Death unto Life

A single bullet, a shattered mind with nobody left to pick up the pieces. Dean Harving is a walking ghost with no past and no future until he encounters the shock of his life...


Dean Harving sat in his favourite chair. The warm leather although worn with frequent use still exuded the particular scent that Dean so enjoyed. The light bulb buzzed softly beneath its cover and the rain pattered on the window, seeking entrance into the near scrap yard that Dean had fashioned into a room. Strewn around the room were to the naked eye useless clutter of all sorts: a part of a sewing machine here, the tattered remains of a hard-drive there. To Dean they were each treasures waiting to be discovered, a mine of creativity. To anyone else, they would be about as helpful as a car with no engine, but then again, Dean wasn’t just anyone. Rising out of the indecipherable heap was a sturdy oak desk with a few supports to keep it from falling apart at any moment. Beside the desk crouched a squat chest of drawers, and a robust wardrobe next to the them. Turning the metaphorical camera around someone would have observed the bed, or at least the parts that weren’t covered in piles of junk. The currently occupied chair was next to the bed.

            The man behind the mess currently had a book on his lap and was reading it intently, his mousey nose not getting in the way of his clever, bright blue eyes. His wiry frame was leaning into soft familiar leather but then, as he often did, sat upright. You could see the gears and levers of his brain working furiously at, well, whatever he happened to be working on. He stood up, brushed the dust off his brown shirt, not making any noticeable difference, and then proceeded forward to the desk, kicking piles of various things about in his long stride.

             The desk didn’t have a chair seeing as Dean preferred to work standing up; apparently it helped his mind focus on the task at hand. Paradoxically, the worktop was spotless, not a speck of dust graced its smooth surface. A screen and keyboard sat on the left and the right supported a cabinet filled with papers, all neatly ordered. The man himself was a walking contradiction, one of his idiosyncrasies reflected in his room. Incidentally his paradoxical nature was also clear to see in his past. Dean studied at Yale, then at Harvard getting a job later on at Interscope, a pharmaceutical research company. His IQ was reputedly measured at eighty-five on one test and one hundred and sixty-seven by another. Various psychologists stated that he was schizophrenic, manic depressive and OCD along with another diagnosis proclaiming his ‘undeniable’ sanity. In his mid thirties he set himself up as an inventor and had reasonable success.

Deep in thought he picked up a part of a paintball gun, studied it intensely, and then threw it nonchalantly on the floor. On the desk his thin fingers started to drum in a distinctively original rhythm, beating noisily on the oak. With the other hand he booted up his computer and waited for a few seconds. When the screen flickered he typed in various commands and ends up with a set of schematics, fine green lines crisscrossing along the dim display to form complex diagrams of designs old and new.

            Wondering about the diagrams’ uses, Dean then headed downstairs to his kitchen which, unlike his room, was a temple of efficiency. Small but effective was the best phrase to sum up the room. Out of the fridge he took the following: vodka, guava juice, lemon, whiskey and a small amount of ice, the latter being out of the freezer. The glass he mixes is something like four-eighths vodka, three eighths guava juice and one-eighth whisky. He then cut the lemon, squeezed it on and added ice. He put the drink down on the glossy, plastic counter to let the ingredients meld pleasingly into each other and cleared up what little mess that was made by the mixing. He picked the glass up a few minutes later, sniffed it to check that it was ready and then took a tentative sip. His taste buds confirmed that the drink had turned out to perfection and he downed the concoction as you would a single shot of rum, regardless of the glass being far larger. Then he put the glass next to the sink and headed upstairs, his shoes squeaking with every step.

            Instead of going back into the bedroom, he went into a far smaller one which displayed an ageing piano in it. The floor was covered with a paper made snow but Dean trailed through it, sat down and started to play. It was an old tune, which soothed his mind like a cool ocean breeze would a sailor’s brow. The music went in through his ears and carried on in his veins until his whole body gave in to the sweet melody. It was as if a wave was passing over him and he was being pulled along with it. In moments like this Dean didn’t analyse or speculate, he was simply enjoying life as it was, without the need to put it under a lens. When the piece was over he exhaled as you do after a refreshing drink, similar to the one he had recently ingested. The without warning the phone rang and Dean went to receive the call; the phone being in the kitchen. The caller I.D. alerted him that on the other end was a person called Jim Lark. The phone went to Dean’s ear and a voice crackled through: “Hi Dean how’s the weather in LA?” The voice was in a smooth New England accent, with a pitch pleasing to the ear (of a woman that is).d

            “God Jim, what time is it on your end? You didn’t stay up til’ two in the morning to ask me about the weather, ‘cause I know that’s not very you. ” Dean’s speech was considerably lower, with hints of British, American and a drop of, oddly enough, French in his unique cocktail of sound. On the other end of the line in Boston Jim consulted his watch:

            “Nah, I just thought it’d be nice to call you up. Talk about old times.”

            “And obviously your many conquests, to simply fuel you already bloated ego.” Jim chuckled at that, Dean often chided him for his attitude about relationships, not that he himself was an expert.

            “You’ll always be chipping away at old block that won’t you?” Dean smiled at the acknowledgement, especially one from someone he hadn’t seen face to face for the better part of ten years.

            “Well in I’ve been good actually, inventing this and that. My investments are looking pretty good, unexpectedly well from Reacton Corp.” Jim scratched his head, everything over the past five months had pointed to a fall in Reacton’s stock, he had actually advised against Dean’s investing into the company.

