“Damn that reeks, how long has this shit been here?” Dharjin sneers. Or rather, bellows, as he is never quite aware of the thunderousness of his own voice. His burly structure does little lessen the affect as well; in fact his towering height carries his voice across great distances, much like the vastness of the edifice in which he and his team now stand.
“Given the dampness and coldness, 2-3 days perhaps,” says Askra, the youngest of the platoon. He walks, unwavering in dull expression, to the rotting body of a young woman no older than 30, it appears. He kneels beside her, flashing a light on pale, petrified eyes and an open mouth. Closing his eyes, he then shakes his head in disgust and continues, “This is the seventh one today.” He scans the distorted face, and a name appears on his screen, “Mafrir, Jinka.”
Askra opens the air tight carton, releasing an impermeable plastic membrane that surrounds the body. Dharjin growls. “Damned fools! All the same reason! They think that they’ll reach Detoxification, but they never will! Only digging their own graves...” he exhales slowly, as if expelling all of his well-kept anger, despite his boisterous behavior that, at times, would make one feel otherwise.
“To them, an ascent of this magnitude is worth their lives many times over,” adds Askra, who is now scanning the area for more bodies, “this ascent is all that they have to live for now.”
He stands slowly, as if consciously commanding each muscle to perform the painstaking of lifting his mass off the ground. “Let’s search around some more.”
Imagining the previously vivacious and radiant building was now near impossible, giving the dripping ceilings, and mold covered corners. It used to be a one of the most beloved community centers in all of Kilua, and even held some historical value at it was build in 2067, near 100 years ago. However, the recent performance of Detoxification left the edifice abandoned, as community hadn’t mattered so much anymore. Now, it has become a hotspot for crime, and an ideal location for the disposal of evidence.
Dharjin runs a light along the wall, revealing older and more recent pieces, however, the message is all the same engraved in the bottom of each frame is the same message, “Hail and behold the light! Seek the truth! Relinquish the self in search of one’s true being!” He turns away in disgust. “Askra, let’s check up stairs,”
“Fine. But we mustn’t stray too far as we await the captain’s arrival,”
They run a search into the second level, fortunately, and perhaps unfortunately as well, without success. Each rooms grows more cryptic the deeper they enter the building, increasing in darkness, and, more mysteriously, size. Askra’s sharp mind processes this pattern first, which spikes his curiosity to focus more on the location of each room, rather than its content. They reach the end of a hall where the final room is locked. The two men combine their forces in an attempt to break it down, though their attempts are without avail.
“Shit, this just won’t budge, eh? We’ll have to return to base for a laser- strange that we don’t have one,” Dharjin states.
“I do,” Askra is cut of by the sudden appearance of Fakir, who walks over to the unyielding door after tipping his head in acknowledgment to his team. He adjusts a switch on a concealed wrist band, releasing a steady, yet powerful beam that follows the frame of the at least 10 foot high metal frame. Once the revolution is completed, the door falls inwards, revealing a room possessed by a deafening silence and piercing darkness. Fakir enters first, flashing his brightest light down the room to reveal a machine machine 20 feet high.
“What is that?” Says Dharjin impatiently
“I’m not sure,” Askra replies as he approaches cautiously, “perhaps an old world generator of some sort- Cap, could I get some more light no this angle? Perhaps I can look inside of its old fusion box and find something” As he begins to search the contents of the of the machine, Fakir asks, “What is our current status on found bodies?”
Dharji replies, “So far one, sir. Female, early 30’s. Mafrir, Jinka.”
“Cap?” Askra turns abruptly, questioning the sudden disappearance of the light. “Cap, is everything- “
“What name did you just say?” Fakir asked slowly, as if words induced a slow poison on his lips. Dharjin gulped as he sees a slight crazed look in the eyes of his commander, now staring at him with his chest rising and falling in rapid succession.
“Mafrir, Jinka, sir,” He replies with eyes locked on the captain. Suddenly, the area becomes dark as save for the small path of a rolling light, of which, the subordinates quickly realize the captain dropped.
Dharjin steps forwards, with all the cautiousness within his possession, questioning this strange stillness that’s possessed their captain. He clears his throat. “Cap?”
