Author: Mens dominatus potentia PM
The one number that dogged him all his life, the factor of all his sorrows. Crake POV. Crake/Oryx, Oryx/Jimmy.Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Angst - Words: 3,037 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 10-02-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8576763
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
His face on the tiny screen looked much the usual; he appeared to be in a bar. "Where are you?" Jimmy yelled. "Don't you know what's going on?" "Not to worry," said Crake. "Everything's under control." He sounded drunk, a rare thing for him. "What fucking everything? It's a worldwide plague! It's the Red Death! What's this about it being in the BlyssPluss Pills?" "Who told you that?" said Crake. "A little bird?" He was drunk for sure; drunk, or on some pharmaceutical. "Never mind. It's true, isn't it?" "I'm in the mall, at the pizza place. I'll be there right away," said Crake. "Hold the fort."
Three minutes until the bio-factor in the BlyssPluss trials activated. Three minutes.
I eased myself into an armchair in the lounge area of Aurora, the biggest and fanciest place in Rejoov I could find to get smashed in. I had never really been susceptible to alcohol or pharmaceuticals, for that matter, but I figured that a few in combination might just do the trick.
A server passed by. I motioned him over and flashed him my card. "Six shots of your strongest stuff," I said, and smirking, added, "The more it burns, the better." The server sized me up and nodded. Forty seconds later, he was back juggling six shot glasses of clear liquid, the slight sublimation and dripping condensation that much more visible under the black light installed right above me.
"Super chilled?" I murmured wryly, not really asking, as I swirled one of the shots a little.
"Increases the burn," the server answered. "Genuine Everclear. Can't get much more potent than this, clear of drinking lab-boiled ethanol."
"I'll pass on that," I replied, edge of my lip curling upwards, and nodded, signalling that he was free to leave. Down went the first one – ah, the burn. I relished it, the fact that it brought me to the verge of tears. But Crake does not cry: Crake thinks, Crake schemes, Crake is all brain and no pain. And so down went the second and third and fourth and so on, until the last shot glass was drained and I was starting to feel strangely lightheaded and, to my passing astonishment, amused. Or that could've been the fact that the news channel just started broadcasting the spread of the virus. My rogue hemorrhagic splice, the one that was going to clear the ground for the Crakers and give them (and the planet) a chance at surviving the next millennium. I smiled contentedly and leaned my head back into the armchair back, popping a few painkillers and hard depressants in while trying to ignore the anxious chatter coming from the bar area and shrill yapping of the TV broadcaster. It was no matter – within 72 hours, they would be lumps of flesh and blood, dissolving back into their elements. From nature, to nature. None of this bio-sealed cryogenic shit that kept corpses fucking frozen for the next eon. Without electricity, anyways, they would start to decompose soon enough. I did not envy in the least the stinking world I would leave the Crakers. Maybe I should have kept the human olfactory glands instead of employing the canine ones. Well, in any case, the bodies would become compost, and help fertilize the herbaceous splices in the Compounds. The cycle of life, all that shit.
A deep sigh. The noise level on the floor was really becoming intolerable, even with the sensation of bodily disconnection I was getting from the alcohol working in tandem with the depressants. What did I just pop in? Benzodiazepine laced with barbital? I honestly couldn't remember anymore. Not that it mattered either – within a couple of hours, I would be joining the human meat loaf on the ground.
My video phone vibrated in my jacket pocket. I sluggishly pulled it out and saw the blinking notification from my nano-tracker (Oryx currently at: Papa Louie's Pizza 49°15′N 123°6′W, it read). Jimmy was ringing. Ah, fun stuff. I lifted the phone up so that he could see my face. And hopefully the bar too. Maybe he would recognize it. Probably not…he preferred to get smashed in the pleeblands. But the setting would probably confuse him. That would be amusing.
His face appeared on the screen, taut and frazzled. "Where are you? Don't you know what's going on?" he yelled. Damn, volume was too high. I tapped the screen a few times and the volume went down to a more manageable level.
"Not to worry," I drawled, chuckling. "Everything's under control."
Jimmy stared at me oddly. The whole sizing-up look again. "What fucking everything?" he then screamed. "It's a worldwide plague! It's the Red Death! What's this about it being in the BlyssPluss Pills?" How did he know? Oryx must have told him…
"Who told you that? A little bird?" I asked nonetheless with a tight smile, trying to seem amused, nonchalant, trying to keep my composure from slipping. But I really felt like smashing the phone, or worse, bawling like a big-headed baby. Crying drunks, isn't that what always happens?
Jimmy threw up his hands. "Never mind. It's true, isn't it?"
Of course it's true, Jimmy. As true as Oryx's infatuation with you, as true as our friendship had ever been. But I was getting ahead of myself. "I'm at the mall, at the pizza place," I answered, heaving myself from the armchair and heading towards the door. "I'll be there right away. Hold the fort." Then I hung up on him.
