Hide and Seek
(Or, the tale of a Modern Monster)
by Alexander K. Rocklin
These precious few documents were found among the rubble of the dead civilization of the United Territories of America: fragments of a magazine dedicated to the ancient art form known as science, two lab reports from Dr. Joshua T. Seek. Anything in-between can only be speculation…
From ‘Scientific American’ Vol. 556, # 77, page 66, Great Minds on Greatest Minds issue, Talking with Dr. Leopold Von Fell:
Were would I put Joshua Seek. He was beyond Erdös in math […] and Hawkins, I would say above Einstein, too. Seek was able to unite the fundamental branches of discreet math and major portions of theoretical physics […] No one has come closer to showing perfection in the universe. He seemed to create the universe as he came up with proofs and theory. Some thought […] been proven beyond a doubt. Sure, he was eccentric, but all of the Greats were, even Stephan J. Gould […] But no, I would not like to venture too far into his political career. I think that it is not so strange for…cont. pg. 185
In the dark, the echoes of weeping and gnashing of teeth danced around the walls of the abysmal basement. The crude chorus was suddenly broken by a pillar of white light that came in torrents down into this strong hold of forgotten books and life works. The quasi-forms, held tight in their chains, stared in terror at the dance of shadows in the unnatural light. A tall figure descended the stair. He wore an immaculate white coat. The atrocities sat quivering in their cages. They were in awe of the creator. Their polite, intelligent eyes surrounded him on all sides, shining between stone heavy iron bars. A lithe, pale hand selected a dusty tome from the shelf and the figure chuckled to himself, “the key, the key.” The tall shadow ascended the stain. In the dark, the puffing and spitting began its dance of an arduous existence once again.
If it had been possible to build the tower of Babel without
ascending it, the work would have been permitted.
Parables and Paradoxes
14th April, 2333 CE
Dr. Joshua T. Seek
The exact time of this report cannot accurately be assessed because it seems that all clocks have ceased to function. Some brute hand has smashed them. It took me some time to realize this, and I do not know how long I was unconscious, or what real harm I have caused. Whatever the cost may be, I have done it, and it is so very terrible!
II. The concentrations:
Having begun with this line of experimentation long ago, (playing at being a little god, my father would say) I had come to expect little. I had studied all the Great scientists from the 19th century who specialized in this area. They had all ended in monstrous failure; and so far, so have I. My father had warned me that they were crocks: H. J., V. F., and the lot. My father was simply a bully. Though I was discouraged, I went on to stunning success in limb grafting and gene manipulation, important steps in the process. These were minor successes, of course, in comparison to my great work in uniting certain scientific branches.
I had begun my work by trying to create a life, as so many before me had. I began by building the being up from the bottom, molecule by molecule, sinew by sinew, through cloning and graviton optimated microsurgery. I lifted a man up from the dust by his atoms, but all I got was a creature, a beast. Though, I could not help but feel love for It. It pleaded with me at first, through its intelligent eyes, like, perhaps, Isaac had done with his father on that long ago mountain altar. I killed It quickly.
Experiment after experiment ended in this sort of disaster, gruesome and inhuman. Next I tried to create a companion, then a likeness. Then I tried a life of the opposite sex. I grew weary of killing one life after another, so I began storing them in the holding cages in the sub-level of my laboratory complex. Then I began experimenting with cybernetics and artificial men.
With their equal failure, I all but gave up. This had become my secret obsession that none knew about. While I excelled beyond all before me in theoretical sciences, I continued to study late into the night. It was then that I recalled an old tome my father had given to me as a joke, of Erasmus Cornelius Barabas, the Alchemist and mad Hungarian tyrant. I searched frantically for it in all corners of the house, and finally found it in the lowest of the sub-basements, among the fetid odor of my abortions, beneath the darkness of the face of the deep. It, too, proved almost useless… I say almost. It was this strange and archaic text that gave me the notion for my final attempt. I endeavored to create perfection: the hermetic alchemical man.
I selected a randomly cloned fetus and sped up its growth. Then I began to alter its evolutionary resonance fields and made perfect and exact the vibrations of the very superstrings that made up its quarks, neutrons, atoms, its very being. To this I added a new touch, by engineering and arranging the parts to perfection, like I would an android.
