It was the doctor again. His square shaped glasses sat perched on his pimpled nose. “Tom,” the voice was mono-tone.
“Yes,” he was sitting on a chair that he had worn out from the constant use. He watched as a bug crept along the floor dragging along on its body. It would get carpet burn.
“Yes?” It seemed like deijavu as he watched gel slip down his hair and run down the tops of his flaky ears. His eyebrows were carpeted in white falling skin.
“Tom,” he started to squirm in his seat. Would he ever get to the point? “I…I…I” he stammered he never addressed himself in first person, it had also been we, they never me. He was starting to fall apart.
“Doctor,” his mind was clearer than it ever been. “I don’t know what I am doing here wasting my time. I mean what the hell do you want?” His voice had been raised, something was different. A change had occurred.
The doctor felt a cool stream of sweat drip down his legs and fill his Indian leather shoes. He never heard him talk like this before. He was getting too much to handle it was time for the process to take affect. “I have to be straight with you.” He opened his mouth.
Tom watched as swirling files circled around a mouldy piece of bread. It was fascinating. The small pear-shaped bulb rested a brown Imperial Moth. He didn’t know a thing about moths but it looked fascinating as its eyes caught his. It seemed to whisper and say “Run” It was quiet now as he looked at the cracks that covered the walls seemed to enlarge and want to swallow him up.
“You were saying doctor?”
The doctor pursed his lips he had never heard Mr Kerns talk with such a tone. “I’m going to be straight with you.” Everything seemed to be already said as the gigantic brown wings took to the air. It was magnificent as the doctors flaky skin fell all around him as a small orange light shone on the moment. “I need you.”
The words repeated in his mind. I need you. I need you. I need you. Would someone turn it off? What did the words mean, people needed each other but this sounded desperate, like infatuation. “You need to be clear with me doctor.” A wry smile stretched across his face he was now behind the desk the doctor was his patient.
The sweat started to pour down his brow. “I don’t know how to explain it to you but I think I have found my match.”
“Match?” Tom imagined a massive bonfire being started by a little wooden match with a red head.
“We have been watching you closely for over a year now. We think you might have discovered something.” He was referring to himself in third person again.
Tom looked down at his arm his veins were covered in bruises and scars. “What am I really here for?” The muscle in his cheek started to twitch.
“It was twenty years Professor Sam Reichmann came up with a theory called the Jigsaw effect. To keep it in layman’s terms it was proposed that an individual is incomplete like a piece of a puzzle. As an individual went through life they would find other individuals who would match their characteristics thus fitting the piece and build the puzzle. It is highly complicated but I am sure you understand. Of course a lot of terms can be considered metaphoric hyperlinks of the brain.”
“So where do I fit in this so called puzzle?”
“We believe you have devised a way to filter through the numerous people that you come in contact with and find a match.”
“And what did you mean when you said you think you found your match?”
“I think you are the one that will make me more of a complete individual.”
“And how will you know?”
“Know?” The word seemed to puzzled the doctor. It was strange that such a simple word compared to all the scientific terms would muddle him.
Tom smiled a fly was heading for the doctors mouth. “You don’t know?” He thought on the sentence for a minute. The doctor opened his mouth and like a hungry fly trap the dirty bug flew down his throat never to be seen again. Cough! Cough! Tom was happy. “Doctor,” his eyes were serious now. “What do you do to me?” He watched his veins someone had been tampering with his body.
“You don’t tell us anything so we have to force the information out of you.”
“Is that what you do with all your patients?” Tom was cocky when he wanted to be he wouldn’t be walked over.
“No, no…” he thought for a moment; he wasn’t sure.
“Is that what Reichmann would have done?”
“He was a radical thinker in his day. Don’t you be trying to get me…” He was standing up with an accusatory finger pointing at Tom. He would poke him in the eye if he was given the chance.
“But why is finding the match or completing the puzzle important?”
“Important?” The doctor was in a rage now as the salvia was dripping out of his mouth. “If a match can be found anything is possible.”
“Doctor, doctor,” he shook his head he felt like he was back in day school. “You don’t know do you.” Tom savoured the moment on his lips as he imagined a fresh brown bun filled with a beef burger the juiciest tomatoes and the crispiest lettuce. He didn’t say anything he just shook his head. Tom was getting too difficult to handle and the amount of drugs they had to pump him with just to be able to get an ounce of information off him would fill a list. “Do you think it is possible that there is such a thing about building your own individual puzzle? Are you an edge or a corner? Or are you that piece that is just impossible to find? How many pieces doctor how many pieces?”
