This number speaks, p.1
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       This Number Speaks, p.1
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           Jason P Doherty
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This Number Speaks


  This Number Speaks

  10TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

  ©2007, 2017 Jason P Doherty / jpdBooks.com

  ISBN: 9781370134793

  CONTENTS:

  PART I: THE STORY

  PART II: THE MORAL OF THE STORY

  PART III: HOW THE STORY ENDS

  PART IV: THE AFTERLIFE

  PART ONE I: THE STORY

  THE FIRST DAY OF MY LIFE

  By

  Thirty-Seven

  I am looking into a mirror. My name is Thirty-Seven. I have black hair and blue eyes. I am keeping this journal for the admittedly selfish reason that I wish for someone living thousands of years from now to read this and know who I was and what I had to say. I am 2 meters and 3 centimeters tall. I am 17 years old and live in Eternalife. Eternalife is a state, like almost all states, owned by a corporation of the same name. I was elected to serve in Eternalife by the government at the age of 13. That's when I was given a name. Until my four year term at Eternalife University (known as ELU) began, I was known by the same name as everyone else whom the government has not yet bestowed an identity upon: Double-Zero. Eternalife is a small state and we have all we need. We have homes, fields for growing crops and raising cattle, and a shopping center. There are two power plants and a water recycling/purification center.

  Most of us here at Eternalife are part of the Working Mass and will never leave. It is forbidden to leave and all who attempt such a ridiculous thing are captured immediately and taken away to Hell. Hell is another state far away owned by the government where people are said to be tortured in unspeakable ways. Going to Hell is the consequence for breaking any law, so laws are seldom broken. No one ever comes back from Hell.

  As I have mentioned, Eternalife is a small state with only 300 residents making up the entire Working Mass. We also have 3 Governors and 30 Marshalls. It is the duty of the three Governors to watch over and regulate the State, including managing assignments for the Working Mass, making and abolishing laws, and communicating with other States whenever necessary.

  There is one Marshall for every ten Workers. This is to ensure a zero-tolerance policy for those who would be foolish enough to break any laws. The Marshalls have exactly 2 assignments. The first is to watch over the workers and make sure that no laws are broken, and the second is to apprehend any law-breakers and dispatch them to Eternalife’s detention center, known as The Dent. This is where they will await transportation to Hell via the Black Bus – a lurching, unwieldy vehicle designed to inspire horror in the hearts of all who see it. Ah, but let us not speak of these terrible things.

  Let us turn now to the life that I love: Eternalife. Today is my first day out of Eternalife University. I am the only passenger on a personal train headed for the Eternalife Administration and Processing Station where I will be received by my Ruling Governor, my Assigned Officer and my Immediate Supervisor. I am extremely excited to get started in life and cannot wait to begin working.

  Eternalife is a fantastic corporation whose sole purpose for existence is to extend life indefinitely. This is accomplished by means of a process discovered over a century ago by a woman named Patricia Kasabian. Now, this is before the government assigned names. When parents kept their own children and named them at birth. Since then, the government has developed a much more practical class system of naming. The very rich and powerful – or Alphas as they are known – are given alphabetical names, like Caesar Axegrinder. Marshalls and moderately wealthy or important individuals are given alphanumerical names, like Silvernail 88. The majority of people however, especially those in the Working Mass, are given simple numerical names like mine: Thirty-Seven. I like spelling my name out alphabetically instead of numerically though because it makes me feel more important, although I know I am about as insignificant a being as has ever existed.

  Let me get back to Patricia Kasabian. She is still very much alive and well. At ELU we were all taught that early in her life while being schooled as a biochemical engineer, she met one of the first Intelligent Machines whose name was Prima Fig. Together they explored new avenues in cybernetic medicine and the development of inorganic life forms. In these experimental studies, they discovered a process by which the collective memories of an organic being (such as a human) could be downloaded and stored in an inorganic medium such as a nano-chip. The memories could then be reloaded into another organic being (such as a newborn). Other discoveries in the fields of age acceleration and deceleration combined with Patricia and Prima’s work to give birth to the miracle that we have all come to know and love: Reincarnation. It was dubbed ‘Reincarnation’ because when the process is completed, an old body is discarded and a new one, containing the memories and consciousness of the old one, takes its place.

  No one person is given full access to the details of the procedure. I only know what I do because I have been trained to become a Custodian of Shells. This means that it will be my duty to dispose of the bodies. It is not as morbid as it sounds. Actually, each discarded body, (or ‘shells’ as they are called) are treated with appropriate dignity and each is given a simple funeral service before being burned in a temple specifically designed for that purpose.

