Life and Death

Posted by Barbanne on January 22, 2004 at 23:03:47:


Death: (n) The permanent end of all functions of life in an organism.
Life: (n) The state or quality that distinguishes living beings from dead ones.

Jane looked at the two sentences she had written down. Copied from the dictionary.
There it was. Life and Death. Why, she wondered, did life cease? What was death? Was there something there? Could one return from death? As a pathologist, she was convinced that the dead, whom she saw stretched out on her autopsy table every day of her working life, were merely inanimate and would and could return from death if only their electronics were reinstated. That was not possible as the electric spark that enlivened them was gone. Worn out. But now we lived in a brave new world of electronics and powerful AI's were ours to command.
Life after death.
Life beyond death.
It was not only possible it was inevitable and desirable. She was convinced of that.
Jane Smithwick, only thirty one years old and already a forensic pathologist of the highest regard. She smiled to herself. No point in being unduly and falsely modest. If anyone was equipped to overcome death it was her!
And now she had the Protean chip. The answer to life beyond death.
Jane pondered. Her pretty face intent with concentration. Flaming red hair, bright green eyes, pale freckled skin. She was tall, one seventy centimetres, slender but broad hipped and big breasted. A true beauty. She smiled inwardly as she thought of the open mouthed gazes that followed her around the lab, even around the morgue. Certainly the young men working with her were well aware of her presence and her beauty. So were the older men. Getting into Jane Smithwick's pants was the dream and the ideal of all her male colleagues.
"Fat chance boys" she thought. She smiled again. An inward smile.
Her mind went back to the search for life. Life after.
All of those who came to her here at University Medical Centre were too far gone. Dead too long they were damaged beyond repair. For the protean chip to work it had to kick in at the moment of death. To test it she needed someone who would die in her hands thus allowing her to set the marvel of electronics to work before irreversible damage occurred.
Sarah Miller!
Sarah would die for her.
Jane knew it. It was ordained.

