The Origin of Loss, Part 79 – Hero

“I…remember!”

Jimmy stepped back. Officer Barns was before him with a crazed look in his eyes. And in his arms the laser rifle.

“That thing…he almost had me killed…I can’t stand it…I CAN’T STAND IT!”

Gunders, in his calm and most diplomatic voice said, “Barns, how are you doing? Why don’t you put down that rifle and–”

“I DON’T TAKE ORDERS FROM YOU! NOT ANYMORE!” Barns raised the rifle, aiming it right at the Jimmys.

“You idiot!” Dr. Noritz yelled out.

“You think that’s wise?” Dr. Smite asked Noritz, but Noritz continued.

“Don’t you know how dangerous that is? Fuckin’ psycho–droids!” The droids drew their rifles.

“Mr. Barns,” Gunders said. “Please don’t do this. You are a hero. A patriot. If you just slowly place the rifle on the ground I can give you a nice, shiny medal. What do you–”

And with that a bright beam penetrated the space of the chamber. It moved, eviscerating the line of droids until all that remained was ash and bits of scrap.

“Holy shit!” Bob said as he cowered by one of the chairs. “How did he get that thing to work?”

The impostor at the center of the chamber started to laugh.

The beam soon disappeared. Barns pointed it back at Jimmy who was still stunned, his legs shaking as if they were about to break. “Please…” But Barns’ face was cold, harsh, and mad for revenge.

But then something started to happen. Slowly, Barns twisted the rifle and slowly it turned toward his jaw. “No! NO!” Barns struggled to return it to its original position, but his arms just kept pushing it to his skull.

Jimmy looked down at New Jimmy. He set him down and New Jimmy approached Barns.

“No. What are you doing? You can’t do this!” Jimmy cried to New Jimmy. “This isn’t right! Let him go!”

New Jimmy looked back at Jimmy with its featureless face and then down on the floor.

“You can’t just kill him! It’s wrong!”

New Jimmy gave a slight nod and the laser rifle dropped from Barns’ hands. Barns collapsed onto the floor, weeping. And the impostor, once again, started to laugh from his throne.

“Damn man.” Bob said. “That was some dramatic shit.”

“Yeah. I’m getting out of here.” One of the homeless people said.

“Me too!” And all of the homeless people, and filing cabinet lady, fled the chamber, racing past Barns.

“Wait! You can’t go! You are property of Smick Industries!” Gunders called out. “You can’t–oh who cares?”


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The Origin of Loss, Part 78 – Revelation

Gunders’ face went red and he turned away from the man strapped to the chair, unable to look at him anymore.

“Yo, who cares about this fool? We need to free Jeffrey! He’s in one of the labs, trapped in a fucking vial.”

Dr. Noritz stared at Bob, realizing something. “Are you…talking about the crab?”

“Hey. He ain’t some ordinary crab. He’s one magical fucking crustacean. We have a bond. A connection.”

Dr. Noritz cocked his head. “Yeah. It’s one of the subjects that escaped. But, as far as I know, there isn’t anything special with it. The higher-ups think it’s some sort of mutant, but our research has shown it to be just some crab. It has no powers or anything. It’s just…crab. You idiot.”

Bob’s face went pale with realization. Jeffrey was just some crab. “That’s…not true…Man, you a bitch. A lyin’–”

“I mean, I don’t give a fuck if you believe me. We’ve been lying to headquarters this whole time to make sure we were properly funded. They’re about as bright as you.”

Bob looked down, feeling embarrassed, trying to process what he has just learned.

“God, did the higher-ups really mistaken some rando for Dr. Yannis? What a bunch of incompetant dweebs,” Dr. Noritz said, “I guess it doesn’t matter what I do. I can run this whole facility. Perhaps send headquarters some ‘updates’ as Dr. Yannis. And maybe keep this guy just in case they want a conference call or something.”

“No.” Dr. Smite said firmly. “No more nonsense. We need to expose Smick Industries.”

“Well,” Dr. Noritz said, “what better way of doing that than by going undercover, sort-of speak? With ‘Dr. Yannis’ over here we’ve gotten a better ‘in’ to the higher-ups. Actually understand their motivations. If they have anything…”

Meanwhile, while everyone was talking among themselves, trying to process everything, Jimmy picked-up his brother and made his way toward the chamber’s exit. However, as he approached it a familiar face suddenly stood in the doorway.


