Part 1 : Terror

Part 1 : Terror

A Chapter by Evan Deubner

Part 1 : Terror

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TYS-0678 SIM-POS-738921

    "Terror stems from uncertainty.  It resides in a moment of realization.  A moment when uncertainty channels fear.  A panicked moment of incomprehension.  Time threatens to never move again even as it reaches for eternity.  Hopelessness bars imagination. Helplessness beckons guilt.   And acceptance only darkens the spirit. "
    Alexandria has her eyes closed and her head tilted back.  She pauses briefly to allow her words time to settle.  Her eyes open slowly.  She blinks away tears then looks down her nose at the man kneeling before her.
    "That moment..."  She can barely get the words out "...is so very important to me."
    The man tries to speak.  But his tongue is still in the sink.  And his teeth are still in his stomach.  Alexandria smiles.  She is naked and covered with blood.  Her arms reach out in front of her like an evangelical on a Sunday morning.  She brushes away tears with her palm.  
    "I'm so happy!"  Her gaze burns deep into the mans eyes.  "Are you ready for your realization?"
    The man looks back at his tormentor.  Alexandria can barely contain herself.  Her eyes contain such a strange combination of happiness and hatred.  Tears begin to stream down her face.  She leans in and barely speaks above a whisper.
    "I'm keeping you alive."  She pauses to look him over a bit.  "I'm keeping you alive for as long as I can.  I will cut pieces off of you and force feed them to you at both ends.  I will smash your fingers and toes with hammers.  I will burn your limbs."  She looks up at the ceiling trying to remember something. "I will remove your skull cap and pour salt on your brain"  Alexandria wasn't sure if that was painful.  It sounds terrifying though.
    The man believes her.  He is afraid and looks defeated but true terror has not yet been achieved.  Alexandria stretches her arms towards the man.  Inside her cupped hands she is holding a garage door opener.  Alexandria is giddy.   
    "Push it!" Alexandria lets the opener fall in front of the man.  He picks it up and looks at Alexandria.  His head is tilted like a dog trying to ask a question.  Alexandria bursts out laughing.  "Push it!!"
    Alexandria dances around the man.  She chants  "Push it! Push it! Push it!". 
    The man looks down at the opener.  He knows something terrible is about to happen.  A sound enters the room that wasn't there before.  The man looks up at Alexandria.  Alexandria stops dancing.  Her eyes widen as she waits to hear the sound one more time.  The  room is dead silent.
    "He..Hello?" A child's voice. The voice is so innocent and foreign in this blood soaked madness.  It cuts through the silence bearing unwarranted hope and sanity.
    Alexandria tilts her head up, closes her eyes, and reaches out towards the heavens.  She steadily breaths through her nose.  Her smile and happy eyes are replaced with a firm expression.  
    "Push it." She cracks just a glimmer of a smile.
    The man has abandoned all hope.  Lost all sanity.  And he unwisely assumes he has reached the bottom of this nightmare.  But this bottom has a basement.
    The edge of his thoughts tickle with caution.  He knows he has no choice though.  He pushes the button.  Metal vents clang open behind Alexandria.  Bright light fills the room.  A small silhouette stands out.  A girl. 
    Alexandria smiles when the man realizes its his daughter.  She can feel the shift in the room. Panic, Fear, Helplessness.  Time becomes his temporary tormentor as terrible thoughts bombard the broken man.  His daughter begins to scream.  True terror has entered this room.
    Alexandria pauses to appreciate her masterpiece.  She is happier than she ever thought possible.  She drops to her knees and looks at the mans face. 
    She surprises herself by asking the man a question."Why is this so important?" She studies his tormented face "You don't know do you?"
    Alexandria inhales his terror through her nose like a fine wine.  Then she peels off his forehead with a grapefruit spoon.  
    "No rest for the wicked." She tells the screaming man. "I've got promises to keep."

