The Adventures of Morto (part 6 of book)
Poor kid, poor kid—
“Listen,” said Alphus fully wrapped up in blankets, with a fresh bowl of soup lying beside him, along with the two other bowls. “I am very happy that you are so nice and you saved me…but I was wondering…”
Suddenly Alphus realized he wasn’t wondering anything. He slowly rocked to his side and closed his eyes.
The girl left him there: she was beginning to hear her father stumble out of his little room, with his big dirty boots kicking at the wall in a drunken stupor.
I’m coming thought the girl, getting to her feet. She looked at the man in her room one last time before huddling up against the wall in the cramped space and closing the door behind her, but before she did that she snuffed out the candle.
Hank Hillside fought to stay awake, but more he fought to restrain his anger from killing his little daughter. He loved her a lot, but perhaps it was the trauma the war had onto his brain physically and mentally that made him so volatile. He still remembered when he was good to her though, he could never forget…he just couldn’t get his feelings in check, he didn’t know how to be normal again. “Damn war!” howled Hank to no one as he slammed this way and that through the tiny hallways. His large fir jacket got caught on something sticking out of the wall, and he was yanked backward, causing him to flip right onto his back.
“Ahh!” yelled Hank, ready to start sobbing. In fact, he was sobbing. He was sobbing for his life, his past life, and his future. But suddenly his daughter was beside him. She warmed his insides and gave him hope. If he was lost, she sure wasn’t, by God!
She helped him to his feet, but once on his feet again, his old mood came swooping back.
“You tripped me, didn’t you, you little nuisance!”
The girl didn’t respond, she just led him to the kitchen, where she had his plate already set out for him.
The writer was sitting in a pad of golden lilies; he wanted to tell the children eagerly gathered around him a story.
“One day,” said the writer, “the earth imploded into millions of peaces!”
The children screamed in mocked terror, later resulting to giggling.
“And then the world knew that in the end, it was as simple, or at least it wasn’t as complicated all had suspected. Everything was fluid and in motion, like the humming bees, rustling of trees… the rushing of a river!”
It was in that moment that the writer realized his daydream was over. The things he read, the literature, poetry, and beautiful sonnets could now not release him from his current hell. Fragments in the water were like sandpaper on his skin, and he wondered how the man struggling ahead of him was still alive.
The bungee cords were still held by the other, and the writer wondered if they might devise a plan, in a hurried, rushed along panicked sort of way. But he hadn’t the faintest how to converse with the other…
There was a light pole in the center of the rode, the writer was sure of, which was why, suddenly, the cords were snagged and the castaway and the writer crashed towards each other until a brutal impact. They both struggled to stay above the water as they both rubbed against each other with the never ceasing water still shoving them forward, unwilling to let them stay stationary.
“Climb it!” yelled the man to the writer. But the writer knew he couldn’t climb, not the slippery bungee cords…not with his wrists.
“You have to!” Not pausing to wait any longer, the man grabbed the writer’s jacket, and started pulling them both forward, heading for the light pole at the end of the snag.
But Morto also knew he couldn’t go any further. Who was he kidding? he was a mess, and his energy was spent…but he tried to climb the rope anyway. The current slid things across him that battered him terribly, sliced and seemed to want to peel, his skin from his bones. His grip was lessening on the slippery cords: his hands were too cold.
Soon he would clench the rope and never let go, until he died and drowned above the water. The streets would be empty in the morning except for the victims of the flashflood the night before, which would only be the foreigners; and the death mongers were quickly upon them, unless the thieves beat them first. It was a little secret business for the thieves that proved to be quite profitable, and that truth wouldn’t be in the brochure, if the city had a brochure. Even the name ‘The Reunion’ was misleading because those that came to the city never liked to stay there to talk, or even plot, in the open or in a crummy apartment or hotel. Anyone smart was out as fast as they could find a ship that would take them; but this was just what Morto was thinking, before he let go of the bungee cords.
Alphus was dead.
Hank, when in a dangerous temper and high and tweaking from a special drug that wasn’t found in his preferred alcohol, had even slapped his child and caused her to start bleeding. He was on a rampage, until finally his critical wife broke a bottle across his head and he whirled unconscious onto a small table that served a flowerpot that held a corpse.
But Alphus was also a corpse, and surprisingly he wasn’t killed by Hank, whom he had first suspected might do him in as soon as he saw the drunk man open the little girl’s bedroom door to find him sleeping. No, Alphus wasn’t even murdered, another bleak surprise to a bleak life in which he had led. But who was anyone to judge what his life was, and what his life wasn’t: he was deceased now, and the deceased were always to be treated with respect. Unfortunately, neither Hank’s wife nor the little girl’s mother was very sympathetic towards such gestures and reflective morals. In fact, as soon as she found Alphus was dead she, despite the girl’s feeble demands, cast Alphus back into the river from whence he came. His body floated out of the girl’s life forever, and instantly she knew that there was no escaping her fate. Not now, not ever.