Sarah Miller waved goodbye to Zoe and Chantell. As her friend's car disappeared down the street, she walked toward her flat. One of three ground level flats in this block of six, she had taken it at the beginning of the semester. Unlike most of her fellow students, Sarah enjoyed the luxury of a flat of her own thanks to the money she had earned over summer at her two jobs. Front counter service at the Fast Food eatery was boring but paid OK. The evening job she had at the morgue helping Doctor Smithwick, not only paid well, but enabled her to watch one of the best in the field of forensic pathology at work. The experience was invaluable in her chosen field of medical technology and when she had the opportunity to assist in certain procedures she learnt more in a night than a month of classroom lectures could teach her.
Nineteen years old, Sarah was a fit and healthy young woman. Only tonight she had helped her team mates to a win in the inter U basketball game. A win that almost guaranteed they would compete in this year's finals of the womens' basketball league. One fifty eight centimetres tall, Sarah was a thin, but feminine girl, well proportioned and ivory skinned with a pretty open face and thick, shag cut, golden blonde hair. Dressed in shorts and a wind breaker, her small bust and long legs were revealed in a way that showed her to be a natural cheerleader type of girl. Most of the young male students had at some time fantasised about stripping Sarah nude and exploring that body that promised so much.
Sarah stopped at the door to her flat while she fumbled in the dark for her key. She found it in the jumble at the bottom of her purse and almost dropped it when a shadowed figure stepped from the darkness of the oleander bushes lining her walkway.
"Oh Doctor Smithwick. You gave me such a fright."
"Sorry Sarah. I'm really sorry. I thought you had seen me."
"No. No, I wasn't expecting anyone, so I guess I wasn't looking."
"I hate disturbing you now, but I would like to see you."
In the light of the porch Jane could see Sarah's hesitation written in her eyes.
"It'll only take a moment."
Sarah turned back to the door and slipped the key into the lock. "Of course. I didn't mean to be rude but you really surprised me."
She opened the door and stepped into a hall corridor. She snapped on a light, flooding the space and said "Come in, come in." Jane followed her, Sarah closed the door. "Follow me. Come through to the living room." She walked along the hall aware of the other woman right behind her. She wondered what had brought Doctor Smithwick here tonight. She half turned to speak to the doctor when she felt her hair gripped from behind and a wet cloth pad covered her face. She registered the sickly sweetness of the chloroform soaked material, but only for a second and then she spiralled down into darkness.
Jane caught the girl by the shoulders as she went down. Only slight, Sarah was nevertheless a dead weight and Jane only succeeded in slowing her fall so that she landed on the floor with a mild thud. Sarah was out cold. Jane knew that the effects of chloroform didn't last long and that she would have to do something to prevent the girl coming around too soon. She had come prepared. What she needed was in her shoulder bag. She grabbed Sarah's wind breaker and dragged the younger girl into the living room. Sarah's arms trailed limply, fingers scraping the carpet, as her heels dragged twin furrows in the pile. The wind breaker rode up, more and more as Jane pulled her unconscious victim along. By the time Jane reached the living room Sarah's wind breaker was rucked up under her armpits and her bust. Jane laid her out on the carpet.
Sarah groaned and Jane pressed the chloroformed pad over her nose until she felt Sarah go limp again. She opened her bag and withdrew the hypodermic needle and the capsule of powerful sedative. Quickly she filled the syringe, expelled the air and flicked the needle with her thumb. She bent over Sarah's outstretched form and plunged the needle into the girl's tummy just above her groin. Her thumb depressed the plunger and the liquid flowed into Sarah's muscles, sped around her body in the bloodstream and hit her brain. Sarah totally limped out and started breathing noisily.
Jane put away the needle and capsule in her bag where she had gotten it.
Earlier she had parked her car at the rear of Sarah's flat. Grabbing the now deeply unconscious girl under the arms, she dragged her into the kitchen and out to the rear porch. She sprang the boot of her car and hauled and manhandled Sarah over to the car, onto the boot lip, and into the boot. Spreading her out, Jane tucked her into the confined space and slammed the lid shut. She went back inside and tidied up so all trace of her presence was removed and, switching off the lights, locked the rear door and got into her car. It started first turn and she slowly drove out into the rear access lane and then onto the street.
"Well Sarah, we're on our way." she said to the back of the car as she drove away.
Jane drove carefully through the suburban streets until she joined the freeway. She put her foot down and sped out of town into the marginal farm land surrounding the city. A half hour after leaving Sarah's flat she pulled off the freeway onto a rural road leading to the old farmhouse she had inherited some years previously on the death of her mother. She turned in at the open driveway and followed a rutted track to the house which lay, to all appearances, deserted, some five hundred metres off the road. She pulled the car to a halt outside the building. She walked to the house and unlocked the front door. Such was the level of security that the house remained untouched during her frequent absences. She flicked on the front lights. Returning to the car she unlocked the boot and with difficulty wrestled Sarah's still deeply unconscious body out of the car. Pausing with Sarah draped in her arms she realigned herself and hoisted Sarah in a fireman's lift onto her shoulder. Staggering slightly under the burden, she made her way inside and flopped Sarah onto a couch in the lounge room. She returned and closed and locked the car and then fastened the front door behind her.
She went down a set of stairs to the basement and unlocked a door at the bottom. She turned on the bright, harsh fluorescent lights and revealed the sophisticated lab she had been carefully preparing for years past, for just this day.
She returned upstairs and ate and made herself a cup of tea. Drinking it, she mulled over in her mind what she would be doing. When she finished she washed up the few things she had used and then went back to where Sarah lay. She dragged the still drugged girl off the couch and down to the basement. Sarah's heels clattered as her feet clopped from step to step. In the lab, Jane dragged Sarah to a stainless steel mortuary table and once more with difficulty got her onto it, stretched out on her back.
Jane unlaced and removed Sarah's shoes and peeled off her socks. She shrugged the girl out of her wind breaker and pulled off her shorts. Rolling Sarah to one side she unclipped her bra and took it off. Then she rolled her panties down and off.
Sarah lay nude and limp on her back on the table.