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TYS-0457 SIM-POS-738922

    Alexandria looks out the window of her fathers truck.  She squints hard at the grass pasture.  She's looking for something that isn't there.  
    "I guess you're right." She admits. " But why does that even matter?"
    Her father sighs.  "It matters because you can't just accept everything you see.  This is proof that something you thought you knew your entire life is not at all what your mind told you it was supposed to be.  Everything should be suspect always."
    Alexandria shoots her Father a cold stare.  "That sounds like a terrible way to live Dad.  What about tomorrow?  Do we question the changes we find today?  How long is something guaranteed to be truth incarnate?  What about us?  Do we question the very brain doing the questioning?  If the brain is found to be corrupt how can we be sure we were ever right about anything?"  She looks back out the window at the empty fields.  "Quite the paradox Father."
    Alexandria hated discussing philosophical theories.  Because that's all they are.  Theories.  Her Father's cute little mind trick about the cows makes you think but, it doesn't really mean anything.  She'd rather be happy and dumb than miserable and curious.
    "Yes!  Question the changes!  Question yourself!  Question the damn questions! Then f*****g repeat!"
    Alexandria didn't think she'd ever heard her Father swear like that.  "Jeez Dad, alright! I'll question the DAMN F*****G questions."
    She starts laughing.  Her Dad jams his foot down on the accelerator.  The truck disagrees with this decision but picks up speed all the same.  Alexandria is thrown back into her seat.  He turns to her and speaks in a soft gravely whisper.
    "Pray then for sin. Pray for the sinless b******s who now grow cold.  May they find solace in oblivion.  Pray for their sons.  May they harvest sour fruit to poison their daughters.  The meek have claimed their prized ball of dirt from the old God.  May their betrayal never seek forgiveness...."
    Alexandria stares wide eyed at her Father who continues his rant.  She can't breath.  She can't move.  The truck is going faster and faster.  Her Father is scaring her more though.
He just keeps spewing insane ramblings.     
    "...and the Dark Breakers remain lost in paradox..."  Alexandria feels like she's remembering a dream.  Without realizing it, she repeats something her father just said.  "Dark Breakers?"
    He stops talking.   He glares at his daughter with a look of disgust.  He looks at his hands holding the steering wheel.  His lips begin to quiver and his eyes tear up.  His voice is normal again. 
    "The Dark Breakers can't save you" He looks back at his daughter.  The gravely whisper returns.  "They won't save you!!"     
    She looks at the road too late to warn her father that a semi is bearing down on them.  "Daddy!!"
    He pulls the wheel hard to the left.  The truck spins sideways on the road.  It starts to flip right when the semi hits.  The truck is split into.  Alexandria and her father are killed on impact.


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TYS-0905 SIM-POS-738923

    "Daddy?  The f**k you playin at girl?"      
    The man is Captain Jim Sharp.  A drunken womanizer with no empathy towards anyone.  He is a selfish man who looks as bad as he acts.  His ship is the only valuable thing he hasn't pawned yet.  He keeps it looking just as depressed and drunk as he is.   
    "Nothing Jim.  I must've nodded off"    
    Alexandria tries to remember how she got here.  Her thoughts are cut short when she sees that Jim has a pistol in his left hand and a bottle of Whiskey in his right.     
    "Girl I don't know whats more fucked up!  Calling me Daddy or falling asleep during a hostage negotiation." 
    Hostage?  Alexandria looks around but doesn't see anyone.
    "Don't worry kitten.  I already shot the hostage.  You failed!!" 
    Sara.  Sara Sharp was the girls name.  Jim's wife.  He shot his own wife?  On a spacecraft?  Why does he even have a gun?  Alexandria revisits her thoughts in hope of an answer.  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.
    "Now that we're all on the same page maybe we can continue. "  Jim clears his throat deep and hocks up tobacco tar.  He spits it on his dead wife without even looking in that direction.  "Where the f**k is the moon, Alexandria?"

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TYS-0034 SIM-POS-738924
 
    "Why is it even called Dark Breakers?"    
    Alex asks this every day.  And every day, Jim answers the same. "I don't know yet, Alex!" 
    Alex is quick with her rebuttal. "Wouldn't it make more since to name the book after its finished?  I mean, what if it never materializes?"  She mimics quotation marks when she says materializes.  
    Jim regrets giving her this ammo to mock him.  But, Jim regrets a lot of things.  Getting locked up with Alex was top of the list.  "It wouldn't even exist if it wasn't going to  materialize!"
    Alex bursts out laughing. "Right, right, right.  I forgot."  She straitens up and does her best Jim impression. "We learn from the future while we create the past."  Back to laughter.  "What about the present then?"
    Jim knows she's messing with him but answers anyway.  "The present doesn't exist.  If the present did exist, you wouldn't be able to move."
    Alex squints at Jim.  "Because... I'd be stuck in time?"
    Jim closes his eyes and takes a deep breath.  "Sure." He spins his chair around and looks at Alex.  "Would Pink Floyd have made The Wall if they didn't have a system to rebel against?"
    Alex looks at him quizzically. She almost says something then she just shrugs her shoulders.
    "Why is it when we're children and terrible at everything we do, everyone keeps telling us how proud they are.  But, when we're grown and have multiple skill sets, being prideful is frowned upon?"
    If Alex wasn't lost before, she is now.  But, she keeps listening in hopes that Jim might finally answer her question.  
    "And then there's  the Christians.  Christianity wouldn't even exist without the sins of man.  Forgiveness is only relevant when someone needs forgiving."   Jim is looking at Alex with wide eyes.  "Nostalgia is the enemy of discovery, Alexandria!  It will trap you in the past and it will block you from the future!"
    Alex has never seen Jim get this worked up.  Jim stands up and starts towards her.  Alex can't move.  She can't breathe.  What is he talking about?
    "And the Dark Breakers…" Jim stops and looks down at the floor.  Alex is still frozen.  Her heart beats fast and loud.  Her eyes are wide and dry.   When Jim's gaze returns to Alex, his eyes are red from fresh tears.  "The Dark Breakers can't save you".  
    Alex sees the hand carved toothbrush shiv too late to react appropriately.  Jim aims for her throat and lands true.  She  clumsily grabs at the object Jim leaves in her throat.  Jim grabs her legs and pulls her off the top bunk.  Her head hits hard on the cold concrete floor. Jim pulls another ugly knife out and stabs her hard in the throat again. With his left hand he holds her gurgling face down against concrete.  He digs his knee into her chest.  With his right hand he pulls out the first shiv and begins to stab her repeatedly in the face and throat.