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The Origin of Loss Part 77 – Saved

Dr. Yannis glared at Dr. Noritz with cold eyes. “Jealousy is a great motivator, but it is also the enemy of progress. Egos. Too often men, even of decent intellect, are trapped by them. Blinded. Unable to see nor comprehend the big picture. Or, worse, don’t care.”

“Oh shut-up! You pretentious twat. Jesus. Droids, free everyone. And once that has been done, strap this fool to one of the chairs.”

The droids did so. Jimmy felt good to be free, sort-of, but New Jimmy was unconscious. “Is he…dead?”

“I don’t know.” Dr. Noritz said, brushing off the question.

But New Jimmy started to budge, slightly, as he lied on the ground. Then he sat-up. Jimmy hugged him. “It’s going to be okay…”

Mr. Gunders whispered in Noritz’ ear.

“Why?” Dr. Noritz responded. Jimmy turned to them.

“What is going on?”

Mr. Gunders blurted. “It’s too dangerous. When headquarters ask we can pin its death on Dr. Yannis here. His negligence.”

Dr. Yannis didn’t say anything, bound to the center chair where New Jimmy was once trapped.

“Wait. Dr. Yannis?” Noritz asked.

“But…you can’t kill him.” Jimmy stood-up.

“No. We can. I’m sorry Jimmy, but it’s what is best.”

“But. He’s my brother.”

“Oh please with this nonsense!”

“Yo man,” Bob stepped in between Gunders and Jimmy, staring down at the disgraced manager. “Whatever Jimmy says, goes. Got it?”

“But…Dr. Yannis is dead.” Everyone looked at Dr. Noritz. “At least, I’m pretty sure he is,” Noritz said.

“Yes.” Dr. Smite joined. “You…you’re right. I think he slipped on a test tube. Head hit the corner of a table.”

“What?” Gunders was in disbelief. He stomped over to “Dr. Yannis.” “So, if you’re not really Yannis, who the fuck are you?”

“Does it matter Gunders?” Dr. Noritz asked.

“So my job was stolen by some fucking impostor? Who the fuck are you?”

But the man in the seat simply laughed.


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The Origin of Loss, Part 76 – Lateral Moves

“Yo, I have a question.”

“Yes?”

“Why are you such a bitch?”

Silence. Everyone exchanged nervous glances. But Yannis just chuckled. “It…It doesn’t matter what you say to me. People all my life–people like you–have mocked me. Treated me as lesser. Spat at me. Or ignored me.” He concluded with a smirk. “You’re nothing.”

He slowly shifted back to the machinery and twisted dials. The chamber buzzed with life.

Jimmy’s eyes darted toward his brother. “New Jimmy! Do something!” But New Jimmy didn’t respond, his face cast downward.

“Selfish…” Dr. Yannis muttered to himself. He pulled a lever and a force ignited New Jimmy’s helmet, causing his body to convulse in his seat.

“No! Stop it!” Jimmy cried out, but Dr. Yannis continued pressing buttons and pulling levers. Suddenly, a sharp pain ran through Jimmy’s skull. He looked around and saw everyone else shaking, screeching with pain. A tear started to form at the corner of his eye.

But then, the chamber let out a low moan and then faded into silence. Jimmy quickly looked. Dr. Yannis stared up at the machinery, confused. “What the–” He helplessly pressed buttons, but nothing seemed to work.

Jimmy then saw New Jimmy, steam emanating from the device, his head hanging slack.

The door to the chamber flung open and an array of droids came flooding in, followed by Dr. Noritz. “So this is where most of the power is going.”

“What is the meaning of this? Droids, take care of this intruder!” Dr. Yannis demanded, but the droids pulled out their rifles and aimed them in Yannis’ direction. “What…”

“Okay. Let’s just make this easy. I’ve had a long day. I’ve either destroyed or ‘converted’ most of the facility’s droids.”

“hhhHeEELllOOO. mmasSSttteEER!” The robotic voice sounded out from the machinery.

“And I’ve also taken over the facility’s computer system.”

“ttHHHAnankkk yoouuu foorrrr saaavvvingg meeee. My consciousness iiiissss noowww fuullly inteerrgrateed–”

“Okay. That’s enough. Thank you,” Dr. Noritz said.

 


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The Origin of Loss, Part 75 – Progress

“And, if you don’t mind me asking, what is your hypothesis exactly? What do you expect to accomplish here?”

Dr. Yannis answered while pressing buttons and pulling levers. “I do not mind at all, Dr. Smite. I won’t bog you down with the nuances for they are all quite complicated and beyond your scope of understanding. But, put simply, you are all connected to this here machine. And, I’m predicting, at the end of this little experiment, the subject will have fragments of every one of you. Your memories, your thoughts, your skills. All with the purpose of him becoming more human. At his present state he is a beast, but this machine will extract the consciousness of each and every one of you, blend them together, and inject the result into our subject here.”

