25 Aug 2013
The Problem with Death: Chapter 9 (Danny)
The room I was in was white and full of glass-fronted control panels and the hospital bed was certainly the softest I’d ever slept on.
And the voice in my head had gone.
The doctor’s had told me that they had injected me with a sedative which would block out the thoughts of the creature inside me, but it was only temporary and that they were going to work on a solution to get it out fully.
I couldn’t help but feel like they were talking about it like a tooth about to be pulled out.
And then about an hour ago the hospital was filled with commotion. Cleaners appeared and staff all over ran about, getting the wards as tidy as possible. An old man lay in a bed next to mine. He told me he was dying and he wasn’t scared. He wasn’t scared because their God had shown herself.
And so she did. A few minutes later a woman appeared. A very, very beautiful woman. She had blue skin, dark hair and wore a white dress with a hood. She smiled at each and everyone of the patients. She was followed by fawning aides and a piggy-eyed man as well as an older, more distinguished man.
She finally reached me. ‘And who are you?’ she asked, her voice silky smooth.
‘Danny. Danny Lennon.’
‘You are not Xanji.’
A doctor quickly scuttled into few. ‘If I may?’
The older man nodded at him.
‘Danny came from off-world,’ stuttered the doctor. ‘He has been possessed by a creature from another dimension.’
The woman looked at me curiously and then smiled. ‘Not today.’
‘Thanks,’ I said. ‘Who are you?’
The piggy-eyed man, who I heard someone call Rix, looked down at me, a look of anger on his face. ‘You will not address our God like that.’
‘So you’re this Ireel then?’ I asked.
‘Indeed,’ smiled Ireel, clearly not wanting anything to do with me. She looked at the man called Uthal. ‘Do you have any more off-worlders?’
‘Yes,’ said the old man. ‘In fact, where are they, Rix?’
Rix looked flustered. ‘They’re somewhere in the city.’
‘You mean you took your eyes off them?’ asked Uthal, sounding alarmed.
‘In all the commotion I simply…forgot.’
Ireel looked at the pathetic, fawning man and tutted. ‘You know the best place for us is here. Outsiders can come in and disrupt our harmony.’ She turned to Uthal. ‘I want them off-world immediately.’
‘Yes, Ireel,’ said Uthal, bowing slightly.
‘Come, I must prepare my speech to the people. There is much work to be done.’
I watched them go and when I was sure the coast was clear I scrambled out of the bed and got back into my clothes.
‘Where are you going?’ asked the old man in the bed next to me.
‘I can’t stay here,’ I said. I just had this feeling that something wasn’t right. I needed to team up with the Doctor again and get to the bottom of it and I couldn’t do it lying in this bed. I felt helpless. And I also felt good. Better than I’d ever been since leaving Thornsby.
I took one last look around the hospital ward and legged it for the corridor.
After dodging a few doctors and nurses I finally found myself in the hospital grounds. I was just nearing the gate when a loud, droning siren began blaring out.
‘ALERT. ALERT. THERE IS AN INTRUDER IN THE HOSPITAL GROUNDS. HE MUST BE APPREHENDED.’
I crouched behind a thick bush and considered my next move. It was only a few metres to the gate, but the security guards would see me.
I made a snap decision and ran for the exit.
I was almost there when there was a flash. Standing in front of me was Ireel. She shook her head in disappointment, tutting.
‘Just let me go back to my friends,’ I said politely.
‘You are too much of a bad influence. You must be silenced.’
She held out her hand. It was glowing white. She touched my arm and there was a flash of blinding light, and…
My vision cleared. Everything was blurry and I felt myself fall to the ground. There was a cry from somewhere in the distance and I was aware of someone carrying me and placing me on a bed. Was I back in the hospital?
Eventually my vision cleared. I was in a cavern. Banks of computers adorned the walls and there were people buzzing around.
‘Where am I?’