It took me the whole of three minutes to walk down the mall to Papa Louie's, even though I had only hypothesized a minute, at most. The reason? People running around like fevered ants, attempting to flee reality. Several of them bumped into me on their desperate flight out, to say goodbye to their loved ones once more before the end came; others, to sequester themselves in the hope of evading the Red Death. But Death would come for them. Their greed, their lust, their passions would destroy them; upon popping that first BlyssPluss Pill in their mouth, they had forfeited their life to me and to my vision. My vision that Oryx had believed in so firmly, that we had achieved together. Anyways, I was pissed. I hate to be wrong, even if it was just my own little insignificant hypothesis.
As I approached the pizza joint, I spotted her. She was leaning over the bar, crying. I felt my heart sink. Why was she crying? Surely she wasn't afraid.
"Oryx," I said over the noise of chairs scraping across the floor. She looked up and saw me, tearstains streaking down her face. I suddenly felt like I lost the ability to breathe anymore. "What's the matter?" I asked, my voice sounding far too curt for my own liking.
"The BlyssPluss Pills," she whispered. "You knew."
I shushed her by putting my finger up to her lips. Glancing about, I made sure no one was watching us and I whispered back, "Yes. It was my plan, after all."
Her black eyes lit up with some emotion I couldn't identify – was it fury, disgust, terror? Glinting like onyx, her eyes glared back at me through the tears in her eyes. I recognized it now. It was hate, and I was stunned, expressionless, paralyzed. "You," she hissed. "You bastard." I instantly stiffened with shock, jaws clenched in indignation. I had never heard Oryx swear before, and certainly not at me.
"Was it such a crime to clear the world for the Crakers?" I retorted irritably. "How else was I supposed to go about it? Get the CorpSeCorps to murder everyone in their beds?"
She visibly wilted under my words. I felt ashamed of my harsh words. "I thought…" she murmured. A single tear streaked down her right cheek and halted precariously on her jaw line, trembling with emotion. "I believed in you, Crake."
Oh, the irony of those words. The shitload of implied meaning in that simple loaded statement. My mother saying, "Oh Glenn, why don't you go out and have a good time just like any other boy?" My father brushing me off in the mornings with "I have to go, son." There was simply never enough perfection in me, nor was there ever enough time for me. And so I strove to find perfection, to find time through my work. I had created my own brand of perfection, my own method to stop time, through the Crakers. And now her words "I believed in you. I believed in you." What was this? Why did I even care about what anyone else thought? I wasn't fucking sixteen anymore.
I tried to relax my clenched jaw. But examining her perfect face, instead of relaxing me, I felt the irritation rankle me. Hands other than mine had caressed those beautiful tearstained cheeks, and lips other than mine had brushed the pale hollow of her throat and the smooth curve of her neck. Jimmy's hands. Jimmy's lips.
I felt like crying again. But Crake does not cry. Instead, I swallowed as inaudibly as I could, to stop the prickling in my nose and the constriction in my throat. "What about him?" I whispered. Not angrily, not loudly.
She glanced at me questioningly. I stared right back at her, down into those black eyes I had grown to love so much. She looked away, hesitated.
"Who?" she finally answered. I didn't answer, but stared back at her. She glanced at me again and flushed delicately, the pink dusting her porcelain cheek like powdered roses.
"Don't lie to me," I murmured, half to her and half to myself. The anger had fizzled out of me; I felt defeated. Accordingly, I was gentle with her. "I know what you feel for Jimmy."
She tried to laugh but failed, only managing to produce an unconvincing half-chuckle. "He's just…"
"I know where you go at night, Oryx," I said softly, wistfully. "I know where you go after you leave me. Even when I asked you to stay. You would always go to him. I was the first in your mind, but he was the first in your heart. And you know it."
She gazed at me pleadingly, and I searched her face for remorse. There was regret, sadness perhaps, but no remorse. I turned my head away, swallowed even more to prevent the tears from leaking out. "Crake," she implored. A small hand on my shoulder. I shrugged it off. "You were always so…so detached from this world. I could never understand you."
"I loved you." The strangled words dropped from my mouth by accident. "But you loved him."
I heard a sob beside me. "I'm sorry," she whispered, wrapping her arms around me. "I'm so sorry. I didn't know."
You didn't know that I knew, I felt like adding. Or that I cared. I stared at the TV screen in front of me. The broadcaster was literally dissolving on screen. I stared at it, sickened but unable to look away. My handiwork. What you sow is what you shall reap. But my work was not finished yet.