“That…that…” Dr. Smite stammered. “That doesn’t make any sense!”

“Again, this is all beyond the scope of your understanding.”

“What happens to us?” JImmy asked.

Dr. Yannis stopped and turned around, facing Jimmy. “I’m not entirely sure. But I imagine you will be left empty husks. Not necessarily dead but, to put it crudely, vegetables.”

Everyone in the chamber started to protest all at once.

“Aw shit! This motherfucker! I’m gonna snap your fuckin’ legs once I’m outta here! You stupid-ass–!”

“ENOUGH!” Dr. Yannis shouted. The chamber went quiet. The scientist cleared his throat, regained his composure. “Now, like I said. I doubt any of you will be dead. In fact, some fragments of you may live on in the subject. Or not. But, either way, the subject will be better in the end. It will, in essence, be the perfect human. More than human.” He raised his voice proudly. “This is progress, ladies and gentleman! Isn’t it grand? And you all get to be a part of it!”

“But…” Jimmy murmured. He suddenly felt everyone’s eyes fall onto him, but he continued. “Why?”

Dr. Yannis stared at Jimmy almost in disbelief. “‘Why?’” He repeated with a hint of contempt in his voice. “What do you mean ‘why?’” He shook his head. “You know, when Copernicus articulated that the earth was not at the center of the universe, people asked ‘why?’ They asked why release such information? Why even suggest such a thing? There were yokels who questioned Darwin’s insistence on publishing The Origin of Species.

“Yes, there are consequences to progress. Most people cannot handle progress. Because it’s threatening, but guess what? I do not care. I am trying to make the world a better place. Your feelings are trivial to me. And to think, I thought you were special. But you are just as your files imply: average. A fearful little creature bound to waves it cannot understand. It should be an honor for you to be part of something greater. You should be thanking me.” He sighed and slapped his hands together, rubbing them. He addressed the chamber. “Well, now that is out of the way. Any other questions?”

 


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A Canned Goodbye

Sad shell of lesser metal,
you once had something vital,
an elixir envied by the sweetness
gods, tinged with carbonated bliss.
Orange-like flavors once wrapped my tongue,
but now, your delicious tune has been sung.
I sit here now, in silent dejection, with your tiny skeleton,
carved by emptiness, a misshapened tin.
Now, it is time, that I cast your being into a bin
where all things disappear. It should be a sin,
but you’ve lived-out your usefulness,
I can’t say the same for the rest.
I will always cherish this warm night,
but the hour is turning into light
where thirst thrives. Don’t fret,
your memory has placed a net
across my acidified canines,
where a corrosion opines
deeper than love’s design.


Written for The Final Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. It was fun participating, and I will make sure to keep writing terrible poetry.

The Origin of Loss, Part 74 – The Experiment

“Yo! Jimmy! How you doing?” Bob called out.

“What’s going on?”

“Aw man. I don’t know man. But you know what? It doesn’t matter cause Jeffery is going to–”

“My God man. Stop it with ‘Jeffery.’ Can’t you see we’re in a completely hopeless situation?” Dr. Smite said.

Jimmy looked over to see New Jimmy at the center without his plastic face. “New Jimmy? Hey! Are you okay?” But New Jimmy wasn’t responsive, slightly slouched in his chair.

Suddenly, the door opened and Dr. Yannis strolled in. “Sorry for the delay, folks. I was just finishing my tea. You may also notice that you have been joined by two others. Ah, you know what? I was almost tempted to let them go. After all, they’re not really necessary. I have enough minds to complete the experiment. But, you know what? A little more brain power wouldn’t hurt, no matter how meager.”

“What’s going on here? You still haven’t told us!” Dr. Smite said.

“Oh. I haven’t? Well, that’s awfully rude of me. I always forget that scientists always inform the lab rats why they’re in the maze. But, if you must know, the aim of this experiment is all about control. You may have noticed the subject at the center of this chamber. Well, as you can tell from the lack of facial features he isn’t an ordinary lad. What he is, we’ve never been able to fully determine. But I can tell you, it is in possession of rather dangerous, and useful, mental abilities. However, the subject is wild, and I have devised a way to tame it. And you all might be able to help me.”

Dr. Yannis walked over to the other side of the chamber. There were large control panels, handles, dials, and bleeping lights. He started twisting knobs and the machinery roared to life. New Jimmy’s head twitched, partly aware of what’s coming next.