However, Fakir is lost in a trance. In a silent state of opacity, making the air around him completely unreadable.
It is clear that his body trembles slightly, and is growing more spasmodic with every passing moment. And suddenly he crashes! His body convulses, and short, ragged breathes escapes his lungs.
“No! No! This can’t be!” He howls. His teammates are frozen in their placements, having never witness such a behavior from him. He stops with screeching abruptness, lifting his head to confirm his fears. To substantiate the name that had just heard. No. No.
“Jinka,” he whispered.
They lazed about in Paliua Fields, enjoying the intoxicating presence of the other, ultimately disregarding all urgency of other matters. Fakir laid his head in the lap of his beloved, who was momentarily lost in some obviously weighty thought. Though he said nothing, as he knew her light consciousness would soon bring her thoughts into light. There was nothing that she’d keep from him. Stroking his hair, she begins:
“Fakir, what do you think of humanity? Of where we stand in the moment?” He wasn’t necessarily taken aback by her sudden question, but he knew that it would obviously lead to what had been keeping her so bottled up.
“I think that we have been in a constant stand still. Yes there have nearly zero world wars in the last 50 years, and international peace is well its way to establishment, however, humanity will not change Jinka,”
“Even with the that new Detoxification process that their creating? I’ve heard wonderful reviews about it. It will bring us to our highest state of being. It will bring us to true selves! What we were always meant to be! In fact, I’ve been thinking-”
“Stop right there Jinka, I forbid it,” he said sternly
“But why, Fakir?” she inquired softly. “I think it would be-"
“Do you want to risk your soul for such a thing?! Detoxification is not salvation, it is fraud!”
“But what of the magnificence that it presents! The glory! One mere step away from divinity- if I dare to say that it is not divinity itself!” she gently unwound herself from his embrace, allowing herself physical expression to amplify her words. “Darling, we now have the capabilities to be so much more! More than another animal in the food chain, or being made for a purpose. We have given ourselves power, knowledge, and access to worlds unknown. But now, oh now, there is nothing beyond our reach. We have found a way to maximize our human potential!”
He looked at her with sad eyes, while contrastingly, she looked at him with overwhelming joy. He grit his teeth for a second before tearing his eyes from hers, which seemed to beckon him into understanding. Though he could not. Grabbing both her hands into his, eyes near frantically roaming her face, he took in the unbelievable beauty of dark skin, and pale eyes- a rare yet enticing combination - then brought them up like they were his own hands, burying his face into them as if that was the location in which his salvation lied.
“Jinka…" he squinted because of the lights surrounding her, "Don’t try to cut in on this either, because you’re quite quick to protest. But understand, or at least to attempt,” he closed his eyes, “there are somethings that we humans just aren’t meant to see.”
As if all the world’s electricity went running through his body, Fakir wakes in a swift gasp, throwing his body upright like it is the most basic instinct possessed by man. He finds himself in the recuperating room of the his office, and realized that he had sent himself into a state of shock, and collapsed.
How could she be there?
Her image races through his mind as the cruel reality was setting back . He stifles back more sobs, as a subtle awareness kicks in, making him abruptly turn his head to find the curious eyes of his commander on him.
“Fakir,” Commander Hibhan breathes. Fakir remains speechless, for exactly what could he say? Seeing Fakir’s unresponsiveness, Hibhan carries on himself. “Fakir, you needn’t be ashamed was what transpired today. I’m terrible sorry for your loss.”
“I thought she was dead years ago, Commander,” Hibhan raises an eyebrow, and suddenly realizes how little he questions the personal life of his best platoon leader.
“Please explain, Fakir”. He gathers himself, and begins.
“When the Detoxification process was first being undergone, she spoke to me of her consideration to undergo it herself. I forbade her. Though, one night 5 years later, she left me note saying that she was going to do it, and if I came to my senses, then I would too.
