Infinity

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Let me close my eyes.

When I open them again, they’re yours. But what does that mean?
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“GET YOUR HANDS OFF ME!” I screamed, obliterating the Espers whose claws were digging into me. “How…much…longer…”

Neekah finally came into view. About fucking time. “So savage…

“Stop,” I hissed. “What do I have to do to make this stop? I’ll do it.”

No shame at all…

“Nope. None at all. I’ve given up,” I said flatly.

One more, my love. One more.

I closed my eyes. I had been attacked by the mangled body of my mother, a screaming Jhaq, and finally, I’d been thrown back into a war where I finally gave up and let them tear me to pieces, only to wake up hearing Emisair barking orders before I was let lose into another. I just wanted to go home, wherever that was. I wanted Daniel…And that bastard knew it.

One….more….

…of course. Who else was left?

Oh god, what was this bastard going to pull with him?

My heart throbbed. Daniel… I opened my eyes, and stared at him. “Oh…”

He lay motionless, all life drained from him. His eyes were blank and empty, as if he were a stuffed animal. Was he going to come alive like Kaya had? But surrounding him were at least a dozen Espers along with a large array of lights and screens. I didn’t know what was going to happen.

Wait.

Eyes.

Two of them.

The right side of his face was completely unscathed. It wasn’t just the fact that his eye was still there; he looked younger than I had ever seen him. But it was undoubtedly him.

The Espers started murmuring suddenly, and I watched helplessly as wires were connected to his head and needles were inserted in his skull, causing the lights to start moving in a pattern that would only make sense to them. I didn’t know what was going on, but I could only assume that this was another distorted image that he was showing me. Another ‘scene’ he was creating.

The ‘Daniel’ gave out a sigh, and the Espers began speaking directly to him. “State your name,” I heard one say.

“Mmm….” It was as if he had a frog in his throat. “Mmmah….mmmahphh…mmmahphheeeu.”

….huh?

Matthew? Before I could think any further, he spoke again. “No…..I’m…wait….Gah….Gabe? Gabriel? I…” His voice was finally becoming clearer, though the things that came out of his mouth made even less sense.

“Two of the personas have been recognised,” one of the Espers spoke. “Continue uploading.”

I didn’t know why I was paying so much attention. This was all fabrication, it wasn’t real. It was all in my head…it didn’t make sense, none of it made sense. And why did it matter that it didn’t, this was not real!

In an attempt to remove myself from the situation in front of me, I looked around to see where exactly I was in this place. As I adjusted, I figured that I was looking down on this situation. Was I in a cell then? Wait…

Slowly, I raised my head to see my hands cuffed to the ceiling in front of me. I almost automatically became overwhelmed with nausea, as I made myself check behind me. Yup. That was the case for my legs as well.

Okay…

Carefully, I let the skin on my left hand heat up once again, and after a while, the metal began bubbling into a boiling liquid. I ignored the searing hot fluid burning my skin and focused on removing my hand from the cuff. Ow. I held the hand out in front of my face and analysed it. No cuts. Giving myself a moment to recover, I placed my left hand on the right cuff.

It was then that Daniel began screaming. My eyes flashed back to the scene below me, helpless to do anything but watch as the lights went haywire and the Espers hurry to wrench the wires and cables out of his skull. “Let me go!” he snarled, spasming uncontrollably. “No! Noooooooooo-”

With a loud zap, he suddenly fell silent, and slumped. His eyes fluttered shut. One of the Espers sighed, pulling out one last wire. “Encase the brain,” they murmured. “Send the subject to Readers for examination.”

“What alterations are required?”

A pause. “Wait until it’s awake, and capable of speaking. After analysing speech patterns, see if you can close off some of the data implanted. Then analyse it’s interactions once again.”

I squeezed my eyes shut as I heard them all walk away, Daniel in tow. I couldn’t bear to see his lifeless body strung along like a puppet. “I fail to understand why this is necessary,” a remaining Esper spoke, not walking with the others. “A functioning form is all that is needed, why bother giving it a personality?”

“We’ve already established the creation process,” the same one who was giving the order replied. “However, there are Etherals who would be greatly interested in the ability to change one’s personality. Who knows? We might not have to create more subjects if they are willing to supply us with them.”

“Still, I’d hardly call the creation process ‘established’. The other creations have been giving out as of late. We may no longer have ones to spare for extra experiments such as this.”

