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Antebellum

You stand, you wait, in front of Death’s door.

You are devoid of hope.

The thought comes suddenly, like a bullet. Such a simple sentence has manifested itself into a grey cloud, looming over the corners of your thoughts, waiting for the right opportunity to finally engulf you into darkness.

But this thought is unnecessary. You already know that. For ten months you have been devoid of hope. Why do you need reminding now? You have accepted that you will never see the outside world ever again. You have accepted that until your final breath, you will stay in this hollow cell. You will be continuously investigated, poked and probed under their magnifying lenses. Until you die, you will remain a specimen; one of the mere pawns in the great game of Science.

Perhaps, just perhaps, you need reminding because your inevitable end is near.

& & &

No, it is not near; it is happening now.

You have no time to react. Before you are able to fully comprehend the situation, you find your hands cuffed behind your back. With brute force you are dragged out of your cell, and for a few moments you are reminded once again that you are nothing to them but a lump of drugged up flesh and meat.

The hallway you are being hauled across has a gloomier atmosphere than usual. The dirt and grime on the walls appear to contort themselves into various shapes: a skull, a hand, a dagger, a foetus. Oddly, these figures emanate sympathy, inviting violent chills up and down your spine. Within these figures, you see scenery that you’ve not seen for so long, they might as well be foreign. Is that cityscape you see in a figure? Or perhaps just organised rows of grime? You blink, in hopes of seeing them clearer but you see nothing but splotches sporadically slapped across the walls.

After what seems to be an eternity, you are finally led before a room. In front of you is a set of metal double doors that look so horribly out of place. It is too sleek, too shiny, like a small speck of diamond in a murky pond. Your companion releases your arm, revealing a long bruise. You touch the blotch of purple and blue, and you feel no pain. This saddens you. You are not only devoid of hope, but you are also devoid of your senses.

The double doors open silently. They reveal a room, its light blinding you. You lower your head as your companion ushers you to enter. You nod as you step towards the room. Protesting is futile. You let out a soft sigh, signaling your defeat.  For what lies beyond these doors is your impending doom.

Interlude

Memento mori.

It has been three days since her death was announced in the institution. Reactions are mixed; a few think that her death during this experiment was inevitable; there is only so much torment one’s body can endure. A few believe she is better off dead anyway. Her body was in such a horrifying state, she should not have been considered a subject suitable for a pilot experiment. We all ponder on why our longest-surviving specimen had to die now, during the peak of our success.

Currently she is suspended within a glass cylinder in a room full of specimens who share the same fate as her. She looks peaceful, as if her soul now is in a much better place. I for one hope that this is so.

She has served us well and she will be missed.

diary of Sean Losetta, Head Scientist

February 1

Perbellum

A war wages within you. Which side are you on?

Really now.

You look around for the source, but you see nothing but darkness. The phrase repeats itself, and again, and again. It’s as if an audience is screaming at you, its volume increasing each second that passes. You clamp your head between your hands, trying oh so desperately to ignore everything. Your efforts are fruitless. You feel as if the sounds are coming from within your mind. You close your eyes, and chant to yourself.  Go away. Go away. Go away.

It suddenly stops. You open one eye, then another. What you see, startles, no, scares you. For what you are seeing now appears to be an apparition of yourself.

The apparition has extremely pallid skin, almost white. You merely stare. Red, glaring eyes stare back at you. An expression of mockery is painted on her face. A faint glow emanates from the figure and you wonder if you are merely being toyed with by your imagination

Imagination? You are dead, are you not? Surely this is not what happens when you die. One does not simply stand in the middle of nothingness, accompanied by a product of your imagination. If this is what death is, you would rather continue to bear your torturous life.

Don’t look so confused. You created me. Arrogance fills her tone. The sneer remains, but the glaring eyes soften. Her eyes do not show anger, they show pity, a pity you clearly do not deserve.

Taken aback, you reply. I created you?

The apparition begins to walk around you in circles. Even in the afterlife you are a specimen. You follow her tracks, impatiently waiting for an answer. After a short, tense silence, she replies. Let’s just say that if we were the yin and yang, I am the yin.

Memories suddenly come crashing to you. The memories when your endless cries for help were left unanswered. The memories when you struggled as they sedated you. Once you accepted your fate, you suppressed those feelings of hatred, anguish and suffering. Ironically enough, it is your death that brought these emotions to life. They contorted themselves to create a second you.

You lock eyes with your apparition. You feel a void inside yourself, the void she belonged in. You have lost your darkness. Now you want it back.

The apparition snorts. We share the same face, the same body. But we are two different minds. You cannot have me back. You will not have me back.

& & &

The sound of a glass breaking echoes across the room, catching the attention of a few scientists in the area. A cylinder is broken; the specimen that was once there is nowhere to be found. The red alarm is raised, effectively putting the area in lockdown. Everyone is in a panic, some because they do not know, and some because do know. After all, you just rose from the dead.

You confine yourself in an air ventilation shaft. You cradle the arm you used to break through the glass cage. Don’t you find it funny that you only feel a bit ticklish? After all, your arm is like a grotesque work of art; glass shards stabbed into it in strange angles, blood flowing out from every open wound.

Your face has a peculiar look. Your soft, red eyes are full of happiness and relief while your lips curl to a derisive smirk.

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