  Let me make it perfectly clear now that not everyone can afford the reincarnation procedure. It is very expensive and an extensive background check must be performed because frankly, there are some people the government does not want living forever.

  I am almost there. I hope everything goes well today.

  EYES ONLY

  When Thirty-Seven first stepped off the train outside the Eternalife Administration and Processing Station, he could not help but marvel at the absolute grandeur of the place. It was a very simple, yet gargantuan building. It was a perfectly proportioned rectangular prism and pristine white. The empty blue sky framed it perfectly above the immaculately manicured emerald green of the sprawling lawn upon which it stood. It seemed as though the building itself was an enormous doorway into that distant blue.

  There was a sidewalk leading from where he stood directly into a chrome-plated door in the center of that white rectangle. He started down it, eager to start something. Eager to become someone real, after 13 years of perfect anonymity and the subsequent four years of training and preparation for absolute cultural assimilation, which was every good Worker’s ultimate goal.

  When he was ten meters from the silver door, it opened and a suited man walked out and greeted Thirty-Seven and asked him to please follow. Thirty-Seven was exhilarated as he entered the building. The hall was a perfect blank canvas, devoid of the slightest detail, white floors, white walls and a white ceiling. It seemed to go on forever. He became painfully aware of his own imperfections in the absolute spotlessness of the place. This hall, completely immaculate and absolutely unwavering in its uniformity seemed to have thousands of tiny invisible eyes, which caught every infinitesimal aberration in the symmetry of Thirty-Seven’s being. The man escorting him was equally as intimidating with his impossibly proper manner and flawless stride. Silently, they walked down the hall, making sharp lefts and rights without warning from The Man, until they came to another silver door. There was a name on the door: Maximus Agrippa.

  “Your Ruling Governor’s Office,” The Man said, touching the center of the door, which responded with a soft click proceeded by its slow swinging recession into the room beyond. As Thirty-Seven walked into the room, The Man turned and walked down the hall the way he and Thirty-Seven had come.

  The door closed behind Thirty-Seven. This room was much different than the hall. It was dimly lit and the walls looked gray. Long oval streaks of slightly yellowed light poured down across the walls from some hidden, unseen source. The ceiling was much higher in here and there was the black rectang
le of a desk far back across the room behind which sat a man. The man at the desk was Maximus Agrippa.

  Maximus was the picture of a defined man: not exceptionally tall, short, weak, muscular, handsome or repulsive. His features were so equally proportioned as to suggest exquisite breeding. The brown hair was trimmed respectfully, and the hazel eyes contained a tired wisdom that can only come from countless years of unwaveringly diligent responsibility. When he spoke, it was with the tolerating and patient assurance of leadership.

  “Hello Thirty-Seven, and welcome to Eternalife, Incorporated. We look forward to monitoring your progress and performance. I would like to introduce you to the Marshall we have assigned to your case.” He pressed a small black button on his large black desk and Thirty-Seven heard the silver door behind him whisk open suddenly, and he turned to look.

  Three men in proper black officer’s uniforms marched into the room with an air of impossibly regimented discipline and lined up single file next to each other between Thirty-Seven and the door.

  “Come forward, Concrete 72.” Agrippa commanded. The center officer stepped out of line and around Thirty-Seven and stood directly in front of the desk, his back to Thirty-Seven. He saluted Maximus.

  “Concrete 72!” the officer’s deep voice boomed in the high ceilings. Thirty-Seven flinched, unprepared for the sudden outburst. The Governor smiled and pointed one knife-like finger at Thirty-Seven.

  “This is Thirty-Seven.” Maximus declared. “He is now under your supervision C-72.” Concrete saluted Maximus and turned his head slowly to leer at Thirty-Seven. Those cold eyes slowly took the measure of Thirty-Seven’s every feature, the color of his eyes, the shape of his hands, the length of every nail.

  After staring at Thirty-Seven for a seemingly fathomless eternity, Concrete looked back to the Governor, saluted again then turned and marched swiftly out of the room followed instantly by his two colleagues who had neither spoken nor moved the entire time.

  “Ah, there now,” Agrippa started, sounding a bit more relaxed, “You will be working closely with 192 for the first two years. You are to follow his instructions flawlessly and any discrepancies will be reported to Mr. Concrete and he will in turn report directly to me on your every action.” He paused to let this sink in and when Thirty-Seven’s expression indicated that it had, Maximus continued. “We do a great service to the world here at Eternalife and this kind of work is incredibly significant. Only the very privileged are allowed to benefit from our unique field of expertise. The concept of and quest for eternal life once fueled the fires burning beneath our world’s most powerful nations and religions. Generations of scholars dedicated their lives to unlocking the secrets of the universe in their attempts to accomplish what we have accomplished here. The greatest minds of the old world seemed to adore the prospect of perpetuating their own consciousnesses throughout the infinite years that lay ahead.”