As I stood in the darkness, waiting for the final modifications to be made, I wondered what the thing would be. All past incarnations of this being had been beastly and monstrous: those of flesh and bone demonic, those of sheet metal and microchip demoniac. I prepared to stair into the abyss, and pulled the sheet away.
At first It seemed to be lifeless. In fact, I was almost sure, that is what the monitors said… but I switched on a light, and its optic sensors adjusted and it opened its eyes to consciousness. It was then that I could see it clearly. I saw down inside it, though those blank and all knowing eyes. Great black gears turned in its head, and monstrous turbines pumped black blood and thoughts to all the dark corners of the huge thing.
This terror of terrors that man has known and feared for millions of years lay before me. Somehow It knew me, then. And, of course, I knew it, the most terrible abomination of all. It was then that I passed into unconsciousness.
Wither the monster went, I do not know. I am not sure, either, how I will manage to sleep tonight. If I do not find him again in life, he will surely invade the haunts of my feverish dreams.
Dr. Seek stepped out of doors into a cold winter’s day. The Cooperative domicile superstructures loomed almost a mile up and for blocks in either direction. The sun seemed only good for casting shadows. People moved about like mice in a maze.
The delicate figure flipped up a warm collar and made for the quantum trance-port. He looked over his shoulder, then down the next alley. He had not seen his other in many months, not since that most horrid night of Its genesis. Because of this he began to see It everywhere. He saw the beast in a cluster of bushes in a public garden, in an elderly woman’s smile, in the crumpled potato crisp bag from a child’s discarded lunch. He saw that terrible face in the faceless masses of the street life that could not afford to live in the domiciles and were not picked up by the police. They roamed in packs. Besides his other, Seek feared only the mass’s blank stares.
In the trance-port he could relax. The TelePorTers were devices of his own design to make the lives of men better. They took one atom at a time and sent it speeding in an infinite number of directions at once. This guaranteed that one of those directions would lead to a collector at the station of your choice. Dr. Seek enjoyed sitting back as he felt himself drift into non-being, imagining himself forking off in millions of possibilities. Perhaps one of them was much simpler than the one he now occupied.
Dr. Seek stepped out of the trance-port and into the lift to his laboratory. He could not even feel safe there anymore. Ever since his success with his experiment on that long ago April night he noticed that objects would be moved from were he had left them. New books would be at his desk, bookmarkers marking pages that he could not recall having read. And people began to look at him differently. He was afraid he knew why.
He stepped over piles of books and discarded papers and into his lab. He ceased to care for it and it was in ruins. He had stopped doing experiments and had overturned most of his chemical equipment. The fire left most things unsalvageable. Afternoons he sat in the corner and wept. Or, he walked the streets looking for the other, startling himself at shop windows and interiors of barbershops.
He ceased to feed his unfortunate and unformed children. The stench of decay had long ago made its way up from the lowest subbasements. He did not notice. Only the unbroken silence bothered him now.
That afternoon he could feel Its eyes. Dr. Seek knew It was near.
That night he made his rounds of the city. The roaming bands of street life had even begun to fear that tall and black phantom that prowled the night endlessly. They knew it too well. Seek did not care what anyone knew about him.
He tramped along under the reeling Co-op towers, steel and glass colossus. The sterile moon wore a mask of gray black clouds.
Dr. Seek went down an alley to an office complex, as per his usual route. He froze. There, at the end of the corridor of glassy reflections stood a tall, black form. Seek raised one lithe, pale hand and then smiled. The other had raised Its hand and smiled too. The reflection in the office building face came forward as Dr. Seek approached it.
“Silly,” he said, and shook his head.
The other shook Its head and echoed, “Silly?”
Just then the moon chose to remove its gauzy mask to reveal its pale skull. The light rained down and Dr. Seek saw that what stood before him was not a reflection at all. It was his creation, the monster.
He saws Its gears and pistons pumping all at once, caked in blood and ash. Its chest heaved like the door of a cage swinging in a breeze. He shrieked in terror and it shrieked back. It came forward faster and faster, flesh and bone in one mass coordination; he could not be sure if it was a man or an army. In the naked light Dr. Seek could see what he could not before. The monster was not a monster at all. More than a mistaken reflection, It was He.