How many pieces? How many pieces? The doctor reached into his pocket. He had enough he would end such lunacy. He felt the syringe and the open needle. Tom was standing it seemed like he had been in the same place before. The needle was raised in the air. Tom watched the moth crashing into the window he was trying to get out. Freedom seems so real when you have it but when you never tasted in your mouth or breathed through your nostrils it easier to just give up and sink into the ground. If only he had wings. He reached out his arm and gripped onto the doctors’ wrist. The syringe dropped followed by a scream. Arrghhh!!
“What do you want?”
“We want you.”
“How’s your puzzle coming along doctor? I’d like to see it when its done.” Tom grinned. He was going to cause the doctor a nervous break down.
Doctor Richard shook his head. Tom was giving him more headaches then ever had. “Tom I told you before we will stop all the medication if you cooperate.”
“What’s in it for me?”
He sat up in his chair. He liked where this was heading. “Anything. What do you want?”
“Anything?” He thought about the different daydreams he had in the past. He imagined being rich and famous. Maybe when he was sixty he would marry a girl that was young enough to be his daughter. He smiled. A yacht sounded good and maybe they could throw in a stealth bomber. Then he could fly by undetected by the doctor.
“What do you want?”
“What’s in it for you?” That was the questioned he kept poised on the tip of his tongue and now it had been released.
“We need one more piece.” His eyes widened he had let the cat out of the bag. Who carried cats in bags?
“And what happens when it is complete?”
He swallowed hard as his Adams apple was asking to be squeezed. “We don’t know but we do know that once it is complete we should see some results. Perhaps another puzzle will be revealed.”
“So doctor you’re saying you don’t really know what you are creating and that you are blindly pressing forward with no clue as to the end results. I see it. It all makes sense now.”
He was starting to fume as his palms started to build up with sweat.
“Tom we can do this the hard way or the easy way.”
“It seems to me you have been doing it the hard way ever since I have been coming here. You never gave me a choice. I don’t know what your agenda is doctor but I won’t let you turn me into some crazed chimpanzee behind bars just so you can go down in the history books as the greatest mind of all times. Why don’t you invent something useful like a pencil?”
The veins were starting to show from his neck. “First of all, whatever you call it, will change everything.”
“For the better I should hope.”
His milky eyes were gleaming behind his smudged glasses. “You have no idea what is going on do you? We are making Professor Reichmann’s theories come to live. If we have to strip you down until you are useless just so that you will comply then that is what will happen.”
“How did you find me doctor? I was happy with my life although it was quite uneventful.”
“We have the machines that can detect a match anywhere in the country. It is slow at times and can be inaccurate but it is serving its purpose.”
“And why me?”
“You serve two purposes. You are needed for the equation to work and the machine has picked up an unusually high frequency in you. According to Reichmann’s Theorem this would enable you to find a match yourself. This would be faster than the machine. We haven’t found out how this works but in time we will.”
“No,” he stood up. “I have had enough of you and your idiotic ideas. You want me to believe such a thing exists. Are you out of your mind?” He walked towards door and looked all around. It was time for a killer phrase. “Get a cleaner would you.”
The sound of whirring machines broke over the din of large whaling pumps that pushed a strange blue crystal liquid through a large semi-conductor. What were all the machines needed for? Monitors filled a corner of the room as wires and cables ran hectically on the floor. Red cables linked with blue and then green linked with yellow. It was confusing for any unaccustomed eye. A row of people were lined up unclothed. There were about twenty people each of different stature weight and characteristic but by some unknown entity they all seemed to fit in the match. Tom stood upright eyeing the red arm band that was around his wrist. It seemed to fascinate him as he tugged on the band hoping for a snap. He would do anything to confuse them.
“All patients please put your arms to your side and relax.” The helmet slid over their faces as they were hastily swept of their feet and pulled into the air. It was dark inside the helmet if only he could look down and see the view. Maybe someone could order a Chinese? A nice stir fry would do with crunchy vegetables and rice. He could almost taste it. He would wash it down with some cool ice beer. He could almost feel it hit his head as he started to spin out of control. Screaming someone was screaming! He had to get out he raised his hands slowly to his head and tried to pull the helmet off. It was no good. He felt someone’s legs hitting him as he continued to spin. He felt like a spinning blood bottle as he crashed through flying bodies. Something told him the puzzle was bigger and that the twenty people that he was lined up with was only a starting point. Was each individual a piece or were individuals matched to make one piece at a time. He should have written his speculations down one day he might become a scientist.
He started to shout but there was no reply as felt his legs hitting of another body. Did they ever hear of harnesses or restraints? If only Tom could see the size of the project he would have been amazed. Thousands of bodies were flying through the air attached to cables hurling in every direction. When some people dropped towards the ground other bodies were being thrown into the air and others were being hurtled forward and backward. If they weren’t careful they would suffer organ failure and haemorrhage inside. The screaming started to increases as he heard the cries of little children mixed with deep groans of pain from men. The women were weeping. “Would someone stop?” It was Tom he was joining in the plea. It twisting and turning came to an abrupt stop as he felt a foot kick him in the chest. Whack! He took a deep breath but he couldn’t find the air. “Help! Help!” He started to kick his legs in the air. He was dying.
