Sven Defono vs. Brett Abrahamsen
Abducted By The Fog
The school year is over, 104 days of summer, 100 because we're going on a flight to Hawaii. For the first time I am boarding an airplane. We arrived at the airport through cool merry-go-round like doors and my ma and pa told me to sit and wait in the waiting room adjacent, I was sold on the fish tank. While they got the tickets, moments later my mom pounced over waving the tickets excitedly my dad perceived to hardly reciprocate her joy rather seemed upset about it. About 2hrs in flight I awoke to mild turbulence.. scared me half to death, mom was able to sooth me back out with her version of old sleep lullabies, 5hrs in flight the plane started rolling mid-air "this is your captain speaking we are under severe climatic conditions please fasten your seatbelts, and remain calm if oxygen masks drop put them on. God bless our souls!” the intercom boomed leaving us ghostly pale utterly silent besides the cabin buckling from the Gs. There was a strange swoosh and flash past us some type of UFO I couldn't place what it looked like other than cyan blue thrusters, then
It felt as if the plane was moving through obstacle course smashing into and swerving around the obstacles, an enormous kaboom erupted from the right wing, sending the plane into a thrashing downward spiral dropping the oxygen masks, the plane heading towards what we all thought was the ocean until we breached a dense layer of fog revealing 3 islands. There's some sort of a runway on the middle one, the plane began buckling under the sheer G-Force. The ground not far from the plane it all went black, I woke to a dismembered plane and my parents on top of me I plowed out of the pile of rubbish I was buried in only to the smell of rotting flesh and excretory product. Upon scouring for hours i believe I'm the last one alive, I found the left wing was jutting out of the plane at just the proper angle to create a pleasant shelter from the weather , using all the cloths, string, and sewing needles I had found i was ready to stitch up basic walls for my small shelter. Upon ransacking through the staff area of the plane I found; food, water, cups, plates, cutlery and some tarps to keep out the moisture, in conjunction with a full can of Zippo fluid and lighter also full. Back at my little shelter with my haul, it's going dusk fast, I thought to myself as I hurried along with securing the walls and making a fireplace. With the fireplace rolling away from any twigs I could scour, employing a metal pot I had found within the employee area and a can of pork and beans the small pop tab kind, I heated the beans until they were nice and hot then I transferred the pot off the warmth, to cool before I devour them with haste. I also found some novels while digging that looked worth a read together with a solar led light that has up to 10hrs on one charge IDK why they had this but it's useful for keeping my shelter lit and of course to read. The following day, I had awoken right about dawn which to my surprise my shelter is facing it, looks dang close to an egg yolk nonetheless awe-inspiring as I'm from the crowded city where views like these are wishful thinking. Sitting atop my shelter gazing round the island collecting my thoughts, I actually have survived a plane crash, and now I'm stranded without any bearings for direction or where I am entirely. I should have paid my dad more attention camping and hiking, rather than playing on my video games, but now's not the time to dwell on wasteful thinking. I would like to get out of here to tell the tale. First I drew an enormous SOS within the sand adjacent to my shelter for any passing planes to in theory see, next I set up a flare fire just in case they do not see my SOS. I can light it fast. Some days later, I found lots of hope as I saw another bigger island a couple of miles adjacent to the one we crashed on. Maybe there'll be civilization there. employing a backpack from the wreckage I packed up the food and water I had together with a couple of flares, and therefore the fire stuff, while rummaging the plane I found a little metal box perfect for my size pre-sealed and floats well and using the paddles I found on the island I was able to commence the trek towards the next island.
Upon Arrival I see a mud road, I excitedly follow it to seek out a cabin still pumping smoke perhaps someone's home. I knocked on the door softly an older man greeted me at the door with an astonished look, he was taken aback then inviting me in pointing towards a chair next to the hearth, “how did you get all the way out this way lad” the man questioned “it was a plane crash on the island next to yours'' I had replied, “ah isn't the first time this place has eaten a plane” the man assured, “what does one mean by that?” I questioned, “ah see I crashed here some 30 years ago” the man hastily replied, “gulp so, i could never leave here” I shuddered out, “not may but will, this place isn't any earth its something else only three islands exist here beyond that is the deathly fog” the man clarified, “so how have you survived this long?” I queried “I helped other survivors build a village on the 3rd island” the man stated, “how many others exactly?” I asked, “12 folks plus you makes 13” the man answered, “wait that few how?” I questioned, “From what I do know, this place chooses certain people as subjects, that deadly fog we spoke of each few months on the first day expands out around this complete stretch of ocean. Some don't make it through 24hrs of exposure thanks to their organs boiling” the man answered fearfully “what should I do then?” I prodded again “you learn your environment and adapt” the man replied….