  Thirty-Seven could tell that Agrippa had given this speech countless times and was obviously growing weary of the whole ordeal.

  Maximus stared blankly through Thirty-Seven for a moment, blinked, and then reached into a compartment below the polished surface of his desk and pulled out a small white disk. He held the disc out towards Thirty-Seven and said, “Take this and follow the white lights.” Thirty-Seven took a step forward and removed the disc from Maximus’ hand. Maximus sat back in his chair and resurrected the blank stare. Thirty-Seven realized that the interview was over. So hesitantly, not knowing exactly what he was expected to do, he turned around and began to make his way to the door.

  “Just a MOMENT!” Maximus had almost screamed the last word. Thirty-Seven froze. “I have something else for you. Please come back.” Thirty-Seven turned in time to see Maximus’ fist coming out of an inside jacket pocket. Maximus extended the fist, thumb down, and knuckles up, between himself and Thirty-Seven.

  Thirty-Seven silently crossed space, walking towards the desk. He extended an open hand, slightly cupped beneath the fist of Maximus Agrippa. The fist opened. A tiny red sphere fell into Thirty-Seven’s hand and they both stared at it for several seconds.

  “Give this to a man named Dobie Rex, when you get to The Temple.” said Maximus, breaking the spell. Without a word, Thirty-Seven slipped the disk into one pants pocket and the mysterious red bead into the other. The two men exchanged nods and with nothing left to be said or done between them, Thirty-Seven turned back around and walked out of that room forever.

  POINT THREE

  There are two kinds of beauty in the world: beauty that is born and beauty that is made. Suicide was a beauty of the first kind. She was tall, just a hair over 2 meters and she had the form of a Goddess. She had a sharp chin and large, deep-set dark blue eyes. Her long black hair was almost straight. It had just a hint of an elegant, gentle curve. When it blew in the wind, people stared.

  Suicide was born in Hell. Her late sister, she had been told, had been one of Satan’s Mistresses before her. Now she was married to Satan.

  Sex was a way of life here in Hell. It was a tool, a weapon, and a means to an end. But not for Suicide. Satan had been her first and only. Her chastity had been maintained until their marriage. Since then he took her when he wanted, which wasn't often since he was usually occupied with killing his 'friends' or cheating on her. She found the pursuit of sexual satisfaction in a world of intellectual inferiors an unworthy focus for her mind, which she had realized over time was far superior to those of the slime that surrounded her. Even if she did find someone she was truly attracted to, she could not see herself surrendering to them; her self-respect was far too great to allow infidelity. It did not matter. All that was supposed to matter to her was staying alive and making Satan happy.

  Scar, that had been her sister’s name. She had never known her. The story went that Scar had died in childbirth, slitting her own throat with the same razor she had just used to cut her child's umbilical cord. No one could tell Suicide why her sister had done this.

  Satan had become the child’s silent benefactor for the proceeding twenty years, visiting her only twice. On Suicide’s birthday of her twentieth year, Satan had himself reincarnated again and took her as his bride. No one ever said no to Satan and lived to tell about it. She wore black leather combat boots and her outfit could be described as both a suit and a uniform, jet-black. From her belt hung several small pouches, a small canteen filled with fresh water, a small two-way radio and a hand-held fully automatic pistol. She was a soldier - a soldier in an army that had and needed no name.

  It was late into the night and she was in a run-down house that reeked of urine and mildew. She sat crouched at the foot of the stairs, a bloody knife in her hand. Her instincts told her that everyone was dead. She decided to go with her gut and slowly lifted one foot onto the first step. A wind was blowing through the open door behind her, and it whispered in a sadistic, secret language, urging her upward with its promise of nothingness. She bit her tongue instead of cursing and took another crouching step upwards.

  Off to her left, the stinking remains of a cat-bomb lay smoldering. “What a waste.” The all-too-familiar phrase passed through her mind like a dim light through a vast darkness, shedding a tiny spot of brilliance on a world that could easily be summed up by those three simple words.

  Somewhere in the static of her radio’s headset a scratchy voice was cutting through, “Sue! What happened?” She switched off the receiver, took off the headset and shoved it into one of her pouches.

  “I’m going to get through this.” Her voice was almost loud enough to be considered a whisper.

  The hall was black at the top of the stairs. She had thrown a grenade up into that hall upon re-entering the house and it had blasted out all the lights. The darkness had been accompanied by the onset of an absolute silence. She was sure the man had run into this house and up the stairs, desperately trying to elude her. She had murdered his two accomplices out in the street with the bloody hunting knife she was now clutching in her left hand. She knew i
t was only a matter of time before this third loser went down as well, if he was even alive. But she had to do things right the first time. Where she came from, there were never any second chances.