“…Patient number 20344 experiencing cardiac arrest…!”
Bang he felt a large shock bolt through his head sending an electric surge through his body. Cough! Cough! He could breath.
“Commence final stage of primary match.” He felt his body fall slowly down as he listened to whining machine. Maybe if he tried to rip his head out of the helmet he could free himself. If there was music or some movie to watch it would have kept his attention. Cold! He felt the tips of his feet touch the icy water as his legs, waist and then entire body was submersed in liquid. He could still breathe. He was an aqua man.
“Semi-conductors! No! No!” Aqua man was not the slight bit impressed. He kicked his legs as fast as he could in the heavy water. He would have to take swimming lessons if he got out alive. The semi-conductors whirred on as his entire helmet lit up in a glorious blue light. “Ah!” A bolt of electricity shot through him like a current. Instantly his legs stopped kicking and his arms froze. He was dead!
“Prepare for transfer of ions!” The cables that led to the headpiece transferred the data from each individual at 1000 terabytes a second. It was vital that all the information was transferred as quickly as possible. Gigabytes were a thing of the past.
A team of frantic scientists watched the monitors as they studied each blip of information as it reached the screen. The servers would then run tests and put together the best possible matches that existed within each ion and match it with the perfect match. They remarked to themselves over tea and scones how each frozen reaction of each individual that were contained in the liquid oxygen contained a ghastly fascination, all the while stuffing the crumbs into their superior mouths. If Tom was alive he would have expect a toasted scone filled with melting butter and jam but that was out of the question. The transfer of data was going extremely well. Who would have thought that people could be transferred onto the computer and it was all because of Doctor Reichmann the man behind the Jigsaw theorem. Soon the match would be completed and the computers would become living. When the puzzle would be complete the entire system would consist of a super computer that could act and think as God. Who would have the dominant ions to control such a system? The scientists had made sure that had someone in the match that they could trust with such power would not crash the systems and take over the network. Imagine if it got out of control it could spread like a virus around the world in minutes and they wouldn’t let that happen.
“Predominant ions number 704856.” A few cheers were heard from the crowd as they plugged in wires and connected cables to decks.
“Error…Error…” A hive of activity followed. “…704856 creating interference…”
A string of curses were heard in the large building. Something had to be done fast before the whole system went out of control.
A command was typed into the mainframe. “Authorise restraint to number 704856.”
A current ran down the cable and exploded into Tom’s head piece. “Help! Help!” His legs started kicking again only this time it was more frantic.
“Disable 704856 immediately!” A clicking sound was heard. “…Negative, process over ridden…”
He had to rethink everything in a split second. His world was very different than he realised something was going on that was too frightening to even imagine. It wasn’t so much the individuals that they were looking to match it was the what was inside of them. They reached and stole what was only there’s to have. They had violated the laws of nature.
“Monitor bring up patient 704856s brain wave activity.”
“High levels of brain activity suggest another electric surge. Suggest immediate action.”
It was time to act. The time to be scared was over. He had never really taken things into his own hands. He had thought about it often. He had used the gun he had defied the doctor those experiences had been new but now it was time for extreme action. What was he capable of he had to find out. The power surge reached his helmet as pried it free in an instant.
“Alert…alert…main system breach… main systems breach…” He was swimming now unaided in a pool of inanimate bodies. Legs wrapped around his as he battled to stay above the hooking arms and bending feet. “Help! Help!”
“Over here!” A computer technician screamed out for help.
“What is it?” The man with a white jacket who was running the entire operation ran towards the worried technician.
“Every single ion has disappeared off the system. I did a data search but found nothing.”
“You checked everywhere?” He shook his head.
“Yes,” he craned his neck to where a few technicians were furiously wiring decks. “We’re going to re-route the mainframe to see if we can catch it on the way out.
Tom tried desperately to hold his breathe as he brushed by each body.
Tom was sitting in the dirty office. The dim light reflected on the worn book shelf that contained books on Freud, Aristotle and of course a book by Professor Reichmann. He had seen too much of the office he wanted to never see it again. A bug ran hurriedly by his chair. Squish! He listened to the shell crunching underneath his foot. It stuck to his sole like chewing gum. He had been wanting to do for a long time.
“So Tom have you made up your mind?”
“Are you surprised to see me doctor?”
“No, why would I be. You are here, like was scheduled for your appointment.”
