So alive !

So alive !

A Story by Tegon Maus
"

My head throbbed. My pulse pounded. Something pulled at me, filling my head... a sound, a single tone... a signal that drove me to find it... to end it... to get it out of my head.

"

My head throbbed. My pulse pounded. Something pulled at me, filling my head... a sound, a single tone... a signal that drove me to find it... to end it... to get it out of my head.

I saw nothing, heard nothing, moved through the world in a fog. Nothing could stand in my way, nothing could stop me. The tone grew louder... stronger. I was drawn to it like a moth to a flame. I climbed three flights of stairs in a building I'd never seen. Barely aware of my surroundings I found my hand on a door as the signal screamed in my head.

"Mr. Harris," a voice filtered into my consciousness. "Mr. Harris... A.C.X. number nine, zero, eight, three, seven? Are you with me?"

I pushed myself up, turning to put my feet on the floor. I sat on a leather sofa, in an office I had no memory of ever being in. The walls were covered in dark walnut book cases, filled with hundreds of books, all set behind glass. I tried to focus on the brass handles that seemed to be everywhere. Littered with files, a large desk, built of the same material took up most of the floor space.

A young, thin man, dressed in what appeared to be an expensive suit and tie along with a pair of very shiny shoes, leaned against it.

"Are you with us, Mr. Harris?" he asked smugly, his arms folded.

I tried to focus. Someone else was in the room standing to my left. I could feel their presence.

"Where am I?"

"You're in my office, Mr. Harris. We're on the third floor of the Hunter building... we're in Dallas Texas. Does that help?"

"Did I sleep here?"

"No sir... you didn't,"

"Who did you say you were?"

"Almost there, good. My name is Charles Wackenhut Esquire. I'm your lawyer," the man said, leaning forward, holding out his hand.

I stood and shook it. I had begun to feel more focused, more aware.

"Charlie, no offence but I don't remember you or for that matter ever having a lawyer," I said, flatly. I felt as if I had just woken up from a long sleep and was only now up and running.

Sitting at a smaller desk to my left, a young woman with a laptop; stylishly dressed in a pale blue suit, she looked at me over the top of her glasses, her hands posed over the keyboard of her computer.

"First... it's Charles, and what you say is true to some degree and not all together true on the other."

"You must be a lawyer. You're making no sense what-so-ever," I said, releasing his hand.

"I know how you feel, sir. Now, if you will permit me... this is my favorite part..." softly, he gripped my elbow and turned me toward an armoire. His hand slipped between the door and the cabinet, slowly swinging it open, bolted to the back of it, a full length mirror. "Mr. Harris, let me introduce you to Mr. Jon Ironwood."

As he swung the door open a new image came into view. A man in his mid-thirties I did not recognize stood before me in the glass.

"What the hell is going on here?" I asked suddenly confused.

"See I told you, my favorite part. I'm going to miss it," he replied, turning to the young woman.

She smiled in response but lost it the moment she and I made eye contact, returning her attention to her machine.

"Remember this Mr. Harris?" he asked, holding up a smooth gold chain attached to a locket of sorts.

Formed in silver, it was shaped like a stylized arrowhead with a small gold wing jutting out on each side, at its center, a polished white stone. My mind whirled, searching for its importance. It was vital, I knew that, but couldn't remember for the life of me why.

"It's a P.D.R." I mouthed weakly, not entirely certain I was right.

"That's right. A Personal Data Recorder. Do you remember where you got it or what it does?"

Something in me pushed to cover the subject with secrecy.

"No," I lied.

"I understand," he said rolling his tongue around the inside of his cheek. He pushed off the desk, turning his back to me... spreading the object gently across the blotter. "Okay. Let's try this again. This little trinket is what has made you... you. Your P.D.R. has recorded everything you've done, said, seen, heard... your life in its entirety from the second you put it on. Every waking moment, every time you fell asleep or your heart changed its pace... then... and this is important... when you died all that information was transferred here," he said, placing his hand flat on my chest.

"Died?" I gasped. Unable to understand what he meant my mind jumped to several possibilities. I began to pull away from his touch, my eyes searching for the door.

"Hold on, hold on. Give me a moment. Do you remember Roger? Your brother-in-law?" he asked, his voice filled with anxiety.

"Yes. He and my sister Kate..." as I spoke a picture of Roger searching his refrigerator for a beer and his voice came into my mind.

