T H E M O R P H I S T
by Silva Noir
Chapter 30: Father
The long motorcycle ride was uncomfortable.
He was ill at ease with her actions the prior night. It wasn't the violent streak. He had done his share. It was the way she'd talked about killing off uninvolved family members. He understood the logic she applied ... but it didn't make it RIGHT. Her disregard for the value of life turned him off, just as Sue's anything-goes and nothing-matters attitude turned him off. He married her ... but did he really know her? Did she know him? She seemed to stop caring. If he fell off during the trip and rolled into the desert she wouldn't have noticed. She was returning to work; he was tagging along.
But that was the whole point. He couldn't get past Sunsand's security without her.
The palette of the landscape was solely orange and orange-brown. The arrangement of blocky low buildings stood out even through the summer haze. Abrasive sand was eating away at the outer walls. They were fortified, with few, spread out tinted windows. The blinds were pulled down. The occasional smoky silhouette of people working inside could be spotted. Vehicles were hidden from baking in the sun in mainly underground garages except for a few supply trucks making their delivery at the side of the central facility. Other than that, there was no sign of life. Brush around looked too dried out to be deemed life. There were warning signs, but no barbed fences like he might have expected. Something else dealt with intruders.
"This is the origin. The Truth you are seeking. The past is in there ... with your Father," she said it with a capital letter, as an official title. 'Father,' as in Our Father, as if the as if his parent was lord and master -if not God- of this barren kingdom. She'd stopped in the driveway to let David gaze upon it, over dramatizing its importance. His prattle about destiny had bored her. she was shoving it in his face now.
"No. The origin is up there,Ē he pointed straight to the sky. He was not referring to heaven but rather to the starry expanse of space from which the meteor containing Xilvrin fell from. "And he is just a man. Nothing more. I'm not afraid of him. I'm not afraid to face him." He didn't know whether he was telling her or re-assuring himself.
She told the guard at the front door that she would come back for her bike and luggage. They left both in the foyer propped against a marble wall behind the glass. This was the spot where most light was let in. The "Sun" and "sand" of Sunsand Labs referred to the outside of the scientific community, not the interior. The interior was a totally artificial construct... isolated and with it's own code of behavior.
The feeling hit him that he was walking into something he wasn't ready for. He had come to undo creation, so to speak. He had come on behalf of his mother. He had come to get revenge for his birth. He would kill his father and destroy all data and consequent experiments. He had planned to live his life as an ordinary human with Rabbit once this was done... but now he had nothing to look forward to.
He felt he had but one option.
I'll do it. Once this is over... I'll commit suicide. I shouldn't have existed in the first place. All it has done is brought suffering to others... suffering to myself. I'll put an end to it ... to everything. Melanie will be left as the last and only Xilvrin being. She's the only one who deserves it. She'll use it to help, not harm... as a gift, not a curse.
They wound through the halls of white, grey, tan, and grey-blue ... one looking like the next, numbers that could have meant anything marking the doors. Finally they stopped in front of one reading, "Executive Office of William C. Richards."
"Agent Rabbit," she announced with courtesy, "and I've brought you a gift."
"Come in," replied a deep man's voice.
Hearing his father's voice for the first time gave him chills.
File cabinets lined the robin's egg blue painted office. A desk was dead center facing towards the door. The high-backed leather chair behind the desk was facing the window no the back wall that didn't look to the outside. It looked upon what might be an auditorium or gymnasium below.
Rabbit stayed with her back to the door, hands folded. This was business.
The man didn't turn around until David ventured nervously, "Fa-Father?"
"Well, it's been a long time," Will said while slowly turning. He faced David, putting his elbows on the desk and pressing his hands together in a 'I've-got-plans-for-you' way, "X-109."
"My name is David, sir." Sir? Why am I calling him sir? I donít owe him any respect. Why am I so intimidated by him? "Dad."
Will's electric blue eyes showed slight surprise at how much the creature before him resembled himself. Yet, they were opposites. Will's glasses were square and clear, while David's were round and aqua tinted. Will's coat was a white lab coat; David's was a black trench. Will wore his hair short, standing up like fuzz on a baby chick but not the least bit cute; Davidís hung longer, down to his ears, with a slight wave inherited from his mother. When will stood up David took a step back. He smiled with titanium white teeth, "and where is our darling Ruth?"
"She's not involved." Don't you ever think about touching my mother ever again! "I came here alone. I came here to..." Kill you? "To tell you..." That you're a lousy bastard that doesn't deserve to live "to tell you what you did was wrong!" Oh, brilliant David, you coward.
