Wednesday, August 27, 2014

100 Themes Challenge: Expectations

     Anticipation, they say, is the worst part of death. The old man suspected “they” said that because they had not experienced death. This, then, was his purpose, his reason. It was an old reason; a thousand people had tried this before, and he was certain a thousand more would try this again. But he had to know.
     His assistant was a gawkish young woman, large glasses, hair cut short and professional. She was supposed to be a nurse, a healer. But that was not her purpose now. She was as fascinated as he, but he saw fear dancing in her eyes.
     “Dr. Joshi, are you…are you sure you want to…?” She glanced at the lab table, sterile, cold. The old man nodded, then laid himself down on the table.
     “The restraints, Jane. Lest I become violent afterward.” Her hands shook as she strapped his arms and legs down. He hoped she would overcome her fear and be able to conduct the experiment properly.
     “Now, attach the nodes. Just there, to my temples.” He had shaved off his thick white hair in anticipation of the experiment. He felt the latex gloves on his forehead. They were not shaking so much. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw her preparing the IV.
     “You must write down everything, Jane. Everything. The readings from my brain, anything I might say while I am in this state. You must record my movements, in detail.”
     “I will, Dr. Joshi.”
     She inserted the IV, her hands deft. She had done this numerous times, but not for so dark a purpose.
     “Do you have the needle prepared?”
     “I do.”
     “Then begin. Remember, only ten minutes. After that, start the IV drip to revive me.”
     She nodded silently, and he watched as she inserted the needle into the IV cord.

     He felt his functions begin to slow. His heart, his brain. The world became fuzzy, and then dark. Even the sounds of Jane scribbling furiously on her notepad faded to nothingness. Then, quite suddenly, the light began.
     It was blinding. He had heard people tell of such a thing, but he had discounted all the tales as nonsense or false memories. They had not gone in to their deaths with the purpose of observing.
     The light continued to shine all around him, but he saw a darkness at the center, as though he was looking straight into a solar eclipse. Ah, the inverse of what all had said. See what one noticed when one truly looked? He thought of moving himself forward, and like that, he did. It took a mere thought. How powerful one was here!
     As he drew closer to the dark center, he saw faces, some strange and some familiar, gesturing at him wildly. Ah, the relatives come to greet him! But no…this was another inverse. They were making shooing motions, telling him to go back. What nonsense! Where was the warm greeting to the afterlife that he expected? Their faces were fearful, their eyes wide. But when he tried to turn to speak, he felt himself being pulled inexorably to the center. He was not moving of his own volition anymore.
     He entered the darkness. Yet it was not darkness as he knew it. It was a luminescent darkness. He didn’t know how to describe it. It was not that his eyes had adjusted. It was simply the dark…that glowed.
     Figures stood around, surrounding the epicenter. He was conducted there, and there he stood. At first, he could not see who or what they were, because the glow from the dark was so bright here. But here and there, he began to distinguish features. A creature with some sort of dog-like head…a morose man in dark, with a beautiful fearsome woman seated on a throne next to him…a robed figure, skeletal hands gripping a scythe…
     Death. They were all death. Abhay Joshi, medical doctor, seeker after strange things, was looking at Death in all its varied forms, and Death was looking back at him with cold, unrelenting eyes.
     And suddenly, he was very afraid.
     The air filled with a strange murmuring, and he saw all those figures looking and gesturing at each other, and then at him. In his peripheral vision, he saw a man sitting astride a large buffalo, but dare not look closer; all the stories from his long ago childhood suddenly returned to him. Strange little imps surrounded him, and a suddenly a humanoid being leapt down from the height, black wings spread around it, beautiful and terrible.
     “Only one has the power to draw a man from the Halls of Death back into life,” the creature proclaimed.
     “I only wanted to know…!” Dr. Joshi cried, but his voice was drowned out by the murmuring.
     “You know. And you must stay here, and continue to know.”
     The old man cried aloud, hoping that his voice would somehow reach the lab and Jane...
     And there she was. She stepped forward, but she was wrapped in a black robe, and in her hand she carried a broom.
     “There is no Jane, and there is none to bring you back. You violated the natural order, that which only one may do. Here you are, and here you stay.”
     Dr. Joshi did not make a sound this time as darkness absorbed him.

A/N: Yeah, this was shamelessly inspired by Borderland.

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