“Alas, this one is already spoken for. If there’s no more forms for Mutations, then it is up to them to create more. However, I’m not to take responsibility for the ones who lose control when it comes to experimentation. Hmmph. If one can call it that.”

“I believe that I’d have to agree. It’s still functional, despite everything. It wouldn’t do any good to simply send it to those who are all too happy to destroy it. Especially if it gains the ability to act as a natural subject would.”

“That’s indeed what I’m hoping for. An artificial being that is capable of thinking, feeling, reacting identically to a natural being.”

“You aren’t craving companionship are you? Mayhaps you shouldn’t be here, if you’re wanting more.”

“You’re the one making jests. It’s not a habit you should retain.”

“Hmmph. Even if your experiment is successful, it’ll be used for some other task after the Etheral are satisfied with your ability. If it’s physically functional, then it can be deployed for other more important things.”

“Very well. Once the data is confirmed as the prototype for later experiments, I’ll-” The Esper was suddenly cut off as my right hand suddenly broke free of the cuff and my upper body dropped.

For a few seconds, I just hung there upside down by my ankles in silence as they stood there frozen in disbelief.

Then I raised my hand and finished them off.

As the laboratory burned, I heard footsteps behind me. “That wasn’t necessary,” he purred. I closed my eyes, and felt my tears run down my forehead. “There there…” he said soothingly, wiping my forehead with his slimy hand. “Would you like to come down?

My eyes blinked open and I glowered at him in silence. In response, his hand cracked across my face. “Fuckin’ bitch,” his voice snarled. Obviously he got bored again. “Say something’. You know the truth now, don’cha? Your darling Prince Charming isn’t even human. Cmoooooon. Gimme some reaction!”

“Don’t give me that bullshit,” I hissed through the pain. “There’s no way that this is fucking real. You’re an illusionist, this is what you do. You mess with people’s heads, you messed with Kaya’s head, you messed with Nereida’s head!”

Urrrrrgh…god you’re dense,” he groaned dramatically. “Jeez, aren’t you meant to be the open minded one?” He shook his head and immediately, I felt myself falling to the ground. Instinctively, I braced my hands for impact and pushed against the cold metal floor so that I could roll safely onto its surface. “Very well. Why is it so difficult to believe Nereida and Daniel? Yes, yes, those weren’t their present forms, I believe that’s abundantly clear. But why does that mean that it’s not them?

Before I could object, he lifted me up off the ground and onto my feet. “Consider me an illusionist with a cause,” he said. “Both you and Kaya searched for the truth, and that’s what I’m giving you. It’s merely that you’re denying that it’s real because it’s something only you can see.” He chuckled darkly, his rotting face contorting into a strange grin. “That’s a bit rich, when you think about it. Why is what I’m showing you different from the entirety of my world to you?

I clenched my teeth. His words were all too familiar. How many times had I used that argument? Just because someone else can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Pain, love, knowledge… It’s amazing how people can completely ignore the things they can’t, or even refuse to, understand. Even though I was forced to admit that the world in my head was essentially a hallucination, I never ignored it, because it was just as real as the world I was born into. And so was this experience he had dragged me into. Why should I deny that his word was truth?

I found a valid argument. “Stop trying to confuse me,” I said. “The experience with you, Nereida and I had never happened. I don’t know whether or not that’s how Nereida felt, but that definitely never happened. That wasn’t reality. Also…there’s no way that you would’ve known about Daniel’s life when he was imprisoned. Because they didn’t upload him to the network. He was considered unsuitable for experiments.” I pushed the memory of Daniel hooked up to those computer-like mechanisms out of my head. “And in the real world, you wouldn’t be allowed to set foot in the facility. So…wouldn’t that experience be purely based on your interpretation? Considering of course you’re not making that up…right?” I felt so drained by this argument. I was still trying to make sense of everything happening around me. The only thing I was clinging to right now was the fact that this was all something that he implanted in my head, a figment of my imagination. Because if this was another Delirium, then what the hell was happening to my head?

After a while, he spoke again. He sounded normal, well, as normal as he could’ve been. “Do you wish for an explanation?” he asked me. There was nothing hidden in his voice.

“…yes.”

He turned around and walked toward the hallway, toward more laboratories. It was then that I realised that this room was on fire. “Follow me.

I couldn’t allow myself to put my trust into this madman, no matter how normal he seemed now. But still…curiosity drove me to follow him into the darkness.

At last, we came to a door. “Ready?