Jane checked that Sarah was still well and truly out, rolling back her eyelid and checking that her pupils were contracted and unfocussed. Satisfied, she went to the side of the room and shucking off her street jacket, replaced it with a white three quarter length lab coat. She buttoned the coat and wheeled an apparatus over to the stainless steel table where Sarah lay. She swabbed Sarah's body at the neck and ankle and inserted two needles into the senseless girl. She returned to her work bench and loaded a small, sterile air gun with the minute protean chip. She carried this back to the table where Sarah's body awaited her ministrations. Rolling Sarah onto her side so that the back of her neck was exposed, she swept her hair aside and swabbed an area at the base. She placed the gun at a point on Sarah's neck, checked very carefully that it was where she wanted it and fired. The Protean chip was driven into Sarah's cortex and immediately started working, spreading infinitessimably small fibre cables which melded with Sarah's brain stem nerves.
Jane wheeled a portable x-ray camera to the table and photographed the site of the insertion. On the screen she saw the chip perfectly positioned and already half melded into place. She watched as it finished attaching itself to Sarah's motor drivers, ready to take control of her body. Happy that she could now proceed, Jane wheeled the camera away and attached long leads to Sarah's body, lighting up a screen on which the steady blip of her beating heart showed as a green line.
Flat, blip, flat, blip, flat, blip.....
Jane attached plastic tubes to the needles she had inserted previously and started a pump. Sarah's rich, red, life blood started flowing from her body, through the pump, into a reservoir and back into her body.
Jane came over and stood looking down at Sarah.
Sarah's eyelids fluttered and she opened her eyes and looked around.
"Wha.............." She was totally disoriented.
Jane prepared a needle with an enormous dose of sodium pentathol.
A lethal dose.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw Sarah's naked body twitch and heard her say "Doctor Smithwick..........."
She came back and smiled into Sarah's troubled eyes.
She raised a vein and plunged the needle in, emptying it in a smooth continuous motion. The powerful drug coursed through Sarah, closing down her breathing, her lungs, her heart.
The monitor flat lined and Sarah was dead.
Jane sped up the pump and activated the filter and Sarah's blood was washed free of the deadly drug that had killed her.
Jane switched on the protean chip.
Manipulated the controls.
Sarah's nude body twitched. Then again.
Jane switched off the pump and disconnected the tubes.
Looked at the screen.
Flat, flat, flat, flat, blip, flat, flat, blip, flat, blip, flat, blip.............
Sarah's heart was beating.
She was alive.
Being driven by the protean chip. Powerful AI.
Jane looked at the nude girl. She was amazingly beautiful.
"Sarah, do you hear me?"
"Sarah, its Doctor Smithwick. Jane."

An hour later Jane led the still naked, grunting,dribbling girl to the basement room she had prepared. She took her inside, showed her the bed and the furniture. Sarah grunted and lay on the bed. Sadly, with distaste, Jane saw that she was fouling herself on the clean sheets.

Jane drove back to the city.
Went to her apartment and let herself in. Over coffee she reviewed her notes. Her calculations. Sarah was alive, but.
Not a great success.

Sarah's classmates notified the uni that she was missing.
She had missed classes and no-one had seen her for a week.
After an investigation the uni notified her parents. Deeply concerned, they reported her missing to the police. Police officers interviewed her classmates and the staff of the uni. They sought out her parents and began to build up a profile of the missing girl. So many teenagers went missing in similar circumstances that the case had low priority with the department. However as resources allowed, the search went on. The net was widened to take in her holiday employers and casual acquaintences.
Jane had returned to the basement room in the old farmhouse time and again. Sarah was feeding herself but was otherwise not capable of even the simplest task. Greatly disappointed, Jane had built up the power of the chip in order to raise Sarah's awareness to normal levels, but to no avail. She had returned to her notes on every possible occasion but could find no apparent reason for her failure. Very sadly she decided she would have to try once more.
Sarah could only be considered a failure.
Jane started sleeping badly. Her time was taken up with her obsession. She watched Sarah, alive but a nothing. She worked long into the darkness of night going over and over her theories. Sarah should have lived, returned to normalcy, only controlled by the chip. Something was wrong. Some little thing. Like water eroding stone, Jane's neurosis ate at her head. Sarah's face floated in her dreams, haunting her, making her irrational, eating at her sanity.

