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The Replicant

by John W. Steele

Table of Contents
Table of Contents
parts: 1, 2, 3


The document focused on my assessment of the soundness of my mind, as if every patient assigned to a psychiatric facility didn’t believe he’s sane. I couldn’t see Julia, but I heard her breathing softly and there was the aroma of apricots.

When I finished the formalities, she stepped out from behind me. She perused the document carefully, and I noticed her lips moved when she read. She nodded and locked it in the chest. I wanted to inspect the vellum, but she seemed impatient. “We need to check on Vernon,” she said. We walked to the magnet with the triangular bore.

“Take off your clothes; everything.” Her tone was stern. I did as she asked. She remained naked, and I hoped that there’d be a break in the ritual associated with the ceremony. She approached me and smiled demurely. “Although I find you unattractive, I’m going to let you kiss me, Wilson, just to give you a taste of what’s waiting for you once you revive.” She embraced me intimately, and a tingling sensation surged through my body. My hands explored the swells of her maddening curves. Her flesh felt like electric velvet, and I grew thoroughly aroused.

A zap like a wasp sting penetrated my neck followed by a sensation of golden tranquility that washed through my nerves. “It’s time to atomize, Lord Vangorder,” I heard Vrill say. They laid me on the stretcher, and the doctor inserted a line in my arm.

A warm sensation that seemed to penetrate every cell of my body held me in a state of euphoria. Julia emerged inside the bubble and took my hand. She said, “You’re all right, Wilson. You’ll be richly rewarded for the gift you gave me today. I have to ask you something. Despite your pitiful worldly status, you’re an intelligent man. What is it that you’ve gained in the mind-shattering years of meditation you’ve put yourself through? Surely there’s something that forced you to endure that unbearable emptiness decade after decade.”

My breathing stilled and the last words Wilson Vangorder would ever speak seemed to dribble from my lips. “Is the kind of life I lead different from being dead? Everything is the same, Julia. No matter what happens to me, it’s always just like this, but the truth is... I do this for you, honey...”

And then it was black, the kind of darkness where mind meets oblivion, like the pit of the Mariana Trench.

* * *

In the distance there was sobbing. “Oh, Vernon, I’ll be so lonely without you. What did you do to him, Vrill? He’s not breathing!” There were slapping sounds. “What did you do to my Vernon, you son of a bitch?!”

A dot of red light scoured my retinas. I tried to cry out, but my vocal cords felt paralyzed.

“This is impossible, Julia. The procedure worked flawlessly on every chimp we’ve tested. Try and contain yourself. Wilson was nothing but a peasant.”

I could hear! I willed the foot to move. The little toe responded.

Someone spat. “You’re a fraud, Vrill. Your science is little more than voodoo magic!”

It’s Julia! I recognized her voice... I can think; therefore, I can be! I made it!

She said, “No amount of mourning will bring him back. I’m heading to New York. I’m going to request a session with the Grande Mother. She may have approved this procedure, but she’s going to learn of your gross incompetence. I intend to ask her how she’d feel if you did this to her! I’ll be back in three days and, when I return, you’d better be long gone!”

Silence holds many secrets, and I decided to play dead.

“Well, if you feel so strongly about it. What do you want me to do with the bodies, Lady Julia?”

“Place them on ice until I return. Wilson is gone, but I’ll never forget him. Unlike you, he was there when I needed him. You’re not to tamper with his body in any way. I’ll see to it he receives a proper cremation after I return.”

The doctor raised his arm and scratched the back of his head. “The Wilson may be locked in. Perhaps Electroconvulsive Therapy will liberate him from this psychic paralysis.”

Julia stepped forward and slapped Vrill hard across the face. “Idiot! Listen to me carefully, you despicable drunkard. If you touch even a hair of Vernon’s clone, I’ll have you skinned alive and cast into a vat of acid. She blew her nose. “Place the shroud over my beautiful dead husband. I can’t bear to look at him. And do it now!”

“Yes, of course, your majesty.”

I heard a whoosh sound and a gentle sylphlike sensation caressed my entire body. I could feel, and this thing was wired!

“There will be repercussions over this, Vrill. You know that, don’t you? I’m the Queen’s pet. I’ll ask her to have Dr. Morel flown in from Switzerland. Maybe a real doctor can resurrect him. I’m leaving in an hour, and the chauffeur had better be waiting. Understood?”

I heard clomping sounds, a door slammed, and my knee jerked.

There was a sensation of rolling and then a click followed by an empty sigh and the temperature grew frigid. I raised my arm and clenched my fist. It felt tight like the grip of a hydraulic arm. Vague geometric shapes formed in my vision, and I realized I could see the walls of this steel tomb in total darkness. Atom by atom the power within expanded exponentially as the mitochondria in my cells awakened from their dormant hibernation.

* * *

Vrill opened the panel and walked into the lab. He was thinking, “That pampered little slut is not going to intimidate me. I am Dr. Jeremiah Vrill, neurologist of renown, slated Nobel Laureate, and master of the future for all souled humanity. And who is she? An illiterate little whore with the IQ of a Tootsie Roll! We shall see who emerges victorious in this confrontation!”

He walked to a storage shelf and removed a large Eirlynmier flask and then returned to the corpse. “There’s enough fluid in this creature for a three day rush,” he thought, and he swam in the vision of his lechery. Vrill grasped the line and deftly opened the lock. Ounce by ounce the beaker grew dark with blood.

When finished, he patted the dead man’s face. “Well, at least you were good for something.” Vrill leaned forward. From the depths of his throat, he hacked a slimy green pavement oyster and hurled in Wilson’s face. “A miniscule token of my profound esteem for you and your kind. Don’t worry darling, not a drop of your blood will be wasted. I’m going to retire to my quarters and relish every milliliter.” He held the beaker to his nose and drew a long breath, then laughed like some kind of ghoul.

