn’t any memory, no matter how intense, that doesn’t fade out at last.

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