"Is that ALL?" Will laughed ... a deep, cruel laugh.
"Wait ... I know you." Well, obviously. "You were the one standing there when I got hit by a car. When you couldn't find me you hurt her. Picking on women and children. Youíre despicable!" Way to go, Daffy Duck. "Youíre just going to stand there, bemused with all this? I never should have been born. You know it. Even so, you could have let me be a normal human being. But I'm not. Here I am. The mess you made. What are you going to do about it?" David gradually regained his bravery.
"Rabbit," Will spoke her name like a command.
David tried to turn to see her. She'd said nothing during all this. She'd made no attempt to come to his defense.
Something struck the back of his head, fast and hard. He fell where he was. The last he saw was the toe of her shoe inches from his nose ... and then it went dark.
"I thought I told you not to bring him here unless you had a way to hold him," Will strolled with Rabbit through the halls.
"I have a way," she opened a door for him.
There David knelt in the center of a square, white room, stripped of all his clothes except a pair of black boxers. His arms were bound to his side, legs bound to kneel, neck bound to keep him from moving. The evenly space wires wrapped around his body except for face and hands, strung to three of the walls. The hooks they were tied to were bolted to the walls. No windows looked out. A camera was perched in the corner above the only entrance and exit.
"He can form armor all he likes but his humanoid body will stay where it is. If he tries to struggle, he'll bleed. If he tries to break free, he'll cut himself to ribbons." She was quite pleased with her work. "He's sedated. Drugged. His mind will be dealing with phantoms rather than turning to us or escape.
"You've drugged him?" The head of Sunsand was displeased. "How will we perform tests on the specimen? You are in charge of caring for it until the chemicals have drained out of its system. After that, you are off the project. I didn't hire you to play with him. You were to make brief observations then relay to me the best way to bring him in." He paced back and forth in front of his son.
Rabbit brought her hand to her heart, explaining, "But I brought him in myself. Without a team! Don't you think me clever for that?"
"Foolish is more like it. AND you put me at risk. After such disrespect for procedure you can have 'fun' playing handmaiden to Elizabeth."
"I am being generous! This is not up for discussion."
The two walked out and locked the door.
What David saw was quite different. The floor tiles twisted up in reverse tornadoes. Every other tile became black, making the pattern checkerboard. His father melted, leaving only the neon blue eyes. The eyes then checked in half like two eggs. The irises leaked out. The dark parts became a sea. The light parts became a sky.
Rabbit's skirt stretched and billowed and became a dress. The colors turned yellow, black, and red. On the yellow needles danced in and out of miniscule holes to embroider the symbols of playing cards. Her voice became a high pitched squealing. Like a baby? No ... a rabbit's cry of distress. Her facial features boiled and popped, stretching into a snout from where protruded two buck teeth stained with blood. The whole mouth was covered in it. Her whiskers twitched, spraying droplets on him.
"Off with his head. Out of his mind! He-ha-ha-ha!" She crowned herself and whirled about.
"The White Rabbit. The Queen of Hearts. Please have mercy." He was sure he addressed her, but only moans and moths came out of his throat.
He tried to follow when she flung herself through a tiny portal.
Something restricted him from all around. The more he leaned forward, the more it pained him.
He was alone. The swirls snapped into stairs: going up, going down, going sideways and diagonally. From the Wonderland emerged a M.C.Escher world.
Now he was not alone.
Scratching came from the top left corner. Or was that right? Or down? He couldn't tell which was which anymore.
From the underside of a step sprung the thing that had been watching him. A main clear eye looked at him from the end of its shiny snout. In that eye he saw himself reflected as a helpless young boy. The eye began playing all the times he'd been trapped in his own home ... wherever the home of the month was. His mother was too busy. She couldn't be bothered. He had no friends. Family never visited. Quiet, empty, lost, insignificant. A burden to be carried by no one. A thing best hidden away and forgotten about.
"Stop it! Stop showing me these things!" he shouted at the camera-beast.
For that was what it was. Tripods for legs and hinges for knees.... the third leg used as a tail to balance it. Red eyes dotted back from the lens, like a spider's extra eyes. It grinned sharp-toothedly.
It spoke, "You should have stayed that way. You would have been better off."
"But I wanted to know why! I didn't want to be alone... I don't deserve to be hated ... I didn't do anything then, yet!"
"You said it yourself. It was a crime for you to be born! An atrocity that you keep living!"
Its gangly arms reached out, claws closing on his throat, choking him.
He called for help.
No one heard him.
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