            “Anything else going on right now?”

            “Not really no, and before you ask, there aren’t any girls…yet.”

            “Hah, get some action; you’ll feel better when Reacton falls flat on its face! I’ll talk to you tomorrow, ‘cause I know it’s late for you. Bye.”

            “Okay, bye Jim.” Dean put down the receiver and then went up to his bedroom. About twenty minutes later, Dean was sitting at his desk, toying as he did with the various bits and pieces around his room. He was thinking about a problem that had been on his mind for some time. It was his project that he was working on whenever he had the time or fancy to. He called it the Physics Reversal Engine. We would call it anti-gravity. Then unlike any other day, an arrow of inspiration hit him from a Muses bow, except this wasn’t literature or poetry or art, this was the pure substance of engineering genius. He grabbed a piece of paper and started to scribble down ideas, weird ones, impossible ones and downright insane imaginings until he had fully conceptualized what the arrow had meant.

            He spent hours poring over past designs and experimented with multiple simulations on his computer. With near mad intensity Dean’s idea took its unconventional shape. At approximately 5:47am the means to produce anti-gravity was created, with an extra bonus of one application to use as a working example. Dean could not believe what nearly seven hours had produced, and for five minutes he checked and re-checked until he had convinced himself that it would indeed work outside of cyberspace. But he didn’t bother building it to really check, or even making a rough model. The fervour of creativity had passed from his mind as quickly as it had come.  He saved the file, encoded it as his personal procedure dictated and then shut down the computer. Looking out of his window and seeing light outside, Dean went downstairs for another drink. On his haggard face was radiant joy, the delight of figuring something out that nobody else was even close to yet. Dean repeated the drink that he had prepared hours earlier, except he added tequila to the mix for a more celebratory effect. He actually stumbled out of the kitchen in his fatigue and went to the living room, collapsing his tall, thin form onto the soft leather of his sofa and switched on the TV. Cycling through channels he came across a showing of The Fifth Element, even more exited at the fact that with his innovation people could more easily do at least some of the things in the film, like taking a ride in a levitating taxi.

            He started to wonder what he was going to do post celebration. Would he sell the idea off to some company? Would he patent the invention and hope to make it on his own? These questions all crossed his mind, but he just mind could not sift through the mass of useless sand and find the golden nugget of a plan that was in there somewhere. But it would take too long to finish the filtering, and it was far too early in the morning for such intense analysis. Dean checked his watch which told him that it was 8:10am. Then it suddenly dawned on Dean how long he had been awake for, and he rushed upstairs to check his computer. Sure enough the file was there and when he opened and checked it again it functioned properly. He relaxed, glad that it wasn’t a delusion brought on by extreme fatigue and lack of sleep; or a dream for that matter.

            Ten minutes later the doorbell rang. Dean looked at himself in the mirror, brushed his hair out of his eyes, straightened up his clothes as best he could and headed for the door. The bell rang again, echoing off the walls and Dean yelled, “I’m coming, just have some patience!” Dean twisted the door’s handle and in front of him stood a person that, in their jet black suit, shades, cropped hair and the shiny shoes that could almost reflect Dean’s face in them, looked totally at contrast with Dean’s ragged demeanour. He stepped forward and said in an official tone:

            “Mr. Harving? Dean Harving?”

            “Yes that’s me, now who are you?” Dean replied cautiously, but still with a hint of distaste in his tone. The strange man took off his shades and looked into Dean’s eyes with a stare that could shatter glass.

            “May I come in, Mr. Harving, I am with the FBI after all.” He deftly took a leather wallet out of his pocket and with the same motion displayed the badge inside. Dean nodded compliantly and the agent stepped in.

            “So what is it you wanted to talk to me about?” The moment the question mark was fitted onto the end of that sentence Dean was shot between the eyes skilfully with a Beretta M9 silenced pistol within a second of the ‘agent’s’ draw and Dean’s lifeless form crumpled to the floor with an anticlimactic slap, the blood making a dashed red line on the beige carpeted floor. Seconds later a team of similarly dressed men quickly jogged in and started to comb the abode meticulously; this had been planned to the letter far in advance. The first perpetrator called for one of his accomplices:

            “Dickens, get rid of the body.”

            “Yes sir.” The first man nodded and joined the others while the second man hauled Dean into a Ford Focus formerly belonging to him and started to drive into Los Angeles. About an hour later they arrived at a narrow back alley, full to the brim with blackened filth and stuffed with crates and abandoned bins. The atmosphere was dense with the foul air issuing from the vents of the surrounding buildings. Litter crackled as it was crushed beneath the henchman’s shoes which walked along the alley. He dumped the body into an empty crate and then slammed the rickety lid on it. Then he crudely hammered it on with a handful of nails and the butt of his pistol. Satisfied with his work, the man set back off down the alley. Hours later Dean’s Ford Focus was driven into a junkyard and never seen again. Not by Dean anyway. Speaking of Dean, his body was curled up inside a dirty crate and the blood on his head was well in the process of drying up. His bones would have been aching if he was awake.

            Which he certainly was, this proved as he opened his blurry eyes and kicked off the rotting side of the crate. He stumbled and swaggered along the alley, as if drunk, totally bewildered. Then a little bubble of a question floated through his oceanic consciousness: Who am I?  Then he rubbed his head and continued into an alien world he had lived in for ten years: Los Angeles.  


The End

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