He paused briefly and continued, “While I knew that she’d never return to me, I didn’t imagine that it’d be like that. I imagined that she’d return to me a completely new woman- a woman that was touched by divinity. But when she hadn’t returned home, I went to the detoxification center myself- my status thankfully granting me sufficient access. When I reached the administrator of the process, they told me that I had to detach myself from her. They told me ‘She belongs to divinity now’. They then continued to tell me that all who undergo the process can no longer go back to their past lives, for their existence too great for us mortal humans...so I accepted my fate and her fate and carried on living.”
Hibhan looking pityingly at Fakir, “But why did you then assume death?”
He coldly replied, “She was then a part of another world where she could no longer have any relation to me- seems an awful lot like death. But why would her body show up in an abandoned center? If she was so unreachable in this world now?” he suddenly gasps in horror at his own correctness. “I told her that process was a fraud! And they killed her-!”
“Is no fraud, Fakir. Pull yourself together and listen to me,” he cut in sternly, “The Detoxifying process is not for everyone, Fakir, and that is what they don’t tell you. It is held to the utmost esteem, for they advertise is as the ever attainable, and accessible passage to divinity. Well let me tell you this, it kills. The majority of people who go in for detoxification do not leave detoxified- in fact they don’t leave at all. Those who are detoxified, are no longer human, because they have the capacity for divinity.” He sighs deeply. “And that community center was home to one of the first tests for Detoxification. That machine that Askra spoke of to me was probably one the earlier, yet faulty models.”
Fakir sits silently, unsure of what to say. The multitude of events is currently to much for him to handle, making him groan in sheer frustration. Hibhan suddenly stands, making Fakir jump.
“I’ll let you sit on all of this,” his says with his voice growing smaller as the door closes behind him.
Fakir watches the door close, and swears that the light in the room in suddenly duller with his commander’s absence.
With the days passed him by, Fakir couldn't bring himself to move. He isn’t sure how long he’s stayed in the same bed, in the same clothes. He isn’t aware of the foul stench that he’s emitting, nor the extreme overgrowth in hair and fingernails. However, since the discovery of Jinka, he hasn’t moved from that spot, only accepting a daily meal and headquarters status from his platoon or Hibhan. Hibhan the platoon had excused him, and decided that it were best for him to stay out of the work, and more importantly, the public, until he came to his senses. Though curiously, Hibhan’s seems to light up room in way that no one else can.
During these hours of complete thought, Fakir began to hear things. He had began to hear the hallway murmurs, ignorantly praising those who underwent detoxification, purifying themselves. He heard someone say, "I wish I could get detoxified…how grand would it be to see the world as if we were all gods ourselves?". He muttered that such a right belonged to whatever god there was, not us. He then heard things that haunted his dreams. He heard Jinka first whispering softly in his, then screaming terribly only seconds later. He heard the voices of men chanting. He heard the city collapsing. But somehow, worst of all, he heard the voices come together in unison saying, “Hail and behold the light! Seek the truth! Relinquish the self in search of one’s true being!” He screamed several times himself, screaming from his crazed self, and screaming to be away from it all.
Now he still sits upright, motionless, staring into the strange light rolling across the room. He wonders, where did that light come from? He cocks his head to the side curiously, and decides to stand and follow it. He falls at first, seeing as though he hasn’t stood in quite some time, but then stands and continues to follow the rolling light. It carries him outside of his office and down the stairs. Then outside of the building. The into the city plastered in fake terrace. It follows a road that spirals downward into habitats of the grim faced. Past the center of detoxification that seems to be brighter than usual. It light rolls all the way down to a grim building which mold covers its corners and drippings fall from the ceilings. It travels up a level and down a hall where the room gradually increase in size. It rolls into the last room, and hits a piece of machinery with a ting.
“Oh look, I’m back here” he says almost absentmindedly. “I followed the light!” He nearly screams. He circles the ruinous machine and running calloused fingers around its metal frame. Suddenly, he hits a a button, sending a colossal light into the ceiling. His eyes widen in amazement, and even excitement, as his most primal instincts stir inside of him, beckoning him to touch the light. He realized that the truth was in front of him. His truth self could be found in the light.
“Hail and behold the light...Seek the truth... Relinquish the self in search of one’s true being” he mumbles unknowingly and he plunges himself forward.