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TYS-1000 SIM-POS-738925
         
    As Alex dies, her memory panes become unstable.  The images on the screen fade as does the Augmented Reality Display.      
    The studio audience claps and the attention shifts to the center of the room. Alexandria and Jim Lawson are sitting in chairs across from each other.  Alexandria is still staring where the AR Display had been.  Jim leans in.  With his softest most considerate consolingly voice,  he begins the second part of his live interview with Alexandria.
    "Alexandria.  Alex in this case.  In this simulated possibility, you were stabbed in the throat, face, and eyes almost a hundred times before you succumbed to your injuries and fell back to the TYS Queue.  What was going through your mind?"
    Alex hates this.  Since she returned, people won't leave her alone.  They dig and dig through her story looking for reasons to discredit her.  Which is why she hates public appearances like this one.  Her fifth talk show this month. 
    This one pulled a particularly painful memory pane.  And they pulled a Jim to do the interview.  Real clever guys.  That ought to please the viewing audience.
    "Well..Jim.."   She emphasizes the name and the audience clucks and claps like the caged penguins they are. 
    "In this particular simulated possibility, I started with many fond memories of this  Jim.  Jim and I had been in that prison together for almost three years.  Seeing Jim go off like that was a complete shock."
    She hesitates.  Then she clears her throat and continues.  "What was going through my mind? Confusion, shock, panic.  I couldn't register what was happening really.  Anger and fear never had time to set in."
    She stops again.  Something about these memories.  Or was it something he said?  She continues.  "The pain was very real though.  I still have nightmares about this one."
    Jim Lawson nods slowly.  He savors the moment just a hair too long before continuing.  "Now…that brings up something I want to talk about.  These simulated possibilities that you're experiencing.  Sometimes there are mistakes in the details.  Large mistakes."   
    He keeps nodding while he talks.  Constant self approval for every word. "Now…it's my understanding.." A pregnant pause for effect.  "..that prisons on Earth during this time period were never coed.  A male and a female would never share a jail cell together.  Yet, there you were."
    When Alex doesn't respond right away, Jim continues.  "How do you explain these discrepancies.  Why didn't you notice them?  Do you believe they were put there on purpose to get your attention?"
    Alex can't remember any other talk show ever asking these questions.  She tried to think who even had this information.  She couldn't even remember is she herself knew this.  It could just be another fan fiction theory.  But he seems so confident.  Nodding and prodding.  She decides to  give some cookie cutter response.  The host might be clever but the clapping penguins they call a studio audience are surely dumber than a bag of penguin fins.
    "The memories were programmed to be my current reality.  I never had access to any sort of reference to compare.  And I believe the discrepancies were just missed data pockets that filled in automatically.  There was never a reason to question anything.  And there's no reason now to think someone put them there to get my attention."
    Jim looks less than enthused.  He obviously wants a different answer.
    "Oh, come now!  There's always a reason to question everything!!"  He waves his arms in the air to signify "everything".    
    "I mean just look around you.  Your in a bizarre intimate possibility with a guy named Jim right now!  And you can't even see the audience.  They might not even exist!"
    An act.  He's putting on an act.  His show is for entertainment after all. Very clever little man.  Fine.  I'll dance for the penguins.  One penguin dance then I'm done.  Maybe I'm done with the whole talk show circuit.
    "OK…Jim.." The penguins are silent now. They are patiently waiting to see what Jim Lawson has planned.
    Alex reluctantly asks "So, what do you propose?"
    Jim smiled big.  "Every iteration of these simulated possibilities were only inhabited by two real humans, correct?"
    Alex nods slowly.
    "So, let's count some humans."
    Jim stands up and offers his hand to Alexandria.  Her initial reaction is entirely contradictory to her unenthusiastic response.  They keep holding hands as they walk towards the studio audience. 
    Alex feels uneasy.  She doesn't want to be doing this.  She hears something.  A familiar sound is coming from the audience.  Not an audience sound. Water.  Water being splashed around.  Then something else unexpected happens.  She can see her breath.  The temperature has dropped nearly 50 degrees.
