The MachineMature

Garith seemed unconcerned as Dr. Malpus began securing and then tightening the restraints over his arms and legs, but they made Sandra nervous. If something happened like what had happened at the new house-or rather, the new old house-she would be pained to think of an action plan. Garith was the one who always knew what to do. She swallowed and then sat down in a plastic chair that seemed out of Dr. Malpus' way.

"Do you have to tie him down?" She asked from her chair, her eyes shifting from Malpus to Garith.

Garith was staring at the wall which faced him, glaring at it as if it had been the cause of so much misery for him.

"I do. Sometimes the body ...the real body, I mean, wants to perform the same actions as the contrived body. He could hurt himself." Dr. Malpus looked Garith up and down, his brow furrowed, and then added "Or us."

A single word caught her attention; the rest trickled off of her.

"Contrived. Is that what the Contrivances are? I mean, did you make them?"

Dr. malpus paused, stared at the floor for a moment and then turned to Sandra, leaving the final restraint loose over Garith's thigh.

"No, I certainly did not. They are based off of similar technologies, however. My technology." His voice was stern, almost scolding.

"What are they?"

"A simple perversion of my life's work. Now please, Sandra, leave it at that. We have need for haste."

She took his advice and left it at that, for now. Once this was done she would have more questions. Of course she would. They couldn't leave her in the dark forever on this.

Dr. Malpus secured the final strap and then began reclining the chair Garith was seated in with a wired remote control. A dentist's chair? she thought. He's using a dentist's chair.

Suddenly she felt less confident this was going to work.

Dr. Malpus began attaching a series of wires terminated with alligator clips to Garith who was still glaring fiercely at the opposing wall.

Like most people left with nothing to do but watch someone else, her mind began to wander. So much had changed since she worked for Garith, so much had changed and yet it was still the same. All these people who worked for the same organization trying to undermind and outwit each other for various reasons. But this went farther than the internal bickering she remembered. At least back then they had a common goal, an honorable one even if the means to achieve it were almost never as honorable. And Garith fired himself since then, her inner voice reminded. He's trying to do what you successfully did. Maybe he, too, realized you can't justify the end when the means is just as terrible.

She looked at Garith. Alligator clips looking as their name implies-digging into Garith's skin wherever they were with sharp teeth-covered him from the neck down. She winced as Dr. Malpus began clipping them to Garith's face.

"These are only temporary. We can remove them once the scan is done, Garith will be fine." Malpus said, apparently noticing the look on Sandra's face.

"How did you do that to a cat?"

"With much determination and even more bloodshed" he replied, pulling up a sleeve to reveal a network of long, thin, broken lines of scar tissue. Sandra winced again.

"I must admit, this is a few measures easier with a willing human subject."

Dr. Malpus attached the final alligator clip to Garith's left eyebrow, then retrieved a helmet from a nearby countertop that looked more to be made for torture than science; a plastic water strainer, perhaps, with a chin strap and a sharp metal point poking through each hole.

"I need you to close your eyes for me, Garith." Dr. Malpus secured a blindfold tightly over Garith's eyes then placed the helmet on his head, tightened the chin strap, and then wheeled over a machine that looked entirely alien. Several heavy gauge wires ran from the back to three electrical outlets-the kind that stoves plug into-on the wall. He flipped a switch and the machine began buzzing; the monitor on the front of it began glowing blue but Sandra could not see what it said from her angle.

The buzz increased in pitch and volume, louder and higher, until it had become a shriek that anguished her ears. Sandra covered them but she could still hear it.  Aparently at its peak, the noise from the machine held its tone and volume for a few seconds until Dr. Malpus hit a large button with a closed fist. An intense light lit the room, banishing all shadows for a brief moment. Sandra was sure she saw electrical arcs all over Garith as he began shaking violently in the chair, but couldn't be sure because it all ended in a moment and Dr. Malpus immediately began unfastening the torture helmet and removing the alligator clips. Garith was now still; breathing deeply, but still.

Sandra watched as Dr. Malpus removed the last of the alligator clips, unsure of what was going on or even if it had worked.

A loud shrak sound from the opposing corner of the room suddenly demanded her attention. There she saw a large metal booth that she hadn't noticed before and inside of it, standing with determination written in every nuance of his posture and countenance, was another Garith.

Dr. Malpus' face was nearly glowing with pride and satisfaction as the second Garith stepped from the booth. He began walking toward them. Sandra looked to the Garith still restained in the chair; his legs issued a minor twitch with each step of his contrived body.

"Garith is in control of this?" Sandra asked.

"Garith is this" Dr. Malpus replied, "until I perform the disassociation."

Sandra looked the second Garith up and down, now feeling as though whatever he planned to do was going to work.

"Can it talk?"

"Yes, Sandra, I can talk" Contrived Garith said. "Please don't clutter your mind with thoughts of how this all works-at least not for the time being. For all intents and purposes, I am Garith."

"What am I going to do?"

"Stay here and aid Dr. Malpus with whatever must be done while I'm gone."

Suddenly Sandra wanted to go with him. It seemed safe-even fun.

"Can you make one of those for me?" She turned to Dr. Malpus.

"I'm afraid I only have the capacity for one at the moment, but you can see what he's doing from the monitor."

She looked in the direction Dr. Malpus had nodded and saw a small television screen. On it she saw herself; a slow panning view down her own body. It wasn't until she looked to where the camera should have been that she realized they had the ability to see through Contrived Garith's eyes.

"Sorry" he said as the image on the television snapped back up to her face.

The End

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