“Ha-ha!” He started to laugh as a little bug that was feasting on the table piece of lettuce hid inside the large mouldy sandwich. He was afraid. “Doctor if anyone looked at you they would say they saw a ghost. The truth is you had me killed because you think that even if the individual is dead then the match can be made complete. What you didn’t know that a match was made last night that completed a puzzle. So I managed to find a match and cheat death all in the same night.” He smiled he managed to do something else as well but he wouldn’t let him in on such intimate details.
“So are you in on the project?” The doctor shifted uneasily on his chair.
He soaked up the silence. He had the power to say yes or no. He liked the thought of that very much. “What would you do if you were in my shoes Doctor?”
“I’d do it, no questions asked just think of what this will mean.”
Tom cleared his throat, “What would it mean other than you having control over individuals that you’ve drugged out of their minds.”
Mr Richard knew the answer, “You were trouble ever since I laid eyes on you. I should have known better.”
“You should have known not to include me in your search for glory.”
The doctor shook his head, “You think you come into my office and tell me what to do? Well that’s where you are wrong. You really don’t have a clue what a completed puzzle can do.”
“How much do you really know? I mean even if you do know more than me do you really know what it will create. Come on doctor fascinate me.”
Tom had a way of forcing information out of the doctor. Fist he would pretend to be interested which would pull him off guard. “The match you experience is what is called the secondary match. This only results in small reactions which change the person momentarily.”
“So coming back from the dead was only a secondary experience?”
“I guess you could say that, but did you ever stop to think if you were dead in the first place.”
Dead? Could tranquilliser darts put someone out cold for hours to simulate death? Was it possible that it was all an elaborate hoax to get him to give in to the will of the doctor? It wasn’t possible. He felt his head. He wasn’t feeling well.
“What did you give me?”
“That my friend is only given out to relatives and close-friends and it looks like none of them are here!”
His vision was starting to blur. “What…happens…when the match becomes primary?”
The doctors face started to twist and warp. “What happens when a puzzle is completed?”
“Huh?” It was getting dark. He listened to the wings of the moth beating off the wall. He was looking for a way out.
“I’ll give you a clue, each is a separate piece but when combined it is…?”
“One?” his head started to drop as the doctor seemed to be leaping around in animated fashion.
“…very good!” He grunted as he clapped loudly in the air. “Now I am sick and tired of the way you have been behaving our financers have become dissatisfied with our recent progress. If I have to I will force you to take part in my experiment.”
He opened his mouth to talk as a stream of saliva spilled down his chin and slipped down his neck. W…h…hat h…h…happens when the primary match… is… completed?”
“Each individual merges and forms a single element.”
“The individuals draw from each others strength where ever they are.”
“What are the conditions?” His head was straight he wiped the drool from his chin.
“Each individual has to willing take part in the matching and you I am afraid to note have not been a willing patient of mine. In fact you have been highly difficult to even work with. You know you would make my job so much easier if you just gave up.”
“And why would I want to do that. You know doctor I enjoy upsetting you in the kindest sort of way.”
The doctor brushed his comment to the side. “We have to be careful during the secondary stage a positive static will not match with a negative and the other way around. However, if two negatives or positives are combined with their opposite it will convert to the later. Also if there are two individuals on either polarities that are negative and positive the positive polarity is the dominant force of the entire match. However, if both sides are the same the equilibrium will be thrown of balance.”
“Doctor what are you a positive or a negative?”
“I…I…” he squirmed in his seat.
“Can I touch your face to see if it is real?”
“No!” Tom leapt off his seat. The reply was an invitation to touch. “No! Get away from me!” There was fear in his eyes.
He pulled a gun out of his jacket. “You have to let me go and everyone else you dragged into your stupid experiment.” He waved the gun in the air.
“You don’t want to do this!” He lifted his hands above his head. He saw it done in the movies once.
“Yes I do want to do this!” He raised the gun to the doctors head. It would be the lesser of two evils.
Knock! Knock! “Mr Richards are you okay?”
The door quickly opened as a tall security guard entered the suffocating room. Tom spun around. It was a show down. “Put the gun on the ground!” He was roaring in his face as he watched a nozzle of the gun being aimed at him.
“I don’t want any trouble! Put your gun down!” The situation was getting desperate.
The security guard steadied his gun. He had used it before now would be no different. “Put the gun down!” His sentences were slow and deliberate. Put the gun down! Put the gun down! His head it was starting to feel heavy again. Bang! The gun fell to the ground as the security guard neared him with his gun still raised.
“I want you to take Mr. Kerns down to room 21 we are going to be going ahead with the primary matching right away. It is too much of a risk trying to keep him around for any longer.”
“Yes Mr. Richards.” The man slowly neared Tom as if he was a dog warden and the man that he would be escorting out was a crazed pit-bull. “Come on!” He grabbed both his arms and pulled a restraint over his wrists. They bit into his flesh.
“Make sure he doesn’t get away this time do you hear?”