    Jim flips a light switch.  In front of them is a large tank of water.  Snow covers the tank and the ground around it.  And inside the tank are 27 Little Penguins.  
    "Well Alexandria?" Jim asks.
    Alexandria thinks really hard.  Penguins.  Yes.  She knew there were penguins over here.  She remembers thinking about the clapping penguin audience.  Such an amazing creature.
    "I guess there's no humans to count.  Your reality check is a bust…Jim."  All the penguins start slapping their fins together while they coo and whistle.  All things she is sure Penguins do.  She smiled and started clapping with them.
    "My reality check worked perfectly.  If there are no humans to count, that is a definite result."
    Alex couldn't believe this guy.  Even after seeing the penguins with his own eyes, he still doubted.  She couldn't remember his point anyways.
    "Alexandria, why would penguins react to you calling me Jim?"
    She frowned.  How the hell would she know?  She's not a damn penguin.  She attempts an answer all the same
   "Because of the video? Yea.  Jim killed me in the video."  She knows this is thin logic.  She tries to think harder but just can't figure it out.  "I guess its just a paradox of nature, Jim."
    Jim closes his eyes and turns to walk back towards their seats.  Alex follows him and they both sit down.  Jim looks straight into the camera with a stern steady stare.
    "If your just joining us, our guest is the Mind Traveler Alexandria.  During The Second Great Mistake, her consciousness was flung into terror infested space.  The Time-lock Calamity was throwing time loops across the universe which resulted in multiple time ripples. Alexandria's consciousness latched on to one of these time ripples.  At the same moment a new being was created; The Terror-sphere.  Comprised of The Great Terror Void, The now sentient Earth-sphere and the highly advanced intelligence that's artificial, TITA.  Alexandria rode her time ripple right into this monster.  She split into two separate beings.  One from Terror.  One from Earth.  These two beings were ensnared by TITA's Thousand Year Simulator.  For a thousand years, Alexandria and Jim experienced an infinite number of simulated possibilities of Mankind.  Every possible situation of recorded history and non-existent history.   All played out by two human entities who share the same soul."
    Jim Lawson pauses briefly to clear his throat and wipe his eyes.  Alex is shaking her head.  Is that what happened?
    "Now…we've reached our viewer mail segment"  Jim pulls a basket out from under his chair.  He reaches in and pulls a card out.  He reads it silently before sharing its contents.
    "Its from Jim. He wants to know Where the f*****g moon is at."
    Alexandria's heart skips a beat.  She looks at Jim Lawson.  She manages to blurt out a pitiful objection despite her suddenly dry throat.  "..no."
    Jim ignores her.  He pulls another card.    
    "This next one is from Jim.  He writes to us from beyond our reach.  "Dear Alexandria,  Where does the f*****g moon reside?" "
"..No."
Another card.
    "Whoa. This one comes all the way from beyond our comprehension.  Jim writes.. "Where does the moon reside?" "
Next card.
"Jim says.."The moon Alex.  Where does the moon reside?" "
Alexandria has tears streaming down her face. Her eyes are closed and she is desperately trying to suck air in through her nose.  "Stop it."
Next card.
    "Where does the moon reside?"
    "Stop it!"
Next.
    "Where's the f*****g moon, Alexandria?"
Alexandria stands up.  "I thought this was over!!!"
    Jim Lawson stands up with her.         
    "Clapping penguins that coo? C'mon! This isn't over.  This is still happening!  Where does the f*****g moon reside?"
   "I don't know!!"
   "Where the f**k is the moon Alexandria?"
   "I DON'T KNOW!!!"
   Jim pulls out a gun and calmly aims it at Alexandria's head.  The sight of the gun actually calms her down a bit.  She can wrap her head around this situation.  But, her brief euphoric interlude comes to an end when a bullet smashes through her face, through her brain, and out the back of her head.  She blinks before dropping to become a corpse.
    Jim stares down at her.  He has the gun pointed at his head now.  He hesitates.  Something has caught his attention.  The penguins.  The penguins are clapping.  Clapping and cooing.  He c***s his head sideways and thinks about this.  He blinks and shakes his head.  "Son of a b***h.  Can't believe I never thought of that."  He barks out a quick laugh.  Then it's his turn to become a corpse.




© 2017 Evan Deubner


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Added on November 19, 2017
Last Updated on November 19, 2017


Author

Evan Deubner
Evan Deubner

Kansas City, MO



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