Author : Carter Lee

Martin Crimmons was brought into the hospital at 5:40 pm on a Thursday. 63 years old, Martin had suffered a minor heart attack, and was admitted overnight because his personal physician had a boat payment to make, and personal hospital visits were money-makers. Being wired up to half a dozen monitors made no difference when, at 3 am, Martin suffered another, altogether more serious attack, except that it allowed the attending doctor to pinpoint almost to the second when death officially occurred.

Martin knew none of this, of course, because he was dead, and this world held nothing more for him. It wouldn’t be correct to say his consciousness continued, but neither did it end. Martin had been an atheist, and, to the extent he could be, was surprised that he hadn’t vanished into nothingness. The pulling, tearing sensation was unexpected, too.

The last thought Martin had was that it felt like someone was tugging off the spiritual equivalent of a band aid. Then Martin was gone, and only I remained.

I ached terribly, emptiness and loss coursing through my being. I barely felt the wave of hope and joy my Assistant tried to cover me with. I appreciated the effort, but it would be some time before such things could really affect me.

My vision cleared, little by little, and the lighted mount in front of me gradually came into focus. In front of the mount, a mass of flowing substance, at once crystalline and organic, floated, silent. As I watched, my agent leaned forward and interfaced with the mass. I knew what he was experiencing, because it had come from me. My Agent was feeling Martin, all that he had been, all I had been while him.

Leaning back, my agent began to make noises of happiness and greed, approving of my latest effort and what it would earn us. I barely noticed.

Looking at Martin, the hole I felt inside seemed to yawn wide, threatening to swallow everything else. My Assistant came into physical contact to bolster the healing wave being broadcast to me.

I tore my awareness away from Martin. For the next few cycles, I knew, I wouldn’t be able to even consider Martin. The sense of loss and sadness would fade, slowly, but healing would not occur if my mind wasn’t focused elsewhere. I would never interface with him, as my Agent had. I’d made that mistake, once. Never again.

Part of me was gone, and would never return. Martin would be, to the rest of existence, one more in a series of works of art I had created. To me, though, Martin would always be something I had lost. A little life gone. Forever.

It hurt so much…

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