Officer Candy Williams was twenty two and only six months out of the academy. Keen to succeed and anxious to advance she took every assignment seriously. Today's was routine but she approached it with great thoroughness. She had been given the task of interviewing Doctor Jane Smithwick. The doctor, she had been told, was a well respected pathologist and the missing girl Sarah had worked with her during her vac breaks.
She knocked on the office door.
She entered and was immediately struck by the beauty of the green eyed redhead sitting there. Doctor Smithwick had on a crisp white blouse and a black skirt. Her hair was down and shoulder length and despite her minimal make up she was an incredibly lovely woman. She started when she saw Candy's uniform.
"Ma'am, its about Sarah Miller."
"Sarah. Oh my God." She was sweating and flushed and Candy was amazed when she tore open a drawer and started scrabbling inside. "Ma'am??" Candy watched as the other woman continued searching in the drawer.
"Ma'am. Please, can we talk about this?"
Jane, sweating profusely, made a guttural grunt and Candy saw a glint of metal, registered light on a gun barrel. She drew her own service revolver.
"Put down the gun Ma'am."
Jane's eyes rolled wildly, she was drenched in sweat, she scrabbled in the drawer and withdrew a shiny object, pointed it at Candy. Candy panicked and raised her revolver.
"Drop the gun!"
Jane's hand kept coming up.
Candy fired.
Bang! Red blossomed on Jane's white blouse. She staggered. Candy fired again. Bang! Blood fountained from the wound, spreading over Jane's breast, soaking her cotton bra and staining her blouse. Her legs quivered and she thought "Oh God, I'm shot." She sagged to the floor, grasped at her desk, her fingers scrabbled papers and pencils onto the floor and she fell amongst them. She lay awkwardly on her back, looking up at the ceiling. It was white. The blue uniform of the officer appeared. She was looking down at Jane in horror, gun in hand. Jane's vision started to contract. The scene leached of all colour and went grey. Blurred at the edges and shrank inwards. Dimmer and dimmer. Jane sighed and everything went black.
Candy bent over the doctor's body. Her white blouse was punctured by two ragged holes and was bloody and messy. Her eyes had rolled back and only the veined whites showed. She wasn't breathing. She was dead.
Shaking, Candy flipped her two way and called in.
The police went through all of the records in the doctor's office. They were amazed at what they found. Patrol cars were despatched to the farmhouse and Sarah's, by now, dead body was found. An autopsy uncovered the protean chip and together with Jane's notes investigators realised they were dealing with seriously deranged behaviour.
And yet, as one senior detective said to another, maybe there was something in this life beyond death stuff.
Maybe...........a big maybe.