Adapt…. I pondered, I'm just a city slicker this is not my thing, how could i do this im not fit for this type of life at all. “worry not lad i will be able to assist you first Let’s take a visit down to the town so, you'll be able to meet the complete group” the man empathetically reassured,
“yeah let’s go see what this is all about” I muttered. The man grabbed a tattered backpack from the hook by the door and gestured to me to follow as he proceeded out the door, following the identical road from within which I entered, on down a hill lies alittle dock holding a paddle boat fit for two. We were greeted by the town's folk cheerfully. I was utterly flabbergasted, after they invited us to have a look around, the town seems to be built Purely of old wrecked airplane parts which looks extremely awesome. I'm astounded, I'd totally live here. Snapped out of my nonplus by the man calling me over to a bonfire where all the towns folk were having a shindig, having food and drink while conversing amongst one another, they caught sight of the man and rushed over. Shortly after they caught up the man asked me to introduce myself to everyone; “Hello everyone I'm Henry.” The townsfolk cheered and welcomed me to the food and drink displayed on a table by the fire. I obliged happily as i'm famished. Our bonfire ended shortly after thanks to the fog coming in unanticipated. All I could do was stare frozen solid while everyone around me scurried to a close-by shelter. The man called for me but I could not move because it grew close. They shut the doors. Engulfed within the fog I could feel it inside me, my skin starting to bubble i began feeling woozy it went blurry then black. For once I felt completely powerless over myself like I wasn't controlling my very own body, after I woke it had been two days later within the infirmary with pretty severe wounds all over me but,I survived the 24hrs how could this be. Why me I'm just your average secondary school kid from the big city. Henry.. Henry.. Henry, I was snapped into focus abruptly, "yes I am henry" I groaned, "we were taken aback that you lived through the fog, now can I ask why you did not just run for the shelter?"
"I was frozen, it felt like I was spectral observing myself"
"are you sure this is not fear related?"
"positive doc, I know what I experienced it was almost like the OBE's I'd get as a kid"
"That is plausible, thank you henry. Get some rest now."
A short while after the doc left, the man who came and visited me also came to question how I was doing. All I can say right away is “unsure” and in pain right now, I remained in this hospital bed for 41 days before I was able to live through the injuries the fog made. Now I do know I can survive the fog. Maybe I can leave here and free the others stuck here as well, I started learning the way to fight, hunt, fish and survive in this brutal place. 60 days I put my nose to the grindstone to go from pool noodle to warrior I grew, I am finally able to journey into the mist, a boundary nobody has lived to inform , call it crazy or call it hope I am going with the latter. The kind townsfolk prepared me a go bag with all the essentials, I thanked them kindly for their hospitality then departed towards the fog barrier closest to our 3rd island. Upon arrival, it looked as if it would be just dense fog, employing a yellow headlamp they provided me i was able to see barely enough into the fog to note it drops approximately 6ft (1.83 m) down without a bridge on this side I moved on to the adjacent fog wall closest to the 2nd middle most island. I was able to locate what looks to be an old bridge, slow and tender. I cautiously scaled the old bridge around 100ft (30.48 m) across the fog barrier to be greeted by another island, this one though had ruins adorning it. Mostly fabricated from rock, and fine gravel although there are still trees and grass, as I crept closer I could hear the faint hum of something mechanical. As said curiosity killed the cat, I started ascending the dirt path resulting in the decrepit abandoned structures which looked space-esque and beyond mankind's comprehension. Once upon the plateau you'll see all around glistening blue water amid a warm wild blue yonder with the sun joyfully setting above me, back on the Weird hum. It gave the impression it was emitting from the center building, once I reached the door it had been eerily open, pushing it all the way ajar revealed a space jam-packed with mechanical goodies and cobwebs. Taking a short scan to ascertain for light switches, I noticed a big lever on the wall with POWER above it, upon pulling the lever a couple of solid thuds, illuminated revealing all the weird machines. Taking a rove round the building suggests this can be what controls the phenomena sort of a science laboratory of sorts, after I completed the center building two more accompany it one amongst which is on the adjacent right side with connecting pipes between. Once inside I found another switch, once illuminated the space revealed 4 pod-like beds containing frosty humanoids, reading the panels to the side of the pods it indicates the overseer is away and this can be his crew due to thaw during a couple of hundred years more or less. Moving to the last building inline with the first, once illuminated revealed a server room with a platform within the middle containing many monitors, vital trackers and cameras for both this island the test islands, and therefore the outside which look similar to the center of the ocean as if they're using an invisible barrier of sorts. Upon inspecting the opposite gadgets, I could see my vitals, and therefore the others identical, all of our files have different notes this implies someone must be still running the installation. "Oh Henry your not supposed to be over here"
"The someone running this installation"
"I do not see you, how?"