I nodded faintly. He opened it and stepped inside, beckoning for me to follow. I stepped inside, and took it all in.

It was a playroom. More specifically, my playroom. I recognised the pink paint and the stickers covering the walls. “Why have you taken me….”

I was cut off by the sight of Kaya’s corpse lying on the ground, along with the body of a girl with long brown hair and hollow green eyes. My eyes. And next to them was…

“There’s…two of you?” I croaked.

Quiet now. Do you want to know how you were created or not?” Neekah asked, the one who lead me here.

“I…thought you were explaining how this was real.”

I am. You’re just being impatient.

“I think I have that right.” I approached my body and felt for a pulse. Nothing. Suddenly, something clicked in my head. Slowly, I turned my head toward Kaya’s body, toward the familiar, whirring sound coming from the life saving device inside her. “…oh.”

Are you beginning to realise?”

“…I don’t know. I…think I can gather how I ended up in Delirium though…and maybe something else. Assuming this is true, of course.” I looked at the second Neekah. “What are you planning to do here?”

He laughed in response. This one was still insane. “Very well…Miss Blackrim here has kindly followed me home, you see. Gave your lot quite a shock, you know. Anyway…she needs to go back, to do a little job for me. However, she can’t go back as the poison dragon with the poisonous tongue, you see. She needs to go back as a sweetling, an innocent child for them to corrupt. But not just any sweetling. A sweetling that has all their secrets, too dangerous to live, alas, there’s no way for her to die.” He gave me a bright smile that sent chills down my smile. “Let us make it a human sweetling, just so that it can pose as one of many who have come here by accident. A human sweetling that a lonely freak can keep as a pet.” It was then that he raised a sharpened sword and swung it down on Kaya’s hand. And then the other. “We must keep this though,” he said, rolling her onto her back. I took in the sight of the disc and flinched. “For a pretty, innocent and mysterious sweetling isn’t going to get off so easily with them. They’ll kill her again and again in order to get their fill.

In the span of a second, he raised his sword and swung it down on Kaya’s long neck. A black, murky fluid flooded out onto the floor, painting her face and hair. My stomach flipped and my head started spinning. And then he walked over to the girl who looked like me. I turned my head, not willing to watch him brutalise what I believed to be my corpse. “You should be thankful for all the effort I went to, in order to create an exact likeness of you,” Neekah said to me, the original one. “They’ll consider your hands, your feet and your face, but not much else. Though rest assured, your personal attributes shall be accounted for.” He walked away from me, towards my twin and kneeled down next to her. “Do you want anything adjusted? But your skin is already so silky…and your hair…” To my horror, he lifted up the girl’s freshly severed head and held it close to him. He started whispering words I couldn’t understand, as if he was soothing her. Blood spilled out onto his hands, and he stared at it, as if he was seeing the sun for the first time. Then he spoke again. “Just like a rose…” he sighed, taking a finger to his lips.

Hey!” the other man snapped, swinging his sword up, getting ready to drive into the madman holding my head. “That blood belongs to the freak with two heads! Give it back!

I started shaking then. Another time, another place, I ended up dead so that I could exist in a world I didn’t belong in. It wasn’t me though; but it could’ve been. They might’ve chosen me to get cut up, so another version of myself could travel to another world, another Delirium. I raised my trembling hands to my face, seeing nothing but blood. In another world, I was kidnapped and slaughtered like a pig. Maybe I didn’t even know Delirium existed. Why….

“Why?” I croaked. “Why did I have to exist here? Why…why did you have to kill her…so that I could live?”

Don’t feel so important,” Neekah told me, skilfully dodging his doppleganger’s swings. “You’re not the only one who gets to live. In an infinite amount of worlds, there is a Cat Madigan split between two worlds, choosing between the world she was born in and the world that only exists in her head. And in an infinite amount of worlds, there’s a Cat Madigan who is taken in order to play her part in a very important project. And in an infinite amount of worlds, that project ends up failing.” When Neekah looks up at me, I see no madness anymore. Only hard determination. “That’s your role in this. I want you to bring about a world where we succeed. And if you can do that, then you can return to your world for good. Isn’t that what you want?

It took a while to sink in, the words return to your world for good. At first, my mind was overcome with the knowledge that my existence in Delirium was the result of murdering another Cat Madigan; maybe even one who never was Cat Madigan. Maybe she had grown up without Kaya, without Daniel, until one day, she had an encounter with a corpse like man that would result in her death at his hands. And that could’ve just been easily been me.