A man with glasses and pale blue skin peered down at me. ‘Hello, Mr. Lennon. My name is Dr. Apok.’
‘Am I back in the hospital?’
‘Not exactly. You’re in Hell. Or Heaven. Who sent you? Deela or Ireel?’
I frowned. ‘Ireel. Who’s Deela?’
There came a familiar voice from the far side of the cavern.
‘Danny! Danny, are you okay?’
Caroline’s face come into view.
‘Caz,’ I smiled, pleased to see she was okay. ‘What in the bloody name of sanity is going on here?’
Caroline bit her lip. ‘It’s a bit difficult to explain, actually, but you’ve been teleported.’
‘What? Where to? This can’t be the afterlife, can it? The one Aleena told you about?’
Apok laughed and helped me to sit up. ‘Come now, my friends, let’s go and talk about this. Then maybe we can find your other two friends and you can all leave peacefully.’
Apok escorted Caroline and myself through cavern and through a door which led to a nicely furnished room with a small table and a couple of soft sofas. He indicated for us to sit down and then directed an aide to bring us drinks.
The aide returned with some kind of yellow liquid which Apok said was some kind of tea. It tasted nice anyway. He sat and watched Caroline and I drinking, his fingers in a steeple fashion.
‘Are you okay?’ asked Caroline.
‘Yeah. They gave me an injection and it’s blocked off the Apparite, but it’s only temporary.’
Already I could feel the Apparite in there, like an itch you can reach.
‘I burst into flames, blacked out, had a freaky dream and then woke up.’
‘Day in the life and all that,’ I laughed.
‘You were teleported,’ said Apok.
‘But where to? This can’t really be Hell.’
Apok sighed. ‘I am only telling you this because if I don’t you will interfere. The creature your encountered in the forest was the Devil. The Non-God - Deela.’
‘I gathered that much,’ said Caroline.
I still felt baffled.
‘And the creature you met, Mr. Lennon, was our God, Ireel.’
‘And they both transported us here? To the same place?’
‘It still doesn’t explain anything.’
An alarm began to sound in the distance. Apok looked concerned.
His aide ran back in and they both spoke in hushed voices.
‘What’s going on?’ I asked.
‘Nothing,’ said Apok. ‘Wait here please.’
Caroline and I watched them go and I turned to her. She must have been thinking the same thing I was because she nodded and we both got up and crossed to the door.
‘There’s something fishy going on here,’ she said.
‘Definitely. And I don’t reckon this is the afterlife.’
‘Definitely not,’ said Caroline, edging the door open a little and peering outside. ‘And if it was, there’s no reason we should be here. We’re not Xanji. Surely if we were dead we’d be in our own afterlife.’ She looked back at me. ‘That’s if it’s real of course.’
I thought about it. I had often wondered what had happened to my brother, Adrian. Had he died? Was that why he had never come home. In those days after he’d disappeared I’d sat on my bed thinking about things. Thinking about death and the afterlife. It was only having Caroline there that had kept me going for as long as I had at that time. Ultimately Adrian’s disappeared had eventually led to me leaving Thornsby. The family had more or less been torn apart by it. My gran had died not long after and my parents had only really stayed together for the sake of the search for Adrian. They spent an entire year looking for him, but he never showed up.
‘Come on,’ said Caroline, bringing me out of my memories and back to reality.
I followed Caroline out of the door and down the corridor to the control room. Apok and a number of other people were gathered around a large screen. The screen showed a large staircase climbing from the centre of the city and into the clouds.
‘So it’s true, then,’ said Apok darkly. ‘Someone’s activated the staircase.’
‘Impossible!’ said one of the scientists. ‘It’s got to be a fault.’
‘It’s not,’ said Apok, pointing towards the screen. ‘It’s him. It’s that outsider. The Doctor.’
Caroline and I looked at each other and then back to the screen.
‘Get Ireel back now,’ said Apok, ‘and send someone to get rid of him.’