"Ben, it’s a P.D.R." he said, as if it meant something to me. "Its a Personal Data Recorder. As long as you wear it, it will record everything you see, everything you hear, everything you feel... without exception."

"And," I asked more confused now than I wanted to let on.

"Ben...," his voice dropped low as he moved a little closer. "When I die, my replacement will find me... find this," he reached inside his shirt to reveal the same device hanging about his neck. "He will up load everything I've done, said, felt for the last seven years from this device... transferring my memories... my life into that body. This my friend... will do the same thing for you."

"He said I wouldn't know," I said with dissatisfaction.

"In a manner of speaking... that's true. Beyond this orientation, it will never be discussed again. As a matter of fact you're the last one," his voice held a level of disappointment.

"I'm one of Roger's Dikika people... a machine now?" I asked, knowing in my heart the answer.

"Yes Mr. Harris... You are," he replied softly.

"I thought it would be different, but I feel the same. Charlie, let me ask you something," I said, turning to the mirror once more.

The last time I looked into a mirror I was sixty eight, a cliché... with bad knees... old, fat, round shouldered with a laurel reef of gray hair and heart problems that were no longer worth correcting.

Now as I gazed at the stranger that peered back at me from the reflection... a man in his mid-thirties with broad shoulders a wide chest, well muscled, cabled arms and jet black hair... it was all too much to be believed.

He turned to meet my question, his face expectant.

"Do I have a soul?" I asked. I rolled the question over and over in my mind many times before this moment, feeling certain I would be able to tell if I did when, or if, I actually got this far.

As if suddenly doused with cold water, Charlie's body jerked in response at the question.

"I've never had anyone ask before Mr. Harris. To be truthful I don't think there's any way to tell," he said sympathetically, placing a firm hand on my shoulder.

"How many before me," I asked, returning my attention to the mirror.

"As I said before, Mr. Harris you're the last... number sixty three," he replied, turning his eyes to the floor.

"I thought there were more than that," I said with surprise.

"No sir... not anymore," his voice fluctuated. He was hiding something.

I looked him straight in the eye as he lifted his chin in defiance to my glare.

"Charlie, what are you not telling me?" I asked, as I returned to sit on the couch.

He stuffed his hands into his pockets, drawing a deep breath. He glanced toward the woman behind the desk and then sat next to me on the couch.

"You don't seem to like me very much," I said, hoping to budge him off center.

"Don't take it personally Mr. Harris. I prefer people to machines," he said without flinching.

"Me too," I replied.

He smiled shaking his head.

"Alright, Mr. Harris here’s the best I can do for you. You're one of them now... you're a machine. That means you have their abilities... their intellect, and a life span of well over two hundred years. And you're right, Roger had arranged for over two hundred of them to escape... a few he deliberately had the government find. The rest were supposed to wait until their counterparts died, retrieve their P.D.R.s and then find me. Someone is killing them off, almost as fast as they're coming on line," he said, his voice held an edge of distress.

"The government?"

"Our people on the inside say no."

"Who then?"

"We have no idea. At first I thought they might have tracked them through me. I've moved my location three times... but the terminations went on all the same. To be honest we thought you had been... removed from the list. We were truly surprised by your arrival this morning."

"So was I," I joked. My mind spun with his words. "How long have I been..." I couldn't find the expression to convey what I felt, what I really wanted to know.

"More than a month," he said in a low tone. "P.D.R. transfer after a retrieval contact is usually three days," he said. He leaned forward, placing his elbows on his knees, rubbing his Hands together in a worried manner. His eyes shot between me and the young woman.

"What do we do now?" I asked, following his eyes to her.

Charlie nodded and the woman began to type madly at her computer keys. After a few moments the clicking stopped.

"We're ready," the woman said, speaking for the first time.

"Last chance Mr. Harris... do you spend the next two hundred plus years living as a machine or do we call it quits right here and now?" he asked, pulling his shoulders square. He held out his right arm toward the woman sitting at the desk, his index finger pointing at the floor. At first I thought he was pointing at her and then I understood.

My life had been empty for the most part. No wife, no children... nothing beyond the constant companionship of a dog that gave me all her heart. I had made it a point to keep to myself, to limit my contact with the outside world... work, Kate and Roger forming the limits of my universe. With two hundred years to work at it... maybe this time I could get it right.

"I want to stay," I said firmly.

With a smile, he dabbed his finger in the air.

Mirroring his action, the young woman's laptop hummed loudly. My mind jolted, whirling at an incredible speed as my life flashed before my eyes.