* * *

I don’t know how long I lay in the morgue, but there came a point where I felt fully charged. A confidence I’d never known surged through my bones like the rush of a high-voltage power line, and I trembled with energy. I raised my knee and kicked the door off the mortuary freezer. It flew across the room and lodged in the wall.

With the agility of a gymnast, I squirmed from the table and flowed into the room. Inside the morgue, it was quite dark. A door stood in the distance and sliver of yellow light leaked from the sill. I opened the portal and stood at the threshold of the parlor.

I walked to the scanner and stared at the dehydrated corpse I used to call me. Vrill, I thought. He’s going to be sorry he chose this flavor. I rubbed the dead man’s shoulder gently and whispered. “Farewell, old buddy. It’s been real. If it’s any consolation, we did it for a good cause.”

The power of my avatar was like nothing I could imagine, and the mansion seemed like the perfect training ground to test my newfound abilities. I strode through the chambers and, with the help of a hundred pound dumbbell I found in a storeroom, I smashed to fragments the marble gods that lined the walls.

A domed ceiling in the library held an extravagant chandelier the size of Harley Davidson Soft Tail. With little effort, I leaped the ten meters and ripped the fixture from the finial, where it crashed to the floor with the thunder of a train wreck. Although I was enjoying myself, it was Vrill I wanted, and I wondered where he would hide. And then it struck me; a rat-bastard would hide in the basement.

A spacious stairwell descended into the dungeon, and I tread deftly down the steps. The cavern was the size of a warehouse and filled with exotic automobiles and aircraft. Huge overhead doors lined the concrete walls. One had been left open to reveal a massive tunnel that stretched into the distance. In the far corner, near a shiny red hook and ladder engine, stood a structure that looked like a fallout shelter. Its walls were composed of stainless steel and a Diebold Vault Door secured the entry.

It took effort, but I managed to jimmy the door open with a Jaws of Life I found in the bowels of the fire truck. When I entered, a nauseating stench slammed my face like a filthy gust of wind. The odor reeked of sour bile, human waste, and rotten fish. My stomach churned and I puked my guts out.

When I found Vrill, he lay naked and stuporous on a bed made of animal skins. Empty bottles of Southern Comfort lay strewn on the floor. The Erlenmeyer had been drained to all but an inch of coagulated blood that pooled like jelly on the bottom. A movie of a dog having sex with its handler looped on the widescreen.

I flicked on the track lights over his bed. He moaned like some kind of animal locked in a catatonic seizure. Vrill was covered with blood... my blood, and his hair was matted in sticky crimson patches.

To the right there was a bathroom, and I went inside. A bucket sat next to the toilet. I twisted the valve on the shower until the water steamed then filled the pail. I went back into his burrow and stared at the groaning piece of filth that claimed to be the savior of mankind. With unfeigned delight I doused the scalding liquid over his body. He awakened screaming, and he thrashed like a snake tossed on a bed of burning embers.

Vrill tried to get out of bed, but he appeared too incapacitated to stand. When he saw me, he pulled a Luger from beneath the pillow and raised his hand. It seemed like he moved in slow motion and it was a simple task to grab his arm and break it with the snap of a dried bone.

He howled loudly and cried, “It’s you! How did you? You can’t get in here!”

The doctor shielded his hand before him and trembled. “You won’t kill me, Lord Vernon. I gave you life!”

“No, Vrill, you gave me super ego; I’m no longer a slave to your demented programming. With conscience comes freedom of thought and free will. Guess what, Vrill: your slave’s gonna send you back to hell!”

His eyes leaped from the sockets and he screamed. “You dare to defy me, you meaningless animal? I’ll summon the gods and destroy you!” He began speaking in tongues and made strange gestures with his hands.

“You’re too late, Vrill... I am god.”

I reached down and grabbed him by the neck and held him before me. I stared in his reptilian pupils and marveled at his audacity. “Is this the man that would change the world in his image?” I asked.

A bloody froth bubbled on his lips, and he garbled something that sounded like a scripture.

“There’s nothing wrong with divine humanity, Dr. Vrill. It’s the scum like you and your bootlicking sycophants that need to be obliterated.”

I squeezed slowly at first just to feel the devil clamber in my clutches. His eyes bulged and blood flowed down his cheeks. “Bye-bye, Dr. Fuck Humanity.” One final crush and his head popped like a cork from a bottle of champagne followed by a bloody spatter that mottled the ceiling. I squeezed until my hand grew tired, and then cast his limp body to the floor. I never knew that wrath would feel so good.

I walked into the bathroom. The shower washed away the blood and the stench of his odious putrefaction, where it dissolved in a pale scarlet pool on the floor. I turned the knob until the water grew ice cold. The frigid spray roused me from the moment, and I questioned what I’d done.

And then Wilson’s voice whispered in my head: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. We are blinded while locked in the Matrix, Vernon, yet somehow the warrior and the coward are revealed and, maybe, that’s why it was created.”

I asked him: “But how can we know the truth, Wilson? What is called evil in this dimension is sometimes good, and what is called good in this place is often purely evil?” I awaited his response but he said nothing. I knew he was gone.

It seemed that my former memories — those from when Vernon cared for nothing but ego — lay dormant somewhere in my subconscious. This Wilson awareness would take some time to get used to. I probed the late memories of his inner mind and sensed his last vision where Julia stood naked before him and his heart surged with life. Yeah... when Julie gets home, we’ll be waiting.

Copyright © 2020 by John W. Steele

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