I broke out of her embrace and cleared my throat. She looked at me, beseeching me for who-knows-what with her eyes. Her gaze, more potent than Everclear ever would be. I looked away before I lost my nerve. "We should go back," I said to the wall. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her nod. "Wait," I said, turning around. "Take this." I handed her two white pills. She looked at them, and then looked at me. "It will make you temporarily immune," I added. She seemed to be convinced, nodding slightly and popping the pills into her mouth. I mentally started counting down. The sedative and anaesthetic effects of the barbital would kick in within three minutes, hypoxia and unconsciousness from the laced neurotoxin within five minutes, and she would be dead within ten.
In nine minutes, the only person I loved in my life would be dead. In nine minutes, my world would come to an end.
We wandered out of the pizza joint, down the now-empty corridors of the mall. By the time we were out on the street, she was already telling me how dizzy and light-headed she felt. I kissed her briefly on the cheeks, but didn't say anything. Several times, she almost tripped over the bodies already lining the once-immaculate paved roads within Rejoov. I struggled to help her up. But perhaps it was better that the barbital made her so sluggish that she probably did not even notice that the apparent cracks in the ground that she kept tripping on were really gaps between the bodies and that blood and partially dissolved flesh was already oozing its way to the clogged sewers. It looked like a scene out of Blood & Roses, only far, far worse. I clamped my jaw shut, to prevent the nausea from overwhelming me.
Five minutes later, we finally arrived in front of the air lock door of the Paradice dome. I had bloodstains all over my shirt and khakis. Oryx was lying on the ground. I couldn't support her any more. Besides, Jimmy couldn't see her in this state. Not yet. I punched in the code for the air lock entrance. It wouldn't work. What was wrong with the fucking airlock? I rang up the video intercom. Jimmy's face appeared on the screen. He looked haggard, but he seemed focused and calm. Good for him.
"What are you doing?" I snapped impatiently. "Open up."
"I'm following Plan B. In the event of a bio attack, don't let anybody in. Your orders. I've sealed the airlock." Lord, how thick could this guy get?
"Anybody," I enunciated with a great deal of emphasis, "didn't mean me. Don't be a cork-nut."
"How do I know you're not a carrier?" came the very stupid and annoying reply.
"How do I know that?" He would be the death of me, by impatience.
"Let's just suppose that I anticipated this event and took precautions," I responded slowly and wearily, as if I were talking to a three year-old. "Anyways, you're immune to this."
"Why would I be?" I felt like banging my head against the wall. Why did he have to be so dense tonight, of all nights?
"The antibody serum was in the pleeb vaccine. Remember all those times you shot up with that stuff?" I added with a bit of venom, "Every time you went to the pleebs to wallow in the mud and drown your lovesick sorrows."
"How do you know?" he asked, eyes wide. Nice one, Jimmy. You just about could have fooled a newborn with your oh-so-innocent look. "How did you know where I – what I wanted?"
I sighed. "Don't be a moron. Let me in."
The door beeped and the airlock finally lifted. I picked Oryx off the ground and dropped her on the floor next to the wall as soon as we had stepped into the air-locked zone. There were no bodies here. Everything was still new, clean, sterile. Except for us. The humans. The real viruses on this planet. But what is reality?
"Where were you?" Jimmy's voice suddenly asked impatiently. "Have you been in a fight?"
I turned towards where I knew the video camera was installed, in front of the innermost door to Paradice. Oryx couldn't be seen from the angle of the camera. "You have no idea," I answered, only slightly sarcastic. "Now let me in."
"Where's Oryx?" Ah, Jimmy, always so persistent.
"She's right here with me. She's had a hard time." That should get his ass out of the office, down here where he needed to be.
"What happened to her? What's going on out there? Let me talk to her!" he practically yelled, increasingly desperate with each sentence. I winced. The volume was too loud. Damn speakerphone.
"She can't talk right now. I can't lift her up. I've had a few injuries." He still looked uncertain. I frowned, then added impatiently, "Now quit fucking the dog and let us in."
Thirty seconds until the door opened and Jimmy appeared on the other side. I scooped Oryx up into my arms and let her lean against me, her head pillowed against my chest. She was scarcely breathing now. In ten more seconds, she would stop breathing. Everything would be over for her. But not for me. Not yet. I withdrew the jackknife hidden inside my jacket and flicked the blade out. At the same time, I heard the beeping of the door lock. The door opened.
Jimmy stood there with a spraygun. Exactly as I had planned. He saw me, then saw Oryx, and his eyes widened in alarm, shock, worry. He loved her; he loved the corpse that I now held over my left arm. I stared at him squarely, expressionless, trying to get the words out. She is mine, Jimmy. You lost. Crake always wins.
"I'm counting on you," I said simply, and the knife sliced into her throat, soft and smooth as butter. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I didn't know. Her words, back at her. A third of a second. There was no room for 3 in my life, just as there was no time in my father's life for me, no room in Oryx's heart for me, no room on this earth for me.
A third of a second, and then my world exploded in blood and noise and pain.
So this is how the world ends.
Not with a whimper but a bang.