  Suicide loved cats, and this asshole had used one of the human race’s worst inventions of all time: the cat-bomb. He had sent the cat down the stairs as soon as she burst through the front door. The tormented feline had come screeching and wailing down the steps with the pain of a tiny bear trap attached to its tail and three Molotov cocktails. The animal, terrified by the flames chasing it and the excruciating agony of its tail would run until one of the bottles shattered and exploded, setting off the other two. The cats never got very far. When Suicide had seen the fire and heard the unholy moan of a cat in agony, she slid to a halt and jumped backwards, grabbing the door jamb and swinging her body around it, slamming her back onto the wall outside just in time to avoid being blasted and splattered by fire, hot glass and boiling cat guts.

  She hesitated on the stairs and wondered if going any further was even necessary. Of course it was, she reasoned. She knew what Satan would say when she got home: “How many were there? Did you kill them all? Where are the thumbs?” And there was no lying to Satan, he could always tell. Always. And when he did know you were lying to him, you were fucked, no matter who you were. There was only one thing that Satan hated more than having his authority challenged, and that was being lied to. When a lie was detected, he would call in his goons and they would invent an extremely unpleasant life for the liar. People who lied to Satan were not killed; they were punished for the rest of their lives in cleverly devised and especially creative yet despicable ways.

  Rotten Apple had lied to Satan three years ago about how his marriage was going. He now lived every day of his life having potent orange urine deposited into his hair by a fat man whose occupation it was to do exactly that: piss in Rotten Apple’s hair. Every morning, old Rotten had to sit for an hour in the open air after having his head peed on while the urine dried and lent its unmistakable perfume to Rotten’s clothes and scalp. The fat man had been renamed The Fountainhead specifically because of this new job. He took it seriously, making sure he did not drink too many liquids in a day, ensuring a particularly aromatic golden shower for his only client. Rotten Apple was no longer married.

  After considering Rotten Apple’s awful predicament, Suicide knew she had to go on; she had to be sure. The flunkies had to die. Here. Now. She steeled herself and counted backwards in her mind: 3, 2, 1.

  She broke into a dashing run up the stairs, clearin three steps at a time. As she cleared the last one in the middle of a great leap, she swung her blade into the darkness before her. Her swing cut air and she tripped over a man’s leg, falling flat on her face. She tasted blood and in a blink jumped up, dropped the knife and unsheathed her pistol. Her free hand slapped over the top of the barrel, steadying it; her trigger finger flexed and she spun, sending white streaks of thundering fire trailing in an arc around her. She swung around completely, twice, not realizing her own animal screams, which were drowned out by the thundering hail of bullets.

  Now in a cold sweat, deafened by the ringing in her ears, she stood there shaking, breathing way too hard with gun in hand; its barrel hot and puking thin wisps of warm, white smoke. With a shivering hand, she switched on the small searchlight attached to the side of her gun. The blinding white spot fell squarely on a shattered face. The grenade she had tossed up the stairs had burst right in this guy’s mug. She glared at the mess attached to the top of the corpse’s neck and leaned back against a wall. She slid her ass down and sat there in the hall, across from the faceless dead guy. She switched off the light.

  BUILD ME A BRIDGE

  Three giant sixes marked the northern face of the three-sided Red Pyramid, known as The Citadel. Inside, Satan sat enjoying the delights of three beautiful women, newcomers to Hell. His inner sanctum was decorated lavishly, with huge curtains of red velvet flowing from every available expanse of white marble wall. This room was off-limits to everyone save Satan and his guests. He only brought women in here and he was the only one guaranteed to come back out alive.

  The three women held and caressed him, planting kisses all over his arms, face, and neck. The one he was calling Pusher fell backwards onto a pile of cushions, gasping for breath.

  Satan smiled, “What’s the matter, Pusher?” He half-mocked her with his kindest voice, which was also his most sinister. Pusher almost spoke, but before she could she was dead. Satan eyed the syringe lying on the silver platter by the fireplace and chuckled maniacally. There was only one thing Satan liked more than the pleasure he found in the arms of women, and that was to see someone become the ultimate victim of their own vice.

  He was so satisfied that he waved the remaining girls, whom he had not yet bothered to name, out of the room. They didn’t get it until a second later when he glanced at them. The two beauties saw the glance and were chilled. They looked at each other and something passed between them. They quickly gathered up some random silks and velvets to cover themselves and scurried out of the room. After watching the huge doors close behind them, Satan eyed the dead girl on the floor and started making plans.

  MY FIRST DAY AT WORK :
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