And then it hit me. Delirium could stop. I didn’t have to have blackouts ever again. The hallucinations could stop, the dying could stop, the bloodshed could stop.

…Kaya could stop.

……so could Daniel.

Was that what I wanted?

I was so absorbed with this that I didn’t notice that Neekah had managed to come in close to my face. “Well?” he said, chuckling as I leapt back.

I straightened up and inhaled. “Tell me more about the project,” I ordered him. “I’m not agreeing,” I said, as he started grinning hungrily. “I doubt that you’d let me go unless I listened to what your purpose was. But if this is the only chance I have of returning to normal…then I have no choice but to take it.” My voice became a whisper.

As you wish…but we might want to go elsewhere.” He indicated his alter ego, and I realised with a shock that he was on the ground with a sword in his back. “Any requests, ma cherie?

“…I have one.”

I am all ears.

“…take me to your world,” I told him. “Take me to the world inside your head. Show me what the world looks like to you.”
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The world that he envisioned…

It’s before me now, an endless abyss, nothing but shadows.

I shaped this world. Creator, destroyer, it depends on the teller. As my friend once said, history is written by the victors, or in this case, survivors.

What do you think when you’re here? Are you proud of me? Angry? Not that I care. You were once so important to me. However, I don’t know anymore if I was just another pawn in your mind games.

It doesn’t matter though. You’re gone now. Erased from existence, sealed away, I wouldn’t know. But there’s still the mystery of how I can see things from your eyes, despite everything.

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You’re Being Tortured In The Morning

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So because I am a lazy fuck who cannot spend more than ten minutes a day to finish writing up my memoirs from the imaginary world in my head, Daniel and I have found another way to keep my blog updated over the two weeks that we’ll be in Europe. Where it’s warm…. I’m sorry, I wanted to stress that fact to my friends who’ll be stuck in the Southern Hemisphere, where it’s cold and there’s not even snow to make it better. Anyway, I came across the website Philosophy Experiments during Religion, and Daniel and I got sucked in, and we went over god knows how many tests and quizzes which scrutinised our way of thinking.

And now I’m going to torture my nonexistent readers by describing every single quiz we went through. Starting with You’re Being Tortured In The Morning.
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“Here we go,” Daniel says. “You have fallen into the hands of Zach Coine, a mad and powerful scientist. He informs you he is going to torture you tomorrow morning. Not surprisingly, you find this idea rather terrifying.”

“Pfffffffffffft.”

“That’s not necessary Cat.”

“Sorry…this quiz doesn’t already take into account torture victims. Or mutants and imaginary paramours.”

“Cat…”

“Okay, I’ll shush.” I look up at him. “Really.”

“Good girl.” Daniel turns back to the iPad. “However, Professor Coine has some sort of barely functioning conscience so he’s decided to tell you a number of things about what’s going to happen in the hope that you’ll be reassured about your fate.”

“Awwww, that’s so sweet!” I said sarcastically.

“You promised you’d shush.”

“I am! I am shush-”

Daniel puts two fingers on my lips. “There. Better.” He scans the rest of the page. “Basically, each time you read something, you have to decide whether it calms you down a little bit.”

Unable to communicate verbally, I merely raise my eyebrows and snort. “Okay…let me rephrase that.” Daniel rolls his eyes. “You have to indicate whether or not what he says makes you more certain or uncertain of your fate. Whether it reassures you or not. Compri?

I nod. “Good girl. Now, there’s some things you should remember. One, everything Professor Coine tells you is the truth. Two, this test is only interested in how you find the prospect of being tortured. Basically whether you think you’d suffer or not during this event.” He frowns. “Whatever. Three, any wider moralistic or humanitarian worries you may have do not matter. Meaning, you can’t claim that you’ll never be safe because you’ll always know that there’s a violent psychopath out there. Four, you have to indicate how you feel about what the professor says in light of everything you know.”

I frown. “Mmm?”

“I think it means how what the professor says makes you feel about the current situation,” Daniel informs me. “Anyway, the last thing is that this is an online activity, so you’re not actually going to be fearful or reassured. There’s a thing called imagination….” He grins at me. “My, I have no idea where we would ever find that. Now let’s get started.”

“Mmm!”

“I’m not done talking though.”

I raised an eyebrow.

“Fine…” He removes his hand from my face. “Personally, I think you show more through your body language than your words.”

I flutter my eyelashes at him.