“Relax, darling,” said mother smiling. “At least now you’ve learned something: don’t let strangers in your parents’ house…especially strangers likely to have a heart attack!” Mother turned to go back deep into the dark home.
“What was that?”
“…Nothing.” The girl followed her mother inside.
M. Model 74 was hacking up M. Model 73’s cadaver with a saw. He threw the pieces here and there and listened to the metal clink and clunk. It was music to him, but he hated it. He hated how everything was somehow reflecting upon him and his superior greatness. If only he could be bleak and quiet like the rest, than maybe he could sleep. He had never slept, never in his few months or so of existence. He had watched humans rest, with their heads nestled against their pillows, their arms. He listened to the noises they made, noises that went like Awwwe and whooo. They closed their eyes—he had never closed his eyes! He tried to close his eyes, but found trouble. It seemed unusual and unsettlingly to try…against his nature.
A knock on the metal door to his little hide out, a dirty room that was probably once a public restroom, alerted every aspect of his machinery. Slowly he got up from M. Model 73’s remains; he walked with the saw. Knock, knock! No more games, no more jolly recurrences of the past, the present, or future. Now was the time to act. To live the world that he was thrown into…
Finally Morto kicked the door open. He saw himself, holding a saw, glaring at himself. Before Morto could say ‘There you are!’ or ‘I got you!’, M. Model 74 swung the saw at Morto. Morto was slow to maneuver because he was carrying the exhausted writer, the blade of the saw cut his right ear as he tried to dodge the attack by quickly hopping backwards.
“Enough!” said Morto. “Enough! I have a wounded man here, let me bring him to safety!”
The two humans were soaking wet and they collapsed onto the trash laden broken cement flooring. M. Model 74 closed the door. He watched them bleed and choke, twitch and grasp at invisible objects. Were they traumatized, or just mentally destroyed? The clone decided to put the saw away. He wanted to observe their behavior. After a while he checked their pulses because both weren’t moving. The older man’s lifeline had expired; the younger still clung onto life. But why? Look at the pitiful figure will you! He wanted to gesture to the other clone and spread the amusement of the scene, but he had destroyed the hardware that made him up completely. Fragments. Fragments of the day. The operating clone set his modem to rest and reserved his main energy standing with his eyes open. A dot of red light could be seen at the corner of his right eye, blinking, leisurely.
“That damn teacher!” yelled Edricks, a figment in Morto’s unconscious mind whom also was a good friend at the time of the beginning experiment to try to teach the youth by building a school in the safest area possible: Washington. This state was claimed to be ‘safe’, but in truth it was as hostile as the rest, the only difference was that Dracu just had never had any major plans for it so he kept what was left of it in tact, almost as a memorial, a monument of how humans once lived on the earth. Furthermore, it had no number after its possessive name, meaning it never had to be renamed, it just stayed, like a beaten dog that wouldn’t die and wouldn’t be replaced either.
“That damn teacher!” Edricks was saying, his voice more quiet now, now that a herd of teachers were passing his way to go to one of their secret furnished rooms, like antelopes migrating to a pond they knew by instinct.
I raised my eyes from my book, The Story of Liberty, and looked questioningly at Edricks. Suddenly I knew what I had come to suspect.
He continued soberly.
“That teacher…Mr…he and the rest aren’t what they appear to be.”
I know, I know! I would jump from my seat and slap the kid on the shoulder and affirm him as the only one like me that figured it out. Brava! Brava! But I never got up from my seat: I didn’t even keep eye contact. I turned back to my book.
“Do you know what I mean?”
I turned my book in his direction and started pointing to enough letters that finally spelt out Y-E-S B-U-T-U-K-N-O-W T-H-E-Y-R-W-A-T-C-H-I-N-G.
We both knew there were cameras everywhere in the school, hidden, out in the open, in the teachers’ hands…everywhere. The school owned the rights of the students, and they were never going to let that not continue, not if they had to execute kids everyday in front of a firing squad. The worst was when the teachers that had you and spat at for two hours or so participated in the firing, and killed a friend or two of yours. The worst was when you had to look that teacher in the eye, and look at them and say Yes, this bastard killed my friend. And you would never know what to do, you just sat there, bolted in your cold metal chair being forced to clench your jaw and narrow your eyes because you were doing your best to brace yourself against the ever occurring noises that screamed, hissed, and barked at you from every side of your body from microphones, loud speakers, and sub woofers…all with the same song that said Yes, you’re ours.