Jane felt cold. There was a breeze and it was cold.
She realised she was nude.
Nude and lying on her back. On some sort of table. She touched it with her hand. Not a table. Stone. A slab.
She had been in her office when the police woman had come in. Questions about Sarah. Poor Sarah. A failure. She had wanted to explain to the officer that Sarah had failed. She had failed. Sarah was lost. The proof had been in her drawer. Then the gunshots, the slugs tearing into her chest and then the gradual dimming and finally the blackness.
Then what............................?
She forced her eyes open.
She was lying in a vast enclosed chamber. Stone walls rose at a steeply inward sloping angle to a roof far above. Dim light infiltrated the space and a shaft of pure white light speared down from above, illuminating the floating dust motes. It was cold and she was absolutely nude. She felt very cold.
She tried to move.
Couldn't even wiggle her toes.
She could only see a limited area of view. The towering space, strange hieroglyphic markings, bands of red and green painted symbols. A figure moved into her field of view. A hooded, black robed, tall figure. She could see no face, only the folds of the hood. She couldn't determine the sex of the figure or even if it was human although it was upright like a man would walk, or a woman. It spoke and the voice, strangely disembodied, was female. Female of indeterminate age.
"Welcome to Amenti, Jane Smithwick."
"The region of the dead."
"This is crazy."
"Oh no, Jane Smithwick, you are dead make no mistake about that."
"If I'm dead then how can..........................."
"Oh you're dead. And like all human mortals you come naked and dead before Osiris the judge of the dead. Depending on what he says you will go either to Serapis for rebirth and then to Hathor and Sati, or you will go to Seth so that he and his minions may have their way eternally with your female flesh."
"I'm dreaming."
"No, you're dead."
"Then why are we talking?"
"You are at the day of judgement. Sadly, in life you thought to transcend the Gods and create life anew yourself. This will not weigh well with Osiris."
"I'm mad."
"No dear, dead." The hooded figure turned. "Sarah Miller is here."
Jane tried to turn her head but could not.
"Oh my God," she thought, "I'm dead and I'm mad."
"Hello Doctor Smithwick." She looked up and Sarah's face came into view. Sarah, as Jane remembered her, young, vibrant and seemingly alive. Sarah's head was bare but the rest of her body was clad in a black robe similar to the figure beside her.
"I love you Doctor Smithwick...................,Jane. I always loved you. I'm not sorry you killed me, I know you were trying to let me live as I'd never lived before and now you are with me. Here." Sarah leaned forward and kissed Jane's lips.
"Come Jane Smithwick. It's time." The hooded figure extended her hand.
Jane found she could rise. She climbed off of the slab. As she bent to rise she saw the bullet wounds. Awful, ragged holes in her flesh. Bloodless, white and ghastly. Rimmed in black powder burns. One through her left breast, only millimetres from her nipple. The other lower, below the fold of her breast, at the top of her tummy. Almost unconsciously she felt her back. Smooth, unbroken skin. The bullets had not passed through her. They must still be inside. This is very weird, she thought. But then they say I'm dead. Very weird. Can I be dead? Is this what death is about? To come to this cold cheerless place and to be judged. An icy fear coursed through her body and she shivered. How will I be judged and when judged, to what will I be condemned? It was cold. Bone chillingly cold in these high stone chambers. And Jane was nude. She felt unworried to be nude and exposed. She giggled stupidly as she thought, well, what's the point in being embarrassed at my nakedness when I'm a corpse anyway. The giggling became hysteria and she cackled and tears ran down her face. Sarah turned to her, "Jane. May I call you Jane now Doctor. After all you've killed me. Surely one's killer becomes an intimate like no other. Are you alright Jane?"
"Alright!" Jane's face convulsed in mad laughter. "Alright. I'm walking stark naked down a stone corridor with two people, one dead, the other probably so, I've got two fatal bullet wounds and I'm headed for judgement by a mythical Egyptian deity. Alright? I'm raving fuckin' mad as well as dead and she asks am I alright."
"Please Jane."
"Silence." Said the hooded figure.
"Oh Christ! this is fuckin' madness."
"Please don't swear Jane."
"And don't mention that name again." Hissed the hooded figure. She shoved Jane, making her stumble. Jane walked on, cold. Awfully cold. Deathly cold.
The corridor seemed to go on forever. Finally, it opened out into a vast chamber, its high vaulted roof suspended way above their heads by huge round columns. In the centre stood a dais and on that dais sat two figures. A third stood to one side. Jane recognised this dog headed man, naked except for a golden loin cloth, as Seth. God of darkness. The figures seated on throne like, high backed chairs, Jane recognised as Osiris and Isis, his sister and wife. They looked just as they had in her Egyptian history texts. Osiris, grave, infinitely wise and exuding enormous, manly sexual magnetism. Isis, fabulously beautiful. He, near naked except for the golden loincloth and golden armlets, she clothed in diaphonous white, her perfectly formed female body clearly visible underneath, even in this low light. Ornamented with golden armlets, anklets and necklaces, none of Isis's jewellry exerted the attraction that her own nipples and darkly triangular crotch did. Seth, the brother of Isis and Osiris spoke in a thickly harsh voice.
"Give me the woman, now brother."
"Silence, evil one."
Seth snarled and his vulpine lips curled back showing large, dripping, canine teeth.
"Jane Smithwick, you have usurped our power in your quest for the creation of life. Life itself. You're feeble and futile efforts have resulted in the death of this young woman and ultimately your own. How shall we Judge you?"
Jane stammered. "I............"
"Give her to me." Seth snarled.
Isis spoke. "What she did my Lord and brother warrants punishment in the extreme."
" Make her mine." Seth's eyes gleamed.
" Forgive her Lord." Sarah said.
Osiris turned to her. "Sarah, you have suffered the ultimate fate at this woman's hands. How can you plead for her life?"
"She is not a really bad woman, Lord. And I love her."
"How say you wife?"
"She must be punished."
"Let me have her."
"Jane Smithwick you are judged in the land of the dead and the judgement is that you shall suffer torment in the worst hell of which we know. Brother you may have her."
"No!" Shrieked Sarah and then, phoof! she disappeared.
Seth took Jane in his inhumanly strong grasp and threw her against a pillar. He thrust his loincloth to one side and revealed an enormous, blood engorged penis, the size of his forearm. He sprang at Jane and the head of his penis scrabbled at her labia and then it sank home burying itself in her sheath. Pain racked through her body as he thrust and thrust and she felt blood dripping down her thighs. She screamed as he thrust harder and looked down to see her groin burst apart like a flower opening and her tummy split upwards...................................................

Jane came to, very, very, slowly.
She lay in a hospital bed attached to more tubes than the mobil refinery.
A nurse looked at her. "Welcome back."
Police entered the room.
"She's awake."
"Thank you nurse."

Two days later at a bedside hearing she was arraigned for trial on a charge of murder. The penalty, if convicted would be life imprisonment. Convicted and imprisoned in a place where the inmates would welcome a good looking woman like her. Would welcome and use her. Seth's minions.
The police knew they had a water tight case.
Jane knew she was back in the world she had been born into.
Osiris had been right.
The worst hell of which he knew.