And then It seemed to escape Its flesh. Though Dr. Seek still trembled, he thought it was beautiful. The other had turned into a beam of the purest light. It ground into his head. He saw phosephene swirls and explosions of color. It began to whisper.
“I am Tom, your OtherBrother, good old Tom. I have been allowed to be you so that you can further help the world by healing them of their vices and freedoms. I am a bounced of once-in-free-James. I am Tom hiding in plain sight. Paradise in wide awake. Slave Gods, oiliGods.”
The fall (bababadalgharaghtakanminallonnaonnbronntonnerr
Joshua Seek made his way among the multitude so that he could begin to speak. Their crude chorus, mummers of curiosity and malcontent, became hushed. They were in awe of this tall figure in the immaculate white coat, their leader. They quivered in anticipation. In piercing summer sunlight, the crowd of homeless and disappeareds were unmade before Seeks eyes.
He began to speak.
“There is much of a greater light, a world beyond this one, of which you do not know. A world of higher truths, but more importantly, a world within all people. For your souls have strong and speedy wings to take you up to the lofty heights were I am. Unmoving moves the chaos, but you will fly swiftly past, to greater and still greater things, beyond this dark light of the sun. Until you will cry, ‘I remember’ and in the true light you will say in your hearts, ‘My home, my source, my ending.’ And if your hearts again seek this lightless earth, Dictators will the people fear, the outcasts of your bereft home.”
But the people’s hearts were stone heavy, and they did not listen.
“Raise your eyes to heaven with faces upturned…” Seek cried.
But all looked with faces downturned to the dust in disdain. They stamped their feet and gnashed their teeth. Dr. Seek looked out over this alien world of darkness before him, and thought he saw many tall figures in white. Perhaps he was mistaken, but he knew he saw at least one tall figure in a white coat towards the front. The tall figure stooped down and with a lithe, pale hand carefully selected a rock. The form chuckled to Itself. Seek stepped to the back of the stage, eyes wide.
“Oh, please forgive me, for I know not what I do.”
The first of the rocks flew towards him, slicing the air as they came.
22nd December, 33 CE
Dr. Joshua T. Seek
I. Prequential Exposition
I am poor Tom hidden in plain sight. This realization was perhaps the most grievous error of my days; next to the one I would make at the end. I sought only to help those who I thought were misguided. To the very last things were so confused.
II. Trial and Error
After the attack the decision for me to step up security and policing, to open the camps, was not mine but his, but I…I can only remember his eyes now. I still have the same dream, over and over, but now I can only see his eyes. I am not sure I can remember what the rest of him looked like. I am not sure if I ever really knew what he looked like. Perhaps it is really their eyes I see, staring back at me from behind iron bars and barbed wire, their thin bodies held tight in their chains.
I also dream, sometimes, that it is I who am behind the bars and not them. When I awake I wish this were the case. I know he looks in on me once in a while without my knowing. I don’t have much more time. After what happened on that hot summer afternoon, I am afraid I have gone and done something atrocious, like confusing myself with…well, I am not sure I can say.
From ‘Scientific American’ Vol. 556, #77, page 185
Cont. from pg. 66…a genius to want to try his hand, in a leadership position, in government. He had a lot of wisdom and […] thought he would be a wise ruler. We did not really begin to worry until he started talking about Nation Socialism and […] I think of Karl Schwarzschild during the second of the world wars. As he was coming up with the black hole he was simultaneously calculating trajectories for bombing Russian troops in the trenches at the Russian front. Or more poignantly one might think of the young man from Braunau am Inn, Austria Hungry, son of Klara and Alois, who dreamt of being an artist, but went to Berlin to become a dictator and genocidal maniac. What is responsible for the madman in the artist? I am at a loss to account for things like this: the monster residing within the mind of the brilliant vision. Perhaps if a vision is too brilliant one can become blind…
And the mists of time settle down once more, obscuring a gray and war torn landscape. But it would be best not to forget the atrocities of even one man who mistook his own monsters for the world, or so many who crumbled right before his pale and unseeing eyes.