Author : Barry Reimer

I remember falling. Somehow, I saw it coming seconds before it happened, but I had no way to stop it. Snap. The rope severed. The top of the towering spire of rock began to fall away. During my freefall, time became surreal. Each moment stood alone; an encapsulated eternity. The idyllic scenery of Utah’s canyonlands passed in slow motion around me. Rich orange alien rock formations fused with the light greens of the trees and shrubs.

Crash! The Earth swept my soul from its mortal flesh with impartial efficiency. It was like being sucked from a pressurized chamber into the vacuum of space. There was no tunnel, no light – unless you count the bright blazing sun overhead.

These images still surround me, but they are clouded by a dense fog – a thin veil that I am unable to pull back. My soul has stayed behind. Is this purgatory? Perhaps I am suspended in the memory of my death. I lie between worlds, unable to move on, although I know not why. I pray for the veil to be lifted.

Time stands still. I think to myself, if I am to remain here, let me see my surroundings clearly. I loved this place in life; it was the one place where the horrific memories of war were not as vivid. A maimed special ops officer dying in my arms as I struggle to extricate him from an ambush. My knife at the throat of another assassination target. The explosion that left half of my team dead. In this place, I was almost able to find some peace from these scenes of death. The green and orange stained canyons remain eternal and unchanging in the haze. For a second it seems there might be a thin clearing in the fog above me.

“Doctor Schmidt,” the senior military scientist says, peering over his spectacles at the younger man. “Is the transfer nearly complete? We can only keep his soul in the stasis field for so long, and I don’t want to have to procure another subject.”

The junior scientist looks up from the computer. His cherubic face is alight with excited anticipation, having repressed the horrific reality of the project’s implications long ago. “This is the last pathway to calibrate, sir. We’re almost there.”

“Good,” says the older man. A thin smile forms on his lined face as he looks down at the shining metal of the android lying on the cold steel table before him. It is a masterpiece of mechanical engineering, glistening under the bright fluorescent lights of the lab room. A series of wires connect its body and head to the supercomputer.

With a final keystroke, Dr. Schmidt completes the last pathway. The transfer sequence is initiated. The two scientists watch the android with rapt attention. The anticipation is palpable, like an approaching storm.

I’m not imagining things. There is a thinning in the fog. A hole is forming in the veil at last. I wait with eagerness either for the clarity to return to my majestic surroundings or for what lies beyond. Time is meaningless now.

Something is wrong. I sense it before it happens. The sky is torn violently open in a great cataclysmic gash. My world is suddenly filled with light. Bright. Unnatural. Merciless.

I try to scream. Before the sound can escape, I am sucked through the great wound in the sky. My vision is filled with the terrible light. I hear triumphant human voices. Terror fills me as the beauty of my world vanishes and my soul is trapped in a metal hell.


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