I reeled for a moment. A thousand sights and sounds suddenly filled my head, pouring over me, saturating me. I now had depth of thought, a sense of being, a clarity of connection I had never experienced before. Revelation upon revelation washed over me, filling me with who I was, where I had been, what I had done... what I had been willing to do.

He went to the desk pulling out a wallet and a manila envelope, in it several pieces of paper.

"These are yours," he said handing me the items. "For the past five years you've lived in the state of Arizona... You'll find your home address on your driver's license... just in case, this is your passport. You have three bank credit cards... feel free to use them any way you would like."

"And how do I pay for them?"

"You get a monthly check... an endowment of sorts... sent automatically to your account... you are now one quarter Navajo... on your mother's side... Roger was very meticulous in establishing your identity. He wanted the money to be untraceable... nothing to link you to him or Warwick. Handled it personally."

"What about my house in California... my truck... my things?"

He dropped his eyes, turning his back to me.

"You no longer have B.C.E.D. Your house was purchased by a holding company, along with all your belongings. You can't go there again... ever. It would compromise your new identity... it won't be safe for you or the others."

"What do I do?" I asked, overwhelmed.

"Anything you want. You have the money and all the time in the world."

"Where do I go?"

"Go home Mr. Harr...," he caught himself, looking at me. "Go home Mr. Ironwood, start there, give it a few days," he said, tossing me a set of keys. "Its Kelly green, parked under a tree."

I rolled them over in my hand several times, feeling their cool weight.

We shook hands as I took my leave, heading for the parking lot.

Lost in thought I reached it in a matter of moments. Once there, it occurred to me... acres of parking, with hundreds of cars... how the hell was I suppose to find a green car amongst all these. For a moment I considered returning to Charlie's office to ask for help, then three rows down the cab of a truck, a green truck, caught my eye.

My heart pumped faster, filling me with a sense of excitement, as I drew closer. A Kelly green, Dodge Ram 1500 pickup with a black lumber rack was parked in the shade of a large tree. I walked around it, inspecting every newly painted and polished inch.

My heart jumped with a measure of glee as I smoothed my hand over a dent on the rear driver's side fender, a dent I put there personally almost fifteen years earlier. I couldn't help but smile as I turned and saw... bolted on the rear bumper a vanity license plate that said 'Margaret.'

"F**king Roger," I whispered to myself as I slipped the key into the door. It was her, the same truck I had driven for most of my adult life... repainted, reupholstered with shiny wheels but it was her. I slipped behind the wheel, inserting the key. On the dash a sticky note that read "Push play,"

I turned the key and the engine roared to life. She felt good, sounded the same as always. I put her into reverse, waiting for the usual click when she was ready. I wasn't disappointed. I pushed the button on the CD player as the truck began to roll forward.

From the speakers, almost without notice, a soft voice, Kate's voice, filled the cab.

"For you dear brother," it whispered and then the music started... the beat grabbed me, filled me... an old favorite that now held new meaning... Love & Rockets... 'So Alive.'



© 2017 Tegon Maus



My Review

Would you like to review this Story?
Login | Register




Reviews

Great story, Tegon, you had me riveted. For some reason it gave me a sense of deja vu.

Posted 1 Month Ago


Tegon, how are you my friend? its been a long time since we chewed the fat on here-and I don't be on W.C much these days. To those of you who haven't read any of Tegon's stories before seek them out because you are missing out on how a short story should be written. You do this type of story so well Tegon, with a great character and a solid plot, I loved the idea behind it and wouldn't it be great if it was for real.--first class as usual.
Will

Posted 2 Months Ago


Tegon Maus

2 Months Ago

Hi Will... how the hell have you been?? Busy I'm sure. Thanks for the review... very kind of you t.. read more
Will Neill

2 Months Ago

Busy for sure Tegon, just signed up with a publisher so I've got a lot to do to get ready, I'll let .. read more
Tegon Maus

2 Months Ago

Published now are we ?? Congrats !! I can think of no one who deserves it more !!

Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Stats

165 Views
2 Reviews
Added on September 10, 2017
Last Updated on September 10, 2017
Tags: Androids, Ben Harris, Roger Keswick, Tegon Maus, old age

Author

Tegon Maus
Tegon Maus

CA



About
Dearheart, my wife of forty eight years and I live in Cherry Valley, a little town of 8,200 in Southern California. In that time, I've built a successful remodeling /contracting business. But t.. more..

Writing