“I rest my case. You may start.”

“Professor Coine tells you that when the time comes to torture you, he’ll ensure you have no memory of having been told in advance you were going to be tortured, so it’ll be a surprise when the torture begins. Reassured or no?” I frown. “Wait, so…I’m being told what’s going to happen to me, only to forget immediately after?”

“I take it, not reassuring?”

“Nuh uh.” I read the next statement. “Professor Coine also tells you that at the moment of torture you won’t be able to remember anything at all that you now remember. So I have amnesia? I don’t remember who I am?”

“I don’t believe I’ve ever had amnesia,” Daniel muses. “I wouldn’t be able to tell you what it’s like.”

“I would probably be more frightened if I didn’t know anything,” I said. “If I had my memories, I might be able to think of something else.”

“If you say so.”

“Professor Coine now states that not only will you not be able to remember anything that you now remember, but you’ll have an entirely different set of thoughts and impressions of your past…well shit.”

“Not assured?”

“Well…no. If I’m a whole other person, I’m still going to feel pain, aren’t I?”

“Indeed.”

“The mad professor now tells you that the new set of thoughts and impressions of your past will exactly match those of somebody who is currently alive, and in fact that they will be copied into your brain from the other person’s brain. Again, not helpful.” I continue on. “So basically, this whole conversation makes me no less fearful of what is to come.”

Daniel reads the next part. “We’ll return to the mad professor in a little while, but right now we have a different scenario for you to think about. This one also involves torture, but happily this time you have more control over what’s going to happen to you.”

“Yayyyy.”

“Two people,” Daniel reads, “are about to undergo an odd experience.”

“Boys and girls of every age, would you like to see something strange?” I sing.

Ignoring me, Daniel goes on. “The thoughts and memories of persons A and B will be exchanged with eachother. In this scenario, you’re A. After the experiment is complete, one body-person will receive one million dollars. The other gets tortured. You want to get the reward, and avoid the torture.”

“Gee, I dunno…I’m kinda in the mood for getting my skin torn and my bones broken.” Daniel looks at me. “I’m into some fucked up shit.”

“Moving on…you get to choose which body-person is to be rewarded, and by doing so, also deciding who gets tortured. So what’s it gonna be?”

“So…I’m person A. But A’s memories are now in B. Does that make me B then?”

“You tell me.”

“…physically I am person A. Even with my memories have gone, I’m still A, and I’ll still feel the pain. I’d want to avoid that.”

“You’d be another person.”

“Is that meant to get me to change my mind?”

“This…” Daniel announces, “is deep shit.”

“Yeah…” I press the option which says Reward Body-Person A, Torture Body-Person B. I read the next part. “Good news. In common with 29% of the 43934 people who have completed this activity, you are showing no sign of Identity Confusion Syndrome. What even is that?”

“Let me read the rest.” Daniel scans the next few paragraphs. “I think they’re saying that you understand that even though your memories are gone, the person being tortured is still you.”

“So…cool?”

We continue to read the reasoning behind it. “I think I get it,” I say to Daniel. “If I chose B, it would be because I believe that I myself was now person B, and that I wouldn’t be tortured, because the person carrying my memories would be safe. But just because your memories are inside someone else doesn’t mean that they are you.”

“I…think I understand?”

I try explaining. “Imagine the idea that your memories are not your own, but someone else’s. It’s only now that you have become aware of this fact. So, who are who?”

“Well…I have Daniel’s thoughts and memories…and apart from what I used to see in Delirium those are the only ones I have…so I’m Daniel.”

“Bingo!” I kiss his cheek.

“Right answer?” He smiles shakily.

“Uhhuh. Even though your memories are in another person, you do not identify with that other person. You aren’t that person, as far as you’re concerned. Therefore, to choose B, just because your ‘true’ memories are inside them, would be silly. You’re person A still.”

“O…..kaaaaaay…”

“…did I make it more confusing?”

“Actually no. I’m starting to get a grip around it.”

“Good. Because it’s time for recess.” Fooooooooooooood, my inner voice growls.

“There’s one thing that interests me,” he says as we walk out.

“Do tell.”

“Imagine applying this to you and Kaya,” he says. “You’ve experienced her memories, and vice versa. You know her as well as you know yourself, and vice versa. Does that mean that you are Kaya?”

“No, of course not.”

“Why not?”

“…it’s not possible. I know her. She’s a separate entity to me. Isn’t she?”