Doctor Krull leaned in, next to the man's ear, whispering something to him that seemed to alleviate the man's fear. His words sedated his anxiety to the point that he now looked more relaxed in his binds, his eyes a wash of disbelief mixed with hope. Whatever the man felt before was now replaced with a single emotion driving him- enthusiasm. He then stepped over to the shriveling female who looked to be of Spanish decent. Her demeanor had been calm and collected since the moment Charlie woke tied to the chair, and the moment he saw Doctor Krull reach for the long white cane, Spurt handed to him, he began to understand why. Again, Doctor Krull leaned close and spoke into her ear softly, and, again, she too relaxed in her chair.
The man next to Charlie had been still, but obviously fearful for his life. Sweat had run down his face like water dripping from an unseen tap over his head, yet he was quite focused on his meditation, eyes closed and refusing to observe the slightest change in sound around him, even as Doctor Krull cupped the third man's chin in the palm of his long thin hand. He worked his thumb around the chin and slid it up around the man's mouth, his talon sliced between his thin pink lips and pried his mouth gently open. He then lifted the man's head to get a good look inside his mouth, and then leaned next to him. This time he was close enough to be heard, "In return for your assistance, I shall grant you the freedom of your tongue once more, so that you may verbally thank me afterwards." Just as the others had done, he too lost the look of consternation about him.
Doctor Krull then turned his attention to Charlie, standing silently in front of him, his face veiled by his dark oily colored locks, and it seemed to Charlie that each time he attempted to look beyond his natural cover, Doctor Krull took a step backwards into the enveloping light. His deep gaze pierced through the murky light like two distant lighthouses guiding lost ships at sea, observing Charlie, turning away from his guest joining Spurt at the console of the machine. The two made adjustments to the bluish glow beaming against both of their faces, while they discussed time displacement, algorithms, stasis recognition and something called, morph fusing. None of it made any sense to Charlie, but his interest on what was happening had taken an uncomfortable acceptance and keen awareness that even his artistic eye found some common ground with. I am willingly becoming a lab rat inside this Mad Scientist's crazed high school Science project? he thought.
Spurt hopped down from the console and approached Charlie. Once in front of him, he took Charlie by the hand, the one with the device attached to his thumb, and palmed the device. Charlie's hand felt as though it had been wrapped in ice, cold enough that his fingers instantly went numb. His arm was hot and rived with pain. It was though Spurt had set some kind of chemical fire to his arm that did not project flames, burning hotter than anything he had ever felt prior. He clinched his teeth hard, noshing them spitefully to Spurt, watching as the device slipped effortlessly off his thumb. The little oddly shaped assistant scuttled back to the console and placed the device inside a slot on the console.
"I was beginning to wonder when they would take your picture." the man on the end said.
"The device on your thumb? It's called a Data Node Apparatus ring. Collects samples of your DNA, which is then placed in the machine to check for signatures." he said turning to Charlie and smiling.
"My DNA? How...how do you know this?"
"He mentioned it a time or two during his talks with his Spurt." The woman answered.
"I did not hear anything about that?"
"That would be due to your not being here at the time."
"Yes," said the woman. "We did not learn much in our first days."
"My god, you have been here-"
"A month for myself," said the man. "She came along about a week after me, and the quiet chink about three days after my blind cohort." He added with a laugh.
"An appropriate comment, I assure you. If only I could shake the hand of such a comedian."
Their talk was silenced by the sudden reemergence of Doctor Krull
The world around Charlie was an oyster of sound. The sound was of relaxed breathing flooding his ears, paced and at times peaceful and rhythmic like the waves from an ocean running ashore. He attempted to open his eyes, doing so with ease, blinded by the greatest blue light he had ever seen. An intensity that burned his cornea like the sun and forced his eyes closed immediately after they had opened. The humming rang once again in Charlie's ears and, at the risk of being burned again, his eyes fluttered open. What he witnessed no amount of paint could ever describe. He would need the worlds largest canvas to grasp the nature of the phenomena happening several feet from where he sat. In a word, Charlie saw God.
Doctor Krull stood in front of a giant orb of light, hands raised and spread out as though he were testifying the success of his machine, basking in a light that was not that of the moon or sun, too intense to be one and too close to the gaping hole behind the machine to be the other; standing in front of a vastly blue sky with wisp of white clouds that stretched on forever. Charlie Harley and the others were now weightless, freed from their binds and floating easily above the stage, arms and legs held together by a force unseen to them. Charlie knew by their startled reactions, this part was new even to them. The scene reminded him of a digital painting by Slawek Wojtowicz that asked, once more, if he was really just dreaming all this. When he watched Doctor Krull walk past him, noticing his feet not touching the ground as he did, to the man on the end, place his hand onto his forehead, break down into the same metallic liquid Spurt had previously, and then absorb into the man's head via his ear, nose and mouth; he wanted nothing more than to wake up then and there.
Charlie Harley was helplessly immobile. He could only look on as Doctor Krull oozed from the openings of the man's head onto the floor, pool at the seat of the woman, reanimate into a being and begin the process all over again. It was only when the pool of mercury-like material pooled below him that he finally shouted words of consternation. "What do you want from me!" they echoed the great room, but were lost to the humming that reverberated inside his head. The frozen touch of Doctor Krull chilled Charlie Harley's cheeks, the sensation spreading across his face like spilled ice water atop a crooked table, resisting futilely as his conscious mind was suddenly invaded by another presence. Another life form that was alien, while unexpectedly familiar to Charlie Harley, like a very old friend whose face and voice been lost to the decay of time. The presence that was Doctor Krull moved swiftly in and out of Charlie's conscious and subconscious. He could feel an invasive grip on his memories, plucking them from his memory bank, rummaging through them like old photos in a torn and tattered shoe box under his bed. The alien spirit was looking for something of great value and importance, without caring about the fragility of the mind breaking that he had taken over against the will of the body.
It took images, snapshots of Charlie's past. There were paintings, many paintings he had thought forgotten but still remained deep inside his memory depository. Deeper, the alien voice said. And deeper he and his parasitic guest ventured into Charlie Harley's mind. Photographs of his childhood, like tiny window panes flying by his minds eye. The storm of recollection roared on. You are here somewhere. Different than the others, grounded to the technology presented to you. Where are you? the voiced asked.Far beyond the point of no return, where secrets are kept inside never to be seen or heard from, after that initial capture of the host eyes that translate the information to the brain, a place that more often than not kills the body and, eventually, the mind. It must be there! The voice of Doctor Krull shouted in frustrated anger.
The humming had become deafening. The pain unbearable to the point Charlie Harley lost all feeling in his limbs. The darkness was infinite around him. It was just Charlie floating in a sea of eternal space, adrift in a chaotic spin down the spiral of his deep subconscious mind. As the presence reached the doorway of no return, it considered for a very brief moment if it were wrong; but, the machine was never wrong. The machine was what made it all possible, to exist in a plain not common to it. A method of travel that no other species could fathom. The machine was perfection. The alien spirit of Doctor Krull opened the door inside Charlie Harley and, by doing so, instantly killed the flesh on the outside. Charlie Harley took a deep sudden breath in the darkness and exhaled for the last time.
...There you are, Doctor Krull said with exasperated breath. My love...
TO BE CONCLUDED..