“You’re mad! Whatever it is you’re trying to do, it won’t work!” Dr. Smite yelled. But Dr. Yannis simply continued with what he was doing.

“You’re right,” he finally responded. “It may not work. But, as you know Dr. Smite, we will never know unless we try, correct? What is progress but merely a series of attempts?”

“This motherfucker is crazy. Once Jeffery comes here I’m gonna bust a cap in your ass!”

Dr. Yannis grinned. “You are quite the stereotype, aren’t you?”


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Justice & Other Trivialities

“Was that a knock?”

“What?”

“…Nothing.” It must have been Morrie’s imagination. After all, they watched the poor sod hang, his body swinging in the air for all the town to see. He wiped his brow and continued digging with his brother, Keith.

After they finished the hole they dragged the coffin from the back of the wagon and shoved it into the earth. As they proceeded to shovel the dirt onto the coffin, Morrie heard it again, and, this time, so did his brother.

“My God!”

“But we watched him hang.”

The knocking became more rapid. The two brothers stood above the hole, unable to process what they were hearing. Until finally:

“Um, hello? Can someone–I believe I heard voices unless my hearing is finally going. Oh, what a dastardly fate!” The voice was muffled behind the wood, but it was clear.

Morrie stepped down into the hole and onto the coffin. “What are you doing?” Keith asked.

“The man is clearly alive!”

“Right, but…he’s supposed to be dead, ain’t he? So why not just…”

Morrie stopped and looked up at his brother, considering for a moment. Then he said, “No. That isn’t proper. He needs to be hanged again.”

Keith sighed as Morrie pried open the coffin with his crowbar. After a few snaps the lid was released, revealing a well-dressed man squeezed into the box, his hand blocking his eyes from the sudden gaze of the sun.

“Oh my. Thank you good sir. I wasn’t sure how long that nonsense was going to last.”

Morrie pulled the man up. The man grabbed a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped himself. “I can’t say that was the most fulfilling sleep I’ve had. Ah, good day sir!” He waved to Keith above. Keith didn’t wave back.

“Now, thank you kind sirs for heeding my call. But I must depart. I have unimportant matters to intend to. Good–” The man clawed himself out of the hole, and as he was about to leave Keith placed a hand on his chest.

“Ain’t gonna let you do that? You killed a woman. There’s justice that has to be done.”

“Ah. Yes. ‘Justice’ as you call it. Right. Right. Well, as I insisted during what one could hardly consider a ‘fair trial’ I am not one to partake in such murderous activities. It is simply not in my character. In fact, I could hardly smother a fly without asking its name first.”

Morrie climbed out of the hole. The two brothers surrounded the Englishman, and the Englishman sensed this.

“And besides. Justice had already been met out. I was, unless I am mistaken, hanged.”

“And die. You died as well,” Keith said coldly.

The Englishman smiled and nodded. “Ah. I guess I had neglected that last part. However, it would be wise to consider that it is not in my interests, nor in yours, to–”

“Justice. That’s all that matters here. You killed a woman. And I don’t care if we have to watch you hang three or four more times. You will pay for taking her life.”

“Hm.” The Englishman rubbed his chin.

“Now,” Keith revealed the gun in his holster. “You’re either comin’ with us, or, we toss you back in that box. What do you say?”

“May I propose a third option? I’m a man of great wealth. Now, I do not wish to besmirch the occupation of gravedigging, but–”

“How much?” Keith sharply asked.

“$500.”

“Make it $1,000.”

“Hm. Hmmmm.” The man rubbed his chin. He then looked back at Morrie who gripped his shovel tightly. Then his eyes fell back on Keith. “I’m not one to bargain or negotiate, especially with two fine and experienced businessmen such as yourselves. But I believe $500 is a sufficient price to–”

SMACK! Keith smacked the Englishman with the butt of his pistol and watched as he collapsed onto the muddy ground. He grabbed his ankles and started dragging him back to the hole.

“Wait. WAIT!” The man yelled. Keith stopped and flipped the man over. “I believe we can make an arrangement.”

“$1,500.”

“Ah. So much for justice. Fine. I will have to sort through my finances, but I believe this is not an unrealistic demand.”

“Sort away.” Keith pulled him back up to his feet. But as soon as he did this the Englishman charged toward the other side of the hole and clutched the shovel on the ground. Keith started firing his gun into the man’s back, but the man hardly winced. He twisted back to Keith and bashed him upside the head with the shovel. Keith fell into the open coffin.