"Before leaving to head towards Orthasa i uploaded a copy of my consciousness onto the installations server essentially im an AI"
"that is great, but why are you holding us like lab rats?"
"my home planet has been ravaged from this same fog problem I have been trying to find a way to cure people of the deadly symptoms, then I smelt your blood from that airplane I knew you were special so I brought it down here unlike the others you are immune"
"So why not let them go?"
"they can leave once you agree to some terms"
"terms?, what do you mean exactly?"
"well you'll need to agree to undergo testing so I can extract what I need from your blood, then you will be added to a pod like the others,"
"you think I am going to accept that, no way that is unreasonable"
"maybe you need a little more convincing, using the chips I put in all of you upon arrival I can do many things, one of which I enjoy, terminate subject, who's first hmm ah let's do away with the old man"
"nooooo, you monster!"
"your species is disgustingly pathetic and weak, accept my terms and they will be returned to their lives"
"fine you twisted asshat i agree to your terms"
"To make it final please state your name and what you are agreeing to so i can gather the evidence"
"Henry, i agree to be tested on like a lab rat and i agree to be stored in a pod"
"thank you very much Henry hahaha"
"just one cluas"
"what?, beep beep beep beep. KABOOM''
Moments before the bomb detonated, I lunged out of the Laboratory towards the Hill, I closed my eyes as I rolled down the Hill roughly. Then I hit the water where I had stopped. All I could do was drag myself to a shore and lay there while I watched the fog recede away, the invisible barrier began to collapse allowing the water to flow normally again, allowing the fake sky to fade away into the night revealing the real world around us. I gathered myself off the sand and gazed back at the burning installation, I had destroyed, then focused back on returning to the second island.
I approached the island with a stagger, I was greeted by the towns folk hailing with praise while gazing at the awe-inspiring sight that was the burning remains of the monsters' lab. After it had ceased to burn our attention was turned to the poor man who passed on to the great beyond, we put together a proper burial before we finished off to move out of here. The funeral went well though everyone carried a frown some even leaking faucets, I just found a spot to be alone and sulk in peace ---
I trailed off into my head, trapped in a nonplus.
Back yore I had been a boy --7 at the most-- my grandpa, past on; it was a bitter cold daybreak (half past 7a.m), I had been tasked with getting grandpa his: sunday paper, coffee and brunch. While my parents scurried out of the house, to their bustling desk jobs. The morning went flawless until (1p.m): where things byfar went downhill, my grandpa clutched his chest and dropped, gasping for air like a fish outside water. --I had been in the kitchen washing up from our brunch-- when i heard the commotion i went to check on him, --when i arrived through the threshold between the dining room and the kitchen-- I was petrified at the sight before me, my grandfathers feeble lifeless body splayed out on our brown shag carpet ---
"Henry you alive buddy, you've been staring at that rock for quite some time" the fisherman belched out, pulling me from my nonplus.
"Yeah 100% --in reality not on the brink of tears-- let's get to work that oughta help get our minds centered" I had exclaimed.
Reusing the plane parts from the houses and shops we began building a vessel spacious enough to get ---as we dont want to be sardines in a can on this voyage--- us out of here towards civilization, now that the barrier has fallen we will use: compass and rutter, to work out our heading. As for welding everything together I snagged a tool from the lab for that purpose in mind.
