Sweet Erasure (short story version)

Sweet Erasure (short story version)

A Story by Mad Ben

What meaning has the life of the hunted man who can die innumerable deaths?

Sweet Erasure

Ian only caught a glimpse of the steaming surface of the speeder as it closed in behind him. In the cacophony of sounds and emotions that followed it was so very hard to make out any distinct shapes. For the briefest of moments he tasted blood in his throat, then he felt his mind's violent ejection from the body by a brilliant white blast hitting him squarely in the face. He was dead. Again.

He knew he would be adrift for a while before being reinserted. People usually called this place the stream, because it gave you the feeling of swimming through a swirl of rainbow colors. Some would describe it as the perfect experience, others would be horrified or even traumatized by it. However, to Ian being here simply meant another customer well served and good money earned.

He emerged from the suspension tank just a few moments later. Moments or eternities, it hardly mattered. Once again he felt himself basking in the elation of the adrenaline that ran in great shivers through his new body, flooding him with sweet, pounding life. With some satisfaction he noticed the many little add-ons that had been installed just as he had ordered.

The way things were going, his bodies kept getting better every time. An internal chronometer informed him that he had a mere forty minutes until the party would begin. There was always an after-hunt party these days. Somehow the customers, while enjoying a brief time of unbridled brutality, felt oddly comfortable seeing him alive, having him talk with them in the friendly tones of a good sport.

Of course they would be showing off the trophy, most customers did. Every time he saw his own previous body on display it gave him a strange fascination. With the memories wiped it was only a mere lump of dead flesh, but he still couldn't shake the feeling of fading attachment. Still, the money was good, heck, it was the best. Let them have their sport, he thought, as long as they paid him this well.

He didn't remember putting on the dark gray suit, probably out of habit. It was one of the few things he never changed. Even though he seemed to go through more bodies then other men went through socks, he had never worn anything else to these parties. One moment faded into the other as he stepped out of the elevator and onto the soil of the top floor garden. The guards didn't bother scanning him for weapons, he noticed.

When he entered the artificial clearing, he found the customer, a middle-aged man of Asian complexion, already deep in conversation with his colleagues, boasting about the clean head shot. Ian's well-tempered smile was briefly replaced by a slight frown. Head shot. That would cost them extra. Who could tell what got damaged and had to be reloaded from storage.

But he knew Smithe must have already added it to the bill, he never wasted a chance to increase his cut. A few steps further and he immersed himself in the conversation, with smiles, expansive gestures and general nonchalant cheerfulness, as was expected of him.

It seemed to take no more then the blink of an eye and the party scene and his brief dialog with the customer, who had given him such an unusual appraising look, were replaced by his hotel room. Time hardly mattered, not when all he had to do was to reproduce familiar patterns. There would be another job pretty soon. Expensive equipment to waste, cheap grade excitement to wreck the nerves that would only last him a week or two, anyway.

Only for a short moment he stared at the black briefcase on the desk that contained his other memories. He never took them along when he did a job. In fact, he had not bothered to load them for what seemed like ages. Somewhere in there was the reason why he kept running, the red-hot pain that haunted him. He did not need the money, he cared little for the excitement, but he would not stop until he was sick of running.

He would live and die and run and die some more. And one day he would run no more. There was always the odd chance of insertion failure. That was his destiny, his truth, his horizon. And it was out there, waiting for him far beyond the desert of his soul.

© 2011 Mad Ben

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Added on December 26, 2011
Last Updated on December 26, 2011