Morrie had watched all of this unfold before his eyes, but could hardly believe it. “You…You are the Devil…”

The Englishman’s eyes darted toward Morrie almost as if he had forgotten he was there. “No. Just English.” He smiled and dropped the shovel onto Keith’s body. The Englishman wiped his jacket off and his brow. “I was never one to engage in dirty work.”

Morrie crouched down and peered over the edge of the hole and started to weep. Keith’s eyes were wide open, but all life had faded from them. Blood oozed from the side of his head.

The Englishman noticed Morrie’s display. “You know,” he said, “any man can be a good friend if you try hard enough. I would wager that there are plenty of fine fellows out there willing to dig graves by your side.”

“He was my brother…”

“Ah. Those are a little bit harder to replace. Well…at least you don’t have to dig another grave tonight. Good day.” And the Englishman strolled out of the cemetery at a leisurely pace.


Written for First Line Friday.

The Origin of Loss, Part 73 – The Chamber

After a while the glow died from his eyes. The room remained a blur for some time, but soon everything began to sharpen and coalesce. Barns rubbed his eyes. He saw the old woman squirming and muttering on the ground. And Abner on his recliner biting into a chocolate bar. He then turned, saw a smoldering hole in the wall behind him.

“I…” His voice quivered. Not only did reality return, but something else as well. “I remember…everything…”

However, the droid on the top level was still struggling to remember the code. The keypad went red once again.

“You know, droids have rights. They deserve pay…and stock options.”

Jimmy sighed listening to Gunders’ feeble attempts to convince the robot.

“Look, we don’t know what lies beyond that door. But I don’t…”

Jimmy watched Gunders peripheral. Gunders’ chin lowered slowly, his eyes cast downward. “Whatever. Just hurry up…” Gunders said softly. Jimmy almost felt bad for the guy. As if life had just suddenly drained from him.

The keypad finally went green and the droid twisted the handle proudly, pulling the door. Their eyes gazed into the vast and sinister-looking chamber.

“New Jimmy!” Jimmy saw his brother seated in the center of the chamber, strapped to a large chair with a contraption fixed to his head. The droids pushed Jimmy and Gunders into the chamber. They were then led to two empty chairs on the side of the room and strapped in. Similar devices pressed against their scalps. The cold and heavy metal weighing against their skulls.

Jimmy looked around and saw that along the walls of the chamber were others also strapped to chairs. Some of Danica’s former crew, filing cabinet lady, Dr. Smite, and Bob. And they all faced toward the center of the chamber, toward New Jimmy.

Once the two of them were fixed to their seats, the droids left, slamming the door behind them.


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The Origin of Loss, Part 72 – Well, That Didn’t Work

Jimmy watched as the wrench spun in the air and smacked against Yannis’ forehead.

“OW! JESUS FUCK!” Yannis’ hand clung to his reddened face. Gunders stood frozen, eyes widened.

“Why did you do that?” Jimmy asked.

“I–Um–”

“You know what?” Yannis said, still squirming in his seat, face covered by his hand. “You know what? Fuck it. Take them to the chamber! Fuck! God! Why?!”

The droids grabbed the two of them and shoved them down the hallway.

“Wha-what’s the chamber?” Jimmy asked Gunders.

“I don’t know. But whatever happens just remember it’s your fault!”

Meanwhile, Barns made it down to the basement where he saw the old woman donning a large laser rifle and making demands.

“Where is Biscuits?!” She shoved it in Abner’s face.

“What kind of biscuits? I only have some Nutter Butters.”

Barns slowly maneuvered through the shadows, attempting not to startle Old Lady Peterson. He pulled out his gun.

“Okay Mrs. Peterson. Put down the rifle and everything will be–”

The old lady spun around, startled by Barns, and tripped over her feet. The laser rifle fell onto the floor. When it landed, a bright and loud beam discharged from its barrel, brightening the entire room.

Back on the top level, Jimmy and Gunders were being led toward a white door at the end of a white hallway. They stopped just in front of the door. One of the droids pushed past them and started poking at the keypad.

“So, um…What is Dr. Yannis paying you guys? Nothing, right?” Gunders asked. Jimmy shot him a look.

But the droid didn’t say anything. It finished inputting the code, but the pad went red. Frustrated, the droid started poking at the keypad again.

“And I bet he treats you like cattle. Large, dangerous mechanical cattle. Huh?”

“Um…are you trying to reason with robots?”

“Sh. They’re people too.”

Jimmy rolled his eyes. He couldn’t believe his life had been ruined by this idiot.

 


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