We began with the bow, then worked our way toward the Aft of the boat ensuring it will be water tight. I began working inside while the others: measured and cut more hull segments ---We'll need to store a good amount of food/water--- we'll also need a commons to visit and a cabin to stay in. ---I had fixed the storage issues with a shelf I had fabricated from the plane--- it will hold at minimum a month's supply of water for all of us to conservatively share and the same goes for food-rations.
It had quieted, life faded into dormancy as I faded into a nonplus. Only but the soft thrashing of the waves calming sounds ---I look fixedly upon the waves as they crawled up the sand a few feet then shrunk away--- casting a sense of euphoria over me --- than a booming crash snapped me out of my nonplus, jumping to my feet and turned around to see what the commotion was.
It was just a segment coming loose Henry I assured myself. Moving forth I welded on the keel to the bottom of the hull, secured I remarked as I stood back to fancy my weld work. , I used stuffing and cloth from airplane chairs and some stitching skill to fashion beds for the lot of us even devised some frames, so we're off that dreadful cold floor. The man had a potbelly-stove ---we kindly reclaimed it and fashioned it to our commons area--- to keep us toasty warm, now our boat is almost finished: bow, aft and keel, now just to do the deck and bridge. ---aswell as sorting out propulsion---
With the deck and bridge erected, we will concentrate on the tiny details like: helm, fenders, gunnel, rigging, and the hatch. Setting out easy we rummaged for any rubber we could use as fenders (bumpers for boats), low and behold, we stumbled across the goldmine of old airplane tires. Connecting them using the line paired with the eye hooks added a solid bumper around the entire boat. we've determined we'll call her Ol Tilly. ---the same name the man used for his bush plane--- Next we completed the gunnel, then ran the rigging for the boom and mast, winding up with welding: the hatch and the bridge. For the bridge, we're going to scavenge for a couple of gadgets from the airplanes: joystick and navigation to name the most prudent essentials.
Somewhere along this process, we found this gadget can also weld glass seamlessly, this will help keep us out of the weather, ---as the hatch is on the bridge too--- From the wrecked old airplanes we were able to salvage enough glass to encompass the bridge's minimalistic windows adding the cherry on top hands down. I noted the intriguing variations in color among the panes of glass, some translucent, some opaque. The ship was all around a beautiful masterpiece of mismash planes and boats, even with our primitive tools we were able to build something akin to a sea-faring vessel.
At last after around 3 and a half month's of back breaking perseverance we are finally ready to set sail for land, everyone was happy to see the finished vessel ---it's just a little bigger than your average fishing vessel but smaller than a cargo vessel just a happy medium--- We all got squared away aboard the boat as it broke nightfall, we devoured a hearty stew over a lifting conversation about what we will do returning after nearly a decade of being stranded here (if not more for some such as the man whom was among the first arrivals here).
Daybreak, I had woken before anyone else, catching the dazzling sun peaking over the snow covered ridged mighty crest, the sun became slightly visible as it began to peek over the land, casting an even but elegant shadow over the base of the mountain highlighting the bountiful towering evergreens which lie there.
Just after dawn the remainder of my people began rolling out with a hearty stretch, in turns we each used the washroom to prepare for the day ahead. We had hungrily made an exquisite brunch, then dined like kings as we've made a colossal milestone today, after months of diligence we deserve this hearty meal before us, fish from the sea, vegetables we harvested selfsame.
After we all ate our fill and had a long yak, we gave the rigging/sails one final audit before we kicked off, ---the boat carving through the waves like a hot knife through butter--- we did it, it floats. The man kept a rutter in his cabin, essentially this was made before the advent of nautical charts, it was used to store geographical information for maritime navigation. ---my grandfather was a sailor by nature, he taught me many things---
Bringing up the man, remember the first time I had met him…
It was a day or so after that dreadful crash, I made the trek towards the middle island utilizing a metal sealed box of sorts and a single paddle. I had made it to his cabin where we first met, where for the first time in a good few years it felt as if I had my grandfather again. He showed me this exact rutter akin to my grandfathers, we hit off and became the best of friends.