Edricks was suddenly grabbed from behind by a teacher and was starting to get pulled away from me. He kicked, punched, yelled, -but that only brought more teachers, all of them carrying their nightsticks, ready and eager for a fight. Before I knew it I was in the fray, kicking, punching, and yelling like Edricks. But we were sorely outnumbered, and by the time they were done with us, we looked like two red martians leaking our liquid skin.
We were laid in front of the thousands of other students, who just stood there watching and not daring to move. A teacher put a loud speaker to his mouth.
“Who are you but nuisances? We give you everything you need, you don’t need anything else.”
This statement was followed by sudden quick and steady movements that led to Edricks against a white plaster wall with his hands tied behind his back. He asked whether he could be blindfolded, but they denied this request.
PAP! PAP! PAP! PAP!
And Edricks lay dead. His body ran amuck with everything that was in him. But nothing that he stood for came out: no dreams, no independent thinking, no choice. The students turned like a great wind against a desert bush and continued eating their lunch.
Only Morto stood there gazing at his friend. They asked him whether he would submit, he said yes. That was that and he was firmly pushed back into a metal chair where he was bolted to stay and the noise from microphones, loud speakers, and sub woofers continued to pierce through his ears. He gritted his teeth and narrowed his eyes.
Morto’s mind wouldn’t stop. He lay unconscious next to the dead writer, and his mind continued to soar…
She was a faun. But also, she was a vixen. She destroyed everything he ever owned, including the respect for himself. His family found her one day while they were passing through a demolished town, and she was just sitting there in a smoldering heap of debris while her family lay dead all around her. A fatal reunion. Werhf, his own father, rushed to her and put his coat around her shivering body. “Morto, bring the water!”
But I didn’t bring the water. I didn’t want her. I wanted her to die because I had enough problems already on my own and his family didn’t need to be weighed down. Ralphus shoved past me and gave her some water. Werhf gave me a cold and sad stare. He understood what I was thinking, and I hated him for it. Why could he read my mind and I couldn’t read his? Who was this man, who just appeared and claimed to be my father? Where was he when my mom died? Where was he when he and his brother were beaten by people who wanted to steal from them? Father knew, but I knew nothing. Here he was, gazing at me, whilst Ralphus gave the girl water. “She won’t stop shivering!” said Ralphus, looking more worried that I could account for. Werhf strode up to me and we became face to face. “What is it boy?”
“I don’t trust you! I don’t love you!”
“That’s not my problem.”
“Why are you so, why have you returned? My memory is just of you leaving…” I stopped to catch my breath. Tears poured out my eyes and I fell to the ground and sat. “And I thought that’s how it would always be…with that one memory.”
Werhf crouched down next to me. “Forget what you thought before, let it die behind you. This is now! Live…today! Let any adventure take you away! Embrace it, Morto, embrace it!”
Morto was embracing his death now.
M. Model 74 wondered in troubling circles trying to calculate what to do, and find the reason why. But nothing obvious came to mind. Nothing. He was letting the human die. Yes, let him die…
Morto was alive in mind, furiously alive. He was in the middle of intense…the woman never loved him anyway. She hurried away. His face melted into his hands and he sobbed. His father had saved her, he had fallen in love with her, his pastor married them, and now she ran away from him. He let her gather her things, let the door close behind her. She was dead, if only to him…because she had killed him years ago. When her family died, she never fully recovered. Never fully. She acted like she was fine, she tried to brush the past away and embrace her future and present. But to no avail. Her past haunted her so much that it eventually caused her to spur out of her marriage and ruin her husband. Morto was ruined. Everything he thought, believed, seared his eyes and dried up his throat. This is how it is to die, he thought.
But that was only half the truth, now he was dying for real, right in the face of vivid realism and M. Model 74.“Enough!” the clone quoted, and stormed to Morto and dragged him to a table top and started to use all the programmed medical knowledge he could accumulate in his data base and files and files of stored data. Find it, find it, locate what you need and what you need sincerely to save this petty human. Do it and your sins are forgiven. Do it, and your life is back in order. The life that was never actually yours…but his! Bam, wham! The clone tried to smack life into the corpse, to get the breathing back. Wack, crack! The lungs were responding! His life could be saved yet! There was hope for them both! But suddenly Morto’s lungs stopped and died. But was he dead…M. Model 74 put his ear to Morto’s chest. Surely, I will not be defeated so! I am a superior being! M. Model 74 pried Morto’s mouth open and started breathing into it. Stop all the world now, give me more time to save the human! Let the time allow me to succeed! God Almighty let this work! Morto started breathing again. He was alive. M. Model went to the barred window and watched the rain pour on the street. There was less rain now and the flood finally drained out. It was safe to walk. M. Model 74 went out the door and stood in the rain.
Rex Malcolm landed on the Reunion. He was looking for one man, well two men, but they were the same none the less. One or the other would make him happy enough…but the particular one was the one he wanted…the clone.