"HENRY LOOK OUT, A GLACER!" the bridge officer shouted
I came to and realized what he was panicking over, a glacial mass right off the port bow ---i spun the ships wheel like it was a spin to win--- O'l Tilly moaned and sent us a flight but swiftly adjusted course, sailing mere inches past the hull penetrating mass.
"Nice sailing Henry." the bridge officer remarked with a hearty giggle
Utilizing the rutter's rudimentary navigation we estimate it'll be about a week to achieve landfall give or take, some days passed tensions were already getting thick as mud and weren't even halfway. We'd like to fashion something together to spice up this crew's morale, or we may end up tearing one another limb from limb. It had been dead of night. I had awoken to use the washroom, while I was doing my business our helmsman shouted for me to report back to the bridge briskly therefore I wrapped up and ran to his aid.
“Look captain there is another sea bearing vessel around a mile maybe two off the starboard bow.”
“I see helmsman!”
“Hail Speedup!” I shouted into the loudspeaker.
The Speedup received our hail (hailed back) then changed course towards our starboard bow, they had pulled beside our starboard.
“Hail Lil Tilly, I'm captain Budak are you in distress”
“Yes captain we are just attempting to locate land”
“Oh simple, follow me tail i'll lead you to the next port”
The Speedup briskly gained speed, our helmsman doing his duties keeping straight on target. Daybreak the next day as the sailor promised we would see the port off in the distance, we all jumped with joy hailing loud enough, the bottom feeders oughta hear us.
One Life in a Day
Identity was no longer a constant.
Cellular regeneration had evolved to the point that cells were replacing themselves every few hours. By the end of any given day, a person would have none of the cells remaining from when they woke up that morning. When this occurred, it was lights out for that person.
To the outside world there was of course no difference. The new cells produced an exact replica of the old ones, so that the person still ate, breathed, slept, and walked in precisely the same manner. But as the cells regenerated, the consciousness that the old cells had given life to simply disappeared and a new one arose – one that the consciousness that had existed before had no awareness of whatsoever. And the new consciousness would simply inherit the previous memories, never realizing that this was its first glimpse of life, or that it had “killed” off a prior consciousness.
To combat this problem, inhabits of the planet Venus – where the cellular regeneration had accelerated more than anywhere else - took drugs every hour to stop their cells from regenerating. The drugs were made from hemlock, and crushed oleander leaves. This slowed the internal metabolism and stopped cells from regenerating – at least for a little while.
S. Paul Radish took precisely such drugs every minute. They were expensive. Most Venusians could only afford to take them once an hour.
Radish had led an interesting life. He had been mind controlled by the Venusian government since the age of 3 – one of about 40% of the population who had been subjected to such experimental treatment. Somehow, at the age of 16, he had discovered a way to neutralize the effects of the mind control, namely by severing the pathways his occipital lobe to prevent the mind control from getting in. Following his discovery, he marketed it to the other Venusians who were subject to mind control. In doing so, he freed the Venusians and became the richest creature on the planet.
S. Paul Radish had not undergone a full regeneration in ten years – since escaping mind control, in fact - but this was about to change. 99% of the cells in S. Paul Radish’s body were now different from the ones that were present a decade ago. When that figure reached 100%, the light that was S. Paul Radish’s consciousness would be permanently extinguished, and a new consciousness, identical to the old one, would emerge.
“I don’t want to die”, S. Paul Radish said to his wife. He looked around and shook, in a sudden panic.
“I’ll never notice the difference”, his wife explained.
“Neither will I – I mean, I won’t have any consciousness at all – but I’ll be done, it’ll be lights out. S. Paul Radish will live and you’ll never notice any difference, but I won’t be S. Paul Radish anymore, I won’t have any consciousness”.
“You’ll still be him”, his wife assured him, “you just won’t be conscious of it”. She stared blankly into nothing.
“Same difference”, Radish said, “I want to be conscious. I don’t want some new consciousness that I have no awareness of taking over”. The meter on his arm read 99.7%. “But then, I guess it will be generous of me to give my consciousness to some new one”.
Minutes passed, and S. Paul Radish was running out of drugs. He felt himself turning pale. “Call an ambulance”, he said.
“It won’t work”, his wife said.
He looked at the meter. 99.9%. He considered writing a eulogy, but then, the new Radish could write it just as well as the old one. An image flashed on his TV screen: WE MOURN AND CELEBRATE S. PAUL RADISH. He stared at it for awhile, and felt his consciousness become slightly dimmer until he lost it.
“Has it happened yet?”, Radish said.
“It just did”, his wife said.
His wife looked at him approvingly: there did not seem to be any difference. She looked him over, taking notes in her head.
“I feel the same as I’ve always felt”, Radish said.
“No you don’t”, corrected his wife. “You’ve never felt anything before. This is your debut as a conscious entity. You are much the same as a newborn baby, conscious for the first time and immersed in the splendor of being alive. Congratulations”.
It was strange, Radish thought, physically the two Radish’s were exactly the same and yet the former consciousness and the present consciousness had as much awareness of each other as Vincent Van Gogh did a mosquito. Maybe the old consciousness will somehow back, he thought. No, that’s wrong – my consciousness will die out too, but only when the regeneration is finished, and the consciousness that emerges will brand new.
“How do you feel? You’ve committed murder”, his wife said.
“Manslaughter”, Radish corrected, “I didn’t do it on purpose”.
“Welcome to Venus”, his wife said, suddenly switching the topic, “isn’t it nice?”
“It’s beautiful”, Radish said. He felt dazed.
He felt bad about killing the old Radish, but a majority of the memories he inherited from Radish’s brain – for they indeed shared a brain - were pleasant ones, and the thrill of being conscious – even though it felt like he had always been conscious – overpowered the guilt he felt at killing Radish. An image flashed on the TV again. CONGRATULATIONS S. PAUL RADISH, YOU’RE OUR LUCKY WINNER. Radish turned the TV off and sat down.
He wished he could communicate with the old Radish somehow, but that would be impossible, the former consciousness had disappeared into the void.
“We should feel guilty”, his wife said. “The old Eathlings only had to deal with this problem once every seven years. We Venusians face it every day, without drugs”.
“The old Radish lasted ten years! That’s an improvement”, Radish said. “And who knows. Maybe it happened to the old Earthlings more than you think. Maybe their consciousnesses died out and were replaced every millisecond. Can you imagine? Only being alive for a split second? Not even long enough to grasp what’s going on”.
“You know”, Radish said, “if the two consciousnesses are identical, how can there be a difference? This consciousness must also have been the consciousness of the old Radish. No one died”.
“Consider two replicas”, said his wife. “Both programmed to have exactly the same consciousness: two identical consciousnesses through the course of their whole lives, down to the most minor details. Yet one can’t feel or think what the other can feel or think, any more than you can feel or think what I’m feeling or thinking”. Or how Vincent Van Gogh can’t feel or think what a mosquito is feeling or thinking, he thought. “Replica A is conscious of Replica A but not Replica B. Replica B is conscious of Replica B but not Replica A”.
He gazed outside, taking in the new world. My God, it’s beautiful, he thought. And to think it took 14 billion years to know it existed! And if Radish had simply got killed by a stray bullet when he was in early 20’s – I would have never known, the universe would have existed and I would have never known it existed. There’s quadrillions of potential consciousnesses that don’t exist and never will exist and will never know that the universe exists. And that’s not counting all of the rocks and TV sets and refrigerators, or maybe even all the atoms at an individual level, septillions of atoms that don’t know they are part of a universe which exists, because atoms don’t have conciousnessness... I could have been an atom. Maybe I am an atom and don’t realize it. An atom and also S. Paul Radish. Or an atom inside of S. Paul Radish. Something has to be an atom, lots of things have to be an atom. Perhaps all the atoms get taken after a point and some would-be things get stuck being nothing at all, unless the universe is infinite in which case it’s impossible to be nothing, to not be part of it. But as for now, somehow I have a firm grip on Radish’s consciousness.
Suddenly Radish felt sick. His wife offered him his drugs. He declined. Hours passed. “You are going to die”, his wife said. A noble form of suicide, Radish thought. After twenty four hours his consciousness dimmed - and a new one emerged. After twenty four hours, the process repeated itself.
And so for the rest of S. Paul Radish’s long life – he lived to be 762 – there was a new consciousness that emerged every 24 hours. Thanks to the selflessness of S. Paul Radish, 278167 consciousnesses existed for a day each – consciousnesses that otherwise never would have been given life.